Thursday, 29 May 2014

The Nature Of The Beast

Dear otterlings, my apologies for my absence. I feel like I'm always saying that, but this time I genuinely have a reason. The Sloth and I were on a well-deserved, much-longed-for vacation. We went to London first, to visit the Harry Potter tour at Warner Brothers studios (which by the way, is INCREDIBLE. I cannot praise it enough. And I bought a chocolate frog) then flew to Athens for a couple of days to see some sights. Next we travelled to Mytilene for the 'beach and sun and relaxation' part of our holiday, and finally flew back to London and spent a wonderful day in the Natural History Museum,with the giant ground sloth and the dinosaurs. We even went on a special behind the scenes tour to see the preserved specimens, including animals that Darwin brought back from his voyage on the Beagle. It was amazing.

Since my friend Cublet had a birthday just before I left for vacation, I had already given her a present, but when I saw a picture of a cat wearing an inflatable unicorn horn, I knew that I would have to get it. It turned out that you could also buy them in black (because this is apparently makes it an 'evil inflatable unicorn horn', which feels slightly racist and weird but I suppose unicorns might have a different take on the colour-palette of their species) and when given the option, this is the one she chose. It arrived in the post today, and I had the following conversation wit our mutual friend Wetsoks. Please bear in mind that Cublet is also the flatmate of Wetsoks, and is actually older than both of us (not that reality ever really has any part to play in my chats with Wetsoks, but I suppose it is pertinent information)

Me: I bought the Cublet a unicorn horn. An evil unicorn horn, to be precise.

Wetsoks: Jesus.

Me: She wanted it!

Wetsoks: (exasperated) Did she really?

Me: I feel kind of like a divorced dad when you use that tone with me.

Wetsoks: I wish you would discuss these things with me before you spoil her by getting her whatever she wants. Then I'm the bad guy for telling her she can't wear it to bed.

Me: She can't do any harm with it.

There was a brief pause.

Me: She can't do any MAJOR harm with it. Probably.

Wetsoks: Says the absent parent.

Me: I'm not sure an inflatable unicorn horn can cause real injury.

Wetsoks: Uh huh. I'm just saying it always ends badly, and I end up picking up the pieces. You whiz in for a fun weekend of Glee and drinking and whatever, and I end up being the bad parent.

Me: But you got full custody, she lives with you! I just want our time together to be special.

Wetsoks: And you can - but in a healthy, less show-tuney, inflatable-weapony way.

Me: Aww, man.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The Seat Thief

I went to the cinema last weekend with my British friend Wetsoks and my Greek friend Panini, to 'enjoy' the newly released film The Book Thief, adapted from the book by Markus Zusak. I say enjoy because although parts of it were amusing, it was essentially a film about childhood illiteracy, Nazi occupation and (spoiler alert!) a guy living in a basement for a really bloody long time. Oh and it's basically narrated by Death. So it wasn't exactly Fun And Frolics With Kittens 2: The Fluffinator. Nevertheless, we settled down into our seats and prepared to endure the commercials.

Me: Is it true that the Kevin Bacon adverts are gone? I thought the rumours might have been too good to be true.

Wetsoks: They appear to have disappeared but now we've got this animated cinema thing going on.

We watched the animated cinema thing happen for a while.

Me: It's better than bad Bacon... It makes me very sad to put the words "bad" and "bacon" together in any context. Somehow it makes me hate Kevin Bacon even more.

Wetsoks: I was here yesterday by myself, and the cinema was less full than it is right now. You wouldn't believe what happened.

Panini: What?

Wetsoks: Somebody sat right next to me. When there were available seats which were not right next to me.

Me: (appalled) No! Oh my god!

Panini: (laughing) What's the big deal?

Wetsoks: There were available seats. That is a huge and offensive breach of cinema ettiquette. One does not simply encroach on another person's space like that.

Me: How DARE they?

Wetsoks: I know, right? And it wasn't just one person, it was a couple of women. They talked through everything and made plans to meet on Tuesdays because of some cinema deal. So I'm never ever going to the cinema again on a Tuesday. Bastards.

Me: I am genuinely outraged on your behalf. This is unBritish. This is one of the most unBritish things you could possibly do. This is basically as unBritish as Kevin Bacon trying to be British.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

A Latte Trouble

I dropped into the Sloth's workplace today to say hello on my journey to my own workplace, and to get a coffee. When I got on the bus, holding my lidded beverage in full view of the driver, he chose to bark brusquely at me - "I'm going to ignore that coffee!"

I chose not to respond to this, but it wasn't until I'd sat down that I realised how ridiculous a statement that really was. I relayed the conversation to my friend Wetsoks as follows:

Me: It's stupid. You can't ignore something you acknowledged in the first place. By his own admission he already failed. Who wins here? Me. Because I have coffee.

Wetsoks: (horrified) You can't take drinks on the bus!

Me: Your tone suggests I've done something much worse, like strangling baby animals or something. It's just coffee. I'm a grown woman, I can handle a lidded beverage without spilling, and even if I do spill, I make sure to spill on myself. Like an adult.

Wetsoks: But those are the RULES on the pictographs on the bus! You can't just break rules like that!

Me: Dude, you were in prison. I'm finding this adherence to rules both hypocritical and hilarious.

Wetsoks: Yeah but... only because I told on myself.

Me: Which is commendable. In fairness, not that I am comparing your prison sentence with me being chastised by a bus driver, I was holding my coffee in full view. He could have said no and ordered me off the bus, and that would have been fine. I just won't stand for this passive aggressive bullshit.

Wetsoks: Lol. Really?

Me: Yes. I'm the long run I'm helping him to Be Assertive, or at least Not A Coffee-Hating Prick.

Wetsoks: I see.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Can't Hug Every Cat

As you may or may not know, the Sloth and I have two cats. Roland is large, grey and emits fluff as if it is his second goal in life - his first being to have his mouth full of food at every available opportunity (and the word 'food' can encompass almost anything, edible or not). The second cat is called Mr Giles. He is small, black with a white tuxedo, and has permanently huge cracked-out eyes with giant pupils. He is easily startled but extremely cuddly and his favourite hobbies include headbutting unwarned guests with clumsy affection. He does not understand word/phrases like 'no' and 'ouch' and 'help, your claw has gone right through my skin and feels like it is severing a tendon'.

They are adorable and endlessly entertaining creatures. When Sloth arrived home from work the other day, I greeted her as follows:

Me: Hello darling. Would you like to hear a list of things your cat has been afraid of today?

Sloth: Shouldn't it be your cat, or our cat? How come he's my cat when he's being a prat?

Me: No. As I was saying, things Giles was afraid of today: the bin opening. The bin closing. Briefly, the sound of my slippers on the floor, which he was not afraid of yesterday and has, in the last hour or so, forgotten to be afraid of. The sound of Roland moving on the couch.

Sloth: (mouth twitching)

Me: There's more. He was also afraid of the shininess of the packet of wet food I opened for him, which he actually ran away from with a terror-stricken expression. I actually had to coax him back into the kitchen.

Sloth: (trying desperately not to laugh)

Me: Meanwhile, Roland has played fetch with a piece of wire all day and been relatively good except when he couldn't find it, and decided the best way to remedy that was to howl with misery at me until I located it for him. Which took a while. I ended up on my hands and knees, crawling around the living room. By the time I had found it, he was asleep again.

Sloth: So, a good day then?

Me: Could have been worse.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Otter's Fortune

As a brief aside before I start this short post, I'd like to inform you that the number of ladybirds traipsing through our house, treating it like some sort of ladybird hotel, has risen to 11. This of course is merely the number I have personally witnessed. The cats may be withholding information about the amount of ladybird traffic. Perhaps they have been offered bribes. I reckon a couple of Dentabits and some DeFurrUm and they'd be anybody's minion.

I began playing Uncharted: Drake's Fortune last night. I know, I know, I'm way behind the times. Blame Mass Effect. And y'know, the internet. And everything. In any case, I played for about 3 hours and really enjoyed it. It's a decent mix of everything I like in a game, and includes shiny little treasures scattered around the place which are worryingly satisfying to collect. However during one section, in which Drake was required to look at a picture of four objects, and then push the buttons around the room which had each object on them, in numerical order, the Sloth and I had the following conversation:

Sloth: Whatcha gonna do?

Me: I'm going to name them.

Sloth: ...What?

Me: So I can memorise them easily.

Sloth: (gaping at me) Um. Okay.

Me: (concentrating) So let's see. This one is Shape, and this one is Guy With Big Hand, and this one is Spider Kitten, and this one is....

There was a brief pause.

Me: Angry Moon. Yeah, Angry Moon.

Sloth: (struggling to suppress laughter) Angry. Moon.

Me: Well he DOES look like an angry moon.

Sloth: (no longer hiding laughter) I love you and your way with words.

Me: (semi pleased, semi sulking) Well... good.

If you've played this, you know I'm right.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The Angle Of The Hippotamuse

Me: Okay, so the cat threw up a horrible hairball but at least he managed to get to this towel and mostly do it on that. Which I think shows an intelligence and a sense of urgency, as well as a respect for surfaces, that this particular cat does not usually express.

Sloth: (looking at the towel with gagging distate) Why don't we just throw that one out? We have plenty of towels.

I could not fault this argument, since by moving in together the accumulation of two flats worth of towels was quite frankly the least of our storage concerns.

Sloth: So how was work today?

Me: Fine, yeah. I processed stuff. I sent emails. And I saw a shaved guinea pig.

The Sloth looked slightly thrown by this change in topic but is used to this by now, and to her credit tried gamely to go along with it as if it was perfectly normal (which to me, it is).

Sloth: A shaved guinea pig.

Me: Yes.

Sloth: A shaved... And where did you... you know what, I don't want to know what you were actually looking for when you found that.

Me: It was just... around.

There was a brief pause.

Me: Did you know shaved guinea pigs look just like baby hippos?

Sloth: (giving me a I-can't-believe-that-we're-really-having-this-conversation look) ....

Me: No, really. They totally do. But more wrinkly.

Sloth: (frowning) Hippos have fur, don't they?

Me: (thoughtfully) Do they? I suppose since I've always seen them wet, I've never really thought about their hair.

Sloth: (giving me an I-can't-believe-that-I-allowed-you-to-suck-me-into-this-conversation look, which is something I see quite regularly)  .... darling...

Me: (innocently) What?

Sloth: (sighing) Nothing. You're adorable.

I'm taking this as confirmation that I may purchase either a wet or dry guinea pig/baby hippo if I should desire to do so, with or without hair.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Does It Or Does It Not Say Moo?

A belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you, otterlings! I do apologise for my absence. I'd love to claim that it was due to some sort of extravagant holiday, or perhaps a financial windfall, but in fact it was due to the twin facts that I recently started playing Mass Effect 2 and the Sloth began playing her Christmas present of L.A. Noire. Both of these things have, amongst much else, been taking up our time recently.

You may recall from the last couple of posts that I have now moved in with my adorable little Sloth. I occasionally wish we had cameras stationed around the house, because our conversations appear to end up (quite unintentionally) rather hilarious. I suggested that we start a podcast but suspect it will never materialise. Ain't nobody got time for that when there's games to be played. One particular incident however has been repeating itself for a few months now. We have been infiltrated.

Depending on how long you've been reading this blog, you may recall that several times I listed my greatest fears (camels and balloons are among the top contenders). The creatures my friends are now forced to refer to as 'kittens' (please see here for more information - are not, fortunately, my current problem. Since the flat is pretty much a 'kitten'-free zone (excepting the downstairs exit, which is home to one large 'kitten', and which means I have to hurtle out of the tiny doorway in case it manages to leap on me and, y'know, stroke my face and mutter "Hello... Clarice" which I suspect it knows full well is the stuff of my nightmares) I have let my guard down a little. I occasionally walk around with no socks on. If one of the cats is chewing something in a corner, I don't immediately check for little legs strewn around the floor. Small clumps of dust no longer make me double-take or yelp in terror. It is quite nice, all things considered.

A few months ago, Sloth pointed out a ladybird buzzing around the kitchen. I admired it while she puzzled about where it had come from. I waved my hands around casually and said things like "who cares" and "aww, it's cute" and "what's wrong with you?" Sloth said nothing further but remained suspicious. Another one popped up a few days later. I suggested perhaps it was the same one, but the look on her face told me that the first ladybird had not been allowed the mercy of the Geneva Convention. I repeated my previous statements, adding that there were plenty of things to be afraid of in this world but ladybirds are not terribly high on anybody's list. Sloth looked unconvinced, but was unable to do anything other than dispose of the second ladybird and get increasing pissy about it. I figured that was the end of it.

How wrong I was. How wrong I inevitably am, especially when it comes to stuff like this. I will be the first to admit my failing in this respect, and if somebody engraves "She Said It Was 'Probably Fine'" on my tombstone, I imagine they will not be far off from either my general life philosophy or my last ever sentence.

The ladybirds have at least not come in packs, but so far we've had seven. We have no idea where any of them have come from. We live next to the sea. We live on the second floor. There is relatively little garden near by. One of them was black, but I do not know whether he was nominated as a token appearance by the other ladybirds or whether he was their leader.


Me: Sweetheart, they're just ladybirds. The cats will eat them.

We watched one of our cats follow a ladybird over the floor with interest for ten whole minutes. He then sat down and fell asleep next to it, which was hardly the Attenborough style hunter-prey action we'd been hoping for.

Sloth: I don't want them here.

Me: Well, there doesn't appear to be a lot we can do about it. It's only an infestation of ladybirds. It's hardly the start of a James Herbert book.

Sloth: But how are they getting in? It's the middle of winter! WHY AREN'T THEY ALL DEAD? I WANT THEM TO BE DEAD.

Me: Um. You do realise that this is the gayest possible infestation, right? Other people get flooded, or have 'kittens' or locusts or squid. Or whatever. And we have ladybirds.

Sloth: (sulkily) Fabulous.

Me: (z-snapping) Exactly.

As a PS to this blog post, I'd like to add that the ladybird is connected with religious symbolism in many countries, owing to being associated with the Virgin Mary, and is therefore usually appropriately named in various European languages. With this in mind, the Polish name is "boza krówka" which Wikipedia informs me is translated as "God's (little) cow". Oh Poland. Don't go changing.