Some of the Books of My Life

Right then. Let’s have a whistle stop tour of some of the things I’ve been reading in the last few weeks:

It’s always nice when you think you’re up to date to find books in a series you’ve missed. I read two by Stuart MacBride from the Logan McRae series, The Blood Road and Now We Are Dead. Gritty, Scottish noir with a darkly humorous slant. I love them. There’s a new one out in May.

I had more of a crime fix with The Return of Mr Campion by Margery Allingham, a book of short stories which I was sent by NetGalley. Old fashioned and rather charming. I liked them very much, particularly the stories in which Campion didn’t feature, which was a surprise.

I also read Red Mist by Patricia Cornwell, which Oscar bought me for my birthday. Don’t tell Oscar but I hated it. I’ve only ever read one other Kay Scarpetta book and hated that too. I had rather hoped that this would be better. It wasn’t. You know it isn’t for you when you really hope that the horrible sociopath will bump Scarpetta off in chapter four, only to be cruelly disappointed when it doesn’t happen.

Meat Market by Juno Dawson was a proof from NetGalley. I very much enjoyed it. It’s a YA novel about the fashion industry and exploitation of young girls. It’s well written and I think it’s an important book for its target market. It’s out at the end of May.

Natboff by Andy Stanton was a good, solid offering from the creator of Mr. Gum, who I love with all my heart. Even my new car is named after a character in one of his books. Natboff doesn’t live up to quite the deluded genius of Mr. Gum but it has its moments. If you have kids who like very silly books, you should get it for them.

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata was an odd one. I really enjoy Japanese literature. I’m not sure whether it’s the authors I’m choosing to read or the translations, but they all tend to have this quite surreal quality to them. This is no exception, and I loved this right up until the end, which I thought let it down somewhat by not being weird enough.

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks was another odd one. Hanks (of film star fame) collects old typewriters in real life. He also writes stories on the type writers. Each story in the collection is written on a different antique typewriter from his collection and makes reference to said typewriter in the story. It’s novel, I’ll give it that. Some of the stories are good, some less so. I got my copy in the Kindle sale a while back. I’d have been annoyed to pay full price.

Three books about fashion were all great. Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie, Alexander McQueen: Blood Beneath the Skin by Andrew Wilson and The Button Box: The Story of Women in the Twentieth Century Through The Clothes They Wore by Lynn Knight, were all fascinating. The Lynn Knight was my favourite. I love a wander through social history with an interesting focus and this provided all of the above. The McQueen was next. It’s made me want to watch the film again. The Picardie book was a bit staid, but got more interesting as it went on.

Paul O’Grady Still Standing: The Savage Years, Rosie: Scenes from a Vanished Life by Rose Tremain and Then It Fell Apart by Moby were all decent autobiographies. Rosie was particularly fascinating because Tremain is such a vivid writer and her incredibly privileged childhood at the end of the Forties is so well drawn. I also really enjoyed the Moby book because it was pretty salacious and full of gossip. He’s had a surprisingly louche life for a vegan. Both these were advance copies from NetGalley. The Paul O’Grady was because I still love Lily Savage. I saw her once on stage. She reminded me rather of my gran.

I also read A World Gone Mad: The Wartime Diaries of Astrid Lindgren. It was interesting, but I realise I know very little about Lindgren, and because the book is predominantly diary extracts I found myself frustrated because I wanted to know more about all the people she talks about.

Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant by Joel Golby was sort of autobiographical, along with journalism. A real mixed bag, but yes, brilliant.

The Haunting of Henry Twist by Rebecca F John was a bit of a punt, and not an entirely successful one. It started off as one thing, which I was really into, and then about a third of the way through, decided to branch off in about twenty different directions, none of which really resolved at the end in any way I found satisfactory.

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney was excellent and as enjoyable for me as her book, Normal People. She writes with this sort of superb ordinariness that I find hugely appealing despite the fact that lots of people seem to hate her. I think she’s exceptional.

Currently I have several books on the go:

I am reading an extraordinarily boring book about the Tudors which I have been reading on and off for two years now and which is a very effective insomnia cure. It was free on Kindle and it’s really, really terrible. Imagine the worst text book you ever read and then add levels of hitherto unknown boredom. I can’t even be bothered to tell you who it’s by, that’s how bored I am of it.

I am reading The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware, which is another book Oscar got me for my birthday and which actually seems pretty good so far.

I am reading The Theoretical Foot by M F K Fisher which is strange and excellent

and finally I am reading The Overstory by Richard Powers which I got sent by NetGalley and which is superb.

Fin.

 

Slightly less gloom

I am still here. Still quite mad, but hanging on in there. I’ve had more sleep in the last few days, so that’s good. Things are always more manageable when you’re not exhausted. I’m still knackered, but I’m not swivel eyed anymore. Top marks for me.

I am trying a slightly new approach to things. I am attempting to do everything at the pace I can manage, rather than the pace the world dictates. This is helping a lot. Some days I get a lot of things done. Other days not so many. That’s ok. People are being very patient with me. This is probably due to the fact that all the asylums are now luxury flats and nobody wants to have to sit with me while I do basket weaving.

As well as getting more sleep, I am eating more things than toast. This is an improvement. Not that there is anything wrong with toast. It is one of the foods of the gods, along with mashed potato, but a girl can have too much toast. I was that girl. Toast is a treat, not a lifestyle. At least that’s what I tell myself.

Luckily for my newly restored vigour in terms of cooking, Amazon Vine sent me Sabrina Ghayour’s latest book Bazaar to review and I have been testing things from it. As with all her books, it is excellent. The recipes are simple, easy to follow and tasty.  It has meant that I have been eating proper meals again. To sum it up, all the recipes are vegetarian, but even my meat loving husband is actively enjoying the food. Nuff said.

I am still very, very sad about many things and prone to bursting into tears at random times. I think I am also quite furious about some things, but am far too tired to do anything about them. This is probably a good thing. I am definitely still on the morbid end of the thought spectrum, but am less terrified by everything. Slightly.

I know I am less terrified, because I am actively making plans to do things instead of putting them off, even the nice things. My diary is beginning to look more jovial. Whether I do these things remains to be seen, but choosing to do them is a step in the right direction, rather than forcing myself, or simply pretending that nothing is happening.

I spent several days last week with a painfully blocked tear duct (probably overworked) and a headache which turned into a spectacular migraine by Thursday afternoon. I have spent the majority of the Easter weekend recovering. This has mostly entailed sitting in the sun, reading my book, eating big, fat olives stuffed with garlic. Today I didn’t even bother to get out of my pyjamas. Well, except to have a bath, where I wallowed for a good hour, also reading my book.

To a large extent, books are saving my life at the moment. They give me peace I don’t get elsewhere, and fill my head with words that are not mine, and worlds that are not mine and this is good.

It’s been a long time since I posted book recommendations. The next post will be for the bibliophiles and then it will be back to the usual plangent moaning and the odd post about the cats.

 

Extra-Ordinary

I have had a small hiatus from blogging while I went slightly mad. I am now, slowly, coming out the other side of it. I am still mad, but I am getting some help, so that makes it less lonely and frightening, which is nice.

I have been functional mad, which in some ways is good, because it means I can still get up, get dressed, work, eat etc. In other ways it is not so good, because it is hard to explain to people quite how mad you are on the inside, when the outside seems to be ticking along very nicely thank you.

Quite often with mental health, the insides of a person and the outsides of a person do not match. For me, showing you what the inside of my head looks like is difficult. It’s difficult because I don’t want pity and I don’t want to be a freak show for other people’s amusement. It’s also difficult because I spend a lot of time wrestling with shame that I cannot do what other people seem to do so effortlessly. For me, regular life is often excruciatingly hard, sometimes impossible. I do not see a way for myself to fit in. A lot of the time this doesn’t bother me. I’ve spent a lifetime not fitting in. When I am very mad in the head, it bothers me a lot.

It is also difficult because this madness seems so large, and while I don’t talk about it or acknowledge it, I can (usually) contain it within myself. If I talk about it, I am often afraid that it will spill out of me, rather like a huge oil slick and then I won’t be able to stop it, and it will basically drown me until all that’s left is mad. So you can see why it would be difficult.

It’s so difficult that I didn’t even talk to my family about it until last week. I don’t want to be a burden, you see, and sometimes when the mad is screamingly bad, I become a burden, and it’s not as if they haven’t got enough going on. We are a family over blessed with burden at times.

Anyway, despite all this, I did talk to them, because even I could see that I was headed for a place that was no good at all, and my containment, don’t talk about it, pretend everything is fine schtick was not really cutting it any more, due to me becoming increasingly erratic.

So I talked about it with my husband and a couple of my trusted friends and they are helping me, and I am letting them, and that is hard in itself, because rather like my stubborn daughter, I like to do it by my ‘rown’ as she used to say. But sometimes, when your head is a hostile environment, you are not the best person to judge, or to help yourself and admitting that, and letting people help you, is a good thing.

And interestingly, all the people that I talked to said roughly the same thing to me, independently of each other, which makes me think that they’re probably onto something.  They said, and I paraphrase:

‘Why are you worried about being ordinary? We can help you with ordinary. That’s the easy bit. Why don’t you just accept that you are extra-ordinary, and go off and do those extra-ordinary things that only you can do?’

And I say that to you, if that’s the kind of thing that’s happening in your head right now. Let other people help you with the things you can’t do. Just focus on being your extra-ordinary self. x

 

The Martin Chronicles – aka I am fucked up

I don’t know if you ever have that thing where you think that you are over a traumatic event and then you find out, usually in reasonably trying circumstances when you could well have done without it, that you aren’t?

It me.

I am, of course, talking about my feelings about my new car. Martin Launderette. For he is indeed a he, and he is absolutely a Martin. Right now he is a Martin Launderette. Maybe later he will morph into a more kindly Martin. I don’t know. I just know that I didn’t really want to call him that, but that is his name, and you cannot argue with destiny on these points.

My beloved car is still on the drive. She has until April 2nd, when the MOT certificate runs out before I have to legally give her up. I have been trying not to drive too far in her in the last week. She really doesn’t like long runs. Short domestic journeys are all that’s in her now, and zipping from home to the post office or the Tesco Extra have meant that I was able to kid myself that the moment of parting was far, far away and probably a figment of my over active imagination.  That some amazing and miraculous event would happen to mean that I wouldn’t have to give her up after all.

Sadly, going the whole twelve miles to Loughborough to pick up Martin Launderette put paid to that little fantasy entirely. I chugged home on Friday afternoon, listening to the rattle of the failing suspension, feeling her sluggishness on hills and how hard she was trying to please me, despite being utterly exhausted, and I knew that it really was the end.

On Saturday morning I cleared out all the detritus that has accrued over the years. There’s the horde of tiny, spiral shells from that excellent holiday we had in Wales two years ago, the sand coating them now dry and dusty, sifted to the bottom. I kept them in the side pocket of the passenger door, so that when I was being driven about I could push my fingers down into the space and feel the holiday, still travelling with me. There’s the damaged piston from where I broke down on the ring road and thought I was going to a) die and b) miss taking the kids to the theatre and it turned out that I didn’t die and it was a simple fix and the AA man gave me the piston for good luck. There’s the torrents of cheap and terrible CDs that the kids and I would buy from Saino’s and crank up to eleven and drive all over the country singing to.

Jason had gone out to play golf, but I knew he would want me to drive Martin when he got back, and when he breezed in and picked up the keys and said: ‘Are you ready then?’ I couldn’t put it off any longer. I did spend an inordinate amount of time putting my shoes on, in the dark, in my office, with tears rolling down my face, because it turns out that the phobia of driving that I spent all those years conquering? It wasn’t conquered at all. It was just dormant, because I beat it into submission and threw a great lid on it and it turned out that losing my beloved car took the lid clean off and let it all come bubbling to the surface.

I blew my nose, wiped my panda eyes and went out and drove the car. I drove it perfectly competently and without any drama. I say without any drama. I mean any drama on the outside. Inside there was a whole fuck tonne of drama and I found a metaphorical lid from somewhere, and every time a drama tentacle threatened to snake out of my mouth or my eyes, I slammed the lid down hard and carried on.

We drove the grand total of fourteen miles and parked up in the middle of nowhere because by that point I was exhausted and stressed beyond stressed and needed to stop before I turned around to come home.

And I felt like an absolute fucking idiot. A total waste of space. I know that there is nothing to be afraid of. I know I can drive. I know that I can drive safely. I know that I can drive cars that are not my beloved car. I know all of those things and I have proved them to myself time and time again, and yet this absolute surge of panic and fear will not leave me alone at the moment.

It does not care about rationality, or reason. It does not care that I am lucky that I have a husband who bought me a new car and who understands, and who is beyond patient. It doesn’t matter that the fear is illogical. It matters that the fear is there, and even though I very much wish it weren’t, it doesn’t make it go away, and it doesn’t mean that I can ignore it. Because that’s what a phobia is. A phobia is a fear that is way out of proportion to the thing you are afraid of, and way out of a lot of your control.  If it were simply a question of logic, people wouldn’t hide under the bed when there was a thunderstorm, or faint when they see a money spider.

It’s no good wishing I were someone different, because I’m not, and as my mother would say; ‘If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.’ This is who I am, and these are my feelings. I am not terribly accepting of them right now. I ricochet between terror, sadness and absolute fury at myself for not being ‘better’. I also know that that doesn’t help. Beating myself up about that adds another layer of shit to the shit sandwich. Go figure.

These feelings are so often circular and self sabotaging. ‘I want to  do/feel/be that. I cannot do/feel/be that. I have tried my best, but it’s not where I am right now. I feel weak and that really, secretly, deep down I cannot possibly have tried my best, because if I had I would be able to do/feel/be that, because other people do and it looks simple. I know that I shouldn’t compare myself to other people, but I do and I feel bad about that but I cannot stop myself. I hate myself for my first failure, my second failure and every failure thereafter. I know that is unhelpful so I feel bad about that. I know I should love myself and forgive myself and be kind to myself, but I can’t, because I am a failure and I hate myself, and I shouldn’t even be thinking these thoughts.’ etc, and so it goes.

I am also pissed off that I did a load of work on this stuff several years ago, hypnotherapy, regular therapy, desperate prescriptions from the GP, and now here it all is again, like I learned nothing. So that’s a frisson of rage to spike the soup of self loathing. I realise that things have improved by the way. I am much more functional than I was. I am just emptying my head.

And I cannot possibly go out in the world with all this on show. I cannot function like this. So I slap my drag queen make up on. I tousle my too pink hair, and put on my brightest clothes, and I look really calm and collected, and rational (ish). When people ask me about it or I am in a situation where I have to make people aware that I am not quite as sorted as I seem, I joke with them, because how can I squat down and give a great, existential howl of anguish without frightening the living shit out of everyone I come into contact with?

I have learned how to pass as normal, because it’s easier and because I have to in order to life the life I want rather than the life that my fucked up brain would subject me to if I gave it freedom to do what it wants.

But that’s exhausting, because it’s like the me that is tired and ill and permanently fucked up, having to carry the jolly, socially acceptable, highly functional me around all the time. And over the years I have learned to do this, because necessity. Over time, the fucked up me has grown healthier and slightly more integrated with the other me, but there are times where we split apart at the seams and the weight is on me again, and right now is one of those times. Which is why, when I got home yesterday and really needed to work, I spent five hours dozing on the sofa because I was exhausted by myself and not fit to do anything. And why I was up until two this morning because when I woke up I had a head full of poison and a lot of panic to deal with.

And I am kicking out and railing against this like it will change things and I know it won’t.

Well, that’s not strictly true. I know that by pouring my heart into words it means that I am creating space in my brain so that I can get some perspective, and that with perspective and space comes a little more resourcefulness. I know that by being honest with myself it makes it a bit easier to tell myself to shut the fuck up when I start spiralling and I need to get a grip. I know that faking it to make it, as long as I am honest that I am faking it, will become less and less fake as time passes.

What it won’t change, right now, is that sick, tearful overwhelm when I go to start my car.  What it won’t change is that feeling that I am an alien freak in a world of normal when I struggle to do what so many other people never even have to think about.  What it won’t do is make it easier to do what I know I am going to have to do every day until things improve, which is feel all that stuff and go out and live and drive like a normal person until I am so exhausted and it is so automatic, I can shove it to the back of my brain again.

And it will come, because if I did it before, I can do it again, and I will just keep clinging on to that until it does.

 

 

 

 

Ranting Mum

Let’s talk about Mother’s Day.

If Mother’s Day is not a good day for you, and for many of you, like Christmas, it can be a terrible day, go out, switch off from social media, enjoy the sunshine. Take my blessing and my love. You are warriors.

I am going to give you fair warning, that if you love Mother’s Day and all it stands for and your day and life is a joyous celebration of maternal stuff and things, this will utterly harsh your mellow and you should just bin off reading it and go about your business.

If you’ve been hanging out here for a while, you will know that I have huge problems with a) designated days on which you are compelled, usually by advertising companies, to celebrate things you might not feel like celebrating and b) being obedient.

When I was a child, I had very little control over how my life was lived and how the days were shaped. I am not entirely complaining about this. I mean, I was a fucking idiot back in the day (and quite a lot now to be fair), and left to my own devices I would have had an early and tragic death, almost certainly involving diabetes and probably scrofula. I am grateful that I was saved from my own worst excesses.

Having said that, it is frustrating to not be tired but be sent to bed, not be hungry but be forced to clear your plate because of starving Africans who you should feel sorry for but end up resenting because you’d happily give them the rice pudding if you had an option etc. Also, only being allowed to watch The Kids from Fame on the black and white portable with the shit aerial so it permanently looked like New York was in a blizzard.

A lot of my childhood, and I believe many other people’s, was spent fantasising about the time when I would be mistress of my own destiny and do whatever the fuck I wanted, whenever the fuck I wanted to do it. This, I think, is the primary reason why we hurtle towards adulthood with such glee, despite adults constantly telling us to slow the fuck down and enjoy our lives because we are free. It never felt like freedom as a child and I had nothing else to compare it to, except watching my parents drinking Mateus Rose on a school night and eating all the Walnut Whips when I’d gone to bed, because they could and I couldn’t. That’s what freedom looked like to me, and I wanted it.

In retrospect they are kind of right, but at the same time also wrong. You are not free if you cannot stay up and watch The Rockford Files or Starsky and Hutch or only eat the purple Foxes Glacier Fruits because they’re the best ones, and whyever would anyone even make the green ones, let alone eat them? On the other hand, you are free if you don’t have to work 14 hours a day to put food on the table and work out how you’re going to pay your council tax and keep a roof over your head. But then what about school and homework and exams which are like work only with nits and no pay?  What about the fact that as an adult if you want to spend your house keeping money on a new stereo and only eat Pot Noodles until you’ve paid for it, it’s your call? For me, adulthood is still winning if we have to draw up a list of freedom pros and cons.

But then. But then. And this is what really fucking yanks my chain. As if this working, paying bills, wiping arses that aren’t even our own weren’t bad enough, we take all the things we railed against and were going to free ourselves from as children and glom onto them like they’re some kind of weird life raft. When I talk about this with people, they so often say they do these things because ‘tradition’, but mostly I think it’s just bull shit, and a way of filling time to avoid staring into the gaping void of days until we die.

And for some of us. For some of us I mean me, it’s not a life raft, it’s a huge anvil that gets thrown to me when I’m already going down for the third time, because a lot of this stuff is not about what I want,  it’s about everyone else feeling better about themselves and giving themselves stuff to do.

I don’t need extra stuff to do. My life is full of stuff that I actually want to do and rarely have time to do because work, taxes, not being evicted from my own home for health and safety violations, without having to think about whether I should dig up a perfectly healthy, minding its own business tree, drag it into my house and watch it die while I cover it in plastic – for example. I don’t want to spend my life  hauling round mugs that say ‘World’s Best Mum’ and which I really want to break with a poker but can’t for fear of offending someone.

I am not against fun, or celebrations or traditions. I am not some kind of middle aged puritan in a too tight collar, shouting at people to stop dancing and eat root vegetables shaped like penises. Far from it.  If these are the things that make you happy, I urge you to do them. In fact I urge you to do them whenever you like, as much as you like, for as long as you like. I urge you not to save up your celebrations for one, fraught day when if things go wrong it all ends in tears. I urge you to live a full and joyous life every day.

I am against the weight of expectation, the idea that conformity is comfortable and ‘right’ for everyone, that, for example, there is one day a year when mothers get celebrated instead of appreciating them all year round. I am against taking them out on Mothering Sunday to eat over priced, over cooked lunches in uncomfortable clothes, when maybe what they actually wanted to do was stay in bed all day.

I am against not thinking, because you let the weight of tradition take up that slack for you. I am for understanding that maybe that meal might have been a better gift if it had been given on the day you walk through the door and find her slumped at the table, grey faced and exhausted by the battle of domestic fuck wittery and what to cook for dinner, and you take her out instead and show her that you see her every day, not just on one day.

And I know that’s a gross simplification because life is complex, but you get my drift.

I am also very against mother’s day being about other people making themselves feel better at the expense of the person they’re supposed to be celebrating. It’s not about being able to tell everyone at work on Monday what you did to be a good son or daughter. It’s not about comparing the gifts you give with other people and the gifts they give. Sometimes the best gift you can give is not leaving wet towels scrunched in a heap on the bathroom floor where they will start to smell. Sometimes it’s not putting the empty biscuit packet back in the cupboard for inexplicable reasons. Sometimes it’s about cleaning your own skid marks out the lav, even though it’s a bit grim. It’s a thousand times grimmer if they’re not your skid marks.

My mother’s day has been spent in my pyjamas, reading my book and not doing any work, domestic or otherwise. It’s been about eating chocolate digestives for my lunch because that’s what I fancied. It’s been about my family getting their own food instead of waiting for me to produce it. It’s been about me, having the time to be me and the freedom to do whatever the fuck I want, whenever the fuck I want it.

It’s been pretty perfect.

 

 

 

 

Drunken thoughts and shoe boxes

It is nearly one in the morning. I have a weird lump on the inside of my lip. I have decided that it is either a) a tumour, b) a giant, reverse pimple that will have swelled up to cover half my face by morning or c) a poisonous spider bite that will definitely have a thousand baby spiders living inside of it that will all swarm out and cause death by shock plus drowning in baby spiders if I don’t die of spider venom first.

These thoughts, plus eating too much tarka dahl is why I am still awake even though I am really, really exhausted and need to go to sleep so that my brain can stop coming up with outlandish and terrible things to make me anxious about (as if there weren’t enough regular things in the world to be anxious about) and my hands can stop pushing food into my mouth.

In other news:

We went to get my new car today. My old car has to go to the scrapyard this weekend. I am refusing to look at or think about driving the new car, even though it is on the drive. This is irrational, but there you go. I never said I was sensible. I know it is silver. That’s pretty much it. Jason asked me what I was going to call it.  I feel that a name might help me bond with it and it is the least difficult thing to think about in terms of new car thoughts. I am fairly sure that it is a ‘he’ car and not a ‘she’ car. I am drawn to Martin Launderette, which is a character from Mr. Gum by Andy Stanton. I’ll sleep on it.

Work has been better. I still can’t look at my bank account without doing a little ‘cri down my cheeks’ as the children used to say, but it is less horrible. I’ll take that.

Tallulah went to a party and got dead drunk on Saturday night and had to be fetched home early. We poured her into the car and I sat up with her until 5.00 a.m. She is nearly sixteen. These things happen. It is a rite of passage. Having said that it was a very long, vomity rite of passage that involved me having to listen to her theories on celebrity bum wiping and an extraordinarily detailed anecdote about some ladybirds she kept in a shoe box when she was four.

My mother will tell me that it is my just desserts for having got absolutely paralytic at Kerry Whitmore’s party and waking up the next day wrapped in a duvet and thinking I had died and was lying in a particularly uncomfortable cloud, followed by the thought, ‘if this is heaven, it’s a bit shit and it seems unfair that I have a banging headache whilst dead.’

Interestingly, when I was first going out with Tallulah’s dad (my now ex husband), he spent several drunken hours telling me a story about a baby quail that he kept in a shoebox. It’s probably genetic and definitely from his side of the family. I never kept an animal in a shoe box, although I spent a brisk afternoon in the garden digging for mice (shut up) that I was going to keep in a Dairy Lea cheese triangle box by the side of the bath.

Basically, she’s doomed. Poor kid.

We didn’t ground her, but we did tape some of the conversations, just in case they ever come in handy.

Personal Training – The Fourth

Last week was my fourth trip to the gym with Pete, the most patient personal trainer in the Western hemisphere. I do wonder whether I should suggest that we monitor his blood pressure before and after my session to see if while he is making me fitter, I am slowly killing him. It could be an issue.

I was at a networking lunch before this session and I have to say that having a gigantic, heaped plate full of fish tacos followed by steamed sponge pudding before hurling yourself about in a pair of lycra sweatpants for an hour is not ideal, unless you want to burp up fish tacos for the next eight hours, in which case, definitely do that. I love fish, but I do hate the way it is so very enduring.

So this week we did some work on stopping my hips from falling off. I think this is quite important. I’m no doctor, but I do like to have something to hang skirts from.  Occasionally my hips like to wander off of their own accord and not play nicely with my other bones. I could feel the wanderlust in my right hip so we nailed it down by doing some utterly brutal exercises that were hateful, and most of which I have blocked out.

There was one which involved what looked like the carcass of an old Raleigh chopper, but mounted on a lot of unforgiving metal scaffolding. I had to lie on this scaffolding in the manner of Jennifer Grey flying towards Patrick Swayze in a lake, whilst lifting the entire bike body out of the lake at the same time and hurling it about in the air. It was unspeakable. I was definitely not having the time of my life.

I invented a new version of Dante’s Inferno, with a special circle of hell labelled, ‘fucking bike body bastard, bloody bike’. If, when I die, I end up in that circle, and it is sure that I will not be flying up to paradise, I shall be even more pissed off than normal, and I am normally extremely pissed off.

Another thing that struck me and which I shared fully and frankly with Pete as I trailed around after him trying not to repeatedly ask him if it was home time yet, was how much gym equipment looks like it should be in an S&M dungeon. I posited the idea that if takings were down, they could open it up through the graveyard shift as a sex dungeon and rake in the moolah. As long as they were really thorough with the mop before the morning shift started, nobody would be any the wiser.

Thanks to this, the hour passed quite quickly for me. I’m not sure Pete felt the same way, but this much I do know, you should never play poker with him. He is very inscrutable.