First things first – James Blunt.
Thanks for all your comments, people. It’s such a relief to find that I’m not the only inappropriate weeper, and that it’s not just me who thinks the song is a bit lame. Which it is. Crying at Great Art would be just about acceptable.
I was amused to see this letter in the Metro (our local free newspaper) a few days after the gym incident:
"My sister Annie is convinced James Blunt wrote the song You're Beautiful about her and that I was the 'other man' she was with when she smiled at him (on the Glasgow Underground). Thus I'm held responsible for ruining her chances of going out with a pop star and also for causing him to get depressed. If Mister Blunt is reading this then he should take heart. My sister is single and if he hangs around the Citrus club at the weekend then he should catch up with her..."
So there's hope for him yet.
I had a really nice weekend with the D. B.: I got to see his project and it seems very impressive to me. I went down on the Friday and his hand-in was Monday, so he did still have some work to do, but it was great just being with him. Somehow I never remember quite how lovely he is when we’re apart. I still think he’s lovely, but when we’re together it hits me afresh, and it’s a wonderful surprise.
Shock, horror – I made the tea on Sunday! You might have gathered that I’m not exactly the most domestic person you’ve ever met. As I live at home, usually the evening meal is made by the time I get home and rather shamefully, I hadn’t cooked a meal I was expecting anyone else to eat for months. (I do make my own tea from time to time, but I have low standards of edibility. If it’s reasonably nutritious, it’ll do.) But he was working, so I offered to make the tea and we had cheese soufflé, which rose, with new potatoes, carrots and broccoli, and then fruit salad.
I know that’s not the most difficult meal ever cooked. But I’ve been stressing slightly for months over the necessity of cooking once we are married, and I’m actually feeling much better about it now. It had just been such a long time since I had done it. As it happens, the D. B. is a much better cook than I am, but it isn’t really fair to expect him to do all the work!
On Monday he handed his project in. We stayed in town after that, celebrated with the other people from the course and then went off for a meal together. This was not the healthiest day I have ever spent. Chips featured heavily, while vegetables were pretty well absent. On the other hand, the weekend had contained quite a lot of walking, so I didn’t feel under-exercised.
The week after that was… a bit odd. I had made up my mind to audition for a musical theatre group that I’ve been involved with in the past. Last year, I didn’t get in to the show, but did some costume stuff for them so was still around. Various people had said to me that it was a shame I hadn’t got in, and that I should try out again, because they’d had an unusually high turnout. (“It’s not you, it’s me…”) The audition was on Thursday, so I spent the days before psyching myself up and humming the song to myself.
Well, I didn’t get in again. Probably I shouldn’t have tried out again, but I am incapable of bearing a grudge, and had persuaded myself that not auditioning was just cutting off my nose to spite my face. I’m not the greatest singer in the world, but I didn’t feel it had gone that badly. Maybe the others were all brilliant, who knows?
The people doing the auditioning were totally different this year, so it was without prejudice, and I don’t really blame anyone, but… well… I still wish I had got in. I love being in a show – the atmosphere of everyone working together, also the social life. This is partly selfish. It would be true to say I don’t have much of a social life at the moment. Post-university I seem to have fallen out of the loop, partly because many of my friends now live elsewhere, and the one uni friend who did live here has just moved away.
I could still go to some of the drama socials, but I don’t want to seem like a desperate hanger-on… is that pathetic?
In order to cheer myself up, I’ve been having a book orgy:
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Thud! by Terry Pratchett
A Tale of Time City by Diana Wynne Jones
Four Ways to Forgiveness by Ursula Le Guin
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Minor Arcana by Diana Wynne Jones
Stories of the Supernatural by John Buchan
Huntingtower by John Buchan
Castle Gay by John Buchan
True Tales of American Life edited by Neil Auster
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Now you know why I haven’t had time to write a blog entry for ages. Now that I write it down, I’m quite impressed by this list, especially since I also disposed of the newspaper most days, two copies of the New Scientist and a few other magazines that were lying around, and read Minor Arcana twice in that time. I mean, I’m a speed-reading book addict, but still.
In fact, I read Anansi Boys much too fast (in one sitting), and will have to read it again, more slowly. I’m beginning to feel that, much as I enjoy reading Neil Gaiman’s online journal, it sets up a very high expectation for his new stuff. Given that I’ve been vicariously present during much of the creation of Anansi Boys, I would have been really disappointed if it hadn’t lived up to my expectations, given that I’ve been waiting for it for all this time (the same was true of MirrorMask). So I almost didn’t want to start reading it, in case it wasn’t as good as I hoped. Whereas with Thud!, also new out last weekend, I knew it was coming only just before, and therefore didn’t have such a pitch of anxiety about it, even though I like Terry Pratchett a lot and would also be disappointed if he wrote a substandard book.
It’s all right though, because both books are good, although I notice that Thud! continues the trend I’ve seen in recent City Watch books to move further from “comic fantasy” to “quite serious book, with funny bits.” The tipping point for me was Night Watch, which isn’t really a comic novel, doesn’t contain much fantasy (well, there’s some time travel and a very brief zombie, but that’s it) and might well be my favourite Discworld book.
Anansi Boys, on the other hand, is definitely a comic novel, and contains some wonderful observational writing, although I will have to read it again before I’m certain where it lies on my personal Neil Novel Ranking (which currently has American Gods at the top – where it’ll probably stick – followed by Good Omens, Stardust, Coraline and Neverwhere).
I have been going to the gym (Four Ways to Forgiveness, Minor Arcana and Huntingtower were all partly read while on the crosstrainer) but if there’s a conflict between having time to exercise and having time to blog about it, exercising wins. It’s all been going fine, I think. I do wish the new cardio suite was cooler, though. The extra heat makes a surprising amount of difference – running is considerably more difficult. I’ve been trying to challenge myself, but am not making progress as fast as I’d hoped (and certainly not as fast as the Born Again Gym Bunny, who started running about the same time as me, I think, and has worked up to 10K. Why can’t I do that? Maybe because I don’t go every day).
Eating has been… OK, but I need to be a bit more vigilant, I think. More fruit, fewer carbs. After the Weekend of the Chips I got my period immediately, which confused things rather, but I think I gained a pound and then lost it again. So I was still at my lowest weight when I last checked, but it’s my lowest from 3 weeks ago. Which is not exactly progress.
On the other hand, I had a little milestone a few days ago. You know how I’ve been complaining that my jeans are too baggy? They’ve now reached the stage where they really don’t do anything for me – just hang there looking shapeless. I was vaguely wondering whether the time had now come to try some new ones on when it occurred to me that I have a pair of slightly smaller ones. I don’t know if there was a time when I physically couldn’t get into these – there may have been, but I stopped wearing them because they looked too tight.
Now they don’t. They look fine – in fact, I think they’re looser than when I bought them, which is a distinctly odd thought as I definitely had those at university. So I’ve presumably undone the damage that I did from taking very little exercise in my final year, which means I’m thinner than I’ve been for four years. I'm still trying to get my head around that...