Tuesday, 26 August 2008

I want to be Gym Bunny!

If you have the Rocky theme tune anywhere in your CD collection please insert and play Eye of the Tiger or the Rocky theme tune to the first few paragraphs

You are probably wondering why I've suggested that you listen to the Rocky anthems and it is for one reason only...your blogger is getting fit! Well I say getting fit I'm not necessarily getting fit but I have joined a gym! This is a huge feat for me as many of you will know my natural instinct is to be lazy. This means that every one single thing I do in life is an effort or a chore. However, in a bid not to become one of those people who is confined to their house as they are too large to get through the front door I have decided drastic action needs to be taken. I need to at least try to get a body that I'm remotely proud of! At age hmmm hmmm, ok at age 31 I've decided this may be my last chance!

So 2 weeks ago I found myself walking into my local gym red faced and exhausted just looking at the men pumping their pecks in the room nearest the reception desk and asking how to join up. Assuming that I would no doubt not be a member for a great deal of time I decided to join up for a month with my friend. This prevented any possibility of me being locked into a 12 month contract for a gym membership that I am unable to cancel and which then causes huge amounts of guilt every time I walk past the gym. Which as it happens would be a regular occurence as the gym is approximately 13 steps away from my office where I work and next door to the place that supplies my daily lattes! As I signed up for the month I immediately decided the lifting of the pen to fill in the relevant form was enough work and exercise for the first day and my friend and I decided we would go to the induction the following day! The next day arrived and I was exhausted just thinking about it let alone walking the 3 flights of stairs to the changing room but after an hour long induction on the various machines from rowing machines, tread mills to cross trainers with their complicated computer screens and about 45 buttons to play with per machine I had managed to get through the induction which ended with a series of stretches... which I should add hurt somewhat!

The following day dressed in our gym stuff (which is not flattering to anyone unless you are fit first! I will never understand why lycra is a necessity for every gym goer regardless of the cellulite creeping through!) my friend and I went to the room that we decided would be the room we went to each time. This room is perfect for every self conscious, body image hating, depressive gym goer as it is a room in semi darkness save for the small disco ball which flashes lights around the room in various colours. The best thing about this room is that it is dark which disguises any lumps and bumps and your red face that is glowing in the light of the disco ball.

I decided I would start with the bike. I optimistically got onto the bike and started to pedal. "This is not too bad at all" I said to myself as I watched the screens playing the latest euro pop dance anthems. Ok this is not my preferred choice of music but my normal choice is lazy and slow like my mood and therefore not exactly conducive to sweating and exercise! After 2 minutes of cycling I reached for my water and thought to myself "hmmm this is getting a little harder now but I must keep going". I glanced up at the screens focusing on the bikini clad bodies dancing around in front of me in the music videos. Just got to keep focused! I want a body like that! By minute 3 however I had decided that God hates me and that electric shocks were being pumped into the muscles in my limbs. My body started to cease up. I tried to mentally focus and tell myself the lines Rocky once used "NO PAIN, NO GAIN". I repeated this in my head a few times until even my brain was struggling for energy. I'm in hell! My chubby legs tried to continue the fluid motion of cycling but every repetition caused further pain and I wondered if I had actually got any fitness in my limbs at all! I tried another tact. I focused on the idea that my muscles were pushing through the chubbiness... itching to get out and be lean. But after 5 minutes I was losing the will to live and staggered from there to the cross-trainer whilst guzzling the whole bottle of water I had with me. I turned to look at one of the other girls who appeared to be wearing a pristine pink track suit with what I can only describe as the most perfectly formed pair of buns I had ever seen and her pony tail bobbing up and down whilst my sweat soaked hair stuck to my head. Without even a shortness of breath she bounced up and down on the cross trainer looking as though she was actually feeling no pain whatsoever and it was quite fun! Immediate thought... weirdo! What is wrong with her? She smiled at me. But my own lips were sticking to my teeth from all the exercise so I just about managed to raise an eyebrow before realising that even my eyebrows now hurt.

After 40 minutes of sheer hell and hatred welling up inside me I left the gym with my friend. We decided we would do our stretches in the main room with lights! How brave! As we arrived at the part of the gym where people do floor exercises and stretches we were greeted by a very flexible elastic band type of woman who was lying on the floor and throwing her legs over her head. We immediately looked at each other in horror and decided that we would do our pointless stretches in the dressing room.

Arriving at the dressing room we started to stretch out! God I sound like a gym bunny already! As we did so I noted from the corner of my eye someone walking out of the shower. Now don't get me wrong I am entirely comfortable with people loving themselves and feeling comfortable in their own skins but is it really necessary in gym changing rooms for women to leave the shower completely naked whilst holding their folded up towel in their hands rather than covering up their bodies? I tried to avert my eyes but as soon as I did this lady immediately stood directly in front of my eye view and proceeded to moisturise every part of her body. I mean every part. No crevice was left unmoist. I could not do anything other than to pretend to close my eyes whilst feeling the stretch! But even with my eyes closed I felt as though I had seen something I shouldn't have. A vivid image. I hadn't even seen my own body in that much detail and to be honest I wouldn't want to and yet here and now I had a full front, back and almost insides of a woman I had never met! Worst still who I would no doubt see again as it is such a small place in Jersey! Oh my God what if she came in one day and was one of my clients?

From that first visit to the gym I made a conscious effort not to change anywhere in the vicinity of "nakey women". I now go in to the changing rooms eyes half covered to protect them and walk into the toilet, lock the door, cover my eyes, put my stuff in the locker, cover my eyes and walk down the stairs to the safety of the dark room. I'm telling you now if I see Ms perfect buns naked I will probably shoot myself but for now I'm covering all my bases in the hope that I don't have to see anymore flesh and will for the foreseeable future cover my eyes until I least feel my buns are half as bulbous as they are now.

I have now been to the gym 6 times. It is getting marginally easier and I'm forcing myself to get my one month money's worth. I can honestly say I'll never love it but I want to be that person. I want to enjoy the gym and feel naturally energetic. I don't think it will ever happen but I desperately want to be a gym bunny!

Monday, 25 August 2008

Feeling the fear meets the deadline!

Dear Blog,

I apologise for neglecting you for so long... once again I have been busy. So what have I been doing that makes me so selfish and neglectful? Many things as it happens to all my doubters out there! Yes I may be lazy but sometimes just sometimes life forces me to reject my natural instinct to be lazy and do things! Working to deadlines is something I am used to and I'll be honest with you I am a last minute person! I can't help it! I try to be organised but I really am incapable of starting something until it is absolutely crucial. I'm a crammer of the most annoying kind! When I was a student it wasn't uncommon for me to be up all night working on an essay before I handed it in because (even though I had had 3 weeks to do this) I had not managed to start until the day before. Now some I realise find this an impossible way to live but for me I have to feel the fear, hear the clock ticking, feel the immense panic of not making the deadline and have the feeling that I'm going to fail in order to actually start let alone complete whatever it is that needs to be produced. It's not something I like about myself but it is who I am.

Which brings me to the current situation. I handed in my notice on my flat due to the lack of sky TV - I know I just can't let this go but it has been most traumatic living with 4 channels! But being me I handed in my notice without another flat to go to. I had 6 weeks to find somewhere and after the first 2 weeks I had not even opened the paper to find a flat. 3 weeks before I was due to leave my flat I half heartedly mentioned that I was looking (I say looking but I was putting it off until the crucial point!) for a flat and someone knew someone who was renting somewhere. I went to see it and took it on... Don't get me wrong it is a lovely flat but the downside it is further away from work. This means I will have to get up earlier and that I will probably be later each day for work than I already am. So the last few days have been spent putting off packing. This involves telling everyone I know how stressful moving is, thinking that I need to go to the shop and get some cardboard boxes and telling myself that "hmmm bet they don't have any!" and not actually standing up to go and ask. What's the point? They won't have any! Then I get teary and tell everyone I hate moving and that I've got so much to do I couldn't possibly go to a barbeque or any other social event. The reality is that I probably could have gone if I had been more organised but having decided today "right Clare you need to get moving" I then decided stage one of the big move was a little 2 hour snooze! I need to conserve my energy right? Anyway just thinking about it made me tired. And so when I finally started I did so with a great deal of huffing and puffing, standing with my hands on my hips wondering where to start, walking into each room and wondering how I got so much stuff, making myself a cup of tea and looking round the flat as I did so wondering where to start followed by going to the shop next door and asking for the boxes. Now you are probably wondering was I right? Were there no boxes?

Well I explained I was moving and asked if they had any boxes. The old lady "Beryl" to regular readers (looked teary eyed as I mentioned I was moving and I could actually hear her tightening her purse strings with the realisation that her main customer who regularly spends a fortune in there would not be providing her nest egg anymore)asked her male friend (new man who hangs out in the shop although I am not sure who he is or if he is being paid) to go out the back to get some boxes as I was moving house. Now tell me this. If someone said to you they were moving house would you think they probably need quite big boxes? Or would you do what he did and come out carrying two boxes the size of shoe boxes? Well as I glanced down at the boxes I wondered if actually even a pair of my shoes would fit in the boxes and made a mental note that I would have to use these boxes to pack up my mobile phone and some q tips because that is all it would fit I heard myself saying "Thank you so much! Have you got any others?" To which the response was "none spare". She probably uses all her big boxes to store all her money! So I wandered away with the pathetic boxes and arrived home disheartened. I would have to have another cup of tea before I started as I would need to contemplate how I intended to pack a one bedroom flat into two shoe boxes. Actually this contemplation turned out to be quite fruitful as I decided I would pack what I could in any suitcases I had as the thought of walking up the road to another shop (not far but still!) involved too much energy.

And so I began. I packed my 30 odd pairs of not quite right mediocre jeans into suitcases because even though they are not quite right maybe one day my body will completely change shape and they will look great! You just never know! Now as I had officially started packing I was then getting phone calls from family members asking me how it was going and by this time I was in the groove and irriatedly told them (but this time telling the truth!) I was far too busy to chat and repeated that I hated moving and generally moaned until they said they better let me go to carry on!And suprisingly I have managed to complete my bedroom and my sitting room. This meant that I then had to put the flat back to the way it was before I moved in. This involved taking the repulsive plug in electric fire with it's very own fake log top and putting it back in front of the fire place whilst removing my candles and dried flowers in vases, removing my modern pictures and replacing them with various oil paintings of fruit and empty bottles on a silky looking cloth (which I always think it a bit weird because I never have fruit lying round on a silky table cloth at various heights with a bottle of wine next to it but even weirder is that this painter insisted on putting a pumpkin next to the apples and oranges!) and just generally returning the flat to the old fogey den it was once was. Now I have to live in it like this until next weekend which makes me realise that I will probably end up going to the doctor for anti-depressants.

I have now spoken to my mum to get the necessary sympathy and cooing about how her poor daughter is having to do all this moving and how she wishes she could be there. I then proceeded to tell her (despite earlier announcing I couldn't face packing and how awful an experience it is) that actually I don't have much stuff after all to which she replied "Basically you have make up, clothes and books and not alot else. But then you do have rather alot of stuff in my spare room!" This always immediately gets my back up! Not because I sound rather pathetic that all my worldly possessions are make up I use, books I've read and clothes that don't fit me but that she insists that I always have alot of stuff at her house! I refuse to believe this. Yes it is true I have some stuff there but isn't that what you are supposed to have at your parents house. Shouldn't they be lovingly looking at their child possessions stroking them and thinking how lovely that they are in my house cluttering up my spare room as it reminds me that my darling daughter has once touched these items and how special she is? No? Well that's what I like to believe anyway instead I fear that she dislikes the fact that her tiny 2nd bedroom is full of my stuff! Let's bear in mind that as soon as I left home to move to university my mum left her house and moved into a tiny flat perhaps just to make sure I didn't move back home! As I tried to ignore the fact that my mum was suggesting my stuff was not a joy to her I then told her that once again I was far too busy to continue our chat and got back to the important cooing and sympathy before getting off the phone to make another cup of tea!

Tomorrow I will be packing up my kitchen and my bathroom and I have the added stress of no boxes, no newspaper to pack the breakables in and no motivation! And if I'm honest the real reason for this is I'm not moving till Saturday... I don't feel the fear and therefore the fact that I'm forcing myself to be organised is so unnatural that I can almost guarantee tomorrow I'll feel very snoozy and will convince himself that I did so much today it would be wrong to do more tomorrow! There is just no real incentive to be organised.....

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Levi Stress!

At the moment I am feeling particularly frustrated by life. Discontentment surrounds me. It's not just the everyday things like balancing your cheque book (which if I'm honest I can't really do as due to mismanaging my finances when I was young resulted in the bank taking away my cheque book and so all my adult life I've lived without one!) nor is it job stresses... although that is part of it! It is more to do with the lack of quality in life. As life gets more expensive and we all want more, more, more I still can't fathom why everything lacks a certain quality.

My main frustration involves things I buy. It seems to me that you work hard for your money and you see things you want. You crave it and work out how you are going to buy it. THEN YOU GET IT! Your life is complete and suddenly your self esteem is raised.... at least for the few minutes that it is brand spanking new and therefore perfect. It is only minutes later when you notice a fault that you feel disheartened and irritated by what only can be described as the crap quality.

For the last few months I have been looking for the perfect pair of jeans. You know the kind every once in a while you buy a pair of jeans that just fit right. They are like your second skin and you reach for them every day when you need to feel good about yourself. They have kept their colour, they seem to expand perfectly to your ever-increasing waist line and they just look better with age... a Sean Connery of jeans if you like. After a whole year of wearing them you notice they are starting to fray... but it adds to their character! And then the fatal starts to happen you realise that you need a replacement. Not just a replacement but an equivalent pair. Apart from they don't sell the exact ones anymore and so the quest starts. You search every shop, you enter hot changing rooms and squeeze yourself into the same size jeans ... only of course, the shops have changed their sizings and instead they are a lot tighter than before. Yet you know that they have changed their sizings because the old faithfuls still fit perfectly! And so it goes on the never ending quest for the next perfect jeans.

So I am now at this stage. I have been on this quest for some months now apart from the unthinkable has happened and there is a hole in the old faithfuls just below the bum cheek so I know I can't wear them (well I can but if I do I will have to write this blog from my prison cell as I will be arrested for exposing myself!)... but I can't throw them away either. As you fail to find the exact replica you find yourself buying various other jeans which are not quite perfect but which will see you through until your eureka moment when you find the new perfect replacement.

Which brings me to the current situation. I found a pair of jeans of mediocre quality but quite nice. They fit ok but they do that thing where they shrink in the wash each time so I then spend a lot of time pulling them up with all the strength in my upper arms, then pushing the pockets back in, then I start doing lunges round the room. Not for any exercise reason although thinking about it, it does count doesn't it? It's exercise right? It makes my heart race as the tightness of the jeans is unbearable at this stage and normally builds up a sweat and I immediately start feeling uncomfortable about how much tighter the jeans have got. Then I have to start trying to stretch the area round the knees which for some reason always crunkle up at the wrong part. And then the lunges continue because the crotch of the jeans has not gone back to the correct place and is hanging down mid thigh. And then just as I am ready and have managed to get the correct fitting the unthinkable happens! The zip ceases to work! Every time I pull it up it comes back down rapidly. It is either wear these jeans with a long top and therefore hide the fact that I'm flying low or just start searching for a different equally ill fitting pair of jeans to wear. One time I opted for the first and wore a long top but as I went through security at the airport and was then pulled over to be frisked I realised it was a bad idea as the woman patted down my legs and then was face to face with my open zip. As I tried to explain the jeans had broken she just gave me that slightly odd look of a mix of sympathy and being slightly frightened. And so now I tend to start looking for another pair of jeans to wear in my overflowing wardrobe of ill fitting ones! Those jeans were taken back to the shop and exchanged for a replica... because although they are only mediocre they would do until the day my life will change ... when I find a new pair of perfect jeans! I will not give up.

As I repeated the above a week later by lunging around the room etc after the new jeans were washed I finally reached the final stage when what should happen but the button then snapped off. Close to tears and feeling pretty frustrated that God insists on making my life with jeans so difficult I found myself back at the shop exchanging them whilst being looked at cynically because by now the shop assistant thinks I am in fact a bit of a con artist who is just wearing jeans, breaking them deliberately so I can get a new pair and she is also looking me up and down. I know what she's thinking! I can even hear her thoughts "Maybe you should just get a bigger size love". But the bigger size gapes at the back and then everytime I sit down the whole world sees my knickers which is a form of abuse on the public. It may work for Britney but I'll be honest I am not willing to risk it in normal every day life. In fact thong showing is equivalent to builders bums. It's not funny, it's not clever and it can't be comfortable.

So when the lady agreed to exchange the jeans I spotted another pair but this time a black pair. Hmmm interesting. Maybe I could get the perfect pair of black jeans! I arrived home and was suitably impressed with the fit. I will be able to tell more when they are washed but so far so good. That evening when I went out with friends I happily strode out in my new jeans spotting my reflection in the window and thinking maybe these were the ones that would solve all my problems of the jean area. How could I be so wrong? As I left the house I nearly tripped and fell as my heel on my shoe caught the back of the jeans and immediately created a hole in the hem of the jeans. Feeling fed up I perservered hoping that this would just give the jeans character. Unfortunately it then started to rain. As it did I noticed the colour of the jeans literally staining my feet (which were in open toe sandals for any foot fetish readers!). By the time I went to the toilet for the first time in the evening I noticed that the whole of the lower part of my body was now stained with black dye. This was fine as noone could see it but as the evening went on and the jeans were still slightly damp from the rain the dye was now leaking onto my fingers whenever I touched my jeans and staining my arms when I was not concentrating and had lent on arms on my knees. By the time I got home I looked like I had not had a wash in days and I have spent the whole day today scrubbing my skin to remove the staining and subsequently caused bruised feeling bright red skin all over my arms and legs.

So the quest is continuing and my life is far from complete. The quality is not how it used to be and like any other person who is lacking in their lives I will not give up on my journey to find the best jean partnership since cowboys and jeans. Lonely girl looking for fun, loyalty and a comfortable relationship seeks jeans, perfect fit and hardwearing with a good sense of humour. If you are out there jeans I'm looking for you... stay where you are I coming to get you!

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Sunday Blues...

From the moment I woke up this morning... sorry I keep forgetting I have promised honesty from my blog... From the moment I woke up this afternoon (oh the shame!)I have had a niggling feeling. At first I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Had I forgotten something? What was this feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach? I ran my fingers across my frown lines and realised that soon I would have to get those frown lines filled or half my fingers may get lost in them!What is it that was putting me in this mood that made me feel I was so angry I could break down a wall? (If only I had the energy to do so! Or more to the point if only I lived in some kind of warehouse where it didn't really matter if I broke down a wall because I could put one of the scary flapping plastic sheets up that Crockett and Tubbs always found in the warehouses that they went to when they were uncovering a drug gang in Miami Vice).

I got out of bed and made a hot cup of tea and sat down waiting for me to realise what it was that put me in such a foul mood. I make the point of saying it is a hot cup of tea for those of you out there who drink the putrid iced tea and call yourselves tea drinkers(you know who you are!). You wouldn't drink a boiling cup of Coke or Sprite why drink cold tea? I noticed a noise in my flat and nearly called out to find out what it was but realised it was my own groaning and then it hit me... It was SUNDAY! Which means tomorrow is Monday... which means the following;

1. Getting up early.
2. Wearing uncomfortable clothes.
3. Sitting at a desk all day rather than being in my preferred horizontal posture of lying down.
4. Answering calls and putting on a fake smile as taught by people giving those annoying courses about how to answer a phone and sound professional yet approachable.
5. Listening to peoples problems which don't get me wrong are very important to them but which have no relevance to the divorce proceedings I am preparing for them. "Yes I understand he was supposed to bring the dog back from his contact with the dog fed and he didn't and I think it is terrible that he took your dog to the dump and then the nearest swamp before bringing him home but really all I can do is write to his lawyer about this... no an injunction is not possible in these circumstances..."
6. Sit at a computer all day writing letters about equally irrelevant happenings and having to act like I care and this is extremely important and just generally quibbling over possessions that my client doesn't really want but doesn't want her husband to have!
7. Hearing the sound of the pigeons cooing in the air conditioning vent and wondering how many diseases I am catching from these pigeons throughout the day.
8. Listening to the inane phone conversations of work colleagues with their various husbands talking about irrelevant matters.

I could go on but the point of telling you all this is because when you work in open plan offices you learn the skill of blocking things out. You no longer feel self conscious when you make a personal call to shout at various electricity companies who just won't stop threatening to issue court proceedings against you for an account you never had with them. You quickly lose all your dignity and privacy as very soon every one in the office knows your habits. They know the way you work, the way you handle situations and how many times you go to the toilet each day. However, when you feel a bit unfocused (this happens oh I don't know about 100 times a week) or you just don't know where to start or what annoying person to speak to first you find that all of a sudden everyone's conversations and movements cannot be ignored. In fact they are magnified and amplified.

One particular day as I was busy preparing for a two day court hearing and feeling pretty stressed about the whole thing,I had had numerous conversations with a particular lady who worked in my office who insisted on coming over to my desk at various intervals to talk to me about unrelated matters. As I nodded in all the right places whilst she told me that her cat had pulled a rabbit into her hallway in the night and she woke up to a smeared carpet of rabbit remnants I tried to keep my coffee down at the thought of this. Yuk! I then started to rest my hands over my keyboard to show that I was poised for working and that this conversation was stopping me from doing that as I visualised her hallway in graphic details. (Think the film the Shining with the two twins in the hallway but no twins just a rabbit!)I was horrified when she told me that she had left the rabbit there and she would have to clean it up when she returned home because she didn't want to be late which completely amazed me because she always arrived about an hour early for work each day! Or so I'm told!I've never arrived that early and don't intend to!

When this particular colleague left my desk I returned to my work and tried to get the dead rabbit visions out of my mind. After what seemed like only a few minutes she was back beside my desk informing me that she didn't know what kind of car insurance she should get for her car. It turned out she had two cars but intended on selling one at a later date. However this brought up numerous dilemnas for her. Did she just insure one car? Did she get separate insurances? Should she try and get what is called "fleet insurance" to cover more than one car? I'll be honest with you I had no opinion then and I have no opinion on this subject now. But I will say this I never want to have another conversation like this in my life. I just didn't know what to say without screaming as so all I said was "hmmm I don't know that's a difficult one". I heard others in the office sniggering as they for some reason had no problem saying to her "I'm too busy to discuss this" and handing her things to do. I however would have to work my lunch hour to make up for the time I was wasting listening to this drivel.

After numerous returns by this woman and further discussions regarding her car insurance I was on the brink of crying out of pure frustration or just ringing security and asking them to escort her from the building or better still escort me!
It was soon lunchtime and I breathed a sigh of relief when she left to go and get her lunch. Within 10 minutes she was back. I tried to focus but she then insisted on ringing up various insurance companies and discussing at great length with them her dilemnas followed by repeating the various quotes she was getting before writing them down. Her voice seemed louder than normal and it was actually managing to fill my brain so I was unable to think. She was taking over my thoughts!

When her conversations were over I breathed a sigh of relief as she was silent for a few minutes before she returned to my desk. She then stood by me with a notepad and flicked through the pages informing me of the various quotes she had been given and repeating that she didn't know what to do. Again I nodded and told her it was a "difficult one and who knows what to do for the best". She returned to her desk again and I could hear her frantically texting. I'm guessing that she was texting her husband because ten seconds later he rang and a 20 minute loud conversation with her husband ensued regarding what the insurance companies had said. By the middle of this conversation I had stopped working and just stared at her back as her head bobbed up and down whilst she relayed the intricacies of car insurance to her husband. It wasn't until she put the phone down and I had put my fingers over my keyboard again to start work that I noticed she had not even put the phone receiver down. Oh no to save time she held the button and redialed the insurance companies to discuss things further after her discussions with her husband! At this point I decided that all I could do was pray for lightning to strike me. She had beaten me. I had lost the battle of sanity and could take no more.

And so it is days like this that torture me... days that make me want to retire early. And when I say early I mean tomorrow. These are the days that fill me with dread on a Sunday and make me lose the enjoyment of a day off because from the moment I wake up I realise that tomorrow I have to listen to all of this ... this .... well if I'm honest all of this crap! And I can't bear it. Perhaps I can ask about whether I can be given some headphones that they wear on gameshows when you are not allowed to hear the other persons answers... or better still a sound proof booth to sit in to work!

Did I mention I think I might be starting to hate work and people?! Well not all people but certainly some. So as I prepare for the week ahead I realise that it's not just Sunday blues but is now an extension into Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday blues... but I do like Fridays... then again who doesn't?

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Shopping in my pyjamas and the business acumen of Beryl!

As some of you will know I live in Jersey in the Channel Islands. It's a pretty strange place to move to but one that people are always interested in. It suits my personality because it doesn't really know where it fits in. It's part of the United Kingdom but it doesn't consider itself British. It's actually closer to France than England. It's a small island that is quite stubborn in it's loneliness and self sufficiency. It's kind of like a place that really doesn't want to get involved. It has actually got involved when it didn't want to like when the Germans occupied it in the Second World War but generally speaking it stands alone and proud! I admire it for that reason! It's the James Dean of the United Kingdom. A bit of a rebel and proud to be so. It has it's own bank notes and it's own courts. It also has no tax on cars and there is a maximum speed of 40 miles an hour all over the island. So you can imagine it is not a very fast pace of life. There are tax breaks over here and you are likely to earn more gross salary anyway! On the other hand it has a rather weird system where you have to obtain a kind of licence to buy a property here. You can get it through your job or you can get it by living on the island for a mere 12 years! If you get it through your job when you leave you are stripped of your licence. You have basically deserted them so they wash their hands of you! Ah my loyalty point again! Yes Jersey gives you no loyalty if you give them none. Also if you get the licence through work your rent will still be more expensive. You have not deserved your right to very cheap rent and so the cost of living can be quite pricey.

Generally speaking it is a lovely place to live. You are surrounded by lovely beaches (I know it's a bit obvious as it's an island but I'm building a picture for you here!) The weather is a fraction better than the UK in that it doesn't rain every day and when the weather is nice it's like being on a fabulous holiday.

So how could I find this place frustrating? Well as you will all know I live without any sky TV due to my sky dish being ripped off my wall without notice (I'm sorry I need to let this go I know but it is imbedded in my soul as a tormented memory of a life I could have with sky tv!).I find it hard to move on sometimes!

Apart from that there is another thing that drives me to complete despair and this is the lack of supermarkets! How can a place in the world today function without a big supermarket? Basically all the grocery shops are little shops or expensive boutique style grocery stores. The little shop next to my apartment is owned by a lovely but nosey woman called Beryl. She must be about 80 years old and she works a 13 hour day every day! Her shop is about as expensive as Harrods. This shop has pretty much everything you could possibly need but at the most extorninate prices. She handwrites all the prices on the packaging and rings them up on her till with delight sometimes even commenting on how expensive her own stock is but in a way that suggests it is completely out of control! So when I recently paid £4.50 for the smallest block of cheese I have ever seen and which I could eat in 2 bites. (You should know I have a real problem with cheese in that I can never just buy a block and put it in my fridge! Oh no! Once I have cheese I go backwards and forwards throughout the evening wrapping and unwrapping the cheese as it gets smaller and smaller cutting bits off and shoving them into my mouth. As I watch it getting smaller I think to myself "I'll save that for tomorrow" but as I'm wrapping the last miniscule bit back up I then say to myself "Sod it there's no point leaving that tiny bit" and I shove it in my mouth and swiftly chuck the packaging in the bin feeling slightly guilty but at the same time wishing I had more!)Anyway as I bought this smallest block of cheese known to man for £4.50 from Beryl she smiled a slightly evil smile and said "My goodness cheese is so expensive these days!" I grunted yes knowing that the problem was it would be finished by the time I had managed to think about what I would use it for as I cut small portions off it to make it last. How does she do it and make a profit?!

When my brother came to see me he went into the shop to buy a few things which would normally cost £5 but came to £9 and when he handed her a £20 note Beryl gave him change for a £10 note. He questioned her about this but then gave in as he felt sorry for her as she seems so old and frail. That's how I think she makes her fortune apart from her overpriced goods. She plays on her cuteness but this is a canny old lady! I try to give her exact change now! It's for the best! It really wouldn't suprise me at all if she was actually a young entrepreneur dressed up as an old woman as a ploy to make her millions!

I used to walk past her shop on my way to and from work but she would then start noticing when I was late or early for work... sorry who am I kidding she noticed that I was late for work and started asking what time I started work. I already suffer from guilt. Why put myself through it? So now I walk the long way to work which makes me later than before but leaves only my work colleagues noticing my lateness! I don't need the woman who runs the little shop next door making me feel worse than I already do.

One particular day I went to the shop which is approximately 12 steps from my apartment and I was having a lazy Saturday. At 3pm I was still in my pyjamas which I had convinced myself actually look like jogging bottoms. At least I thought I could get away with it! As I entered the shop which was packed with queues of people spending their hard earned money in Beryl's shop she was happily ringing up people's purchases at a slow speed and managing to distract customers of the prices with her cute lonely old person's chit chat when she immediately said hello to me. The whole shop turned round to look at me in my pyjamas (that looked like jogging bottoms - they would never know- I probably looked like I'd just come back from the gym! Little did they know I chuckled inwardly to myself!) but this was the moment I realised that Beryl was no fool and maybe just a little bit of a spiteful woman when she stopped ringing up her expensive stock and said in a loud voice "You just got out of bed have you?" Everyone stared at me with a kind of pity and kind of shock! They obviously had all been out early enjoying their day off but each to their own. I enjoy snoozing! I looked behind me wishing that there was someone behind me who was blattantly in their stripy pyjamas or nightdress and slippers but no typically I was alone to brace this comment. So being me all I could think of was "No I've just been to the gym". The disbelieving looks met me as I looked down at the flip flops on my feet which were not exactly gym wear and realised that I might just might have sleepies in my eyes. I was certain that my hair had that"just got out of bed look" with a pony tail that had without a doubt been slept in! But I decided I had to be confident to pull this off. Beryl couldn't let it go though and said " you look like you only just got up!" I ignored her and to avoid the stares set about picking up various goods I didn't need at high prices to act like I was busily shopping and to distract myself and others from my embarrassment and obvious sleepy look! I realised what an amazing business acumen Beryl has! It was yet another way of getting me to spend more! And I did.

As I walked away with a bag of items... yes one bag!... which came to £34 and which didn't actually manage to give me more than one meal which actually went together I made a mental note to start a petition to get a big supermarket over here. One which opened 24 hours so it was not abnormal to see people in their pyjamas (that look like jogging bottoms, honestly they do!) and where all the staff are in a daze due to how boring their job is and won't recognise you from week to week. They don't care what you buy, what you are wearing or how much you spend they just want to get home so that they don't have to sit there ringing things through their tills.

As "Beryl" the young twenty something entrepreneur takes off his Beryl suit and gets into bed to count his money tonight I wish him luck because he must be making a fortune and anyway Jersey is not ready for big supermarkets as they like to support their own but for those of us who love the anonominity of big supermarkets please give us a break sometimes! Please put some bargains on your shelves especially for us so that we don't feel robbed everytime we go into your shop! It's not a good feeling and we hate thinking it because you are dressed as an old woman and it makes us feel like a nasty bully picking on an old lady albeit a very rich one probably!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

What a difference a blog makes!

To those of you who read my blog regularly you might be wondering where the hell I've been and if I am just one of those fickle bloggers who starts a blog and doesn't continue when I have had enough nice comments to feed my ego... You may think we were just getting to know her what's going on or you may think "thank bloody god she has finally stopped moaning!" But for those of you who genuinely wondered I have been a bit down in the dumps. I'll be honest with you this happens to me sometimes and I can't shake it... everything seems difficult and nothing is really that funny; it's more frustrating! However, when I get over my moodiness I can normally look back and laugh at how difficult life can be!

And no offence to people who read this blog but you have all been so nice to me and complimentary, it can be a pressure! I've even accused my brother and sister of creating loads of accounts and putting comments on under different names to make me feel good. Their response was basically "we have lives Clare .. we don't have the time or inclination to make up comments on your blog to make you feel good!" First of all my immediate reaction is "What? They have lives?! How did that happen?!" I remember the days when being the baby of the family (which I am!) meant you got the most attention and everyone humoured me for being the cute little one! Now I'm told they have lives! I guess it's ok ... I mean I'm happy for them that they have lives but I am a little more than concerned that my neice at the age of 6 has a better social life than me! Whenever I ring her she is either at one of her many friend's houses playing or the friend is at her house or she is attending one of the many birthday parties of her friends, or going to bop or brownies or doing something else which involves her socialising! This means that cool Auntie Clare is suddenly boring! She speaks to me on the phone and asks me what i'm doing and the only thing I can ever say is "I'm on the phone to you!" To which she says "What were you doing before that?" and more often than not I say watching TV and she groans and says "boring .... bye".

Now don't get me wrong it has been lovely hearing such kind comments from you all but I almost feel that I'm waiting for the time you all turn against me! I mean I almost feel that if you met me you might be disappointed. I'm not bubbly ... regular readers will know I'm a self confessed grumpy person! I'm sarcastic by nature and generally weary of life. Very close friends think I'm funny and my family think I'm hilarious but then they have to love me! But I'm certainly an acquired taste! I find big groups of people a nightmare and even though I have been to university and am known as being pretty opinionated...put me in a room with a group of people and my mind goes completely blank. Not just struggling to think of things to say but almost as if I have been struck down with a terrible disorder that makes me completely mute and not have a thought in my head! I recently saw a video of myself and was struck by how awkward I am and to be honest how weird my mannerisms are... I appear to do lots of funny hand movements which I am not conscious of but then I am also know for my ability to bend just the end of my finger tips while the rest of my fingers are completely straight! Now you may wonder how I ever discovered such a skill and how useful this is? All I can tell you is I was a kid once and all in all a bit of an oddball! I spent hours figuring out how to do this with all my fingers and now I try and tell people how useful it is for giving directions. All you have to do is say straight ahead and on the left and it only takes one finger and bending my finger tip. Ok I admit that this has had little use to date but one day it may make me my fortune. You just never know!

Basically what I'm saying is I started writing this blog on my brother's advice in order to tell the world (ok that may be going a little too far but to tell a few people!) my frustrations rather than letting it all build up. While I can laugh about things I also am very aware of the fact that I'm a stress head! Little things in life can make me throw a tantrum like a three year old and so as I watch my nephew and neices(all under the age of 6) throw their tantrums I completely feel their frustration. The difference between them and me is they will probably grow out of it! As my blog got going I started to get readers and I have been excited about my blog ever since! When I see the comments or notice the amount of profile views I immediately tell all my family because it is nice to know that people are listening. The pressure builds though when I realise that I am only as good as my last blog... that I may be writing about things that annoy people or may eventually come to a stage where the only readers are my family. Although that would be ok because I never expected anyone else to bother it still means that, well don't go getting all big headed now, but I would miss you all!

I've always felt in life that friendships are transitory to a certain extent. This is less by choice than circumstance. Friends have let me down many times. People have hurt me but I've learnt that you can live without them and sometimes you meet better people or sometimes worse! I always have this feeling that when people discover the real me they suddenly find plenty to criticise! What were my alluring or exciting attributes soon become my faults. And so there is always a part of me in every friendship where I wonder if I will be found out for the difficult person I can be. The great thing about this blog is that I haven't actually hidden that! I've not tried to give you all a good impression. Sorry that's a bit rude of me but I haven't! Not because I don't think you are worth it but because I wanted to be honest! You all by now know I'm moody and frustrated with life and yet I do still find life amusing for all it's difficulties.

I am learning with every year I get older that I can work on my faults but that fundamentally I am who I am. I can't change myself and there are parts of me that are funny or different. I don't fit the mould always. I'm not your typical lawyer. I will go the extra mile for anyone and I have total loyalty to people I care about. However I am learning to demand loyalty from others which can make life hard when my expectations are not met! So now you are probably all scared wondering what will happen when you don't read my blog! I demand loyalty I tell you! The reality is I am not going to be everyone's favourite person nor am I going to get a massive ego about people who care enough to read this. I appreciate all your support! I will however give you this promise today that I will keep my blog going and will continue to try and amuse you when I can. All I ask is that you bear with me on down days or when I have a sense of humour failure because it won't last long and I will do my best to continue to see life from the funny side! What a difference a blog makes!