I’m (almost) back!

I’m actually still in France, at my aunt and uncle’s house. They actually have internet, hence why I’m able to post this (I have just been promoted to Captain of the Obvious Squad). I’ve actually stuck to my promise that I will write posts, so I’ll stick one up here. This isn’t actually the most major thing that happened to me on holiday (the real event was much worse), but the arachnid population is a growing problem in my bedroom. Literally, growing, because I swear they’re getting bigger every year:

I am ambiguous about spiders. While on the one hand, I have a certain fascination of them, on the other hand they are the one creepy-crawly I can’t deal with. Here in the south of France, the insects get larger and stranger than most of what we have in the UK. I can handle giant grasshoppers, shield bugs, black bees, firebugs, hoverflies and strange little leaf insects. But I swear, the spiders here are on growth drugs. The really nasty ones are fat, hairy, and at least the size of my palm. They appear in the same room (my room), on the same wall (the one with my bed on it), crawl in the same direction (towards my bed) and they move fast. That’s if they haven’t already camped out in the window next to my bed.

This one was the size of my hand. My HAND.
This one was the size of my hand. My HAND.

The last time I saw a spider next to my bed, I made it through two hours of sitting, huddled in my duvet with a candle pointed at the offending arachnid. After it disappeared and reappeared closer to my bed for the tenth time, I gave up and ran out of the house, up the pathway to the top terrace and slept in the caravan.

Thank God poisonous spiders haven’t made it to France yet.

Although this one’s having a bloody good go at pretending to be poisonous:

The Wasp Spider. If ever there was a more radioactive-looking arachnid, please show it to me. Fortunately, these ones don't come in the house. Unfortunately, these ones build webs in the tall grass covering most of the garden, are impossible to spot, and regularly prey on grasshoppers larger than them. That's not to say these ones are small; they're still a good few centimetres across.
The Wasp Spider. If ever there was a more radioactive-looking arachnid, please show it to me. Fortunately, these ones don’t come in the house. Unfortunately, these ones build webs in the tall grass covering most of the garden, are nearly impossible to spot, and regularly prey on grasshoppers larger than them. That’s not to say these ones are small; they’re still a good few centimetres across.
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A guide to understanding the English (Part 1)

As part of my ‘I’m on holiday and therefore most likely unable to access the internet’ defences, I have set the publishing date for this one to approximately halfway through my holiday. If I’ve managed to post between this post and my slutty clothes post, then clearly, I have internet and this whole intro is useless. Sadly, I cannot see the future, so what luck! You can all read random musings that I’m sure ended up forgotten in my drafts folder for a good reason.

I am chronically unable to self-promote. It’s an occupational hazard of being English. You see, in England, it is considered the height of rudeness to mention that you are pretty good at something. I have been known to actively deny that I am good at playing the piano, while playing the piano and being told that I am good at playing the piano. And I’m not good at playing the piano (I had to say that to prevent myself from falling into a spiral of despair and self-loathing due to the fact that I just implied that I might think I was good at playing the piano).

A major unspoken rule for English people is that when talking to someone, you never mention any issues to do with their appearance. This isn’t just a case of not pointing out that the person you are talking with has bad breath. That’s just common politeness. This is where you are not allowed to make any comment on that person’s appearance besides how nice they’re looking today. If, for example, they have a bit of food in their teeth you do not comment on it. Here’s a live example: I was talking to my piano teacher, and squirming my way through the conversation because I could see that she had a tag hanging off her top. However, because I am English and therefore unable to communicate through my bad teeth any sounds other than ‘Haw-Haw, righto, chap’, I literally couldn’t say anything to her. As soon as she noticed the tag, she ripped it off and asked why I hadn’t told her sooner. My piano teacher is South African. From there the conversation dissolved into the differences between South African and English etiquette.

As an English person, I am literally unable to express pleasure in anything. Unless it’s tea. Then, it has to be English tea (Earl Grey or PG Tips), made by an English person, in the English (ie correct) fashion. We will have no ‘putting your tea leaves in the coffee machine’. Iced tea is not tea. Iced tea is upmarket squash. Tea does not belong in a plastic cup. Unless your tea is in a flask (or at worst, a polystyrene cup), the container must have a handle. Otherwise how else am I supposed to sip tea with my little finger stuck out?

I am obliged to be mildly condescending to any foreign person or thing I encounter. I am not allowed to praise anything foreign, because that would be disrespectful to The Mighty England. This includes the Scottish and the Sheep Shaggers Welsh. Every time I am in a foreign country, I am only allowed to be comfortable if I have created a bubble-shaped miniature outpost of England around me. This requires a copy of The Daily Telegraph, a mug of tea, a lobster-like sunburn and an air of discontented disdain combined with a hint of fish-out-of-water. I must also complain loudly about cultural differences and ‘why can’t they just do things properly, like at home’. This especially applies if the service in question is considerably better than in England (see French vs British train services as an example).

This is an incomplete list, but I hope it will begin to break down the icy-cold barrier that is the stiff upper lip (although I’ve always thought it should be the stiff lower lip, as that’s the lip that normally wobbles when some sodding bugger won’t let you play tea-parties with them).

PS. The introduction was incredibly hard to write, as I had to write it in the present tense when I really wanted to use the future. I keep forgetting that this is not going to be read until a week after I write it.

I am not a slut, I promise.

I’m going through my drafts folder and posting anything I started and never finished. I’m leaving later today to go to France, where there is a 50/50 chance of internet, so expect either no updates at all, or three updates every day (there is nothing else to do).

 

As a modern teenage girl, I am not supposed to approve of or partake in the wearing of slutty clothes.

On the other hand, as a modern teenage girl, dressing up in slutty clothes is incredibly fun.

I would like to make it clear, I do not dress up in slutty clothes unless I am going to a party, and even then the closest I have come to slutty is a miniskirt.

It was one of my friends’ 18th birthday parties and my best friend and I ended up discussing what we should wear.

The conversation went something like this:

Me: What are you wearing to the party?

Her: I don’t know. I never know what the dress-code is.

Me: Well, it could either be wholesome party-games outfits suitable for playing Twister and charades in, or it could be a slutfest, depending on how much alcohol will be present.

Her: There will probably be alcohol.

Me: Ok, it’s probably safer to go with wholesome party clothes like jeans and muu-muus.

Her: Yeah. Except…sometimes, it’s fun to dress like a whore.

Me: …

Her: I’M NOT A SLUT!

Me: I know exactly what you mean. I always want to dress like a slut, but then I end up feeling like a slut and that’s not so fun.

We then agreed that we might as well make use of our figures while we still can. After all, we are at the age when we are most attractive (I was told by a science book I read) so we might as well wear things that we wouldn’t be seen dead in in ten years’ time.

In Which I Reveal That I Cannot Say No To Anything, Even If The Thing Is Books On Freemasonry.

I have Volumes II, IV and VI of the 1883 edition of ‘The History of Freemasonry’ by R. F. Gould. I have Biology textbooks from the ’80s right up until the latest A2 OCR textbook. I have several textbooks from Edinburgh University’s medical department (courtesy of my grandfather, who graduated some time in the 1950s). Five litre glass cider jars from the 1800s are sitting next to paintings I found in the abandoned caravan in the back garden. A turn-of-the-century Indian table supports a record player that was once owned by the man who test-flew the first jet aircraft (again, courtesy of my grandparents).

In short, my room is full of crap. Not that I want to part with any of this stuff (except maybe the books on freemasonry). I am a hoarder. I get it from my mother. We have a barn next to the house that is a two-storey high space with three sections. Each section is at least 12’x10′. Each section is filled. One section contains every single cardboard box that my parents have collected over their 22 year marriage and simply not had the time to unpack. There are at least fifty, and they are stacked to the ceiling.

Part of the problem with me is that I love old things. I love the thrill of finding old stuff that no one else has seen for years. That’s why I love this house. Yes, the old owner left it in a complete state, and yes, he left most of his things behind; but that’s where the fun comes in! Whether it be an almost perfect-condition 1965 Sprite 400 caravan, or X-Ray viewing machines, or piles of books left in an old steamer trunk, there is always something to find.

I get bored very easily, and it’s when I get bored that I start to have panic attacks. My solution on this gap year is to task myself with completing projects that will keep me occupied for a long time.

First up on my list is to create a personal space at the bottom of the garden. I will eventually place the caravan down there, and fulfill a childhood dream of having a caravan of my very own, which I can use as an art studio. I will turn my hand to gardening, and I’m hoping I’ll get at least two-thirds of the way through creating a garden before I remember how crap I am at gardening (the only two plants I have ever managed to keep alive were glorified cacti).

The bottom of my garden is currently a mess of knee-high grass, brambles, thistles and tree roots. Also some horse poo, because I started a muckheap down there and have forgotten where I put it. Wish me luck!

This is the most faithful I have ever been to a blog.

We have reached a momentous occasion in the history of this blog. All rise for the announcement:

This is the 50th post!

I am too tired to be funny. Have a very small picture of my new horse, instead. She has been considerably pencil-shopped, and doesn’t look anything like that in real life.

Pepper