Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Your pregnancy this week

"Feeling energetic and excited about the forthcoming birth? If you find yourself dancing around the house with joy, your baby will hear the music and feel you sway." Whoever wrote that deserves a smack. It is a lie that in your second trimester you suddenly feel full of energy and desperately healthy. A bloody lie. Bastards.

I'm now 23 weeks and the due date is slowly creeping closer. I'm more excited than nervous at the moment and really impatient for the baby to arrive. We haven't asked the sex which makes the whole thing even more exciting but part of me wishes I knew who it was that was growing inside me.

So... just a few more months and the baby will be here!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Baby boom

The fact that I'm writing this at silly o'clock in the morning says it all really. It turns out that growing a human being inside you actually affects you quite a lot. I can't sleep, I'm eating enough to feed the five thousand, my back hurts, my tummy hurts, my head hurts, and my brain hurts.

I'm nearly half way now which just seems ridiculous. What kind of world is it where I'm given the responsibility for another human being? I keep expecting social services to knock on my door and take the foetus into care.

And this is meant to be the easy bit before I enter the world of sleepless nights, changing nappies, and saving for university fees...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Confessions of an arachnophile

Yesterday I went on London Zoo's Friendly Spider Programme to cure my spider phobia. I arrived typically early and spent half an hour standing in an entrance hall, rigid with fear, trying to make small talk with other people equally rigid with fear.

Eventually, they ushered us into a lecture theatre where a hypnotherapist gave us a talk on phobias: what they are, why we have them and how they can be cured. We were put into pairs to discuss exactly what it was about spiders we didn't like. I was paired up with a sour faced woman who complained loudly about people arriving late and was convinced that she wasn't going to be cured. After some general discussion amongst the group which made me realise that some other people have got the phobia much, much worse (five attendees had once crashed a car because there was a spider in it, and one woman spent the majority of her day walking the streets to avoid encountering a spider in her house), we moved on to learning about spiders themselves.

This was brilliant. There is so much about spiders I didn't understand. For example, if you're watching TV and a spider starts running towards you, it's not actually aiming for you, it's running away from the noise of the television. This made sense, and I started to think of them as frightened little creatures rather than small Nazis out to get me. I learnt that most spiders are good parents. I heard that houses are actually a really bad place for them but they're not always clever enough to know that, and learnt that even an extremely venemous spider can't kill a healthy adult.

We then had a coffee break and I was surprised how excited I was about the rest of the course. I actually wanted to meet some tarantulas. After coffee we moved to another room where we had hypnotherapy. This was pretty much as I expected. We lay down on the floor with the lights out as the hypnotherapist talked us into a state of relaxation, and made us imagine our phobias pouring from ourselves into a cloud in the sky. He told us that after the session we would be calm around spiders, and as I lay there floaty-light, I believed him. I came out of hypnosis feeling dizzy and slightly odd, and hurriedly stuffed my face with a cereal bar as we made our way over the road to the zoo.

Being in a zoo after closing time is exciting in itself. We felt like naughty children which just added to my feelings of excitement. In the Bugs building, we firstly had a look at some spiders in displays. I normally walk extremely quickly past this part of the building, hugging the wall as my husband lingers at each of the displays. But this time, I was pushing to the front, desperate to have a look. A white-kneed tarantula was wandering about its cage and I watched, fascinated. It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. I didn't want to move on, and then felt bad for hogging the best spot.

Next we met some house spiders that were in plastic boxes without lids. We took it in turns to touch their back legs and see how they ran away from us. I was even brave enough to let them run over my fingers. Don't get me wrong, there were still moments where I felt scared. The first time I let a spider crawl over my fingers, I had several false starts of pulling my hand away, and when I actually did it, I had my eyes tight shut and felt sick.

To get your certificate for completing the course, you had to perform 'capture and release'. This basically meant that you had to put a glass over a house spider running across the table, slide a bit of card under it, and pick up the glass and the card as if you were going to put it outside. I have never once been able to do this at home. At first I didn't think I could do it. I hung back, anxious, watching the others. When it came to my turn, I was surprised how easy it was. The spider didn't run anywhere near as fast as I expected; it was quite easy to predict where it would be as I calmly placed my glass over its head. After I'd done it once, I wanted to do it again and again. I did it twice more on the table and once more on the floor. I felt perfectly calm. I even helped out a girl who was in tears saying she really couldn't do it. I offered to catch the spider for her, and got her to put the piece of card under the glass. Gradually she built up the confidence to do the whole thing herself. It was a huge boost to my confidence to find myself being the brave one in an encounter with a spider!

After that I met a tarantula named Joanna, which was actually less scary than my encounters with the house spiders. I held her in my hands and she was delicate and soft.

I feel a huge sense of achievement, and have spent the last few hours scanning the house for a spider to practice my new-found bravery. I'm slightly apprehensive that if I don't see one soon, my bravery's going to disapear, so I'm considering returning to the zoo to meet Joanna again to prove to myself that this change is long-term.

I feel completely different about spiders now. I would never call a spider ugly. I see them as beautiful, delicate, elegant. I just hope that feeling stays...

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Unreal City

I am an English graduate. I have read Ulysses and The Wasteland. I have used words like structuralism and post-modernism in essays and understood what they meant. I once read Madame Bovary in the original French. So why have I just phoned my local Waterstones and asked if they're staying open till midnight to celebrate the launch of the Harry Potter books?

I'm still not sure why I like Harry Potter. I like the fact that they're dense with clues and secrets which only a true die-hard reader would pick up. I like the twinned films coming out a year or two after each book. And most of all, I like the fact that I genuinely can't decide if Harry will survive the final book.

In reality, though, I think I like Harry Potter because it's social currency. I can talk to so many random people about the books, and I love that. It's slightly less poncey than trying to find someone else who loves post-modern postcolonial magic realism.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Sir Salman

Salman Rushdie getting a knighthood is a justification for suicide bombings. Damn right. Fury was terrible - nowhere near as good as his hilarious Satanic Verses.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


A mosquito is a device that emits a high pitched sound that only young people can hear. Its purpose is to prevent young people from congregating in public places. I am really surprised to hear that some people think this is acceptable.

Firstly, young people congregating is not a crime. Young people hang out and talk. That's what they do. They're too young to go to pubs or clubs, and their pocket money doesn't stretch to constant trips to the cinema or restaurants.

Secondly, there are many devices for preventing public congregation if there's a problem with congestion. This is the only one I know of that only prevents one section of society from congregating. It's no different to finding a statistic somewhere that says most muggers are black, and putting up signs saying 'no blacks' on the tube.

If anyone can think of a reason why these evil little things are acceptable, please let me know because so far I'm struggling...

Friday, June 01, 2007

Meg is...

I am a new devotee to Facebook and have become slightly obsessed. It's a combination of being able to share news and photos really really quickly with lots of people, and a sort of guilty nosiness in seeing what other people are up to. I've joined all kinds of exciting groups from the Gok Wan appreciation society to It's Called a Migraine, Bitch. I'm currently toying with the idea of joining I wish David Tennant was my Doctor.
It's great. If you haven't already, please join. I need more friends.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Eye eye!

I'm just back from the opticians. It was really hard work! The letters were teeny tiny and I tried really hard to read them but I couldn't, and then I felt like I ought to apologise to the optician for wasting his time.
Then he told me that I have impaired blinking. Apparently I only blink three quarters of the way down my eye, meaning the bottom part of my eye is drying out and making my vision blurry. I can't even blink right! I feel like such a failure...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Blame Canada

I'm going on holiday! Woo hoo! I'm going to spend a week in Montreal with the husband. I'm so excited - I'm going to catch a bear and become a mountie.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Welsh cakes and silly hats

Today is Grandma day. It's my Grandma's birthday, which we still celebrate even though she's been dead for ten years. We eat the kind of food she used to make (shepherd's pie, toad in the hole) and light a candle. This year I'm having shepherd's pie and trifle, and I bought a bag of buttermints to keep in my handbag in an old-lady kind of way.

Grandma was a huge part of our lives when we were growing up. Both my parents worked full time so it was Grandma who took me to school, cooked my dinner and helped with my homework. Thinking about her today I started to remember all kinds of random things about her. Like the way she used the word "terrific" to mean a lot ("oh, it rained a terrific lot today"). I remember her teaching me to knit with green knitting needles and purple wool. We used to watch television together when I came back from nursery school - a children's programme about a man who owned a bric-a-brac shop for me, and Pebble Mill for her. In the middle of the afternoon we would share an apple and an orange, and then she would fall asleep.

I remember staying round her flat where she had a pyjama case shaped like a dog, and I remember the smell of fat frying when she cooked me breakfast in the morning. She wore a huge coat and a big furry hat which the kids on the estate made fun of but she didn't care. Once I made her take me to church because I was a Brownie and had never been. Reluctantly, she took me. After an hour she said in a big loud voice "once these people start bloody praying they don't know when to stop!".

I remember putting a cross in the box for her when she voted in a local election. I remember endless knitting of yellow jumpers. I remember casserole every Monday. I remember her taking her teeth out and singing Happy Birthday to make us laugh. I remember the gold locket she wore round her neck. I remember endless batches of welsh cakes and mince pies.

My mum has a saying pinned to her noticeboard at home. It says "Say not in sadness that she has gone, but in gladness that she was."

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Brave little soldier

I am an infected. Somehow I have managed to get a bit of dirt under my fingernail and the tip of my finger has swollen up and I look like ET.

My all-knowlegable husband told me it's called a whitlow and then proceeded to attack me with a sterilised needle to get the fluid out. Bastard. I'm now on antibiotics but got to spend the whole of yesterday with my finger all bandaged up, not able to type or use my mouse. It was great. If nobody had pitied me or stroked my hair for five minutes I got to shout at them until they made me a cup of tea. I love being a cripple.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Shell shocked

Yesterday I saw The Last King of Scotland at the cinema. It's a very good film but was one of those ones which leaves you feeling really anxious afterwards. So my husband, in his infinite wisdom, decided that the best thing to do was to go home and watch Dawn of the Dead. Oh my god. I had the strangest dreams last night of being attacked by zombies sent by the president of Uganda.
Today I'm going to stay in my pyjamas and watch Ice Age with my teddy bear until balance is once again restored in the Meg household.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Big Brother Bullying

Has the world gone mad? Are people really complaining to Ofcom about racist bullying in Big Brother? Have these people actually watching the programme?

For those of you, which I sadly suspect is the majority, who have not been watching the show, Shilpa (a Bollywood actress) is being picked on by Jo (from S Club 7), Danielle (a model) and - to a far lesser extent - by Jade (former Big Brother contestant). It's been your typical bitchy bickering that happens when people are bored and can't think straight, and they've given her a bit of a hard time. But Shilpa will live. We're talking about arguments over how long to cook a chicken for, not the systematic bullying of an eternal victim.

And as for racism, where has that come from? Yes, they laughed at how she pronounces Dirk's name, but equally Shilpa, Dirk and Jermaine constantly laugh at those in the house with English accents. Yes, Jackiey asked if Shilpa lives in a shack, but I'm guessing that she doesn't know too much about India and looked genuinely embarassed when Shilpa described her glamorous lifestyle. As far as I can see, there's no evidence of racism in the house at all, only ignorance. And a perfect example of that is Jade's ponderings on eskimos last night:

"How is it that they don't turn into icy-cubes? Because they don't have electricity or heating and their homes are made of ice. Why is it that when they close their eyes their eyes don't get stuck together? You know how dolphins talk? Do they talk like that? Will eskimos ever become extinct? Where do they go when they die? Because they can't bury them under the grass like we do....if there are any eskimos watching who would like to come and meet me and tell me about themselves, that would be really good."

Fantastic. Now that's telly.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Why have I been forsaken?

I didn't take any time off this Christmas because the last two Christmases at work have been jolly affairs involving playing silly games and eating mince pies. But this year the team deserted me en masse, leaving just me and the boss at work last week. This actually turned out not to be too bad because it gave me a chance to do all the things I've been intending to do since Christmas 2005.

Having spent last week working like mad, I was really looking forward to seeing everyone back at work this week. But where are they? They're all still on annual leave the bastards.

I'm so lonely I might have to siddle up to the canteen staff and ask "whatcha doin...?" Maybe I'll make some new friends.