Thursday, 23 December 2010

In which Adrian talks to the beyond...

Okay, so I’m propped up in bed, with books and notebooks spread around me; with the SP curled up against my hip and Adrian comes into the bedroom. He says that he had the weirdest dream. Given that Adrian never dreams and, if he does, it's only ever about beer, my ears prick up. If he's remembered it, it has to be bloody weird. 

He says he dreamed he was in a taxi and that my mother kept phoning him on his mobile. My dead mother.
‘It was so strange because I knew she was dead,’
‘Oh my God. What did she say? Was she okay?’
‘I can’t remember really.’
‘Did you ask her if she wanted to say anything to me?
‘No, I didn’t. Sorry.’
‘Did you ask where she was?’
‘No.’ He shrugs.

Oh FFS. He’s got a hot line to my dead mother and he doesn’t ask the most basic questions?

‘Well how did she sound?’
‘Quiet. Frail. The usual. As she did really. Then at the end she said, ‘I have to go now’.

Jeez. What a waste. And why the heck didn’t she talk to me? Why didn’t she phone me?

‘It was just a dream. Probably because we’d been talking about her yesterday.’

Yeah right.

‘Look, don’t start expecting me to take dictation from your mother in dreams, okay? ‘

I look a bit sheepish... I had been on the verge of pushing a tape recorder on him.

‘Well, at least if you believe that was her, you won't still think she's reincarnated in the SP, will you?’

I stroke his silky head.  ‘I dunno.’ (Keeping my fingers firmly crossed under the covers).

Weirdly I haven’t been dreaming much lately. All my life my nights have teemed with dreams. I have rows of notebooks with them all written out in long boring detail; endless files on the PC; sketchbooks full of images from them. Now, nothing. Maybe the action has shifted to my waking life instead. Maybe my poor subconscious doesn’t need to shout anymore because I’m finally listening with both ears wide open?

I pluck a rune. Othila. Separation.

“This is the time of separating paths. Old skins must be shed, outmoded relationships discarded. Othila is the rune of radical severance.”

Nooooo. That sounds harsh.  I can’t bear it. 
“The proper action here is submission and, quite probably, retreat – knowing how and when to retreat and possessing the firmness of will to carry it out.”

I decide I have to submit to it. You can’t, mustn’t force things. What will be, will be. I have to trust it’s for the best. Let go, let go. Breathe. Breathe. Centre. Wu wei.

Later, sitting at my PC, I feel something shift. My hand slides into the rune bag once more.  And pull out...
Laguz. Flow. 

“Laguz fulfils our need to immerse ourselves in the experience of living without having to evaluate or understand. This rune often signals for a time of cleansing: for revaluing, reorganising, realigning. A Rune of deep knowing, Laguz may call you to study spiritual matters in readiness for self-transformation.”

- No shit.

“Success now lies in contacting your intuitive knowing, in attuning to your own rhythms. A rune of the self relating rightly to the Self, Laguz signifies what the alchemists called the conjunctio, or sacred marriage. In fairy tales, it is the end where the hero and heroine live happily ever after.”

- Shit!

I mean, bring it on..... :)

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Solstices, eclipses and a dose of good advice

Merry Solstice! Happy Lunar Eclipse... It’s the first time the two have coincided for 372 years so it has to be significant, don’t you think?  I’ve been hunting round trying to find out what exactly it signifies and I stumbled upon Elizabeth Barton’s blog and she says some stuff that chimes with me.
First up she gives this quote: “The tail wags the dog until the dog takes a good look at what is going on. A change is about to take place.”

Well, that resonates big time. I’ve been wagged for way too long.

Then she said: ‘If you do magick…. this is the day to do it! Use this mega energy for yours and other people’s benefit.’ So I figured I won’t go out tonight but will stay in and do some “stuff”.

Hmm. What kind of stuff, Elizabeth?

‘First, release the old; last year’s baggage, then make your New Year affirmations and start manifesting. You will be amazed at the results.’

It’s a plan!

‘Also if you have not been looking after yourself, this is D-day. D is for, “Do it now!”

Okay Liz. I hear and obey. Actually I am starting to look after myself. Having not eaten properly for several weeks, I have made myself get a bit more balanced. I’m eating muesli and fruit and vegetables and getting some protein. Eating is still a chore but it is happening. I’m drinking tons of water and lots of peppermint white tea. I’m starting to stretch and move back into yoga and it feels good.

As is the way right now, the perfect things materialise just as I need them and I’ve been sent some absolutely amazing products. They’re by a company called ila and I’m smitten. I don’t pay enough attention to my body but these creams and unguents are sort of forcing me to be a bit more attentive. In fact, I’m going overboard and am positively slave-girlish right now. A small jar of Face Oil for Glowing Radiance sits by my PC and I anoint myself with it (probably more often than the maker intended)... But then, when they say things like this -

The essential oil of damascena rose otto is the most precious for women as it is deeply regenerative and nourishing to the skin's cells as well as bringing glowing radiance.

– what can you do? And if my face is glowing radiantly, I’d better get the body to match, so I’m lathering on the fluffy, light as a cloud, Body Cream for Glowing Radiance too. One neat side-effect is that rose damascena is a pretty powerful scent and it’s managing to nudge out the really disgusting stench of dog food that billows out from the electric heater in my study. If anyone knows why it smells of dog food (talking meat – Pedigree Chum sort of thing) or (more importantly) how I can get rid of it, please leave me a comment.

Anyhow, basically I could devour the entire ila range. Not only do they feel and smell gorgeous but they come in THE most scrumptious packaging. They even do candles (I’m craving the Orange Blossom Candle that supposedly ‘uplifts the soul with higher energy) and the Jasmine Flowers Candle for Inner Light Joy (don’t we all want some of that?) and incense and uplifting and soothing CDs (like Dream Time Journey) and, and, and....oh the hell with it - I want the lot!

Ila is the Sanskrit word for earth and the company uses only the most natural ingredients, produced with respect for both the earth and the people who harvest its bounty. ‘We believe that the concept of balance goes beyond restoring our own energies,’ they say. ‘Being in balance means existing in harmony with the wider world.’

I just love that.

Soooo....I think tonight I’ll have a long soak in the bath (Bath oil for Glowing Radiance added of course) and then rustle me up one bit of powerful ju-ju for a stonking New Year. Changes are a-coming, me hearties... ride the rollercoaster, go with the flow, tumble into the void!



PS....please keep clicking the Next link - up there, top right hand corner of the main blog page...win prizes, nice prizes - and maybe save me from penury while you're at it. 
Look on it as your solstice gift to me...  :) 

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Hunting for my Christmas mojo

I’m going to have to haul myself back to reality for a bit. Have to step out of denial and accept finally that Christmas IS coming and that the Bonkers House has no goose to be getting fat, no tree, no decorations, not much food and a serious dust issue. I sent out a small flurry of cards last week in a bit of a daze and now can’t remember whom I sent them to and whom I didn’t....

But hey, this letting Fate take its chance, this letting go and letting what will be, be, brings some practical as well as metaphysical benefits. If I can’t seem to get the wherewithal to go out and get Christmas, it seems Christmas is coming to get me whether I like it or not. First the most beautiful little box filled with home-baked biscuits from dear Uta in Germany. Those frankly didn’t stand a hope in hell of lasting until Christmas – you couldn’t see the crumbs for dust. But, replacing them, came a festive tin from ‘biscuiteer’ Judy...

‘I suppose we should get some spirits in,’ said Adrian looking pointedly at the empty sloe gin bottle, still sitting on my desk.

No need. A positively huge box arrived containing home-made sloe gin, limoncello and cranberry and orange vodka, all stunningly packaged. Not just that but a jar of plums in spiced brandy and a pot of cranberry, port and orange relish. Tiny Tim WILL have Christmas! I think what touched me most was that these came from Zoe, who’s only just come out of hospital (all thankfully well). ‘You’ve been having a tough time,’ she said, simply. ‘I thought they might cheer you up.’ Heck, what do I do to deserve friends like this? 

So the bah humbug mood was subsiding a bit when Tee asked if people would do a quick clip for her vlog. God no, was my first reaction. But then I thought, hey...why not? Drop the ego. Shut up the stupid voice in the head that goes, ‘you look shit, you sound shit’. I’d been sent a webcam a few weeks ago, with the idea that I might do some video reviews for a website. Well, I’d had a bash but let’s be very honest here – there is a clear reason I never fulfilled my childhood dream of becoming Valerie Singleton (the being a Blue Peter presenter bit, btw, not the gay icon bit – though, actually..... ;)) I duly sent off my reviews but never heard a word back. Obviously turned the marketing company quite, quite speechless (and not in a good way).

Anyhow, back to Tee. I had the equipment, so to speak, so why not? She wanted to know what everyone’s very favourite part of Christmas was. Good question. In fact, impossible question. I’m hugely ambivalent about Christmas. I used to adore it – used to do the whole country house bit with home-made garlands of greenery looping round the stairs; bowls of frosted fruit. Everything became a ritual – from chopping down the tree to laying out the mince pie (home-made of course) and sherry for Santa. Now it’s a bit of a chore.

So where is the magic? Is there any left? Actually, the more I thought about it, the more I realised yes. For me, it’s the night before Christmas. It’s going to midnight mass (even though I’m not really a church-goer) and singing the old old carols; in candlelight. It’s coming out into (hopefully) a clear crisp night, swapping candles for stars. It’s stopping still and breathing deep. Thinking that, whatever you believe, the story of a baby born in a stable, surrounded by animals, worshipped by the most lowly and the most high, adored by angels – is actually pretty magical.

I didn’t say that, of course. I stuttered and spluttered something about singing The Pogues, Fairytale of New York instead. And I do love that song.

But there’s one I love even more.... (cheesy, but true).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShN8UIk5-mw


Because, really, that's what the magic of Christmas really is...  Not presents, not heaving tables, not parties or tinsel.  Just love. 

Talking of love.....I've neglected my relentless pushing of the Please Click the Next link of late.....but if you look up to the top right-hand corner of the blog, there is not a star but a little white icon.  Be a love and click eh?  Sometimes you have to give Fate a helping hand...  ;)

Quantum flirting


Before I became cynical, I used to believe that life would show you exactly what you needed to know. All you had to do was to keep your eyes and ears and heart open. Sometimes important things would plonk themselves right in front of you; at other times they would flirt with you, a flash of neon pink, the lyrics of a song, an image on the web.
‘Watch out for the flirting,’ said my friend Sarah. ‘It’s important.’ She died three years ago and the Sarah-shaped hole in my life is just too deep to contemplate. Sarah was/is/maybe will be a Jungian psychotherapist, a knower of I Ching, a hunter of dreams. I met her on assignment but forgot I was supposed to be a journalist within seconds. She touched my soul, became a heart and mind friend, a wise teacher, a fellow pilgrim. She would be/is/definitely will be grinning all over her lovely face right now because the flirting is back. Quantum flirting. :) And my cynicism is shattered into tiny shards.

‘Spooky action at a distance,’ Einstein called it. Entangled connections. [at this point I thought I should explain about locality; about non-locality; about how some things can be connected, part of some inherent oneness, even if they become separated at the furthest ends of the universe.] But then I thought, sod it.

You really don’t have to understand the physics (and if you do, there’s St Google). Just enjoy the ride.

I dunno if this is something that interests you...probably not. But if it does, just watch out for the coincidences; for the simple twists of fate; for the little things that catch the corner of your eye.

It’s about the book that suddenly appears a little further out than the rest. It’s about looking for one thing on Google and stumbling over something entirely different. It’s opening the right page at precisely the right moment. It’s the butterfly that I found on my bedroom floor (which the SP then promptly ate). It’s about the little flask that winks at you and says, ‘drink me’. It’s about the missing tarot card.  It's about following your soul, not your head. It’s about peering into the void, seeing something shiny at the bottom and just pitching forwards. It’s about believing in miracles.

Sooo. The piles of books on my desk are getting even higher. I’m hurtling through the labyrinth, spiralling so fast down tunnels, crashing into dead ends and then catching sight again and heading off, faster than ever. I’m a crazy old Alice but that's alright.

Today I’m reading Arnie Mindell; doing a whole loada meditation; still not eating a whole lot; listening to Blood on the Tracks; doing the tarot; thinking a lot about a new book. Spinning wildly...getting more than a little dizzy....falling over and laughing out loud.



 


 

Monday, 13 December 2010

Journeys

I can’t sleep again. This time, though, it’s different. I fall into bed at about 1am and crash, only to wake up at 2.30am with my brain fizzing. It’s like my body and mind are recalibrating themselves. I can’t eat either: just don’t feel like it. All in all, I really do think I’m going ever so slightly crazy.


I’ve given up the booze again. I do it periodically. It’s not like I drink a huge amount anyhow. I stopped drinking wine quite some time back so a stray bottle the other night was a bit of a shock to the senses.

‘But all writers drink,’ said a friend. ‘Or take drugs.’

It reminded me of my first attempt at writing a novel, back in my early twenties when I went to live in the USA. My brother gave me a bottle of a gin and a bag of dope. ‘Disorder the senses,’ he said.

Mine were disordered enough already – by the crashing waves right outside the house; by playing Bach so loud it echoed around my ribs; and by doing way too much esoteric wandering. I could see the auras of trees, of the dogs running after my bicycle – and that was all before I touched a drop of gin.

The book, needless to say, was absolute garbage. But I had the best time. Did some courses in neurolinguistics; pondered teaching ESL; gave up the idea. Spent a lot of time in art galleries and museums; got a serious gym habit; met some great people; never did get much of a tan. 

Travelled straight across the US from Cape Ann, driving west for three days and nights solid, chasing electric storms on trans-state highways. Three of us took it in turns to drive; took it in turns to sleep; took it in turns to keep the one driving awake. Had a blow-out at 80mph, and discovered that time really does slow when adrenalin kicks in. Got pulled over for cat and mouse racing with a Trans-Am. Passed by cities in the night. Diverted to the Badlands because, shit, you have to see the Badlands.  When we reached the coast in Washington state, we kicked off our shoes and ran down to the beach, sat staring in wonder at the sparkling sea – marvelling that it was a different ocean.

We camped in redwood forests and rode with cowboys in the panhandle of Texas; ate wholemeal muffins in hippy cafes in Northern California and sushi in sterile restaurants in LA. My soul shrank from Vegas, so much that I couldn’t leave the motel room. But it soared in San Fran, smiling at sea otters, laughing and swapping dresses with drag queens. Had the biggest fight ever at the Grand Canyon. Gazed at landscapes so large, the horizon curved. Felt tiny, a speck on a small planet spinning in a vast universe which was spinning in infinity.  Felt the dry air of the desert blow over my skin and soothe my soul.

God, I miss the States. God, I miss that freedom.

But, if one can’t travel outwardly, one can still travel inwardly. And I’m plunging down astral pathways, frantically searching. I can see something ahead of me and it's just ever so slightly out of reach.  I run and run and see a glimmer as it chases round a corner.  It’s a multi-dimensional maze, a crazy labyrinth. It’s like life’s been on hold for years and now I’m suddenly waking up.

I know that sounds crazy; it probably is crazy. It’s scary as hell but it feels horribly right. Even the not sleeping bit. I’m writing this at 4.30am. I’ve been awake for two hours. I’ve read a book already and my eyes are red sore. I’m shaking, as if all my cells were being rearranged, being put back into the right order. And I have no idea what happens next.

Weirdly, it feels good.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Cannibal serial killers for lunch

‘Jane, you haven’t been out of the house for days,' said Adrian reprovingly. 'Or is it weeks? Actually, how long has it been?’ He peered into my study. I was sitting at my desk surrounded by piles of books. Marianne Faithfull was blaring out of the stereo and I had about four candles and six joss sticks going. He looked beadily at the bottle of wine and the bottle of sloe gin (both empty) by my PC.
‘I thought you’d stopped drinking wine.’
‘I have.’
‘Are you working?’
‘Sort of. Mainly I’m just getting myself in a tangle.’
‘You need to get out.’
He had a point. ‘Okay, I’ll go to London.’
‘Great idea. Will you stay with Jane or Liz?’
‘Nope. I’m too weird. I’ll go see Jake and Gerry.’

Sitting at the station with a coffee and my notebook, people kept smiling at me. I have no idea why. I looked up and saw a beautiful woman with long dark hair walking straight towards me, a wide smile on her lovely face. I hadn’t the foggiest idea who she was.
‘Hey stranger,’ she said. It was my friend Nicky. That was the point where I really did start to worry about myself.
Nicky had managed to book a seat in the one compartment with no lights. Instead there were weird little yellow go-sticks stuck on the end of each seat. She was going to London to quit her job and to hold the hand of a friend going through a complicated divorce.
‘How about you?’ she said.
‘I’m having lunch with a couple of writer friends.’
‘Nice. What do they write about?’
‘Serial killers,’ I replied. ‘Well, cannibal serial killers.’
Her eyebrows moved perceptibly upwards. ‘You do know interesting people.’

I nodded. ‘Well, to be fair, I haven’t actually met them in real life before. I met them online.’
‘Okaay,’ she said slowly. I could see images of kinky dating websites flitting over her eyes. Shit, she thought I was going to London to have some kind of transatlantic threesome.
‘A writing website,’ I added hastily.
‘Soooo. You’re meeting two strange men who write about cannibal serial killers?’
‘Only one of them. The other one writes about perfectly ordinary serial killers.’
‘Well, that’s okay then.’

She edged past me into the aisle. ‘I’ll go get drinks.’
I glanced at my watch. It was 9.30am. Ah, what the heck. We sipped Bloody Marys and laughed our heads off, in the penumbra of the cave carriage.

I knew Jake immediately. Well, it’s hard to miss an ex-rugby player in a baby blue ski hat and purple ski jacket. We sat and drank coffee (alcohol and caffeine meeting uneasily and unfortunately not quite cancelling one another out) and tried to find Gerry on Jake’s iPhone. Gerry was flying in from Canada on the red eye and had gone incommunicado somewhere over Newfoundland, unfortunately while I was still dithering about where to go for lunch.

‘He might just turn up at the last pub we mentioned,’ said Jake. And he did. Looking pretty much exactly as he does online (minus the hotdog). He was jet-lagged beyond redemption. I know that spacy feeling all too well (but I don’t need an eleven hour flight to get there).

Gerry is one of life’s naturally gifted writers which is why I loathe him. It’s all so bloody effortless for him. On the other hand, he is so petrified of getting rejected that he hasn’t even submitted his work anywhere. Which is why he drives me crazy. If you wanna get an idea of just how good he is, click here.  Not to everyone's taste but I think the guy is uber-talented.

‘You’re exactly how I imagined you’d be,’ he said. ‘Exactly so.’
What? Neurotic, verging on unhinged? I didn’t ask him to elucidate.
‘Your hair is redder than I expected,’ added Jake. 'And you're taller.' I could live with that.

It was good, it was really good. We laughed and talked and whined. Gerry manfully sipped proper British bitter and tried to pretend he liked it. Jake tasted my fruit beer and was perturbed at how much he liked it.

I got onto the train feeling more human than I have in a long long time. No Nicky for my return trip but that was okay. I read two books, did some meditation and stared into the darkness at my reflection, turned witchy. Let songs play in my head (I must get an iPod).

‘Was it good?’ asked Adrian as I finally walked through the door.

‘Yeah, it was really really good.’

‘Good.’



btw, I'm still touting for clicks to Next..... though think I've rather lost momentum now.  But if you can spare a moment to click the link, that would be lovely....

Sunday, 5 December 2010

The Bonkers House is under attack

Warfare has erupted in the Bonkers House. Literal warfare, as in guns firing, grenades being lobbed, bombs detonating.
‘I’m going in!’
‘Cover me!’
‘Aaaghhhh’
James was given Call of Duty: Black Ops for his birthday. I know, I know – it’s an 18-certificate and I was deeply sceptical. Adrian, on the other hand, was typically blokeishly gung-ho about it.
‘It’s fine. His friends play this stuff. I’ve played this stuff.’ (er, once, at a mate’s in London when he was doubtless three sheets to the wind). ‘Anyhow, it’s legitimate killing in the Theatre of War. There’s no crime or rape or violence against women.’
Oh, so that’s alright then.
A few years back, when James first got into gaming, I spent hours trawling the Internet, convinced that gaming wasn’t good for children (or adults, come to that) – that there had to be side-effects. Weirdly, and annoyingly, I came up with very little. In fact, evidence seemed to point to the contrary – that gaming could help children with hand to eye coordination, with brain development and with a host of skills. More recently researchers have taken another look and observed that violent video games do fire up the area of the brain connected with aggression. But, interestingly, they didn’t find a correlation with real-life violence.

I suppose that is mildly reassuring but James’ behaviour definitely changes when he plays Black Ops. He becomes surly, irritable and downright stroppy. So, this Christmas, we’ll be waving bye-bye to body counts and bazookas and getting out the board games instead.

I know, I know (inner groan time). If we’re honest, we’ve (nearly) all let the games console play babysitter. And yes, traditional games take time and effort on the part of parents. But, come on guys, it’s Christmas! Once I get going (yes, okay, sloe gin or a large slug of Midori helps), I do rather enjoy some of these.

Articulate: A friend bought us this a few Christmasses back and it is, quite honestly, hilarious. The key is inter-generational play. It says 12+ on the box and younger children won’t know all the answers but team them up with adults (and preferably confused grandparents) and it’s a hoot. Actually I have nearly wet myself with laughter playing this.

Perudo: This is a South American game of ‘Liars Dice’. It’s a mix of guesswork, bluff and luck. Incredibly simple and the best thing is that you don’t need hordes of people: just two can play or up to six. Not really my cup of tea but James loves it. 8+

Don’t Say It! This is a little cracker – encourages children to think and expand vocabulary but equally tantalisingly tough for adults. You have to describe an object without using the obvious words (ie describe a balloon without saying ‘pop’, ‘blow’ or ‘float’... It's another one that will get grandparents' knickers in a right old twist.  6+

Urban Myth: This is a bit like QI mixed with Trivial Pursuit. Can you tell the difference between fact and modern folklore? Did Marilyn Monroe wear a size 16 dress? Are there really alligators living in the New York sewers? 12+ for this one but, like Articulate, I reckon it’s fine for younger children teamed with adults.

Tyrannosaurus Rex: I really really REALLY hate board games (can't abide Monopoly, feel physically sick at the thought of Cluedo) but I can tolerate this one (mainly because it doesn’t last forever). You race round the board, trying to keep out the way of the dreaded T-Rex. James loved this one when he was younger.. 6+ (and can be played with as few as two of you if, like us, you’re a small and imperfectly formed family).

Twister: Another classic and a good ‘un for small children (as well as the inevitable teen parties). Word of warning – not one to play with elderly grannies. Just trust me on this. The emergency services are always overstretched at this time of year.  This says 6+ on the box but just go for it (very small limbs will struggle but hey, it encourages flexibility!). My brother bent me into knots when I was four and it hasn't done me any harm... *hmm*

Any I’ve missed? Any crackers you’d like to add on?  

Meanwhile, I’m still touting for clicks to NEXT.... Thank you so much for the good-hearted souls who have already clicked and will, doubtless click again for the warm fuzzy feeling you gain from giving succour to the Bonkers House. For those more cynical souls, there is an incentive Next are giving away all sorts of goodies from now to 22nd December. Today you can win gadgets worth £210 so click HERE and try your luck.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

The Soul Puppy gets hormonal

The soul puppy hasn’t been quite so, well, soulful of late. He’s had other things on his mind. I suppose you could say he’s hit puberty with a bang (to coin a phrase) and anything that moves is fair game. He’s been humping the cushions, humping soft toys, humping any stray leg that stays still long enough. He humped the postman, humped the delivery guy and humped the strange man who appeared at the back door trying to sell timeshares in Bulgaria.
‘You want to get him done,’ said the strange man, shaking a leg with a look of deep disapproval. ‘That’s not right, that isn’t.’
I stifled the urge to say that pitching up on my doorstep in the dark waving brochures of unbuilt apartment blocks wasn’t quite right either. Instead I detached the SP and shut the door.
Needless to say, he didn’t try it on with Abso. Even with rampaging hormones and (I should add) unfeasibly large testicles for such a small dog, he had some sense. Still, he was the Soul Puppy no more – he was officially the Shag Puppy and it was getting a bit irritating.
Then some friends from London came to stay with their venerable 11-year old dog, Captain. Captain is a dog of indeterminate breed and unsteady self-esteem. ‘If he thinks another dog is more attractive than him, he’ll ignore it,’ said Pete. ‘It’s true,’ said Liz, nodding sagely.
Poor Captain. Ignoring really wasn’t ever a viable option. The SP launched himself upon him and a weekend of endless dry humping ensued. On...

and on....

and on....

and on.

The whiff of pheromones must have been so strong that, in the end, even Asbo got sucked in (no, honestly, no literal sucking involved).

‘It’s like watching endless gay dog porn movies,’ said Liz. Poor Captain. The floor was littered with clumps of his hair. He had a slightly dazed look. If he’d ever thought he was unattractive, that thought had been well and truly trounced.
But, it was agreed, something Had To Be Done. A quick call to the vet and his fate was sealed.

‘Nooo,’ wailed my brother down the phone. ‘You can’t do that. Poor puppy.’ What is it with men and dogs’ testicles? Transference?
‘At least get him some neuticles.’
Some whaticles? Seems you can get testicular implants for dogs. Honestly. Well, maybe in America, maybe even in London, but I could just imagine the look on our vet’s face if we even suggested it.
Anyhow, the deed is done. The SP (hopefully restored to Soul) is feeling somewhat sorry for himself and requires extra cuddles and treats. Only time will tell if it’s done the trick. Meanwhile Captain is safely back home, still somewhat traumatised by his Exmoor experience. We hear he may be undergoing counselling.

PS
IMPORTANT BEGGING BIT
As you know, life is tough at the Bonkers House right now and you can do your bit by taking two minutes to help me out. If you click at the link at the end of this post it will take you through to the Next site (full of rather nice things actually). You won’t have to sign up; you don’t have to buy anything; you won’t be added to mailing lists – but the more clicks I get, the more chance I have of getting some vouchers (sadly they don’t do Next neuticles). So please, please click the link.
Btw, if you’re reading this on Facebook, I’d really appreciate it if you could bear to go to my main blog site (http://exmoorjane.blogspot.com/) and click from there (as clicks from Facebook don’t count).

Here’s the LINK.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Dear Santa....

Okay, so the last post was all about impossibly difficult people (mainly men). Now we’ve got those sorted, let’s move onto just plain lovely things.

Jo Malone: I am a total sucker for these scents. I don’t know any woman who doesn’t love the scent of LBM (Lime Basil Mandarin) either on herself or on her bloke. Okay, I’ve asked for it now, haven’t I? Come on, line up to say you hate it! I also adore Pomegranate Noir – though I admit that’s more of a marmite scent. I mourn the passing of their wild fig and cassis soap (which was one of life’s small indulgences) and love the look (hmm, should be scent surely) of the new Cologne Intense range. If the Jo Malone PR happens to be reading – um, be a love and send us some samples eh?

 Friendship bracelets. I discovered Chambers and Beau on Twitter and fell instantly in love with their gorgeous girly jewellery. My absolute favourites are the friendship bracelets – from a very reasonable £35. Only trouble is, which would you pick? I reckon you’d need a gaggle really, just for the heck of it. When my book Samael becomes a huge bestseller, major movie franchise etc, these guys are SO doing the jewellery merchandising!  Okay, so a girl can dream eh?  :) 

They also do some lovely necklaces and some pretty funky cufflinks too.... be warned though, you may not come out as flush as you went in.
Boots, boots, boots...shoes, shoes, shoes.  Oh god, it’s another cliché but I adore footwear (mainly because they always fit). Yes I cast an eye over the designer lovelies (Burberry, Marni, Miu Miu, Alexander McQueen and Rag and Bone have some pretty fab stuff) but, to be honest, who has the money for that kind of thing nowadays? I’ve been a bit blown away by the way this lot have transformed their shoe range lately. Check out the Marni lookalike clog boots for example (hmm, would like to point out that I was ahead of the game here by about three years – before the SP chewed the hell out of my Russell & Bromley babies). Seriously it’s hard to pick just one pair here – each to their own! By the way, Boot Fairies - I’m a size 7.
Would point out that these (above) would be hilarious on me as I have zero balance- but they'd be pretty good for a party.


Books, books, books.  Is there any greater joy than a pile of books under the Christmas tree? My Amazon wishlist is groaning. Top of the picks is The Passage by Justin Cronin. Why? It’s dark, brooding, vampiric (in a very non-Twilight way) and also exceedingly thick. I read ridiculously fast so a good chunky book is a godsend. Also on the list, The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor, Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (the sequel to the stunning Beautiful Creatures). If you have teenage girls who loved Twilight do yourself a favour and buy them the two together (this is Twilight with knobs on – way darker and more beautiful). Spotting a theme here? Let’s break away. David Mitchell is a literary god in my eyes and his pyrotechnics with words leave me breathless. I am nursing a deep grudge against the Booker Prize for not even shortlisting The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet as it meant I didn’t get this one in my usual Book People package. I’d like to read The Small Hand by Susan Hill but I think I’ll wait until it comes out in paperback. It’s darn slim and while Hill is a fabulous writer, following her on Twitter for a while rather put me off!

Music, music, music. I’ve finally come round to the idea that I really ought to get an iPod. I’ve resisted up until now but it’s getting silly. There are odd tracks I’d love to hear (without buying the entire album). However, I’ll still be getting CDs (as I put them on my old beatbox on my desk as I work). My lovely niece has been giving me some suggestions so I’m going to be checking out Beach House, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, Holly Throsby, Bowerbirds, Phoebe Killdeer and Cate le Bon. Also craving some early Leonard Cohen and a smidgeon of Roddy Frame.

Groovy dog collars. Oh gawd, but I could spend HOURS on the Holly & Lil website, choosing some accoutrements for Asbo Jack and the Soul Puppy. Which to choose, which to choose? I love the Pirates of the Caribbean vibe but am also very tempted by the Bett Lynchness of the Safari Collection. Of course, if you’re feeling flush and want to do your bit at the same time you could buy the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home Collar, with THE cutest charms (a hefty £78 but £15 goes to the charity). There’s even a Christmas collar collection (how pampered is that?).



Throws. Okay, so I’d really really love a huge great big totally realistic, madly soft fake fur throw – I dunno, bearskin or something dark brown and hairy. But they’re bulky to pack and darned expensive. I do absolutely adore this - it has to be said. However last year I bought one of these Slumberbugs Heart blankets (£26.50) and, as I type, it’s keeping both me and the SP nice and snug. Really funky design and lovely and soft.




And, before I go, one I forgot to include in the picky difficult category...smelly men. Men are Useless have come up with the brilliant idea of a box of grooming essentials for the kind of man who thinks Imperial Leather is posh (yes, I AM thinking of something near and dear to me). They’ll post your bloke a box of all the bits he ought to buy for himself but probably doesn’t. From £9.99 – take a look. I also love their Wall of Shame which includes such gems as “Women put things on the bottom stair to take up next time she has to go upstairs. Men just step over them until told to pick them up.” Sound familiar??

By the way, if you click through to Next from my blog, I may just get some goodies.  Given the parlous state of the Bonkers House finances right now, this would be tantamount to charity (without even having to pay a penny yourself).  There's no catch, you don't have to buy and you won't ever get horrid spam emails.  Just click HERE - actually they do have some really nice stuff (I may be selling out but I'm not selling out THAT much!).

Monday, 29 November 2010

Jane's Christmas Gift Guide for the Terminally Difficult

I miss doing Christmas gift guides. I used to love moseying round shops, scrolling through websites, trying to find really lovely, unusual things for tricky people. It was a great way of getting all one's presents sorted out really early too.  However, sadly, this year nobody has asked. *whistles quietly and  mournfully*.  So, I figured I’d do a small one here....just a few rather nice or plain weird things for the awkward squad in the house. 
FOR MOODY STUDENTS: The Dead Beat by Cody James (Eight Cuts, £6).
Indie-literature at its best...from one of the coolest writers going. If this doesn’t gain you instant brownie-points and your tricky angsty relative immediate street cred, I despair. I mean, look at the cover for starters.  None of your sell-out mainstream publishers here, no sirree.  Even if they don't read it, it'll look great slung on a beer crate coffee table or poking out of a rucksack. 
Yes, there’s drinking, and drugs and swearing and sex - not forgetting comets. Well, of COURSE there is. Doh!




FOR FINICKETY FOODIES: Argan oil (from £8.50). Oh ye gods, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this stuff. Amazingly it still hasn’t hit the mainstream but it’s only a matter of time. Drizzle it on salads or pasta or simply pop some in a bowl and use it for dunking good bread. Tastes nutty and gorgeous AND it’s good for you!
Actually, have a browse right around the site because you don't have to just splosh it on your food; you can whack it on your face too.  I swear by their facial oils - scented with sandalwood, neroli, rose...they really work and at a fraction of the price of the big cosmetics houses' creams and serums.


FOR GORGEOUS GIRLIES: Mili B Bottom Chic.  Seriously nice knickers for girls of all ages (from teeny tots through trendy teenagers to, um, the more matronly). These are designed by a pal of mine for maximum comfort and total gorgeousness (a rare combination). From £8. Oh, and there are bras and camisoles and other frilly things. Men – take note – this is a win-win... ditch the slimy red satin tat and go for the real deal.
Check out the baby pants too - soooo cute.  Only problem is picking the colourways - I'm partial to the pale blue and brown myself. ;)



FOR BASICALLY MOST MEN: 1001 Beers you Must Try Before you Die. Edited by my dear husband, Adrian Tierney-Jones. This is beer porn, pure and simple. Luscious pictures of uber-beers from all around the world. There is a Facebook group devoted to trying every one of these – I kid you not. Seriously, it sorts out most blokes. Also available in the US from amazon.com (with the slightly different title of 1001 Beers you Must Taste Before you Die). But if not....




FOR UNCLE KEVIN AND OTHER AWKWARD SODS: Beer Cans of Birmingham (£9.79) by Elizabeth Tipping. I’ve mentioned this before because it just tickles me pink. A calendar featuring abandoned beer (and cider) cans in their found settings around scenic Birmingham. Actually, it’s not just a silly joke calendar – the photography is really very lovely. Okay, so one daft sod pointed out that there is a bottle included.  Oh, get a life! 
FOR WOMEN YOU DON’T KNOW TOO WELL: Comfort Candle. Yes, it may be a bit of a cliché but I don’t know many women who don’t like good scented candles (note the emphasis on good). Okay so I can think of one notable exception but generally it holds true.  They don’t come much better than Aromatherapy Associates’ (you know I adore their stuff). The old Relax candle is still my all-time favourite but the new Comfort Candle (£24) is a cracker. It’s scented with rose and ginger (an unusual combo that actually works brilliantly) which are uplifting and warming. Aaah.

FOR MYSTIC MEGS: The Mind Body Spirit Miscellany by, ahem, Jane Alexander (£8.40). A cute little hardback book with a ton of information on how to build crop circles, find leylines and identify various Norse ghosts. Essential stuff really. Also available in the US from amazon.com







FOR FUNKY BABIES: Red-knit romper. I really miss buying James a special Christmas outfit. For his first Christmas he had the softest fleecy babygro with a hood and the most tasteful little reindeer on the front.  So many festive offerings are deeply naff but this ticks all the style boxes – berry red with a cosy hood; there's a bit of fairisle going on and different coloured buttons. Sigh. Almost makes me wish I had a baby. Yes, it's a bit pricey at £14 but hey, it's Christmas.

Actually, I am also pretty smitten by some absolutely gorgeous bootees too (Elf, Santa, Reindeer or just plain heavenly fake mink!) Scroll down to see the pics...(I am not too good at arranging stuff properly on the blog....)

deeply cute for carol singing or Christmas parties...

just HOW flipping gorgeous are these?
Bootees available from http://www.next.co.uk/ 

On the first day of Christmas - tra la la!

I am becoming a total miserable old bag.  A right Scrooge.

‘I need new clothes,’ said James. What? I’d just bought the little blighter six new pairs of socks – what more could he possibly want?
‘It’s for the Gut.’
The what? The Gut, it transpires, is a pre-Christmas, end of term feast at school. Formal wear is required.
‘You what?’ He’s twelve years old and he needs a DJ?
‘No, of course I don’t need a DJ. I can wear my school trousers but I do need a decent shirt and tie.’
‘Can’t he wear my Guild of British Beer Writers’ tie?’ chimed in Adrian.
‘Oh don’t be silly.’

So I’ve been trawling websites looking for suitable apparel. I rather liked this (left) from Next - but I'm not sure the boy is suitably impressed.  Inevitably we will leave it to the very last minute and then he'll be sorry he didn't snap off my hand at the chance, as we shoehorn him into last year's too small smart shirt and team it with the way too big tie his father wore at our wedding.

I won’t be bothering to find party apparel for me. I have decided that I shall become a recluse. That way it won’t matter if I become the size of a large bungalow. I shall become the batty old lady who lives at the top of the hill and small children will cross their fingers as they go past the house. I shall lurk at home and buy essentials via the Internet.

Actually I am in total denial about Christmas. I’m sort of hoping that if I shut my eyes it might not know I’m here and go away.  I have this image of Christmas which goes something like this...(though, frankly, her legs look cold)...and no way would that dog keep a string of baubles on its back (well ours wouldn't).

Whereas, in my heart of hearts, it's more likely to end up like this....possibly with party hats... and hopefully clothes.

But, really this won’t do. So I’m going to try to get myself into the spirit here on the jolly old blog (do you think it's working yet?).

Funnily enough, having been talking about Next, they got in touch asking if I'd like to spread some festive cheer on my blog.  I replied that I was in the middle of blogging about precisely that and they gave me a jolly little icon to help me on my way.  In fact, they gave me twelve so maybe I'll try to spit out twelve little gobbets of festive frolic.  What you reckon?  Can I make it?  Or will I collapse by the time we get to five gold rings?