Tuesday, October 31

A Guide to Halloween Decoration

Make porch as gaudy as possible, this is essential whilst trying to create a dilapidated effect on a Bovis home that is less than 10 years old.

Unintentionally carve pumpkin in the way that a five year old would, get away with it by saying you wanted a 'minimalist' look.

Go so crazy in Halloween aisle at ASDA that you have to resort to tying skelingtons and severed heads to bits of wire near your front door.

Always, ALWAYS hang a plastic bat from the porch ceiling.

Thursday, October 26


I've finally succumbed to using one of those internet face recogniser sites.

I tested this photo:

and here are my matches:

1. Neve Campbell (?) 72%
2. Carol Vorderman (???) 71%
3. Drew Barrymore (that's better) 68%
4. Meg Ryan (urgh, she's old) 64%
5. Roseanne Barr (Get. To. F**k.) 64%

so then I ran this photo, to test the software further

and, once again, here are my matches:

1. A Japanese MAN called Kangta 78%
2. Susan Sarandon 75%
3. Tina Turner (?!) 73%
4. Marilyn Manson 72%
5. Greta Garbo 72%

Though, special mention must be made to my sixth match, I am also 72% Frank Lampard, woo!

I thought I'd give it one last try, so I uploaded this pic:

But, instead of becoming clearer the results just got more and more bizarre:

1. Lisa Left-Eye Lopes 72%
2. Jared Lato 68%
3. Heather Locklear 68%
4. Kate Bush 67%
5. Stephen Baldwin 67%

I have come to the conclusion that it's a load of bollocks.

Monday, October 23

I'm a c**t sometimes

Sometimes my pedancy is embarrassing and annoying, I seem to have compulsions to correct spellings and grammar that make my life a misery sometimes, even though I sometimes offend myself and spell things wrong. Last night, at my friend's party we were discussing Torchwood, and my friend Beccy stated that she hadn't realised until now that Torchwood was an anagram of 'Doctor Who'. I had to admit I hadn't either. Then, my friend's son piped up

"Huh, well you don't wanna know what Newquay is an anagram of!"

Everyone giggled, but I sat with a puzzled expression on my face for about 30 seconds. I'm quite good at Scrabble and Countdown, you see, and was trying to work out what exactly it was an anagram of, and I couldn't find one, and I certainly couldn' t find one that was amusing. I asked my friend's son what it was, he looked a bit shifty and then said

"Wanker innit?!"

Everyone laughed again. I continued to stare stupidly, not getting it. My brain actually did this:

Newquay - N.E.W.Q.U.A.Y.
Wanker - W.A.N.K.E.R.
Common letters in both words - N.E.W.A.

I couldn't just leave it, I'm not built that way, so I said

"But... 'Wanker' has a K in it. 'Newquay' has a Q and a U and a Y in it. I don't get it."

The son got a bit defensive then.

"Well I dunno! I'm dyslexic!!"

I pointed out that yes, he was dyslexic, but that someone must have told him that joke in order for him to repeat it, which they had, so that meant that there were other non-dyslexic people out there that also made spelling errors in attempts to create rubbish jokes. And thus his dyslexia claim fell flat. He's not stupid anyway, not by a long shot. By now everyone else was a bit fed up and wanted to move on to the next subject.

I can't actually help being a nitpicker. It's not my fault that I can spell properly. Was I just supposed to laugh along with everyone else and leave this mistake unchecked? But what if it spread to other parties, and a pedant more annoying than I pointed it out, things got ugly, there were a few punches thrown and a man got KILLED?? I couldn't have that on my conscience, no, best to nip it in the bud there and then to prevent further embarrassment.

I think so anyway.

Friday, October 20

A quickie

I delete all comments by 'anonymouses', no matter how long they are.

This blog has my name on it, at least extend me the courtesy of providing yours.

Thursday, October 19

Old boys with a twinkle in their eyes

I keep getting chatted up by very old men at the swimming pool. Last week a really old guy offered me tips for improving my front crawl, and this evening an even older man with white hair asked me how many lengths I had done before enquiring about my job, family and location in relation to the leisure centre. I particularly like getting chatted up by geriatrics, it feels safe. I know that, if they tried any funny business, I could tackle them with ease, and probably defeat them. I can also swim a lot faster than most of them, that makes me feel smug.

I stay well away from any men under 60, because they all seem a bit creepy in their tight shorts, showing off as they swim up and down and up and down without stopping. Also, why do all men under 60 wear googles? Is there a biological reason for this?

Tuesday, October 17

Sometimes I don't think I've ever properly grown up...

I'm on edge a bit this week. My teaching application is all but ready to send off. It's a bit like a regular university application, except you get less choices. I chose my old Dept Head as my referee, because who better to comment on my suitability for the teaching profession than the man who employed me as a lecturer? The minute he completes the reference I get to send my form off to the first institution, and I'd really like to get this uni thing done and dusted by Christmas so I can start thinking about moving to London and temping to save cash. So, as you can imagine, I am somewhat impatient for him to complete it. He said, in an email, that he'd write it this week, but he didn't say when this week, so I've been checking my application page obsessively, every hour or so, from approx 8am until midnight - which is the adult equivalent of sitting by the window with my face pressed against the glass waiting for the postman to bring me parcels.

I'm frequently struck by how often the small child in me nearly bursts out of it's adult confines. Dept Head says 'this week', the 5 year old in me says 'YES! NOW!'. I know it's irrational, and only a small part of me takes any notice, but it's most definitely there.

This childish streak is most obvious in my new swimming hobby. I usually swim up and down the swimming pool in neat lines, bobbing up and down rhythmically like all the other pensioners and fitness freaks, but the 5 year old in me occasionally causes me to swerve off-course, do a somersault underwater and backstroke into an old man wearing nose-clips. It's the wide-eyed childish jubilance at bouyancy, the novelty has never quite worn off. Sometimes, when the pool is quiet, I lay in the deep end in a big star-shape, bobbing around in the water like some kind of fat ocean mammal. I used to do it when I was small, I'd try to count all the ceiling tiles in the St James's Pool, at least I've since realised that that is an impossible and useless venture.

And yesterday I laughed at a man because he fell off his bike and 8 cans of Special Brew fell out of an ASDA carrier he had balanced on his handlebars, rolled off down the road and all went underneath the wheels of cars. Age 5 I wouldn't have understood the significance of Special Brew in this slapstick situation, but I'd have at least appreciated the terrible misfortune and laughed gleefully, which is exactly what I did, as I drove over one of the cans on my way home from work.

The Perfect Blend

I've spent the past half hour reading Neighbours spoilers on the internet. My suspicions about Sky's pregnancy were not unfounded, I see...

I should feel bad for wasting thirty minutes of my life on a soap opera, but the truth of the matter is that I actually think Neighbours is brilliant. It's what I come home from work every lunchtime for! Take today's episode for example: Lou Carpenter found a phone, picked up a call from it and discovered it belonged to one Elle MacPherson. This prompted a conversation between him and Harold, extolling the virtues of her lingerie line. Things are set to take a 'bizarre turn' tomorrow!

I shan't post the spoilers on here, because I know how important Neighbours might be to some of you. If you want to know anything juicy then you can leave me a comment.

I fucking love Neighbours, I do.

Gettt In!!!

I returned home in my lunchbreak today and found a recorded second-class envelope, with my name on it, bearing the Waitrose logo. Inside was a letter apologising for my unfortunate illness, and expressing Waitrose's doubts that their products could cause such terrible stomach upsets. It suggested I had picked up the bug elsewhere. I hadn't, but it didn't really matter what they thought anyway, because attached at the bottom of the letter was a voucher for £25!!!

Gemma 1 - Waitrose 0

A small victory , I think.

Monday, October 16

He was like, 'GRRR', and I was like, 'WHATEVER!'

A couple of girls got BUSTED by the ticket collector on the train back from London today. It was one of those moments that unites all the other passengers on the train through shared amusement. It appears that one of the girls bought two returns using her young persons rail card, but the other girl didn't have a card of her own and was therefore DENIED the right to travel cheaply. Usually I am on the customer's side in these situations, as I think that rail companies take the piss. I would have taken pity on these girls, despite their obvious sloaniness, if it weren't for the following conversation that ensued:

Collector 1: Well, sorry girls, but I'm going to have to charge one of you for a full single.
Girl 1: How much is that?
Collector 1: Eighty four pounds.
Girl 2: Urgh! You horrible little man! Do you get JOYS out of this?
Collector 1: You must have read the rules when you got your card, surely?
Girl 1: Er, no! That was, like, MONTHS AGO!
Girl 2: It's not like we're adults or anything, we're STUDENTS!
Collector 1: Look, you must have known, because they'd have asked when you booked the tickets, so just pay up, and then we can sort this out.
Girl 2: Duh! Why would she do that on purpose? She's a GIRL! She's not a thief or anything, she's a girl!
Collector 1: I need your address, miss.
Girl 1: I'm not giving you my address! I don't give my address out to strangers!
Collector 2: Excuse me miss, are you refusing to cooperate? Because if you are I'll have to put you off at the next stop and turn you over to the police for fraud and deception.

The girl gave him her address. Obviously.

Girl 2: Just ring your mum. She'll sort this out.

I bet she does as well. I bet she rings them up and gives them sloane hell. But the girls were guilty as sin. They as much as admitted they hadn't bothered checking it all out properly. Their first mistake was to launch an all-out offensive when confronted. If they'd been quiet and contrite instead of behaving like

then they'd have probably got away with it.
Their second mistake was to change their story frequently from 'we didn't think you had to' to 'we forgot' to 'WELL YOU HAVE SO MANY RULES FOR EVERYTHING!!! WAAAAHHHHH'.


I'm glad they have to pay £84 (+£10 administration charge).

Wednesday, October 11

One more thing...

I am still updating my Fitday journal every day. It's very tempting to lie and leave out the bars of chocolate and croissants with jam, but, seeing as this fitness thing is essentially benefitting me and not you, I'd only be cheating myself. I reserve the right, however, to call it 'Fitgay' from now on, as a sort of childish rebellion against authority.

I've put a link to it on the left hand side of this blog.

Note, if you will, the loss of four kilos and the two swimming sessions this week!

*is shattered*

It took a massive 20 minutes to register at the local sports centre today. My doctor has prescribed exercise for me, which means I have a special card that lets me swim for free as often as I like, for three months. So I took along all the relevant forms, signed by my GP, and was treated like a leperous freeloader by the tubby wench on reception.

To begin with she eyed me with suspicion, trying to suss out what on earth could be wrong with a middle-class twenty-something girl with nice shoes. Secondly she peered very, very closely at the doctor's signature, suspecting me of fraud, I think. She flashed me a look that said 'well, you don't look depressed'. Perhaps I should have messed my hair up a bit, scratched at my arms and walked into the reception wailing and beating my fists upon my chest. She might have believed me then. Because that's what all depressed people look like, you know. Mental. Then she made me sit in the corridor with all my swim gear in an ASDA carrier badg while she fetched some gladiatorial fitness instructor, who barked instructions at me about when and where I could go with my free invalid pass. I am NOT allowed to swim after 6pm. I am NOT allowed to use the gym then either. I am NOT allowed to attend fitness classes for free.

I did try and tell the man that I didn't want to use the gym anyway, as I hate it, and can use the pool during the day on Mondays and Fridays, because those are my days off work. But I didn't really get the chance. I felt really confused and depressed after all this, because I only want my free swimming and didn't ask to be so much trouble. It's not even like I'm a freeloader. I work, even though it'd be perfectly easy for me to be signed off onto Incapacity Benefit or some other such thing, and to have all the other benefits (Housing, Council and suchlike) that go with it. I could do that, and fester in a council flat watching Trisha every day and getting even more depressed. But I don't. I work and pay tax and the only other help I receive for my bipolar disorder is medication. Which I pay £6 odd a month for.

Luckily I finally got the chance to have my swim and felt a lot better once I'd exercised all the confusion away. As I walked out I gave a really cheery wave to the receptionist, who sneered at me again, doubting me to the last.

I love public facilities. I really do.

Monday, October 9

Fox News coverage...

... of the North Korea nuke testing is hilarious.

They have this brilliant teaser they play between reports that says

North Korea


It takes up the whole screen.

They are currently showing everyone how nasty nuclear tests are... I guess the USA should know, they do enough of them!

Blast from the past...

I had an awful dream, it was all my old friends from school, ones who have, in the past, turned a blind eye to my obvious bullying at the hands of two other friends and then not invited me to their weddings. I'm not actually sure why I call them 'friends' at all, but from the age of 11-15 they were all I had, so it seemed to make more sense to hang around with a bunch of people that wrecked any shred of self-confidence I had than to sit on my own every lunchtime. Don't worry, I got wise to them once I hit 16 and kept them at arm's length. Natasha and Sarah G were 100 times more genuine anyway.

So, the dream. I was at a graduation ball. During the course of the dream I:
- was accused of stealing a handbag
- was accused of stealing a bike
- was the subject of mean chinese whispers around the room
- was befriended, and then shunned by the aforementioned friends
- was reduced to tears by friends
- was left in a heap outside the ball venue sobbing quietly in the rain

That pretty-much sums up my high school experience, actually. I have no happy memories of school whatsoever, and just remember suffering extreme paranoia and self-doubt caused by two friends in particular pulling my strings like a marionette. I never did anything to warrant it, I was too frightened to be myself. It was only when I got clever and discovered books that I realised I'd be able to escape them one day, and started pulling away. But what worries me is that, when depressed, I still have dreams like this that obviously mean I am still suffering at the hands of these fucking morons. And what's worse is, I don't think any of them have any idea what they actually did to me. I was on antidepressants at 15 because I couldn't handle going to school without having panic attacks, and they never knew. My mother actually banned a few from her house, but I never told them, because that'd have made my life hell.

I can't really believe that, as a grown woman, I am still having flashbacks to a past that I thought I'd got over years ago. It's troubling me. Perhaps I should have a showdown with them all.

Nah, can't be arsed. Instead I'll give a shout out to all my laydees: Elin, Anna, Tash, Kaff, Layla - you five girls have renewed my faith in friends. Seriously. I thank my lucky stars for you lot.

Sunday, October 8

*polishes halo*

I've not been too well these last few weeks, the depression's been rearing it's ugly head again and I've been finding it hard to get on top of it. When I'm depressed I go into auto-pilot mode. I'm up and running (well, kind-of...) but I'm really just going through the motions until I can lie on my bed and close my eyes. Then I go into shutdown until it's time to get up again. Restart. Auto-Pilot. Shutdown. I'm basically a robot.

However, I have been trying very hard this weekend to keep myself out of bed, but not do so much that I make myself feel unwell. It's a tricky balance, but you get the hang of it after a while. So yesterday, James and I spent the afternoon wandering round a National Trust castle, and then we walked all the way around the top of the moat, and, because I live in the Fens (very, very flat) you could see for miles. The air was all fresh and clear, I was with my lovely boyfriend, and it really made me feel better.

Then today I dropped James off at the station, got home and started feeling all down again. So I forced myself to get up, got into my car and went swimming for an hour. Sheer agony, it was, but BRILLIANT!! I felt AMAZING after I'd got out of the pool, so much so that I think swimming might be some miracle wondercure for me. I'm going to go twice a week from now on. I went onto google and typed in 'swimming + depression' to see if there was some sort of scientific evidence to explain my change in mood, but most of the websites were about the health benefits of swimming with dolphins. I don't ever want to swim with dolphins. They're sinister.

What's great is that my body actually made some endorphins instead of letting them slide into my pillow while I sleep/doze.

Oh, and I haven't smoked for a week. Hurrah!

Thursday, October 5

Watch my weight struggle!

It's better than Wife Swap! I have signed up to this website that lets you keep tabs on your daily food intake and tells you how much weight you have to lose. I'm a bit overweight for my height, I'm only little and can't seem to carry a lot without it being really noticable. So I've been inspired by a recent bout of gastroenteritis to try and lose a little weight. Eating nothing but pasta and ginger nut biscuits all week has showed me that starvation is possible, if you BELIEVE! It does lie though. There's no way the small bowl of pasta I had with one teaspoon of pesto for my lunch contained 358 calories.

So here are the calories I have to munch my way through:
To maintain my current blimp-like state:
2027 Calories/day
Fat Loss:
1622 Calories/day
Extreme Fat Loss:
1338 Calories/day

I have made my online profile public so you can all go there and laugh at my lapses and chinese/indian binges, just click this link 'ere and you'll be transported into my diet journal. You will note that today I digested 1175 calories. Good start, even though I have gastroenteritis. This must be so much fun for you, you lucky, lucky devils.

Bonfires and Exploding Shoes

The annual O'Donnell family firework party is in the embryonic stages of planning at the moment. It's going to be the biggest one yet, and Dad's thinking of having an actual BONFIRE in the garden this year. This is exciting because usually we just chuck a load of old twigs in the chiminea.

And, this year, we're having twice the normal amounts of guests, so therefore TWICE THE AMOUNT OF FIREWORKS!!

This all got me thinking about Guy Fawkes, every year everyone in England celebrates a failed attempt at terrorism by setting off miniature explosive devices and burning effigies. When you consider it, all this is in very poor taste, but it's so far back in history that nobody really cares.

Scarier than Al Queda?

So what failed terrorist plots then, will people celebrate in years to come, when we're all clothed in silver space suits and driving flying cars? I've come up with some suggestions for future events, think far into the future... like 500 years or more:

21 July 2005 - Failed London Bombings. (When four attempted bomb attacks disrupted part of London's public transport system two weeks after the 7 July 2005 London bombings. Metropolitan Police later said the intention was to cause large-scale loss of life, but only the detonators of the bombs exploded, probably causing the popping sounds reported by witnesses, and only one minor injury was reported.)

Suggested future celebrations:
- Catherine wheels on the hubcaps of flying buses
- Bonfires in underground stations
- Popcorn to be sold on street corners

7 July 2006 - Hudson River Bombing Plot. (The FBI announced that they had foiled a plot that was in its "talking phase" by foreign militants to detonate explosives in tunnels connecting New Jersey with Manhattan and drown the New York financial district with a torrent of water. This was unfeasible because the tunnel is embedded in bedrock, and the target is above sea level. The report, however, made international news.)

Suggested future celebrations:
- Giant 'Water Parties' where people squirt each other with hoses, ride down giant tunnely water slides and play in wave machines
- Big public gatherings around rivers and lakes to watch official organisers set off huge jets of decorative water
- Tossing of FBI agent effigies into nearest river/lake

22 December 2001 - American Airlines 63/The Shoe Bomber. (During this American Airlines flight, as it was flying over the Atlantic Ocean, Richard Reid — an Islamic fundamentalist from the United Kingdom, and alleged/self-proclaimed Al Qaeda operative — carried shoes that were packed with two types of explosives. He didn't set the explosives off. He is in prison now.)

Suggested future celebrations:
- Jumbo jet flyovers in all towns
- Firecrackers in soles of shoes
- Moccassin-shaped exploding candy for kids

We shall never know if all this catches on, of course, because by then we'll be long gone. One thing we must never do, now or in the future, if burn giant effigies of Al Queda terrorists. That will cause more trouble than it's worth.

Wednesday, October 4

Oooh, it's all swanky round 'ere!

I've converted to Beta Blogger!

I'm not really sure what that means, but it has allowed me to tidy this place up a bit, and make it look more Gem-ish. You can also subscribe to posts now, like you could when I was back on myspace (duh, like nobody blogs on myspace anymore, get with the programme, Grandaddyo!).

Now I am off to the nurse because I haven't been able to hold solids for 5 days. Maybe I'm regressing into a newborn again... I'll have a tug on Mum's norks and see if I get any better.


Tuesday, October 3

Force 4, I reckon...

My stomach just gave this ALMIGHTY gurgle/creak. I swear it measured on the richter scale. It started low down in my gut and bubbled right up. However now, touch wood, I feel ever-so-slightly better.

Was it the creak that broke the bug's back?

We shall see...


I just ate a chicken dinner... as yet nothing awful has happened. I wait with baited breath...

A ripple of clarity in a sea of nausea...

Welcome back. Well, that was aimed more at me than you, as I have been away a-visiting my boyfriend and picking up a very nasty bout of food poisoning from a Waitrose Tuna & Cucumber sandwich (How do I know it's the sandwich? Believe me, I know it's the sandwich... when I think about it I practically retch). Those bored by illness details or of a nervous disposition may want to skip to the next paragraph while I whinge. Have only eaten the plainest of foods such as rich tea biscuits and toast, since Sunday, and still have stabbing pains and alien faecal matter. I was up until about 3am last night shivering and enduring stabbing gut pains, and flopped downstairs this morning at 8am unwittingly walking into confrontation with my father, who was in what can only be described as 'rhinoceros mode', nostrils flaring, fists clenched, red-of-face and ready to charge. He proceeded to tell me all the usual parents bollocks, that I wasn't ill, that I was pathetic, blah blah blah. Stuff he said when I was 15. I wanted to point out that if he had been shitting unidentified disgusting objects for the last 48 hours and having to lie very still all night to prevent vomiting he'd probably have made the same decision. I wanted to say that, I really did, but I felt dizzy and sick so I just turned around and walked upstairs without saying anything. I'm hiding now. It's ridiculous, we're locked in this stalemate, because he's my father, so thinks he can still tell me what to do, like a child, and I'm an adult, but still occasionally fall into the trap of thinking my parents always know best, again, like a child.

Yesterday I caught the train from King's Cross whilst suffering the aforementioned bug. It was awful and scary, but then, just past Hyde Park Corner tube station, an idea popped into my brain, a brilliant and amazing idea. My train of thought went a bit like this:

"Gemma, you don't like your job, it doesn't pay you enough money. You don't like living with your parents, even though you love them to pieces, and you don't like being away from your boyfriend. The only job you want to do is teaching, it's the only job you've ever loved and found truly rewarding. So why the fuck don't you just go back to uni for a year and get your bloody PGCE?"

I was a bit shocked by this. I wasn't expecting to think it. But then I thought on:

"Once you've got the PGCE you'll find it so much easier to get a job in a college or school, and you'll be earning a lot more so you can really start making a dent in your debts. Why haven't you considered this before, you foolish wench?"

So, when I got home, I looked into finances. I reckon, with loan and grant and bursary I'll have about £300 a week coming in for the duration of my course. It's definitely do-able, even if I have to live off canned goods for the 9 months I'm a student. Then I also remembered that full-time students don't have to pay council tax, and that made me even more optimistic.

So I'm applying for 4 courses in London, with London Metropolitan right at the top. We shall see what happens...

Do Google searches and that...