Well fancy seeing you here...

Hello and welcome to the rambling rollercoaster of useless ponderings, strung together in what the internet calls a "blog," and the voices call a waste of everyone elses time.

Please check your sanity at the door (along with your dignity, logic, principles, good taste and prejudices against daftness.)

"I am here to seduce you into a love of life; to help you to become a little more poetic; to help you die to the mundane and to the ordinary so that the extraordinary explodes in your life." -Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Mutant Moggies and The (Very) Early Spring Clean.

Today I have been on an epic mission to de-clutter my living environ by reorganising my quarters to better embrace the principles of feng shui, and delight Laurence Llewellyn Bowen. It has been a long, arduous journey that began at the birth of day, and continued 'til it was, well, about primary-school age. (Okay, so I cleaned out the cupboard under the sink and it took up several morning-hours and one or two afternoon ones.) I also shuffled round stuff that my grandparents – who have lived in this house for 50 years – had stuffed in the back of drawers and forgotten in the deepest, darkest recesses of the pantry.

My grandmother is notorious for not throwing away food that she thinks may still be edible. She also has what she calls a "healthy suspicion of expiry dates." She sees them more as guidelines. In fact she sees the guidelines, and then chooses to pretend they are merely scurrilous rumours about when the food might go off, and by accepting them she would be pandering to gossip. My late grandfather and I used to pick out tins from the back of a stack and challenge each other to guess how many years out of date they were, before throwing them away while she was out. She claims it's because she was born in 1939, during WW2 and because rationing continued into the 50's she was hardwired to never waste ye olde vittles.

Today when clearing out the cupboards, I discovered she had bottles of children's cough syrup that expired in 1992, and some medicated ear drops with my name on which had a warning printed on the prescription label that read; "Discard one month after opening." She'd only kept them a little while longer than recommended. If you can call fourteen bloody years a "little while!" There was also a large can of Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup that was bowed and bulging as all sorts of nasty chemical-y things happened inside of it. It looked about ready to explode, so of course I delicately wrapped it in newspaper and placed it in the wheelie bin gently, didn't I? Well... No. I peered at it warily before removing it from the cupboard rather gingerly Рgrasping it as one might a grizzly, flailing toddler covered in drool Рand then dropped it unceremoniously into a bin liner, right onto a dusty jam-jar with a desiccated daddy-long-legs in it, where it burst open and filled the sack with fermenting tomato cr̬me.

I also discovered this brand new saucepan which was still in its box and was sporting what I thought was "cool retro packaging." It's not: it just really has been sat on the shelf in its box since the 60's when Nan was still working for a local hardware shop called "Light's." I questioned the logic of remembering purchasing a saucepan but never remembering that it was in the cupboard when she needed to use one, and was told to "go and make a cup of tea."

60's Saucepan:

After removing all the tins that were past their sell by date (including a jar of frankfurters that contained enough bacteria to have successfully invaded Poland,) and re-discarding half the tins Nan rescued as "perfectly edible," I had cleared about half the kitchen. I have so far discovered several packets of tea-light candles, nine large boxes of "these will come in handy if there's a power-cut" candles, three soap dishes, seven large bottles of fairy washing up liquid, four and a half china teapots and three stainless steel ones; including one designed to make twenty cups of tea which was last used at a street party for the Queen Elizabeth's jubilee. It had so much dust on it that I'd not like to guess which jubilee – or even which Queen Elizabeth. I suggested giving it to the charity shop, but Nan wanted to keep it "in case we have a family party." I added up all the people in our immediate family, and even including their kids and spouses there's no way we'd need to make 20 cups of tea. Besides which, full up it'd be bloody heavy. Whoever was making the tea in that would e inevitably scald themselves and need rushing to the burns unit. (Which in itself would mean there were two less people who'd be having a brew; further proving my point that we don't need that huge teapot.)

I chucked out about 40 cans of food that were past their expiration dates, and a dead mouse (though I don't know when that expired. I have been watching the first and second series of Bones this week and did poke it with a party cocktail stick to see if I had learned anything about forensic science that might help me determine when the mouse had met its end, but not wanting to get too close in case it stank, and not really knowing enough about rodent pathology to determine if it had rigor mortis, my Quincy Jones moment was scuppered when the cat tried to eat it and nearly set the other mousetrap off.)

Tuppence "helping" me to sort the cupboards:

I also found a box of kids’ toys that had been packed away for years, and which had been favourites of mine when I was very little. There was a little yellow rabbit in the collection which I have seen photographs of myself with in the pram when I was only about the same size as the cat. I also discovered one of a trio of puppets that were given to my sister and I when we were very young and my grandparents dog died. We were too little to understand, and so the powers that be (who in that Orwellian kindergarten-era were pretty much just ‘Nan and Grandad’) decided that we should be fed the "she's gone to live on a farm" tale so many kids are presented with when a parent wishes not to corrupt their children’s innocence with mammalian bereavement. Only in this case, they were well aware that if they told me that the dog had gone to live on a farm I'd want to visit, so they paid me off with Sooty, Sue and Sweep puppets – which were supposedly leaving presents from the dog, but which I suspect were indeed not bought by her at all. That she purchased toys to soften the blow of her departure would be leap enough, but would also involve my believing her to have foretold her own death: and a psychic dog is a little far-fetched even for me.

Rabbit, and 'Sue' puppet in the background to the right:

All in all it was a reasonably productive day, though I still have half of the kitchen to sort and will undoubtedly encounter lots more things that either need dusting down, throwing away, or re-lubricating with a few well aimed squirts of Mr Muscle.

I did take a moment out of my busy cleansing ritual to discuss this weeks’ oddest news items; which comprised of a lingerie model who has not got a navel and finds herself constantly refuting claims she is an alien, and a kitten with two faces. By that I do not mean that it was duplicitous; telling its owner how much it loves the new jingly-ball toy and then slagging off their paltry attempts at entertainment every time it had a check up with the vet – no, I mean it was some sort of freaky conjoined twin-thing, or chimera, and had two distinct faces attached to the one head and body. Because it is a kitten (or would that be because "they are kittens?") it was still cute though, even though its face was mental. It will probably be an ugly cat though.

Double-Headed Kitten:

(Note to anyone who comments to bring me bad news of this kitten's fate: I am aware that mutant animals don't usually live very long, but I am not going to Google it to see if it has gone to live on a farm somewhere, and particularly do not wish for you anti-agriculturalists to tell me there is no farm, and that it's a lie perpetuated by the Vatican to make people more receptive to the panic buying of carrots.)

YouTube link to freaky-cat:

If the kitten hires Max Clifford as its agent, it could probably use its story of a tragic childhood to launch a perfume and take over the Iceland adverts job from Kerry Katona. She was in Atomic Kitten, so they are obviously a company willing to employ increasingly ugly-looking ageing felines of no discernable talent but much publicised personal misfortune.

Oooh, “meow.”

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