Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Hourly Comics Day 2021

You can see the last seven (!) years hourly comics here:

2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 

This year's are the first time ever that I've gone DIGITAL — dare I say, I may have bitten off more than I could chew with six panels an hour, hence quitting at 22.00 and not doing the last hour (if you're a completionist, all it consisted of was me sadly limping outside to take the dog for a wee then having a shower and going to bed)

Hope you enjoy!















Sunday, 31 January 2021

January 2021

I thought I was getting good at dealing with this whole 'global pandemic for nearly a year also my dog died' thing, but January is always a bit of a sucker-punch mood wise, and lol-sob, this year is no exception.

 


I'd like to say I started the year gently, and I guess I did, though perhaps a Samaritans Shift from 2am – 6am was never going to be the easiest launch into 2021, especially given that shift mostly consisted of my most harrowing call to date. Luckily I'm made of (depressingly?) stern stuff when it comes to my work with Samaritans, so it was absolutely fine and I'm glad I could be there for the person concerned. Came home, slept, wore comfy trousers and had a burger. That bit was nice. Hi 2021.


At the start of the month we were still accompanied by our small soft chaos friend Max, the dachshund from Borrow My Doggy, who we were dog-sitting for three weeks over Christmas/New Year, as part of my ongoing 'I CANNOT COPE WITHOUT A DOG' post-Charlie processing. It was strange to have a new buddy so soon after Charlie and I spent a lot of time being sad that he wasn't Charlie, but also a lot of time enjoying his unparalleled ability to immediately fall asleep on any human surface for maximum soft-cuddle-warmth (something which Charlie, despite being the all time best boy, was a bit too twitchy for.) If there was anything I needed it was dog cuddles, and I'm glad Max was able to provide these, even if it did mean also having to deal with his several annoying habits, including chasing children on scooters, attempting to eat every random object he could find on the pavement and barking maniacally whenever he wanted attention (which was often)

The Spy Who Loved Me features one of my favourite villain's lairs of all time, but perhaps little else of note. Still we persist with our Sunday-night Bond marathon (there are a lot of them)


Ugggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Boris is back, and hey guess what, letting everyone (who chose to) see their families over Christmas was a terrible idea and now we all have to stay in our houses for another couple of months to try and stop thousands more people dying! Well fuck

Well Boris I'd love to oblige, but my small canine charge has decided he needs to prolifically vomit ELEVEN TIMES over the course of a couple of hours this evening, so (with massive thanks to housemate Tabitha for the ride), a trip to the emergency late night vets at great expense (his owner's tho, phew) it is. 

Dachshunds are born scavengers, and more than likely he had eaten something random which gave him an acute tummy bug, but having LITERALLY LAST MONTH HAD MY DOG DIE OF POISONING  (I mean come the fuck on, Max), which manifested with very similar symptoms, I wasn't taking any chances. (Why did I take chances with Charlie? Why did I think HE would be okay?! Fuck, it's still so easy to cry).

Anyway, the kind vet was able to confirm that Max was definitely NOT dying, just a bit of an idiot, an anti-emetic was administered, and he got to go home and sleep in the bed with us, which was [arched paws and evil cackle] all he'd wanted the whole time. Obviously I got no sleep whatsoever and lay awake staring at him and thinking about how Charlie died alone and how unbearable it is to think about, still, and how there's no avoiding the thought spiral once it starts. 

Anyway, Max's owner got back the next day and I found myself quite pleased to hand him back over, thankyouverymuch.


I mean I guess maybe you'd think that whole experience would put me off the stress of dog stewardship, buuuuut...

This is Chase. And this is the ad which we saw, in Late December.



All the big shelters are overwhelmed by demand right now, and having been rejected by a Romanian shelter for not having a garden, I was basically despairing at the chances of me being able to welcome a new friend any time soon. The suddeness of Charlie's absence left me absolutely emotionally bereft, and I genuinely couldn't imagine any kind of contented existance with that void in my heart and home unfilled. So I turned to uh, slightly more nefarious dog-obtaining means... I wrote a bit last month about my Pets4Homes browsing strategy here, and though I wrote to a few people, only one person wrote back — Tracy, owner of Chase, the nearly-ten-year-old lurcher.

We agreed to go and meet Chase (this was pre full lockdown), and we fell in love with her at first sight, with some minor notes of caution. She seemed like a contented, well behaved girl, with a springiness of step surprising for her near decade of existence. The also seemed a bit smelly and slightly unkempt. The middle-aged couple who were selling her had known her for her whole life — she was intially raised as a working ferreting dog by them, and then had two litters of puppies while she was still quite young. Not long after her puppies, the couple's (early twenties, I assume) son wanted a pet, and they felt she would be a good house dog, so her took her on, and she lived with him, his wife, and their three young children in a house from then on. However, their son's marriage broke down, he couldn't take her with him to his new accommodation, and his now-ex-wife struggled to give Chase all the attention and care she needed (albeit not that much!) while looking after three young children in lockdown. The couple who met me had decided that, for her own good, they'd take her back, however they already have 5 (!) dogs of their own, working and pets, and don't really have the capacity for another, so they were looking for a new home for her — the price reflects the fact that she's old and they genuinely weren't in it for the money, and they sold her in this way because a) they couldn't bear the thought of her having to live in a shelter for a while, and b) they wanted to see who she'd be ending up with.

We got along, Chase seemed to like us well enough, so we agreed that as soon as Max was gone, we'd go and get her. In the event, my hero Dad went to get her in his car and bought her to us, as due to lockdown we couldn't really go on the train again to fetch her (She was just over an hour outside London). She was handed over as contactlessly as possible at both ends, and suddenly we had a large, confused (but very waggy) lurcher in our living room.

More on her later, obviously...

In the meantime, I got my partner the great cookbook 'Vegan Japaneasy' for Christmas, because of their love of Japanese food and recent decision to go vegan. As I should have expected from them by now, they took the gift VERY seriously and immediately proceeded to make a large quantity of various Japanese stocks and sauces, which made our fridge situation rather challenging, but was also very exciting to behold.

With new lockdown, it was confirmed that all of our university sessions will be online only until at least Easter (previously we were going in one morning a week, and had some days where we could access workshops). We've been doing online shops for a while which means with the exception of dog walks and mini-top-up grocery runs, the only reason I leave the house is for my Samaritans shifts in Oxford circus. 

I covered a different shift to my usual ones — the 6.30 – 9am shift. The tube on the way in at around 6 was quite busy, full of people obviously on their way to work. 

However, perhaps unsurprisingly, the tube home at just after 9 was absolutely deserted. As I walked along a completely silent Oxford Circus platform waiting for my train, my ears were slowly filled with the dead, flat drone of ventilation fans, and as I turned to look round the corner into one of the connecting tunnels, I was confronted by a woman, entirely draped in many many layers of fabrics, her face completely covered, standing next to the giant vents, warming herself.

The fabric covering her head was a striking blue pattern, and something about the eerie silence of the platform coupled with suddenly seeing this tired, cold, homeless woman, alone, unaware, desperately trying to stay warm, against the dull drone of the dusty black vents. 

I don't know. It's hard to draw. It's hard to see.

Moonraker is one of the dumbest Bond movies and maybe [whisper it] my favourite?!

For the first few days Chase was with us, she stubbornly (though politely) refused to eat, subsisting only on a couple of slowly chewed denta-sticks and a reluctantly consumed can of cheap dog food. I got the fear — is she actually really ill?! Did her old owners con me into taking a sick dog at death's door (yet she's so perky and sweet otherwise?!)

I tried her with 5 different kibbles (because I would really much rather she ate kibble as it's much more practical and better for her than wet food), but the only one she'd even consider was a small sample pack of incredibly expensive loch-salmon kibble that I'd once got with an order of Charlie's old food and never got round to giving him.

Even that was only eaten grudgingly and in small quantities, but I texted her old owners who confirmed that she was indeed a fussy eater, and they'd been sweetening the deal with fresh mince atop her regular kibble.

Well I'm sorry Chase, that absolutely ain't happening in this house. The luxury goob days are over.

Once she'd had a vet checkup to confirm there was nothing medically wrong with her (apart from an unrelated little touch of stiffness in her back which may be the beginnings of arthritis, but fine, she IS 10), we just persisted with the fancy salmon goobles, and one can a day of meaty chunks.

I am pleased to report that she is now happily consuming these things to her own, slightly obtuse daily routine, which is extremely alien to me post Charlie, who would eat anything and everything, immediately, whenever and wherever it was presented to him.

Chase on the other hand, prefers to skip breakfast, eventually considering a couple of mouthfuls of kibble around mid morning. Finally at lunchtime she gives us a couple of gentle nudges, at which point we give her a tin of canned food, which she eats approximately 3/4 of (but only if it is served to her in small increments, if we put it all out at once, it is refused). The remaining 1/4 is offered again around our dinner time, which she finally deigns to eat, possibly accompanied by a couple more mouthfuls of kibble. Then eventually, after her brief outing for night-wee at around 11 at night, she will finally gleefully consume an entire bowl of kibble, but only if I sit and watch her. Oh, and she will only eat if she is served in the living room.

Well FINE. (We really like her, so this is okay)

A cute collage because I had A GOOD DAY AT UNI (woah what) — we began a short (3 week) project led by guest lecturers, and I opted for a workshop run by Common Knowledge on (loosely) design for activism and thinking about design practice in the context of communities. This was much closer to my areas of experience, and I realised with some small pride that after an entire career feeling guilty that I don't do enough design for activism, I've actually done a big old pile of design for activism over the years, and continue to do so. Not to get complacent or anything, but it actually motivated me to realise that this is something I DO have some experience of in a more meaningful way than I had originally realised, and I really enjoyed learning about it in a slightly more thinky way that actually felt USEFUL and PRACTICAL and TANGIBLE (not just about trying to read/write the most pretentious word-soup possible as much of this course has done so far, which increasingly makes me think I'm not cut out for MA level study and was deluding myself to believe I could be in the first place but HEY OH WELL HERE WE ALL ARE)

It rains a lot less in London than it did in Yorkshire but it still rains, and I for one, hate it (though with every day that passes I am happier with the big stupid unflattering duvet coat I bought back at the start of winter)


I haven't done a Samaritans shift since this day. It was feeling bad either way. To not go in is to leave desperate callers waiting on the line longer, but to keep doing it felt ever more perilous given the rate in London is over 1 in 30, and with my housemate Tabitha now working on the frontline with COVID patients in her role as an NHS researcher, I felt increasingly like *I* could end up being a risk factor if I caught it from her and unknowingly took it into the centre. So I'm taking a leave of absence for a month or two, until the transmission rate in London is a bit more under control. 

This feels like the right decision but it also means my world has got even smaller — I know for many people it's been like this for a long time already, but I cannot overstate how much I valued my roughly weekly train ride into central London. But so it goes. Fuck the Tories, man.

 

I did a drawing just like this of Charlie not long after we got him (see it here, on the 11th) It became one of my favourite drawings I'd ever done of him, and really shaped the way I came to draw him subsequently (as you can see from the other drawings in that month, I hadn't really got to grips with how to depict him yet). I found myself wrestling with similar with Chase, I haven't quite managed to capture her shape, texture or expression in any of my drawings so far, and she's very different in every way from Charlie, (and dogs are hard in general for me). So I made this little Chase summary based on everything we know about her so far. I like it.


 For Your Eyes Only is a perfectly acceptable middle of the road Roger-Moore era Bond movie. One of its highlights is the use of the EXTREMELY HIGH TECH 'Identigraph'


Probably could and should have done something better than this to mark the occasion, but let's face it, it's all a little tainted at the moment given that I nearly got made redundant a couple of months ago and now only work there one day a week, but... 10 YEARS IN MY JOB! Which presumably either shows intense dedication or an intense lack of ambition. Or maybe both 🙃 Here's to the next 10! (I'm kind of not even joking, continuing to work there 1 – 2 days a week is a nice thing that I genuinely still enjoy for as long as they'll have me)

Nonetheless, took advantage of the university's careers advice sessions to ponder on what the other side of the MA might look like, which amounted to having a woman who was probably 5 years younger than me asking whether I have a website, and do I keep my linkedin up to date? 😑

 

Though the workshop was fun, me and my team (ugh, teamwork, amirite guys? Though to be fair to them, I quite like my team buddies) totally misinterpreted what was required of us the first time round. In the words of one of the tutors [slightly apologetically] 'It's an MA, it's meant to be hard?'


My partner made tempura and it was great but I ate way too much and felt bad for nearly 2 days, lolsob

Octopussy is BAD and makes absolutely no sense. 

One thing we're finding quite disconcerting is that Chase basically sleeps for about 20 hours a day. And it's... fine?! A combination of her age and her breed (sighthounds like greyhounds and lurchers and whippets tend to sleep a lot) means that this is just how she likes to chill, and unlike Charlie, who could go from fast asleep to I AM HERE AND I NEED TO KNOW WHAT'S HAPPENING in approximately 0.1 seconds, she just... DGAF. It's kind of refreshing and kind of hilarious how much persuasion it takes her to just do basic stuff like COME FOR A WEE and EAT YOUR DINNER — I mean why would you when you could just lie on the sofa and sleep, right? Big mood Chase. I envy her tbh.

(Though it's also worth noting that you don't get a dog called 'Chase' without having some sense of what that might mean in the context of cats and squirrels and other greyhounds)

I cannot overstate how much I would like to literally just lop my breasts right off if I could afford to.

She's really beautiful and I can't wait for a time when you can all meet her.


Stubbed my toe SPECTACULARLY badly to the point where I was genuinely convinced for about a day that I'd broken it, but I think it probably was just a sprain after all. Ughhhhh BODIES.

An ongoing series I call 'here's my art' (got my first term assessment results back and IT WAS FINE, including the phrase "Essay is very good and promising, showing evident abilities to think critically"

!!!!

(Though it did also say "Parts of your writing are too descriptive." Well I'm sorry but WELCOME TO THE EMMA CLUB) (Yes yes fine)


Back to that old low mood thing. But it's not like I've known before, and there's obvious reasons for that. I know that deep deep down inside me there's a solid core of 'I'm okay', which I've been lucky to not yet have shaken, even at the very worst of times. But I do feel like there are parts of me that are slowly being chipped away, and I wonder whether they will ever come back? I worked very hard for a number of years on being brave. On saying yes to every opportunity. On being spontaneous. On travelling... Even though my deepest insticts were those of fear, and caution, and anxiety, and a need for stability and constancy. This year has made my world so much smaller and I can feel that those parts of myself I worked so hard on developing are fading away with every week I spend hiding. Will I ever get them back? The thought of getting on a 12 hour plan feels nightmarish and unimaginable. Even a short day trip down to the seaside feels anxiety fraught and stressful to imagine. Maybe this is the bit of my life where some people settle down and have children, except fuck having children, I'm just going to have a dog and stay home every night playing computer games. But it all happened much too suddenly to feel natural, to feel like a choice. 

Or maybe this is just the pessimism of [checks] 320 days of this, and I'll come out the other side mentally unscathed. But will any of us? Really?

Well, let's press on and find out, eh.

Thursday, 31 December 2020

December 2020

Well, we're all still here, I guess, and that's something. 2020 is nearly done.


Unsurprisingly enough, I entered December still absolutely devastated by the loss of Charlie. If you don't read often, Charlie was my perfect (border collie) son, and he died very suddenly and unexpectedly at the start of November, through circumstances that were, technically, my fault (there's no need to message me again saying 'don't blame yourself' — I know. And yet)

Every time I think I'm okay, something new causes me to totally break down. I've been working on a project about the visual language of grief for my MA (inspired by my experiences after Charlie passed), as I've been interested in how triggering/upsetting a lot of traditional grieving materials can be. While in the middle of this, I recieved a card from the vet saying how sad they were and how loved Charlie was (words to this effect are already guaranteed to set me off — for some reason people telling me how loved he was and how happy his life with me was only serves to make me feel even more devastated to have lost him)... They also included a badly printed photocopy of this text/poem, which again, absolutely broke me.

I know a lot of people take comfort in the idea of 'the rainbow bridge' as a kind of heaven for pets. But I personally can't bear it — any of you who knew Charlie will know that the most important thing to him (maybe even more important than his beloved kibbles/goobles/croquettes) was his people. I don't want him to have to wait there for me until I die. He'd hate it. I might be ages.

My imagining of heaven for Charlie is that, the morning when me and my partner came down and found him dead, and our world fell apart, in another dimension he cheerfully woke up, like normal. He went out for his usual morning walk with them, came home and cuddled with me on the sofa. Maybe later on there's a knock at the door and it's Justin and Dav, come to take him out for a walk over the Yorkshire moors which have somehow magically materialised outside our front door. Tired out, he gets home and goes upstairs to find that Ava's bedroom is there, and he can go and curl up with them on their bed and watch a movie together. He comes downstairs later that night to find Sarah and Edd (his old owners) in their living room, where he can snuggle with them on the sofa. Every day is a cosy combination of all of his favourite people and places. Every night he gets to go to sleep on the sofa on his favourite throw with a kiss on the head from me. Every door knock is another friend. Who could it be? Naomi... Caroline... Jason... Davey... Eilidh... Gabe... Beck... Megan... Kier... Jay... Nat... Tabitha... Heidi... Rosie... Any one of the many other people in his life who loved him so dearly. He was always so so very loved. He shouldn't have to wait for me. All I ever want is for him to be happy.

Trying to be kind to myself. Obviously grief is exacerbated by loneliness and absence of usual cheering treats like a gig, or an exhibition, or nice food out with friends. I like trains, and because of uni and Samaritans volunteering, I still get to go on them at least once a week. I treat myself to a Wasabi tofu curry (they're really kind of bad but also somehow incredibly comforting, and one of the only train station food places that's stayed open). It sit up on the mostly deserted balcony of Waterloo station and eat it slowly while people watching and trying not to get too cold. Simultaneously depressing and really nice to eat somewhere not my house.

 PSA, PUT YOUR NOSE AWAY

As mentioned last month, before Charlie passed I wouldn't have imagined wanting to spend time with other dogs, but actually I so desperately miss his presence, thinking about and meeting and hanging out with other dogs is one of the only things that brings me comfort (my Instagram discover page is basically all cute dog videos now, THEY'RE SO PURE AND SWEET 😭)

As part of this, I re-joined Borrow My Doggy as a borrower, but quickly discovered that the success of the app is mostly for dog owners looking for help (like me and Charlie)... If you're on the other side and want to hang out with a dog, well, join the VERY LONG queue. I basically gave up on it after lots of un-responded to messages, but happened to get in touch with Max's owner very soon after she listed him. He's a 2 year old long haired dachshund, and unlike most dogs on the website, he doesn't need ongoing walking, just a place to stay for 3 weeks while his owner went to visit family in the US (inadvisable TBH but that's for her to decide I guess)

Anyway, we met up with Max and his owner (and her daughter) in the park, and I was reminded once again of the correctness of my choice to have dogs and not human children 🙃

We got along well, Max liked us (becoming immediately particularly fond of my partner), I liked him and his owner, and we agreed that he could come and stay with us for three weeks over Christmas/new year.

Our ongoing Bond-watching-spree continues, with 'On her majesty's Secret Service', which I'd never seen before — also the only George Lazenby Bond movie. He was probably the hottest Bond, and this is probably the last Bond movie for some time with any real emotional depth, so we quite enjoyed it, I think.


Lol, 'art'. Is it good or bad? I don't even know!

hahahaha lolsob

Why did I decide to do an MA again?

As well as my ongoing forays into Borrow my Doggy, I continued looking for a new friend on a more permanent basis. I'd already established that a) most UK shelters are empty apart from the most challenging cases because everyone wants a dog for lockdown, and b) UK shelters are reeeeeeeally picky and my experience as a dog owner counts for naught if I don't have a garden.

I started looking at Romanian dogs instead (they have a big problem with strays and over-populated shelters over there, and there's now a steady stream of them being adopted in the UK), and fell in love with the beautiful Creme.

Sadly, while there are LOADS of Romanian dogs and the charity are a bit more open minded about circumstances, no garden remains a deal breaker. They have so many dogs over there and Creme has been stuck in the shelter since 2017, despite clearly being a BEAUTIFUL girl... If you're thinking of adopting a Romanian dog and you DO have a garden, please consider her, because I fell in love with her and hate to imagine her languishing the rest of her life in that sad place (even though it is probably what will happen). 


Max came over for a trial day, and proved to be an incredibly needy little man. (I am trying not to call him a boy because Charlie was The Boy. I fail often, but 'Little man' is also hilarious to me, so it does work most of the time.)

He absolutely will not stand for being anywhere other than directly draped over a person (he's not that fussy about who), which does make getting anything done quite challenging, but on the bright side, he is incredibly warm and smells bizarrely good for a dog. I wonder whether I should get a papoose.


2020 BIG MOOD

WE GOT A TREE! This was actually quite exciting because I've not had a christmas tree since leaving home aged 19 (I'm now 32)... First there was no space... Then there was still no space... Then finally there was space but Ava hated watching plant-life die, and we didn't have a car anyway and... Finally now, Tabitha insisted. I baulked a little at the price (bloody London), but considering our lack of experience we chose a PERFECTLY sized one, decorated it very tastefully, and it has barely shed any needles, AND it massively lifted my spirits, so I am calling the whole thing a grand success.

Diamonds are Forever, first of the Roger Moore Bonds, a comedy caper around Las Vegas, bizarrely low stakes (There are some diamonds or something? Maybe a laser?) but the late 60's Americana and only-mildly-problematic early gay represetation in the form of comedy villains Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd more than makes up for its lack of plot. 


Okay we're on day 273 and I finally caved and went to Muji and bought some stretchy trousers, it's all downhill from here folks


Paperchase have a big cheap book of motivational stickers on sale at the moment, if you feel like that's something you might enjoy... 

I was really sad the first day Max came to stay. I guess it made sense. He's a soft, squidgy long-man with several naughty foibles, and about as far away from Charlie as you could imagine in a dog. (He's also very impractically designed, though that's not his fault). In his sweet, soft, sleepy moments, his presence is a balm. In his mischievious, crime-spree moments, he just served as a reminder of everything I've lost. Will any other dog ever be as good as Charlie? As loyal? As desperate to please? As good and smart and brave? Maybe I guess. (But it probably won't be Max.... sorry Max)

 

In a chain of events which began with Charlie's dramatic explosive diarhhoea episode over our landlord's sofa, I come to be stood in Battersea Park at 8am on a chilly Thursday, being shot by a photographer from Which magazine, which seems about as unlikely as anything that's happened this year. 


In a year where a lot of other things I love have been taken away from me, I feel lucky that I can still rely on my one true love, public transport! (Please don't take that away from me, no, don't send me articles about how fucked it all is, just let me enjoy this while I still can 😭)

 

Talking of public transport, I had been planning on travelling down to my parents in Chichester to drop their presents with them, but with restrictions ever tightening, and having left it too late to reliably post them, me and my dad agreed to an evocative rendezvous in romantic Crawley (the mid point between us), in which I placed a bag of presents on a train station bench, stepped back and allowed him to pick them up, and he handed me a little sanitsied baggie full of christmas money (in a baggie in case I wanted to wait the requisite 72 hours before taking it out and rubbing it on my face, or whatever it is you do with cash, I'm not sure, I've forgotten).

We talked about tax returns and how much I miss my dog and then we both got back on near-empty trains home again.

Live and Let Die is basically a blaxploitation film, which I'd never really recognised when I last watched it on ITV as a child. It also involves a mildly nasty Bond repeatedly outwitted by much cooler, more charismatic villains than he is, an extremely creepy and not-okay romance plot, and a double decker bus chase. It's fine I guess but we're definitely getting into the shit-Bond era

Are we allowed to see people? One person outdoors if you both touch wood and hold your breath right? 

I haven't seen many people this year compared with how life would usually be, so it feels like a rare treat to catch up with Nat (accompanied by my adorable annoying temporary companion)

I've spent way too much money this year considering there's nowhere to go and nothing to do, and for a while back there, no one apart from Rishi was paying me, but I REGRET NOTHING, especially not buying my own Nintendo Switch and throwing away hours of time trying to drown my sorrows creating the perfect farm in Stardew Valley.

I cannot even imagine how miserable I would have been if I'd spent this year in Yorkshire. Sorry Yorkshire but you just weren't for me. The downside of living on a 24-hour bus-route main road is that no one will let you have a dog, but the upside is that there's always interesting people to watch out the window, and there's always something happening. I especially love minor drama, though it's mostly just normal people going about their normal routines, with which I have now become intimiately aquianted.

('Middle aged man who smokes outside the Indian restaurant' and I have only ever exchanged a few words. The night before Charlie died I carried him out onto the street and he had a bad butt incident outside the takeaway, it was so bad that this man, who I think runs the place, looked at me with sympathy rather than disgust as he ought to have done. I said 'I'm sorry, my dog is really sick', and then I came out a few minutes later and washed down the street with a bucket, and he said 'thank you!' with slight surprise, as though he'd expected me to leave it. The next day he was sat in his car nearby when I carried Charlie's body out. Now he sees me every day with Max, and he smiles really sadly at me. I guess I like him now and forgive him for making my room smell of cigarettes when I have my window open.)

Maybe I'm hamming it up a bit now but fucking hell. Actually found it easier to get into the festive spirit than I expected this year though, thanks to Tabitha's boundless enthusiasm (honestly, thank goodness for Tabitha, random spareroom-found-housemate who has been a HERO this year in so many ways, all hail Tabitha), and my own need to cling on to something distracting. I'd kind of managed to forget about Brexit though, lolsob

Me, my partner, and Tabitha, had a nice quiet Christmas day. We cooked a competant lunch, walked Max, opened our presents together, called the relevant family members, watched the Muppets Christmas Carol AND a Nightmre Before Christmas, and generally managed to be cosy and fine. Decent present haul too (in quite a middle aged kind of way :)

I mentioned Creme earlier on in the month, and had been going through quite a lot of hoops to try and welcome her into her lives, including an hour long zoom interview, and having to make a video tour of my house and street, but we finally heard on Boxing Day that they wouldn't consider us for her (or for any of their other dogs) due to our lack of garden and how busy our street is. 

Fine, they have to do what they think is right, and maybe indeed we couldn't welcome a potentially difficult Romanian dog (by all accounts they're usually a bit chaotic for the few few weeks then become absolutely super pets, but it was those first few weeks they were worried about)... But I know, and have proved, that it's perfectly possible to keep a happy dog in this house. Battersea Park is an absolute doggo adventure zone (only 2 mins from our house), and we are experienced with a wriggly, tense rescue border collie... there is a dog out there we could offer a home to, but how do we find them?

I returned to 'pets4homes', a mostly legit but occasionally dodgy classified ad site for all kinds of pets in the UK, everything from £3000 dachshund puppies, to the equivalent of 'a man in the pub trying to sell you his pitbull for £50' 

If you set the filters to 'for sale', 'under £500', dogs aged 2 and up, you basically filter right down to people who are either 1) desperate to get rid of their dog because their life circumstances have changed and they don't much care about the money, 2) people who have bitten off more than they can chew with a dog they can't cope with and just want it gone, and possibly 3) people who have stolen a dog and want to get shot of it for some easy money. 

Basically we're looking for option number 1 (possibly number 2 depending on how intense the dog is), and trying to use our dodgy-deal-sense to skirt around any potential number 3. 

I sent hopeful messages out to a number of people, not really expecting to hear anything back. But... I did.

The Man with the Golden Gun is James Bond at his most dislikeable (it honestly amazes me audiences in the 70's still wanted to see this guy), and is another movie blatantly playing to the trends of the time, this time Kung-fu movies, with every possible martial art thrown in for absolutely no discernable reason. Christopher Lee plays the three-nippled Scaramanga, who I'm now old enough to appreciate as quite hot,  and one finds oneself not really caring if Bond lives or dies. Still, a fun enough romp on many levels.

In the early hours of boxing day, an indvidual or individuals covered the northbound Victoria line of Oxford Circus in an impressive amount of graffiti, including a Grenfell mural and some Covid conspiracy theories (you win some you lose some I guess). I for one applaud their audacity (while sympathising with the doubtless underpaid staff who had to clean it all off). By the time I got there for my Samaritans shift on the 28th, all that was left was some small pieces between re-applied ads on the other side of the tracks. I enjoyed getting to see the traces, anyway.

For a while in the middle of the year I managed to get the most thorough moisturising/skin care routine of my life going (a routine which previously consisted of precisely nothing at all)... I even started flossing, the worst thing in the world! 

But since Charlie died I basically only do the 'good' self care, which for me = eating, showering and sleeping (well, and I DO wash my hair once a week, but don't tell me to enjoy it, I hate it just as much as I have done my entire life) 

I guess I'll try and get back on it all soon?! UGH, BODIES

 

 

 

On the 30th we went to meet a dog. She's nice, I don't think she's stolen, and unless I have been CONNED for a £50 deposit, we will be bringing her home on January 7th. I will introduce you to her then. I don't want to do it before then in case it all goes wrong for some reason. (She's beautiful.)

 

 

 

So, here we are. Weird old new year's eve, huh. 

This time last year I was alone in my friend Deb's apartment in Boston, cat-sitting while she visited family on the other side of the world. I was just beginning to move past the grief of the end of mine and Ava's relationship a year ago, and I'd recently met someone new who I was excited about. Charlie had just had a health scare but seemed to have come out the other side unscathed and I was excited to get home and take him on more London adventures. I felt incredibly excited to be in the USA, a country with which I am deeply in love, despite all its flaws. I remember being overwhelmed by a sense of peace and contentment.

Tonight I am working my first 'night watch 2' at Samaritans, the 2.30am – 6.30am shift. I will get on a train at around 8 tonight, sleep in one of the small bedrooms at the branch (right through midnight, unless some rowdy Carnaby Street revellers disturb me), and drag myself out of bed at 2am to take calls from people going through the darkest shit you can imagine. I can't talk about any of it, for obvious reasons. Six months in, and I am both pleased and slightly alarmed by my ability to completely zone it all out after I leave the branch. I couldn't do a job that bought me into contact with this stuff face-to-face, but over the phone, I can say the things and be the person people need. Sometimes someone's taken an overdose and the line shuts off and you don't know if they're going to live or die, but other times you hear someone transform from a broken wreck who can't go on to a broken wreck who can go on, and they thank you for listening, and you hang up and things feel okay for a moment, and then you forget about them forever.

It's harder to forget that there's a pandemic on and Charlie is dead. I miss my friends. I miss breathing on people in crowded rooms. I miss not having to think about whether the supermarket is going to have run out of things.

But this year I started an MA for some reason. The exciting person stayed exciting (and now I get to have them in my house all the time) and I still have enough money to pay the rent every month. So those things are good, I guess.

I really hope you've got some good things to hold onto as well.