Cats and Zombies

2AM. Saturday morning.

I have only a few hours until I have to get up for work, but I’m wide awake. And sleep isn’t going to come easily.

Why aren’t I asleep?

Because I’ve just had a nightmare.

Yes, like a little kid, a bad dream has jolted me awake and now I’m lying in the dark, every noise transformed into something ominous by fear.

The dream started off well enough, with me as a cowboy. There was a shoot out between James Stewart and Audie Murphy, which left both dead. And then undead Audie got to his feet. Yes, Walking Dead style, it didn’t take a bite, but I blame George A. Romero as I’d been thinking about his movies a lot in the last week and eager to watch Dawn of the Dead again. Perhaps this was my subconscious’ tribute to the director?

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I managed to cuff Jimmy before he revived, but Audie bit another person. Having dropped the most decorated zombie in Hollywood, I saw the other zombie pursuing my cat, Midnight. Out of bullets (isn’t that always the way?), I hastily ran and shoved the zombie into a side room and grabbed Midnight.

Unfortunately the living dead opened the door and seized me from behind. It went to bite my neck.

At this point I awoke, but still gripped by the fading terror of the nightmare, I actually awoke in the process of throwing my elbow in defence.

Luckily the biter had come from the right and I was elbowing thin air. On the left and I would have clocked MWF in the face and probably sporting a shiner. And I suspect that her coworkers would have heard “my boyfriend elbowed me in the face while asleep because of a nightmare” and assumed it was a flimsy excuse, a slightly more inventive version of “I walked into a door”.

Luckily, Pumpkin, who in the dream was sensible enough to avoid the walkers, jumped into the bed and huddled in by my arm. Stroking him calmed me down and eventually I fell back asleep. And this time, without any nightmares.

Thank the gods for cats.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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Would You Rather? Part 7: Art, Space and Tacos

…would you rather live in the wilderness far from civilization or live on the streets of a big city as a homeless person?

Homeless in a big city. I think in a city I could get by a bit better, I’m not really built for wilderness survival, whereas in a city I could probably scavenge food and get by.

Also, the loneliness living in the wilderness would get to me after a while. At least as a homeless person there’s some interaction with other people.

…be the first person to explore a new planet or be the person to find the cure for a deadly disease?

As cool as it would to boldly go where no man has gone before, finding a cure would probably be far more important and help more people.

…unlimited sushi or unlimited tacos for life?

Tacos would be more filling, surely? And I think it would take longer to get sick of them than it would of sushi.

….live in a world where all conspiracy theories are true or a world where none of the leaders know what they’re doing?

This is quite a tough one. Most conspiracy theories reveal a dark, callous secret force at work and that would suck.

But at the same time, wouldn’t a world of utterly incompetent rulers be worse? Their mistakes would probably leave us at greater risk.

…not be able to see any colours or have mild but constant tinnitus (ringing in the ears)?

If the tinnitus was really mild that would have to be preferable. I mean, aside from the inconvenience can you imagine going through life never seeing the colours in great art works, or films? Sod that, if I get to keep colours I’d put up with the ringing.

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…all dogs try and attack you when they see you or all birds attack you when they see you?

Dogs. I think there are more birds about and they seem to be everywhere. Also it has to be easier fighting off a dog than a dive bombing bird.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Mad MWF: The Road Warrior

The M5 slowed to a crawl as the cars filtered into the inside lane to pass a lorry standing still in the middle lane. In the outside lane was a car facing the wrong way, the driver side of the bonnet mangled, showing the cause of the delay.

Truck vs car.

Luckily all seemed unhurt and two other cars had stopped to help set up those high viz emergency triangle things.

We drove by and moved back into the middle lane, overtaking a black car on the inside.

The driver, a young bloke in his early twenties was on his phone. Not talking but actually typing on his phone as his passenger dozed next to him.

“That guy’s on his phone.” I commented. 

“What?” Asked MWF.

“That guy is using his phone. And we’ve literally just passed an acc-”

The rest of the sentence was drowned out by a loud blaring horn. The texting driver looked up in shock, his passenger jolted awake, startled and confused.

“GET OFF YOUR PHONE! YOU IDIOT!” Roared MWF.

That should have been it. Admonished for his wrongdoing, the driver should have put down his phone and thanked his lucky stars that we weren’t cops who would have handed him 6 points and a £1000 fine. 

But it wasn’t. Using the phone might have been a one off but he was about to prove that he was a bad driver.

He gunned after us, tailgating before overtaking and cutting us up.

It was a pathetic display of the male ego hurt, with the moron unable to accept he had been called out for doing something criminal and possibly dangerous. He doubled down on the danger by putting others at risk in what was clearly intended as intimidation.

And he wasn’t done.

Coming up to a junction he moved into the inside lane and we were passing alongside to carry on. As we were passing he swerved towards us and then took his turning heading for Penshore.

It’s a shame none of us got his number plate, but one hopes karma finds him and next time he uses his phone a copper spots him. 

It seems like him losing his licence would be the best outcome, as he clearly lacks the patience and maturity to handle the responsibility of driving. His pride hurt his response was to become more reckless and stupid.

Don’t be a dick at the wheel, someone could get hurt.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


One Man’s Treasure

I worked in a pawn shop for a couple of months. It was grim. My boss was an utter wanker, the days were long and tedious, and there was a constant stream of depressed looking “customers”.

The boss would buy stuff off people who were in desperate need of some cash, and if they didn’t buy it back within a month he would sell it on, making a profit.

We took a lot of stuff and most was generic stuff that nobody could form sentimental attachments with- TVs, kitchen appliances and so on. 

Others were a bit more personal and therefore more depressing. It’s hard not to be moved by the fact someone had to pawn their kid’s bike or their engagement ring just for some quick cash.

I found musical instruments fitted into this category. An untouched, unplayed guitar or keyboard has a forlorn air about them. They hint at potential unrealised or a dreams abandoned. Someone bought that guitar with aspirations and ambition, but those were abandoned because they were short on rent or needed to buy food. 

The guitars didn’t get plucked. Nobody shredded a mind blowing solo on them. They didn’t even gently weep. They just stood there, silent and untouched until the boss nagged at us to clean them.

Of course, they would get sold on. There was always some new dreamer who’d stroll in and rescue them, giving them another chance at musical glory.

But I saw one recently that I doubt will shift. I’d strolled into a shop in Barry for a new old game to replace FIFA as my obsession. About to leave I looked at a wall of guitars.

One stood out. It was unique to say the least.

Good sticker positioning.

It was so different and individual, and delightfully tacky.

MWF disagrees, seeing it as awful whereas I think that it’s one of those occasions where some thing’s badness is the charm. 

I quickly formed an image of the previous owner. I imagined that they were into ’80s and ’70s rock in a big way. This had probably played a Scorpions song or two, or some Van Halen riffs.

I was surprised that the store had bought it, unless they thought the guy (99% sure it would be a guy) would come back for it. They can’t have expected to sell it on.

I mean, it’s so different that the chance of finding someone else who will pick this one is slim. Tastes differ and I imagine this wouldn’t be to everyone’s.

A kid wanting to be the new Ed Sheeran won’t want something like that. A guy who plays in a wedding band will pass it over. No, this is an instrument which will only appeal to a select few. 

I went back in a short while later, and it’s still there. Part of me wants to keep going in to check on it. I imagine it will be there for a while until another hair metal fan wanders in and spots it.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO. 


Scribbles

I need a new winter coat. I have been saying this for some time and yet every month I find better ways to spend my money. But every time I wait for a bus or shiver on a walk to the shop I remind myself that I need a new coat. Of course, once back in the warm this is forgotten.

While shivering at the bus and unable to work out how long the next bus would be (Cardiff Bus don’t have a board up and their website isn’t the best) I looked for a way to distract myself.

Twitter was all innuendo about the next US President and Facebook had already been exhausted before leaving the house. I needed something to distract from the fact that the cold 

Thank the gods for the slack work of Barry Council. The bus stop down the road is used by a lot of school kids and as a result the lamppost there is like a time capsule of teenage expression through Tippex and marker pens.

I love stuff like this. I love that Beth’s scrawl from 2000 is still there, over sixteen years later. 

But don’t condemn Barry too much, in the late ’00s a wall in Briton Ferry was still calling for Thatcher to be removed. Perhaps it’s deliberate? A way of preserving history, and not idleness. Either way, I like this glimpse into who lived there and what was going on with them.

 I love the nostalgia of seeing phrases I scrawled myself again- Y2K and the other years similarly abbreviated, the deliberately poorly spelled “woz ‘ere” and the acronyms under the declarations of love. 

I haven’t seen it or thought about it in years but I instantly remembered that IDT meant “if destroyed true”, a sort of insurance policy should your vandalism be vandalised. Otherwise your love would die as soon as someone came along with a compass or their own Tippex.

I read the lamppost, the insults and slander, the marking of territories and the announcement of relationships. I always wonder what happened to these couples. Are any still together or have these all fallen by the wayside, living on only as faint memories and scruffy graffiti?

Michelle and Flowers saw fit to declare their love twice, were they more serious than the others? Or more insecure? Does either even pass the lampost and feel a tinge of regret, or the soft glow of nostalgia?

I know there’s graffiti carved on the walls of Pompeii and the Tower of London. This need to leave a mark on the places we go seems to run deep, and it makes you wonder if in a few centuries time whether “Buck Rogers woz ‘ere 24K19” will be scratched into some distant moon.

Personally I think keeping old graffiti up is quite interesting and a good thing, and not just because it distracted me from the fact my nipples were threatening to pierce my t-shirt.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Annoyed (5)

The other day I was seriously annoyed at work. In the morning I’d caught the bus in and grabbed a copy of the Metro thinking that the Rush Hour Crush, sudokus and crossword would help pass the time. 

It tends to be quite quiet at the start of the shift so I settled in with a cup of tea and started the crossword, having secured one of the few pens that were floating around. 

A few clues in I had to go do something, and set my paper down. A few minutes later having done whatever it was I returned and my paper was gone. I had a quick look about and it was nowhere to be seen. Not in the staff room, not in the office, not moved to somewhere else.
I was tamping.

The worst part was I knew I couldn’t go around raising a fuss because (a) I’ve been there a fortnight, so still need to hide my true self from my co-workers and (b) it’s the Metro I hadn’t bought it. I’d picked it up on the bus, and the whole way the paper makes it’s cash is that it gets picked up and passed on. You see a copy lying around and unless it’s right next to someone it’s fair game.

But still! It had a half done crossword in! Clearly I wasn’t done with it. For the rest of the day I was keeping a vague eye out for it but no joy.

It was seriously infuriating because it deprived me of entertainment and the satisfaction of completing it.

This is the kind of unfinished business which means had I died Thursday my ghost would have haunted work until it could finish the crossword and gain peace.

I was denied my triumph, my well earned joy at a puzzle solved. It’s not often I find myself feeling like Sherlock Holmes, especially since I gave up the morphine,  but when I’ve started working something out I get a little bit obsessed and want to see it through.

Being deprived of this choice was not a good conclusion and left me deeply unsatisfied, in the same way if someone had stolen the dancing men before Holmes had worked out what they meant.

It also left me annoyed with my new co-workers, all of whom I now viewed with suspicion, unable to confirm which one had stolen my paper.

What kind of place have I started to work in? What kind of monsters am I working with, who throws out someone’s incomplete puzzle, it’s just not cricket.
Oh, and the answer to the title clue? “Cross”.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO. 


Stop Sticking Giant Bows on Babies

The bow is too big. If you changed the scale no adult would wear a bow that big. Not by choice. Look at this poor model, look how unhappy she looks because of that stupid bow that some designer thought was a good idea. She knows it looks ridiculous.

But despite this I see them all the time. Babies forced to wear gigantic bows because of their mother’s insecurity and fear someone will misgender their daughter.

You’ve probably seen them too. A baby with a giant bow. The only purpose to say “This is a baby GIRL! Don’t you even dare think about saying that she’s a ‘handsome little fella'”

Is it really that annoying? Most babies kinda look alike, bald and with big eyes. Cute but dress ten babies in white and I bet the successful gender guess rate would be quite low. 

If someone does make a mistake just correct them and go on with your day. It’s no big deal. Just be glad they didn’t say something like “why the hell have you got a dog in your pram? And what the hell happened to it?”

People want to say something nice about your baby and if they’re not sure they’ll guess if it’s a boy or a girl, and they might be wrong but they know that they can’t just call the little nipper “it” as that’s just plain rude.
Just accept the compliment, politely inform them that he is a she, or vice versa and everything is sorted. Don’t dress your girl like a damn birthday present!

The old fashioned “pink for girls, blue for boys” is silly enough, but the bow trend is frankly ridiculous.

It’s silly to get worked up over. So what if a stranger thinks Glenda is Glen? Does it effect them at all? Didn’t think so.

I find it weird there’s no male equivalent. Or are that what those knitted beard hats are for?

Not gonna lie. That is cuter than a whole box of buttons.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


The Old Man and the Horsea 

I was walking along when it appeared. Bursting out of nowhere, there it was before me. I was going to catch it, after all that is my real test.

A Horsea.

One throw and it was mine.
I resisted the urge to do a mini fist pump and walked on, the early evening still bright and warm as I dawdled through the park. On some level I could appreciate the lameness of it all. I’d taken a fairly long walk for no other reason but to catch imaginary monsters, but addiction does funny things to you.

And I am definitely addicted. Despite starting a week later than MWF I have almost caught up and racked up around 25km since downloading it. So at least I’m getting exercise out of it.

The intensity that I stared at my screen and my flicking gestures must have tipped them off and a pack of wild, chavvy youths appeared.

“You caught a Pikachu?” This delivered with the swaggering bravado of a teenage boy.
“Nope.” Not answering seems to irritate people, so I just kept walking.

“But you are playing Pokemon?” He asked.

“Yeah.” I said with a smile and slight shrug.

I walked on to hear one exclaim “that’s a grown man playing Pokemon” a fact adjudged to be “sad” by another and then there was some laughing.

A few years ago this would have mortified me, but now I felt nothing, a fact that I attribute to a few factors.

Firstly, I don’t actually care what a bunch of teenagers loitering in a park think. The second is that I have made peace with my uncool hobbies and childish enthusiasms. 

I like what I like, deal with it.

Is this what getting old is all about? Realising you’re not cool but realising that that’s okay? I hope so, because I wasted far too long worrying about what strangers thought of me.

I walked on, leaving them to laugh at the sad old guy, after all, there were more Pokemon to catch.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Welcome to the Hipster Museum

Selling or renting a property must be quite tricky. You have to trek back and forth, saying the same old stuff and popular you could wind up walking around the same house numerous times. It all seems dull, repetitive and time consuming. But people need to see the house, so what can you do?

I guess you could just book them all to come at once.

This is what happened to MWF and I yesterday, when we went to look at house that could be our first home together. We arrived early, and hung around outside, being eyeballed by the neighbour’s chihuahua. Then a car pulled up with a slightly chavvy couple in. The landlord, maybe? Nope, they were there for a viewing too.

And then another car pulled in. Two girls and a guy got out and for much of the rest I tried to work out what the dynamic was it could have been

  1. A solo girl with two friends
  2. A couple and their friend awkwardly third-wheeling
  3. A lesbian couple and a straight male friend
  4. A three person relationship
  5. Two female friends looking to share and one of their boyfriends along for support

Finally the landlord arrived and so began an experience which was like a guided museum tour at a very dull museum about the life of hipsters.

 There were signs of pretension all around- samurai swords, a Buddha statue with no other sign of religion and some arty fatty stuff.

The house wasn’t the biggest, and it felt smaller as eight people trudged through having a nose. It was very awkward, especially as some rooms meant we had to take turns going in. It was like a low budget National Trust property.

Normally when you look around it gives you a chance to ask questions, but you feel kind of odd asking what might be revealing questions in front of strangers. Luckily, the presence of a slightly put out cat answered our major query of whether Midnight would be welcome there.

While the house was nice and a strong contender to be the first home of our little family, there will have to be some decoration changes. The worst offender? A large, cheesy inspiration quote daubed on the bedroom wall.

I don’t mind cheesy quotes, they can sometimes give people a little boost or look on the bright side, and that’s a good thing, but to have it on a wall? As the first thing you see every day when you get out of bed? 

For me if you want a quote on the wall you need more than a twee platitude about making the best of life. No, you need a mantra to help you through the day. You need words of wisdom from the greats.

You need Cool Runnings.

Now that is the kind of quote you need as you get out of bed in the morning.

Having looked around the bedroom we wandered back downstairs where the landlord asked us if we were working and then left. He’d got three viewings done in quarter of an hour , which is pretty good. For him, anyway.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Don’t Ask, Don’t Get: Leap Year Thoughts

I’m going to tell you a story about my mum and dad. The seventies were coming to an end, and they’d been together for a while. Marriage was on the cards but my dad was dragging his feet.

1980 was a leap year. My mum, being a strong willed, independent woman told my father that if he hadn’t popped the question by the 28th of February that she would on the 29th, when tradition allows women to propose.

My dad, being an old fashioned kinda man, couldn’t stand this idea and so he asked first. They got married in ’81 and thirty five years later are still happily married.

My dad and I are similar in a few ways (crap at DIY, fond of bad jokes and Clint Eastwood movies) but this is one way we differ, as I would have either (a) called her bluff or (b) waited until the 28th and then asked.

Personally I think that as it’s 2016 we should ditch the idea that women have to wait four years for a window of opportunity to ask, and should be able to propose anytime they want.

I suppose some women do propose now, thanks to marriage equality. Or do lesbians hold that tradition as well and both wait four years to propose?

What struck me as odd is that there’s still an issue around it and that women proposing is still viewed in a weird way?

Sure, we’ve come a long way from when Leap Day was seen as when women would “trap” men into marriage, as though no man could have said no.

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The idea of the man proposing seems to be tied in with all these other traditions and ideas which are a bit sexist.

Firstly, I think nowadays some would view it as a bit desperate. The stereotype being that women are all chasing a diamond ring and don’t want to ask lest they appear too eager and scare off the man.

I think, generally speaking, women think about weddings more, but I think that’s because the wedding industry is geared to them.

As a groom-to-be I’ve noticed that people are surprised I take an interest and should just sit back and let MWF sort stuff until I have to put on the suit, tidy my hair and say “I do”. The idea that I have a say and am involved seems to genuinely surprise people and some have even said that I shouldn’t “butt in” as it’s MWF’s wedding.

The second reason I think people have a problem with it is because of warped ideas of masculinity, that somehow the woman asking is her taking control and “wearing the trousers”, which sees both halves of the couple mocked.

I always find this idea that one partner bosses things a bit weird, as surely it’s a team thing and you alternate calling the shots? In our relationship the metaphorical trousers are like my t-shirts and hoodies, in that both of us wear them (seriously, being in a relationship is like living with a clothes thief). And if the woman is calling the shots is that a bad thing?

I’d take the mockery over being proposed to, as it means I get to forego asking. Even though marriage had been discussed and I was fairly sure of the answer, I was still nervous last August when I popped the question.

What if switching it from a hypothetical to a real question changed MWF’s view? What if actually, seriously thinking about being Mrs Page freaked her out? You can never be 100% sure.

And it’s not just the answer, it’s working out how to phrase it, or if the ring is okay. Proposing is not without stress.

Maybe that’s why so many women want to keep the tradition? They don’t have to put themselves out there and risk rejection? The tradition leaves them free of stress and nobody expects them to drop a month’s wage on a ring (seriously, a whole month’s?!)

The ring is another guy thing. He gets it for the girl who wears it while he goes around with bare fingers, it seems a bit like showing the woman is “taken” and its taken on far too much significance and there are some daft perspectives on the whole ring thing, but that’s a whole other blog.

When a woman proposes does she get a male engagement ring? Or just bring one for herself to put on if she’s successful?

I wouldn’t mind if I’d been proposed to. I could have heard a short speech about how much I was loved. I wouldn’t have felt bad or less manly because doing so would seem a bit stupid.

Ladies, if you want to propose to your fella, go ahead. Ask him to be your husband, guys are wimps and have to psyche themselves up to do it. If you’re tired of waiting, take the bull by the horns.

If he gets uptight about it that’s his problem, and he needs to get over his issues about masculinity and get busy wedding planning. And anyone gives you grief can go hang. What have you done? Taken control of your life? How dare you?!

Thanks for reading and congratulations to anyone who got engaged today or in the last few weeks.

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Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.