Words of warning and welcome:

This is very much my blog, so don't be surprised if this doesn't follow accepted patterns and norms. It is a place where I can be anonymous and honest, and I appreciate that.

It will deal with many things and new readers would do well to check out the "Story So Far" Page above this and the "New Readers" tag down there on the right. Although there's nothing too bad in here there will be adult language, so be careful. If you think this needs a greater control, please let me know. Thank you!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Driving Away From Home

Okay, not entirely accurate title, in that there is no driving at all, but nevertheless vaguely indicative, in that the whole family now needs to relocate as the big fat reset button has been mashed, hard and repeatedly, since getting that call to interview last week.

Ah, Zinoviev, we hardly knew ye.
It was Tuesday, I was called to an interview in another county on the Thursday, the last day before the deadline in education to hand in your notice. Of course I went along, Tilly and I recognised that it was better to go down fighting like the working classes of Russia in the July Days than it was to surrender without a fight. I didn't expect much, Zinoviev and Kamenev would have been proud, and prepared accordingly. My lesson was good, but not flammable, and my presentation was ripped off one I did back in 2009 when I was last attempting to move jobs and ended up back at the place I started at - and the presentation was for somewhere else. I failed to get that job because the pres was too detailed and I likened my management style to Mussolini at a religious school. That was... not my finest hour. Though I defend my choice of example and my reasoning, it's just that most people aren't historians to the level I am and so usually unable to see past the whole Fascism = Death thing. Which is fair. I digress.

Apparently this is outstanding teaching. I hope that her
lecture at least uses Socratic questioning as a basis
for learning!
At the place itself it became apparent that I was the only candidate. Usually, in situations like that, schools cancel the interview. I was told that I was the strongest candidate and so they had decided to run with the day to give me a shot and for me to show them what I could do. They were in no hurry to appoint, they said, so there was no pressure. No, none at all to justify the amount of money and time that they would lavish on me as a single candidate for the job! As you already know, I lucked out. I liked the school and the school liked me. So they offered me the job with lots of lovely things to say about how they needed someone like me and how I'd said all the right things and how I was an outstanding teacher (something that's not been said to me since about 2008). This was all lovely and life-affirming and brilliant. But it was in another county, at the end of an hour and a half commute, we will have to move.

We have used the leftover yellow paint from doing the nursery in 2008
to do the hallway... Banana Dream 5 and I hate bananas. Not least
because that's a word that is hard to stop spelling, like slyly, but also
because the smell of the damned things makes me retch. No, really. I share
this with my paternal grandmother, but apparently no one else.
To this end I have spent the last week doing house-things. We chose paint for and then painted the bathroom over two days, I'm halfway through doing the same to the hallway. We had a day out on Tuesday and Wednesday was spent tidying up the shit we've built up since 2007. I cleared out and repackaged all the stuff in my wardrobe (work files, personal effects and clothes) which took a few hours and then Tilly started doing the same in the kitchen. She's also had two driving lessons, for a test on Friday (booked before we had to move) and we've entertained five estate agents to decide with whom to market our house. We've had two evenings off, which have been lovely, and all of us seem to have come down with colds, which has been less lovely. In short, we have been working at a frenetic pace and I still haven't managed to do any of the marking I need to do, like normal but for completely different reasons. I have, however, marked and offered advice on about seven timed essays e-mailed to me by students who are only now realising that practice is useful to them (their exam is the first Monday back) at about an hour a time. Oh, and planned for a revision session that, ahem, I shall be pulling a sickie on in order to carry out examination work. I did the same last year too. I feel bad and dishonest and bad about that.

I shall miss our woodland and the mythology that I have created to go with it. I shall miss the friendships that Tilly has formed and forged here with other families like ours who do things similar enough to us that we don't end up having those awkward and repetitive conversations about unschooling, attachment and cosleeping. I already miss the low impact half term I had planned: marking two loads of stuff and nothing else planned to be doing.

Ugh! Man hunt woolly mammoth. Bring back meat and skins. Ugh!
Now, woman, sex me.
And I wonder. Is this any more masculine? I mean, is this what being a man is all about? I am providing woolly mammoth meat in the fact that I am the one who 'works' and dictating the direction of family endeavour to the point where my place of work dictates the location of our family in the country. I am painting rooms and doing the heavy lifting. Is this it? Does that mean I should stop posting here and junk my newly bulging female wardrobe? I don't know. Thing is, where I am going seems like it will be less stressful than my current place of work, it seems like it will be more like my kind of place but there's no guarantee of that. It won't be the place I left to work in back in 2007 either - there are definitely issues but none as large as there where a member of staff ate literally all of my time for the first year - and nor will it be where I've been for the past four years. As Leslie-Ann correctly pointed out, this has been soul crushing for at least three of those years and been the driving factor in my resurgence of dressing (though it was maintained at a high level for most of 2007-9 too). Will there be opportunity in a new property and a need in a new job to actually dress if stress is the main motivation?

Now I will eat some chocolate and tomorrow I must find time to mark two sets of work, apply a second coat of paint to the doors in the hallway, look after the kiddlies whilst Tilly passes her driving test and records a song and employs an estate agent and prepares the bedroom for habitation.

Friday, 24 May 2013

The nineties

Oh, I remember this sort of thing. I do.
Along with big watches and long
I am such a child of the nineties it's almost not true. I mean, certainly, I have some debt to the Thatcher years but my belief that the world needs to be changed and that I can actually change it stems almost entirely from the early nineties, the second summer of love in the UK. That brave and open New Age era that spawned so much experimentation, when the world seemed to be heading to a Golden Age. We watched the Berlin Wall fall in 1989 but we saw the USSR become democratic, with other political parties, and the world seemed to be reaching the end of History from 1992 onwards. The First Persian Gulf War showed us a vision of a different fate with the USA and USSR fighting side by side. Ireland seemed sorted by the Belfat Agreement in 1998, New Labour won a landslide in 1997, the UK won Eurovision with Katrina and the Waves in the same year. 1991 brought rave culture and the Prodigy; 1996 brought Martina Hingis to Wimbledon; 1999 brought the anticipation of the new millennium and anxiety about Y2K. It was a strange decade for me. I came of age, I saw the fashions for women and I was transfixed. I reinvented myself twice: for Sixth Form and University. Nothing was impossible.

This too. Check out the platforms!
My parents split up, we visited France twice, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway. We moved house. I made new friends, lost old ones, took exams. I painted model soldiers, I mowed the lawn and took out the bins, I learned about BDSM and read about cross-dressing. I dreamed about turning the airing cupboard into a cage and wearing ribbons. I tied myself to my bed and chest of drawers. I read FHM (soft porn) and travelled through school. I wrote stories, lusted after girls, and genuinely believed.

The world was a positive place, terrorism was on the wane, not the rise (or so we thought) and the problems of the '60s seemed... solved. The Shamen, Snap!, KLF...

I am there again, I am feeling that same promise and I am ready to move on. I have been in a kind of limbo since 2007 when I went to be a Head of Department where I wasn't ready. I am older. I am wiser. But I have found that teenager again, that teenager that wanted to change the world, that thought the world could be changed. And I have found that this teenager is female. She is happy.

Thursday, 23 May 2013


I shall be back to elucidate further, but it's going to be a jammed few days and I want the date recorded right here. This is my honesty blog!

Oh, very me right now!
Today I had a job interview. I found the school that charmed me and excited me back in 2003/4 except this time I was cast in the role of my old boss, before he went mad and when he was visionary, and... Suffice to say at this moment in time I was wowed and the team there made it clear that they wanted me for the job. Because of me. No management bollocks, no tick boxes - me. My personality and my temperament and my teaching style (I was told my lesson was outstanding - I haven't been told that since 2007!). They wanted me. They wanted me. They wanted me. Him Upstairs seemed to be smiling on me today, even made me have a good cry on the way home. It's been a long time since that happened and I missed it. I may be a year behind our Five Year Plan from 2007 but He waited for me.

He waited for me, and I am grateful He did.

So, I guess the next bit's pretty obvious!

Also this. The slightly embarrassed and scared look
is pretty much how things feel right now too. I can't quite
believe it, or the work that will need to be done.
Of course when they offered me the job, I accepted. But it is a big upheaval. Two hours away from where we are now, we'll have to move. I've uprooted the whole family, after consultation with Tilly, and we'll have to start again with everything and build our friendships all over again. We'll have sell, in the words of Placebo, the hole that we call our home.

Lots more to say, but this'll do for now!

Sunday, 19 May 2013


It's a Jean-Paul Gautier effort. He of
the Fifth Element fame and so it is
completely bonkers. Excellent.
I love this time of year! Eurovision may be considered to be a sad and stupid thing but it is also the only thing in existence that attempts to bury national antagonism by giving it a musical and camp outlet. A method that makes any kind of serious nationalism look positively quaint and ridiculous, exactly as it should look, and allows a cross-pollination of musical mores and cultures. And, as you probably know from the rest of this blog, I am all about cross-pollination.

So it is that I bring you some laudable entries from the 2013 effort in Malmo. I loved the host, whose costume changes brought my approval for being stylish and clever without being overtly sexualised and whose manner of condescension was friendly and appreciated - I for one found her to be humorous and witty without slipping into being insulting or horrible. Also, the focus was very much back on the music and the history of this most bizarre of contests, in a way that was missing from the horrific coverage of the effort last year in Baku where the local dictatorship successfully used it to promote their nationality and processes at the cost of decent musical talent - something that ends up offending me on two levels.

First up, Romania.
I mean, that voice! That voice is brilliant. I love it.

Then Norway.
She needs dragons, she needs them now and are you going to argue with her?

Finally, the winner: Denmark.
I can see why this won, but it was my third choice.


That is probably true on one level but how
much of that truth is down to a sea-change
in how our culture perceives sex and all its
different forms and how much is down to a
timeless quality? Was Prehistoric sex kinky?
You will no doubt notice that this is published on the same date as another post, and the purpose is to bury it in RSS feed and to make sure that it does not headline on other blogs, at least, not for very long. I don't tend to like double-posting on an evening, but I feel that this is one of those topics that should remain... well, it's on here and people can read it but it should be very much a choice thing. I post my rantage and my words here for reasons that still elude me but that make me feel better about life in general but that doesn't necessarily mean anyone should be reading them!

To the warning! This post will be dealing with fetishes, fantasies and kinks - what they are, reactions to them and some musing on how these things are seen in popular culture, especially how our modern culture has become more porn-aware and how much readily available pornography has changed how people view and deal with sex and sexual attraction in the western world. If that is your bag, then by all means read on. If it isn't, don't. Did you see my post above about Eurovision? Go read that! You'll still make me feel all wibbly by your pageviews and that does me fine.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Songs with 'oo'

In an earlier post I wrote about the fact that I like orchestral stabs and music where a woman sings 'ooo' over the top without actual words. Since then I have been haunted, in a good way, by Snap and Exterminate, which you can find below. It very much fits this mould of music and has a catchy beat, the video also reflects what I remember about the early nineties very nicely, even if I never made it to a club or a rave or would have known what to do when I got there. In that sense, people like Terri are so much better equipped than I and have had so many more experiences by embracing opportunities. The music of Snap was all about embracing opportunity and experience and perhaps that is why it still speaks to me after all these years.

There's also the joy of Enya's Boudicca, which is totally different from the dance Boudicea though both are pretty darn cool as far as I'm concerned.

I suppose this all links to tonight being Eurovision, whose general sadness and geekiness and unfashionability I embrace and love. I have never been with the 'in-crowd' and have never really been able to make it with fashion. I have been an outsider as long as I can remember, which is of course why the songs Too Many People and One of the Crowd appeal to me so much (they're from the Pet Shop Boys, of course, why wouldn't you guess that already?) - I desperately want, on some level, to 'fit in' and be part of the crowd and not be different. It may, in part, explain the fascination I have for clothes designed for the female frame - I want to fit in so much that I would repudiate everything that makes me who I am in favour of donning a new personality and frame to fit in with a stylised ideal 'other'.

Speaking of which...
If I had to pick, this would be a good body
to have. Neh?

Thursday, 16 May 2013


It was lunch time, I had arranged to pick up some notes from my room for some students and we were on our way to my room to get them when my boss stopped me and ushered me into the office. She explained that a sensitive and important matter had come up in the same tone she once used to accuse me of trying to get her sacked (a ridiculous claim, though I had a copy of the lesson observation made in her job interview, it is true). Thus it was with somewhat loosened bowels, a dry throat and shaking hands that I shoo-ed my students away and let my boss shut the office door. Some students had been talking at break, she said, and it was an important issue. My mind was racing: what could I have said that would be misinterpreted? Had I told an inappropriate joke to the wrong set? Had I said something terrible inadvertently (once, in 2004, I had said that Warsaw was 'breast-shaped' and had been bitten off by Germany in the First World War to my 18 year olds, one of the students, it turned out, had a mother who had been slated that day for a masectomy and so lodged an official complaint against me) or had I done something wrong?

Yes, it did lead me to do the completely useless and pointless
smelling of my armpits. If I wasn't able to detect an odour
beforehand, shoving my nose there won't make a difference!
No. They had been discussing, in my boss's words, "your odour problem". My boss explained that she had had a harsh word with them but wanted me to know because "kids can be pretty cruel" and it was a "sensitive subject". I noted that she was keeping her distance. I asked if this was a genuine problem. She said "Yes, actually."

"Oh," I said, "Now?"

She screwed up her face and nodded, "It's pretty bad."

"Oh," I had a bath this morning! "I guess I'd better get a stronger deodorant then."

"It would be a start."

"Um. Well, I guess... Thank you. Look, if it is that ba-"

"It is."

"Oh, if so, you should have said before now."

"No worries. Maybe have a wash?"

"I..." By this point I was visibly shaking. "I had a bath this morning."

"Hmm, well, I thought you ought to know." And with that we both left.

Is it time to accept things, shave off my armpit hair and get
some roll-on? That way we can apply directly to the area,
block the pores with industrial strength stuff and then avoid
'trapped sweat' which I am led to believe is why women shave
under there in the first place.
I asked some other colleagues at the staff room, they claimed I did not smell. Or, at least, they couldn't smell me. Now, don't get me wrong, my feet reek. Badly. And after a curry I can trump like a trooper for days and I know they stink. I know that I can get sweaty on a hot day and I have halitosis sometimes depending on what I had for lunch. I know that Tilly can tell what I've eaten some days simply through my body odour. I am a little aware of it. But I also wear strong deodorant and, not having the option of a shower every morning, sponge bath my body each morning with a bath every now and again (approximately every three days at the moment). I can honestly say that I was not prepared for the exchange and I still have no idea what I think about it. I know I feel something but I have no idea what that feeling is or what it should be.

Tilly claims she can't really smell me any more than usual and that I can smell much worse. In effect, she says I am at my least smelly at the moment. I know my feet are bad, but so long as I keep my shoes on that's not noticeable (I can smell my feet better than most people. Following an incident where I was asked to put my shoes back on by customer complaint via bar staff in a bar from about fifty feet away I've got pretty good at spotting whether or not my feet are bad), so I'm pretty certain it wasn't my feet.

Thing is, I have no idea if the students in question had been taught by me that morning, before break, or not. I don't know who they were or precisely what they said. The revelation that my boss, who thinks I'm pretty shit at most of my job anyway, also considers me smelly and unkempt is... I don't know. I don't like it. Should I be out-raged? Or is this something I should be doing more to combat? I don't know.

Saturday, 11 May 2013


A new avatar? See what I did there?
In popular culture there is a bias against knowledge, against study and learning. Instead there is a presumption that the best way to be is through intuition, through a connection that comes from 'emotion'. It appears that those who distrust academia, who distrust the learned as peddling some secret knowledge and education as something that can only go to those who are special and gifted, different; they see what I am as different, strange and to be tamed. We are weird, we are powerful, we are everything that they are not.

And there is something yet alluring about the idea that knowledge is a barrier. People confuse knowledge and education. They see them as interchangeable, that one is the other and vice versa. But they aren't. One can know many things, virtually everything in fact, but that is no barrier to learning more or finding out something different that can change your point of view. Rather, it is those that refuse to learn or refuse the extra knowledge, who trust most in what they term 'intuition', who have the biggest barrier to unknowing and to changing how they view things.

However, the way in which schooling works is counter-intuitive, for we teach our children to be academically dependent and that they are always being watched. We stunt their development and we refuse to support them because we, ourselves, were never supported and our sense of fairness refuses to support others. We train sleep and we train obedience and we train ignorance and aggression of thought. I am no better, I am just as aggressive and just as ignorant.

I'm watching Avatar and it is hackneyed and it is deceptive. Our hero is a clever man amongst savages. It typifies how we view the 'savage' way of life. It is more Rudyard Kipling than I think I would like. Well done, but Rudyard Kipling nevertheless.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Feminism and Masculinism

I guess this is part of who I would
like to be. Or maybe who Joanna
already is.
Hard to know what to say on here at the moment. Work remains hard, I still hate organising trips and the marking is ramping up; I'm still incredibly lazy, this morning I nearly didn't bother getting out of bed at all; Tilly and I have now had sex again, in a much more playful and exploratory way than we have for a good five years, maybe longer; and I still feel no guilt but a certain sense of oddness about engaging in cyber-sex with someone I don't even know and am unlikely to meet in real life. As a woman. As a submissive.

First, Tilly and I. Things appear... well, good at the moment. We talk on most evenings, though we still retreat behind our laptops, and we actually have and share physical contact. Things are still rather one-sided, but I can't complain and you won't find me doing so. I actually seem to rather enjoy being the one who gives. She's a bit concerned over how long it takes me to finish the job but I aim to allow her two jobs and that seems to work for me, even if she thinks I am completely odd. There are still strained moments but we get through and get by. We share the looking after the kiddlies a little more, though I'm still the go-to guy for the Boy and the Girlie in the night and so end up being tired at work. I guess that's the pay-off I negotiated when I decided to stop being in charge and work less so I could spend time with my children. It has its rewards: when Girlie bought her art book she talked to me about it and the Boy is content to share time with me when I play on the laptop after work. Okay, we're no closer discussing anything to do with my cross-dressing or the fact that I spent money on a blouse and floopy skirt a while back nor my love of dance and singing, but things are much better than they were.

See, doesn't she look so happy? I guess
that I would share that happiness
if I were dressed like that.
Secondly, that cybering thing. What amazes me looking back is how easily I slipped into role and how easy it was for me to put aside my own qualms and issues simply because of the fantasy being enacted. That is, because I had put myself in the position of being submissive I found that I simply did what was asked online. Okay, I was typing it, it wasn't real, but I still typed stuff that I wouldn't ordinarily write and certainly had nothing to do with anything I would consider to be a fantasy. There was a lot more physical punishment than would be my wont and there was a lot more... darkness to it all. Like being ordered not to enjoy it and report if I did. And I complied. Like being ordered to do things for a man and then writing it and, essentially, doing it in the scenario. Without complaint. I did things because I was ordered to do them.

Now, okay, this was through text and nothing actually happened. But I found it interesting how much I played around what the other person wanted, how easy it was for me to give them what they were looking for, what they ordered and what they asked. I didn't really push for anything being my way or for anything that I would have considered my kind of fantasy. I simply took it as read that we were playing his fantasy - at least, I assume he is a he. After all, he assumed I was a she. This does link to the business with Tilly too. I view our sex as being very much about her and her enjoyment. I always have. My over-analysis that turned her off sex for so long was primarily concerned with how I could improve her experience of sex and the sensations therein. It occurs to me that if she ever reciprocates and asks about my fantasies that I don't really know what I would say to her. I still don't really know what they are. The two posted on here hardly have anything to do with sex - they are about dressing up or being a 'damsel in distress' figure waiting for a knight on a white charger. They aren't really to do with sex at all.

Yes, I could live quite happily
with this. Being collared has a
certain je ne sais quoi.
Similarly with the cyber experience, I guess I found it easy to pander to the man on the other end because I had nothing I wanted to gain from it. It may even explain my lack of guilt and angsting because I never actually gave any part of myself in the exchange. I played a role, a role that the other person was interested in, that they got something from, without ever really looking to gain anything myself. Therefore I was never involved in the exchange. Perhaps some part of me was in that it was Joanna doing the driving but even then, I was consciously aware of the fact that he was asking me to describe a blow job and I had no connection to it. Hmm. It was like when I used to write fiction as a teen - all of the events happened at a distance, through the veil of the page, and so I never really engaged with any of it. It was the sort of writing that Tilly referred to as being 'soulless' - it was mechanical. In much the same way, the cyber sex was mechanical. I could just as easily have been some Turing bot churning out porn and nothing would have significantly changed.

Is that what masculinity is? Tilly seems to think so, society certainly thinks so and the behaviour of my male partner in the cyber sex would seem to indicate that it is so. Masculinity is being in something for oneself without really considering the other. It is to be in it to shoot one's load and then fuck off. My view has always been to take longer about things, to learn more about what other people want and then attempt to provide as much of that as I can with my own skills. It is the same at work too. And the distrust I encounter when being male and doing that is very telling.

Monday, 6 May 2013

To my Job

Because, seriously, who wouldn't want to be like Lindsey
Stirling? Talented, able and well liked.
Okay, so she's a Mormon, gotta have some flaws.

I find myself singing a song in my head (see below) dedicated to and about my job. I realised, around last night, that I have always put my job first, always. Having children back in the day didn't really change much from my point of view but make it impossible to continue on as before, something that I just took about five years to come to terms with. In all that time I have always tried to make other peoples' lives easier in the workplace and received Jack in response. But that is the way of things, I find, increasingly any sign of compromise and willingness is a sign of weakness to be exploited or a sign that one is a victim to be bullied. And I guess I am both weak and a victim!

This is, perhaps, no real revelation given my previous postings on the matter. After all, we know that I have a Martyr Complex and that I tend to be bullied a lot - something that must surely rest on my own character just as much as anything else as I haven't escaped it despite several changes in situation, geography and friendship circle since, well, the beginning. At some point it stops being the fault of 'other people' and comes back to me being me, to me inviting the kind of behaviour that I dislike and fear. So it is that I must take responsibility for my own actions and recognise that there's no one else that will step in for me. My own fantasy of a white knight on a steed is part of the problem. I keep waiting for someone else to sweep in and sort everything out, to take me off on a journey of their making and show me what they can do. In essence, I try to be a passive person, I am not even the protagonist in my own story but the supporting cast for someone else's protagonist.

I might also have cybered with a man who did not know who I was. And that is a Bad Thing. I mean, I knew I was doing it and did it and do not regret it. And today, rubbing salt on that, was a very good day with the family spent in the sunshine and in the open. I even had time to work and discovered that I actually didn't need to do the work I felt was so pressing. But there is a trip on Wednesday, this cannot continue - something will go wrong because I will make sure that it does, consciously or not.

What a penis-head.

Saturday, 4 May 2013


Yeah, I'd do that. With the bag and the hat and... well,
wouldn't anyone?
I once, as a child, imagined a vehicle with a single wheel in
which the driver would sit and balance... Want it.
I saw the video. I want to do that. Motorcycles have always held a special fascination for me because of the compact nature of them. In much the same way as I love the concept of sleeping in a very small space or a camp bed or something I would like the concept of riding a motorcycle a great deal. There's a freedom to be had, I think, that simply can't be captured elsewhere. I mean, there's a cycle, and I respect that, but the distance of a powered cycle can't be beat in the same time. It's a combination. If there were an affordable electric cycle for which I had the legal paperwork to drive/ride then I would use it for the daily commute. Seriously.

However, the video is also about adventure and danger. I may not come across this way normally, but I once leapt into a plunge pool at the bottom of a waterfall because the leader of the group asked if anyone wanted to. To this day I have no idea how far I jumped or how deep the pool was. Neither was, or is, important. The important thing was that I had the chance and I took it. Like caving and going through a cave I could only just fit through because it was there and I was told I could or running as long as I could in unfamiliar landscape because I was allowed. I want this. Something like this. I went camping in the U.P. in Michigan because there was no one else there. I loved it. I walked along Tahquamenon Falls because I could. I would have gone further, camped with no camp site, because, God, I love the unknown in that sense. The freedom. The liberation.

So watch the video and oh God yes.

Music sounds better...

The Eponine face. Did I mention I hate the solo she has
to sing? Well, I do. I prefer Confrontation.
Musicals. I seem to quite like them. But not in the sense that most people like musicals. In this, Tilly and I have similarities. We both like the songs that don't make the 'highlights' lists, though not always the same ones, and we like the songs that require the singers to have some modicum of acting ability as well as singing lungs. In other words, we like the story stuff. Mind you, I like instrumentals too, like that part with the violin where Christine goes to visit her father's grave in Phantom of the Opera and before the Phantom himself turns up and starts hurling fireballs or the epic opening of the first act of Les Miserables that repeats nicely when we skip a whole bunch of years and end up in that bit of Paris(?) where the prostitutes start hurling abuse at one another - or is it where Gavroche turns up? Oh, you know what I mean. There's also that bit in Chess where they play the game of Chess, the Russian and the American, and then the whole 'History of Chess' bit of the last bit before the Epilogue. I have no idea if any of these are available on youtube and I shan't bore you now by looking for them.

My mother and grandfather were over to wish the Girlie a happy birthday today and their behaviour has brought home just how easy-going I am as a parent. I mean, I know that Tilly is easy-going and generally good at being a parent. She follows the Orange Rhino, for goodness' sake (it's a challenge about not raising one's voice) and gets it to work. Our kiddlies, despite occasionally going off at the deep end, are well behaved and polite and self-secure. For illustration, Girlie was in a play today and not only knew her cues, even if she didn't always know what came next, she knew the lines to the songs and the dances - she even, get this, sang in tune now and again! This has come after a week of birthday insanity that has driven her nearly to the end of the amount of adrenaline and excitement that she can cope with. At the same time her brother has seen her pretty much spoiled rotten with birthday goodness (like going to see Cats with Tilly on Wednesday) and getting not a great deal himself. And he sat through the play and enjoyed it because his sister was in it. I don't care if I come across as a typical proud parent - I am proud of the parenting that Tilly employs with our children.

Kinda like this playpark.
Ours is, of course, bigger, with a sandpit. And
Swings. And a slide. You know what, it was
nothing like this playpark.
Anyway, they came and they gave an insight into my childhood. Grandfather played in the sand, reluctantly, with the spawn and my mother complained bitterly that she hated sand and mess and that the bench we were sat on might have sand on it. Took some pictures of the group and then started monologuing about work, which is fine, and refusing to listen to any answers I gave to questions she asked. I took the Boy to the swings and then Girlie and the visitors followed. Long story short - grandfather did his best and my mother grew bored as soon as she had a photograph of any given activity. Then mother announced grandfather was cold and she thought we'd best go. Then, after waiting a whole minute for this to be relayed to the kids, still having a whale of a time, she simply started walking off, grandfather followed. Previous to this she had asked if the kidlets were allowed ice-cream.

The eeeee-ville!
A bit of history here. Waaaay back, mother bought Girlie ice cream and we discovered that ice cream made the Girlie mental. To this day we don't know precisely what ingredient it is that causes her to lose all sense of proportion and sanity and gain a crippling three-day hangover (no, really) but we know something does it. It's not like it's sugar (she eats chocolate and sweets without that much of an effect) or treats generally (see last parenthetical) but something makes her hyper and grumpy and angry and cross and just impossible. Mother saw this all unfold and we told her we'd narrowed it down to ice cream. Not believing us, why would she, mother bought Girlie ice cream on another occasion, against our warnings, and saw it all happen again. Still not satisfied she then gave Girlie ice cream when she stopped overnight at mother's house - despite the Girlie warning my mother it was a bad idea - and made sure she ate it as it was "a treat" and one does not refuse treats in my family. No really.

I reminded my mother that, no, ice cream was not a good idea. Treats were fine, we could stop at a shop on the way home, but ice cream was a no. Then they left, we struggled to keep up, and stopped in front of an ice cream van and asked what the Girlie wanted. Tilly stepped in at this point, bear in mind both spawn were still confused and wailing at having to leave the park without being told, like we normally do, in advance that it was going to happen (we usually give a ten minute warning, remind them at five and then mention it at two before going - I'm a teacher and Tilly is just that good a person) - they had been told we were going literally as we were leaving. Tilly becomes a mean mother in the eyes of eldest Girlie (Boy is just grumpy that he can't run down the hill again) and then we leave in a hurry.

Would it be that I got in the way of my mother and
grandfather 'playing' with my son? By assaulting them?
In all probability!
Why? So mother and grandfather can sit in the living room and pester the Boy to put trains in a particular order that pleases them. Boy naturally refuses and then does what he does when bombarded - he goes silent, frowns, and ignores the world. Cue mother talking louder and pulling at his trains and grandfather getting all in his face and me watching in horror as I see the signs of Boy getting stroppy and maybe throwing stuff or hitting things - the kind of thing I can usually pull him away from when it's another child being a pain, but not something I can intervene with effectively in the situation.

All this serves as illustration for my own childhood I guess.

No, I have no idea what I was trying to achieve with this post either.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Is this a thing?

I wouldn't mind the opportunity
Apparently there is a thing called EDM which is big at the moment and is rising in the States. It includes artists like Parralox, and is indicative in their latest single, and also covers stuff like Moby and Archive as well as the greats like Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys. It is 'Electronic Dance Music' and, if I'm honest, the term confuses me. How can dance music ever be anything other than electronic and how come it's only a thing now? I mean, including all those artists in it then this has been going since the early 80s when it was called House, a term I never fully understood. To catch homages to the Pet Shop Boys and Depeche Mode in Parralox tracks is one thing but to see Mode, Moby and PSB collected deliberately together is quite another.

I have never managed to attend a rave or any kind of club that played the kind of music that I enjoy. The nearest I've ever got was a goth club that had some precursor to dubstep playing in the basement. All hard music and vibrating floors with people dressed in masks. And there I was in jeans a crappy CCCP t-shirt. Heh. I never did muster the courage to dress in line with my musical taste.

Parralox are a group that I've posted about on here before but I found this offering of their's by accident when avoiding work this afternoon and I have to say that I'm pretty impressed. It claims to be reviving something called 'freestyle' from the mid-80s and, sure enough, there is definitely a vibe in there that I recognise from my youth. However, I don't know about that, I recognise it as being very similar to what I used to enjoy dancing to in my bedroom. Much of the time we lived in a particular house between me being six and twelve I recall being in my room alone. I played there with toys and books and stuff, in the days before every kid had a TV or computer, on my own a lot. I played music to myself that usually consisted of a couple of Pet Shop Boys albums and a few tapes that I'd borrow from my parents like Chess or Phil Collins. I remember one occasion that Parralox brought to mind where I was dancing to the opening bits of One Night in Bangkok with the wooden wall from a model farm made for me by my father before I can remember wielded like a Bo. I can remember crying with the emotion of it. I must have been alone a lot in those days.

After my father left us when I was fourteen mowing the lawn became my duty. I'm not sure how, exactly, this happened except that it was similar to how the bins and the like have become my job now. That is, things are done by one person to the point that other people around simply assume that this person will always do those tasks. My mother did not like doing the garden and my brother was my brother. So mowing the lawn became mine. I was angry a lot at the time and felt stressed at GCSEs. See, stress is a pretty constant thing in my life, and I know that most of the time it is unwarranted. In an effort to stifle my anger and my general irritation at having to do the lawn I listened to my walkman. Yes, it played cassettes and yes this was the era of CDs, I was a technical luddite. One of the tapes that I very much overplayed was Push It by Garbage. I would sing along loudly, comforted by the volume of my walkman and the mower that no one could hear me. It was my mother who broke this comfort zone thing by pointing out, through laughter, that she could see me singing along and hear my "tuneless drone" - her words.

I always assumed that I would grow out of singing and dancing alone. I guess when I went to University and discovered that the walls of my halls were pretty thin, through the sexual antics of my next door neighbour, I thought that singing loudly or playing music that one could actually feel in the air via volume was out of the question. Latterly, during A Levels, I had got into the habit of turning my soundtrack into a thing that I played before going to bed and loudly when I had the house to myself. Hardly an hour passed where I wasn't listening to music or singing and dancing along to it. There was a stay of execution and then I was living alone in Leeds and it all came back. When training to be a teacher playing music at oppressively high volume was pretty much all that got me through, along with much crying and depression. Anyway, some two years into teaching I stole this album from my boss and became obsessed with this track, Here, and correctly identified it as talking about a first sexual encounter in typically dark Mode style. Though I didn't know it was typical at the time as, apart from It's No Good, I was unaware of their music. Unusually I did not sing along to this one and still don't, this is one that I prefer to put on repeat and then let it wash over me multiple times.

I got a hold of this one courtesy of free CDs being handed out at Freshers' Fair - these from the local newsagents on campus and being CDs that had been freebies on back issues of magazines that never sold. I became vaguely obsessed with the track over the next three years - I didn't have much of a CD collection - and found myself playing it in my head when walking to and from lectures. It seemed to be more directly emotional than my usual fayre and it seemed to resonate more easily in my mind. I have always had a mental soundtrack that pervades pretty much everything I do. Even today, getting excited about explaining the development of Soviet cultural policy in the 1920s to my students - specifically the rise of the cult of the little man in RAPP and Constructivism - I was playing Axis in my head and was minded how similar this was to the above track.

I guess I'm a raver girl who missed rave.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013


Passionate listening. To music, nowhere else. Yup, that's me.

Also, I am a fangirl. I appreciate the horned dancers. Very fitting to my current milieu.

Come what May

Ah, yes. If only.
So, I have been listening to Archive tracks a lot since I last posted and I have been enjoying them and as I talked about it on here I appear to have created a review of some of their stuff, some of which I only found while putting this together. I wish I could have been more productive, I wish there was a more interesting blog post here about something that mattered or something that touched people like this time last year. But there isn't. There is only music. and so I shall just have to do with what I can create. If you haven't listened to any of these tracks before then I can recommend them and advise you to take the time to listen. It's worth it.

This track is a good one to use simply because it ticks so many of my preferences in music that it's hard to count them all. There's a long track, of the kind that I used to hate when I was younger and listening to Introspective by the Pet Shop Boys but that I seem to be drawn to as I get older. Then there's the violins that are tweaked electronically and left alone too so that there's layers of stuff. And it keeps changing whilst staying reassuringly similar throughout - because I am autistic enough at least that I like my music predictable.

Then there's tracks like this that seem to accurately sum up my own annoying feelings. The fact that in the face of one thing going well I get stressed and start looking for what is going to go wrong. In the process I start dropping balls that I am juggling and things do go wrong and the stuff that was going right ends up getting subsumed by the pressure I place on it. This track puts all that into words and music in a way that self-perpetuates but also helps. I have a complicated relationship with music where I use it to feed the emotions I can recognise. For example, I still have a hard time mixing my favourite music from artists like Delirious and thebandwithnoname with my cross-dressing because part of me still can't quite my faith and my habit become bed-fellows. This track sounds at once like the 70s but also like right now. If you liked ELO and the concept album Time then it is impossible not to find something that you enjoy in this.

To take something to the next level, if you have anger in you, then there is rather anthemic homage to all that makes blood boil and righteous fury bleed out. It is catchy, it is clever and it still manages to be raw and powerful like the other tracks that I have posted. I love the mantra and I love the way that the video uses text to achieve the same effect as the close up of the woman repeating it. The tortured bassline is very good for those heavy brows and the pressure in the veins that you get when the adrenaline is flowing, which leads us to the equally clever video for...

Because who doesn't sing along? Were I female I suspect
this would be a good representation to me with
headphones. Apparently my tuneless offerings
were audible over the Flymo when I lived at home
and caused my mother much amusement.
Violently. There's something just not quite right about dubbing the lyrics to the child in the video but at the same time compelling and entirely realistic. For some reason I get a strong sense of part of the walk to my school when I was in my teens from this. It's the sort of thing I would have ended up singing under my breath with my eyes closed while playing in my head over and over. The sort of music that I used to play on my long walks in the oh my God it's too early morning walks to school, that started at 8.45 and to which I would arrive around 7.15. Or on the way home when I tried to convince myself that it didn't matter that I was walking home alone because I was a lone wolf, whatever the fuck that means, without ever really managing to convince myself at all. The sort of thing that led to my episode at University. It's the swearing and the bleepy beat that manages this one. At once happy and silly but also dark and brooding.

Silent has the advantage of a woman going "ooo ooo ooo" as an opening set of sounds, something I always feel drawn to. Just check out Enya's Boudicea on her the Celts album to see what I mean. She just hums and there's not a lot else to it, but I always wanted to write an alternative history piece to it where a woman leads the resistance in Britain to a Nazi invasion in late 1940 to it. Well, something like that. Maybe also a woman terrorist fighting for a political cause in any given state. Something in which a woman is angry and powerful and measured and everything that women aren't supposed to be in books and fiction, but not a man, still very much a woman. And this evokes that in a way that I can't adequately describe.