Category Archives: memes

Happy bloggiversary

It’s been a year now, and the time has come for the traditional taking of stock.

I arrived here on May 10th 2006 with few expectations:

I want to see what happens when you start over again in a place where you have no history and no credit. … This is a step outside [my] comfort zones, to see what happens when – without any background or explanation – a person starts to blog.

I set out my store fairly early. This was to be about anything that grabbed my attention, but my private circumstances would remain private. Yeah, right. I am too fond of blog-streaking to maintain an air of mysterious anonymity, and in fact in my third post I was discussing my reaction to violent erotica. At that time no-one knew I blogged here and the anonymity went to my head. By Post 5 I’d got stuck right in and was discussing how I define my sexuality.

So much for just sticking with ideas.

Reacting

Fame on the cards for Ms Patronising HubrisOf course my Big Blogging Event has been the MMC and MTAS debacle. For a while there were no informed, independent explanations of what was going on and the Patients’ Guides brought me what every blogger wants: glory, recognition and in-bound links, but I didn’t have anywhere I could kick back and let loose.

Once I’d unburdened myself, I needed to return to my random ways even though it meant reducing my stats. So now I blog about MMC and MTAS only when it all becomes too much. Not quite true. The whole thing leaves me speechless and I find photoshoping about MMC and MTAS strangely soothing. I am not sure if it was FerretFancier or Dr Rant who produced the Most Wanted image, but I was delighted to find it in pole position in Google Images the other day:

My other Big Blogging Event was a brain-dump about questions which was a compulsive expression of several years’ thinking about questions, and which was met with a resounding silence with the noble exceptions of Kelli and Sol.

Writing

Moving further back in time, I was still finding my feet in the first part of last summer, and many of my entries aren’t worth the pixels they are displayed with. However, here are half a dozen blog entries from May, June and July last year which missed out rather by being written in those early, low traffic days.

In fact, of course, the whole thing is simple self-indulgence about me, me, me. Which make’s Sol’s question about her style all the more interesting.

Reading

The other half of the blogosphere is the blogs one reads. The most delightful post of the year was, without a doubt, the Candy Battle of Helm’s Deep.

The most upsetting blog-reading and posting experience I had was, by a long way, chez icanplainlysee. I’ve been abused online and offline before, I’ve been disagreed with. But this was the first time I’ve been disappeared. On the other hand, this did help me find the intelligent dissenters listed on my blogroll as “Classy Aenenomies”.

Charlotte’s posts about her children enthral me, partly because Charlotte herself shines through so strongly and partly because she does not take anything for granted.

I steer clear of rabidly feminyst blogs, mainly because this sort of thing enrages me. On the other hand, I have the bottom image from this post on my kitchen wall.

The Eerie Apricot’s description of a school concert where the parents are too exited to shut up and pay attention to their kids on stage has disturbed me and depressed me since I read it. Unfortunately she has deleted her blog.

Mr Angry’s posts on the IT industry almost always having me laughing, except when they make me wince.

It is difficult to pick a single post from Compartments because she is one of the most consistent bloggers out there; here is just one example of her clear-eyed intelligence about the world she half-inhabits.

There are a large number of FtM bloggers out there but the only two that I read regularly are also doctors. Nathaniel is in the process of transitioning. Z is more interested in being a doctor and human being.

Forecasting

However, a year on I am even less sure why I blog than I was when I started.

Thinking Bloggers

That nice Dr Crippen has tagged me with a meme. He’s a bit fierce about it. He says:

The participation rules are simple:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme

3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote

This has put me on my mettle, rather. I am easily distracted so just about anything can make me think. However there are blogs that do regularly prod my mental horizons in different ways, and here are five of them strictly in alphabetical order:

1) A Boy Revealed writes about his transition to physical maleness. It’s not an easy journey. He is transitioning while at Med School in the USA. Some days he’s pissed off. Some days he’s excited. Some days he’s vulnerable. It would be patronising to describe him as “brave” because bravery implies some kind of choice. He’s just doing it. That ruthless facing up to inevitability is something that I deeply respect.

2) Then there is Compartments. She writes intelligently and insightfully about her compartmentalised life, giving us glimpses of her work as an escort, what she gets out of it and how it affects her. I like her honesty and self-awareness. She’s someone else I have considerable respect for, and she writes a blog I come back to again and again.

3) Jessi – whose strap-line is “What is this life but a Passionate Engagement?” – What, indeed. This is a blog that leaves me facing my own prejudices in the mirror and blinking. Jessi has all the intellectual and personal attributes I value or find attractive: self-awareness, compassion, wit, a sense of humour, a passion for life, the ability to think, the ability to write. She is also deeply and thoughtfully Christian. Try as I might, I cannot dismiss her or her faith. There are few things in this world that give me greater internal cognitive dissonances than intelligent, thinking Christians. I like her, and I like her blog. It would be so much easier for me if I didn’t.

4) Solnushka next for sheer eclecticism. A virtue (ha!) I value highly. Sol, again, is one who writes with insight and wit, allowing me glimpses of things I’ve never thought about and experiences I’ve never had. Her recent description of how to be noticed if you play the double bass is a delight, her reflections on culture shock intrigue me, and I just plain love her stories about Russia.

5) You are Sleeping – irreverent, arrogant, angry, pertinent, impertinent, witty, economical, deft, funny. A man who can do more with a ten word caption than I can do with a thousand words and footnotes. I bow before him.

I’m going to give a special mention to Reed; her way with a metaphor is a wonder to behold and her blog is always a delight. Her occasional opinion-pieces are tours de force of articulate passion. If I’m plugging others, I am damn well going to plug hers. Special mentions also to Bloglily, Charlotte Otter, Diana Higgins and the Eerie Apricot because they open doors onto considered and interesting lives being lived at some mental, cultural or emotional distance from mine. And they write well.

So, an eclectic mix, as you’d expect. There are others, but these are the blogs that most regularly provide grist for my mental mill.

Blog-streaking again

Ms Belgian Waffle has given us a wonderful list of new words and bad behaviours:

– EGO-SURFING: When you frequently check your name and reputation on the Internet.

Guilty as charged. Ok, not frequently, and not always my actual name. Sometimes it’s my alias I check. But my maiden name used to be a google-whack. I mean, how cool was that? Fortunately, if you google “Aphra Behn” you find her, not me.

– BLOG STREAKING: “Revealing secrets or personal information online which for everybody’s sake would be best kept private.”

Yep. Yeppity yep. Yeppity yeppity yep-yep.

The really embarrassing thing is I’m a sociable creature. It’s odd meeting people who you wouldn’t recognise from Adam, who know your Most Embarrassing Sexual Moment, (trust me, you don’t want to know), the Name They Called You at Infant School, (you don’t want to know that, either), and the fact that your cat’s got worms. (You see, you didn’t want to know it, did you?)

– CRACKBERRY: “The curse of the modern executive: not being able to stop checking your BlackBerry, even at your grandmother’s funeral.” (A BlackBerry is a popular handheld device that can be used for phoning, emailing and web-browsing).

No. I’m ok with that. I can even ignore my mobile for – oh – a whole hour. OK?

– GOOGLE-STALKING: Defined as “snooping online on old friends, colleagues or first dates.”

Ah. Well. Yes. Maybe.

Did you know that you can set up alerts on google so it emails you whenever a particular word, phrase or – er – name appears in an online news report.

Shameful, isn’t it?

– CYBERCHONDRIA: “A headache and a particular rash at the same time? Extensive online research tells you it must be cancer.”

Ach, who cares. I have a doctor to answer those questions for me.

– PHOTOLURKING: Flicking through a photo album of someone you’ve never met.

Not really. I prefer words to pictures.

– WIKIPEDIHOLISM: Excess devotion to contributing to the online collaborative encyclopaedia, Wikipedia. (Wikipedia even has a page where you can test whether you’re an addict: (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wik…ic-Test)).

Not me, but my friend Tony and my friend Lucinda. Loved ’em to pieces, but lost ’em when they discovered they’d got a wiki side.

– CHEESEPODDING: Downloading of a song “so cheesy that you could cover it in plastic wrap and sell it at the deli counter.” Cheesepodders are especially vulnerable to soft-rock favourites from the 1970s.

Ach no. Can’t be bothered. But I am addicted to Listen Again.

Wanna be tagged? Wanna make it a meme?

Festive Quiz

This quiz makes some assumptions about the way that various mid-winter festivals are celebrated in the modern world. Feel free to change it to suit your circumstances.

Which mid-winter festival(s) did your family celebrate when you were a child?

Christmas

Which mid-winter festival(s) do you celebrate as an adult?

None. Oh, ok. Christmas if you insist.

And New Year, so long as it doesn’t involve being snogged by strangers.

Earliest Midwinter / Christmas / Hanukkah / Diwali / Solstice / New Year / etc memory?

Not sure, just a general feeling of sustained excitement, I think. It was always wonderful when the Christmas decorations go up.

How did you find out that Santa does not exist?

Again, I am not sure, I think I always knew he came into the same category as fairy-stories – I remember writing my Christmas Letter to Santa and burning it on the fire, thinking “well, the grown-ups expect it, don’t they”.

How old were you?

See above. 5?

Bestest ever ever EVER present?

A toy typewriter. Aged 5. Though I was bitterly disappointed that it took me another decade to learn to type.

It’s better to give than receive – which gift that you gave someone else pleased you the most to give?

Tricky, this one. I gave my father a garden bench once, but that was a birthday present. But it did please me to give it to him.

Favourite festive tradition?

Carol singing, as a singer or an audient. But it must be real singers and real carols. I have been known to accost the organisers of mechanical carol floats and abuse them. It is just possible that abusing the organisers of mechanical carol singing is in fact my favourite festive tradition.

Least favourite festive tradition?

Over-eating. In what possible world do we need mincemeat pies and christmas cake and christmas pudding and stollen and marzipan logs all on the same day? The trouble is that we have accreted traditions rather than selected them.

What do you eat for your main festival meal?

Turkey and trimmings usually, and christmas pud.

Who prepares it?

It varies, this year it’ll be me and the one I prepare meals with.

How long is your (Christmas) card list?

Dunno. 30-ish. It used to be longer, but my most recently gained friends are on-line.

Presents – all at once or one at a time?

One at a time, for preference. I’m nosey and like to see who’s got what.

Worst ever festive memory?

Flu. Real, bone aching, head throbbing, feverish, wish-I-were-dead-RIGHT-NOW flu.

Just what, exactly, do you understand by the phrase “all the trimmings”?

Cocktail saussages with streaky bacon wrapped around them. Roast potatoes. Sprouts. Carrots. Another veg, probably leeks. Stuffing, two kinds, one each end. And gravy which has had to be seived, because there was a sudden disaster with the flour.

Stocking or pillow-case?

Stocking.

Queen’s speech or James Bond?

Neither Either. Not bothered.

Best yule-tide film?

Another tricky one, because I watch so few movies. I am trying really hard not to type “It’s a Wonderful Life”, especially as I’ve only seen about 45 minutes of it.

Least toe-curlingly awful Seasonal Special of a normal TV show?

Got to be Angela Rippon’s appearance on Morcambe and Wise. Who’d have thought she had legs, let alone such long ones. I can actually remember the feeling of “oh my god, what’s happened, it’s CHRISTMAS, it must be something AWFUL” when she appeared on the screen when it first went out. Yes, I am that old. Just.

Strangest festive tradition or habit of a family other than your own?

My former in-laws all open their presents at the same time, rip the paper and throw it away afterwards. This deeply shocked me the first time I spent Christmas with them. It also meant that I’d no idea who’d got what for Christmas. Very disappointing if you’re half as curious about these things as I was.

Oh, and they play Canasta. Or scrabble.

How early is “too early” as in “Christmas starts too early these days”?

You don’t want to know my answer to this one. More realistically, anything before December is “too early” in my book.

Have you ever been to the appropriate religious ceremony on the festive day, such as Midnight Mass or Eucharist on Christmas Day If so, when was the last time you went?

Midnight mass – I went two years ago; I rather like Midnight Mass. Church on Christmas Day? A year or so before that, as light relief from the Buddhists. I’d been to a Buddhist Puja on the same day, which was peaceful.

(UK only) Farepak – have you given? http://www.farepakresponsefund.org.uk/

Not yet.

Single mother, pregnant and homeless? Crisis is another appropriate cause.

Those Christmas puds look good.

Gender meme

It’s not mimetic and lazy blogging. It’s feminism. Right? This is mandarine’s gender meme.

1. Three things you do that women usually do

Wear matching undies.

Come over all unnecessary near firemen.

Wear perfume.

2. Three things you do that men usually do

Negotiate with builders.

Rebuild the household PC.

Fall deeply asleep immediately after sex.

3. Three things you do that women usually don’t do

Reverse park in on go, three weeks out of four anyway.

Swear. Like a fucking trooper. In a sewer.

Drive more than 20,000 miles a year.

4. Three things you do that men usually don’t do

Spend four hours solid on the phone to a girlfriend, and at the same time finish the ironing, cook supper, sort the laundry and tidy the kitchen.

Have my legs and underarms waxed. Though in this meterosexual world, that’s hardly a differentiator.

Dye my hair.

5. Three things you don’t do that women usually do

Shower or bathe every day. I am well socialised so most of the time I’m hygenic but left to myself I’d be, well, left to myself.

Iron sheets. I don’t iron anything much really, which is why finishing the ironing doesn’t take long, but is put off for months.

Bitch about people; I never say anything behind somone’s back that I wouldn’t – in a pinch – be willing to say to their face.

6. Three things you don’t do that men usually do

Watch sport.

Drink beer.

Mow the lawn. Ever.

7. Three things you don’t do that women usually don’t do

Fart in public.

Tailgate.

Choose someone else as the nominated driver.

8. Three things you don’t do that men usually don’t do

Calorie count.

Lie about my age.

Disagree with my escort in public. Gentlemen don’t do this, and neither do I.

Saved by a meme

Once again, Charlotte comes to my rescue: Saved by a meme indeed:

1. Explain what ended your last relationship

Ah. One of the unsolved mysteries of the universe that one. Wish I knew. In the words of Peter Green, “I could tell you about my life. It’d keep you amused, I’m sure”.

2. When was the last time you shaved?

Years ago. I wax, or I get other people to wax me.

3. What were you doing at 8am today?

Swimming. Length 28 or thereabouts.

4. What were you doing 15 minutes ago?

Cooking. Reading my emails. Looking at my blog stats. Making a cup of tea.


5. Are you any good at maths?

Yes.

I also have an unfortunate penchent for creating mathmaticky jokes. Is it because i is imaginary?

6. Your prom night?

British. We don’t have prom nights.

7. Do you have any famous ancestors?

Not that I can think of. I do have one who was hanged in Edinburgh for stealing a sheep on a Sunday. Any other day of the week and we’d have all been Australians.

8. Did you have to take out a loan for university?

We had grants when I did my first degree. I have a loan for my Masters, which is oddly related to #1. But we don’t go there.

9. Do you know the words to the song on your Myspace profile?

I doubt it.

10. Last thing received in the mail?

National Trust Membership card.

11. What beverages have you had today?

Tea. Tea. Red Bull. Spiced Chai. Spiced Chai.

12. Do you leave messages on people’s answering machines.

Most of the time.

13. Whom did you lose your CONCERT virginity to?

The Eagles. Though I find that hard to believe.

Oh.

God.

No.

It was Cliff Richard.

At the Albert Hall.

The shame.

14. Do you draw your name in the sand when you go to the beach?

No. I photograph other peoples’ valentines.

Blackpool Valentine

15. What is the most painful dental procedure you have ever had?

None. I tend to pass time at the dentist in sexual fantasy. Not about the dentist, you understand. I discovered this when I had a dental appointment after an unexpected trotting-out the night before. In the words of Dr Hook: “The best ones are re-runs if you know what I mean”. Since then I associate dentistry with sexual reminiscences and huge bills.

16. What is out your back door?

I don’t actually have a back door.

17. Any plans for Friday night?

Seeing “Thatcher the Musical” with the one I see musicals with and with a long-term internet wierdo friend of mine.

18. Do you like what the ocean does to your hair?

Actually no. I have a sense of humour failure about things which put my hair out of condition.

19. Have you ever received one of those big tins with three different kinds of popcorn?

No. But my life has been rich and full in many ways, and I don’t feel deprived. Also, I know how to make popcorn.

20. Have you ever been to a planetarium?

Yes.

21. Do you re-use towels after you shower?

Er…. yes.

22. Some things you are excited about

Ah well. Snowdrops. I get excited about snowdrops. And full moons. Particularly ones where I can drive on back roads without my lights on. And Waitrose’s lemon cheesecake. And unexpected cheques in the post. And pantomimes. I like pantomimes.

23. Your favourite Jello flavour

Not sure.

24. Describe your key chain

A 3″ Virgin branded biro, my house keys, my car keys, the keys to the house of the one I visit some weekends, the keys of my friend’s house “just in case”, a “Sentinel” numbered key fob, and a trolley-coin the size of a £1 bit for using in lockers and super-market troleys.

25. Where do you keep your change?

In my purse.

26. What winter coat do you own?

How long have you got?

A dark red velvet trench coat made in Nepal which I love but don’t wear very much

A dark blue wool trench coat I bought as an Investment Purchase 20 years ago, and a good investment it proved to be

A green wax jacket I bought over 20 years ago when I was temping at a clothing wholesaler

A black mid-thigh length dannimac jacket with a black furry collar

A black fleece marked “Outback Eclipse December 2002” from the Eclipse in Ceduna

A red mid-thigh length padded dannimac style jacket which needs dry cleaning

A blue suede jacket I bought in a farmers’ warehouse in Sweden

A – ahem – er – fur coat my ex husband bought for me, which has proven useful in sexual encounters and midnight trips to church

I can’t think of any others right now. When I buy coats, I tend to keep them.

27. What was the weather like on your graduation day?

Ah. Embarrassing this. I didn’t actually graduate. Good job it was before Student Loans, eh?

28. Do you sleep with your bedroom door open or closed?

Open. I have cats.

Five things you may not know about Aphra Behn

  1. Her husband was Dutch, and she was widowed at the age of 25
  2. She spent part of her childhood and adolescence in West Africa
  3. It is difficult to determine her sexuality from her writings, though there is more than a hint of bisexuality or lesbianism
  4. She was described with the epithet “the punk and poetess”, punk meaning “whore”
  5. It was rumoured that she was mistress to James II, which is one of the few aspects of her life one would wish to know nothing else about

Fictional Characters

I got this from Charlotte, but she credits it to Emily, and here are my answers:

The Fictional Character Meme

1. Which fictional character frightens you the most?

Milo Minderbinder from Catch-22. He is mindlessly, heartlessly mercenary and has no moral compunction whatsoever. What I find frightening about him is his casual, almost inadvertent ruthlessness. He follows the logic of the dollar, and so what for the rest? (I could draw parallells about votes and oil businesses and sandy places, but I’ll spare you).

2. Which fictional parents do you most wish you had?

The parents from Swallows and Amazons who set a high bar and empowered their kids through trust: “better drowned than duffers, if not duffers won’t drown”. How likely is it that any modern parents would give such unsupervised freedom to pre-teens and young teenagers? Though I do wonder how much time the children’s mother spent searching the lake with a pair of binoculars.

3. Which fictional character has the most balls?

The scene in Cool Hand Luke where Paul Newman is knocked down the ground and gets up, is knocked down and gets up, is knocked down and gets up first gave me the idea that it may not actually be about winning, it may just be about surviving. Based on that, and rather depressingly, the generic Dick Francis hero has that same relentless stoicism. In a useless attempt to dig myself out of this formulaic pit, I’d suggest Lymond from the Game of Kings series by Dorothy Dunnett, but his stoicism is jut irritating rather than admirable.

4. To which fictional character’s home would you most like to be invited for dinner?

Nanny Ogg’s. (I am such a lightweight when it comes to fiction). You wouldn’t know who you’d be going to meet, but the company would be ribald, the food plentiful, the scumble mostly apples, and you wouldn’t have to lift a finger for browbeaten daughters-in-law serving the meal and washing up afterwards.

5. If you could invite three fictional couples to your own house for dinner, who would they be?

Calypso and Hector Grant, mainly for Calypso to be honest, I’ve always been mesmerised by her cool blonde sexiness. Clovis, from Saki’s short stories, is single. Well he’s clearly gay. He is also extremely witty. Unfortunately I cannot think off the top of my head of a suitable male partner for him, but I have always liked Miriam from The Woman in White, is also single, also witty and also an outsider. (Why did Collins marry his hero off to the blonde bimbo, when Miriam was there all along?) My final couple are fictional but not literary. They are Morticia and Gomez Addams. Sexy again, outsiders again, they are devoted to each other, sophisticated, and charming.

6. Which fictional character could probably entice you into his/her bed?

I have always had the serious hots for Demerel in Georgette Heyer’s Venetia for, argggh, almost 30 years now. Low-brow once again, but either of them could bed me any time they liked. More poshly, Tybalt for some reason is even more compelling than Mercutio, and they are both pretty damn compelling. Not sure I fancy either of them now I’m past 14 myself though.

7. Which fictional character would most likely have broken your heart?

Odysseus. Sexy. Intelligent. Unfaithful. Clever. Witty. A loner. Well travelled. In bed with someone else right now. Bastard.

8. In which fictional character’s home would you most like to live?

Mrs Tiggiwinkle’s. I almost do, though one of Molly Keane’s grand Anglo-Irish mansions would be rather wonderful too. All that walking and riding and countryside and light and rain. And servants. I like the idea of servants.