Friday, 24 August 2007

Long, and probably very self indulgent post...

I apologise in advance to anyone who actually reads this - I would advise that you don't! I am trying to clear something out of my head that has been knocking around for a while, and the hope is that by rambling about it on here, I will actually be able to get a decent night's sleep. There are also items in here that I have not talked to anyone about.

Between the ages of 11 and 14, I went to a private school, and for the second and third of those years, I boarded there. I did not have the temperament for boarding, nor the social skills to be able to succeed within my peer group. At the age of 14, I came very close to breaking down altogether, and I left the school. I have since had frequent nightmares about being back there.

However, I have found myself in recent weeks deliberately going out and looking up information on that school and on the people that I spent three years of my life with (to the extent of getting in email and Facebook contact with some of the people that I was closer to). I am dragging up memories, most of them bad, and going over them again and again. This on the outside (and from the inside!) seems very much to be a stupid thing to do - I should leave the past well alone, and let it sink to the bottom of my memory pile, covered over with the dust of years. But, at the moment, I can't.

I can think of a few reasons for this.

It has now been over ten years since I left the school. I know that there were good times as well as bad, but the bad memories are clearer and sharper. By getting in touch with people who have nicer memories of the school, they can help me (without knowing it!) to bring those better memories to the fore. (for example, instead of my memory of sports being tainted by being the only person in the year not to be put into the big rounders match (the teacher forgot about me), I can remember about being in the tennis team, for one match...)

There is also the idea of picking at a scab to see if the skin underneath has healed. The memory that taints most of my time at that school, colouring even how I feel about going back through the county, is that of being assaulted by one of the boys in the year above me. It was not a serious assault, and I doubt that the boy in question either (a) considered it to be an attack at the time and (b) even remembers the incident now. However, it left a pain inside me that has persisted, and affected the way that I saw and interacted with boys and men for a long time afterwards (indeed, until I met John...) When I went back on Facebook and found the group for my year at that school, he was on it. And I am incredibly happy to be able to say that I was able to look at his picture and think about what he did with complete detatchment (rather than the sick to the stomach feeling I would have had a year or so ago). It is in the past, and whilst it has affected my life, I think that I can safely say that I have healed from it, and that I am a stronger person because of it.

And, the most important and overarching reason: I am coming up to a very important day in my life (some would say the most important, but I am withholding judgment until I'm on my deathbed...). It represents an external committment (I made the internal one a very long time ago) and a new chapter. Therefore it is important to me, even on a subconscious level, that the past is tidied up and sorted out. As with any person, I will always have 'baggage' to take forwards, but if it is in boxes and packed away neatly, then it is a lot easier to carry.

The school gave me a lot of pain, but it also made me who I am today (to trot out the old cliche...) My streak of independence, my resilience, my thick skin, all are as a direct result of what I went through. I can't say that my life wouldn't have been happier if I had never gone to that school. But the direct path that I was on at the age of eleven led me to this stage in my life, and the wedding next week. (If I hadn't gone to the school, then I would probably have less independence than I do now, meaning that I would be less likely to have gone to Australia on my Gap Year. This means that even if I had gone to Exeter, I would have been a year younger when I met John, and far more naive, and our relationship might never have happened. I also started my love of Sci-fi / fantasy as an attempt to escape from the reality of the school around me - if I had never been there, I might not have the deep love for the genre that I have today, and might never have joined the Sci-fi society to meet John in the first place!)

It is very easy to be fatalistic and say that it was all meant. I don't believe that, but I do believe that the bad times are as important as the good ones (if you don't have bad things happening, then how can you know how great the good ones are?) The most important thing, for now, for me, is that I feel that I can finally close that chapter, that I can accept what happened as something in the past. That the memories, good and bad, are not ones to be ashamed of. When they surface, as they will, in response to a smell, sound or other trigger, I will be able to look at them and accept the emotions, happy, sad or painful, that they engender in me. And then put them away and get on with my life.


Tiggers like Thursdays....

More to the point, Tiggers like:
Free suncream from Nivea (being handed out at BTM this morning) - almost exactly the same amount (although a lower SPF) to the bottle that I lost when I forgot it was in my bag flying to Glasgow
Receiving banners from Gerald Ye Herald - they look even better than the photos! :-)
Being told that the wedding shoes are on their way to the shop (I'll have to wait till Tuesday to pick them up, though...)
A brilliant episode of Heroes last night - not as heart stopping as last week and the week before, but with another brilliant ending (and the trailer for next week just looks HOOBOY!!)
The sun is shining! :-D

Wednesday, 22 August 2007


Ok, I've gone a bit Kiki again...

Gerald Ye Herald
has emailed me some pics of the banners that he is going to put in the post this afternoon....
(apologies for the size - I don't know how to change it... It doesn't matter how much I shrink the picture in Windows - it is still cut off by Blogger {headdesk})
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Links are here:

Plus the Deaf chap came in for his presentation and test, and, to my suprise, I was able to understand him (well, 95% of it, anyway...), and to make myself understood. I'm really happy - and now I'm keeping my fingers tightly crossed that he gets the job!

Tuesday, 21 August 2007


Tomorrow, I will be using my sign language for the first time since I took my exams, and for the first time in a non-social / classroom context. And I'm bricking it!

Work is recruiting for a developer, and a Deaf applicant has been invited to interview. It took me quite a while to persuade one of the directors in charge of this recruitment that I was not qualified enough to actually interpret for him! But I have been asked (and I'm happy to) to do a "Meet and Greet" - ask about coffees, explain where the toilets are etc. The problem is that I've forgotten so many basic signs! I'm going to have to spend this evening on t'internet practicing...

But I'm a little bit excited, as well :-)

Friday, 17 August 2007

Time flies like an arrow

And fruit flies like a wheelie bin...

(Heroes spoilers below if you didn't see last night's episode...)

I can't believe that it is Thursday already! Work has been manic (tender hell continues unabated - deadlines are coming thick and fast), and we are in the final stretch of the wedding planning.
I now have:
Cheese cake paid for
Final photography bits paid for
Banners from Gerald ye Herald paid for (still need to arrange delivery, though)

Tonight I'm meeting with Graham, who is going to talk makeup at me (I'm not very good at it. I know I need it, but I know so little about what looks good that I definitely need the help of an expert!)

I still need to do final arrangements on:
Florist - need to pay
Finding ivy (real or fake) to decorate the hall
Collect shoes (should be ready next week)
Meet with Tracey (our co-ordinator) at Tortworth to go through final arrangements
Contact South Glos registrar and inform them of the slight change in the wedding service
Finish stitching the final seam on my dress (Sarah H has very kindly done three of them, but I wanted to put a bit of work in as well!)
Arrange my hair and nails - I'm not having a hairdresser on the day (wearing my hair down and 'au naturel', so I don't need anything fancy), but I'm going to have a haircut the day before and sort my nails out.

John is sorting out:
Belts from Stagman

And I think that I'm pretty much getting there!

Watched Heroes last night - still excellent. The tension is still high, and it is interesting how the different threads are starting to come together. There is so much that needs to still be explained, and so much for us still to discover (I'm waiting to see what will happen with the kid - both his parents have this special gene, so he has to have some sort of power as well :-) ) The glimpse of the future last week has left me desparate to know how things get from now to then - how far in the future was it? (How quickly did Hiro learn to speak English...!) We also got to see the "making of" showing how they did the stopping time effect - an incredibly clever mix of CGI and patience - making actors keep so still for so long (particularly child ones) is a feat in itself. Plus the end result looks beautiful - incredibly realistic, and means that the tiny amount of CGI that they do add in only adds to the realism, rather than detracting from it.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007


Wow! What a weekend! Fantastic friends, superb scenery, cracking comedy and marvelous music (is that superlative enough for you?)

Really - I had a brilliant time up in Glasgow/Edinburgh. Huge amounts of alcohol on the Friday, Edinburgh Fringe on the Saturday and touring the Lochs near Glasgow on the Sunday. Picked up loads of cooking ideas as well (definitely going to try making Sarah's spanish omlette and Ben's american pancakes in the very near future!)

The Fringe was great fun - the damp weather certainly didn't stop the crowds (fortunately, we only really encountered them at the top end of the Royal Mile and on first bit of the walk from the bus.) However, two out of the three shows we saw seemed to have our group of five as the major part of the paying audience!

Ionesco - Jack or the Submission
This was billed as an absurdist play, and absurd was a very good word for it. I had no real idea of what was going on throughout. There were some nice touches - all of the parental parts were amalgamated into one person per pair (Mother/Father; Grandmother/Grandfather; Inlaws) This worked really well with the Mother/Father pair (in fact, I thought that it had been scripted that way), but the other two parings didn't come off so well, partially because the costumes weren't so good (the M/F had very obvious half and half costumes, but GM/GF had something tucked inside a jacket that I didn't even see for the first half of the show, and MIL/FIL apparantly had a blouse half of a shirt and a male half of a shirt, which I didn't spot at all!). There was nice use of non-scenery - the only bit of scenery was the door, which meant that there could be lots of pratting about, particularly with M/F.
However, I don't think I will go to see another absurdist play unless I have read the script and the information around it first!

Aeneas Faversham Returns
This was a completely random performance - we were having lunch/tea in a French restaurant, and John was looking through the festival guide - he spotted that this was going on at a venue that was between us and Mikelangelo, and was at about the right time. Trying to make amends for the Ionesco, he suggested that we have a look and see if there were any tickets left. We managed to get the last five (and that appeared only to be because there was a return...), which was a good sign. An even better one was that we managed to get pretty much to the head of the queue, meaning that we had second row seats. And it was well worth it - a first class show. We were laughing from beginning to end, and I think I can honestly say that these guys are the funniest group I have ever seen. Even with the bounds that they had set themselves (Victorian themed - the whole group in starched collars and cravats), the range of sketches that they were able to perform was brilliant. There was even an heart-string tugging one (the man telling his imaginary friend that he is leaving...), and a totally unexpected nudity one.... (very brave of the actor!)

The Honeymoon Suite
This was the show that we had come up to Edinburgh to see. Mikelangelo (of the Black Sea Gentlemen fame) performing a cabaret style duet with his wife, Undine Francesca. This was a very 'intimate' gathering - two on stage and eleven in the audience... (and we were five of them!) However, I was complely blown away by Mikelangelo's voice and musicianship. The CD recording does not do his timbre justice (and I have been listening to the BSG CDs on MP3 on a fairly constant basis since getting back!) - you can feel his voice as well as hearing it. Plus, he whistles... For most musicians (and I count myself in this band), the practice of whistling is incredibly difficult - most people can hold a tune for approximately five notes before descending into something that might vary in pitch by a semitone. But this was crystal clear and note perfect, and I can understand Mikelangelo's title of "The Nightingale of the Adriatic." Undine's playing of the organ can be termed as 'interesting' - a little painful on the ears at times, but at others, a good accompaniment to the song being performed. The hour went by far too quickly - I'm sure there was room for one more song!
Plus we got to meet them both afterwards, and chat (getting reassurances that the BSG hasn't disbanded... Looking forward to their next album, which should be out next year.). We did manage to skew their sales statistics as well - usually their ratio for selling items is 1:10 (1 item for 10 members of the audience). Well, we bought three sets of their single and three sets of the "Floating Islands" (a really interesting project, where Undine's father drew the pictures, Undine then picked out 100 of them and wrote a story round them, and Mikelangelo created the music. It was completed just before Undine's father died), meaning that their ration for that performance was 6:11!

The shows over, we went to find chips (the French meal had been at 4.30, so by 10, we were all getting a trifle peckish...), and John impressed the seller by asking for Haggis with his...

Sunday it was still raining, but less persistently than on Saturday, so, after a very leisurely start, Ben drove us out to Loch Lomond and round Loch Fyne (photos when I get round to unloading them off the camera...) The scenery of Scotland is breathtaking, particularly for someone who isn't used to mountains, or even really hilly areas!

On Monday, Sarah suggested that we had lunch in a vegetarian cafe called Grassroots. Absolutely delicious food (butternut squash and carrot burger - fantastic combination!) Then, home, with only a 20 minute delay on Easyjet...

All in all - a brilliant weekend, and a much needed rest - I hadn't realised before leaving work on Thursday just how stressed I was getting - a long weekend away from work pressures and the need to think constantly about the wedding was just what my brain needed. And I only came back to 70 emails...

Friday, 10 August 2007

Off to Bonny Scotland!

Long weekend ahoy! Heading up to Scotland to stay with lovely friends and go to the Edinburgh Fringe. Can't wait! This is only the second time I've been to Edinburgh, and the first time didn't really count as it was for a trade show, and I saw very little of the city outside of the hotel we were staying in and the conference centre that the show was taking place in. Oh, and the airport. Seven hours thanks to delayed Easyjet... (with colleague complaining for the *whole* seven hours...!) So this is going to be so much more fun, and if the weather up there is as nice as it is down here, it is going to be fantastic (hey - it would be fantastic even if it rained...)
Watched Heros on Wednesday night - another brilliant episode! Still being introduced to the characters, but we are now getting more indepth ideas about them. I love the way that even the timescales don't really tie up - you can't ever really be sure that you are watching the "Now" all of the time. I didn't really miss a huge amount by not being able to watch it last week - John was able to give me a recap of the important bits, and there was also a good fill-in at the start of the episode. I just hope that they can keep on upping the gain - I really don't want this to turn into another 'Lost', where it just loses its way half way through.
Had an extra session of TKD (beware - links on the TKD page don't work if you are using Firefox...) last night - though it wasn't really a proper work out session. Miss Burridge (our instructor), plus one of her students, took part in the World ITF Championships (competing for Wales, due to the politics of TKD, about which I know very little, and do not ever want to get involved in!) Miss Burridge is now World Champion in patterns! We're all really proud of her (and of Bradley, who got Bronze in both Team Power and patterns) So we had a little party, and then went down the pub for a bit more of a party :-)
And the aim of learning Norwegian on the train is starting to come together - I'm getting bits and pieces, mostly by using a visualisation technique (turning the words into something recognisable, and then creating a picture - e.g. the phrase "Your Welcome" is (phonetically) "Ingern awshaak" - for that I imagine a German walking over a Welcome mat into a shack. Hey, it works for me ;-) ) Still a long way to go, particularly for the phrases that I can't turn into pictures, but I hope to be able to have enough to get by in 3 1/2 weeks' time...

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

New Resolution

Second of the wedding nightmares last night - I'm expecting to get these for the next month....

I am sure that I have mentioned below that we are going to Norway for our honeymoon. So I am trying to learn a little bit of Norwegian so that I don't have to act like a typical British tourist... (the memory of my overnight stay in Japan, where I had to communicate in mime with the shop lady who didn't speak a word of English still haunts me). So, I have put down DayWatch (at a very exciting point...) and I've taken the Norwegian phrase book to read on the train. I'm really hoping that 15-20 minutes morning and evening will help the words to stick!!

And another weekend gone...

Less than four weeks to go till the wedding - and the checklist is slowly diminishing...
Emme came up for Sunday and Monday - she got to try on the bridesmaid's dress, and looks gorgeous in it :-) We then went out on Monday and spent most of the day at the Mall trying to find shoes / underwear (45 minutes bra fitting!!) Managed to get shoes for Emme no problem, but my feet are awkward sizes, so JJ at work has just driven me up to Clifton to the other wedding shoe shop, where we've found a pair that is similar to the now discontinued ones that I liked. And it only cost me {whisper} Eighty-Five pounds to get them dyed and delivered. I've never spent that much on a pair of shoes in my life! (and don't think I ever will again...) But they are satin all over and look beautiful....

Friday, 3 August 2007


Woke up this morning and realised the problem with mid-week TV programmes - I forget about them. So I've now got to hope that Heroes turns up on Replay... {sigh}

But I have been doing a lot of reading this week. As well as Harry Potter, I've also read this week; "First Among Sequels" - Jasper Fforde (not as laugh a minute as some of his earlier books, but still absolutely brilliant!), "Desolation Jones" - Warren Ellis (a graphic novel - darkly funny, and sick in places...), "Small Gods" - Terry Pratchett (evening read - something I don't have to think about) and finished "The Dilbert Principle" - Scott Adams (another non-thinking evening read). And I've started "Day Watch" - Sergei Lukyanenko, which is brilliant already - following on from "Night Watch". I'm reading this one on the train, which means that I get approximately 20 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening - it makes the books last a bit longer!

And I'm very {headdesk} at work at the moment - I have loads to do, but it all entails being able to access the shared drives. Which are locked at the moment for moving them to a new server (we filled up the old one...). It's been going all day and part of last night (it stalled last night over an encrypted file that no-one can now find!). BLEAGH!