fluffy!
sqwaaaaak!
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the little things

sitting in the pub and trying to work out how we felt. or trying to work out what was going on. alll of us. Americans, canadians, english, scottish, german, swiss, iranian, sudanese, polish, we all hadn’t yet a clue. and had yet the deepest suspicions. and fears. and hopes. and worries, theories, plans, conspiracies, terrors, personal connections, mournings, feelings, all i want to say i cannot say.

all i feel i cannot say.
it is too much,

i can give you the little things.

the little thing today was this…

on the way home from the pub, b had the hiccups.

b hates the hiccups.

i didn’t know this til…

b: hic….
f**k!

me: what?

b …
hic.
s**t!

me: What?

b: hic.
Fuck!

me: Have you got hiccups or…

b: hic. fuck. yes.

me: must you swear every…

b: hic! sh**!

me: Yes, then…

b: no. (holds breath…)

hic.

f***.

me: (giggles)

b: hush.

(holds breath)

hic.

bitch.

all the way home.

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Where does wind come from?

Sitting by the window in my living room, listening to the radio news, sewing and watching the sea-gulls trying to fly against the wind.

It’s one of my favourite things, especially in autumn, when the wind is strong enough to remove every article of your clothing and carry it to Ireland. For minutes you can watch as the seagull tries everything it can think of, flapping, not flapping, flapping, not flapping, flapping – I realise that these two things probably constitute pretty much “everything” to your average seagull, so we shan’t mock – flapping just as hard as a seagull Can flap and yet – bless them, they’ve only little brains – going absolutely nowhere because they’re trying to fly against a force ten gale.

Eventually, and it can be after minutes and minutes and minutes of remaining in the same place and flapping with absolutely no result, your wee man will realise there’s something up and turn to go the other way.

The second he turns, the wind will catch him and he’ll be off at approximately 75,000 mph. Sometimes I’m surprised not to see the same seagull zipping past the window 3 or more times as the momentum carries him round and round the world.

Where does the wind come from?
Where does it go?

I don’t know, but wherever it ends up, there’s probably a hell of a lot of confused looking seagulls.

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newspapers

The newspapers have just arrived.
In some ways I don’t want to open them. From the radio I can tell there’s not more News news yet, just fear and anger and talk.
I feel very far away. and very scared.

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“I hope this isn’t a personal question, but…”

went down to lunch and arrived too late for soup (this is a good thing…). sat down at table with one of the new volunteers and had been there only a few seconds when one of the canadian guests turned to him and said “tell me, are all Irish people as very, very white as you?”
Which to my mind was one part curiosity to nine parts extreme rudeness. The man would have been well within his rights to turn around and ask “so, do all Canadians have really big noses (and/or halitosis)?”

It reminds me of one of my all-time favourite pices of overheard silliness. I was shopping in Boots, and just finishing paying for my cosmetic goodies when I noticed that the female shopper at the next counter had quite the longest nails of anyone I’d ever seen in my life, bar freak-shows and fetish movies. I had turned to leave, and was putting my wallet back in my bag when someone spoke behind me; “Excuse me….” I turned around, but the girl behind the counter wasn’t speaking to me, she was speaking to Ms nails… In a very english way, embarrassed at having turned needlessly, i started to scurry away, but not before hearing; “I hope you don’t think this is a personal question, but how do you pull your knickers up?…” I never heard the answer. I was fair running toward the door with a mouthful of laughter. I wonder though. How Did she?

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speechless

I feel very, very far away from the world.
I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing.
not hungry, just wanting to carry on working.
the wind is very strong today.
I’m glad i’m not a dandelion.

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Two days

Two days of sitting in my motherÂ’s new flat, unpacking boxes of books and family pictures, making coffee and toast, putting covers on sofas and laying out rugs. And listening to the radio. Solidly, all day. Listening to at first confusion, and then conjecture, and as time has moved on, to the revealing and tone of information that makes me scared.

Every news bulletin (on the BBC at least, that’s all I can get good reception of), is having as its main story Tony Blair’s statement that there were probably more british people killed in the – what is it? tragedy? disaster? everyone’s calling it ‘the outrage’ but that somehow sounds like – it sounds wrong. – the events of yesterday – than had previously been thought. The next story is the statement from the UN claiming this as not an attack on the US, but on the whole of the western world. The two stories juxtaposed make me worry that we’re heading for something big and bad, behind which the nation will be expected to rally (easier if we know that we too were hit in this strike…) I don’t think I’m being paranoid, although that would hardly be out of character, I hear this worry and confusion from call-ins on the radio and from friends around, desperately calling home to check that everyone knows where everyone else is.

Up til 4pm yesterday, when I came home to the radio, I was having a lovely day off. I need to find maximum-volume yank-boy, to make sure his mother got here safely yesterday.

Other than that, i don’t know how or what to say. I feel for people. This being a very holy island and all that guff, there’ve been e-mails pouring in all day from associates in the states, asking for prayer for everyone involved, for those killed, injured, waiting, watching, weeping, leading, causing, killing, grieving, so many candles have been lit, prayers said, my mother is leading a vigil as we speak. I’m not very good at the religious stuff, I don’t know what I believe and I refuse to believe what everybody else does just because I work here. But last night I was asked to read at the service, and I did, because it seems to me a prayer very fitting to the day, and one that didn’t mention anything particularly Jesus-y, which is the bit I have the main problem with. The prayer began:
Watch now, ….
with those who wake, or watch, or weep tonight
and give your angels charge over those who sleep…

it goes on. and is more beautiful. and brought me near tears. But I have no right to speak. I wasn’t there. I don’t know anyone who was there. I’ve no right. I worry. But there’s nothing I can say.

The rain is coming down hard on the skylight. It’s pitch black and it sounds as if someone is throwing m&m’s at the window.

More boxes to unpack. The radio’s still on down there. I couldn’t turn it off.

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A very beautiful thing almost happened to me today.

A very beautiful thing almost happened to me today. The loudest American in the world, having not been able to make it to the big night out last night for important ‘random shag’ reasons, arrived in Glasgow at 12.30 having hitched from Northern England, and not knowing where I was, and not being able to get in touch, thinking i may be heading home for lack of anything else to do, he ran to the station and arrived on the platform at 12.48.
Our train had left at 12.42.

The mental picture of him arriving and us grabbing everything and rushing off the train in order to have much more fun is very beautiful.
It almost happened to me today.
I like the idea that beautiful things happen to me. Almost.

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escalanxiety. what fun

It happened on an escalator. The ‘hitting civilisationÂ’ panic that IÂ’d been expecting all day was staved off by sitting on trains and ferries and buses among friends. But when we entered the shopping mall, and stepped on to the escalator, the people and the noise and the space and the bustle suddenly overawed me. I tipped my head back to look above me and suddenly the dozen escalators zig-zagging the air carrying a hundred blank faces and a thousand bulging carrier bags struck me as new, or different, or strange, or simply Big – and the sight of them almost tipped me over backward.

The habits of being in a city I could slip back into very easily, shopping without gossip or greeting, taxis and buses and underground trains, walking without acknowledgement of people beside or passing, life lived in a very pleasantly anonymous and individual way.

But I wish I hadn’t given myself such pressure to have fun. That this was ‘my night out’. My ‘Big night’. My planned and pre-meditated Fun. I was so busy worrying about whether I or anyone else was having fun, that I forgot to actually enjoy myself much at all. The club was beautiful, the music great, the mix of people lovely (apart from the loud American, who found some-thing/one better to do else-where… bless him, wouldn’t we all, if given the chance…) and yet I was worrying about whether everyone was alright, whether one friend was getting on with another, whether everyone had enough to drink, whether my top was falling apart at the seams again (don’t even get me started on Tibetan tailoring…) and so by the end of the night I was exhausted not only by drinking and dancing, but from the strain of social interaction on top of it all…

IÂ’m glad I went away.
I had a nice time.
ItÂ’s good to be home.

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the island goat goes to town

Well, luckily for me, there was a Tibetan exibition and bazaar on the island these last two days, so I’m all kitted out for my Glasgow jaunt. I don’t think I could be more excited if I tried. The art Studio is clean and had better be the same upon my return, I’m looking forward immensely to being in big busy streets and loud smoky bars, to meeting up with friends from here that I’ve never seen in an urban environment before, to seeing faces around me that I don’t see every day, and, well, and Everything.

So if anyone sees, on the streets of Glasgow, a little windblown mountain goat-herd, dressed in pink (the dalai llama says it’s the new black…) and looking rather over-awed, and rather over-excited, accompanied by a very loud american (I hate to see what the city’s going to do to him… He really is loud enough already…) Please don’t point and laugh, it’s terribly rude.

Of course I may be a bit scared. I’ll run away back to the island if the metropolis gets too much. See you in a couple of days…

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I like meat. Take that as you will.

Apologies for the late-night girly twaddle. It’s the build-up of a few days worth of conversations and a few months worth of frustration, confusion and other such rubbish…

Last night was a wonderful night though, with 14 of us out for a birthday meal at the nicest hotel on the island. Much excitement at the presence of the lead singer of the Waterboys. Not by me, understand. By other people. Other people were excited. Lets get that perfectly clear. It was not the presence of a Waterboy that made me twirl off into girly nonsense late last night. Nor the presence of any other boy. It was the wine. Or the port. Or the Gin. Or the beer. Or the extremely large slab of meat I’d had earlier in the evening. It sent me silly.

You have to understand, I live in a place where I eat vegetarian 13 meals out of 14, so when I go to a restaurant with large slabs of meat on the menu, I must, simply must, indulge. So steak it was. Aberdeen Angus Fillet, with peppercorn butter. Medium rare, extremely pink in the middle. I’m excited just remembering it. Very simple, very lovely, and very, very meaty. I was sitting at a table with one fellow incisor, and four molars; my favourite conversation of the evening was this:
Vegetarian: How’s your extremely bloody food, anna?
Anna: Extremely bloody lovely, thank you.

It can almost match up to my favourite table-side conversation of last week.
Guest: (pointing and requesting food) I’d like the jam over there…
Me: It is over there.

Yesterday I put together a bed, two bookshelves, a desk and a clothes rail. The futon and I came to blows. It was in the middle of fighting with the futon that I phoned b and shouted “I’m sick of being a strong independent modern woman! I want a Boyfriend! And I want one with an electric screwdriver!”

The thing is, I don’t really. My standards are getting more and more exacting as the years go by, and quite frankly, the possession of power tools does not a good man make.

Actually, it depends on the power tools. If it was one of those things for flattening paving stones and gravel that bounce up and down a lot you might have a deal. They look fun. Like a space hopper but less bother.

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proof i am not tuff. part too.

mans best friend – golden retriever or anna?

I meet a guy, he’s lovely, attractive, great personality, open, intelligent, amazing. We meet, through friends, through work, through whatever, but we meet, connect, we get on. it’s incredible. we talk, and laugh, and somehow, we meet again, and again, and again…

eventually, the inevitable comes.
He turns to me. looks me in the eye. says I’m wonderful. I reply similarly.
“Anna, you’re the best girl I know.” or something like.
“thank you” I say, fluttering eyelashes madly… “You’re one of my favorite people too…”
“Aw…” says the almost perfect man, almost but for… ” help me, i need to know what to do about that girl over there, I really want to f*** her…”

And I help. Because that’s what I do. I like to have male friends. Which is a bloody good thing, else I wouldn’t have many friends at all. All I wish is that one day one of them would actually. Ach, actually what? I sound like a thirteen year old. I can sit in a pub surrounded by beautiful men, what more should i wish for?

but a kiss.

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Proof I am not tuff. Part one.

Last night b had to walk me half way home (50 yards, but hey, it’s past a graveyard) (one with Macbeth in no less…) all because we’d watched a (not particularly scary) drama on the television with lots of murderers. All of a sudden, the population of Murderers resident on or visiting Iona had risen in two hours from none to several hundred, in my head.

Everybody else in the house mercilessly mocked me, counting all the different ways a murderer could strike, and all the different places one could hide, awaiting my walking past, until they realised that I was not leaving their sofa until they let up.

Then b turned the lights off, and I bolted out of the door. Because there were, of course, now murderers in the living room.

Everyone helpfully pointed out that the television programme had clearly stated that all murderers were in Edinburgh, then realised that half of those speaking were also from Edinburgh, and, hell, they were here. I stamped my little foot at this point – yes, literally – and demanded an escort half way home.

I just don’t deal well with scary things. For some reason, books are fine, but present me with images intended to scare and all of a sudden you’ve a big jelly on your hands. Not literally. I’ve never seen a scary movie. Apart from “Carrie”, and I didn’t look up from my book all the way through. Not once. Just in case.

I’m not as tuff or together as people think.

In ways I am very tuff, of course. Just not when it comes to murderers.

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George

That’s one more afternoon of my life spent making candles then.

I wonder, as you can work out how many hours of their life the average person spends sleeping, or in the bath, or cutting their toenails, I wonder how many

(ow! I have glue on my face! Why do I have glue on my face? Sorry… Ow.)

hours of their lives the average person spends making candles? And I wonder how many other people’s share of lifetime candle-making hours I am depriving them of? And I wonder what to my sentence structure has today happened? I seem to be turning into Yoda.

Today, I must admit, was a fun candle-making afternoon. The centre is filled with guests from different L’Arche Communities, communities of people with learning difficulties and people who volunteer to live with, work with and care for them to various degrees. I also had some guests from the other centre, which is filled with interesting but reasonably sheltered middle-class people studying something serious for a week. We all got on famously.

When it comes down to it, when you’re doing something you’ve not done before, everyone needs the same kind of help and encouragement, no matter what your needs elsewhere. So I had everyone admiring each other’s candle technique, ribbing each other for not being patient, and boasting about whose was going to be the best at the end of the day.

The only thing that separated people was the concept of time. Tell one person that that the layer of wax they’ve poured will take 20 minutes to set, and they sit back, chatter, and only ask every five or so minutes if it’s ready yet. Tell George, and you’ve a wait of about 10 or perhaps even 20 seconds before he asks again.

So at the moment, I am hiding in the office.

It was either that or paint the words NOT YET GEORGE all over myself and jump up and down waving my arms and shouting, “Not Yet! Not Yet!” With big flashy lights and a siren.

I have tried that already. And it didn’t work.

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Illness is for the weak

I’m surprised I actually conceded defeat this time
. I usually take a rather militaristic dictator’s view of mild health problems;
“A cold is not an illness!” I pronounce, “A cold is a weakness in personality, and like any weakness, it must be erradicated through strength of will alone!”
God, when I write it down it’s all very 1984. And although i’m sort of joking, in a way I’m also serious. It’s terrible. I’m extremely surprised anyone has any time for me at all in my moments of need. I’d certainly not.
(Does that make sense? I sometimes wonder if English really is my first language. I sometimes wonder if all of a sudden someone will start talking to me in a language and I’ll be able to reply fluently, suddenly discovering that this new thing has been my first language all along, I just never knew it. It would certainly account for my spelling.)

no time for blog, dr jones.
time for candles.
*sigh*

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This is a little red boat. Little, red, and boaty.

I still post. Occasionally. Honest, I do.