Out on a dike

Out on a dike phr. [mid 19-C] (US) going out in one's best clothes. [DIKED DOWN] I'm out as a dyke, occasionally out with a dyke. What I do when I'm out on a dike can become your business once I write about it here.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Twelve Books of Christmas

There is something enjoyable about making lists at the year end, and particularly if the items on those lists have already happened. So I'm going to show you part of my last diary entry from 1986. It makes me feel I already knew myself pretty well back then.

December 30th 1986

So, how was my Christmas?

Not too bad, thankyou, although I did feel decidedly ill Christmas Day. I felt as if I was going to develop a bad case of flu - I was shaking and had thumping headaches all day - but in the end it came out in just a simple cold, so I haven't suffered too much since, apart from feeling slightly as if I'm to be sick every now and then - which is not, I must make clear, due to eating too much or anything like that, for I haven't indulged half so much as I usually do. Saying that, I have just eaten my way through a large bag of Marks & Spencer's spring onion flavour crisps - but that's hardly my fault - I didn't realise what I was doing sitting here, and, anyway, I've got rather a passion for them - even if everyone else complains they smell terrible. I hadn't noticed!

Altogether I had twelve books of different descriptions. I had asked specifically for books this Christmas.

Let's see - what did I have?
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Literature
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Quotations
  • Roget's Thesaurus
  • The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath
  • Selected Poems Elizabeth Jennings
  • Persephone Jenny Joseph
  • Later Poems R.S. Thomas
  • Cagney and Lacey Serita Deborah Stevens
  • Wifey Judy Blume
  • Other Women Lisa Alther
  • The Swimming Pool Season Rose Tremain
  • and one Mum bought for herself,
    The Christmas Tree Jennifer Johnston,
    but gave to me because she was afraid to tell Dad she had been spending his money on herself instead of on Christmas presents!!

Hmm - that sums it up nicely, including the rather pointed comment about Mum spending Dad's money. Growing up, I did always have the sense that Dad felt he went out and earned the money, that it was his money, and the rest of us simply spent it. I'm glad to say he's far more relaxed about the way finances are shared now, and how they're spent.

As for the books I had for Christmas in 2006? Don't you want to know about those?
  • The Best of Smash Hits: The '80s
  • Robert Smith: The Cure & Wishful Thinking, an unofficial and unauthorised biography by Richard Carman
  • Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic Alison Bechdel

Does that indicate I'm becoming less literary and more musical? Not really. I guess it just proves how nostalgic I am for the 1980s. Mind you, I do have a new musical companion. I call him Spike. He's an i-Cat. We'll be grooving together to our favourite music during 2007.

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Five Things You May Not Know About Me

I'm honoured that Julie R. Enszer has tagged me for another meme. This one could be a bit difficult because I have a tendency to give a lot away; things simply spill out sometimes. And perhaps I enjoy talking about myself a little too much. Don't we all?

One thing I'd like to ask readers of this blog (although perhaps not now, and perhaps there aren't even very many of those readers) is: what are the main five things you already think you know about me? Some of those would be obvious, I'm sure, but I hope there might be a few surprises in there. Anyway, putting that aside, here are five things you maybe didn't know about me.

  1. It's impossible not to be influenced a little by the person who tags you, so I've also come up with an election theme for my first "thing". When I was fourteen, a mock election was held at my school and my English class was chosen to address the whole school as prospective candidates. Not being one to follow the crowd, I decided to stand for The Stronger Knicker Elastic Party - unknown until I invented them. I wish I still had my speech, because it was very uplifting (ho ho ho!), and I remember having props on stage (unless I fantasised that part later!) I was miles behind when all votes were counted. That didn't matter. What I remember most about this early political opportunity is the backing I got from the teachers and some of the Fifth Formers (the oldest students). The teachers weren't eligible to vote but a number of them walked through "my door" out of the assembly hall in order to indicate support. The younger students just thought I was being silly, but the teachers recognised I wasn't disrespecting or making fun of the task itself. They made me feel I was making a strong satirical and intellectual challenge to traditional party politics. And I believe I was. Even if I didn't know it when I started out. I've believed in the power of well-placed irony ever since.

  2. When I was eight or nine (maybe even a little older) I made up scenes in my head where I starred as Jim Bob from the Waltons. What more do you want me to say? Jim Bob was the only dude to be. The others were too old, and Elizabeth wasn't butch enough.

  3. I love playing those crane machines in the amusement arcades when I'm on holiday. I'm pretty good at it too. I've won quite a pile of unnecessarily ugly soft toys over the years. I will happily feed 20 pences, and sometimes pound coins into those machines until the jaw-like/claw-like mechanism rewards me with a win. I wander round them all carefully first, checking out the different prizes. I won't play for just any old tat or crap. Monkeys and gorillas are particular favourite winnings. One of my favourite wins of all time, though, has to be Andrew the Penguin. Do you remember him, from Creature Comforts? (I can't believe Andrew doesn't get a mention on that page!)

  4. I taught myself to juggle one Christmas (I think it must have been 1991) with a set of juggling bunnies. This was pretty fortunate because it meant I could take part in an HIV/AIDS awareness-raising event organised by LASS (Leicestershire AIDS Support Services), where a group of us took to the streets of Leicestershire (deepest rural Leicestershire in some cases) in full fancy dress. We made our own juggling balls out of balloons and lentils (do try this at home!), and they turned out very well. What didn't go down so well in some places - Coalville, a former coal-mining town being one of them - was our attempt to hand out bright pink carrier bags with the words "Promoting Sexual Health" emblazoned on them. Oh well! A few years later (1995) I started working for LASS with the Women's Health in Prostitution (WHIP!) project and one day I made an emergency delivery of condoms, by bicycle, to a woman who worked from her home basement.

  5. When I was a child my favourite colour was yellow. This was helpful because I have an older sister and brother whose favourite colours, respectively, were blue and red. So I always got to play with my favourite colour marker when we played games with red, blue, green and yellow icons (or versions thereof). Now, I'd say my favourite colour is orange. Closely followed by green, leaning to the khaki end of green when it comes to clothes.

I tag:
  • Kellie of The Book of Kellies, because I hope she will be glad to know I'm still alive and well in the blogosphere

  • Eloise of The Tyranny of Toast and Tea, because she was so good at responding to the last meme

  • Gavin Stewart of Betwixt & Between, because he's just been awarded his PhD (congratulations Gavin!) and he must surely need something else to think about!
So - go on - write down five things about yourself that others probably don't know, and pass it on.

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