Wednesday, July 26

Phew

I have just finished the first edit of the arty-type book I'm editing - all 31,346 words of it.

I'm off for a very well-deserved pint. Fancy coming? I'll buy you one too with the profits.

Tuesday, July 25

A situation I never, ever thought I'd be in

After this post, I decided to follow my heart and go for job number two and a life of freedom and flexibility.

I called them to confirm yesterday morning. All was well. Straight afterwards, I called job number one to decline. They asked if there was anything they could do to make me accept their offer. I explained that the other job was part-time and I was really looking for a bit more flexibility.

A couple of hours later, I got an e-mail from job number one. They could change the job to a part-time role to suit me - what days did I want? And they could offer me about £4.5k more.

I was in shock.

After much soul-searching, I ditched job number two and went for job number one. They were such lovely mumpety people, really wanted me to work for them and, of course, there's the very good wage for working three days a week thing.

So, it's official. I am now a Communications Officer for a charity working with refugees (uber-mumpet Sir Benjamin of Zephaniah would be proud). And the rest of the time, I'm a freelance writer/editor/photography student/dyslexia support worker/anything else that takes my fancy.

Blimey.

(Mr Meep says he feels like we've won the lottery.)

Sunday, July 23

Fading beauty



Yesterday, I heard a song that will stay with me forever. I was on the way home from the beach and a long walk across the dunes in the sunshine, generally feeling a bit spiritual and at one with mother nature and all that malarkey.

I turned the radio on - it was bloody Dermot O'Dreary, but as it was a choice between him or some chav-awful local radio station playing the hits from 'the 80s, 90s and today', and O'Dreary generally plays pleasant enough tunes by jangly guitar-playing indie bands, I stuck with him.

He had some band on playing an acoustic set, a cover of 'Up the Junction' by Squeeze. It was jangly and happy and a good background to the drive home in the sunshine.

When the band had finished, a record came on. I recognised the opening chords of If You Could Read My Mind - a song which usually reminds me of dancing with drag queens at drunken nights at The Albury Hotel from my time in Sydney.

But this version of the song wasn't all camp disco. It was slowed down and stripped down, just a man and a guitar. The voice was deep, rich and wise - a voice that had sung thousands of songs, spoken millions of words. It had the frail vibrato of a septogenarian - it was a voice that quivered as it sang, its age giving so much more meaning to the lyrics, transforming the song from an upbeat tune about a break-up to a haunting reflection on a life passed and a love lost forever, on mortality and mistakes.

As the song went on, the voice began to shake more. It sounded breathless, as if it was struggling to finish the song. I realised it was the voice of a dying man. As I drove along the M4, tears were streaming down my face.

The voice belonged to Johnny Cash. The song is from this album. He recorded it just months before he died. He was mourning his wife, almost blind, asthmatic and unable to walk - and you can hear every part of his pain in his voice.

Friday, July 21

Employment bonkersosity

Yesterday, I had two job interviews. Today, I have been offered two jobs.

Job number one
  • Plus points
    Good money
    About 10 minutes walk from my house
    A small charity, so v worthy and all that
    Nice people

  • Minus points
    Grotty office in not v nice location
    Full-time hours

    Job number two
  • Plus points
    Part-time
    In lovely, waterfront location
    Charity sector
    Could combine with freelance writing

  • Bad points
    Lack of money
    Um... that's it

    Well, I think that's my mind made up... However, I've got the weekend to mull it over. My heart is saying 'Take the part-time job and follow your dream of juggling a few jobs that you like'. My head is saying 'Are you mad? How will you ever survive on that measly amount?'. Can anyone offer me some words of wisdom?

    Oh, and while I've been typing this, I've got a call from a job I applied for aaages ago offering me an interview next week. It's writing lecture notes for students with dyslexia. Crap money, but hours whenever I want them, so a good compliment to job number two and would be a step in the right direction if I want to do my PGCE in basic skills teaching in the next couple of years.

    Hmmmm... Here's to three sleepless, restless nights with dreams about being happy/skint/naked in front of the school in assembly.
  • Monday, July 17

    How I spent my weekend

    I made a squillion pink and yellow cakes.



    Here they are on a pretty pink stand.



    Then I got small children to eat them.

    Thursday, July 13

    I've upset a nice Spanish lady

    Someone left this comment on my post about going to Spain.

    "España es mucho más que sol y tapas. Ese es el problema que todos los extranjeros pensais que somos tercermundistas."

    Which, if my very minimal Spanish serves me correctly, means something like: "Spain is much more than sun and tapas. The problem is that all tourists think we are third-world country."

    Um, I like Spain. I love it. Honestly, I really do. I love the people, the cities, the countryside, the coast, the food, the culture, the architecture, the siesta and the fiestas. I just happen to like tapas and sunshine too.

    Lo siento, Morgana.

    Too busy to blog...

    But here is a nice quote about Mother Earth.

    "And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare
    feet and the winds long to play with your hair" - Kahlil Gibran

    Makes me want to run through forests barefoot and naked.

    Sunday, July 9

    Sunday Scribblings: Hotel

    Although we stumbled upon it by accident, we ended up staying for weeks. We got off the tuk-tuk too early, a couple of pale-skinned, first-time travellers just arrived from the mainland after a few days of the noisy, calm, dirty, dazzling, sleazy, vibrant, culture shock of Bangkok - unsettled stomachs from the new, exotic climate and food that was so different from the grey skies and ‘101 ways with potatoes’ that we’d left behind just a week ago to start our year-long trip.

    With no idea where we were heading, after 20 minutes of deserted roads and no sign of a town anywhere ahead, we signalled the driver to stop at the next accommodation sign that we saw - a wooden board nailed to a post with the hand-painted words ‘Calm Bungalows’.

    We arrived at dusk and tramped down a stony path in the disappearing light, backpacks heavy, our skin already itching at the thought of the mosquitoes out hunting for new blood.

    The bungalows were a series of beach huts on the edge of Bo Phut beach, a then undiscovered part of the Thai island of Ko Samui. We chose one of the cheaper ‘bungalows’ - actually a wooden hut with two single beds, a cold shower and a Thai-style squat toilet. After 12 hours of kamikaze bus-drivers and bumpy ferry crossings, a clean bed was all we needed.

    The next day, we wandered down the village, virtually untouched by Ko Samui standards, the only nod to tourism were a few wooden shack-style restaurants serving seafood on the beach. A toothless woman spoke no English, but gave us the biggest, gummiest, friendliest grin when we bought something from her shop and attempted a hesitant ‘thank you’ in Thai. We were smitten with the people and the place, and made Calm Bungalows our home for the next couple of weeks.

    A persistent cockerel attempted to wake us at an unsociable 5am most days but we dozed until 9-ish, before ambling down the make-shift restaurant for coffee and banana pancakes. We spent the mornings swimming in sea that was as calm and warm as bath water, the afternoons reading trashy novels on the porch to shelter from the tail-end of the monsoon rains that arrived every day at 2pm.

    We drank Singa beers while swinging in hammocks and staring at the sea, listening to a grandmother wailing Thai lullabies to a baby girl. We ate slices of the sweetest pineapple that made our tongues tingle and plates of fried rice hiding the tiniest chillies with the biggest kick.

    In 1999, it cost roughly £2 a night to stay at Calm Bungalows, but if I had a choice between there or a week at a swanky, wanky hotel, all the champagne, room service and silk sheets in the world wouldn’t tempt me away from the little wooden hut by the sea.

    Read more Sunday Scribblings here.

    Friday, July 7

    The Friday List

    Today, it is not a happy bunny-type of list.

    Reasons why today was generally a bit rubbish
  • I had a day off, but had to get up at 7am because I had so much to do
  • I took Blod for a walk and it rained on me. A lot.
  • The clutch on my car decided to blow up in the middle of Cardiff city centre in rush hour, jamming the car in first gear so the only way of stopping was a) stalling b) turning off the engine or c) crashing. (I managed to get home through a combination of hysteria plus a, b and lots of luck.)
  • I did not have my phone or any money on me, making clutch/stranded damsel in distress situation a lot scarier.
  • I had no transport to go to job interview/test-type thing, so went to the bus-stop. Bus didn't turn up. Next bus was late. HAd to walk two miles. Arrived very flustered.
  • Interview-test thing was a disaster. They asked me to write five different things in one hour (advert, 150-word brochure entry, 150-word web copy, plus two pieces of editorial of 100 words each) based on five sheets of A4 that you had to read first. All in one hour. Surely physically impossible? I totally cocked up and didn't finish it in the alotted 60 minutes.
  • I am supposed to be camping in Dorset with friends right now. Because of car nightmare, I am sitting at home.
  • Oh, I got another job interview for a charity. Yay. It is exactly the same date and time as one of my other job interviews. Bah.
  • Car is going to cost £200.

    Should have stayed in bed today, I think.
  • Thursday, July 6

    Employment Whirlwind

    OK, it is all going a bit bonkers in the world of Operation Meep New Employment/Self-Employment (aka I'm A Copywriter, Get Me Out of Here).

  • I have got a contract to edit a book about an art project
  • I'm going to do a test tomorrow with a view to getting a quite lucrative 10-day a month copywriting contract somewhere arty that I'd love to work
  • I have an interview in a couple of weeks for a part-time marketing job at a tourist attraction
  • An agency have put me forward for a job at an environment charity (full-time, but all green and cuddly and that, so would be lovely)

    Send good positive vibes my way please...
  • Monday, July 3

    Happy Birthday Dave



    On your 33rd birthday, 33 things I think are fab about you. Aw, ain’t that soppy?

    1. You embrace the slow lifestyle with a passion.
    2. You are fab at playing the guitar.
    3. You’re a talented designer.
    4. You’re very, very funny.
    5. You make me cute cards.
    6. You have lovely blue eyes.
    7. You make the best pizzas ever.
    8. And the best veggie lasagne.
    9. Oh, and you’re really good at tortilla espanola too.
    10. You always do the driving…
    11. …and get the petrol.
    12. You have a nice, if slightly evil, cat.
    13. All my friends love you.
    14. As do my family.
    15. You introduced me to the joys of real ale.
    16. You’ve got great taste in music (oh, except for maybe some of that scary shouty stuff you buy now and again).
    17. You let me have a puppy after years of begging and discussing and deciding that, no, we’re definitely, definitely not getting one.
    18. You never complain about doing your share of walking her.
    19. You’re a good listener, even when I get home after not speaking all day and talk non-stop for about half an hour to cram in a whole day’s worth of chat.
    20. Ooo, another cooking one – how did I forget to mention your amazing home-made bread?
    21. You make me hot water bottles when it’s Mooncup time.
    22. You’re great at cwtches.
    23. You’re the best stone skimmer I’ve ever seen.
    24. You don’t like football/lager/boys’nights out.
    25. You have cool clothes.
    26. You buy really thoughtful presents. (Not mentioning the Kenwood blender incident of 2001. Oops.)
    27. You are interested and inquisitive…
    28. … so have probably never been bored in your life.
    29. You have the world’s softest earlobes.
    30. You never compromise on things you believe in.
    31.You let me paint our bedroom wall with glitter paint.
    32. All this, and ever so handsome too.
    33. You make me happy bunny in a zillion different ways – thank you!

    Happy Birthday, The Mumpet
    x

    Saturday, July 1