Friday, 23 December 2011

Controversy Bingo

Normally I love people, but not on the 23rd December (except for Laura, because it's her birthday).

Today is the day that we have some relatives over for lunch, who arrive, freshly botoxed, from the South of France*. Then from midday until four they sit and play a really fun Christmas game with the grandparents, called 'Who Can Make The Most Controversial Statement,' or 'Controversy Bingo'. Some gems so far include:

1. Cousin Emma is thinner than Anne. I mean, she looks thinner. (My Mum counteracted this one with "Emma has a bonier face.")

2. That word 'gay', once such a lovely, wholesome word meaning 'happy' or 'cheerful' is being tragically misused nowadays. What a pity.

3. Boys are better at singing than girls.

4. Anne's necklace is too long. Never mind what Topshop say, it could do with being about six inches shorter.

Once we reached the annual 'Global Warming doesn't exist' discussion, a Christmas tradition as normal in my house as the tree and presents, my Mother and I retired to the kitchen in order to be angry in private.

I expected the usual round of homophobia and misogyny, but the cousin Emma comparisons are going a bit far. I mean, we've already established that Emma, a genuinely lovely person, is more polite and hard-working than me, and that she has a perfect boyfriend and never expresses anger, but now thinner? Also, this is not the first time I have recieved fashion advice from my grandfather, who is 87, and, to be honest, not an expert in this field. If he was Giorgio Armani himself I would listen.

My parents and I coped with the afternoon by happily counterbalancing the game of 'Controversy Bingo' with a game of 'Has She Had a Facelift?,' in which you summon members of the family into the kitchen under the pretence of getting them to lay the table, and ask their opinion on the matter.

In the mean time, I adopt the following personality:

I think its important to get all the ill will and general wankerishness out of the way in time for Christmas Eve, when we will all be full of the joys of the festive season.

*I think they're in London for Christmas, they just talk about their villa in the South of France a lot.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Love Actually Isn't All Around

For some reason Blogger wouldn't let me comment on Harry's excellent blog on being single at Christmas, so I am writing my own.

Every year, inevitably, I am single. This comes with questions from my grandmother along the lines of "Your cousin Emma has a lovely boyfriend. Do you have a boyfriend Annie?" I always say "no" while my parents deliberately change the subject. However I'm tempted by creative excuses, such as:

a) No Granny, I'm too busy having casual sex with total stangers.
b) No Granny, I am a lesbian.
c) Yes Granny, his name is Chad and he's my drug dealer.

A university friend of mine was recently accused by another friend of 'always being in a relationship.' She protested that this wasn't true, and she had actually been single for four months before her current relationship. It's difficult to avoid a bitter, sarcastic internal monologue going "Oh poor you. Four whole months, that must have been so hard." I try not to be bitter though, as some people just have relationships more frequently than others. I propose relationship communism, where love is divided equally amongst everyone. I could be the Chairman Mao of relationships.

As Harry said, however, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Statistically single people will not be single forever, and the general feeling of loneliness is due to songs like 'Lonely this Christmas.' Try to imagine a house that's not a home, try to imagine Christmas all alone.I like to think that refers to people who don't have families, rather than single people. After all, we all have people we love and who love us to spend Christmas with right?*

It's not like any of us would be spending actual Christmas day with a boyfriend or girlfriend anyway. It's just the build-up that's the lonely bit, particularly as for me that build-up takes place in Canterbury, a beautiful, historial little town full of twinkly lights and buskers singing 'All I Want For Christmas' outside old-fashioned sweet shops.

But it's important to remember (without meaning to sound cheesy, except, inevitably, this will sound cheesy) that we are not really alone. I'm not walking around Canterbury by myself, I'm with friends. We all have friends and family.** Think of the starving children in Africa. Do they know it's Christmas time at all?***

Well, I hope that put things in perspective. Remember, no matter how depressing the build up to Christmas can be, that's nothing compared to how catastrophically shit New Year is.

*As far as I'm aware, everyone who follows my blog has parents/guardians. If you don't, I'm really sorry.

**Again, I'm really sorry if you don't. I'll be your friend.

***If you're reading this, and you're a starving child in Africa, then it's Christmas btw.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Rebel Without A Cause

Last week I had a dream that I was Lady Sybil from Downton Abbey. I was all set to abandon the aristocracy and run away with Branson, the politically radical Irish chauffeur, when, regrettably, I woke up.

Ever since then I've had a slight feeling of dissatisfaction. This is partly as I'm not actually about to elope with a fictional character portrayed by a man voted the sexiest in Ireland, and partly because it is very hard to rebel against anything nowadays. My views (men and women are equal, gay people should be able to get married, we should narrow the gap between the rich and the poor) were radical in 1912, but not so much now. This is, of course, a good thing; it shows that the world has generally improved.

Rebellion nowadays is a bit...lame. It's completely impossible to rebel against open-minded, liberal parents who I completely agree with on all major issues. I wouldn't want to. I like to think if I were actually a member of the Edwardian aristocracy I would be a bit radical, but you never can tell. If I wanted the disapproval of my parents, I would get an offensive tattoo, date someone from The Only Way is Essex, a programme I have mercifully never watched, and join the BNP.
Reading 'How To Be A Woman' by Caitlin Moran, hilarious and insightful though it may be, is not going to cut it. My mum wants to read it after me.

In the good ol' days they could rebel with style. Please take a moment to do a Wikipedia search for Jessica Mitford. She was, in my opinion, the coolest person of the 20th century. Her family were aristocrats, and they were all completely and delightfully mental. One of her sisters married Oswald Moseley, the head of the British Union of Fascists, another sister fell in love with Hitler and then killed herself when Britain declared war with Germany, while Jessica became a communist and ran away to join the Spanish Civil War at the age of nineteen. There's a picture of her (which I have in a book but can't find on the internet) as an old lady playing boggle with Maya Angelou. What a badass.

It seems the way to cause controversy nowadays is to go backwards. This can only be another sign that the world is improving. My cousin's fundamentalist, homophobic, majorly conservative views are met with far more concern from my grandparents than anything I believe ever could be.

Because I can't think of a sufficient way to finish this blog, here's a picture of Caitlin Moran with Sybil and Branson from Downton Abbey (Jessica Brown-Findlay and Allen Leech, because there is no point pretending that I don't always remember actor names)

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Hugs Not Drugs

I've had a chesty cough for the past week, which is weird because I rarely have a cough, and I don't have any other symptoms. Interestingly, this cough began on the day that the three smokers in my hallway realised that it's possible to smoke in the bedrooms without the smoke alarm going off.

I couldn't sleep at two this morning, and I heard voices outside my room, so I went to hang out with two smokers in one of their bedrooms, which gradually turned into a weed den. As the night of listening to slightly pretentious Indie music on YouTube progressed, my voice became huskier and huskier until I eventually had to leave. I'd taken my duvet with me so I had to change the cover at four in the morning, because it stank of tobacco. My cough has worsened today, almost certainly due to the passive inhalation of both tobacco and weed.

The cleaners are turning a blind eye, which, in a way, is good of them because they also turn a blind eye to our new kettle which hasn't been safety checked, but I kind of wish the smokers would return to just going outside. I understand that it's cold in November and it's an effort to walk, but they chose the habit.

The more I hang out with smokers the less I understand it. These people spend about a third of their weekly allowance of cigarettes, while I spend about one twenty-fifth of my weekly allowance on the Strepsils which I need because of their smoking habit. They have to find people to supply them with weed. They can't walk from our building to the building where we eat dinner without lighting up on the way. Some of them need weed to write essays. I for one, keep a bag of chocolate Crunchie rocks in my desk drawer, which are cheap and I don't need to block the bottom of the door with clothes to prevent the smell of the Crunchie rocks escaping and setting off the chocolate alarm.

Oh dear, another complainy blog. On the plus side, soon I'm going to buy a hat with the proceeds of not smoking.

Friday, 21 October 2011

The Nightclub Issue

I feel I have blogged excessively over the past month despite in September thinking I had given up, but this issue persists too much not to write about. I briefly talked about hating nightclubs in Sydney where people go out with the sole intention of groping backpackers, but at least that was a cultural experience. At university, I still hate nightclubs. If they were all unexpectedly shut down tomorrow, I'd be wandering amidst all the protest riots saying "Oh well, never mind, why don't we just go to a nice pub?"

It's currently twenty past five in the morning and I had the lovely experience of fleeing the university nightclub at half one, by myself, in order to escape from Gropey 'Would you like to come back to my room' McInappropriatetouching. I was under the impression that I was generally feeling all right until I got to my room and cried out all the vodka. The thing is, it wasn't actually Gropey himself who upset me, it was the fact that I feel like I'm in the 0.5% of people who would not like to go back to his room because I don't actually know him. That's the problem with nightclubs, you don't actually know anyone except for the people you arrive with, because (mostly) everyone looks and dances exactly the same. Which is not to say that I never enjoy myself; if I'm with nice people and there's no expectation of groping and it's one of the rare occasions when I actually like the song then I have a good time. Except I had a better time last week, when I was in a slightly quieter bar and one of my friends suggested that we left at eleven, bought ice-cream, and sat in the corridor in our pyjamas watching Pulp Fiction.

Really, nightclubs combine a selection of the things that I hate: annoying, repetitive music which seems to be from an album called 'Songs to play in nightclubs about being in a nightclub,' people who make me feel like a Jane Austen character for thinking that emotional intimacy should, in an ideal world, come before physical intimacy, and pretending that I can dance.

I am, reassuringly, absolutely fine because just before escaping the nightclub I managed to find Catie and screamed in her ear (not because I'm rude, but because that's the only way to communicate) that I was leaving and the reason why, so no-one thinks I am a) passed out in a corner somewhere, or b) With Gropey McInappropriateTouching.

One day, hopefully, I will be thirty and nobody will ever expect me to go clubbing. That applies to both nightclubs and clubbing seals. Which is also bad.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Typical Quiet Night

Two friends of mine (both girls) just came into my room in their underwear, completely drunk, stole both my winter and my summer dressing gowns and put on my lipstick, and ran upstairs to go and watch porn in the public computer room.

I, of course, chased after them in my pyjamas with a giant red lipstick print one of them had left on my cheek, apologising to the students in the computer room who were actually trying to do work.

Sometimes university is mental.

Monday, 10 October 2011


I have had a lot of bizarre conversations recently; far too many to write down on a long word document for Zanny to turn into a book. (Just an example of the sort of thing which might happen.)

Just now, I had a conversation which flowed perfectly from horrific sexually transmitted disease urban myths to James Joyce. Immature to pretentious in about ten seconds, which, thinking about it, is what every conversation throughout sixth form was like as well.

Earlier today, in my seminar, we learnt about Iambic Tetrameter, which is when there are four beats in a line of poetry. I was wondering why it was called 'tetrameter' and not 'quatrameter' and then had an epiphany, which I shared with the girl next to me and we sat there with our minds blown for the next several minutes. Tetris is called tetris because there are four blocks which make up each of the shapes that fall down. It is possible that no-one reading this blog finds that quite as exciting as I do, but never mind.

On Friday, a peculiar third year boy approached me in a club/bar-type place and then, without really any build-up other than a brief discussion about how bad the music was (they were playing Love Shack), invited me on what might have been a date to the library. It pretty much went like this:

"This is purely hypothetical, but I hang out in the library a lot, so if you ever come to the library, maybe we could get coffee." Then he went away and unsubtly spoke to his friend about me, complete with mouthed words and enthusiastic pointing.

I was left both confused and marginally depressed. Confused because it was a hypothetical date to an absolutely enormous library at some point in the future. That could not be vaguer unless I was asked out on a metaphysical date to the universe at an unfixed point in the space-time continuum (which, by the way, would be awesome.) I was also marginally depressed because I love coffee and I'm quite fond of libraries, but the guy in question did not know that, so I get the impression that he says that to all the girls. I think I may have been targeted because I was exactly the same height as him.

In other news, my conservative, incredibly religious, homophobic cousin has recently announced his engagement to a woman from his conservative, incredibly religious, homophobic church and they're going to have conservative, incredibly religious, homophobic babies. That's the depressing future of my surname, which originally belonged to Polish Jews and is now going to belong to the Church of Scotland.

That's all folks. Tonight I am going to a 'pub quiz' with a due sense of dread because apparently here 'pub quiz' involves clothes-swapping and blowing up condoms.

Monday, 3 October 2011

The Cure For Illness

I have freshers' flu. I kind of assumed that because freshers was the week before last I had miraculously escaped, but no such luck.

Aside from one seminar, I spent all of today drinking an endless cycle of tea, coffee and hot chocolate and attempting to read 'Oedipus the King' but having to have an hour-long nap every other page. Obviously I should have had an early night, but I couldn't sleep so I ended up walking to the other side of campus in my pyjamas with some drunk people, one of whom was just wearing knickers and a top. I feel like perhaps the fresh air did me good.

University is good so far.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Jet Lag

It is 4.18am and I am in Saint Albans.

It is both weird and wonderful to be home. Both my brother and my bedroom look completely different. My parents made huge, vast improvements to my bedroom as a nice surprise, and my brother appears to have aged about five years.

The flight, incidentally, was horrible. I had a cold, as did everybody else on the flight, so it was 24 hours of everyone's germs circulating around the plane. However it got me home, and I managed to stay awake yesterday by setting up my new iPod and going to see the neighbours. I didn't get to sleep until midnight due to the cold, and then naturally woke up at 3.30 and was unable to get back to sleep*. I therefore cannot promise to be coherent later today. Talking to the neighbours yesterday I found myself forgetting how to string words together in order to make sentences.

Anyway, it is very weird to not be in Australia. All the Melbourne relatives gave me lovely cards and a bracelet and saying goodbye was very difficult. Australia was amazing. It was the best and weirdest six months of my life. I met a lot of lovely people and a lot of weirdoes. I mostly went to beautiful places but I went to a few horrible places as well. I can't quite believe it all actually happened.

*By 'unable to get back to sleep,' I mean desperate to a) go on the laptop, b) listen to new songs on new iPod and c) Be awake before Laura and Jane show up in about four and a half hours.

Friday, 29 July 2011

The Outback

I have seen a lot of strange things in the Outback. Snakes, crocodiles, rock wallabies, a town entirely obsessed with UFOs, pubs in the middle of nowhere, canyons, gorges, Uluru, fainting Germans, asthma attacks, and lots and lots and lots of red dust.

Today my tour group and I were walking through a dry gorge when a crow said "Aaaaah" and our (female) tour guide said "That's what she said."

Later on today we stopped at the small town of Hermannsberg, and I was happily eating a Drumstick, which is the Australian equivalent of a Cornetto, when a load of Aboriginal children, probably between the ages of seven and ten, walked past me and yelled: "Want money! Want money! Want money!" I was so startled that I shook my head, hid behind a bin, and quietly pretended not to exist.

Gotta love the outback.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Completely Spoiler-free Review of Deathly Hallows Part 2 (and some stuff about Darwin)

I would, ultimately, have preferred to see Deathly Hallows part 2 with someone who I could discuss the film with afterwards (no doubt incredibly loudly.) Also, I can't HELP but think that the atmosphere on release day in England; today, in fact, would be slightly better than the atmosphere in Perth at 9.35 in the morning on the inexplicably earlier release date. The cinema was only half full, due to all the major keenos going to the midnight release the night before, or going in the evening like normal people. However rather than catching the two buses and the train that the Western Australia travel planner recommended (for literally a half hour journey) I got a lift with very nice family friends with small babies who cannot go out in the evenings, so I'm incredibly grateful that I even got to the cinema.

Well, it was amazing. I did not cry until about two seconds before the end credits. I'm also not entirely sure I breathed properly until the end credits. When I left the cinema I looked in the mirror in the toilets and was relieved to see that I still looked as young as I had done before the film. I was kind of worried I might emerge as a proper grown-up with a mortgage and the ability to drive, or something. It was true to the book, and Maggie Smith was very much like a certain A Level English teacher who taught us Chaucer, and Alan Rickman did some serious hardcore acting.

It's also pretty good in 3D, although I was so absorbed in the storyline anyway that it would probably be good either way.

I swear one minute I was reading the first book when I was seven and suddenly all the films are over and I'm nineteen on Tuesday. That's another thing...I'm nineteen on Tuesday. And Tuesday happens sooner in Australia due to the time difference, so I am sort of nineteen before my twin brother, who was born two minutes earlier. Until I return to England and balance is restored to the universe, I will be sort of older than my older twin. Crazy.

I am in Darwin now, having two hours on the internet in an air-conditioned internet cafe because I cannot face the 31 degree heat again. And that is actually all I have to say about Darwin, other than why do we have to have our bags searched and walk through a security archway to get into the library, and why does the library only have reference books? I wasn't planning on stealing an encyclopedia.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The Wallet Incident

Firstly, I recently had the single most terrifying moment of my life. More terrifying than leaving the resort on Fraser Island in the middle of the night to look for dingoes. More terrifying than firing a shotgun or riding a horse through a creek. More terrifying than the moment on the coach on the way back from the Woman in Black trip when the lights went off. You get the idea.

I left my wallet in a shop called 'Hot Dollar' in Sydney, where I bought a pen which could have turned out to have cost me all my money, all my Dad's money, my provisional driver's license, all my luggage (the locker reciept with the access code to my luggage was in the wallet) and basically everything except my passport, a copy of Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth, and some orange tic tacs. I discovered this loss only an hour before my train was due to leave for Perth, a three day train journey across the outback. I was supposed to be at the station an hour before departure, but instead I was running frantically down George Street, knocking into pedestrians and panicking more than I have ever panicked.

As I dashed into Hot Dollar, I asked the check-out man and he said he had not seen a wallet. For a minute there, I was sure that in the next hour I would have to a) go to the hostel and get them to break into the locker with my luggage in it, then b) go to the bank and plead for a new card, and c) ring my cousin in Melbourne in tears and explain how I had lost everything, and finally d) ring my dad and explain that I had lost his emergency credit card and he must cancel it immediately. If by some miracle I then managed to actually get on the train, I would have to live on orange tic tacs for three days.

Luckily, my Canadian friend Brooke who accompanied me on the mad chase down George Street asked the next check-out man, who asked me to give a detailed description of the wallet "Black! With a clasp shaped like a padlock," before he handed it to me. Needless to say, I got on the train and within the next six hours or so my heart rate returned to normal.

"Phew" doesn't even come close.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

What I Have Been Up To

Following two exhausting weeks travelling up the East Coast with a couple of posh boys from Sussex/ Oxbridge and some dull Swiss Germans, I had two weeks of highly necessary collapsing and eating in Melbourne. Nothing counteracts horse riding, surfing, snorkelling, rifle-shooting, sailing, getting lost in Byron Bay and other things Anne Really Enjoyed But Is Not Likely To Take Up As A Hobby, like lying on a sofa drinking tea, eating chocolate and watching Grey's Anatomy.

A nine year old Venezuelan child genius who is a friend of my cousin in Melbourne has a crush on me. He drew me a picture (of some dragons), hugs me frequently and asked his mother if he could keep me. Rather tragically, this is by far the most flattering admirer I have had in Australia.

I've delayed my trip to Perth by a week (I'm going tomorrow) because my family friend there gave birth to her baby a week late, going into sudden labour and giving birth to a ten pound baby girl on the floor of her house, delivered by her husband with no assistance. Today I went shopping for baby clothes as a present, a weird and awkward experience because I felt like I could be arrested at any moment on suspicion of not actually having a baby.

My four year old cousin did a dance performance in the living room to the Peter, Paul and Mary version of 'Leaving on a Jet Plane.' It was very moving.

That is all really. Apart from the fact that I am not very good at lassooing goats. Or snorkelling, which just involves me breathing like Darth Vader under water until I decide that I have had enough of this nonsense and prefer to breathe through my nose.

If anyone ever gets the opportunity to go to Fraser Island, they should. It is beautiful. But beware of the dingoes.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Reasons Why I Shouldn't Go to Longreach

Firstly, do you see what I did there?

1. There is nothing in Longreach. It is a ghost rural outback town. All I would do there would be go to the motel, have a shower and sleep. There is more to do in Brisbane, it being an actual place with actual people.

2. I got about two hours sleep in very cramped train conditions last night, next to an old man who sang in his sleep and in front of a woman who called her young teenage daughter a 'bitch.'

3. There is absolutely no guarantee that I would get a window seat.

4. In 24 hours there and 24 hours back, I could pop to St. Albans by plane, have dinner with my parents (for free!), probably see a lot of my friends, sleep in my own bed and get back to Australia in time for my tour from Sydney to Cairns. This thought makes me sad.

5. I get to see the outback on the Indian Pacific train from Sydney to Perth, which is three days and actually has proper reclining seats, unlike the train to Longreach which is basically exactly like a plane only with no films or television.

6. All the stuff I would have done on the train to Longreach (reading, daydreaming, writing an epic novel, god knows) I can do in Brisbane only with more leg room.

7. The Brisbane hostel is really nice, the weather is lovely, the food is expensive but yummy and I actually get to sleep in a bed, which is a nice bonus.

Also, I shouldn't go to the BAFTAs, because I have nothing to wear, I've got out of the habit of wearing make-up, and the camera would cut to me and I'd be asleep, headfirst, in the bangers and mash. I was so tired this morning that I accidentally left my passport at reception (they returned it to me safely) and then had a shower without a towel and had to dry myself on my new t-shirt.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

More Books and Stuff

I met young adult author Cassandra Clare today, although I feel that we did not form the in-depth, close personal relationship I definitely had with Morris Gleitzman and Garth Nix. This is because my shift was over, and I was no longer wearing my bright orange t-shirt with the word 'volunteer' on the back. I was just an ordinary member of the public getting my book signed and lining up for her talk, which meant I got to overhear some great things in the queue. For example:

"I went to the Melbourne festival last year, and Joss Whedon was there but I missed it. I missed Joss Whedon."

"Some people queue up for book signings for thirteen hours. Would you queue for thirteen hours to get your book signed by J. K. Rowling? I'd just follow her round the supermarket and steal her receipts."

(This is because in Australia when you buy things they give you the choice between putting in your pin number or signing. I reckon J. K. Rowling would choose pin, personally.)

And then, my personal favourite:

"She's so weird. She had to leave university early to go and paint her TARDIS."

Anyway, Cassandra Clare was funny and interesting and at the book signing me, her and an Australian girl had a very brief conversation about the fact that the world is supposed to end today and whether we're safe as it's already evening in Australia.

On Monday I have a twelve hour train journey to Brisbane, arriving at six o'clock in the morning, then twelve hours in Brisbane before a twenty-four hour train journey to Longreach, a night in Longreach and then a twenty-four hour journey back. Then one night in Brisbane and a twelve-hour train journey back to Sydney. This is completely mental, but luckily I have my iPod (which will inevitably run out of battery), a blank notebook, four pens, and five books that I have not yet read. Hopefully I won't be sitting next to someone weird, because the other day on the train I was next to a woman reading the Bible who tried to convert me to Christianity, and that would not be fun for twenty-four hours.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Backstage at a Rock Concert

No, of course I didn't go backstage at a rock concert. I went backstage at the Sydney Writers' Festival Primary School event in Penrith while volunteering. More or less the same thing. The second I arrived at the Performance Centre where the event was being held I had a conversation with Morris Gleitzman the children's author without realising he was Morris Gleitzman the children's author until he mentioned that he would be signing his books.

My job was to usher primary schools into the venue along with another volunteer, and then write children's names on post-it notes so that the authors (Morris Gleitzman and Deborah Abela) would be able to spell their names correctly when signing autographs. This was mostly easy (Sophie, Sam) but then other times confusing (Mikhayla, Kyprian, the fact that nearly every Australian boy is called Lachlan.)

I was then officially allowed to leave, but I found out that Garth Nix was on next with another author called Sean Williams with whom he co-wrote a book. I hung around outside the stage door like a groupie until they came out, then said 'Garth Nix?' at both of them, not sure which was which. Then I got Garth Nix's autograph for April (I seem to remember her being a big fan of his books, it would be a bit awkward now if I was confusing her with someone else.) He gave me a couple of free signed bookmarks, then we had a conversation about the St. Albans Waterstones and the fact that nearly every Australian boy is called Lachlan.

Tragically, my stalkerdom meant that rather than leaving I was asked to do post-its for all the kids wanting their copies of Sabriel signed, but I didn't really mind, even when I had to run to the mall to buy extra post-it notes and even though I spent the entire day wearing a bright orange t-shirt. I hope whatever shift I am doing tomorrow involves being backstage with authors, although I hope I don't make an idiot of myself in front of Markus Zusak.

Thursday, 5 May 2011


I have been spending a lot of time in the bookshop. I have also been spending a lot of time in the bar, which every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night transforms into a nightclub.

Now, don't get me wrong, I like socialising. I love getting a little bit dressed up to go out in St Albans with some people who I've known forever, where we have a few drinks and sit on the sofas in Lloyds. Clubbing, however, is not really my favourite thing in the world.

I couldn't really make less effort here short of going out in my pyjamas. Whenever I go out I'm wearing a t-shirt, jeans and flip flops with no make-up. Occasionally I might really go to town and actually brush my hair, but not very often. Due to budget, I only buy the five dollar cocktails, and the most I've had in one night is three. I have been out a lot over the past three weeks, because the bar is next door and it's a good way to meet people. It was fun at first after a couple of months of conservation work, but I'm beginning to get a little bit tired of it.

For example, I have heard that song 'Price Tag' by Jessie J so much that I think I know all the words. And that song where Rihanna talks about how much chains and whips excite her, and 'Firework' by Katy Perry, which is actually alright, and 'On the Floor' by Beyonce, and that really annoying one that's just a beat and some words which make no sense. Normally I have absolutely no idea about any music unless it is either on my iPod or played in the background of a film I just watched.

Not only have I listened to a lot of music which I don't really like, I've also met a lot of weirdoes. Or, possibly not even weirdoes, just the kind of people that really, really enjoy nightclubs. Yesterday, with some trepidation, I went to the bar by myself for the first time in the hope that I would make friends there. I did, but then a guy put his hand on my thigh before introducing himself. I don't know about anyone else, but I prefer to say 'Hi, I'm Anne, who are you?" before I grope people. (That makes it sound like I frequently grope people. I really, really don't.)

It is impossible to cross the dance floor to go to the bathroom without being felt up a little bit and having beer spilled all over my shoes. Last night I refused to let someone buy me a drink in case he spiked it with anything (I did let a nineteen year old geography student from Birmingham buy me a drink last week when he bought everyone a round, but that was a little different.) While he was off buying a drink for himself, I was sitting alone, and a guy who was probably in his mid-twenties came up, pointed at me, pointed at himself, and then made dancing gestures followed by kissing gestures. Devastatingly romantic though this undoubtedly was, I mimed 'sorry but no.' And that's another thing, no-one can hear you say no, you just have to mouth it while making pushing-away gestures like you're a traffic controller.

Now I hate to sound like a boring person, but recently I have had beer force poured down my throat, watched a guy swallow a tampon whole (yes, really), been offered sex in the lift, and had two people making out against me while I try and maintain a straight-faced conversation with someone about the Sydney Powerhouse Museum of Science and Design.

I think I might just go to the bookshop.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Australian Dictionary

Here are some new words I have learnt:

Tim Tams: A bit like Penguin biscuits, only not packaged individually.

Lamingtons: Coconut and chocolate sponge cakes.

Pashing: Snogging

Pash Rash: Rash around mouth from too much pashing. I don't know if this is a widely used term or just said by one girl from Perth who someone was telling me about.

Thongs: Flip-flops. This results in a lot of confusing and awkward conversations. I also learnt that in New Zealand flip-flops are called 'Jandals', or 'Japanese Sandals.'

Lift: Fizzy lemonade soft drink.

Solo: Other fizzy lemonade soft drink. I can't really taste the difference.

Monotreme: Mammals which lay eggs. There are only two, the platypus and the echidna.

Diprotodon: Giant extinct Australian marsupial. Basically a wombat the size of a hippopotamus. I want one as a pet.

Singlet: Vest top

Capsicum: Pepper, as in red pepper or green pepper. This is, for some reason, a really fun word to use. "Would you like some capsicum on your pizza?"

Tomato Sauce: I asked for ketchup yesterday and the guy was like "You mean tomato sauce?"

Latte: Does not in any way resemble a latte. Basically a regular coffee with a tiny amount of milk.

Esky: Cool box for storing food. I prefer this word to 'cool box.'

Ute: Utility vehicle or pick-up truck.

According to my Lonely Planet guide and Wikipedia, 'Bludger' is slang for a lazy person. However I've not heard anyone use this and probably if I called someone a bludger they'd think I was talking about Quidditch.

And you thought Catie was doing all the language learning in Austria.

Monday, 18 April 2011


So, I have just finished six weeks of Conservation Volunteers Australia. I will begin with...

Week 1: Upon my arrival in North Geelong, one of the most zombie-apocalypse type places on Earth, I made friends with a nineteen year old girl from Liverpool who did the same A-Levels as me, and likes the same TV shows. This was unbelievably lucky. A group of us went with our team leader, Mr. Darcy (his actual name, he insisted we call him Michael but whatever) to Bimbi Park Caravan site down the Great Ocean Road, which is full of koalas. We dug a trail through the rainforest, which was amazing; dressed like a combination of Indiana Jones and Bob the Builder. I spent a lot of time being bitten by mosquitoes and pulling leeches from my socks.

Week 2: Just me and Ellie from Liverpool in the CVA house that week, which meant a lot of eating food and watching television. We went to the Serendip wildlife sanctuary to rabbit-proof a fence with a load of old men. That was the week when I encountered a wolf spider and learnt that I have absolutely no upper-body strength.

Week 3: A group of us went to Camperdown, to stay in another caravan site in little cabins. After weeding various gardens in the area, we went sightseeing and saw the Twelve Apostles. My favourite day that week was when we went to do some planting at a local secondary school, and got a tour of the school by an apparently legendary retired teacher, who had a garden planted in the school in his honour.

Week 4: Possibly the best week of CVA. Went to Hamilton, a small town in the middle of nowhere, to work on the farm of what were probably the world's richest Australian farmers. They had an amazing farmhouse, and let us stay one night in their incredible holiday home in the Grampians, which had two enormous 'cottages' and their own private lake. We broke all CVA rules by going fishing on the lake and drinking alcohol. We had Andrew as our team leader this time, and he was a bit like Stephen Fry in the sense that he knew lots about lots of different things.

Week 5: Stayed in Hamilton, saying goodbye to Ellie-from-Liverpool who finished CVA. Spent the week with a twenty-nine year old Spanish vet called Yolanda who seemed to eat only fruit and vegetables. We went with our new team leader to rake various playgrounds around Hamilton and spread mulch. I spent most of the time in Hamilton library, to the point where two days before I was due to leave they actually offered me library membership.

Week 6: Yolanda left, and two nineteen-year-old guys came to the Hamilton house, one from Wales and the other from Belgium. This was possibly the most fun I had in the CVA house because they were completely insane and managed to break the clock and the fridge by playing sport indoors. One night we played Murder in the Dark. Pierre from Belgium ate more than I have ever seen a human being eat. The work was weeding around the wetlands in the rain, which was a bit cold and miserable. I was pretty happy to leave Hamilton because there wasn't much to do as everything seemed to close on the weekends.

Phew. Now I'm in Sydney, staying in a youth hostel, which is turning out to be very, very cool even though the only friends I've made so far are some guys from LA who left this morning. I won a free t-shirt hermit crab racing, a sentence I never thought I'd be able to say. I've realised that until the 7th May when I start volunteering at the Sydney Writer's Festival I have absolutely no responsibilities other than not to spend all of my money. Little scary but good.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Teaser Trailer

I have 9 minutes remaining on this library computer, so I sadly don't have time to do an in-depth blog post right now.

However, COMING SOON: the weekend after next, I will be writing a lengthy blog post about CVA (Conservation Volunteers Australia) and everything I have been up to. Stay tuned.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Da da da da, da da da da, there's nothing like Austraaaalia

Hello people who are 11 hours in the past. Please insert witty Doctor Who/ Back To The Future reference in here. I couldn't think of one witty enough.

So. I am in Australia, typing very quietly, because I am babysitting, and one of them just woke the other up and I had to go and get milk and read bedtime stories half way through the blog post.

Things I have done so far that are not normally part of my daily routine:

1. Eaten about five small meals a day rather than two large ones.
2. Eaten lychees.
3. Worn brown canvas trousers (with flip flops, and I spent the whole day thinking "I saw Cady Haron wearing army pants and flip flops, so I wore army pants and flip flops.")
4. Not worn any make-up at all in nearly two weeks despite going places every day
5. Fainted in the middle of a Melbourne law firm for no apparent reason, alarming an Australian woman called Margaret.
6. Been visited in the night by a three year old who then fell asleep in the bed next to me, and held on to me like a teddy bear for three hours.
7. Seen a huntsman spider.
8. Attended a primary school barbecue.
9. Travelled around on a tram by myself.
10. Eaten takeaway pizza with three lesbians and two gay men.

I also saw some bats. Many bats. Black bats.

Next Thursday I am off Conservation Volunteering. Little bit scared but I rang the people and they seem to have a plan for what I'm doing, which is subject to change, but at least they know who I am and won't be confused when I show up.

It's the middle of summer here, which is weird. And they do have cheddar cheese, that was a myth I heard.

All I can think of for now, better sneak away before the kids wake up. Not sure when I'll next blog, but I'll be on facebook/email-able until Friday (or, Thursday, in UK time)

I love everyone in St. Albans (with the exception of people I don't know/ like, but if you know who I am then I probably love you or at least like you a bit.)

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Leaving on a Jet Plane

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go. The rest of the song isn't really relevant, because I do know when I'll be back again, I don't intend to bring a wedding ring home, and 'so lonesome I could die' is a slight exaggeration.

The vast majority of my goodbyes are already done. I said bye to Jack last week, Laura and Jane came round for a very enjoyable nine and a half hours of Indiana Jones and compulsive eating yesterday, and today I have been making the rounds of the neighbours. It's been a bit of a whirlwind of packing, skyping, hugging and phone calls.

I can't quite believe I'm going to Australia tomorrow. I'm really going to miss everyone, and I am dreading the moment tomorrow when I say goodbye to my parents at security, but I'm also, obviously, excited. Feeling a little bit like this:

But also a little bit like it's my first day of school tomorrow, but a really big, far away school with kangaroos.

I will keep in touch as much as I possibly can, whenever I have internet access. Oh my God I am going to Australia tomorrow. Except not right now; right now I am going to go and eat dinner with my parents.

Goodbye Everyone And I Love You All. See you in August (although I'll blog lots before then obviously).

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Valentine's Day

As some people already know, due to an anomaly in the space-time continuum I am not going to have Valentine's Day this year. I fly at around midday (note to self: actually look up flight time) on February 13th, arriving in Australia twenty four hours later. This is midday on February 14th in UK time, but Australia is 12 hours ahead, so it will already be midnight, and Valentine's Day will be over.

This of course poses an enormous problem. Where will my hordes of secret admirers send their cards/flowers/chocolate/large sums of money? I mean, I usually spend every 14th of February sorting through thousands of letters from my adoring fans. Last year they actually had to close the Post Office because every single letter and package that came through was addressed to me. If I'm on a plane travelling very fast I don't know how this will work. I forsee Royal Mail strikes, police riots and general chaos.

...or, alternately, it will actually be the best Valentine's Day I have ever had. I usually celebrate Valentine's Day about as much as I celebrate Ramadan, but I get to go and see my boyfriend, Australia, although he has a bad case of Cyclone Yasi at the moment. And hey, maybe they'll show Rom Coms on the plane.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The Triplet

This happened in my house today:

Me: Do I have a secret triplet I don’t know about?

Mum: When I first saw the scan I thought you might be triplets.

Me: What would you have named the triplet? It would have to be a four-letter one syllable word.

Mum: Oh dear.

Me: Not a swear word! Not like Jack, Anne and Fuck.

Cue my mother and I laughing hysterically on the landing for about five minutes, while she's putting her laundry into a basket and I'm struggling to hold onto my laptop, a pile of clean clothes and a bank statement.

Poor Fuck, he gets so forgotten amongst his siblings. I like to think that nobody pays attention to him because I'm the girl and Jack's the disabled boy and he's just 'the other one.' You know that short guy you saw wandering around school with dark hair and a very forgettable face? Yeah, that was him. He lives in our garden shed because he's painfully shy of strangers, and only joins us for meals once a year, on our birthday.

It's true, I swear. There were two whole minutes unaccounted for between Jack and I being born; plenty of time for another one.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Oh Score.

New blog post, because the one I wrote instead of this one was about nothing, and I just found out something pretty cool.

Deathly Hallows Part 2 release date in UK? 15th July

Deathly Hallows Part 2 release date in Australia? 14th July.*

Right. That is it. I am really looking forward to this film, and I don't think I can sit around in the UK waiting for a whole extra day. There is only one thing for it; I will have to go to Australia. I know it sounds crazy, but it's the final Harry Potter film after all, and I can't bear the thought of those Australians seeing it 24 hours ahead. (And Australia is already 12 hours ahead, which makes my brain hurt, but I think that means they actually see it even earlier. I think. Hmm, I don't know.)

I think I'll go next Sunday, just to make sure I get a really good seat, because you can never arrive at the cinema too early. That'll give me five months to buy popcorn and possibly even have a little browse around the cinema foyer if I'm lucky. I could of course go to France, where the release date is 13th July, but unfortunately I would need to become completely fluent in the language. Conveniently, they speak English in Australia, although for all I know the film could be dubbed with Hugh Jackman, the little boy from Round The Twist, and Nicole Kidman as Harry, Ron and Hermione respectively, and with Geoffrey Rush as Dumbledore, and Tim Minchin as Voldemort.

Better pack a bag or something.

* There is no possible logical explanation for the Australian release date being earlier than the UK one other than that Warner Bros know about me, and love me very much.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Sleepless In St. Albans

I woke up at 3.30am this morning, after having a dream that I was saying goodbye to people at the airport before going to Australia. These people were my Mum (fair enough, she will be there in real life), Laura, Jane and, for some odd reason, Catie's Dad. I assume he must have driven Laura and Jane to Heathrow or something. Anyway, everyone except Catie's Dad was crying in a way I don't actually anticipate will happen in real life, apart from with my mum, who cries if she sees an ambulance, and I awoke with the dawning realisation that in 19 days I am going to Australia for six months.

Whenever I think about it, I struggle to get my head around it. I'm majorly excited to the point where I get a little teary with excitement if I go onto YouTube and watch the 'There's Nothing Like Australia' Australian tourist board advert. And I'm scared to the point where I get nostalgic for stupid things like Morrisons and the coffee machine and the traffic lights by the station. (Seriously, I'm going to be nearly as far away from those traffic lights as it's possible to get without going into Space. Or to New Zealand.)

So I am completely and utterly wide awake. But, importantly, Australia is not that far, because they still speak the same language, have the same book covers, say 'pissed off', and, as I remembered earlier, created the 90's TV show 'Round The Twist.' So, you know, I always have that as a topic of conversation to fall back on. In periods of awkward silence I can just sing the theme tune.

Maybe Tim Minchin will be there and I can pay him to be my lifecoach. Or the other way round, because I have a pretty tight budget.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Lol Skins

Recently, I have been watching Skins. I never watched the first four series when they were on TV, so I thought, given all the hype, I might give it a go.

I have to say, I am relieved that somebody finally thought to make a documentary of my years in Sixth Form. I wouldn't want anyone to get the wrong impression that I spent the past two years of my life attending lessons, going to town with friends, watching TV and reading the odd book. I mean, remember that time when I brought that huge bottle of vodka into school, drank it in a supply cupboard and then threw up on a teacher? And when the same teacher had sex with my friend on the school trip? Not to mention the time when a squatter locked me out of my own house while I was naked and then some drug dealers smashed up my clarinet.

I'm joking about that last one of course. I don't play the clarinet.

Anyway, this particular quote (said in the middle of a lesson in front of everyone) basically sums up my teenage years:

"I got off with Tony on the Russian trip. I only did it because I fell out with Anwar when he said he hated gays, so I got upset, and Tony said he'd give me head, to cheer me up, you know. It didn't mean anything- I lost my head, and then he gave me head, and then we got deported from Russia."

Let's be honest, we've all been there. Every. Bloody. School. Trip.

All sarcasm aside, it's actually a brilliantly entertaining programme. My only small qualm with the plot is what kind of crazy school has a Female Staff Shower Room which teenage boys can easily wander into? They need to get the PTA onto that.

Monday, 10 January 2011


I've just spent half an hour looking at deadly Australian spiders on Wikipedia. Because now would be a very good time to stop being the person who does not venture into the garden shed for two years after seeing a massive spider through the window, or gets a neighbour to help set free another huge spider trapped under a bowl. Time to de-sensitize myself.

Sadly, I cannot help it that spiders look like the personification of evil. That's a Black House Spider. Wikipedia casually remarks that they're widely distributed throughout Australia, kind of implying that they're a bit like dishwashers and no home is really complete without one. Fortunately they're not considered dangerous or anything, but their bites are excruciatingly painful. Well, that's alright then. It's Latin name is Badumna Insignis, which sounds a bit like a satanic cult.

Then there's the Redback spider. The image of this would not upload, probably because they are so evil that they don't show up on blogs. Apparently they are one of the few arachnids to engage in sexual cannibalism. They also look a little bit like supervillains. See, I try not to be afraid of spiders, but it's very hard not to be a little bit trembly and scared at the thought of sexual cannibalism.

Then there's the huntsman spider which is, to put it politely, fucking enormous. Wikipedia is full of reassuring information, as huntsman spiders are apparently not deadly, and you'll be ok in about two days, but if you get bitten by a 'Badge Huntsman' you might suffer nausea, headache, vomiting, and heart palpitations.

Some of the deadliest spiders in the world, found all around suburban Sydney. Their hobbies include killing children, showing up in your friendly local swimming pool, and killing some more children. First there's pain, then goosebumps, sweating, tingling, twitching, salivation, eye-watering, increased heart rate, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, confusion, writhing, muscle spasm, unconsciousness, then death. Sounds like a typical afternoon.
Luckily there's an antivenom, so as long as you seek immediate medical attention you actually just have a couple of days in hospital and don't die. Damn, I am not going to sleep tonight. The most important thing I have to remember is always check your shoes for deadly spiders before putting them on. In the meantime, LOOK A KOALA: