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April 30, 2005

Help! I have no chocolate.

Yesterday when we went to the shops, I treated Littleone and myself to a bar of chocolate. She ate her one straight away and I thought I’d put mine on top of the fridge saving it until later. It is a testament to how busy I have been that I forgot all about it until this evening. The thing was once I knew it was there I found it near on impossible to ignore the thing, only problem was Littleone was still awake and I’ll share most things (household chores, heavy shopping, jokes) but come on, this was a bar of chocolate and a small one at that.
Well I tried so hard to wait until Littleone was in bed but it just wasn’t working so I fell under that chocolate deprived delusion that I could stick a video on for her whilst I had a sneaky munch in the kitchen.
Of course what I forgot was that all children have a built in ultra sensitive choccy wrapper detector right inside their ear, there is no escape and so while I was desperately tying to swallow the first two squares, I was sprung,
‘What are you eating Mummy?’
‘Nomwaffthiwmmmng’ I said trying to hide the rest of the bar behind my back.
‘Is it chocolate?’
‘Well sort of.’
‘Can we share it?’
I reluctantly handed over four squares, keeping another six for myself hiding inside the wrapper.
She looked down upon her (un) fair share and replied
‘No Mummy. I said SHARE!’
‘But I DID share.’ I said stamping my feet.
‘No you didn’t’
‘Did. Did. D….’
I stopped in my tracks for that darling child had broken her squares in half and was offering me two back.
How guilty did I feel?!
So guilty that I had to give her the rest of the bar.
Regret it now though..

Posted by purple elephant at 11:22 PM |

April 29, 2005

Traffic congestion

I suppose we couldn’t expect much more from the RAC but according to them the most devastating effect of road congestion is the ever-rising 15 billion cost to businesses, whilst employees are stuck in traffic jams. Not a single mention of what we are doing to our planet.
Their solutions are disturbingly misguided and misleading. Number one on their "Agenda for Action" is the

‘widening (of)all main motorways and trunk roads and adding more tunnels and bypasses.’

Isn’t this a bit like saying that the solution to the obesity problem is to provide our kids with more sugary, fatty snacks?
The last solution on the list sounds just as dangerous. When they suggest that we should be
‘reviewing the use of speed cameras and speed limits’

do they really mean that we should all drive faster (and get away with it) causing more fatal accidents just so everyone can get to work a little quicker?
I agree that the government should be doing more to sort out our transport, but the way forward involves putting money into our public transport system. I want to see it more efficient, cleaner and a hell of a lot cheaper. This is no pipe dream, I have used trains and busses in France, Spain, Belgium and Denmark and if they can all do this then why can’t we? Tax the drivers heavily to pay for it and make it not worth their while to get in the car unless it is necessary.
So much more is down to us however. Do we really need to use our cars as often as we do? We need to think hard every time we reach for those car keys. Could we walk, cycle, use public transport, lift share instead? Are such excuses as ‘it’s raining’ or ‘the shopping is heavy’ good enough where the stakes are so high?
If each and every one of us vowed to cut our car use by (say) a half then theoretically the roads would be only half as full and they would have fewer excuses to keep ploughing through our countryside with new roads.
I’m the first to complain about the government but I think sometimes we sit around and whinge about what every one else should be doing because that is so much easier than taking the power into our own hands and doing it ourselves.

Posted by purple elephant at 05:51 PM |

Come back to me for that rabies cure

My Mum has been going through some stuff in the loft and she came across some old school exercise books of mine. One in particular we think was from when I was about nine or ten years old. We had to write a story about ourselves and what we thought we would be doing round about the turn of the century 1999.
I was not only a successful novelist (6 books) but I also had a little career on the side as a Veterinary surgeon, in which I had found a cure for Rabies (?!) Oh and I also had six children (I wonder what it was with the number six?) My husband? Morten Harket from A-Ha.
And I still had time to throw monster New Years Eve bash.
All this by the time I was 24 years and 3 days old.

10/10 for imagination and ambition.
1/10 for scientific accuracy (A cure for Rabies is all very admirable but I’m not sure how I was planning to administer this wonder drug to the entire wild animal population of the world)
1/10 for mathematics. (How long is a Veterinary Science degree these days? Exactly when did I start giving birth to all these kids? And with which spare hour did I write all these books?)
And as for my musical taste……

So here I am 5 years after the millennium, still 18 months off completing my lowly English degree, struggling to bring up ONE child, a measly single as yet un-publishable novel hiding somewhere on my computer. But I guess after all that aspiration the path was only ever going to head downwards.

Posted by purple elephant at 07:49 AM |

April 27, 2005

Crash!

There went that plank in reason..
I'm so sorry to keep going on about this shirt but it is the bane of my life, I can tell you. I finished it all apart from the eyelets across the front, which will hold the ribbon to tie the thing together. I bought an eyelet tool off E-bay a few weeks ago. I even sat here and read the instructions; it looked pretty easy, all apart from the fact that you need a hammer to whack the thing together. The last time I tried to use a hammer I nearly lost a hand in the process, so I decided to wait for Mr PE to come home and do it for guide me.
So we leisurely put the kid to bed, have our tea, celebrate the fact that the shirt is more or less finished blah blah blah. We sit down together, hammer in hand, read the instructions, open the packet….. Guess what, that E-Bay seller has kindly sent me a PRESS STUD tool, not an EYELET tool. There is nothing eyelet about it.
So tomorrow afternoon, which I had put aside for some serious reading, I will be traipsing all over Cambridge looking for an eyelet tool. I have 48 hours to find one or I will be champion wedding destroyer of the year…
No wonder I’ve got a headache. That would be all the brick walls I keep hitting.
Or it could be those boots of lead creaking across my soul. Which brings me nicely to Emily Dickinson and 'Funeral in My Brain' arguably *the* perfect poem..

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading - treading - till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through -

And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum -
Kept beating - beating - till I thought
My mind was going numb -

And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space - began to toll,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race
Wrecked, solitary, here -

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down -
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing - then -

Posted by purple elephant at 09:20 PM |

Headache

When I wote on Sunday that I was getting a headache, it wasn't a quick way to round off a post. I meant it. It hasn't gone away. Yes I've been popping pills every now and then, but I don't like taking them, not because I'm being all self righteous but rather because they don't seem to agree with me. They take away the pain, just about but always leave me with this numb, light-headed fuzzy feeling.
I just had a couple of finishing touches to do on the shirt that I thought would take me an hour max, until I worked out that I had to do them all by hand and not on the machine, ended up taking most of yesterday afternoon and way past my bedtime again and it's STILL not done. Saturday is creeping up so fast that it is just not funny.
The worst thing is sewing gives me too much time to think, which means that I've got bag loads of writing ideas and modifications to the novel but no time to put them in to practice which is really frustrating for me.
I want to blog about the upcoming election but no time to do so. I'm not even 100% sure which way I'm going on that one yet.
Oh and I'm half way through yesteday's reading.
Behind as always.

Posted by purple elephant at 08:05 AM |

April 26, 2005

I'm the headteacher so you had better start doing as you are told

Via Kate



Take the Which Neighbour Are You? Quiz, hosted by Neighbours: The Perfect Blend.

Not that I know who Susan Kennedy is you understand. And while we are here what is Neighbours anyway? I don't do daytime TV you see. I mean.....
*digs hole*

Posted by purple elephant at 09:30 PM |

Cambridge Wordfest

One more to cross off Sunday's 'to do' list. As promised a write up of Cambridge Wordfest. I only experienced a fraction of what was going on, altogether it is well worth a visit if anyone wants to get it together next year, let me know.

This may sound silly but whenever I read a book, I always try and find out what the author looks like because I like to have their face in my head as I read. (Does anyone else do this?) Going to a reading is like taking this habit one step further. Graham Swift speaks slowly and thoughtfully, in descriptive passages he even pauses occasionally and shrugs, as if he is making it all up on the spot. I have only ever read two of his novels (Waterland, Last Orders) but I know that when I finally get around to reading the rest I will linger over certain passages able to experience his voice and twitch of the shoulders as if he is in the room telling the story himself.
There are many writers, like Graham Swift who really inspire me to get off my backside and start writing. I see a performance or read a book and think, that is what I want to do, and that is where I want to be and I entertain that small idea that maybe, just maybe it is all possible. There are a few however who have such an exquisite command of the English language, such a mesmerising presence that I feel as if I am in the company of greatness. In this case I leave at the end of the performance tail between my legs, head hung low, ashamed that I ever dreamed of lumping myself under the same umbrella. Fergal Keane is one such writer. He can be tender, without being overly sentimental; heart wrenchingly honest without being confessional; and tragic without leading us to all into a suicidal despair, yet above all he manages to retain his individual sense of humour throughout. To top it all off, although he is on the stage, he has such a human presence that you feel as if he is your mate, telling you all these stories over a beer down the pub, so much so that once or twice I almost reached out my hand to touch him reassuringly on the arm. Despite saying this I came so close to getting a book signed but chickened out because I knew I’d get to the front of the queue, blush frantically and start giggling like a girly. If I didn’t know myself better I’d think I was in love.
My last event of the day was ‘Poets Centre Stage’ with Nick Laird, Esther Morgan, and Jackie Kay. It was 8:30pm I’d been out all day on only three hours sleep, the fact that all three poets could keep me awake for two hours, in a darkened room is probably testament enough to their talent. Nick Laird was up first and I really must try and get hold of his poetry collection, I particularly liked his poem called ‘Bear Hug’ likening a necessary stint working in an office to the wild bears in America who get a taste for fast food and end up raiding dustbins instead of hunting for more nutritious food. Jackie Kay and Esther Morgan provided my purchases for the day and are well worth a read if you can get hold of them. For the moment I will let them speak for themselves, starting out with Esther Morgan, more later;

Neighbours by Esther Morgan

I request the pleasure of your company.
No need to RSVP
Just kick down the front door
Splinter the safety chain.

Call me by my formal name. Ms.
You’ll find milk clotting in the fridge.
Apples shrivelling in the bowl.
Help yourselves.

I’m the lady in waiting
screened behind the shower curtain,
snug as a heart
in a white enamel basin.

I’ve been listening to you
this past week –
the throb of bass through the floor,
the thump of next door’s head board,

the rasp of awkward keys,
the thwack of a perfect backhand
across a face
I tell the time in theme tunes.

I’m ready to receive you now,
my hair spread out like weed
in the dark red water.
Be my guest.

Posted by purple elephant at 07:41 AM |

April 25, 2005

The day we caught the boat..

‘When you find that things are getting wild,
Don’t you need days like these.’

Ocean Colour Scene The Day We Caught the Train.

Don’t you just love it when a day starts as it did yesterday with all indication that the rest of it is going the same way, and then all of a sudden your plans go out the window and it takes a turn for the better?
Anansi the Spider was great. All tie dyed throws hung from the trees and stories and songs from the Caribbean and Africa. After that I had a quick detour back here to grab the shirt to take down the Fort St George to meet Mr. PE and his friends. Thankfully it fits perfectly, bride and groom are 100% happy and the mark is so small and faded that you would have to put your eye right up against it in a certain light to notice, plus that part is going to be covered by a waistcoat anyway.
I was only going to stay a polite hour but we got the opportunity to ride on the top of a narrow boat for a mile or so down the river. We slowly chugged back west just as the sky was beginning to get itself into gear for a perfect sunset. (How I wished that there were enough hours in the day for life to always take this pace) By the time we moored back up the whole sky was streaked with red and purple.
Can you blame me for embracing that moment when I could? Looking out the window the sky is now a pathetic depressing grey but guess what? Middlemarch is still here in its entire still-to-be-read glory!
As it was getting late by the time we were heading home and we were worried about keeping Littleone awake long enough for dinner to cook, we slipped into the Chinese and got ourselves a take away instead.
So we got in, collapsed on the sofa, piled our plates high with food and do you think I grabbed my book to at least make a dent on that reading?
Nah! Fuck it. I watched Doctor Who!

Leisure by W. H. Davies

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—

No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Posted by purple elephant at 08:03 AM |

April 24, 2005

Make that a quadruple whiskey laced with Prozac….

Additional unwelcome achievements of the day..

1) A stubbed toe (on the leg WITHOUT the cramp) Walking = PAIN..
2) One small but visible mark on the shoulder of the shirt. It happened just as I was about to give it one last press. I left it on the ironing board in the kitchen to come into the living room to tell Littleone that if she didn’t stop whinging about the fact that she wasn’t allowed her CD on full blast then we wouldn’t be going to see Anansi the Spider. Back in the kitchen I discovered said shirt in a crumpled mess on floor. (Slippery fabric) I am currently sitting with crossed fingers praying that a dunk in cold water and a stint in the airing cupboard has solved the problem. Repayment time I guess for losing temper with kid and for not mopping the floor yesterday.
3) I think I’m getting a headache. Funny that..

Posted by purple elephant at 12:36 PM |

Purple Elephant’s Goals for the day..

It has been one heck of a busy weekend and so here is a list of what I want to achieve by bedtime tonight. In no particular order

1) Take Littleone to Milton Country Park for a reading of Anansi the Spider as part of Cambridge WordFest
2) Blog about my WordFest day yesterday. (Graham Swift, Fergal Keane, Jackie Kay, Nick Laird and Esther Morgan)
3) Fitting of the shirt at the Fort St George (mine’s a double whiskey Mr. Barman) Dear God please let that shirt be to the wearer’s satisfaction and need few alterations, I was up until 3am Friday getting it done. Time that could have been spent more productively, well for me anyway.
4) Write up notes from yesterday’s seminar.
5) Read 75 pages of Middlemarch. I have read this before but in trying to research my next paper I discovered how complicated the plot is, it really needs a second reading to grasp it sufficiently. The only problem is I need to attack 50 pages a day to get it completed in time. Yesterday, what with the seminar and WordFest etc I only got half my quota read. (UPDATE; Pages read - 7)
6) General day to day crap. Get dressed, at least one load of laundry, cook, eat, wash up etc..
7) I really want to watch yesterday’s episode of Doctor Who but I can’t see it happening today.

To top it all off I got terrible cramp in the night and can now hardly put weight on one leg.
AND Just as I was writing this Littleone spilt a drink over the TV cabinet. It was a race against time as I, armed only with an old sweatshirt grabbed from the back of the sofa tried to stop the liquid seeping into the TV, DVD player, HiFi equipment and a pile of CDs that Mr PE hadn’t put away from last night.

Ever feel like it’s going to be one of those days?

Stay tuned to laugh at my progress.

Posted by purple elephant at 10:17 AM |

Happy belated birthday William

In honour of Shakespeare's birthday, which was yesterday and as it is still National Poetry month, I thought I'd share some sonnets with you. I love the sonnet form and Shakespeare did it particularly well, they outshine his plays by about 100-1. In my opinion the plays should be dropped until at least A Level (that is 16-18 years old for all you non-UK citizens) but every GCSE student (under 16) should be made to study the sonnets instead as some sort of introduction. (Shakespeare in bite size pieces) I'm sure that this way our youth wouldn't be turning their backs in fear of the Bard.
I can't choose just one, so have two instead..

130
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red:
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound.
I grant I never saw a goddess go:
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

116
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Posted by purple elephant at 07:49 AM |

April 22, 2005

Poem Ended by a Death

by Fleur Adcock

They will wash away all my kisses and fingerprints off you
and my tearstains--I was more inclined to weep
in those wild-garlicky days--and our happier stains,
thin scales of papery silk... Fuck that for a cheap
opener; and false too--any such traces
you pumiced away yourself, those years ago
when you sent my letters back, in the week I married
that anecdotal ape. So start again. So:

They will remove the tubes and drips and dressings
which I censor from my dreams. They will, it is true,
wash you: and they will put you into a box.
After which whatever else they may do
won't matter. This is my laconic style.
You praised it, as I praised your intricate pearled
embroideries; these links laced us together,
plain and purl across the ribs of the world...

Posted by purple elephant at 05:14 PM |

Down with Burda, Simplicity and the lot of them..

I like to think I have a reasonable understanding of my own language. I mean I have muddled through nearly 30 years of my life with few problems.
That is until I try and grasp some apparently simple instructions.
I’ve tried to follow a few dressmaking patterns in my life and there is always at least one point that they completely cock up and tell you to do the wrong thing. They also have a habit of explaining the simplest instructions in minute detail (how to cut the fabric) with plenty of diagrams but then going on to brush over the complicated bits. (How to sew on a ruffle)
I think that every time they bring out a new pattern they should employ an average Joe (not an experienced seamstress) to make the item by adhering strictly to the instructions. God knows what they’d end up with by the end of it but at least the problems could be nipped in the bud.
Oh and a proofreader wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
Sewing is like putting together flat packed furniture. You get your bits together, read the instructions (translated from the Swedish by someone who speaks neither Swedish nor English) and end up completely ignoring them and doing it your own way instead.
I bet I even end up with one shirt plus an extra bit of fabric with no idea as to where it was meant to have gone.

Posted by purple elephant at 07:28 AM |

April 20, 2005

Promises Like Pie-Crust

by Christina Rossetti

Promise me no promises,
So I will not promise you:
Keep we both our liberties,
Never false and never true:
Let us hold the die uncast,
Free to come as free to go:
For I cannot know your past,
And of mine what can you know?

You, so warm, may once have been
Warmer towards another one:
I, so cold, may once have seen
Sunlight, once have felt the sun:
Who shall show us if it was
Thus indeed in times of old?
Fades the image from the glass,
And the fortune is not told.

If you promised, you might grieve
For lost liberty again:
If I promised, I believe
I should fret to break the chain.
Let us be the friends we were,
Nothing more but nothing less:
Many thrive on frugal fare
Who would perish of excess.

Posted by purple elephant at 07:43 AM |

April 19, 2005

Not in your back yard..

I do try to be objective and fair in my arguments, I don’t like resorting to personal insults just because someone has a different opinion from me. However occasions do arise where I get so incensed about something that objectivity goes right out the window. It is so obvious to me that I can’t see why I should have to make my case. It is in reference to some people that I am tempted to use numerous variations of the word fuck because I really don’t want to refer to them as people, surely they are not human?

Ok I’ll try.

So what has been pissing me off in the past week or so? Firstly it seems that plans for a wind farm in Cambridgeshire have been axed because locals have been protesting AGAINST the plans. Not only that but it looks like something similar is going to happen in Cumbria.
I’ve tried. Believe me I have tried. I have even been to the Stop Cambridge Wind Farm website in an attempt to understand their arguments. A favourite soundbite in both cases seems to be that they fear ‘the industrialisation of the landscape.’ It seems to have totally escaped these people that if we don’t do something about climate change pretty damn soon then there will be NO landscape because most of Cambridgeshire will be UNDER WATER. Oh hang on but wait, this wont be for a couple of generations and none of those protesters will be around then. Just so long as they can look out of their windows and see an expanse of green; just so long as their house prices remain disgustingly high, who gives two hoots what happens to the land after we are gone.
Yes tucked somewhere down the bottom of the website ‘house prices’ are mentioned in an almost embarrassed half whisper. I suspect that this is what the whole thing is actually all about. Don’t get me started on house prices, whoops you just did. Maybe the house prices should come down, maybe then we could afford one of your posh houses and then I’d could look out of the window onto the turbines in awe at just how much we owe our existence to Mother Nature.
What sort of selfish fucker (Oh shit. I’ve gone and done it now) do you have to be to actually go out of your way to haste the destruction of our planet, all because you are worried about house prices? At last this country was getting off its sluggish arse and doing something and what did you do? You kicked it back down again. How in God’s name do you sleep at night?
Do you know what I fear? In a couple of generations our descendants will be frazzling under a blazing sun and fighting over the last gasp of oxygen. I fear that in their final hours they will climb onto the last peak left on Earth and ask their foreparents what they did to reverse this destruction.
And we will have to turn around and say,
‘Well I wouldn’t have minded but it was the house prices you know…’

Posted by purple elephant at 05:57 PM |

April 18, 2005

Wherever I Hang

Not much time on the computer today as Mr. has got lots of work on and is (rightfully) hogging the keyboard. In adition the second I sit down to do anything Littleone starts demanding that I let her play Rosie and Jim. Although something very exciting may be happening towards the end of the week which may or may not mean that we will no longer be a one computer family. I don't want to talk about it too much in case I put a jinx on the whole thing...

Poem for the day;

Wherever I Hang by Grace Nichols

I leave me people, me land, me home
For reasons I not too sure
I forsake de sun
And de humming-bird splendour
Had big rats in de floorboard
So I pick up me new-world-self
And come to this place call England
At first I feeling like I in a dream -
De misty greyness
I touching the walls to see if they real
They solid to de seam
And de people pouring from de underground system
Like beans
And when I look up to de sky
I see Lord Nelson high - too high to lie.

And is so I sending home photos of myself
Among de pigeons and de snow
And is so I warding off de cold
And is so, little by little
I begin to change my calypso ways
Never visiting nobody
Before giving them clear warning
And waiting me turn in queue
Now, after all this time
I get accustom to de English life
But I still miss back-home side
To tell you de truth
I don't know really where I belaang
Yes, divided to de ocean
Divided to de bone
Wherever I hang me knickers - that's my home.

Posted by purple elephant at 06:08 PM |

April 17, 2005

‘Warning-this-train-terminates-at-HELL-for-all-other-destinations-please-change-at-PURGATORY’

I have spent the day battling with our pathetic public transport system in our poverty stricken, pestilence infested, filthy hellhole of a capital city. Oh it really deserves a whole post in itself, why I loathe the place but I always come home drained and exhausted having used all my energy retaining the will to live.
So I just thought I’d let you know that I have had that Blake poem running over and over in my head, so I have to present it to you as my poem of the day.

London by William Blake

I wander through each chartered street,
Near where the chartered Thames does flow,
A mark in every face I meet,
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every man,
In every infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forged manacles I hear:

How the chimney-sweeper's cry
Every blackening church appals,
And the hapless soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down palace-walls.

But most, through midnight streets I hear
How the youthful harlot's curse
Blasts the new-born infant's tear,
And blights with plagues the marriage hearse.

Posted by purple elephant at 10:30 PM |

Malcolm X

We’ve been watching Malcolm X this week. (I know, I know, only about ten years behind everyone else but you should just be grateful that my movie watching habits are not as old as the books I read, if so then I wouldn’t be watching anything because film wouldn’t have been invented yet.) It took me a couple of nights to get though it because strangely I have a low concentration span where films are concerned. Nothing to do with the film, just me.
One thing that bothered me though was the ending. So gunshots are going off in the auditorium, Malcolm is laying on the stage for dead. One minute his wife is watching on in horror with the three kids, next minute she’s on the stage cradling him in his final seconds but what did she do with the kids? Did she usher them off into safety with someone else who managed to not get trampled? Or were they hiding, trembling in the sidelines somewhere?
Did it really happen this way, or was it an oversight in the film?
I guess it is just the morbid maternal in me, wondering what the hell I would have done in that situation.

Posted by purple elephant at 08:45 AM |

April 16, 2005

Resume by Dorothy Parker

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

Posted by purple elephant at 07:43 AM |

April 15, 2005

Tesco: My part in their downfall…

As it’s Friday I promised Littleone some sweets on the way home from school. So we innocently trundled through the door of the Tescos Express not thinking of picking up a basket because after all we were only in there for a packet of sweets.

Then the inevitable happened.
Vegetable Samosas – out of date tomorrow – Reduced! So I thought LUNCH!
Then I predicted I might run out of reading matter sometime this afternoon, so I got myself a paper to join the colossal ‘must read yesterday’ pile.
Then we decided we were in a cake mood, so we got ourselves a packet of jam tarts for pudding.
Finally I remembered that we were totally out of Orange Juice so I grabbed a carton.
So as you can imagine, what with the school bag, the coat (which has to come off the second the temperature rises by half a degree) and the Friday deluge of splodge art work, I was running out of hands, but fortunately the Orange Juice tucked just nicely under my arm.

Can you see where this is going?!

I politely paid for my purchases, even nodded in greeting to the security guy on my way out. It wasn’t until I was half way home that I began to wonder why the Orange Juice was still tucked under my arm and not in the carrier bag. By the time I reached my front door the truth dawned on me.

I am a thief. Albeit an accidental thief, but a thief all the same.

For a second my middle class, Daily Mail* reading upbringing set in and I paused for a millionth of a second as I thought about going back, tail between my legs, 59p in hand to confess my wrongdoings.
Then I remembered the feature on the news a couple of days back about Tesco’s record annual profits of 2.03bn. Can you imagine that lot in pound coins? I certainly can’t? What difference would 59p make to them?
Bah!

So I held my head high as I mounted the stairs, fancying myself as some sort of revolutionary anti-capitalist heroine, who was going to bring down the multinationals single-handedly with her 59p.

I’m impressed with how easy it was. I mean next time I might actually go for the most expensive item on my list. Can you imagine what radical change could have come about if it had been the 94p samosas under my arm instead?

I am drinking up the Orange Juice a bit quicker than usual, you know just in case they come to retrieve it – and me.

I’ve always quite fancied a navy boiler suit.

Look after my kid when I am gone.


*By this I do not mean that I used to read the Daily Mail. Just that I was surrounded by people who did.

Posted by purple elephant at 01:22 PM |

April 14, 2005

Why Dorothy Wordsworth is Not as Famous as her Brother

I have already posted this but it is so good I'm going to post it again in honour of National Poetry Month.

Why Dorothy Wordsworth is Not as Famous as her Brother
by Lynn Peters


"I wondered lonely as a ...

They're in the top drawer, William,

Under your socks -

I wondered lonely as a -

No not that drawer, the top one.

I wondered by myself -

Well wear the ones you can find.

No, don't get overwought my dear,

I'm coming

"One day I was out for a walk

When I saw this flock -

It can't be too hard, it had three minutes.

Well put some butter in it.

- This host of golden daffodils

As I was out for a stroll one -


"Oh you fancy a stroll, do you?

Yes all right, William, I'm coming.

It's on the peg. Under your hat.

I'll bring my pad, shall I, just in case

You want to jot something down?"

Posted by purple elephant at 11:25 PM |

I don't understand the thong...

Right so I’m assuming that the thong was invented for those days when a woman would like to wear figure hugging trousers but wants to avoid the inevitable visible panty line.
If that’s your thing then fair enough. Personally however many times a faithful thong fan tells me that ‘they are not as uncomfortable as they look’ as they limp off into the distance, I don’t think it’s really me but I digress.
What I really don’t understand is the latest fashion, where the top of the thong is arranged so it peeps out between the hipster jeans and the crop top.
So you have endured a considerable amount of discomfort to avoid anyone seeing your knickers through the fabric of your jeans only to arrange them so they appear over the top, in the cold light of day!
Am I missing something here?

Posted by purple elephant at 12:57 PM |

April 13, 2005

An Obstacle by Chalotte Perkins Gilman.

I was climbing up a mountain-path
With many things to do,
Important business of my own,
And other people's too,
When I ran against a Prejudice
That quite cut off the view.

My work was such as could not wait,
My path quite clearly showed,
My strength and time were limited,
I carried quite a load;
And there that hulking Prejudice
Sat all across the road.

So I spoke to him politely,
For he was huge and high,
And begged that he would move a bit
And let me travel by.
He smiled, but as for moving! --
He didn't even try.

And then I reasoned quietly
With that colossal mule:
My time was short -- no other path --
The mountain winds were cool.
I argued like a Solomon;
He sat there like a fool.

Then I flew into a passion,
and I danced and howled and swore.
I pelted and belabored him
Till I was stiff and sore;
He got as mad as I did --
But he sat there as before.

And then I begged him on my knees;
I might be kneeling still
If so I hoped to move that mass
Of obdurate ill-will --
As well invite the monument
To vacate Bunker Hill!

So I sat before him helpess,
In an ecstasy of woe --
The mountain mists were rising fast,
The sun was sinking slow --
When a sudden inspiration came,
As sudden winds do blow.

I took my hat, I took my stick,
My load I settled fair,
I approached that awful incubus
With an absent-minded air --
And I walked directly through him,
As if he wasn't there!

Posted by purple elephant at 04:38 PM |

April 12, 2005

Hello Silence how y’a doing?!

Do you hear that? That is the sound of nothing at all!
Mr PE back at university, and the child’s back at nursery.
Just me and my old pal Silence and boy have we some catching up to do!

Mr PE is not in my good books today. He woke me up an hour after my early night to announce the line up for the Avalon stage at the Glastonbury Festival. The worst thing is that as he stood there reeling off a list that is not dissimilar to Purple Elephant's top ten favourite bands in the whole wide world ever, ‘Levellers, Seize the Day, Justin Sullivan (New Model Army) etc etc’ for a moment of pure bliss I smiled a contented smile and said ‘I can’t wait!’
And then I remembered…

I then tossed and turned for an hour thinking of all those larger louts that turn up year after year, chucking their litter about and shitting on the toilet seat, never even heard of the Green fields or the Avalon Stage. Probably only there to salivate over Kylie Minogue’s arse. (I mean Kylie f***ing Minogue at Glastonbury?)

So I finally fell asleep only to be woken at 4am by a wide-awake child who insisted that it was morning and she was hungry and thirsty. So I made her a glass of water and a quick sandwich and she then proceeded to insist that I was trying to poison her with beetroot juice!
I just love my family to bits!

Posted by purple elephant at 11:12 AM |

April 11, 2005

January 1795

In recognition of the fact that I have promised a review of Perdita (It’s coming It’s coming) I bring you in honour of National Poetry Month a poem by Mary Robinson.

January 1795 by Mary Robinson.

Pavement slippery, people sneezing,
Lords in ermine, beggars freezing;
Titled gluttons dainties carving,
Genius in a garret starving.

Lofty mansions, warm and spacious;
Courtiers cringing and voracious;
Misers scarce and wretched heeding;
Gallant soldiers fightin, bleeding.

Wives who laugh at passive spouses;
Theatres, and meeting-houses;
Balls, where simpering misses languish;
Hospitals, and groans of anguish.

Arts and sciences bewailing:
Commerce drooping, credit failing:
Placemen mocking subjects loyal;
Separations, weddings royal.

Authors who can't earn a dinner;
Many a subtle rogue a winner;
Fugitives for shelter seeking;
Misers hoarding, tradesmen breaking.

Taste and talents quite deserted;
All the laws of truth perverted;
Arrogance o'er merit soaring;
Merit silently deploring.

Ladies gambling night and morning;
Fools the works of genius scorning;
Ancient dames for girls mistaken;
Youthful damsels quite forsaken.

Some in luxury delighting;
More in talking than in fighting;
Lovers old, and beaux decrepid;
Lordlings empty and insipid.

Poets, painters, and musicians;
Lawyers doctors, politicians;
Pamphlets, newspapers, and odes
Seeking fame by different roads.

Gallant souls with empty purses;
Generals only fit for nurses;
School-boys, smit with martial spirit,
Taking place of veteran merit.

Honest men who can't get places,
Knaves who show unblushing faces:
Ruin hasten'd, peace retarded;
Candour spurn'd, and art rewarded.


Posted by purple elephant at 05:43 PM |

Weekly Blog roundup

1) A fantastic post over at The Color Purple about the postition of women.
2)I cannot wait to make me a batch of this Vegan Chocolate Pudding posted by Vegan Momma.
3)A scary but very important post by Chasmyn about hidden carcinogens in baby products. Thank God I've only ever used the bare minimum with Littleone.
4) More scary stuff from Rob but at least this will give you a chuckle.

Posted by purple elephant at 11:45 AM |

April 10, 2005

National Poetry Month

In honour of National Poetry Month I thought I’d share a few of my favourite poems with you. I don’t think I will be able to follow Geeky Mom’s example and post one a day but I’ll try to post as often as I can. A warning; my poetry taste mirrors that of my novel reading, feminine, old fashioned and mournful. You have been warned! Hankies at the ready…..

PERHAPS- by Vera Brittan
(To R.A.L. died of Wounds in France, December 23rd, 1915)

Perhaps some day the sun will shine again,
And I shall see that still the skies are blue,
And feel once more I do not live in vain,
Although bereft of You.

Perhaps the golden meadows at my feet
Will make the sunny hours of spring seem gay,
And I shall find the white May-blossoms sweet,
Though You have passed away.

Perhaps the summer woods will shimmer bright,
And crimson roses once again be fair,
And autumn harvest fields a rich delight,
Although You are not there.

Perhaps some day I shall not shrink in pain
To see the passing of the dying year,
And listen to the Christmas songs again,
Although You cannot hear.

But though kind Time may many joys renew,
There is one greatest joy I shall not know
Again, because my heart for loss of You
Was broken, long ago.

Posted by purple elephant at 08:34 AM |

April 09, 2005

It's all in the scarf!

It occured to me last night in bed (as these things do) Last month when I was writing my essay I had a sore throat and was wearing a scarf around the house. I think Mr PE commented that I was turning into Clare Short.
That was where I had been going wrong this month.
NO BLOODY WONDER!
So I got myself at unearthy-hour o clock, made a strong coffee, wrapped my lucky scarf around my neck and set to work...
It's now finished! Done! Over!
Why did I not think of this earlier?
Boy am I going to look a twat in the summer when I write my super length piece wearing a winter scarf.
So tell me. Do any of you have a lucky mascot type thing?
I'll blog about something interesting next week. Honest!

Posted by purple elephant at 06:21 PM |

April 08, 2005

Swallowing the political dictionary...

There is nothing that pisses me off more than students who think that just because they were reasonably successful at A Level Sociology and they have been on a couple of anti-war marches that they have the authority to use words they obviously don’t understand. According to some young girl on Question Time the other night Pope John Paul II was a ‘Right wing, Neo-Capitalist.’
Well done young girl, you had your second of fame and you blew it.
I wish I had been on the panel, I would have pulled her up on it and asked her what exactly it was that made the Pope a capitalist, or a ‘neo’ one for that matter. Perhaps he has a hugely exploitative burger chain that I don’t know about.
I vehemently disagree with the Catholic Church’s stance on contraception and abortion, and this is why I could never be Catholic. I do however get hugely irritated by people from this side of the fence who hold the Pope responsible for these archaic laws, as if he had the power to change them.
Shouldn’t we at this time concentrate on what he could and did change?

Posted by purple elephant at 11:56 AM |

April 07, 2005

How are the mighty fallen...

I voted for Jane Eyre in the Woman’s Hour watershed fiction as I considered it to be the book that catapulted me from reading children’s fiction to ‘grown up’ books. When I was nine Jane Eyre was my heroine and I probably could have written an acceptable essay on ‘rebellion and conformity in Jane Eyre.’ So why is it that twenty years later I have spent two days staring at a pile of notes and a blank screen barking at anyone who attempts to make contact with me? It is as if I can’t see the wood for the trees. I spent a whole hour last night obsessing over one sentence before giving up and watching Desperate Housewives.
And then there is that novel I wrote way back in November. As you are probably aware it needs some serious editing/rewriting, I promised myself as a New Year’s resolution that I would attack one chapter a week throughout 2005. On the 1st January I got half way through the Prologue and haven’t touched it since.
Yet of course now I have to write on ‘rebellion and conformity in Jane Eyre’ I am being bombarded by sudden inspiration for the novel. I have rewritten whole chapters in my head, I have come up with a name for the town and the estate where the main characters live, but I WILL NOT open that word file until I have got through this piece of work.
So I’ll struggle on to the end of this essay, hand in a load of waffling rubbish and on Monday I’ll sit down to edit the novel and it’ll all be gone.
Ask me about ‘rebellion and conformity in Jane Eyre’ on Monday however…. You’ll see..

Posted by purple elephant at 09:34 AM |

April 06, 2005

Weird Kid...

When we are out Littleone loves to gather stones and twigs and bring them home.

So far so normal.

Despite the fact that she has a toy box full of toys, she spent most of yesterday afternoon having a tea party with an elephant and a stone. The elephant sat there in silence whilst the stone kept slurping his tea and commenting on how tasty it was.

I have just come back from the kitchen where I found her playing with some magnetic bulldog clips we have attached to the fridge.
The orange bulldog clip was telling the purple bulldog clip that he wasn't his friend any more.

I'm not so sure if I should be celebrating her vivid imagination or lamenting the fact that due to study commitments I have spent very little quality time with her during this easter break.

Posted by purple elephant at 10:44 AM |

April 05, 2005

Why I'll miss Glastonbury this year...

We have been holding out hope for getting ourselves a couple of Glastonbury tickets, during some sort of ticket re-allocation. Last year this happened a couple of times as people cancelled, didn’t send postal orders or ordered more than two per address. We had friends who got tickets this way. They have just announced that there will be no re-allocation this year. If you have no ticket now then apparently that’s it, you can pack your tent away. Also because your address is printed on the ticket and you need photo ID at the gate, there is no point buying one off ebay either. Oh and to add salt to our wounds Glastonbury is having a year off next year.
So our hope is diminishing, the fat lady may not quite be singing but she is certainly warming her vocal chords.
Roll on 2007, just so I can spend hours hitting redial only to be let down again.
It is really hard to explain to those who have never experienced the festival quite why this is such a big deal but I’ll try.

As you swap your ticket for a wristband and stand at the top of the hill looking down on the site, it sounds really trite but the only way I can think of it is that it is like coming home. After 51 weeks of wandering aimlessly you have finally made it home.
We usually head straight down to the Green Fields at the bottom of the site and camp somewhere down there. We slap the tent up and go exploring, grab ourselves some food and sit and watch the world go by because as soon as you pass through the gates real life does not exist anymore. This is the world. It is a world of peace, creativity, veggie food, rainbow colours and love. I was made redundant the day before Glastonbury 1998. Naturally I thought it would screw up my festival ever so slightly, but I didn’t think of it again, not until I walked back through my front door on the Monday afternoon. It is almost as if your brain knows that this only happens for five days a year, so you might as well make the most of it by blocking out everything else.
We spend our days in and out of the kids’ field, watching Littleone clamber over a climbing frame shaped like the Rainbow Warrior or hanging out in the craft tent making a rocket out of an old plastic drinks bottle. We drift from stage to stage satisfying our wide ranging music tastes, taking in anything from Paul McCartney to some messed up avant-garde weirdness on the Lost Vagueness stage. Mr PE spends a great chunk of his festival in the Leftfield stage listening to some inspiring left wing politics, reminding us that there could be a better world all of the time. Whereas I get over to the poetry and words tent when ever I can.
By night we try and watch the sun rise from the Sacred Space at least once during the festival. These days however I do find myself getting tired earlier than I used to (kids anyone?) and more often than not I do find myself retiring to the tent before sunrise. Yet if we are camped near enough to the Sacred Space I always stir with the sun to the sound of drumming and cheering, before turning over and falling back to sleep.
True, it can be depressing leaving the site on a Monday morning and it can take weeks adjusting to the real world again, but I am always filled with hope that if a festival can exist like that for a few days then surely there is no reason why this cannot transfer to the real world. What if fully grown adults really could walk around in fairy dresses? (male or female) What if you could take a stroll around your town centre and McDonalds was replaced by Queen Delilah’s veggie burger stall and Pizza Hut was replaced with Manic Organic? What if the homogenous, sweatshop produced clothes from Gap were replaced by fair trade rainbow jumpers and long floaty tie-dyed skirts decorated with embroidery and tiny little mirrors? What if that grubby kids playground with the broken swings and graffiti-ed up slide was replaced by something imaginative, bright and exciting where your Kids could feel safe? What if you could strike up a conversation with whoever was next to you in a queue without being made to feel like you were going to rob them?
What if we really did have the power to change this world for the better?
That’s what Glastonbury does, it take the weight off my shoulders, fills my bitter, cynical brain with hope and those two feet that spend 51 weeks of the year firmly rooted to the ground are finally allowed to fly.

All is not totally lost. Yesterday we treated ourselves to some tickets to Beautiful Days. I am also hoping that we can make it to the Big Green Gathering this year.
There is a side to Glastonbury that I don’t like, it starts at the main stage and each year creeps its way further over the site. I’m thinking that if the tickets sold out over a couple of hours then those who have broadband, several phone lines, multi hitting software (I have no idea what this is but I am told that it exists) WAP phones and numerous debit cards (with at least 130 in the account) had a greater chance of getting tickets. This certainly seems to be true if you read the comments here. I’m wondering how empty the Green Fields will be this year….
Oh I could write a whole post about that but I didn’t want to sound like I am stamping my feet and screaming,
‘Well I never wanted to go to your stupid festival anyway!’
Because I do.

Posted by purple elephant at 08:38 AM |

April 04, 2005

Weekly blog round up

The roundup of the roundups version,
I haven’t quite got the knack of these roundups yet, because my memory is not so good, I find myself at the end of the week thinking, I know I read loads of good posts this week but I cannot remember any of them. So for the following week there will be a new tactic, I will write a note to myself as I read them. It takes my slow brain a while to work these things out but I get there in the end. Sometimes.

1) Natalie does a great top ten roundup over at Philobiblion. In her top ten she tries to link to women bloggers who do not get many hits. All of this is worth reading.
2) Kate (come on it’s tradition now) also links to some great stuff in her roundup.
3) Jenn is back again. She posts some gorgeous photos of her baby and also posts some of her writing (here and here.) Head on over as we need to encourage her to stay with us.
4) And finally Pewari links to some great photos. This will get you laughing.

Posted by purple elephant at 10:27 AM |

April 03, 2005

We shall NOT go to the ball...

Glastonbury Festival SOLD OUT...
Purple Elephant family have no tickets....
Oh well at least I can get dressed now...

Posted by purple elephant at 01:11 PM |

Why I love the BBC

I’m not a Catholic but all respect to the Pope and his long and fruitful life.
The BBC made such a sombre effort with their extended news. (Although I’m not so sure about Jeremy Bowen’s dress code, what was going on with that garish clash of purple tie and blue shirt, I don’t know maybe he spilled something on his black one)
So we get to the point where they run out of commentary and alas, the news has to end, but of course when someone dies we cannot have the thumping music, we have a silent, slow motion fade out with footage of people crying outside the Vatican. So far so good.
So the last rosary fades to black and then BANG! A bright red screen flashes up and the voiceover bellows;

‘And this weeks Lottery numbers are….’

Life goes on I guess….

Posted by purple elephant at 08:20 AM |

April 02, 2005

Glastonbury Festival 2005

Tickets for the Glastonbury festival go on sale tomorrow at 9am.
This is where I should probably be twittering on about how great it is, but to be honest after the ticket fiasco last year. I daren’t get excited until I get some sort of confirmation that tickets are on their way to our letterbox.

Not getting excited means that I don’t think about it.

Up until last year the longest I had spent acquiring tickets was 45 minutes on the phone but in 2004 they put in all sorts of anti ticket tout measures which meant only two tickets per credit card/ person which of course meant more people phoning up, which in effect sent the website and the one single phone line crashing down.
There wasn’t even a queue on the phone line, which meant that if you didn’t get through you just got a message from BT to try again.
If I tell you that tickets went on sale at 8pm one evening about this time last year and I didn’t get through until 5pm the next day, would you believe me? Yes I spent 21 hours hitting redial, with only a couple of 10 minute breaks to try and gather my sanity. Mr PE was also trying on his mobile until the early hours but he went to bed at 4am as he had to be in college by 9am.

To be honest I did doze off for about 10 minutes but I must have been hitting redial in my sleep and something must have gone hideously wrong because I woke up finding myself talking to this old chap.
‘Hello?’
‘Errr? What? Err… That’s not the Glastonbury ticket service is it?’
‘Err no.’
‘Oh I am ever so sorry!’
‘That’s Ok love.’
I have to say he was ten hundred times more polite than I would have been had someone rang me at 5am with such a weird request.

It is sad, as there are obviously many more people who want to go to Glastonbury than there are tickets and this selfish clamber goes against everything Glastonbury stands for. I have been going for eight years now and maybe I should step down and let someone else have a chance but I’ll share for the other 365 days of the year, I want my tickets and I’ll stop at nothing.

Maybe if I mentioned that Mr. PE and I met at Glastonbury, that we got married in 2002 in Glastonbury town hall and went on to have our honeymoon at the festival then you would begin to understand. Strangely the festival had a year off in 2001 and Littleone was born on the last Monday in June at 4am. Mr PE jokes that it would have been cool if the festival had been on, then there would have been just enough time for us to see the last band on the Sunday night before leisurely heading off to the healing tent to give birth. (He is of course male and forgets that the contractions started on the Friday night and I spent the whole weekend on all fours hardly able to move but hey I laugh along)

So wish me luck! And if you are thinking of tying to get a couple of tickets for yourself, I’ve got one thing to say….

Look into my eyes, into my eyes, not around my eyes look into my eyes 3-2-1 you’re under…
Glastonbury tickets go on sale Monday 4th April at 9am.
3-2-1 you’re back in the room.

And may the best person win…

Posted by purple elephant at 09:15 PM |

April 01, 2005

Going to the blogs

Did anyone hear the progamme about blogs on Radio 4 last night. If you are interested you can listen to it again or read the transcript here.
I'm a bit too busy to comment at the moment but I may or may not have something to say later.

Posted by purple elephant at 06:21 PM |

Book Meme

Snatched from Michelle and Amy;
Apologies for my narrow reading tastes. I am actually working on this by trying to encourage myself to read anything published after about 1940, particularly if written by a male member of the species.
So if you have any suggestions please let me know.

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?
I can’t make up my mind on this one. I either want to go with something along the lines of the Virago Book of Fairy Tales or else a good travel book like Pole to Pole, partly because it covers many of the places I want to go but mainly because I think Michael Palin would be a great travel companion.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
Edward Rochester, Heathcliff, and Mr Darcy. Then I got a dark brooding character of my own.

The last book you bought is:
For my Mum’s birthday I got her a copy of Mrs Dalloway, she is really in to Virginia Woolf since she saw The Hours. (Yes I did make her read the book) Last week I discovered Through the Tempests Dark and Wild which is a kid’s book about Mary Shelley, I have tucked that away on to the top shelf ready for when Littleone is a touch older, it’s too beautiful for her to get sticky fingerprints over just yet. The last book for me? I’ve been a bit short of money lately so it has been a while. Coincidently I actually think it was another Mary Shelley biography. Do you detect a theme yet?

The last book you read:
Perdita; The Life of Mary Robinson by Paula Byrne and yes I do have a review coming.

What are you currently reading?
I should probably finish L’Assommoir today. I’m also reading Mrs Gaskell’s The Life of Charlotte Bronte, I’m going through a female biography phase, can you tell?!

Five books you would take to a deserted island:
I hope it’s not cheating if I tell you that I have a sort of Virginia Woolf omnibus which has Orlando, Mrs Dalloway and To the Lighthouse all in one edition. It was the book that first started my Woolf obsession way back when I was about 14. So I have the sentimental value thing going on that one.
I would also take a dictionary so I could work at extending my vocabulary.
The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, no one should go anywhere without it.
Some sort of Ray Mears survival guide, so that there is a chance of me making it back in one piece.
For my final choice I can’t make up my mind, either a book with pictures; maybe Escher; or I might steal Michelle’s idea and go for one of the Norton anthologies, or possibly The Complete Oscar Wilde, or Testament of Youth.
Christ! I do hope I’m not going to have to swim anywhere with this pile of books.

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 people) and why?
I’m the nosey cow who sits on the train/ bus craning her neck to see what everyone else is reading, so if you are reading this, I want to know. NOW!

Posted by purple elephant at 08:18 AM |