Emma is currently...

  • Addicted to: Fruit and nut mix
  • Listening to: Band of Joy - Robert Plant
  • Reading: Naples '44 - Norman Lewis

Friday, 5 November 2010

Sorry blog!

I realised that I've been neglecting this blog in favour of the Turnoff Dictionary. Sorry! Truth is, ranting about men is much more fun than droning on about my uneventful life; but I should update this blog more, because I want to record all the dull details of my everyday life so that I can read it back and remember all the things I did.

It's already halfway through Term 1 and not a lot has happened to be honest. I've decided to apply for an MA in Publishing, so I'm filling in my application at the moment. As much as I love my university at the moment and don't want to leave, I've decided that London is where I want to be. And it's where you have to be, really, if you want to be involved in the literary scene at all. Gosh, that sounds so pretentious. The literary scene.

When I started uni I was pretty sure I wanted to do an MA in Creative Writing after my degree, but I've decided against that now. I'm not sure it's worth it; it costs so much money, and I can't really see it getting me a proper job. I can write any time, and I don't need someone else to tell me how to do it. All that'll do is make me churn out books exactly like Ian McEwan. I have moments when I wonder whether I'm selling my soul to the corporate machine by taking the career path rather than the academic path after uni, and several people have told me I'd be capable of doing a PhD, with the implication that I'm 'wasting my talents'. But honestly, as nice as being an academic and pottering around reading old books and drinking coffee in library cafes and having intellectual discussions would be, at the end of the day it's the recession and I need a job.

And if have a proper job, and have money, I can afford to have a nice flat in London and potter around second-hand bookshops and subscribe to literary magazines and go to the theatre and buy lots and lots of coffee. I will always read literature, and try and educate myself in my own time, even if I'm not directly involved in academia. Plus, as good as I am at essays, I can't deny that they make me thoroughly miserable. I love them when they're done, but I'm not sure it's worth the gaping chasm of despair I fall into when writing them. I sit there for hours, staring at the screen, gulping down endless cups of tea and tearing my hair out, thinking that nothing in the world can make me happy until this essay is done. I don't want to do that for three more years!

So, publishing it is. But if I don't get onto the course I'm applying for, it's back to the drawing board. I'll just have to be a starving writer and live in poverty and squalor, wandering around the bleak city streets desperately searching for my next meal or a stub of pencil with which to scribble down my profound ideas, like Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment, but without the grisly murder and all that. If that's meant to be, it's meant to be. Things will all work out for themselves in the end, right...?

Friday, 10 September 2010

The Comprehensive Turnoff Dictionary


Just to let you know that I am still alive, and that I have started a new blog. It's not a replacement for this blog; it's something completely different. Basically, I have a list of things guys do which would cause me to ditch a potential love-interest instantly. I was explaining this list to some of my friends, and they found it funny and told me it would make a good blog. So I started it. It's not linked to this blog, so click here to read it. I don't know how often I'll update it.

Hopefully I will post again here soon! Certainly when uni starts again.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010


I have become your typical grumpy commuter.

I thought I would never be one of them - sitting on the train in deathly silence, jammed between a briefcase and a laptop, tactically avoiding the soulless gaze of the empty suit sitting opposite me. However, I have now decided that I like commuters. They know where they're going, they get there as quickly as possible, and most importantly, they know when to shut up and not annoy other people.

When I'm on a late shift, I don't get to travel to London with the lovely quiet commuters. I get to travel with the tourists and the people having a nice day out. Argh.

Firstly, the tourists. I know that, when I'm on holiday, I don't like to feel like a tourist, and I don't like the locals treating me like an idiot, so this is a very hypocritical rant. But honestly. In Victoria there are crowds and crowds of gormless suitcase-wheeling idiots who amble along in an aimless manner, stopping randomly in the middle of the pavement to gawp at things, so that I constantly crash into them. They don't understand that you have to press the button to open the doors of the train, and they stand at the side of the road waiting for the green man when there are clearly no cars (I find that one rather sweet, actually. They all stare at me in horror when I plough my way through the horde and stride across the road like a seasoned Londoner, probably thinking, 'She must have a death wish! She's crazy! Crazy! The man is red!'). I know that it's the tourists who are paying my wages. But still... Do they have to be so annoying when I'm late for work?

And then there's the Saturday and Sunday crowd. The other day, when I was coming home on a late at about 8.30, I had to sit and listen to their stupid, inane conversations. They don't seem to realise that no one else in the carriage wants to listen to their worthless speculations about whether they should have turquoise or pink towels in their bathroom. First I was sat next to two thirty-something women and had to listen to this: "Yeah, so my bathroom is totally lush. It's all brown tiles and floor, so, so lush, just totally lush... I was going to get some lush vanilla candles in there and make it all chocolate indulgence in my bathroom, you know, totally gorgeous." I couldn't put up with it any longer, so I moved to a quiet carriage where I could read Gulliver's Travels in peace. But then, a bunch on teenagers (I can offically talk about teenagers in a disdainful, patronising tone now I'm twenty) got on and I had to listen to this: "Yeah, I hate Saffron, everyone totally hates her, she's such a slag, she slept with Jenny's boyfriend... Did you know that she's preggers now? Yeah, she doesn't know who the father is, she should go on the Jeremy Kyle show and get a free DNA test, right? LOL!"

Gaarrggghhhhhhh. I have become so grumpy. Also, what kind of name is Saffron? Did her parents think it sounded vaguely posh? Do they even know what Saffron is? Is her brother called caviar?

Okay, rant over. Sorry.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

A scene from the hospital

So I went to the hospital today (after over a month of waiting for the appointment) and it was very weird.

Doctor: Hello. So basically, you are too thin.
Me: Oh.
Doctor: What is your diet like?
Me: Well, I don't really each much meat, and I never snack.
Doctor: Hm, yes. Well you may need to eat a bit more.
Me: How much weight do I need to put on?
Doctor: Let's weigh you, shall we?

*We go into the corridor to weigh me*

Doctor: Hm, looks like you need to put on three-quarters of a stone.
Me: Right. What should I eat?
Doctor: Cake. Oh, and alcohol is full of calories. Drink lots of alcohol. Especially Baileys. There are loads of calories in Baileys.
Me: Mmm, I love Baileys!

*more senior doctor walks past*

Doctor 2: What's that about Baileys? I love Baileys.
Doctor 1: She needs to put on weight.
Doctor 2: Ah, yes, good idea. Drink lots and lots of alcohol. As much as you like, as long as you don't drive afterwards, okay?
Me: Okay.
Doctor 1: I wish someone would tell me I needed to drink more Baileys.
Doctor 2: I could do with some Baileys right now.

*Random nurse overhears*

Nurse: Oooh, Baileys on ice!
Me: Mmmmm, yes, lovely!
Doctor 1: Mmmmm!
Doctor 2: Baileys!
Me: I'll definitely do that.
Doctors 1 & 2: *nodding enthusiastically* Yes, yes. Baileys.
Me: Right, well. Thanks for that.
Doctors 1 & 2 & nurse: Bye now! Don't forget to drink some Baileys!
Me: Bye!

*I turn around to see everyone in the waiting room glaring at me*

So that is how I was medically advised to start binge drinking. Life is good. I think I might go and have a nice little Baileys on ice now...

Friday, 16 July 2010

This is no Bridget Jones... well I kind of wish it was.

I have a guilty secret. Yes, I love my fancy literature, but whenever I'm feeling a bit depressed about my life I read Bridget Jones' Diary. Sometimes a trashy read is exactly what you need to cheer yourself up. I think I feel an affinity with the novel because every time I read it, I am struck by how disturbingly similar my life is to Bridget's. Here are the ways in which we are similar:

  1. She is very, very middle-class. When she talks about her "hideous middle-class singleton guilt experience" in the supermarket when she goes shopping for a dinner party, it reminds me of the time I almost had a break-down in Asda because everyone else was buying Asda Smartprice Bacon Flavour Cardboard Pieces and Asda Frozen Deep-Fried Sheep Intestine Burgers and I was buying asparagus tips and wensleydale with cranberries. I believe I wrote about that particular traumatic experience on this blog, actually.
  2. She works in publishing. All right, I don't work in publishing yet, but according to my incredibly sketchy life plan - which takes up half a page of my pocket book and was written in a sleep-induced haze when I woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking GAAHWHATAMIGONNADOWITHMYLIFE - that's where I'll be in a couple of years time. Bad: she sees her job as a 'dead-end' job and hates it. Good: she has a degree in English from Bangor and a poor grasp of spelling/grammar, and yet still managed to get into the industry. This bodes well for me.
  3. She is terrified of growing old alone and then being discovered in her apartment weeks after her death being eaten by alsations. Admittedly she is thirty and has more reason to be worried about not finding someone than I do, as I am still twenty and young and sprightly. However, I really can't see myself ever finding anyone who meets my impossibly high standards. At least I have managed to co-erce one of my guy friends into the old 'if neither of us is married by forty...' pact. Well, when I say co-erce, I have decided it is going to happen, but I haven't exactly told him this yet. I'm sure he won't mind.
  4. She is an obsessive calorie-counter. I'm not proud of this. Before uni I ate as much as I liked and never worried about it, and because I was still growing I never got fat. When I first came to uni I decided that no-one liked me, I didn't fit in anywhere, and I wasn't clever enough to be there. I think everyone has these worries at some point, but everyone responds to them differently; I responded by eating. I remember one shameful day when I ate an entire Christmas log for lunch, and then sat there on the verge of throwing up thinking this has got to stop. So then I went the opposite way. Once you start counting calories you can never stop, because even if you stop caring about your weight (which I have) you know how many calories are in everything. Please, never start doing it. Anyway, there are some days when Bridget eats about 5,000 calories... that always makes me feel better about myself.
  5. She is socially awkward and always makes an idiot of herself. And to emphasize this point, I just wrote 'myself' instead of 'herself'. I always say weird things to fill silences, and am constantly tripping over in public, spilling things all over myself, walking into trees and falling down stairs. Honestly, what am I like? Guffaw.
There are differences between us. She likes smoking and drinking, both of which I hate, and she watches trashy TV instead of reading books. However, most importantly, she is a fictional character and I am not (I hope). My life would make an awful novel or movie, because nothing interesting ever happens to me. Reading Bridget Jones cheers me up because even though she fails almost all of her New Year resolutions she's still happy, and she gets her Mr Darcy in the end. It's unashamed wish-fulfilment, of course, and promotes the idea that you need to be in a relationship to be happy. But I'm not going to go on about that, because everyone knows it, and no one really cares. Sometimes, a bit of escapism is nice.

And now I've had my little jaunt to the land of escapism, I'll return to the gritty, depressing WWII literature I'm reading for next year. Which I love just as much.

(Oh, and mouse update: I forgot to take a photo, but I set her free under the shed because I think that's where the mice live. She was dragging one of her legs and kept falling over, but hopefully she made it home. I couldn't have kept her forever...)

Wednesday, 14 July 2010


Today started off quite well. Except that Jack inexplicably woke me up at 8am to ask if I wanted a cup of tea, which was nice, except that I was fast asleep and therefore quite obviously not in need of a hot beverage of any kind. I said yes anyway. Then, since I was up, I decided to go for a run, which was very good of me.

When I came back the cat was in the garden, and he had that bulgy-cheeked look that immediately told me he had some kind of creature stuffed into his mouth. When he saw me he spat out a poor little baby mouse onto the lawn... It was still alive and trembling. You know how quite a lot of people scream and jump on top of the nearest piece of furniture when they see mice? I think those people are weird. Seriously, I love mice. They're adorable.

So I put the cat under house arrest and then attended to the little mouse. It didn't look seriously injured but it was in shock and lying on its side shaking. I put her (I decided it was a girl) in a plastic box with some leaves and moss, crumbled up bread and a bottle cap full of water and she's been there ever since. At first she just lay there but now she's up on all fours nibbling at the bread and washing herself in the water...nawwwwwwww. I want to keep her forever and ever but I suppose it's best to let her back into the wild eventually so that she can get chewed up by another cat. I might take some photos before I do so. Last time I checked she had burrowed under the moss and was having a little nap. How can anyone think mice are disgusting?

Actually, as well as loving mice, I really like snakes. I'd like to own a snake but then I'd have to feed it dead mice which would be a bit of a contradiction. Mice and snakes and bats... It's a good thing I'm not living in the seventeenth-century or someone would probably have accused me of being a witch by now.

When I came back inside after rehabilitating the mouse, I found that the cat had kindly left half of its brother or sister on the dining room carpet. The top half. I've yet to find the legs but I'll keep you posted on that one.

Oh, and that I went upstairs and the cat had also thrown up all over the landing carpet. The cat is not in my good books. He's currently shut in the living room so that he doesn't continue to traipse around the house depositing vomit and bits of dead critters in random locations at will.

And that is how today went from being a Good Day to a Not Very Good Day. However, I have saved a little mousey life so am feeling like quite a saint at the moment. I think I'll reward myself with another cup of tea. And a biscuit.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Back from the void...

Oh my! I haven't been on here in a while, have I? I can't really be bothered to write a long entry, but I will summarize what has happened in my life since I last posted.

  • Did lots of revision. Had a slight nervous breakdown and went home. Emailed my tutor, to the effect that everyone in the English department will now probably think I am mentally unstable, talk to me in a soft voice and look at me with big sad eyes when they walk past me in the corridor. Got medication, felt better. Returned to uni.
  • Did more revision. Because of lack of sunlight/social interaction, started to resemble Gollum, hunched over my desk in a dimly-lit room muttering things about Wordsworth to myself.
  • Did exams. Floated up to exam hall on cloud of bliss after imbibing a little too much Rescue Remedy/Kalms tablets.
  • Finished exams. Went on three-person bar crawl but only ended up making it to two bars. Got IDed seven times due to looking about twelve. Went out clubbing, had barbecues, lazed about watching television and generally doing nothing.
  • Went home because I have to work. I have to commute to London five days a week, which means getting up about 6. Feel busy and important sitting on the train, dressed in my smart clothes, amongst dead-eyed suits staring at newspapers in despair. I don't know how much I'm allowed to say about my work on here, but I'm sure it's safe to say it's actually quite fun and that the free three-course lunch every day makes it more than worth the effort.
  • Got my exam results in a congratulatory letter from the head of the English department: a first-class honours in every module and 77.5% overall. This was the 'third-highest average of students of my profile in my yeargroup'. Not sure what that means, but I'm quite happy to interpret it as 'third best student in the year' - at least that's what I'm telling people! Anyway... That made it all worth the stress. Hard work pays off, kids.
So currently I have little money and even less time, but I am happy and having fun, and enjoying the amazing weather and carefree summer vibe. I've even been writing a bit. I'm considering beginning to publish my new story on FP, since I'm thirteen chapters in now, and if it turns out the plot doesn't work I will just kill off all of the characters in a spectacularly violent finale and end it all.

Oh, and I've stopped writing lists.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

I don't need no good advice.

It's a bit strange: people keep giving me advice that most people would love to hear, and yet I am incapable of following it.

My mother: "You need to do less revision and have more fun!"

My doctor: "You need to eat for England and put on half a stone!"

I know what you're thinking: "Are you crazy? You've just been given a legitimate reason to slack off and eat like a pig!" So why can't I do it? The answer is that I can't help it. I'm a neurotic freak. I can't have fun with my friends if I think there is work I should be doing, and I have an irrational fear of putting on even a single pound. I suppose I just like to control things.

We often say that our gang at university is a bit like the cast of a sitcom, I think mainly because there have been so many love triangles and dramas amongst us. In this sitcom I would be the 'the neurotic one'. Before I go to sleep I often make a list of things I need to do the next day, to stop myself from worrying about them. These lists often start: "8am: wake up. 8:15am: eat breakfast."

Don't laugh. The great thing about starting your to-do list with "wake up" is that, unless you die in your sleep, you will always manage to complete the first thing on your list. After that you are unstoppable.

Anyway, moving on. Yesterday I was doing some revision for my Seventeenth Century exam, and I stumbled upon a passing reference to a woman in an article I was reading. Although she was only briefly mentioned, this mention leapt off the page at me. She seemed like an incredibly fascinating person, and her life story was both very cool and very, very tragic. It stuck me that she could be the main character in a really good novel. I tried to find out some more about her, but there's barely anything on her. She's an enigma. Sadly, I don't think I'll ever be brave enough to be able to write a historical novel: not only would I find it near impossible to replicate seventeenth-century dress, manners, culture, speech etc. without being laughed at by historians everywhere, I just can't get into the head of an overweight fifty-year-old widow (for that is what she was). So the novel will never be written. But I'm not going to tell you anything more about the woman, just in case I do decide to tackle her story one day. I don't want you to steal my amazing idea, you scoundrel you.

I have completely gone off the idea I had for The Novel. It had absolutely no substance. I'm thinking of sticking to what I know and writing a novel about a university student, set entirely in the university library. At night. Sounds dull, doesn't it? I was thinking of making it kind of supernatural-psychological-magic-realism...y. With lots of sarcasm and humour, since that seems to be my trademark. I don't know though. The trouble is that once you publish a certain kind of novel, you have to be consistent. That's why I couldn't write a historical novel. I might be able to get away with it once... But then I'd have to do it again, and again! I can't keep up the sham of knowing stuff about history for that long! I know jack all about history!

One last thing. In times of darkness and revision, a little comic relief is always helpful. I decided to read through some of my very first novel, which I wrote when I was about thirteen. It's your typical "adventurer gathers together party of mages, warriors and rogues and travels across generic medieval fantasy land to defeat evil overlord" story. My heroine meets a Hot Guy, finds out Hot Guy is actually the son of Evil Overlord, and then defeats them both using the powers of LOVE and FRIENDSHIP, which are harnessed by (I kid you not) holding hands with her friends Captain Planet style. I practically wet myself laughing. Here's an extract so that you can wet yourself laughing too.

The man continued. “We both have power…you and me…think what a team we would make! We could conquer – we could control everything! You and me, and our powers…think…”

I rolled my eyes. “Please, have some self-respect.”

He said nothing, only carried on staring, pleading. I pointed a finger at him, and he flinched as if I had hit him with a physical force. “Take hold of my arm,” I instructed to the girls around me, and felt four hands clamp around my outstretched arm without question. I took a deep breath and grinned as the magic exploded inside of me, and I felt this tingling energy rush from them to me through their hands, where it was building up inside of me, simmering and burning like a star, getting greater and greater, overwhelming. I began to deliver my final speech.

“You are nothing but evil, greedy and power-hungry; this house is far more than your vile family ever deserved for the things you did. Yet instead of accepting this great kindness, you continued in your evil, ungrateful, destructive ways, lying and cheating and deceiving innocent people to help you achieve your selfish goal – but of course, you will not achieve it. I suppose you thought you were very clever, preying on young girls and risking their lives so that they could do your dirty work for you, but unfortunately for you you picked entirely the wrong girl. I would never be on your side, or help you, or even spare your pathetic life; the only thing you deserve is to be destroyed. You will be missed by no one.”

From the passionate terror welling up in his eyes, I could tell that he could feel the intense force of magic building up inside of me as well. He scrambled back up the steps, keeling over his throne, clammy hands gripping onto the wood and he begged with me silently and audibly to save him.

“Please…” he began an a quivering voice, “my son is a Protector, and I am…you can’t…”

It was time. “Goodbye,” I said, and then the power erupted.

With a mighty roar like a thousand raging thunderstorms colliding in the sky the blinding light surged from every inch of every one of us and exploded from my hand, not letting a single corner of the room escape from its burning fury, hitting everything in its path with the force of a gale or a crashing tidal wave, formidable bursts of magic coming again and again, tearing through everything in the room with unbridled wrath. I heard the man’s short but agonizing wail through the ear splitting roar as the magic blew him to millions of pieces, and I felt the power slice into the ceiling of the house and tear apart the rafters with a groan, crashing through into the sky above, even penetrating the very clouds. This destructive power was flooding into me through my feet, and it was as if I was sucking it from every inch of the room and then unleashing it through my hand as a golden onslaught that was a million times more devastating. Though I could not see through the overwhelming light I knew that the house was collapsing around us, and I felt splinters rain down on my head, heard china and glass shattering, walls crumbling, wood bursting into flames – crackling and crashing and splintering and groaning and screaming filled my head, but I knew that there was nothing to be scared of as we continued to blast the evil place, purging it of everything worth destroying.


And if I am now a competent writer (I like to think I am - I hope that's not arrogant) then there's hope for anyone!