A belated thank you to Tina at Tina's Weightloss Journey for nominating me for a Stylish Blogger award. I delayed the acknowledgment purely because I was mid-series with my Dressmaker story, but the gesture was no less greatly appreciated as a token of blogger friendship and faith.
Make yourselves a cup of strong black coffee, here are the 10 obscure (read nerdy) facts about myself – as usual in two parts, because this is turning out too long.
1. I enjoy filling out forms and making them. (I told you you’d need the coffee). In large institutions such as where I work, form-filling is a fact of life, and sometimes it needs to be done by hand. Inevitably the ‘originals’ you’re given are 20th generation copies, sloping, smeared, wavy and faint. If there’s no time to re-create the form from scratch at work – in Word or Excel - , I do it at home and e-mail it to myself. I gaze in rapture at the beautiful result: clean lines, symmetry, equal sized boxes perfectly aligned, delicately shaded in the areas which are deliberately blank, and enough space between the dotted lines for handwriting… sigh.
2. I love working with Excel. I don’t claim to be an expert – simple formulas are all I can manage, and perhaps time/date formulas on a good day. I find it blissfully relaxing to gather loads of information from different sources and classify it by column, sorting it, include formulas to enable easy analysis, test that they work, then beautify it by adding subtle colours, in such a way as to make it easier to understand. And – what a lot of people forget to do – I ensure that it will print squarely on the page, and give it faint grey lines to make it easy to read and not make you dizzy.
3. I’m a poor housekeeper. I’m 5’ 4” high, and cobwebs are above my head. Ergo, I don’t see them, they’re not there. Unless I’m in bed and glance up at the ceiling. At this point I go into denial after muttering ‘must do something about those cobwebs’. However, I can’t bear dirty clothes littering the place, and I particularly hate anything lying on the floor. So there’s clean, unironed clothes piled up in the spare room (yes, collecting dust), a high stool in my room collapsing under the weight of what I might wear to work tomorrow, and the cupboard door forced shut from the pressure of shoes on the inside which have been tossed in any old how because I don’t want them lying around. But if I want a matching pair, it takes a while to dig them out of course… Incidentally, I also enjoy hanging out clothes on the drier or the line, carefully smoothing them out and hanging them neatly to ensure very little ironing is required. And I hate ironing with a passion.
4. My dress sense depends on how I’m feeling about myself. I know there’s a sexy dresser under there because I knew her once, when she was slim. Right little colour-coordinated looker she was, with blouses tucked in, belts used, make-up discreetly applied, etc. She knew she’d got it right because she noticed the effect. A poor self-image, low spirits and self-esteem took care of that for a while, and she has faith that one day it’ll come back – maybe too late to be sexy, but in time to feel good about herself, whatever her personal circumstances. I also keep clothes for decades when they’re of no particular style, partly because I intend to fit into them again, or because I derive a certain degree of comfort from the sense of continuity. Second-hand clothes are just as interesting to me, hence my interest in eBay.
5. I love reading all sorts of things – from The Economist and History Magazine to photography magazines and Hello at the hairdressers, and from large fiction tomes, classical or modern, to biographies. But I also have a very soft spot for romantic little throw-away love stories where I’m guaranteed a happy ending such as Mills & Boon (and Corín Tellado in Spanish, where I started as a teenager), and particularly when I’m staying in someone else’s house and I find them in their bookcases. I realise however that they encourage an unrealistic view of life and romance, and like most feelgood devices should only be taken in small doses. Thus I don’t buy them.
6. Food – when I arrived in England and went to university in Bristol I discovered from the endless coffee-fuelled discussions with flatmates about the world and each other which went on late into the night, that I had brought some food habits with me which were considered "weird" by British standards. For example –
Snack: cheese and honey together in a sandwich, or on a piece of toast;
Main course: a minced beef-filled pie made with shortcrust pastry which before being put in the oven has beaten egg poured all over it and sugar sprinkled on top of that, which crystallizes in the oven and is a perfect counterpoint for the spicy beef, served with mashed potato and vegetables;
Dessert: a chunk of cheese and quince cheese together (imagine jam/jelly in a solid cheese-like block).
All combinations of savoury and sweet – wonderful. And the one that made them clutch their throats:
My beloved maté tea, either with boiling water and sugar drunk in a gourd the traditional way, through a strainer looking like a silver straw, or the comforting childhood way, my favourite – heated with milk and strained before drinking. The effect that made them bilious was the fact that the result was green. I daresay green milk would put anyone off – but if you grow up with it, it’s no big deal.
I'm sure you had enough for one day - I'll post the other half in a few days.
from Lonicera's non-digital archives
(Note: the last 3 are digital)