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Never Say That Things I Own Are Magenta

December 17th, 2014 · Blog

A few years ago I was in a pub. I realise this doesn’t narrow it down very much, but you didn’t let me finish my sentence. A few years ago I was in a pub with a load of people and it was someone’s birthday (I forget whose, because I am clearly a terrible friend) and I had come to the pub in fuzzy beret that I wore quite often. Someone mentioned my hat, which at that point was stowed in my bag out of sight, and described it as “mauve”. Just as if that was, you know, a given, and it was mauve, and that this was not open to debate. I thought that my friend had got mixed up and was talking about the wrong hat. “You’re thinking of Claire’s hat” I said. “She’s the one who has a mauve beret.”
“No – yours is mauve too, hers is just a brighter shade.”
“No – look,” I said, bringing the hat out as proof. “It’s a sort of beigey brown.”
“It’s definitely got a purple tone to it,” said my friend, kindly but firmly.
“WHAT? But I don’t wear mauve. It doesn’t suit me. This cannot be true! I don’t believe you. I need a second opinion.”

At this point I went round and asked everyone in the pub what colour my hat was, and every single one of them said either “mauve”, “purple’, “lilac” or “plum” and I was outraged, they were WRONG, it was a conspiracy and could not be true.

Although I do not have many rules, I do have a rule which states I do not wear any shade of purple because, although an extremely excellent colour in most other contexts, I regard it as clashing with my hair and complexion, and yet I wore this hat regularly and it clashed with neither. Everyone laughed at me for being so angry about whether something was purple or not (possibly I was exaggerating the anger for comic effect, by the end), and around closing time someone slurred gently, seriously, “But if you like it and you think it looks good, who cares what colour it is? It’s just semantics.”

But it bothered me. I thought I must have been unknowingly colourblind for years. The next day I went around the internet taking every colour blindness test I could find and all of them said I was not colourblind, so I was utterly bewildered by the whole thing.

I looked at the hat again in daylight, and maybe it did actually have a sort of purpley tone to it, and then suddenly I couldn’t un-see it. It was a kind purplish beige. Not so much a brownish beige. I had been walking around all this time in a purple thing, in denial about its purpality. WHAT.

I was reminded of all this because two days ago I found myself in another, new argument about purple. I was discussing an absent paisley top of mine with Tom, and he described it as being “tan and purple” and I said it definitely wasn’t purple so he said “maybe magenta then” and I said, “Never say that things I own are magenta! It makes me angry!” Because magenta is even worse next to hennaed hair and vampire skin, and even more forbidden.

However, 1. magenta- or purple-clothing denial is considerably less harmful than climate-change denial, and 2. it was not magenta or purple. It was patches of blue surrounded by very thin lines of, um, puce.

Anyway, there isn’t a point to this or some sort of clever moral to the story, and I am not even going to propose a half-baked parallel theory about the psychology of climate change deniers or anything. I don’t want to, because that would have to involve me sharing a psychology with climate change deniers, and that would be awful.

I suppose it will just have to be a public warning that I am sometimes irrational about perceived fabric colours.

Oh, now I have just noticed that my camera case is undeniably, utterly magenta. What makes this even more awkward is the fact that magenta isn’t a colour. So I officially give up.


In Which I Am An Idiot

December 2nd, 2014 · Blog

“The tube containing Savlon and the tube containing toothpaste are awfully similar,” I thought, reaching into the bathroom cupboard. “But not that similar, which is a good thing. If they were really really similar, or if I wasn’t paying attention because I was thinking about something else, I might accidentally brush my teeth with Savlon, which would be disgusting. Good thing I’m concentrating very hard on not brushing my teeth with Savlon right now,” I concluded silently, spreading Savlon onto my toothbrush.

Shortly afterwards I did a lot of spitting and shouting, which may have included the phrase “worst thing ever”, and which may have been rather an overstatement.

I am a bit surprised, actually, that nothing like this has happened to me before. It happened to my mum once in 1998, though. She had more of an excuse, because it was dark and we were camping and she was knowingly brushing her teeth with fizzy mineral water because there was nothing else. (It was supposed to have been still mineral water but there was a Family Administrative Error and it all turned out to be carbonated, and there was supposed to be tap water where we were camping but there wasn’t. I mean, it wasn’t like we were the sort of family who habitually brushed our teeth with Perrier or anything.) Anyway, she assumed that it was the fizzy water that was making her mouth taste weird, so she carried on brushing a good while longer (in 1998) than I did (two days ago) before realising it was actually Body Shop Sage & Comfrey Gel (a sort of astringent spot cream from the 90s), not toothpaste.

Anyway, in terms of incorrect-substance-use incidents, it all ranks very low indeed. (The best one was when I accidentally fried an omelette in whisky, apart from the whole issue that I suddenly had a lot less whisky left. But it was a really good omelette.)



Happy Birthday to Me, From the Sea

November 21st, 2014 · Blog

Sea Glass from Seaham

Sea Glass Globule

The post-apocalytic-looking beach near Seaham made this, and it was my birthday (more than a month ago now).

The BALTIC made this, which is pleasingly specific-yet-mysterious:

Walkway Closed Due to Kittiwakes



Return of the Murk

November 18th, 2014 · Blog

As if the so-called word “mixologist” wasn’t bad enough, today I saw a headline that referred to a “pet fixologist”, which is frankly the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. That is a job title made up by a four-year-old. There, now I have ruined your day, too.

Hallowe’en was successful, i.e. devoid of doorknocks (except for the amplifier-collector); actually I got so used to having most of the lights off that I kept them off for part of the next night too. I have made some candle holders using jars, glue, and some fancy rustic-looking tissue paper that was originally wrapped around a present my sister gave me about four years ago (hoarding: it is occasionally worth it). They shall ward off the Murk.

Well, they will try.


Actually that’s just me anthropomorphising them, as being non-sentient and inanimate they cannot try to do anything. What I really mean is, I will gain an irrational slight feeling of cosiness leading to improved mental wellbeing due to the pretty candlelight, which will obviously have no effect whatsoever on the season, hours of daylight and weather conditions.

But things would get dull very quickly if we weren’t allowed any anthropomorphosis.


31st Oct 2014

October 31st, 2014 · Blog

It is Hallowe’en, or, at least, the day preceding (Hallowafternoon?). The two blonde, usually-pink-wearing small girls (the ones who do roaring) are already out in matching devil-child outfits, big red shiny skirts, black and red sequined tops and devil horns. They appear to be terrorising a cat with a small plastic watering can.

Tonight, as last year, I intend to turn off the house lights except for lava lamp, candles and the one over the cooker in the kitchen, and pretend to be out. Last year this yielded a 100% success rate, as a total of zero groups of children-viciously-demanding-sugar-with-menaces knocked on the door. (And there were lots of them around, so congratulations to us for making the house look scarier than they were.) This year it is going to be more complicated, because someone is scheduled to collect an amplifier from our house at 7pm and we will have to differentiate his knock from theirs without doing any curtain-twitching or turning the light on. How will this be achieved?

I don’t have any sweets to give out. I have a total of five Egremont Russets, which one tiny apple tree managed to cling on to all through the storms that are apparently the default weather in the garden (it did better than the Worcester Pearmain, which gave up and dropped everything after the first two strong winds and resulted in a very small, tart batch of stewed apple and rhubarb. I guess this was predictable, considering the respective climates of Egremont and Worcester). I doubt that processed-sugar-seeking children would like those very much, and in any case they seem too hard won to give out to trick or treaters. I think I also have some weird disgusting pastille things that someone gave me for Christmas in 2009. I suppose I could go out and buy some Emergency Backup Haribo, but in the event that we succeed in evading the trick or treaters, the only remaining option will be for me to eat the Haribo myself. And last time I did that, I got this strange kind of Haribo-hangover for two days.

Refusing to partake in stupid rituals that have been normalised by society is awfully complicated sometimes.


Look, Audio (Er, What)

October 12th, 2014 · Blog

Today is Sunday, which means very little to me except that there is no post and no web comics. I have hennaed my hair; made and then un-made and re-made a necklace because I used too short a bit of string the first time but didn’t find this out until I reached nearly the end; collected one fallen apple and a slightly pathetic last-attempt-of-the-year pile of rhubarb from the garden and stewed them; and speculated upon whether it’s always the same two people who have loud arguments in our street, or several different pairs.

Last time I didn’t catch much of it except the repeated phrases “I don’t need to lie” and “When I was in jail…”. Today I was inside the house so all consonants were lost but I’m reasonably sure it was an Argument, not Banter.

I’m afraid to look at the people having the arguments and work out whether they are the same or different, though, because they might notice and brand me a Curtain Twitcher, but maybe this is silly given that they’re the ones, you know, having an argument in the street. Last week some people brought an argument to the bus stop in front of my garden while I was planting out some thyme (very quietly, hoping they wouldn’t notice I was behind my garden fence and think I was eavesdropping or anything). I assumed the bus stop location was incidental, just another bit of street to argue in like all the rest of it. Then the bus arrived and I heard them get on it, together, mid-argument. Presumably they continued while in transit. It was fortunate for anyone else who was on the bus that it was very near the end of the line, I suppose.

Yesterday I worked almost all day on music, which might have actually resulted in some Things (or drafts of things, at any rate). They are big complicated arrangements based on two of the tunes from my tunebook and they are made of violas, violins, recorders, synthesisers, samples and bits of singing/humming.

They took a long time to make. About four years, actually, because I was always trying to move house or make a living or some other stupid overheads instead of doing this. (And I still don’t regard them as “finished”, exactly, but maybe this is a part of the problem.)


Mainly About Toads

September 12th, 2014 · Uncategorized

This week we have mostly learned more about how everything that anyone has ever done to our house as a “repair” in the past was inherently and fundamentally wrong. Hooray. It’s to do with incompatible types of mortar, the First World War killing off most of the people who knew anything about how it was really supposed to work, those who were left alive but clueless hazarding some guesses, and subsequent events within a culture of it’s-always-done-that-way incompetence. But let’s not go into that here, because depending on your personal outlook it is likely to be either horrifying or tedious, or a mixture.

In much, much better news, I found a toad in the garden the other day. I have been hoping for a toad for some time, although I hadn’t expected one due to the garden being a small oasis of growth immediately surrounded by mostly tarmac. And I haven’t made any particular efforts to encourage toads other than looking up “how to get a toad” on the internet. (This search yielded results containing several along the lines of a Yahoo Answers thread entitled “is it true that you can get high if you lick a frog?”, but that wasn’t quite what I intended.) I haven’t dug a pond, and I hadn’t built a toad-house (upturned flower pot with tiny doorway cut in it) but I did have a patch of weeds and detritus in a damp corner. A very small toad was hiding under some detritus which I was clearing up, which I’m sure ruined its day. I’ve now made it a toad-house as a replacement for its destroyed detritus-hut, so I hope it comes back. It proves the garden-can-have-toad principle, anyhow.

The main reason I want toads to convene near me is not, disappointingly, so that I can lick them and get high. It is so they will eat the slugs, and then perhaps the garden will be able to produce a higher ratio of human-food to bee-food/slug-food than it has this year. There are loads of bees, because I planted bee-attracting flowers, and they did very well. So well that it’s hard to do any weeding without getting bees all in my face, but BEES. BEES ARE NECESSARY. I also planted (as it turns out) slug-attracting vegetables. But they were supposed to be for me.

Admittedly the toad I saw was actually a bit smaller than most of the slugs I’ve seen recently (dayglo-orange-footed behemoths, ugh) but it’s a start.


O Unholey Roof

August 21st, 2014 · Blog

There is now no longer a hole in the roof. Achieving this involved taking a decision to ignore the weather forecast, having waited through an allegedly “wet” day (during which it didn’t rain at all) for the promised “dry” day which suddenly turned into a promise of a “wet” day with a few hours’ notice. So we used the “wet” day anyway. It only actually rained heavily into the hole twice, during which time I did fascinating logistical things with buckets and tarpaulins in the loft. Eventually all the slates were back on again in a non-broken arrangement. Some of them are held on with a thing called a tingle. That is an actual word for a piece of metal that holds a slate on, even though it sounds more like a roofing fairy is summoned to hold in the last few with some kind of fizzing spell or something.

Talking of the weather, I have been noticing for quite a while now that if you read any article in the “UK News” section of the Guardian and then look at the “most viewed” box in the bottom right after the article, one same article has been at position no. 2 for many, many months. Its title is “Britain Braces for Stormy Weather” and it is from October 2013. Either this is a bug in their stats, or people really have been clicking on in it droves every day since last October, panicking because it is about storms and is apparently trending and thus must be relevant – and keeping it perpetually in the “most viewed” box. I am going to keep checking to see how long it stays there. I wonder if they have noticed? Maybe it will keep it up for a whole year and we can have a birthday for it.


The Roof Again

August 14th, 2014 · Blog

Because I am basically Fashion Incarnate, I spent a good portion of yesterday wearing a sun hat, ear defenders and an overall, cutting up roofing slates using a brick and a plastering trowel. (This is apparently a perfectly correct way to cut up slates, which surprised me.) There is currently a hole in the roof, and a tarpaulin was installed over it at 10.30pm last night, which involved some complicated tying things with bits of wire inside the loft and dropping coils of rope off the side of the roof and tying them to the fence. It wasn’t actually that dramatic, but it was quite interesting, rope-wise.

The Met Office knows it is going to rain during the next, I dunno, 48 hours? It keeps changing its prediction of exactly when, which isn’t helping us decide when to take the tarp off and finish making there not be a hole.


I Will Be Brief

August 8th, 2014 · Blog

I have two things to say.

One is: we are setting up prog-rock influenced ceilidh band, we need a drummer and a bassist and it will sound something like this:

More info is here. Please tell all your potentially interested drummer and bassist friends, if they are nice ones.

The other thing is that we have to fix more of the roof, now. This time in a slightly more controlled way, i.e. there are no actual torrents coming into the house, and it is not the Winter Solstice (a.k.a. Everyone’s Favourite Time of Year to Re-Roof a Garage Mostly in the Dark).