Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Books 2016

When magazines do them, it's an end-of-year roundup. When I do it, it's 'OCD'.

Here's a list of everything I read in 2016.

  1. Moab is My Washpot - Stephen Fry
  2. The Rough Guide to Iceland - Rough Guides
  3. Before a trip with a friend. The many photos I took can be seen here.

  4. Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom - Nik Cohn
  5. Git wrote it when he was 22.

  6. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test - Tom Wolfe
  7. British as a Second Language - David Bennun
  8. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
  9. Nausea - Jean-Paul Sartre
  10. Pretty Honest - Sali Hughes
  11. (Featuring a Mirror Factory-appropriate cover)

  12. Words and Music: A History of Pop in the Shape of a City - Paul Morley
  13. We All Looked Up - Tommy Wallach
  14. Young Hearts Run Free: The Real Story of the 1970s - Dave Haslam
  15. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
  16. The name Evelyn Waugh always reminds me of a friend asking the librarian of our school's library for recommendations. After suggesting Waugh, my friend replied: "I don't really like books about war."

  17. Horrorstör - Grady Hendrix
  18. "...the only book you'll ever need about a haunted Scandinavian furniture superstore."

  19. Lighter than my Shadow - Katie Green
  20. The Night Manager - John le Carré
  21. Unspeakable Things - Laurie Penny
  22. They F*** You Up - Oliver James
  23. The Crying of Lot 49 - Thomas Pynchon.
  24. Only book on this list I gave up on, I'm afraid.

  25. Secrets of East Sussex - Sandy Hernu
  26. Bizarre Brighton - Christopher Horlock
  27. A Guide to the Buildings of Brighton - students and staff of the School of Architecture and Interior Design, Brighton Polytechnic
  28. Four Children and It - Jacqueline Wilson
  29. Candy Floss - Jacqueline Wilson
  30. Mr Stink - David Walliams
  31. The above three, checked out from Hove library's children's section, were inhaled over a period when I was very ill with food poisoning. I was about three weeks into a new job I hated. I decided if having food poisoning and reading books was preferable to my job, I'd better give it up. So I quit. I'm now currently happier and healthier temping for numerous departments. I enjoy the flexibility and variety. I also enjoy lying around reading books all day (minus the food poisoning).

  32. Beloved - Toni Morrison
  33. Understanding Human Nature - Alfred Adler
  34. Live at the Brixton Academy - Simon Parkes
  35. Lost in Music: A Pop Odyssey - Giles Smith
  36. Just Kids - Patti Smith
  37. Atonement - Ian McEwan
  38. Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys - Viv Albertine
  39. As good as everyone said it was.

  40. The Sleeper and the Spindle - Neil Gaiman
  41. Naming Monsters - Hannah Eaton
  42. The Humans - Matt Haig
  43. Guide to Life - Steven Appleby
  44. Beautiful You - Chuck Palahniuk
  45. Emergency Kit: Poems for Strange Times - Matthew Sweeney
  46. Confessions of a Crap Artist - Philip K. Dick
  47. Plays - Harold Pinter
  48. Strangeland - Tracey Emin
  49. Rocks Stars Stole My Life - Mark Ellen
  50. If You're Reading This I'm Already Dead - Andrew Nicoll
  51. Hansel & Gretel - Neil Gaiman
  52. Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe
  53. Overcoming Worry & Anxiety - Dr Jerry Kennard
  54. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - Robert A. Heinlein
  55. The Tattoo Dictionary - Trent Aitken-Smith + Ashley Tyson
  56. A Book for Her - Bridget Christie
  57. Cancer Vixen: A True Story - Marisa Acocella Marchetto
  58. Dublinesque - Enrique Vila-Matas
  59. Musrum - Eric Thacker
  60. Go Ask Alice - Anonymous
  61. The Book of Kells: An Illustrated Introduction to the Manuscript in Trinity College Dublin - Bernard Meehan
  62. Ireland - Lonely Planet people
  63. Before a trip there with the guy who bought me No.38 and let me borrow No.51, and is the reason not as many books got read in the latter half of the year as in the former ;)

  64. Understanding Autism for Dummies - Linda G. Rastelli and Stephen Shore
  65. He Shot Me Down - a whole bunch of people
  66. The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld - Jamie Bartlett.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Snail mail? FAIL MAIL

27th June 2016

Head of Alliance MRI Unit SOTC Scanner Princess Royal Hospital Lewes Road Haywards Heath West Sussex RH16 4EX

Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: MRI Spine lumbar and sacrel appointment 26/06/2016 9:15

I am writing regarding the above appointment which I was unable to attend.

The letter was dated 19th June and did not reach me until Friday 24th June. I had left early that morning for a trip away, so missed the post. I did not return until midnight on the Saturday and did not open my mail until midday Sunday, upon which I realised I’d missed the appointment. The appointment I had been chasing both the MRI department and Mr Carl Hardwidge’s secretary for details of on numerous occasions, mainly via email and telephone. Communication methods which I think would highly benefit the NHS.

For the 51p it cost to send me the letter I didn’t open until too late, a telephone call could have been made to inform me of the appointment. Better yet, an email could have been sent for free. When I phoned the MRI Unit to rearrange my appointment, the lady I spoke to (who was, to her credit, highly apologetic, courteous and quick to offer me a more convenient appointment – and I hope her pay reflects her skills, as I see frequently on the NHS job site admin roles which do not even pay the Living Wage) I asked why I had not been phoned or emailed. The reply was “We’re not on email.” Why on earth not? It’s a safe, reliable, fast form of communication. And we’re living in 2016. I get emails and texts from supermarkets informing of the progress of my food deliveries every step of the way. Why can this not be adopted for matters regarding important medical procedures?

The appointment I missed (with no voicemails of concern, asking me why I wasn’t in attendance) could also have gone to a patient more direly in need.

May I suggest:

  • Embracing modern modes of communication such as email
  • Recognising that patients may have to fit their appointments around the work and social lives – therefore phoning before an appointment is set to check it is suitable
  • Accepting patients such as myself, on medication for chronic pain which leads to drowsiness and not car owners, are offered afternoon appointments at a hospital location more convenient for them.

I would like my concerns raised at future team meetings and a reply confirming this will happen. I want to get the ball rolling on discarding outdated methods of contact between professionals and patients. Out with the fax machines, in with email. I will not hear this tosh that is frequently quoted in the media as reasons for not adopting email in the NHS – that it is ‘insecure’. Fax machines are not secure. Royal Mail is not secure. I risk my appointment letters going missing in the post or nosy neighbours/housemates peeping and accessing information pertaining to my health.

I would also like to know why it is up to me to inform Hurstwood Park Neurological Centre of the outcome of my results. This is a procedure which should be included in the duties of paid admin staff.

I would also like to point out that if I hadn’t been sitting on a waiting list since August 2015 to see Mr Hardwidge, I wouldn’t be needing this – an appointment for my third MRI – at all, as my second MRI wouldn’t have been so out-of-date by the time I got to be assessed by him. Mr Hardwidge’s secretary – could you also be kind enough to include on appointment letters patients may be required to remove their clothing. I was under the impression I was going in for a discussion, rather than a physical examination. I would have worn clothes and footwear easier to remove. Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Karen McDermott

Email: [redacted]

Cc: Neurosurgeon, Consultant in Pain Medicine, Patient Liaison Service, Chief Exec Princess Royal Hospital.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

10 Things That Make Me Feel Like A Grandma

  1. Gmail.
  2. Having to explain to Lahndahn friends what a 'Sloane Ranger' is.
  3. C'mon guys. Stop pretending you're younger than you are.

  4. What schoolgirls wear these days.
  5. This picture was brought to you by my 'any excuse to gawp at Gemma Arterton syndrome'

    A contentious issue, I'm fully aware. In myyyy day, skirts had to be knee-length. Hair had to be tied back. Nowadays I see girls in skirts that barely cover their fannies (the ones who haven't shaken off their puppy fat clearly uncomfortable in too-tight waistbands it takes to achieve a shorter length), long tresses flowing behind them.

    I often also wonder if they look forward to a time when they leave school and realise they needn't wear as much make up as all that anymore.

  6. Discovering there's a club that starts at 3am.
  7. Miley Cyrus.
  8. No-one even pays attention anymore, but srsly. Wth.

  9. Gifs.
  10. I know neither how to make one appear or where other people get their seemingly endless supply of pertinent reaction ones.

  11. When everyone gets emoji updates before I do.
  12. Even though my stupid phone supposedly automatically does updates every time it connects to my Wi-Fi. (Yes I know there's a way I could probably turn that off but busy bloggin' mmm'kay).

  13. Still calling DBS checks CRB checks.
  14. "Did you mean...?"

    "You know what I fuckin' meant."

  15. Innovation wonderment.
  16. Inspired by this Questionable Content strip while I was browsing some tryna figure out where the hell I'd got up to.


    I get bugged out by new discoveries, new inventions, the speed at which information is disseminated, how much of all this I'm going to miss out on when my body packs in. Or will I live on somehow in a better cyborg body? I get frustrated that I'm no good at this stuff because I want to help researchers. I guess I'll just write about my awe instead like some kind of flailing 21st C Keats. Ode on a contraceptive implant. Sonnet on Google Translate.

    Sometimes I just freeze with my mouse pointer hovering above the Spotify search box, considering the vast array of music at my fingertips. How do you pick one artist out of all those? Sometimes it's easier to keel under the pressure and close it rather than make that weighty decision. And continue humming this which has been stuck in my head for weeks. Ahhh, yes. Comfortable, numbing familiarity.

    (And don't get me started on YouTube).

    (Or iPlayer).

    (Or Netflix).

  17. Overhearing somebody say Yuck provided the soundtrack to their youth.

    Boy howdy. I was 26 first time I saw them live, I think. First band in Brighton I saw live, actually, although it might've been the Vaselines. I was so excited that bands I'd actually heard of were playing in this new town I went to see them all before my back decided it had had enough. Nowadays it's like "Would you like a free ticket to the Zombies?" and I'm like "meh no thanks".

    Soundtrack to my youth - well, teen years - was The Smiths, The Manics, Jeff Buckley, Fiona Apple, Hole, Smashing doubt this is all making someone else feel like a grandparent and I'm GLAD. I'm pleased I could pass that annoying feeling on. Enjoy.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Fannying About

Does anyone I know seriously get their minge unhinged?

Or is it (and far more likely, I suspect) a habit of female journalists with too much money to burn?

I ask as I started reading Caitlin Moran's recent piece for Esquire, and got distracted by the following extract(ion):

I used Veet once, for this thing my school did at the end of A-Levels where all the students had to go on stage and collect a certificate and give thanks. The guys wore suits and the girls wore special frocks, most opting for white. I wore a semi-transparent blindingly white chiffon type of number featuring sparkling silver butterflies, a slutty lil thing I'd fallen in love with on a rare trip back to the UK at the time, from New Look. I think it cost about £10. That's what I considered 'fancy'. Still do. It's rare I spend more than a fiver on a dress, being a frequenter of charity shops, and more greatly enamoured of things which cost more, like booze.

So yeah, 18 years old and I used cream to banish by muff. Disliking the plucked chicken/shop mannequin look and the time spent achieving said look, I've been a razor lady ever since, with a landing strip left on BECAUSE I'M A GROWN WOMAN NOT A LITTLE GIRL DAMMIT.

Sorry, for a moment I lost track of myself and forgot I was blogging instead of shouting - as I should've done - at a guy I dated at uni who gestured towards my nether regions and asked if I hadn't considered it would look better with it all lopped off. If only he'd taken the time to explain how the sensations would've benefited me when we were getting down to business instead of considering his own male gaze...

Anyway. So I've creamed (HURRR) but never waxed. Twenty quid a month to pay a stranger to wax off your pubes. Really? Does anyone I know really do this? I'm not going to judge. I'm just curious. Maybe I just move in different circles, but I've never once text a girlfriend asking her what she's up to tonight, and receive that as an answer. And I'd like to think we can tell each other these things. I'm totally not going to spill our secrets on the internet.

I know girls that get facials, visit tanning salons, get their nails done, get piercings, tattoos, magnificent things done with hair on other parts of the body...but this has never once popped up in conversation. I've been reading about it in Sali Hughes' book as well recently with as much intrigue. It's a thing that comes up time and time again in beauty columns etc, but certainly not in my everyday interactions with ladyfrenz.

Actually I don't know anyone who's moaned about the pain of getting their eyebrows threaded either. Does it not happen as much as the beauty columnists (often whether it's consciously or otherwise, bribed by billion-pound beauty industries to sell their products and services) like to imply it should? Or are me mates just keeping schtum, like? Maybe it's such an everyday (or monthly) procedure that it's just not worth nattering about.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

'Hold a Mirror Up'

An example:

Monday, 8 February 2016


"How was your weekend?"

The question often posed on a Monday (or Tuesdays, in my case, given that I normally take Mondays off to escape all of this). Is anyone really bothered by the answer? This jabbering is just an excuse to get out of work for five minutes without involving tea-making.

It bothers me when the answer is, "Oh, nothing much really, just a quiet one."

It makes me wonder what they're hiding.

Or maybe they're the sort of person I aspire to be, the sort of people who can veg without feeling guilty about it. If I settle down with a good book, my mind flickers to incomplete tasks that warrant attention. Doing roots. Working out. Writing to friends (yes, I still do this). Watching that documentary a friend recommended. Listening to new bands for research. Painting toenails. Sending over the family photos I promised to send my half bro and co (originally snapped last June, I believe). Developing that book idea. Dusting.

Maybe, these people who have 'chilled ones' and 'nothing much really's actually fucked off to Amsterdam for two days to sample all the delicacies it has to offer. They're not obliged to tell me.

But I've a sneaking suspicion they really did do bugger all. And I envy them.

I am currently booked up til July, I think. If I ever see a blank weekend in my diary, instead of treating myself, I often email one of my workplaces and ask if they could use an extra pair of hands. I can't just do nothing.

(That's a lie. I did rinse up four serieseses worth of Prison Break in about a month. But only in the evenings after completing my chores. Honest guv. And because I'd fallen in love with Wentworth Miller. Honestly, I hadn't had that much of a crush on a character since, and I shudder to admit this, but you must remember I would've been about seven, Omri Katz in Eerie Indiana).

The Love Katz, then and now. I hope you can still hear me over how loud that shirt is.

Come Wednesdays, we're already on to "Any plans for the weekend?". This involves me fishing out my diary because I can't remember a thing without it, and reeling off a list of stuff. When I ask the same question in polite return, I inevitably get, "Nothing much, really." They sometimes look a bit sad. I'd be fucking delighted.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016


I was recently standing in a long line of ladies at a tourist piss-stop between the geyser (which I loudly proclaimed to be a "GEEZAAHH!" at every opportunity) and the waterfall part of an excursion while holidaying in Iceland.

Naturally the queue for the gents was non-existent. I've asked the question before but I'll ask it again, in the hope I may have amassed readers exceeding those I can count on one paw since beginning this blog: ladies, what is it you do in there? I can only assume it's drugs.

When it was finally my turn, the woman leaving the cubicle said the flush didn't seem to be working. I replied saying I'd take my chances.

I glanced at the bowl full of used tissue, sighed, and pressed the flush. And do you know what? The paper drained away. Magic. Move over David Blaine.

"Come, it's okay to use the toilet now"

Okay, I know there are different flushes for different toilets. Some you have to press and hold. Some need a quick yank (I said 'YANK'). Sometimes you have to stand on the lid to reach the pulley. I know, because I have done this. In Heist, BTON. Which isn't there anymore. Presumably because those not as adventurous as I gave up trying to flush and it's now become a sewer tour.

But honestly ladies. It is neither brain science nor rocket surgery. Flush the pain away.

The amount of times I've seen a lass in nightclub loos turn her nose up, wincing at - gasp! - the sight of a bit of blimmin' bog roll curled up in a toilet bowl like a ghost snake (Ghost Snake, coming to a cinema near you). "Not using that one!" she'll sanctimoniously screech. All the other girls give the Ghost Snake a wide berth, envisaging the toilet from Trainspotting with the Loch Ness Monster rising from it. (Must be all the drugs they're on).

Except for me. I calmly go in, sigh, and flush. That's all there is to it.

There does seem to be a competition between women, and I've noticed this in various workplaces too when it concerns desk cleanliness, about who can appear to be the most disgusted by a bit of dirt. We've become a nation of wusses. When I think some of these women have babies whose bums they've wiped, who've regurgitated food all down their clothes, whose snot they've sucked, it does baffle me why excretions and their accompanying accessories which can so easily be removed at the touch of a button can cause so much offence.

And so I don't cause offence by saying "man up", I'll settle for "bog off" instead.