fluffy!
sqwaaaaak!
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Every chin has its day

And today is my chin’s day.

I just want to grab those chubby cheeks.
And they’re my bloody chubby cheeks.

Anyway, so now you know. That’s what I’ve been so very, very, busy doing, recently.

I’ve been becoming a chin model.

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A great British day out

Rain and the pier

Yes, the seaside, in the rain.
Certainly a tempting way of life though, no?

I think I’ve seen the future, and it’s a bit wet.

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Exactly the type of conversation you don’t want to have with your dentist

I’ve probably mentioned that I’m a nervous dental patient. It seems like the kind of thing that I might mention. Of course the last time I mentioned it was probably the last time I summoned up the courage to go. So for those of you who haven’t been reading for over three years: I’m a very nervous dental patient.

I’m a very nervous dental patient even though (or perhaps due to the fact that) I’ve been a dental patient quite so often in my short, decay-filled weak-enamelled life.

So I was quite proud on Thursday when I managed to walk into the dental surgery the first time of trying. I was quite proud that I managed to hold the newspaper still enough to read in the waiting room. And I was very proud that I only cried once, sniffling under the sound of the suction hose, tears rolling into my ears, or wiped away with hard blue tissue.

All the way through the root canal work I thought he was doing, I was very brave, I thought. And, managing to make jokes afterward, I mentally promised myself a very large prize for managing to uphold my steely dignity almost all the way through a very tough appointment. Then I asked him what he’d actually done.

Well, I decided against the root canal at this point, as it might not be neccessary after all. Also, root canal requires a certain level of…

He stopped.

“Of what? Time? Money? Patience?”

Stillness

“Oh”

And I thought I’d done so well.

Anyway, I’ve exposed the nerves on those two, the lower two and the lower four, and that’s what you felt back there when you were screaming a bit, no, it’s ok, completely natural, heard worse – anyway, I’ve put a dressing on those, and if that works, I’ll see you back here in four or five weeks to replace those fillings with permanent ones

“How will I know if it doesn’t work?”

He laughed, unreassuringly.

Oh, you’ll know”

“Oh. Ok. So if it works, I’ll come back in five weeks. And if it doesn’t work?”

Well, I’m here tomorrow

“Um”

And Monday. First thing. Have you got painkillers? How strong are they? Here, let me prescribe you some more, these are very strong.”

And somehow, all my pride and sense of fulfillment disappeared. As did, briefly, my sense of quite liking the dentist.

Straight. Out. The window.

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Apropos of boasting

Boasting because it took my beloved five days to bounce back from the pukey disease and today, apart from remaining issues which I am too lady to mention, I am fine.

I put this down to the enormous regimen of vitamins that I have been taking for months and months, and to the fact that I am frankly too excited to be ill. About work things, yes, but also about the fact that we had already decided that today would be a good day for going to the seaside and then, on my way to the passport office the other morning (it’s all fine now, thank you) I noticed that my favourite film of all films ever (His Girl Friday) and one of my other favourite fims (some Like It Hot) are showing in a double bill somewhere in Soho tomorrow lunchtime. So we booked tickets, and frankly, the weekend couldn’t be better, in theory.

Everything will, of course, go wrong in practice.

But I wanted to mention it all now, because in theory, it’s a lovely lovely weekend, and I thought I might like to remember it like this.

Thank you.

_________________________

LATER

Yes, I was absolutely right, it rained all bastard day.
Now watch me go out and get too hungover to enjoy my movies properly tomorrow.

__________________________

SUNDAY MORNING

God, the depth of my self knowledge is simply incredible.

Ow.

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Of sick and poo and wishlists

Yesterday, back at work after the dentist (of which more later), the local anaesthetic started to wear off, and I started to feel nauseous. Which I thought was a reaction to the anaesthetic, and would pass, no bother, if I had a drink of water, and gave it ten minutes.

Fifteen minutes later, collapsed over the toilet, mid-vomit, and mid-deciding that it might be quite nice to die, I came to the realisation it might not be a little reaction, or if it was a reaction, it might not be very little.

Someone lovely called me a minicab (“You’re a minicab!” dun-ptsch), and after sicking once more, I stumbled out of the office, looking drunk and feeling like a body-fluid-timebomb.

I did mean to mention to the minicab driver that I was feeling unwell, so he should be gentle – but the minicab, in his minicabbish way, had the music too loud to hear my gurgling whisper, and drove like a maniac through the back streets – the back streets with the most speedbumps.

Somehow I managed to make it almost home before I shouted ‘Sick! Scuse! Stopsick! STOP! SIGugguggle…’, and toppled sideways out of the hastily halting car, throwing up in the gutter and the bag I’d brought along for that exact purpose.

400 metres and two stops later, we got home. He asked me if I needed help getting to my door, but his foot was on the accelerator almost as soon as mine was in the puddle of bile I’d just created outside his back door, and he sped off, all windows whirring down as he went.

And I came into the flat, after crawling up the three flights of stairs, and I collapsed on the bathroom floor, groaning, and then my stomach gurgled and some invsible bastard stuck a plunger down my throat, and for the next few hours – maybe five – it was all about the running back and forth from vertical to voluble and from exhaustive, leaden in every limb, to explosive from every. damn. orifice.

First every twenty minutes, and then less vomit, more sleep. But still vomit, and, you know, other.

Then there was mostly sleep, until the last round of the anna vs her innards at about 4am.

Then it was all sleep.

Until the postman arrived this afternoon.

I was already feeling a little better, but the postman brought a parcel – a completely mysterious and unexpected and unsigned and reasonless lovely lovely parcel of things from my wishlist – I assume from one of you.
I don’t know who it was, but I think you’re lovely, and generous, and you never could have known how good it would make me feel today, or how happy it made me.
Thank you, whoever you are.

[Sorry, I realise that was only a nice payoff for one person, and the rest of you just got to read about sicking and poo for a while, but to my mind that's just a good argument for the rest of you buying me presents for no reason. No, that does make sense. No, honestly, it does]

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how to get a passport

1) Want to go abroad.
2) Need to go abroad.
3 Realise passport runs out in about ten minutes. Or three weeks or something. Whatever. In a bad amount of time, seeing as it runs out the day before you have to go away.
4) Look up passport agency website.
5) Fill in form.
6) Click send.
7) Go to photo booth and have nice photo booth photos taken.
8) Three days later, on receipt of passport forms for signing, realise there is no time for faffing. No time to hang around. No time for unneccesary waiting. Immediately phone passport agency.
9) After a comfortingly long, long time on hold, get through to an unintelligable Irishman.
10) Somehow manage to arrange an interview at the passport office in London. Under strict instruction from unintelligable Irishman, make list of what to take. Photos. Form. Reference number. Payment.

A couple of weeks pass.

The day before I’m due to go to my appointment, I realise that my appointment is the day before pay day, and I have no money. Not a penny. Not a tiddle. Not a bit. I start to worry. I have transfered all the money I can from somewhere to there, and there isn’t more any more to transfer.

I look for a chequebook. I find one. It has one cheque in. Pre-written for £25 and pre-dated from June 2002. I try and cross this information out, initial it and rewrite the new information above it. Unfortunately, due to two non-working pens and an uneven working surface, it looks like the cheque has been forged by a thumbless eight-year-old, with help from her seeing-thumb dog.

Then I notice that my card – a basic as you can get it debit card (I was denied the pleasure of grown-up cards many years ago when I was money-bad, and decided that it was safer all round if I just stuck to Tonka-cards forever more) – may not even be a cheque guarantee card.

This worries me not a little.
It panics me quite a lot.
As you may be able to tell, it doesn’t take much to panic me at the moment.
I spend the next 24 hours in almost breathless panic about the fact that they will reject my payment at the passport office, and quite possibly shout at me for wasting their time and trying to pass a thumblessly forged cheque at a government agency.

I go to the passport office. Stating my time of appointment, I am shown to queue number one. In queue number one, I take out my cheque, and try and clean up the awful mess i have made.

I make it worse. It looks like the thumbless girl (or dog) has dribbled. I am called from queue number one to queue number two.

My phone rings. It is my beloved. We talk in hushed tones about the worry of the cheque, and the fact that there is no other way to make money magically appear in my account. I put the phone down, worried. I am called from queue number two, through the x-ray beeper, and join queue number three.

In queue number three, people stand in front of me and talk about how they are intending to pay for their new passport. One is paying by credit card, and the other is paying by cash. I consider, and quickly reject, a swift mugging. I am given a number, and sent to queue number four.

In queue number four, I sit looking over my application form, and worrying about my payment. How stupid I was, how stupid. If only I’d delayed the appointment a day. If only I’d managed to hold on to the money.
Perhaps I can ask if they will take my card and hold it till midnight. Perhaps they will not notice. Perhaps they will not care.

My number is called. On the way to the window, I think of nothing else. Of course they will notice, I think. They see cheques every day, and forgeries too, and will undoubtably have heard the prosthetic thumb/dog excuse before. They will not care that I get paid tomorrow, and will shout at me for wasting their time, and hate me forever because I do not have a working blank cheque book and because my card is only a Tonka-card. I berate myself thoroughly for not thinking this through far enough in advance, and…

I reach the window.

My application is rejected immediately because my hair in the passport pictures covers the outside corner of my left eye (contravening biometric passport picture guidelines, section 3a).

No one even loks at the damn cheque.

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The comfort of glass houses

Gosh. I truly am sorry to all the people I offended with my last post.

It was merely intended as a picture of the selfish macro micro in a big-old wide-angle world.

I have to admit it’s kind of put me off writing my next post, though:

Notes for upcoming (currently unwritten) book on etiquette – Chapter 8: The most socially polite forms of suicide; OR ‘How to spontaneously combust without singeing the curtains’

Another time, maybe.

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The ultimate selfish act bar one

They say that suicide is the ultimate selfish act.
I disagree. Suicide with intent to disrupt the public transport system? Now THAT is beyond the pale.

See, point is – I was well in time for the train for my plane.
I should, in fact, have been at the airport a good hour and a half or two hours early.
If some poor bastard hadn’t gone and got all I-can’t-go-on-anymore on our arses.

Which is fine and fair enough, but surely committing suicide in a way that’s designed to inconvenience the most amount of people, and draw the most attention to yourself is not just ultimately selfish, it’s also really short-term thinking. And not very community-minded.

And it was triply annoying, because the announcer kept breaking in to the tense rumble of the platform, and shouting over our heads that Thameslink were SO sorry about the delays and cancellations, but they were UNAVOIDABLE because there had been a Fatality on the line. And the relish with which he pronounced it, in a “So there, you bastards, it’s not our fault for once, and you can’t even complain and shout at us about it, because that would mean that you were a bad person for not feeling sorry for the dead guy

Well I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I am a bad person. I am a bad person, and that’s just the way it is.

Because I do, on some level, feel sorry that whoever-it-was’s life had reached a point where they couldn’t go on anymore. And I’m sorry if they were sad,or in trouble, or despondent, or angry with the world.

But frankly, sometimes when people think their lives have reached their natural end, and nothing’s going to get any better, they’re right. I’m very very sorry for the ones they left behind – freinds and family I mean, not the people on the platform, but the manner in which they’ve chosen to die is one that will be extremely painful for their family (in some countries it would be extremely expensive, too, because) – and if I was in their family, I’d be really fucking angry with them anyway. So there. Don’t call it public transport user’s ire, call it empathy.

I’m sorry someone died. And sure, I would have helped if I could, but I didn’t know them, I couldn’t stop them, and I cannot, for the life of me (excuse me) see why their life being shit meant me almost missing my plane.

Twat.

Sorry.

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sea change

So there I was, sitting in the airport lounge, waiting for my flight, typing up the notes in my head into notes on the screen, and trying to organise them into the vague form that they’ll have to take eventually.

Ladeez an Gentlemen, Easy jet flight number EZ864 is delayed by 30 min-yoots. Please remain seated until this flight will be called

The thought-to-screen process was going well, and I kept a separate window open, switching back and forth as I tried to work out which thoughts were for the work thing, and which I might get to keep for myself and – when the time seemed prudent – my little red boat.

I sat back to read over what I’d written, and then sat even further back to think a little more. And also to stare out of the window, willing my plane to come. The elderly gentleman next to me coughed.

“Excuse me…” he said ” …but I couldn’t help but notice what you were writing- you type very fast, I must say. Are you a journalist?”

I looked down at my screen, and quickly ran through the reasons I was there, sitting in an airport lounge, alone, in France, and – the dealbreaker, pretty much – writing about it.

“Um” I said.
“Um, yes?”

And silently added
“… Or at least I think so, maybe. Although not really. But for all intents and purposes, and taking everything as it comes and with recent events taken into account, then… Then I think I might be, yes”.

Which is odd, because I don’t think, in the last few years, I ever intended to become one (though I kind of did when I was 12). And I’m still not sure I do, but I can’t, at the moment, work out the difference between journalist and writer, and which one I might want to be. I just know I’m not the kind of blogger who gets famous for blogging. Which is sad. Because if I could, that was actually what I thought I might like, and…

Oh forget it. Apologies. Feel free to mentally pour scorn upon me in a ‘Oh it must be SO HARD to be you. Diddums etc…‘ kind of way.
It is a difficult thought to articulate without coming across as an ingrate, a charlatan, a fool and generally a bit of a poohead.
I should have thought that through. That’s what a journalist would have done. Or sounded more confident about what I was saying. That’s what journalists are able to do too. Then I got all shy. And a journalist wouldn’t do that. Or maybe I was just quiet because I was hungry, having been too scared to go into a restaurant on my own all weekend. And a journalist would have. They’re trained for that, you see. So a journalist would have behaved completely differently, in the circumstances.

So over all, really, I don’t think I am one, then, in retrospect.

If you’re out there, old man: “No, sorry. I am a blogger, though. Just not the type that becomes famous”.

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stupid question no.2

He has phone but no internet, I seem to have internet but no phone.

Can anyone who happens to have my beloved’s mobile number text him and tell him I have no credit, can he ring me, please?

Thanks. I think we may jusr be about to discover what blogs are for…

LATER…

Oh crap – I’ve just realised I can’t take phone calls either – stupid stupid stupid phone.

If I’m supposed to be meeting you today or tomorrow – can you email me and just give me a time and a place? I have a map, and promise to be there in time, wearing a big old green duffel coat thing and red shoes. Yes I know it doesn’t match. Or if you want to send a text message I can get those too – just not send them.

God I’m sorry about this.

LATER STILL…

It’s all fine now. Thank you.

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shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, but…

Be vewy vewy quiet in case I’m wrong and they hear us and charge me, but answer me this:

If your laptop just connects to a wireless network in the hotel and you don’t have to connect through a hotel homepage or say which room you’re in or anything, does that mean it’s free, please?

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Fou

Queest-ce que je fais ? Je ne parle pas français bien. Pourquoi est-ce que je suis faisant ceci? Je ne veux pas aller seul à Marseille. C’est fou. Pourquoi est-ce que j’ai accepté de faire ceci? C’est une idée idiote.

Ok.

I’m going to Marseille for the weekend. On my own. I don’t think I’ve ever been on holiday on my own. Not that this is an actual holiday, as it is actually work, not holiday at all.

God I’m nervous. How do you say nervous? Nervoux? My pigeon French is appalling, I admit it.

That’s what I hate, see. As I’ve said before, I feel such a lout going somewhere and not having the common decency to speak the language. It’s just rude.

I’ll get a phrasebook. I’ll get a phrasebook with “My toothache appears to have returned, do you have a crowbar you could hit me with?” in.

You know, this could possibly count as procrastinating. I’m only half packed, and I have to leave in 15 minutes. Maybe I shouldn’t be blogging at this point…

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I nee woot canaaw sujuwee

Tuesday morning. I half limped, half crawled up to the pharmacy counter, looking like a smart-casual crack whore – veins visually pulsing, cold sweat dribbling from my ears.

“Painkillers” I said. “Please give me. Please give me the strongest painkillers you can give me over the counter. Please.”

“What for?” She said – the lady behind the counter. It’s time like this I wish that toothache would bleed, or glow or throb – it’s impossible to get across, as an ailment, without talking about it, which is the thing that hurts the most.

“Toothache. For toothache. I have toothache, and I can’t get in to see the dentist for several more days”

That was true. It was also true, of course, that I wouldn’t get to see the dentist until I actually summoned up the courage to phone the dentist. And, in fact, until I found a dentist in the first place. But I neglected to mention that. She might have called me a wuss and witheld her sweet sweet painkillers. I couldn’t risk it.

“I have very bad toothache. Ow” I said, and held my face to demonstrate the toothache that I had. “The stronger the better, really”, I soundtracked to her search through the behind-counter cartons.

“Hm. For toothache…” She said, while my jaw quietly imploded. “Painkillers for toothache…”

“Yes. And for under £4.60,” I said “…I’ve only got £4.60 on me. Sorry.”

I watched and winced as she turned, smoothly, from the strong looking ‘quite-possibly-heroin‘ boxes, and started poking through the shelves of pastel coloured ‘quite-possibly-Calpol‘ boxes.

“Here we are!” She said, not knowing that at that moment the counter stopped me from kissing her, gratitudifully. “Oh. No. Hang on. These make you drowsy. You don’t want…”

“YES.” I nodded, attempting to communicate sleeplessness and pain through the power of my nod – which worked, inasmuch as it hurt and made me feel woozy again (I don’t know if she could tell) “YES, those are FINE. Lovely! How many boxes have you got?! I’ll have all of them. Ha ha. Hahahaha!”

Unconvincingly I laughed. In a failing attempt not to sound like the ache-addled capsule-sucking ‘profen-whore I really am, I laughed. I realised, just too late, that it sounded like I may have been driven to the edge of self-slaughter by toothache.

“Not really! Only one! I’ve only got £4.60! Ha ha ha!”

She looked at me, trying to decide between a quick sale and a slow commital process.

“Hahaha?”

She looked at me, pharmicistically, still holding the magic box just slightly too far over the counter for me to grab and run away and eat all at once and…

“Are you allergic to anything?”

“I’m allergic to rabbits” – My general response.

“Ha ha!” She said.

“Ha ha!” I… “No, not allergic to anything else, those will be lovely – thanks, how much?”

“Are you taking any other medication?”

“I’m not taking ANY medication. Ow.”

“Have you taken these before?”

“No, but I’m sure they’re lovely

By this point I was staring at the box in her hand with a slithering, ill-controlled desire, like an overweight Gollum in winter, all eyes and duffel coat.

“Ok, well, that’ll be £3.25, please”

“Thank you.”

“Anything else?”

“No. Thank you.”

“Well here you are”

“Thank you”

“Here’s your change”

“Thank you”

“Have a nice day, feel better”

“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

And I left the shop, clutching hard my paper bag containing something called propain. ‘Propain’s flammable, I think’, I thought. ‘At least if it all gets too much I can set myself alight’.

It did get worse, but the fire didn’t catch. I’ve caught a dentist, though.
Abcess, he says. X-rays. Buckle amalgam. Root canal. Fillings.

You may see a paypal button turning up on this site in the not too distant future, just to warn you.

Ow ow ow ow, I say. Ow ow ow. Ow ow.

To be continued…
Although hopefully not for much longer, because it really hurts

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Aidez-moi. Aidez-moi, mesdames et messieurs…

Yes, that’s right, since you proved yourselves last year with the top tips of places to go and things to see and stuff to do when I went to Bruges and Berlin last year – I need your help again.

Except I need it more this time.

I’ve decided to move further up the alphabet, away from the B’s (I visited Basel in December too. And Birmingham in January, did I say? – It was pleasant, but I think a fitting end to the ‘City Breaks that start with B’ series, I think, don’t you?)

So, we’re now on M. In fact, we seem to have skipped straight from B to M, which is sad, as I was rather looking forward to Helsinki and Hull.

Still – this is where I need your help, if that’s ok. Sorry, Your aidez…

On Friday, I’m going to Marseille for the carnival. Have you been to Marseille? Do you know it well? Is there anywhere in particular I should see, or anything particularly touristy I should avoid? Do you have a favourite Marseilleish type place I should go and take a picture of for you?

I’ve only got 48 hours or so in the city itself, and I’m on my own, but that is exactly why I need your help – what should I do? Where should I go? What do you know about Marseille at the moment that I don’t? (hint: Anything you know about Marseille at this point fits into this category). If you loved Marseille, why? Which bit? which bit EXACTLY? Oh tell me your Marseille secrets, you filthy little SouthofFrancites. Sorry, I’m getting carried away.

And most weirdly, do you know anyone lovely in Marseille who might be willing to show me around a little – and could you email me (my annapickard at gmail address) if you think you might?

Thank you, mon poissons petits. Merci a whole bunch, en advance.
So – Marseille? Tips? Anyone?

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

I still post. Occasionally. Honest, I do.