Thursday, April 17, 2014


Oooh!  I've been drawing!  This is an initial sketch for a Gocco print I've had in mind for months (years?!) and it's turned out not quite as terribly as I had feared.  Obviously the legs need some work (or medical attention!) but I think parts of the top half might make it into the final design with a bit of tweaking.  I'm not really great at drawing, so I usually end up using a computer to tinker with images once I've had a go with pencil or pen.  There will be more to the design than this little guy, but I don't want to spoil any surprises by sharing the whole plan yet.  I'm hoping I can bust out the Gocco and actually complete this over the next couple of months though, so not too long to wait.

I've actually got lots of Gocco ideas at the moment (at least five) and I'd really like to see them all through to fruition.  I haven't had my Gocco out of its box since my pre-Dulcie days.  Maybe I could aim for two designs by the end of the year?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I dreamt about you last night and I fell out of bed twice

Poor Dulcie has suddenly started falling out of bed, once on Monday night and twice last night.  We had already put down a pre-emptive crash mat of sorts (that I had just started thinking we could do without) when she moved to her big-girl bed, but it's still less than ideal.  So far she hasn't hurt herself, but she has been quite distraught.  Thankfully, she's gone straight back off to sleep after a quick cuddle and a tucking-in.  I remember falling out of bed when I was wee and how horrible and disorientating it felt, dozing away quite happily then, all of a sudden, "whoomph" and a horrible where-am-I-and-what's-happened feeling.  The first time Dulcie fell out of bed, Graham refused to believe I had been asleep when it happened because my reactions were so lightning fast.  I leapt over her bed and was by her side almost before she hit the floor.  And this with a painful shoulder and a head that wouldn't turn more than two degrees in any direction! Oh, the power of motherly adrenaline...
I'm hoping Dulcie will learn to sleep within her parameters soon.  I don't want to start fencing her in and once she moves into her own room (yet more progress has been made this week - she now has a working radiator!) she'll have two sides that she can fall out of.
Oh, well, at least it's a good excuse to listen to The Smiths, a band I love to hear just to remember how much I loved (love) them and to make me feel like a 16-year-old again.  In 1996, I listened to Hatful Of Hollow on repeat while sitting in an armchair in my bedroom reading 1984, and have always been instantly transported back to that slightly eerie Big Brother mindset, full of teenage vigour, hormones and the importance of everything whenever I hear a song from it.  I remember hearing once (on QI!) the speculation that teenagers, the weird creatures that we think they are, are actually humans as they are meant to be and that we just start becoming less than ideal from then on, but now that people live so long past that point, we presume it must be some weird blip.  The feeling I get from listening to music from my teenage years makes me believe that might be right.  As a teenager, it was like I was able to absorb and compute everything from all aspects of life and stuff mattered and was weirdly tangible.  I was also a dick who found everything overwhelming and confusing and lived by a dubious moral code, but that's only because I was a supreme and ultimate human being, honest!  Ha!
In a decade's time, I know I'll be wishing falling out of bed was my biggest worry re Dulcie, but I'll try not to start worrying about that now...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

sometimes you should judge a book by its cover

I found this book in a charity shop recently and couldn't resist the mad '70s cover.  Well, it turned out to be brilliant!  I'd never heard of William Trevor before (which I can't quite believe now I've read up on him - he's been on the Booker shortlist four times, including for this novel, and has been knighted for services to literature!) but I'd definitely like to read more by him now.  The day I got this book, all paperbacks were £1 each, or five for...£1!  It took some doing, but I found four other books to take home with it, some of them titles I'd thought about reading for a while and some of them things I'd never normally read, crime fiction and the like.  Hopefully I'll find some more pleasant surprises amongst them, not that you could call this book pleasant.

My goal to read more this year continues to go well.  That's eight books completed so far and April's not even over yet.  Someone at work recently told me they'd made the terrible mistake of counting how many books they'd read in one year and multiplying that by the number of years they might be expected to live.  They said the number was depressingly low and they were concerned they might not even get through all the books on their own shelves, let alone any of the other books out there.  God knows when I'll die really, but if I'm not feeling too optimistic (about my life expectancy or the quantity of my reading) then I could guesstimate my remaining books as being in the measly double figures.  Waaah!  Makes me a bit stressed that I chose the book I'm reading now purely on the basis that I wouldn't run the risk of waking Dulcie up to get to it, following on from choosing a book for its "mad '70s cover"...  Ha!  Maybe I should be making a bucket list of books?  Maybe we all should!  Or maybe we should just try not to think about it.  Yeah, I prefer that idea :)

Monday, April 14, 2014

day in the life - the easter special

Last time I chose the date for Day In The Life, I ended up nearly not being able to take part due to my untimely death.  (You might be able to work out that I lived to tell the tale, but my own Day In The Life post was not the happy one I had planned, but rather a sorry tale of panic attacks in an MRI scanner and crying for pretty much 24 hours solid...)  However, in a bid not to succumb to superstitious paranoia, when Claire asked me if I'd like to choose this month's date, I jumped at the chance...albeit in a hesitant manner.

Day In The Life, for those of you who don't know, is a day when anyone with a blog who would care to join in records the minutiae of their day on a specific date.  You can record it any way you like.  We've had lengthy wordy posts, photographic records, A-Zs, illustrated hourly updates, graphs...  The possibilities are endless.  You can record your day in any way you fancy.

The date for this month's Day In The Life is Sunday April 20th.  Yes, that's Easter Sunday!  Please spread the word and consider joining in yourself.  I love looking back on my own Day In The Life posts, they're a great wee record and they're fun (if a little challenging sometimes) to write too.  If you do take part, please let me know by leaving a comment on my blog.  I'll compile a linky list of all the posts so everyone can read about the days of everyone else in the Day In The Life community.

Friday, April 11, 2014

je voudrais aller au cinema (I don't speak French!)

One of the things Graham and I miss most from our pre-parent days is the freedom to go to the cinema whenever it takes our fancy.  Lately, however, we have managed to squeeze in quite a few visits and have seen some great films.  When my parents were visiting recently, we took advantage of their mad baby-sitting skillz and went to the cinema three times in one week.  Three times in one week, I repeat!  That really was like the very best of the good old days!  I'm pretty much of the opinion that almost all films are great when seen in an actual cinema, but some of the films we've seen recently were GREAT.

This week, on my afternoon of no work and no Dulcie, instead of tidying the flat or going to the shops or peeling vegetables like I usually do (insight into my glamorous life, there...) I took myself to an afternoon screening of Richard Ayoade's new film, The Double.  My "review" of it to Graham when I got home made it sound like I hadn't enjoyed it at all.  Actually, I did really like it, I just didn't like it quite as much as I had expected to, but my expectations were really high, having LOVED Submarine and liked the sound of The Double's concept.  So it was good and Mia Whats-a-kowski's dresses (all two of them) were beyond adorable, but the film as a whole was perhaps a bit too pastichey (made-up word) for my liking.

Only Lovers Lefts Alive Poster
Like The Double, Only Lovers Left Alive starred Mia Whats-a-kowski, had a definite lack of daylight and slightly disappointed me, but only really because of my very high expectations.  I was pretty excited by the trailer and was looking forward to a vampire film that wasn't aiming at franchise, if you know what I mean.  The film delivered in terms of vampirism, coolness, darkness and humour, but I felt like I was too dumb (or tired) to get many of the cinematic/literary/musical references that were made every 20 seconds or so.

The Grand Budapest Hotel definitely did not disappoint.  It gave me everything I look forward to in a Wes-Anderson-at-the-cinema experience and I loved it.  So much fun!  My friend from work went to see it while she was on holiday in Berlin recently, just because it was in English, but she knew nothing about the film or Wes Anderson before she went in.  She said she spent the first half thinking it was the worst film she'd ever seen then all of a sudden she worked out the intended tone and loved it from then on.  I think that's a pretty great summing-up of the film, or of Wes Anderson in general.  The story and the characters were great and Ralph Fiennes (an actor I've never much appreciated) was brilliant.  Like Moonrise Kingdom etc, there was so much attention to detail and lovely things to look at.  You could just tell every item was carefully chosen or made.  I don't think there was anything not to like.  Fun times, fun times.  Go see it and be happy.

It was really a fluke that we went to see Under The Skin.  I'd been put off by a River City actor featuring quite heavily in the trailer, but was talked into going because it was set in Glasgow, I'd liked other films by the director and, like I said, I am always happy to go to the cinema if we have a baby-sitter on hand.  Gah, I'm so glad we went!  It was amazing!  By all accounts, the book it's based on is pretty naff (I haven't read it myself) so it's even more impressive that the film turned out so magical.  It was spidery and dark and quiet and '70s-horror and real and unreal and...just out-and-out amazing.  I couldn't stop thinking about it for weeks afterwards.  There was one scene that was horrific but so good and cinematic and beautiful and (I already said this) horrific.  When the scene finished, Graham turned round and goggled his eyes at me. Afterwards he told me he'd been trying to convey the following: "If the film ends now, I'll be happy because that was one of the best things I've ever seen on a cinema screen."  When people have asked me about this film, I've said, "I loved it!  It was amazing!  But I'm not recommending it!"  I can imagine a lot of people wouldn't like it, either because of how slow and quiet and grimy it was, or just because some parts of it were quite upsetting.  A couple of people did walk out halfway through the screening we were at.  Also, if you're from Glasgow, you'll probably be distracted looking out for people and places you know and, wherever you come from, don't take your mother because I have never seen so many erect penises in a single film before!

And so ends my cinema reviewing, so good you might mistake me for a professional.  What can I say?  Peter Bradshaw, Mark Kermode, watch your back!

Cinema, cinema, cinema, you're so much fun.  I hope we can meet again soon.

Friday, April 4, 2014

odd couple?

My nieces and nephew once came across this cardboard figure amongst a whole set of cardboard figures they were making and thought (or my sister thought, more likely) that it looked like me.  I'm happy with the comparison, not that my brain is generally up to the likes of Simone de Beauvoir these days.  This little figure has sat on my shelf for a number of years, but lately this malfunctioning robot has moved house to be beside her.  Graham?  I'm not sure why it reminds me of him, but it does, maybe because of all the useful tasks he performs around the house without any gentleness or regard for precious-to-me objects :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014


I saw this video on Meet Me At Mike's this week and really wanted to share it.  I especially liked the part about empathy not involving silver-lining people's situations.  That is the worst and something people do a lot, and not just people who are generally not great at these sorts of things.  (I can say that in a non-critical way because I am one of those people.)  I have a friend, a straight-talking American, which may or may not have anything to do with it, whose response to my heart (and related) issues has often been, "Oh, Laura, that sucks," or "Oh, Laura, that's shit," which invariably makes me feel much better than any amount of reminding me how lucky I am in other ways or suggesting I'm viewing things too negatively.

The good thing about having heart failure in Glasgow (there are no good things about it really, of course, but if there were then this would be it) is how amazing the NHS heart failure team here is.  The service has many aspects that are all really well integrated and they take a very holistic approach, which is why I get to see a specialist psychologist who understands heart failure and its implications.  When I saw him recently, I was venting my frustration at how I try to give myself some talkings to and remind myself what's good and how things could be worse, but that this makes me feel no better whatsoever.  He pointed out that doing this was trying to rationalise what's essentially irrational and I think he was right about that, but it's also a case of trying to silver-line my own situation, saying, "At least..." in response to my own problems.  You see?  I told you I was no good at empathy, even with myself...if that's not a total paradox?

I think, when you have a problem that isn't going to go away (like chronic illness or dealing with some sort of traumatic past event, for example) then you get to the point where you just don't want to talk to people close to you any more.  Demanding empathy at all is a big ask, but to demand it again and again and again just seems too much to ask of anybody and, when there is no solution, you start to feel like a broken record to share the same woes over and over for no apparent purpose.  I know certain people I'm close to feel bad that they can't solve my problems when I share them and so don't know what to say.  Really, they don't need to say anything, or certainly not anything more than, "That sucks."  That's definitely more helpful than any practical solution.  Well, except maybe a cure for heart failure, but I don't think any of my nearest and dearest are going to succeed where so many eminent cardiologists have failed!

Another realisation from my recent meeting with the psychologist is that I'm never going to be happy about how things have turned out, but I can aim to be less unhappy than I am, unhappy at a more manageable level.  I don't think any of my friends would ever consider suggesting something like that, as it is sort of a depressing thought, but at least it gives me a more achievable goal to aim for and any improvement is an improvement.  So that's what I'm working on now - finding ways to allow myself to say, "This sucks," without falling apart at the seams.  Doable?  I hope so.  And the more I manage to sort myself out, the less anybody else will have to join me in this hole.  Win, win, win (in the end).