Thursday, February 28, 2008

Today I stayed at home waiting for an exciting delivery from Marks and Spencer.

The box, when it arrived, wasn't as big or as heavy as I'd expected it would be.
Puzzled, I unsealed the tape, discarded the brown paper, removed the plastic bag and unwound the bubble wrap ... and this is what I found.

A plate.

One single, solitary, small, side plate.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

16.12 On Time
I always suspected I could sleep through an earthquake.
Apparently it's true.

Across the land experiences are shared. In the office the talk is of vibrations, shudderings, creakings, groanings and poltergeist action.

I didn't feel a thing. I put it down to a clear conscience and a couple of pints of Guinness.

Souljacker - Eels


Monday, February 25, 2008

7.31 On Time
It was lovely to see Robbie Keane, Jonathan Woodgate, Paul Robinson & Aaron Lennon picking up their winners medals yesterday, even if it did make me feel ever so slightly wistful.

Just goes to show what you can achieve with Gus Poyet at your side

Don't Look Down - Divine Comedy
Footsteps Fall - Eddi Reader
Clairaudients (Kill or be Killed) - Bright Eyes
Lights - Editors
The Rollercoaster Ride - Belle & Sebastian
It's Just Another Morning Here - Nanci Griffith
To Go Home - M. Ward
It Never Rains In Southern California - Albert Hammond


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

8.10 On Time
I've gone cold turkey on The National but can't find anything else that suits my current mood so I'm on 'random', skipping past songs I know too well and losing patience with unfamiliar ones.

This morning I'm simply unreasonably tetchy but yesterday was disastrous. The early train was busier than usual and, as I couldn't get 'my' seat, I ended up opposite MilitaryMan#1. Garrulous and unaware of The Rules as he is, he made an ill-advised attempt to engage me in conversation.

His opening gambit was: "Is that a radio or an mp3 player?" followed by "Is it for fun or for work?" I smiled. Surely "Oh no, it's definitely not work! This is 'ME' time" would make my position on small talk perfectly clear, but no. He was undetered.

I had to spend the journey staring out of the window, head twisted at an unnatural angle, to avoid the risk of eye contact and further attempts at chat. There was a spectacular sun rise. On the other side of the train.

Then last night, for the second night in a row, TheManWhoSmellsOfRawMeat landed next to me. Not only does he smell like a butcher's shop he is also extremely large. Much larger than his share of the seat. His gargantuan shoulders pinned mine against the window and his massive knees interfered with the normally proportioned knees of the nervous man, trying to read a military history book he's liberated from the university library, on the opposite seat. TheManWhoSmellsOfRawMeat can't even lean out into the aisle to give us some respite, as he causes an obstruction to the conductor and to people wanting to get off. Or use the toilet. Or get off in the toilet. Or whatever.

It was very distressing for us all.

Today, I don't care. I am putting my bag on the seat. Today it's going to be someone else's turn.

Not A Reasonable Man - I Am Kloot
Oh Lori - Alessi
Wonderful Woman - The Smiths
All Over Again - The Lilac Time
Silver Lining - Rilo Kiley
According To Plan - I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness
Sunken Waltz - Calexico
Whatever - Oasis


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"...brainy, brainy, brainy"

17.12 Cancelled
18.08 Twelve Minutes Late
So I sat in the pub with half a Guinness trying to make the best of it. Avoiding eye contact with the other solitary drinkers in case they thought I was desperate to chat and eavesdropping on a group on their various ways home following a training course.

At registration this morning they were strangers; by the second coffee break allegiancies had formed; over lunch soul-mates bonded. Now, each reluctant to be the first to leave and break up the party, it's: "Oh, there's another train in fifteen minutes...I'll get that" and "Who wants another drink?".

When it eventually arrives, the '18.08' fills up with the tired and pissed off from the hour before and the regulars, pissed off that their normally quiet train appears to have been hijacked.

The person who sits down next to me smells nice and doesn't occupy more than his fair share of seat, which is as much as I could ask really. Before the first stop he has wrestled a text book out of his satchel, apologised for jostling me, and asked: "Excuse me...but..."

I remove my headphones. He points at a word underlined in blue: "Could you help me? This word ... what does it mean?"

I notice that quite a lot of words are underlined.

By the time he gets off, four stops later, I have also attempted to define and contextualise 'integrity' 'compromise*' 'divulge' and 'consideration'**. When it came to 'fiduciary' I threw in the towel. He is studying ethics and his first language is not English. It's the hardest I've worked all day.

*in the sense of 'expose to disrepute' rather than 'settle by concession'
**in the legal sense


Monday, February 11, 2008

"...I could help you open and unfurl"

17.12 On Time
Tonight I will get home before dark.

The train pulls out of Preston to a perfect winter sunset: the moon is out and pink jet trails cut the sky. Remember when jet trails were a novelty? Your mum pointing upward: "Look! Aeroplane!" The idea of knowing someone who'd been 'up' in one, let alone going up in one yourself an outlandish, fanciful notion.


Oh well, I read this last week and found it heartening.

Suburban Sweetheart - Josh Rouse
I Fought The Angels - The Delgados
Cedar & Smoke - Iron & Wine
In Other Words - Ben Kweller
Beloved Wife - Natalie Merchant
Jonathan David - Belle & Sebastian

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"...I feel like Carolina, I split myself in two"

7.31 On Time
Desperate to break away from you-know-what by you-know-who I switch to ‘play any track’ mode and cross my fingers.

Luckily the first song puts a smile on my face and shields me from SkinnyLegalWoman & her gregarious cohorts. My intolerance of this pack increases exponentially as their camaraderie develops: which begs the question do I envy their easy rapport? Does their daily round of text & email fun leave me feeling excluded? Do I secretly yearn to belong in their confident world of absolute certainty?

Or is it just that I think I’m better than them? It wouldn’t be the first time that accusation’s been levelled. Am I insular and misanthropic? Do I use body language and headphones to isolate myself in my little world of me?

Whatever it is, TheTinyDancers don't make me feel this way. For all their giddy shrillness and rich-girl poise they have the decency unfold and air their insecurities in front of us on a daily basis.

Army Dreamers – Kate Bush
Home – Stephen Duffy
Dumb It Down – Divine Comedy
You Held The World In Your Arms - Idlewild
Modern Day Saint – Via Audio
Blue & Grey Shirt – American Music Club
Carolina – M Ward
The Bends - Radiohead


Thursday, February 07, 2008

"one time you were a glowing young ruffian...oh my god, it was a million years ago"

17.12 On Time
I am unhealthily obsessed.

Passed SecretCrush on the stairs. As an afterthought I called out "...The National...? Are you familiar?"

He turned back: "Heard of ... never heard ... what are they like?"

My head implodes. The best I can come up with is: "At first it sounds like a grumpy, mumbly-americana voice and some tuneless guitar - but it's brilliant. It's all I've been listening to since Christmas."

"Riiiight. Sounds good!"

O.K. Purely for evaluation purposes then.

Boxer - The National

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"...I wanna hurry home to you, put on a slow, dumb show for you..."

8.10 On Time
"I Have Never ... Had sex in a train toilet"

If I were playing the game I wouldn't be drinking.

It would take a remarkable, unlikely and very specific set of circumstances to alter that. I mean, honestly, who even goes to the toilet in the toilet on a train ?

But this is nothing to do with anything. Except, possibly, The National again. Maybe I was listening and idly thinking; "This is as near as I'll ever get to having sex on a train".


Then maybe I caught sight of my reflection and was wondering where on earth that expression came from?

Boxer - The National

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

" were always weird but I never had to hold you by the edges like I do now"

17.12 On Time
"I think everything counts a little more than we think"

If there were any kind of justice in the world my 'real' job, would be listening to The National. It is something I have recently become very good at. As it is, quite frankly, the hours between nine and five are unproductive, dead and wasted hours. I close my eyes and wish my way through them.

"You know I dreamed about you
for twenty-nine years before I saw you
You know I dreamed about you
I missed you for
for twenty-nine years"

Yesterday morning the train was delayed. While the Conductor apologised for the disruption, I was overjoyed. It meant a whole ten extra minutes of pure bliss before life closed in and everything turned grey. Right now it seems unlikely that I will ever need to hear anything else; that I could ever take so much delight in any other music.

"oh you wouldn’t want an angel watching over you
surprise, surprise they wouldn’t wannna watch
another uninnocent, elegant fall into the unmagnificent lives of adults"

The greatest joy of all comes from knowing that I will.

"...hang your holiday rainbow lights in the garden"

Boxer - The National

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