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Sunday, 15 April 2012

The Leicester Pigeon Wars, Part 1

Anyone following my twitter & blog has noticed the occasional pigeon rant. There seems to be an ongoing conspiracy amongst UK pigeons to make my life hell. Some of it's old news; I had a few bad moments in the flat I lived in a number of years ago when something with feathers (I refuse to dignify it with the word bird) kept dive-bombing the toilet window. While I was *ahem* using the facilities. Repeatedly. It got to the stage that I'd dive into the room, latch the window closed, and leave again for a few minutes so the homicidal little buggers could headbutt the glass. None of them were ever killed or hurt by doing this, and they never did it when my flat-mate was in that room. They saved it all for me.

Things escalated into outright war - unprovoked, with me as the injured party - when I started travelling to Leicester on business.

A couple of years ago I made my first trip to Leicester, which involved leaving London at some horribly early hour. I lurched off the train needing the bathroom, a coffee, and a cigarette, so probably wasn't at my sharpest mental state for what followed.

I stopped outside the station to try and figure out where I was supposed to be going. Having the sense of direction of a traumatized gold-fish at the best of times is not really good thing when you travel a lot for work, by the way. There was a young guy standing a few feet away from my, yakking away on his mobile phone.

As I blearily tried to work out where the hell I was, a pigeon staggered up to me. (Yes, I mean staggered.The only thing I've seen with more stagger is a Camden drunk on a Friday night.) Then it made the strangest noise I've heard from any animal - feathered or otherwise - and then it projectile vomited onto my trouser leg.
Then it staggered away from me, flapped it's wings a few time, and shuddered into the air.
The guy of the mobile was laughing so hard I thought he was going to choke.

So let's recap:
First visit to Leicester? Check.
In desperate need of bathroom, caffeine & nicotine? Check.
Absolutely lost? Check.
The above is all pretty much par for the course when I travel. Puking pigeons? Not so much. Puking pigeons that projectile vomit bright orange alien-looking goo onto your fairly expensive and new business suit? Nope, that's a pretty special it-can-only-happen-to-me moment.

I had no idea this was only the opening round.

J H Sked is the author of WolfSongBasement Blues and Die Laughing, all of which are on Amazon and enrolled in the Kindle lending programme.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Hospitals and Dentists, oh my!

It's been a strange, entertaining, and frankly painful week by turns since my last post.

The job hunt continues and is looking pretty optimistic right now - I'm hoping to hear about something in the next week, so crossing fingers & toes. If it works out, it's actually a salary boost for me, which will definitely help. Update - I've been re-deployed internally, which does make it sound a bit like someone plans on shooting at me. Military speak in HR, gotta love it. It's a huge relief though - I had visions of joining the hollow-eyed line of despair at the dole office to make rent, and that doesn't appeal one little bit.

I downloaded a fitness app, which is a lot more useful than I thought it would be, although it does tend to scold when you under-eat.
On Saturday, I took my cousin off for an MRI scan, at St Ann's in Tottenham. Poor girl has a lot of grief with her knees at the moment, and since I know all about severe pain when trying to walk, she has my sympathy.
The hospital itself is pretty strange. The MRI unit is right at the rear, and since it doesn't have an emergency unit and we went on a Saturday, it was very, very quiet.
There's something utterly creepy about a deserted hospital; the only thing that comes close is an abandoned school. The buildings sprawl over a huge chunk of land, and all of the units are separate buildings. Once you step into the grounds, all sound from outside disappears, like some sort of aural black hole. The main feeling as you walk along the utterly silent main road that leads to the pre-fab MRI is desolation, and age.
A bit of googling when I got home told me that the site started off as a fever hospital in 1892. I have no idea whether the buildings on site are that old; the actual set-up reminded me of a very large old farm with a lot of outbuildings. I do know that if anyone ever wants to shoot a very atmospheric horror there, they'd have a very good location.

Monday was my turn for a medical issue. I had to go to the dentist for extractions. Anyone who knows me also knows that dentists fit in the same category as spiders, sharks, and my mother in a bad mood. They scare the hell out of me, although to give my current dentist credit she is very good. I'm just very phobic. (I also have objections to paying a great deal of money to be tortured for 30 minutes at a time. It makes me bitter.)

With my usual luck, it turned out they couldn't do all the extractions at the same time (something to do with only being allowed to use a certain number of local anesthetic injections - & it still bloody hurt!), so I'm back in a couple of weeks. The one side got to the stage where I was visualizing the dentist bracing herself with a foot on my shoulder.
I finally lurched out of surgery with an Elvis sneer, looking like I'd been bitch-slapped by Thor. Today I'm making friends with large quantities of painkiller and salt-water, hoping to be able to speak when I go back to my desk tomorrow. Sadly, I've lost the Elvis lip, which I was starting to appreciate.

To add insult to injury, my fitness app gave me lecture on not eating enough calories.It's a bit hard to argue with an app when you have mouthful of cotton wool & nowhere to write about having to gum your food to death, so I've had to satisfy myself by glaring at it and sulking.

Hopefully by the weekend I'll no longer look like a shaved down hamster, and be able to write coherently. For some reason fiction and painkillers don't get on very well, which makes me doubt a lot of the legends about drug-addicted writers producing great work. It's a bit hard to write a masterpiece when you're arguing with your spell-checker about how to spell "cat."