Thursday, 30 June 2011

House Sitter.

The great thing about being a freelance writer is that you can work anywhere you want. You can also take on any amount of small jobs to keep your supplies of gin and creme de la mer from being depleted while you're in between articles / columns / poison pen letters. Earlier today I was thinking of a nursery rhyme from my youth called Old Mother Hubbard (who never had any food in her cupboards). I bet that crazy old bitch was a freelance writer too, she just didn't realise she could have earned a crust doing some other work.

I, on the other hand, have found my calling, or my second choice career if the writing doesn't afford me all the luxuries I deserve. It's something so simple, yet so fun and something anyone can do if you know how to open a street door and switch off an intruder alarm. No, I haven't found a latent talent for breaking and entering, I'm house sitting.
I cannot believe I've never thought of this before. It's something I should have considered even when I was gainfully employed. I have taken possession of the keys to a lovely four bedroom property with two bathrooms, a well stocked fridge and booze cabinet, a huge garden and a rather crazy dog. I have it for a full week and it's literally five minutes drive from my own flat (which while I'm here I'll be using as a walk in wardrobe).

The owner has gone away on holiday and thought I would be the perfect candidate to keep an eye on things. I didn't have to think twice about taking ( actually, it was more of a snatch) the money he was offering, along with his car keys, alarm code and gym pass. All I need to do is feed & walk the dog and make sure the house doesn't burn to the ground.

What I'm not allowed to do is:
Have any wild parties
Wear any of his clothes
Try to break the code for the safe
Impersonate him if arrested

I'm trying my hardest to keep within these very restrictive and unfair rules so I've decided to use them as guidelines only. I'm certainly not going to have any wild parties, not on a week night anyway but I have organised a little get together. It's my nieces 18th birthday and I promised her months ago that I'd find her an amazing venue. It had totally slipped my mind but now fate has thrown this house into my lap I may as well make the most of it. My niece is crazy about social networking so I've said that the guest list is to be kept strictly to an open invite on Facebook and she's not to put it on twitter. I figure if I keep the rules of attendance to no ginger hair or tattoos for the girls and no missing teeth or facial scars for the boys it should be a relatively safe crowd. I'm currently training the dog to attack redheads by dressing the owners real goose feather pillows as orphan Annie and tying them to the back of his lawn mower. I'd say the garden has never looked better but it's currently covered in a sea of white. It looks like Donald Duck took residence in a hanging basket and had a severe attack of alopecia.

I've only worn a couple of items of his clothing. If truth be told he's a lot taller than me and it took me so long this morning to shorten the legs of his jeans that I gave up after the second pair. He has extra long arms too so I've taken the liberty of turning most of his sweaters into tank tops. Hopefully that will teach him to straighten his shoulders when he walks and will stop him dragging his knuckles on the floor. He looked furious when I shouted that he walked like a big, fat, constipated orangutan when the taxi arrived to take him and his family to the airport, even the taxi driver thought I was hilarious.  I've absolutely not even looked in his underwear drawer so I know for certain that's not where he keeps his stash of pornography and herbal cigarettes. If he asks why the dog had to be rushed to the vets and was asleep for two days I'll say she must have opened that drawer herself. The dog is really fussy about what she eats anyway, she didn't even go near next doors cat even after I went to all the trouble of catching it for her.

I've given up on trying to get into the safe. It's so ridiculous to have one built into the floorboards anyway. I had to rip up all the carpet in his youngest daughters bedroom just to find it. I didn't even bother trying to crack the code. I thought a few heavy blows with a sledgehammer and then a little experiment with some homemade explosives might do it. The whole bedroom is a mess! The collection of Barbies that were lining the walls look like they've just spent 12 days down a Chilean mine. Anyway, I have real suspicions his daughter is a secret smoker after I found a packet of twenty hidden in her pyjama case.

I don't understand why the police arrested me for misleading them. If it wasn't for his nosey neighbour taking offence at my reversing into her living room in his 4x4 they never would have guessed I wasn't the legal owner of that car anyway. How was I know to know the car was in reverse? I guess I shouldn't have just put pedal to metal but I totally forgot I'd left Muffy in the park until I was brushing my teeth and getting ready for bed. She looked so pleased to see me as I scaled the fence and untied her from that tree. I've even sewed a patch on the hole I ripped in that beautiful cashmere sweater when I eased her back through the mesh wire, her ear has stopped bleeding now too.

I am loving my second career as a house sitter. I've really had a fabulous time. It's been a well earned rest for me and has got me fired up and ready to start writing again. I'm thinking of advertising my services but I think word of mouth will probably get me all the work I deserve. It's a very close and exclusive neighbourhood and I know people are talking about me already. I'm just surprised that the owner of the house is cutting his holiday short and trying to come home on the "first available flight". Least I think that's what he said, it was hard to hear with all the screaming and shouting going on in the background. He happened to call the night I held my nieces party and a couple of ginger girls had taken offence at not being allowed in and started smashing the kitchen windows. I hope he doesn't think me rude or ill mannered but I had to put the phone down and deal with that and then those boys with no teeth arrived and well, let's just say Muffy hasn't been the same since.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Why we were all dying to get into Glastonbury this year . . .

I watched some of the Glastonbury festival on television last night. I really tried not to. I tried to remain aloof. I told the TV I was in no mood to turn it on and I shot it some awful, evil looks . . . but then I succumbed. My Glastonbury regret has been huge and this year, more than any other year, I wish I would have gone.

I've tried to kid myself there was not one band that I wanted to see, except there really were so many. I've argued that it's the playground of the unwashed and immoral but then reasoned that a pack of wet wipes and some antibacterial hand gel would have gone a long way. I've thought about the awful hangover, the absolute temptation there would be to succumb to handfuls of pharmaceuticals and the downward spiral that would induce. I've told myself the long journey home would never have been worth it and I even prayed for rain . . .but I still wish I would have gone.

I'm not a Glastonbury virgin. I have been, once, many years ago. I had such a good time that I can't remember if it was 1993 or 1995. I've researched who played there these years and I cannot remember seeing one band. I know for certain it wasn't 1994 because I've just read there were some crazy people shooting at each other and someone dropped dead from an overdose.These kind of things stick with you and I don't recall dodging bullets or giving anyone mouth to mouth.
The few things I remember from 93/95 are:
Laying down on the floor and almost crying because someone threw a Frisbee at me and I thought it was a UFO.
Dancing around a campfire while wearing a poncho I'd fashioned from a blanket and a pair of borrowed cowboy boots (preempting Kate Moss's fashion moment by at least 15 years)
Not going to the toilet for four days.
Other than that my mind keeps drawing a blank.

Glastonbury is said to be the greatest party on earth but I guess that's all relative to what you want from a party. I love the idea of it because it feeds into every one of my senses. You can be as hedonistic as you want to be ( at least you don't have to worry about taking that really dangerous last night bus home) and you can also become one with nature and embrace the land (or get found face down in a field like I did). It may be a cliche but you've got the sex the drugs and the rock and roll all on tap.You've got the being at one with nature and you've also got around 140,000 people all up for the same thing! That's a heady mix for fun and frolics.
The amazing thing is apart from people being shot at and dropping dead in toilets there haven't really been any reported acts of violence at Glastonbury for many years (apart from Amy Winehouse punching a fan in the face in 2008) so it's like the perfect rainbow village. If the Jehovah Witnesses could get rid of all the gays and sinners I bet their idea of heaven would be Glastonbury. I just don't think they'd get any major acts to headline there, although it would be frigging amazing if they did book Amy Winehouse.

The first step to getting to Glastonbury is actually managing to get yourself a ticket and this is getting more impossible each year. The year I went we didn't even have to bother with that. We decided we wanted to go on Wednesday evening. We bought the tent on Thursday morning, saw our dealer on Thursday afternoon, climbed the fence on the Thursday evening and left for home on the Monday morning. Have I mentioned I got the sack from my job on the Tuesday? This will happen if you spend four days out of your mind running frantically through fields and not brushing your teeth.
I wouldn't even think of trying to climb the fence now - apparently they've got attack dogs with taser guns at every entrance.

To try and placate my feelings of missing out this year I keep telling myself that Glastonbury would not really be how I don't remember it anyway. I've heard complaints that it's sold out, that it's more corporate and that it's now the playpen of those with an Aga and a Toyota Prius. After all, Coldplay were one of the headliners this year and I did manage to spot Gwyneth in the audience wearing that damn white blazer that's permanently stitched to her back and bopping gently from side to side but I still don't care!
Everything I saw on television looked amazing! It made me want to strip off my clothes, build a fire in the middle of the flat and go and piss through someones letter box ( not really the best way to endear myself to the neighbours).

I'm determined to go next year but there is just one major problem - I've just looked online and it's not happening. I'm so disappointed. I was already researching Winnebagos (I'm never sleeping in a tent again).
Everyone's had such an amazing time this year that the fields and the cows and the farms and all that other country stuff need a rest.
It's probably for the best, the tickets are so expensive anyway. I'll put the money towards something that I really need, like an Aga or a Toyota Prius.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Why I've swapped therapy for champagne . . .

I see a therapist - I've never made any secret of it, in fact, I've worn it like a badge of pride and told anyone who'll listen that I went looking for a therapist to help me find myself. I began having therapy after living in America where therapy isn't a dirty word - it's a way of life. It helped that I had a job that financed my every whim. I actually had a mini entourage at one point. I used to think it was glamorous and humorous to tell people that I had a therapist, a personal trainer, a hairdresser and a spray tan man. I was living like a rock star, seeing the trainer three times a week, the tan man once a week and the therapist every other week. Now, in hindsight and with a depleted bank balance, If I'd have seen the therapist once a week and worked on my mind rather than my arse and tan I'd have been a lot richer and a lot more fulfilled.

My therapy sessions helped me deal with my addictive personality and my ridiculous relationship with shopping, sex, drugs & food. I'd tried, tasted, sniffed and snorted, filled my flat with clothes and possessions I never needed or wanted and ate & drank my way around the world - but nothing made me happy. I used to turn up at my therapy sessions and spend the best part of the hour in tears and I actually loved it. A friend once said that by talking to a therapist you get to star in your own mini movie. It's all about you and for a whole hour (or fifty minutes depending on the calibre of therapist) you can say, scream, cry, shout, sob or sit in stony silence. I'd never advise anyone to go to a therapy session and sit in stony silence, just find someone you really hate and go on a date with them once a week.

I used to think of my sessions as taking place in a panic room or a place in a safe house.Once I was in that room, anything could be said and I wouldn't be judged. I took to therapy like I'd taken to all my other loves and vices. I grabbed it by the throat, shook it, gave it a great big kiss and ripped it's clothes off. It ended up being my greatest love, more than Mulberry, more than cocaine and more than whomever I was dating at the time. So, in my usual manner, I gave up all the other addictions and became addicted to therapy.Way to go Danny boy - you just swapped tons of fun for an hours worth of tears.

My therapist advised me to leave my well paying, high pressured but shallow and ultimately unfulfilling job - so I did. What the therapist didn't realise was without the job, I couldn't afford the therapy so he actually ended up seeing me for free. Imagine having a therapist that either likes you so much or thinks that you need so much help that he tells you to leave your job so you have to stop paying him? Like the relationship between Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter, it became quid pro qou - the less I payed, the more of my guts I would spill. I began to think that I was actually a case study and would scour the Internet  to see if there was such a magazine as "Therapists Weekly" or "how to help the afflicted" because I was sure I'd be the centrefold, with the staples where my soul should be.

I've tried many things in the pursuit of happiness and in the last few years I've learned that you really have to give up many things to find true happiness. Letting go of the obvious stuff like material possessions has taken me the longest to deal with. I am only now getting rid of things that I have clung to for years. I've replaced my love of clothes, bags & coats with a love of eBay and the amount of stuff I have to sell is shocking. I've found things I don't ever remember buying.

I've also learned to let go of the spray tan man. My want and need for him is fading faster than my tan. Eight years of constant sunbed and spray tan has left enough residue to keep me going at least until Christmas and even then I'll still look like an overdone turkey.

The personal trainer has gone but the love of the gym remains. It's flame is not burning as bright as before but I do still need to stoke the fire at least twice a week. I've even let go of my beloved Dr Sebagh, if you're not familiar with him - google him. My therapist actually said to me a couple of weeks ago "you've come so far from "Botox Boy" who first came to see me". I didn't know whether to punch him or thank him.

There is just one more thing to let go of and it's going to be the hardest one of all. I actually do not know how to tell him but I've decided to stop having therapy. My next session will be my last and I'll then be in recovery from therapy. I don't think there are any groups or meetings to help you leave your therapist. I've googled the initials T.A (therapists anonymous) and all I found was the Territorial Army and I'm sorry, but fuck that for a game of soldiers. Camo trousers and a beret has never been my look. I want a simple, peaceful life not one where I get given a gun and a grenade.

I have already decided what I will do with the money I will save each week from not seeing my therapist. I have placed an order with Fortnum & Mason to have one bottle of their champagne delivered to my door each Friday. I feel after all the years of excess and then the years of retribution that I deserve this one small luxury, that is, of course, until I become addicted to champagne and end up back in therapy.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Fear of being forty or 20 x 2 . .

It was my fortieth birthday last week and I have been very quiet on the blog front. Every time I sat down to write I just wasn't inspired. I'd start writing and then have a severe case of writers cock (it's when your typing finger gets really, really hard). I considered writing a post the night before my birthday but I had worked myself into such a frenzy about this coming of age that I thought anything I would write would seem juvenile or flippant. I then started a week long celebration to mark my descent into middle age and anything I would have written within this time would have been incoherent, angry, mawkish, sentimental, threatening , depressing, exhilarating, infuriating or downright filthy (which encapsulates my mood swings every day of the year anyway). So for the sake of my followers (you can't imagine the thrill it gives me to write that ) I decided to wait.

A week and a full day after the event and I've found I'm not crawling through the rubble of my life and wondering how I got here? I'm still the same, I still look the same and my jeans still fit the same. It actually wasn't as awful as I had imagined it would be and it wasn't as revelatory as some had said it may be. I didn't hit forty and find my arse had hit the floor. I didn't wake up and wonder if I had achieved all I wanted to. I woke up in a hotel in Brighton, in a duck mask and thought, "wow, it's my birthday". I was after all, just forty, and I hadn't dropped dead. I was just a tad hungover.

This morning I sat in bed with a glass of champagne ( this is something I have decided I must do and I deserve to do every day). I said good morning to the new day. I said good morning to the pillows, the blinds and the empty space in the bed next to me and I thought how content I felt (this may be the champagne talking). I have realised that I've had an amazing time the last twenty years. I say twenty because this is how I am handling being forty. I'm officially 20 x 2. If you think of it, most of us really don't start living until we hit twenty. It's the age when we are finally free of our parents shackles and can afford to leave home.We're young, good looking (if you're lucky) and our body fat is probably as low as it's ever going to be in our lifetime (if you're unlucky). We can go out and drink and take as many pharmaceuticals as we want and still look amazing in the morning. We're young enough to travel, to study, to have tons of wild sex and also be confident enough to never let anyone place any restrictions on us, be it a boss, a friend, a lover or the police - and the curious thing is, I still feel exactly the same way?!

I haven't really changed that much in the last twenty years, although my circumstances may have. I've travelled the world and I've earned and spent lots of money ( on spray tans, cocaine and Mulberry bags mostly). I've fell in and out of love ( with my own reflection). I've had some terribly destructive, passionate, exciting affairs and only ever really been in love with a very select few. I've met some amazing people and also encountered a few giant pricks ( if you find yourself with an amazing person who has a giant prick - don't ever let him go). I've had some wonderfully creative jobs and some really crappy jobs. I've had some amazing mentors (mostly egotistical divas both male & female) and also worked with egotistical fools (always middle aged men, mostly "straight", with thinning hair and I bet extremely tiny cocks). I've jumped out of planes and ploughed through the lowest depths of nightlife (both of these things can lead you to shitting your pants). I've sniffed with the high life and snorted with the low life. I've had the clothes ripped from my back and ripped the wig off a 7ft drag queen (bitch couldn't catch me in those heels) and I've done all of that within the last few years so the fear of being forty shouldn't have been such a biggie to me.

The best thing of all is that I spoke to my therapist about my reaching forty and he has given me licence to do exactly as I please for the next twenty years (a therapist is the only person you should take notice of at forty). He's told me to never settle for any job less than what I want and never settle for anything less than I deserve in a relationship - and my therapist is sooo old, he's at least 45. He's told me to go travelling, to get rid of my possessions and the things that tie me down and to go and explore. He's said I need to retain my youthful outlook and excitement about life. I should go and stir it up again and go crazy. He's advised me to discover new places and sleep under the stars. Go scrub a temple floor somewhere or go look after a herd of mountain goats and I'm seriously considering it .
The thing is I am a little scared, just a tiny bit because I am forty after all. I'm not exactly twenty anymore am I? I'm 20 x 2.