Friday, 21 June 2013

In these shoes? I don't think so...

Beloved blog fans, in the recent present I had the great good fortune to go on holiday to Spain with my boyfriend and two very dear friends. We went to a spot called Isla Plana, which I would whole heartedly recommend to anyone thinking about having a holiday. Not just because it almost sounds a bit like the name of a Madonna song (although, let's face it, that would be enough) but also because it is a beautiful, sunny, unspoiled place with more coves than Nancy Blackett could shake a stick at and more mountains than even I could turn into molehills.

However, I am not here to wax lyrical about its beauty. Instead, as is befitting, I am here to tell you about a story of fear, forgetfulness and farcical fun, all of which stemmed from wearing entirely the wrong shoes.

Now, there are two important facts you need to know in order for this story to make sense. The first is that each of the three of my fellow holiday goers, boyfriend, girlie mate and her boyfriend all, are much more 'running, jumping, climbing trees' (Atkinson, 2013) sorts than I am. They like snorkelling in rocky seas. I like sun loungers. They like climbing mountains. I like sitting. They like flinging themselves after frisbees in the surf. I like novels. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

The second important idea is that, whilst I am, as a general rule, way too keen to impress almost everyone (an ingratiating and uncomfortable trait that ironically has the exact opposite effect to the one it intends), I am especially keen to impress my friends I went on holiday with, since a) I think they're awesome and b) we're kinda new-ish in being close friends and I want to Do Well. Charming, no? No?

Right, now we've got those two things straight, I can commence.

On the second day of holi, we headed down to the beach, which stretches out for miles, as inviting as freshly washed, Egyptian cotton sheets. The sea features a tiny, rocky little island, to which you can wade out. Well, maybe YOU can. Can I? That's a different question altogether.

We had talked about this upcoming wade when we were drinking cocktails on the balcony in the sun earlier on (a much more Johanna-approved activity). My friend's boyfriend (also my friend, I should point out, but this seems the simplest way to avoid a) confusion and b) confidentiality spillage)) had said we would need sensible shoes. I think I owned a pair of sensible shoes once, but that was way back in 1986 and they didn't go with my outfit, so I took them off and threw them in the lake.

In fact, I had outdone myself on shoe flakiness on this particular holiday. There's a whole other story I could go into about why this happened, but I will just say that, due to a series of unfortunate events, I only had two pairs of half-way-to-broken flip flops with me (no heels at all either - damn Ryan Air weight limits), neither of which in any way qualified for sensible.

We walked down to the beach, with my friend saying that, due to the somewhat lively wind, the sea was rather a lot choppier than usual. We got to the sea, at the foot of the wade across the water, and could quickly see that my friend was right. There were waves which, in Cornish standards, were barely there, it's true, but still in real terms could knock a child of five over fairly easily. Given that I have the outdoormanship of a kitten of five months, I was already starting to worry.

A second result of the wind was that the sand was being somewhat agitated beneath the water, so you couldn't really see what you were treading on. Which, as it turns out, was a mass of very jagged rocks with the odd patch of slippery seaweed and the occasional sea anemone thrown in for good measure.

My friend's boyfriend strode out ahead to, ho ho ho, test the water. He, of course, made it across to the island in pretty much a single bound. All the same, I could see that this was not the journey for me and started trying to say so, mum-ish worry infecting my voice like a rash. However, without really knowing how it was happening, mid-pathetic-protest, I was suddenly attempting this wade and there was no turning back.

I don't know if you've ever tried to walk across spikes of stone that you can't see, through fairly lively waves, with breaking flip flops on your feet and nothing to steady yourself against but a friend you really don't want to push into the water? Maybe this is the sort of thing, blog fans, that you can do in your sleep, but me... not so much. I was convinced the entire time that I was going to fall face first into the spikey rocks, or get my foot stuck in between two rocks, or be stung by some kind of crazy ocean creature.

In fact, all that actually went wrong (apart from my intense panic) was that my flip flop, predictably, broke. The thong came away from the sole about half way along the journey, meaning that after a while, I was wearing that flip flop like a rather unconventional anklet flapping around my ankle, heightening the pain and fear-of-stingy-creatures factors relating to that particular foot twenty fold.

I don't think I have ever looked less in my element in all my live long days.

However, as you will have surmised, I did not die. Phew! I made it to the island in one piece and passed a pleasant hour or so reading in the sun.

I shall fast forward at this point because I've already been going on for ages and I want to eat my breakfast and not alienate you all my writing a novella. When the time came, I got back across to the mainland, mostly thanks to my friend's boyfriend bringing me my friend's (very sensible) (and yet still cool, I don't want to make her sound like a pottery teacher) shoes after she had done the clamber.

However, on reaching the road, made of black tarmac and cooked away in the sun all day, a problem quickly became apparent. My friend and I couldn't, due to the pesky laws of physics, share her shoes for the entire walk, uphill, over the rocks home. And, wuss and all that I am, I wouldn't have recommended doing that walk barefoot to anyone who didn't want some delightful blisters and burns all over the bottoms of their feet for the next week or so.

So at this point in the story, we parted ways. My friend and her boyfriend set out on the blisteringly hot, 45 degrees steep walk back to the apartment to get the car and my other pair of shoes, gawd bless them, whilst my boyfriend and I sat ourselves at the bar with cold drinks and our books. What a terrible hard life we lead.

We enjoyed the sun and our drinks. And we finished our drinks and started to notice that we were getting hungry. And we looked at our watches and were a bit confused. Our wet swimming costumes started to feel really rather damp and cloying. I think we might have ordered another drink - that's certainly not impossible.

After really quite a while, I saw my friend striding towards us and stood up, saying hello. I noticed that she didn't have my shoes in her hands, but kinda figured they must be in the car, maybe? I didn't really have time to finish this thought before the next one presented it to myself, which is that she didn't look best pleased.

She came over to our table and said a word that we so weren't expecting that I think it took a moment or two for us to understand it. That word was:


with, yes, that all-important question mark. Oh dear oh dear... what we had all forgotten was that my boyfriend had left something behind that morning, gone back to get it, and, as a result, he had the keys for the apartment (which contained not only the shoes but, rather crucially, the car keys) in his pocket.


I think at this point I think it's fair to say that my friend and her boyfriend were (extremely understandably) wishing they had gone on holiday with anybody other than this gormless sissy and her memory-deficient boyfriend. This had really not been either of our finest hours. We offered to try to manage the walk with the shoes, but my friend's boyfriend said that if we rendered this whole trip pointless, he would most likely have to drown himself, so we stayed in the bar while our friends went on the hotter than hell, steeper than Everest walk once again.

Fast forwarding again, our friends eventually made it back again complete with the car and much bigger smiles on their faces. But the punchline to this story? As my friend's boyfriend came to fetch us and show us where my friend had parked my car, he stopped to exclaim... they had forgotten my shoes. How this then lead to me standing alone and bare foot outside a police station, hopping from one foot to another in desperate need of a wee, is a whole different story for a whole different time.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

My New Phone or How I Became a Traitor

Blog fans, I owe you an apology. I knew it had been a long time since my last post, but I had no idea it had been over three months. I am abject. I am on my knees, begging for forgiveness. My ever hungry ego is wondering who noticed.

The thing is, it's not like I don't spend almost all waking moments when I'm not actively thinking about something (more moments than you might suspect) thinking about my blog. I really do. It's the screen saver for my brain. I have a long list of possible entries that need writing (viz: why the Big Bang Theory will never be as good as Friends; why I love dancing; tube politics, to name but three) but somehow the time has never been quite right to write them in the past - exactly - 100 days.

The reasons for this are multiple, often revolving around being somewhat busy, but I think the major one is that I've been, you know, if I dare admit it, kinda… happy. I know. Vile, right? I can't write about happiness. What would people say? This blog isn't called The Big Book o Smiles and Skipping, is it now?

I realise now how remiss I've been, and I shall do my best to redress the balance and get miserable again ASAP so that I can keep y'all entertained with puns and pithiness aplenty.

And so... those of you who are still talking to me will remember that I ended my last blog post with the promise of finally getting with the program only, what, like 8 or 9 years late and obtaining a smart phone. And on Monday, that's what I did. I nothing if not am a woman of my word.

I thought I would dive in at the deep end, so I got an HTC One, which I was reliably informed by reams of techy comparison websites in the hours of intense research that I did was the genuine article, the greatest phone ever built, the phone that would change my entire life. Oh, ok, that's a lie, a friend of mine said it could play audio books really loud and that was enough for me.

I have had this computer-in-my-pocket for six days now, and here are my conclusions, thus far:

1. It's not actually a computer-in-my-pocket. This would be an impossibility because it's so fecking BIG. My old Nokia 2330 fit in my hand like a diamond on a ring finger. This HTC One wouldn't fit in a 10 litre rucksack, even if it used its own internet capabilities to join Weight Watchers for a month first. Now, I know I got an extra big phone and I could have gone for a smaller one, so I really have no-one to blame but myself, but I had my reason for this, a reason which I stand by.

My major gripe with smart phones has always been that typing on them is so damn hard. Your fingers press the wrong key constantly. So it seemed sensible to me that a bigger screen would equal a better chance at accuracy when stabbing at the letters. This is somewhat true, and I must say, there is something very satisfying about the heft of it when I'm actually speaking to someone on it. My ear lines up with it... and so does my mouth!!! It is so many decades since I had a phone that did that that I forgot it was ever true. But... it won't fit in ANY of my pockets. Which means I'm either carrying it constantly in my paw like a mugging waiting to happen, or I have to zip it inside a special pocket in my bag so it won't get scratched, which means it's nowhere near me. I do not like this.

2. The typing IS really annoying. I have already made three (THREE!) mistakes in texts in only six days (well, I made about 65 more when I was texting my boyfriend very drunkenly on the way home last night - he, bless him, was replying imploring me to put the very expensive new phone bag in my bag and stop waving it around the high streets of Tottenham. Must remember that people might actually want to steal this phone, another sensation I've not had in a decade or so - but I won't count drunken text errors, we're allowed to do silly things when we're drunk), one of them, humiliatingly, on Facebook. For the WHOLE WORLD TO SEE. Happiness one day, and writing 'tryst' when I meant 'trust' the next. Where is the real Johanna?

This is obviously unacceptable. The thing is, isn't it, you're staring so intently at the bit where you're pecking away with your fingers that you don't have the time to look at the bit where the words are actually coming out. And let's face it, this phone is so big I'd need a stepladder to get to where I could see that bit anyway. This is why the mistakes happen. Well, that and the fact that some moron decided it would be a good idea to replace perfectly serviceable phone keyboards with 12 actual buttons on them with so-called touch screens with 104 virtual buttons on all the phones in the world ever. Of course that doesn't work as well, you ASS HAT. There's not enough space!

I hear there are 'apps' (I feel like such a traitor using that word, it sits in my mouth as badly as chillax or mudblood or I'll-take-mine-rare-please) which can turn your stupid virtual QWERTY keyboard into a sensible phone one (although sadly it can't turn the screen into a set of physical buttons), so as soon as I've worked out how to download things (alright, alright, as soon as I'm sitting next to someone who already knows how so they can 'show me' and I can nod wisely and watch Ally McBeal episodes in my head), I'm getting me one of those so I shall never make a mistake again. In my entire life ever once. It works like that, right?

Briefly now, as I fear I'm going to bore you all away if I don't shut up soon, here are some other observations I have made: I tried to use the maps for the first time yesterday, the thing everyone told me would make it all worth it, and it tried to make me walk 10 minutes past where I was actually meant to be going. You cannot text on 'smart' (HA! Smart my ASS!) phones and walk at the same time, at least not without causing a 10 person pile up. I actually never will read a book on a bus ever again. It buzzes annoyingly every single time someone sneezes on Facebook and I don't know how to turn it off.

I should really read the manual, huh?