Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Greece 3 600 - 14Firstly some telegraph link so old I've forgotten what it links to. Ah yes. The delights of selfishness. Live in cul-de-sac. Complain that the dustmen block cars getting out. So live on a road which doesn't provide access to other drivers while expecting to have access to everywhere else. The woman's obviously never got beyond thinking that traffic is bad without connecting that she is part of it.

And I speak as someone who grew up on a cul-de-sac. Football in the road wasn't quite on due to the hill, but go-karts, bikes and sledging were. Except it was the wrong end of the cul-de-sac, so had the traffic from further up coming through (the place is fractal like in its cul-de-sacs). As house prices went up and people extended and subdivided, so did the number of cars (and the expectation of use. And of course modern cars are safer, so people drive faster). As I grew up, people retreated from the road. Of course we could always play further up the hill, so somewhere less busy, except then we'd get told to sod off by the people who thought nothing of accelerating down a steep hill through a crowd of children.

It's hardly surprising I remember with glee the days snow and ice made the hill difficult, although not impassable, but the idiots in the bigger houses and bigger cars either used the slingshot technique (not ideal if one can't steer and it's just as well there was a kerb there to stop you) or tried the hill in first and would accelerate harder the moment they started slipping back down. Of course they were always too rude to those who lived down the hill to ever receive help. It was really funny watching the 4x4s fail to make the hill [well, it was till they started sliding towards one of our cars]. The best bit was having to go and explain to the people parking in front of the drive that perhaps they might like to reconsider their position.

Even more fun was the year a tree came down over the end of the road, thus trapping everyone. The number of people who came and banged on our door demanding we remove what they saw as our tree was impressive, in a stupendously disheartening way. Apparently not a lot of them had grasped that we don't own the woods over the road, or perhaps it was simply the significance of the twigs, trunk, roots order had eluded them.

But it was entertaining helping various neighbours cut up the tree and try to move it (recently deceased trees are heavy) while be perpetually interrupted by cars coming down the hill, hooting, shouting, waving us out of the way, before figuring out why there was a cluster of people clutching axes and saws standing waist deep in foliage. The brighter ones didn't try to drive through it. But what really impressed me was the number who got angry and demanded we do something as he had a meeting at 11. Because we of course weren't doing anything until we knew that. Apparently sarcasm is more effective when delivered by a man wielding an axe.

Ok, so maybe it's not cul-de-sacs that annoy me (although anything which makes life less equal tends to). It could just be the terminally [unfortunately not literally] stupid. The petty-minded, antisocial, insular and often downright thick people who inhabit cul-de-sacs. And life was kinder and more cohesive back in the land of bump-starts, jump-starts and back-fires. When machines failed, people worked, together.

But I could just be saying that as cars either broke down going up the hill and rolled to a stop near us, or the owners couldn't get them bump-started and had run out of hill, so we usually had to offer tea and WD40 (and jump leads'd cars and roughly analogous Haynes manuals). It gave people an excuse to talk, to meet each other, to realise that if that car is always in that drive, then if the same car turning into the road ahead of them, then it probably is going to want to stop to reverse into that drive, and so not driving into the back of it would be good (I once had someone come round so fast he mounted the pavement to avoid shunting me and have often had to abort because people got too close. I don't know what they think reversing lights mean).

Not that people in that road aren't cohesive. They recently organised a street party. They didn't invite people from either of the lower bits, despite closing the road.

It's all a far cry from my mother managing to devalue the baby sitting circle safety pins.

And this isn't all at what I intended to to write about. It was meant to comment on the disparity between my mood and feelings of late compared to those of other bloggers, but somehow the feeling has passed. I think it's basically the sheer delight of doing things I like with people I like. It's scarcely happened for years and I'd almost forgotten it. It's the bizarre situation of actually managing to relax. First came Thursday's bitchfest, which was much better than it sounds. We all (ok, 3 of 4, 4 being a friend's uni-friend flatmate) come from the petty, spiteful town mentioned above and so all do a good line in destroying those around us with causal aplomb. But it's not meant, and I don't think we actually get round to the truly sensitive stuff (ok, most of us didn't, and the one who did probably didn't earn quite the laughs those comments could have done). It probably says something about us that the multiple faults, flaws and failings of our lives can reduce us to convulsive laughter.

And one advantage of being inept with language is that most of the cheap shots in my direction focussed on what I'd said, not me, so I didn't have to do the truth-in-jest check. Which I suppose is one advantage of speaking tumbleweed lines and I only meant she was an elephant in terms of gestation period, unfortunately only the elephant would understand the link (there was a bra size, lactation, a reviled ex-he-is-still-ex-right-boyfriend not seen in a year lead in. You had to be there, or recording from the live microphone overlooked on the table. Oh apparently leakage is no joking matter, which didn't stop us having a damn good, and suspiciously successful, try).

And I've just realised that by emailing half my readership it makes it just a tad harder to copy and paste from emails.

So Thursday was fun. Friday was... I can't remember, and that's not a comic build up to half remembered drunken antics but simply that it was so undifferentiated from normal that it doesn't stand out. Saturday was more of the same, so emailing, fixing cress and computers. Oh and watching the Fifth Element when SG descended complete with free from rubbish newspaper DVD of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast (not any of the decent or Disney versions). She insisted on watching them (she isn't region 2, I'm not sure it was encrypted). We watched BatB, or rather we put it on, persevered, tried to look on it as amusingly ghastly (American dubbed Japanese animation. Imagine Spirited Away made twee and without imagination) and decided that for future reference, only the decent papers do decent free films, and thus decided that Cinderella could wait until the world runs out of free AOL CDs to use as coasters, bird scarers, impromptu mirrors and poor Frisbees before we get it back out. Hence the random selection from my slightly too extensive range of DVDs (it does rather say I get bored and have no friends).

Sunday was lunch, cooked by me, shared with Pancake Girl. Thoroughly unseasonal. Not quite as horrendous as choosing the middle line between conflicting recipes should demand, but then I hadn't a clue what to do with lamb shanks (they were reduced in March, and have sat puzzling me in the freezer ever since). Turned out reasonably well considering I forget to nick any rosemary (well, there's one bush nearby that's about a storey tall, so it could do with a prune), put them in so late that I didn't have enough time to insert garlic into the freezer-burnt chunks, and then forgot to make any mint sauce (and I've been watering my ex-flatmate's abandoned mint for months specifically for this purpose). And the roast potatoes weren't quite there, so it's just as well I over-par-boiled them. By the way, please don't let me talk while cooking vegetables. It simply cannot end well and very nearly didn't end at all. I could have pretended I intended them as a starter, but I don't know how to make proper pea soup and mashed carrots doesn't sound that nice. I told you it was unseasonal (the peas were frozen), so you can spot who missed the market on Saturday. Just as well that summer and the wine combined to allow us to think we were full and so not miss the fruit intended, but not bought, for dessert.

As for the people and the conversation, it went well, but that could just be the wine and the fact that for once I could hear her (I'm dreadful at following voices against background noise. That's probably why I liked both Thursday and Sunday. I could hear. I could talk. And I like talking [as friends will attest, possibly vehemently]). I still managed to come away from it thinking that India were playing Pakistan at Lords, which seemed very odd until I realised it was an accent and expectation thing. But I like this thing, this sobre-mesa idea (god knows why it has a Spanish name, it's hardly unique to Latin America). Memo to self: do more, even if that means I have to cook. Actually I quite like cooking as well. It's just the uncertainty of things missing that has been putting me off.

But my computer is busy trying to convince me to go to Moskau (ha ha-ha ha-ha hey indeed), which reminds me that I also intended to Az this blog up with my current me-like song. Although it's not quite as new as his stuff (and I don't know when it's from). But it just seems to work for summer evenings. It's by Israel Kamamkawiwo'ole, which either suggests that there can be something good called Israel after all, that his surname would make an excellent triple word score, or that somewhere there's an online bank account opened by that sequence of characters. And it's a little something you might recognise [scroll down to "Descargar... (mp3, 4.7 mb)" for the filelink].

Russland ist ein schoennes land! But only if one believes the startlingly dressed.

Anyway, haven't eaten yet and need to buy food (due to damn fool idea of feeding it to someone else).


For knowing someone who can reasonably be referred to as "Pancake Girl" I applaud you.
Er... ok. I'm obviously missing some cultural reference. She's female and I taught her to make pancakes.

Like the dragons thing your blog btw.
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