Saturday, 23 April 2011

The Royal Wedding

Shall I tell you a secret? I quite like weddings. I quite like the Royal Family. I quite like drinking pimms and wearing a big hat.

For these reasons....

I'll be watching it without even a tiny bit of derision or cynicism.

Sorry. I know this upsets quite a few people.

Have a nice bank holiday! I'm off to the lake district (of course I am, what stupid faux toff I am), so I won't be updating for at least a week. Try not to get too sunburnt or consumed with scorn. Enjoy something mildly alcoholic and read a book and go for a swim in a river and get off twitter and do something nice and outdoorsy and have a barbecue. See you in May!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Newsround and a minor meaning of life

In a world filled with horrendous media lies and cynical nay-saying, sometimes it's easy to give up and think "everything will always be this shit." It is. Easy, to give up, I mean. I gave up a while ago and started believing that the world was a cruel hard place filled with people trying to bend you over a McDonald's counter. I didn't live in a nice world when I gave up. Outside my house lay a wasteland filled with the remains of a world trying and failing to rectify itself after a series of catastrophic events (it's hard to talk about living in a Yorkshire town without mentioning the war, you can still imagine the bombers flying overhead as you walk through endless red brick terraces. This isn't romantic, it's depressing. Endlessly depressing), each blowing holes in the tiny glimpses of optimism we'd salvaged from the last. Gunmetal grey skies compounded the fact that the world I lived in was not one of fantastic opportunity - it was here to crush me.

One day, I woke up. Not literally, I was already awake, but I suddenly came to a bit of an important realisation. Everything isn't shit really, is it? Sure, that was easy for me to say, I was on holiday at the time, but it's true. I found myself sat on a grassy hill looking over a tarn in the sunshine while the sun grazed my skin and turned me terracotta - summer is the only time of year my dubious 'Irish' heritage is called into question - and I thought "what the fuck are you on about?" Just like that. A second before I had been contemplating the futility of life, the next I was wide-eyed and Cox-esque. A dawning realisation had hit me, and luckily I was in such a doicile mood that I hadn't the foresight to scoff it into submission. Life is lovely, sometimes. Suddenly, this was enough for me.

The reason I'm sharing this incredibly personal anecdote with nobody in particular is because of a number of stories in the news this week; one being a particularly poisonous diatribe against depression (again from the Daily Mail - I'm not linking to it, if you want to see it search for "bi-polar" on their site), another being the glorious weather we've been having, and another perversely being the sad death of a well-loved actress. Elisabeth Sladen was loved by thousands as Sarah Jane in Doctor Who, and later in the Sarah Jane Adventures. Tributes had already been piling up on Twitter and Facebook as soon as the news broke by the time Newsround began talks into how they would present this sad news to their very young demographic. What struck me was not so much the way they handled the issue (which was remarkably responsible and appropriate, in my opinion) but a page on their website for kids upset by the news.

Copyright CBBC Newsround

It just helps me believe in the human race a little bit more. Of course children should be told this, and it's touchingly simple in it's approach. Sometimes, no matter how shit everything is or could be, or has been, tiny glimmers of sincerely lovely things come through. I know a lot of people I care about aren't quite feeling themselves lately, and I just want them to know that humanity isn't all a big pile of rotten sewage.

I don't know why, I just thought you'd all like to see that.

Monday, 11 April 2011

I'm doing this because I love you, Kitty.

So it's just you and me tonight then, Kitty. Just you and me, and as you flop heavily onto the floor in front of Come Dine With Me, I know it's time to put you on a diet.

The last diet I put you on was a catastrophe; a cacophony of screeching shrieks that tore into the very fabric of my being. "Of course I love you, you dumb ANIMAL! This is why I'm not giving you treats! Because I love you!" And yet the reproachful stares get longer, and throughout the week your proximity to me grows further and further away, until I'm perched on the edge of the sofa, and you're stretching your legs out, poking me, willing me to fall off. This is how it works in my house. Sorry, her house. If she doesn't want to be near me, I have to move. She is only the size of a handful of socks, but she can take up as much room as several hungover cows if she wants to. Andy asks; "Why do you let her bully you like this?" I reply, I don't. How ridiculous. Bullied by a cat? I glance quickly over my shoulder to see if she's listening. One half-closed eye reveals that she's heard every word, and is ready to pounce with judgemental purring should she hear anything less than complimentary about herself.

Sometimes I sing to her. I think her occasional bullishness is a repost for my seemingly endless cat-themed re-workings of pop classics and operatic themes. I'm not the only person who does this - I won't mention any names as I wouldn't want to unwittingly offend or embarrass anybody with so much heart that they dance and sing with their cat, but I can assure you, it's a rewarding experience; until she decides a certain line isn't quite satisfactory and claws her way out of my clingy grasp and runs for the dining room chairs. "Stinky pie, stinky pie, no you don't get any treats to-day, (you are such a tubby cat)" sang to the tune of Poker Face while cradling her like a baby and poking her nose has recently had my hand scratched to smithereens. Not to worry, it's all for my art.

This week, it's diet week. After several months of kowtowing to her every tiny little gloriously fluffy silly cat-faced whim, she has begun to resemble a saggy old tabby hot water bottle. Her head, not usually the largest of cat heads, now looks tiny in comparison to her body (which I described as 'gargantuan' yesterday, but was rebuked for being 'size-ist') and gives her the almost creepy air of a puppet-come-alive. If she moved about more, I'd be inclined to be frightened of her coming into my room at night and scaring the living crap out of me. No more kitten biscuits for you Kitty, no matter how often you show me your tiny adorable mouth. No more food pouches than absolutely necessary, little Kitty, despite your constant yowling. When I eat crisps, you will no longer eat crisps. When I have mashed potato, you will no longer have any mashed potato. I will not be letting you get away with your nightly excursions to the kitchen any more, despite how deeply impressive it was that time when you got cake out of a not-properly-shut-fridge and ate half of it. I would have had to polish it off.

No more will you be fat, Kitty. You will be sleek and healthy. You will not cry for food, you will cry to be held and to go outside to exercise. This is not projection, don't look at me like that. I will go running tomorrow, when I'm not so busy. Stop glaring that way. For an old cat, you do have some bad habits.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Extra-short story for Love/Hate Travel

This is a story I wrote for lovehatetravel.co.uk - I thought you might enjoy it :)

Bus Soup

I’d like to tell you a story. It’s about my daily ordeal on the bus, as I travel bleary-eyed to work after a half-mile hike past an already-screaming school playground and a traffic light maze I like to refer to as “Hell Junction”.

Unlike most sane human beings, I cannot drive. Instead, I placate the aching need to be in a leathery cocoon surrounded by nice lovely retractable restraints and soothing air con by telling myself that I am eco-friendly. “You don’t need a car!” I lie to myself, as I stride over grey grass verges, watching my bus leave solemnly without me from afar. “You get much more exercise than those idiots. Look at them in their silly little pods. I bet they’re listening to Toploader. You’re much cleverer and better than them.”

I have to say, I don’t believe me. I wouldn’t be nearly so insistent had I passed my driving test. As it was, I took ten lessons until my poor, wretched instructor cried “Enough! No more!” I had to get out and promise not to drive a city compact again. “The poor gears,” he wept. “They’ll never be the same again.” My driving career was never going to flourish, and so I resigned myself to a life of buses and seemingly endless walks to-and-from train stations in improbably named towns.

I wait 15 minutes for a “ten minutes or less!” number 12 to arrive. I sit myself near the back, and listen to my music. On this particular day, the upstairs section smells like eggs and ferns. I’m in my own little headphone bubble, quite happy to stare at depressingly long queues of traffic when the worst happens.

The very worst.

The man behind me sneezes on the back of my neck.

I need a new driving instructor.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Music and other distractions

I've not been doing any writing recently. I've not been doing much cooking recently. I've not really been doing anything recently, because I've discovered that I'm allowed to listen to music at work.

This is a revelation to me. All day long I can happily tap tap tap at my desk, and all the while new sounds and podcasts can play happily through my headphones as I form press releases and send important emails.

I love it. I love it so much, that I can't help but share my finds with people. Unfortunately, sharing in Katie terms is equal to Awful Spamming to everyone else. I needed a way to show people the music I love, without making everyone extremely angry, so I've decided to make podcasts.

If you like Drum and Bass, you might like to listen to it! If this is the case, you can listen to it or download it from Soundcloud here.

Normal services shall resume soon, don't run too far.
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