I'm a journalist, public speaker and the author of 'Mostly Cloudy, With Some Bright Spells'. I have a French husband, a ridiculous cat and some hideous diseases – ulcerative colitis, ankylosing spondylitis, fibromyalgia and scoliosis. Despite being in pain 24/7 I'm a relatively cheerful, mentalistic sort.
I thought I’d delete the troll comments from my account today. I have decided that the best way to deal with these unpleasant, vindictive mentalists – or whatever people with nothing to do but virtually punch other people in the face all day are called – is to ignore them. That’s quite hard for me, because I’m rubbish at ignoring stuff, but it’s obvious that they’re trying to make me cry into a hankie or, with any luck, hang myself. I’m not about to do either. From car alarms to people eating on the train, dogs being yanked on the lead by their stupid owners or white kids talking as if they were brought up by Bob Marley, I am rubbish at letting stuff which annoys me go over my head. Well, I used to be, but now I’ve decided to get better at it.
To a point. Maybe not the dogs being yanked on the lead by their stupid owners. Maybe not the car alarms. Maybe not the people eating on the train and actually, definitely not the white kids pretending to be Jamaican, but the trolling shizz, that ends here. It’s one button, and it’s called ‘delete’, and I need to start using it. If somebody came up to me in the park and gave me a mouthful of abuse and acted all mental, I’d kick them in the nuts or punch them in the face. Both, possibly, given half the chance and depending on whether or not they had nuts. As in body nuts, not the kind which grow on trees.
On the interweb, or whatever it’s called, you can’t do that. Replying to them is a waste of time (they hate what I read already, so they’re just going to hate me even more), and I could clean out a kitchen cupboard rather than type a response, which would be a far better use of my time and energy. Other things I could do which would be more beneficial include staring into space, drawing a face on each kneecap, watering my houseplants or taking the newspapers to the recycling bin round the corner.
Anyway, this isn’t a post about trolls, it’s a post about internet stuff. If it were about trolls, it’d be about these kind, not the human mentalistic kind:
Anyway, while I was sighing and blowing raspberries and pressing delete (I am an excellent multi-tasker) I noticed a new stats counter thing at the bottom of the page. It was headed ‘Search Engine Terms’. I had no idea what that means. I’m good at making sandwiches, not good at understanding internet jargon. Gautier explained it to me: ‘It’s when people search for a phrase or words which lead them to your blog’. It made fascinating reading. So fascinating, in fact, that I thought you might like to see it.
In case you’re pushed for time, the highlights for me have to be ‘a monkey sweeping the floor’, ‘male inject butt shower’, ‘ecstasy tabs double cherries’ (please don’t let the police be behind that one) and ‘asda receipt ripped receipt’. Knock yourselves out, I’ll be posting more of these!
Lord above, if life wasn’t hard enough with fibromyalgia (and scoliosis, ankylosing spondylitis and the aftermath of having stuff yanked out due to ulcerative colitis), January comes along and boom! It gets worse.
January sucks. I have lost track of the number of birthday drinks, non-birthday drinks and general social gatherings that I’ve had to cancel due to my pain levels going through the roof. Back in 2006, Gautier – the French guitar-picker who would later become my husband – invited me to his place in Limoges (the home of porcelain, great) for ‘some really good beef with really good wine’. You have no idea how much I would have liked to have hopped on a plane and whizzed to the middle of France for just that, followed by some kisses (these were promised further down in the email he sent me). I love beef, I love wine and I quite like kisses. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse, but I did. This cow was relieved, at least.
I spent a week deliberating whether I should just muddle through the pain and go. In the end, I decided that as far as first dates go, I quite fancied being able to stand up straight, maybe walk a bit and generally move of my own accord if I so wished. I didn’t fancy asking him to help me sit up, stand up or go to the loo. I didn’t think I’d stand much chance of a second date if I had to ask that.
So, I said ‘no’. I didn’t explain why, other than to say I wasn’t very well. At this stage, he had no idea how not very well I was. As it turned out, he was in London the following month for a gig, and we met up then. We had our first kiss at the bar as I bought him a whiskey. I looked fine. I felt OK. I even wore heels – leopard print, wooden mules, to be precise – just so I could give the impression that I was sort of normal (I say sort of normal, as the idea that I might be actual normal is terrifying). We were married a mere seven months after that. I still think that had I gone to visit him for beef and wine a month earlier, I’d have been as appealing as a lump of year-old tripe and I would have kissed goodbye, rather than hello, to any chance of a relationship.
This January has been like all the others. Cold, grey, wet and miserable. And cold. There’s even been loads of snow, if you hadn’t noticed. As I type, a new snow flurry is getting up. The Daily Mail would tell you that if you dared to open your front door you would be swept up by it and deposited into the path of an oncoming salt lorry. I don’t know what I was expecting – bikini weather? – but I just forget how brutal a month this is. You may recall that I haven’t had a night out since my birthday in July. That was last year, people. LAST YEAR. Jeez.
So. This month I managed two and a half hours in a rubbish pizza restaurant (hell, I’ll name it: the not-very-aptly named Gourmet Pizza Company) in Waterloo last week, only because I was already at my mum and dad’s house, which meant that my train journey was a mere 20 minutes long and the walk from the station to the so-called restaurant only another 10. I had voted this outing as ‘more or less doable’. I was wearing about 28 layers, but had forgotten to bring my thick socks, so I couldn’t feel my feet.
Meanwhile my eyeballs were so frozen that I could only see directly in front of me (I kid you not, I tried to look left at one point as a shape came towards me and said, ‘Oi, Willsy!’ but I couldn’t move my actual eyes). Said shape was a friend of mine who stood in front of me and waved, to which I said, ‘I can only look straight ahead, my eyeballs are frozen in time!’
Once in the so-called restaurant I squirmed in my seat, stood up, sat down, stood up, sat down, walked about a bit, had painkillers for a starter and then for dessert, with a horrible, Dominoes-style pizza in the middle, and finally gave in at 9pm. I wanted to be at my mum and dad’s, in the warm. Saying that, you have to have actual stalactites hanging from your chin before dad will admit defeat and stick the heating on. This is a picture I took of their living room before I left for London:
And so I said, ‘Chivito, I must go’ to my Spanish companion. ‘Chivito’, in case you’re wondering, is Spanish for ‘little goat’. My friend is from The Basque Country. The mountains. The kind of mountains where you might find goats. Sometimes I think of her as a little donkey, because she told me that her neighbour has a donkey. I wish our neighbour had a donkey. You don’t really get a lot of that in Brighton. Anyway, Chivito had brought me a belated Christmas present – some actual Spanish chorizo, my first all-meat gift – and off we went into the night, her north, me south.
I texted my mum from the train to let her know I was on my way home, even though I’m 40 years-old. It’s funny. They worry about stuff, like ‘Will she slip on the ice and fall over and break herself?’ or ‘Will she leave her hat and gloves and scarf and coat behind and then wonder why she’s got hypothermia?’ They are right to be concerned; I am 40, I think, only in cat years, not in brain years.
Aside from my jaunt to Waterloo, one trip to Asda and a 12-second walk to the corner shop at the weekend, I’ve not been anywhere. For five days I was in so much pain I couldn’t have driven even if I’d had a letter from Euro Millions saying, ‘Come and pick up a cheque for £75 billion’ or if Gary Lineker or Ryan Gosling or Michel Roux Jnr or anyone else I adore had phoned me and asked to meet me at Pease Pottage Services along the A23 for a quick sit on their lap.
You get the idea.
There was some good to come out of this wretched month, you’ll be pleased to hear. Gautier took me and So Do You, our fake dog, to the green to go sledging. Even with fibromyalgia, I can do a bit of sledging. I walk along the flat bit of snow, Gautier hauls me on to the sledge, I grimace and curse and he shoves me off the top of the hill. I fell out at one point, and it hurt a lot, but it was worth it. I had three goes, and then admitted defeat. Unlike Osama Bin Laden, I know when I’m beaten. The next day we went out into the garden and fashioned a Snow Kermit:
His mouth is an actual shark’s jaw (that’s another story). I sent a photo of our Snow Kermit to the local paper. They made him the lead picture in their ‘Snow Gallery’, no less. You might be able to see it here:
I might not get out much, but when I do, boy do I make it count.
Roll the flip on, February!