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[18 Apr 2007|09:18am]
Christabel's memorial

Small and beautiful

Christabel's memorial stone

J's mum and dad are on holiday in Scotland, and J's mum made this beautiful memorial to Christabel there. It's so beautiful and I'm so touched that I thought it deserved a public post.
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LiveJournal [12 Mar 2007|02:20pm]
A brief summary of the trip to the vet: Christabel was very brave (had her claws cut without being sedated) while I wasn't brave at all. But the whole scenario seems to have affected me badly; I feel as if I've regressed today, as if I'm less emotionally healthy than I have been for some time.

And now, LiveJournal. Ever since I started my journal on this site I've been uncertain as to why I was doing it. Part of the reason was simply that it was more convenient than writing a paper diary, which is what I used to do. (But in which case, why make it available so that anyone in the world could stumble across it, whereas my paper diaries were always kept under lock and key?) Another motivation is that I use it as a kind of self-therapy. (But again, isn't it odd to make this available to others to read?)

A third reason for starting this journal is although I never wanted people who I knew in "real life" to read it, I liked the idea that kindred souls, perhaps living thousands of miles away, would see it and identify with something in it. But although this has happened in a few cases, a quick look at my friends list shows that, in four years of writing this blog, I only have eight LJ friends, three of whom I got to know by other means anyway. And, looking at my last few entries, I notice that no one has commented on them. Now, although I don't post entries on here for the purpose of getting comments, I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy getting them; my precarious and unhealthy self-esteem relies far too much on feedback from others for this not to be the case. In summary, I think it's clear that the way I write, and the stuff I write about, just isn't very interesting.

As I've just mentioned, there are many advantages to writing a blog - top of the list is simply that I enjoy it - but having a public diary has always held a particular fear for me, namely that the abuser or those associated with him might discover it (which may already have happened, I don't know).

I've been considering all this and have decided that, at least for the moment, the disadvantages of keeping this diary public outweigh the advantages. For this reason, although I still plan to keep up this journal, my intention is to make future posts private. This might not be forever; I may well change my mind. But right now, it's what feels right.

Most of you who are on my friends list I'll be seeing anyway, or I'll be in touch with by e-mail; this certainly isn't a way of losing touch with you, and I'll probably continue to read and comment on your journals, if that's OK. Thanks to all of you for reading my entries and for all your comments; in my situation, with very few "real life" friends, and emerging from a period of extreme difficulty, I've appreciated them more than I can say.

[12 Mar 2007|08:33am]
I'm having a kind of meltdown.

I went to bed last night to the sound of Christabel crying, presumably wondering why she'd been left without food for the night. I couldn't get to sleep for ages - I was shivering despite the warm night and the fact that I'd had my electric blanket on - and then I woke up at 6.15 with a stomach ache and couldn't get back to sleep again.

I'm crying now. Seeing my poor blind cat walk around the living room in search of food bowls which aren't there upsets me so much.

Rationally I know that not missing a couple of meals isn't going to kill her, and that I have no choice but to get her claws cut, but emotionally it feels like I'm letting her down, being mean to her and not protecting her.

And, even worse, the most painful bits - putting her into the cat carrier and the procedure at the vet's - are yet to come.
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Christabel's weekend [05 Mar 2007|05:03pm]
[ mood | content ]

I declared this weekend to be Christabel's Weekend, meaning that she got taken to J's house so that she could have a change of scenery and enjoy a proper garden for a change (I think she's bored in my flat). Looking back on it, I think the unpleasantness of the journey there and back (she gets so scared in cars that she loses control of her bowels) probably outweighed any pleasure she got out of walking round a rather cold garden. Perhaps we'll try again in the summer.

Having said that, even if it wasn't altogether a success as far as Christabel was concerned, I had a lovely time - J cooked a proper roast dinner on Saturday evening (roast chicken for him and Christabel, quorn burgers for me) and we had delicious sparkling wine. For the first time for ages, I felt delightfully tipsy without suffering a horrible hangover afterwards. We watched football on TV, went to the supermarket together and just generally relaxed.

On Sunday I met up with L to make a pilgrimage to the Miffy exhibition at the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. I adore Miffy, and have done since I was a little girl. She's just so cute! We enjoyed looking round the museum and spotting toys we'd played with as kids - anyoone else remember Sticklebricks? - and gazing adoringly at all the cute children there. (Note to anyone feeling broody: do not visit this place!)

Things are still going well with J. Sometimes I allow myself to daydream that, after all my failed relationships, this one might work out, that we might even move in together some day... And then I pull back and remember how many times I've hoped for that before, and how something has always gone wrong.

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Where has all the shampoo gone? [01 Mar 2007|07:37pm]
I was in Sainsbury's earlier this week, with a shopping list which included a new bottle of shampoo. I have hair which tends to get greasy rather quickly, and I've always therefore bought shampoos for greasy hair. But to my amazement/horror, there wasn't one bottle of shampoo for greasy hair in the shop. Instead, they all seemed to be shampoos which would add body, or make your hair shiny, or take away frizz. All very useful, I know, but what about those of us whose hair looks like it's been dipped in a chip pan after a couple of days? What are we meant to do? Can I really be the only person in the country who's been buying this kind of shampoo? Are there any shops where you can still purchase it? I need answers.
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Metaphorical tennis [18 Feb 2007|10:57pm]
Yesterday I told J that I thought our relationship had made his life more complex (though I'd like to think more interesting too) whereas it had made my life more relaxed.

He said he preferred to think of it in terms of a tennis match. Before he met me, he said, his life had been like playing tennis with no net - easy and comfortable, but ultimately not always satisfying or rewarding. I countered this by saying that before I met him, my life was like playing tennis with a 12-foot net: it often seemed as if, however much effort I made, I simply couldn't get anywhere.

I'm starting to really miss him when he's not around.
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Valentine's Day [14 Feb 2007|12:01pm]
This is the first Valentine's Day for seven years that I've had a boyfriend. Not that the occasion seven years ago was exactly romantic. My boyfriend and his ex-girlfriend were still sharing a flat, and even though she had a new partner and knew all about me - in fact she'd actually suggested he went out with me! - he still thought it might hurt her if we saw each other on Valentine's Day. I think that was when I knew for sure that I was very much his "on the rebound" fling ... and, sure enough, our brief relationship ended very shortly afterwards.

Hopefully today will be a bit more successful. I've received a card from J - I've spent most of the last week reminding him to send one! - and I've stuck a few Valentine's hearts on my windows. J's coming round this evening to cook for me - though, as I've got a day off, I'll be shopping for the ingredients. (Some may think that, as I'm the one who's not working today, I should be cooking for him - but hey, a girl's entitled to be spoiled once in seven years, isn't she? Not to mention that J is better at cooking and enjoys it more than I do). I hope it's going to be romantic - I'll lay candles out and we'll have sparkling wine. It will be J's first ever Valentine's Day with a girlfriend!

This afternoon I'm going birthday shopping - it's J's birthday next week. I've already bought him Sega games for his PSP, and I'll probably get him some clothes and also take him somewhere we can do some wine-tasting - maybe Vinopolis? And while we're on the subject of birthdays, duchess80 is celebrating today - congratulations! I just wish I was as young as she is!
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A run-through of the weekend [11 Feb 2007|09:02pm]
On Friday I killed a spider. It wasn't on purpose. It fell into the bath while I was having a shower and drowned itself. But all the same, causing the death of another living creature within 15 minutes of getting out of bed felt pretty bad.

Friday evening onwards has been spent with J. Yesterday afternoon we wandered to Northcote Road and bought some fantastic blue cheese and the most expensive bottle of wine we've ever shared, at £10.99. It's a great area for foodies, and there are some excellent shops, but it strikes me as a slightly up-itself area in some ways: full of upper middle class familes with children with names like Jasper who attend private schools. Or maybe I'm just jealous?

This morning, to my astonishment, J suggested going to the Bluewater shopping centre. I should add that in the 18 months I've known him, I've never even been able to induce him to enter a clothes shop, so it seemed a most unlikely occurrence. But after checking his temperature and finding no signs of a fever, I was only too happy to agree. We had a really good day, of which I suppose the highlight was J voluntarily entering a clothes shop, looking at men's clothes, and even trying on a shirt and buying it! I also allowed myself a mini-splurge in John Lewis (two bedside lights - the first I've ever owned!) and in M&S (underwear ... well, it was all laid out for Valentine's Day and it seemed rude not to). We then went to see Music and Lyrics, which I really enjoyed - yes, it's not life-changing, or deep and meaningful, but I'm a sucker for a feel-good romantic comedy, and the 80s/pop music themes made it impossible to resist. And finally it was time to bring that heart-attack ever closer, with my first Krispy Kreme doughnut - glazed with cream inside, and very tasty.

Hope you've all had good weekends too.
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Snow and Christabel [08 Feb 2007|02:12pm]
The first thing I did when I woke up was pull back a corner of my curtains and peek out - and sure enough, as promised, there it was, snow!

My excitement gave way to anxiety, though, when I discovered that Christabel had a bleeding eye, wouldn't eat or drink and wasn't herself at all. There was nothing for it but to take the day off work and take her to the vet - and as J was here, he kindly offered to come with me.

So we set off to the surgery - and, in different circumstances, it could have been almost romantic ... the streets were crisp and white and snowflakes were swirling around us as we walked along, clutching hands for warmth and swinging Christabel's cat carrier. But we both knew this could be the end for Christabel - I'd already had a final "mum and cat" photo taken just in case - and the mood was reflective rather than seductive. In the event, the vet prescribed antibiotics and pain-killers, and J heroically stayed with Christabel while she was injected while I - always the coward where Christabel's concerned - lurked outside in the slushy high street, preferring the bitter cold to the chance of seeing my baby in distress.

And now I'm back home and, while losing a day's pay is worrying me, at least I could finally do what I've been dreaming of for over two years - making a snow man, a snow cat and a snow hamster. Here are a couple of pics. If anyone from the Tate is reading this, you'll be pleased to hear that I'm available for commissions - but hurry, I'm clearly a talent just waiting to be snapped up.

Snow man

Snow man and snow cat

And finally ... is there anything better than Heinz tomato soup on a day like this? Mmmmm...
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Griping about the neighbours [05 Feb 2007|07:05pm]
I got home from work to find loads of rubbish in the front garden, including a mattress. It turns out that the guys who live in the downstairs flat have moved into their new properties, without even saying goodbye, despite their promises to do so over a farewell drink. I then found a note addressed to me saying they were sorry they "didn't get time to say goodbye", which annoyed me - it's not that you didn't have the time, boys, you didn't find the two minutes that it would have taken to walk up the stairs and knock on my door. If you can't be polite, at least be honest. And then, to irritate me even further, they left their addresses and instructed me to forward any post on to them. Now, I already do that for four people who used to live here, and I'm happy to do so. And if these guys are having their post forwarded by Royal Mail (is it still called that?) but the odd letter slips through the net, as it often does, then of course I'll send it on to them, no problem. But if they're saving money by not having stuff forwarded, and they think I'm going to forward five or six letters a day when they've left the garden looking like a tip and don't have the common courtesy to say goodbye, they have another think coming.

God, I can be a right whinger sometimes, can't I? But I put a high value on common courtesy and friendliness, and it irks me when others don't do the same.
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[04 Feb 2007|09:40pm]
I had a really enjoyable weekend. (Oh, how I wish the what_she_wrote of about 3 years ago, alone and distressed, could have read that).

Yesterday J and I spent the day together - a lazy morning in bed (and he made the breakfast, hooray!), followed by a walk to the river, the first time I've done that from my flat, even though it's only a couple of miles. What made it more remarkable (and more enjoyable, actually) was that it was J who suggested it. We wandered past old churches, and J fed sandwiches to screeching seagulls who caught the crumbs of bread as they soared through the air. We ended up in a lovely pub with wood pannelling and an intriguing history, and I drank my first ever shandy! Then in the evening we went to the cinema, to see Venus. It was J's choice of film, and, to be honest, I'm not sure if I enjoyed it or not. Before I went, I wasn't aware of the subject matter, and some of the scenes made me feel uncomfortable. Yet it was a delight to see a film where the main characters aren't young and glamorous, it's always nice to see films where you can spot different bits of London, and it had a certain amount of charm.

Then today I met up with the lovely A, and we went to Leighton House, with its wonderful decor, including the most beautiful turquoise tiles I've ever seen and an indoor fountain. I find stately homes a bit overwhelming (and, if I'm being honest, often rather dull) but this was far more manageable and, to me, much more appealing. There were some great paintings as well - ones which actually moved me, intrigued me.

Then back to the computer for my current obsession: trying to find a cottage to stay in with J one weekend. I'm fussy, though: it has to be thatched, and it has to have a proper log fire. That's my dream, and nothing less will do.
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Why do companies make everything so difficult? [01 Feb 2007|06:31pm]
[ mood | unsettled ]

I feel unsettled today. Too much time at home, I think (there's a shortage of work again). Of course I have only myself to blame - I should have gone out and done something, perhaps visited a gallery or something like that.

If I'm being honest with myself, my mood is affected a lot by how things are going with J. And while we haven't fallen out or anything like that, it's clear to me - and it must be to him too, I think - that things aren't quite as they should be. I think the time has come for us to have a talk about things, and I'm not looking forward to it.

I didn't spend the whole day doing nothing, though - oh no, I sorted out a few bits and bobs, and made what turned out to be a highly frustrating trip to a building society to close an account which I've never used. After 10 minutes of standing in a queue and 10 minutes of handing over all my account information and ID, the lady asked me for my most recent cashpoint card. I explained that one had been sent when I was out, but that rather than take a day off work so a cashpoint card that I'd never use could be delivered (they use a delivery company who helpfully only deliver on weekdays) it made more sense just to close the account.

To my amazement, she told me that that wasn't possible. The only way to close my account would be to have yet another cashpoint card sent to me (to be delivered on a weekday, of course) which I'd then have to bring into the building society - only so that she could immediately cancel it! I mean, what on earth is the point in that?

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Cello heaven [30 Jan 2007|10:30pm]
My cello is very old, and so badly broken it can't be repaired. And now I'm playing gigs again, I'm yearning for a new one. Of course I can't afford it, the only way would be through a loan, but ... a girl can dream.

And so today, before my afternoon's work, I went to a music shop to try a few out. I was led upstairs into a lovely room with wooden floors, an expensive rug, huge windows with a window seat, a Victorian fireplace ... and more cellos than you could shake a stick at. Looking at the price tags, I was just amazed. There were cellos costing £7,000, £8,000, even £9,000! I tried a couple of more modestly priced models, one of which sounded pretty good. But I'm going to have to think hard about whether I can justify the expense. Anyway, here's the shop - note the cool pink violin on the left!

Cello heaven

In other news, J's parents are coming round to take me out to lunch tomorrow - eek! I've never been out with them without J before. J's dad has made me two bedside tables, modelled on the ones from John Lewis that I wanted but couldn't afford. He's bringing them to my flat tomorrow and I can't wait to see them. He's done so much for me - saving me hundreds of pounds - and I feel incredibly grateful.
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Snow and gigs [25 Jan 2007|03:04pm]
As any fellow Londoners will know, there was snow yesterday! It was such a lovely surprise to wake up to it, especially as it's the first time since I've lived in this flat that I've seen the terrace covered in snow. It looked so pretty. Of course I couldn't resist the opportunity to take a few photos, though Christabel was none too pleased at being forced outside in the freezing cold to pose for the camera.

And as if snow wasn't unusual enough, in the evening there was another rare event: J and I went to a gig together. What's more, he initiated it - he decided that "I'm From Barcelona" looked interesting, and booked tickets for us to see them at ULU. And they're unlike any band I've seen before - there are nearly 30 of them on stage, with various instruments including kazoos, and it was lots of fun - giant red balloons, bubbles everywhere, sing-a-long songs, and half the audience clambering up onto the stage at the end. A party atmosphere and a great way to beat the cold outside.

So here's the terrace:

Snowy terrace

And here's my gorgeous (blind) cat trying to work out why everything seems different this morning:

Christabel navigates the snowy terrace
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I am a snail [08 Jan 2007|01:03pm]
If you spotted a human snail on the Tube this weekend, it could have been me with my new cello case on my back. Now I accept that I'm not very talented as a cellist, but I thought that at least I'd be able to carry a cello case competently. But it seems I was wrong. My list of incidents included nearly falling down a flight of stairs when the cello case somehow hit the step behind me and propelled me forwards; getting stuck in a ticket gate at a tube station; having to step out of a Tube carriage backwards because I couldn't turn round; and accidentally bashing the case loudly against my neighbours' front door. Also, I had to walk with my head sticking forwards, otherwise it bashed against the case, which gave me the appearance of a chicken. And, let me tell you, the combined chicken/snail look is not an attractive one. What am I doing wrong??!
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Good little wifey [05 Jan 2007|11:23am]
Yesterday morning, at J's house, I found myself sitting on the floor of his bedroom sorting out his socks into pairs (he just chucks them all in a drawer and it usually takes him about 5 minutes to find a matching pair in the morning). Aaaagh, what's happening to me?
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Happy New Year! [02 Jan 2007|06:11pm]
[ mood | content ]

New Year's Eve was nice, though more like a normal evening round at a friend's house than a special occasion. I spent it with J, his friends D and K, who live near Bridgwater, and their 2-month-old baby. None of us drank that much - for some reason we all felt desperately thirsty and kept drinking water, even J, which is a miracle! - but we played games (Who Wants to be a Millionaire and the 80s music trivia game) and toasted the New Year with some bubbly champagne. I wasn't too impressed with the New Year coverage by most of the TV channels, but I thought the London Eye fireworks were spectacular!

Highlight of the weekend was probably J taking a different route down so that we could see Stonehenge - it was his thoughtfulness in taking me there and the fact that it was a surprise that made it so good, I think. A brisk walk on the mud flats on the morning of New Year's Day was also quite exhilarating, and getting on well with J (which we did all weekend) always makes me feel happy. But I felt sorry for J at times as his friends kept asking if he wanted children - as if he isn't already fed up of me asking him that! It seems that recently, whatever he does, he can't get away from the baby question.

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[30 Dec 2006|11:32pm]
The last couple of days have been spent just getting stuff sorted out - cleaning the flat, doing the washing and ironing, going to Sainsbury's, practising the cello, catching up with LiveJournal and e-mails. And while I don't find stuff like cleaning the bathroom enjoyable, I always feel better once everything's been done. I'm probably a bit too tidy - I hate stuff being out of place and can't relax properly until everything's how I like it.

It's been nice to have a couple of days to myself, after almost a week of solid company. Being with J and his family was great, but, as I've written before, I'm so used to being on my own that after a while I start to yearn for time to myself. I don't know how people in couples get things done!

And now everything's tidy and clean and sorted, and I can head off tomorrow with J to visit his friends in Somerset and celebrate New Year with them. 2006 has been, on balance, a good year. I had my first holiday for three years - a week in Goa - and joined another band, something I never thought I'd do. Things with J have been rocky, to say the least, but we've ended the year together and happy. Work's not been great, and is a subject I'm going to have to give more thought to next year. Generally, I've been continuing to survive and move on, meeting more people and getting out more, putting the abuse further behind me, and I hope that continues next year.

New Year's Resolutions? To try to be more in control of my emotions, more confident, get more exercise. Hopes for 2007? Well, I'd love to end it living happily with J. And OK, if I'm being honest, I'd like to be engaged and/or pregnant, but that's in a fantasy world, I think. More realistically, I'd like to socialise more, and to be able to afford a holiday - maybe for my birthday (it's one of the 'big ones' this year).

And so it's time to switch off the computer until 2007, and it's my chance to wish my few but treasured readers a very happy New Year. Thank you for your comments during the year - they're much appreciated - and I hope 2007 brings you everything you want.
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Christmas [30 Dec 2006|02:42pm]
Most Christmassy experience

Going to a pantomime. It was great! Wonderful acrobats, pirates running around the aisles squirting you with water, Peter Pan flying through the air, and the emotional experience of seeing my friends' son as Lost Boy 1. I managed to put aside my normal inhibitions and was cheering and booing - it's surprisingly easy to get involved when you have an adorable five-year-old next to you who's totally enraptured by it.

Best bit of Christmas

Minutes after arriving at J's parents' house, I was perched at the top of the stairs, and his mum was sitting halfway up the stairs, and we chatted for ages and ages over a gin and tonic. It was so relaxed and comfortable, and I felt instantly welcome. I'm incredibly lucky that J's parents are so friendly and easy to get on with.

Worst bit of Christmas

An unfortunate effect of the pantomime was that it re-ignited my desire to be a mum. I made a jokey remark to J, but his reaction scared me, which led us on to talking about the subject. And the outcome isn't good: it seems that, despite what he said earlier this year, he doesn't know if he wants children and in fact thinks he probably doesn't want them. I'll leave out the details of the conversation, but it made for a tense couple of days, leading to a very stressful Christmas morning, when my insecurity was the worst it's been for ages. I was crying in bed, convinced J was just waiting until after Christmas to dump me. The stress was made worse because (a) the pressure to get up and be all happy with his family, (b) the guilt that I felt about ruining J's Christmas, and (c) I was convinced that the more upset I got, the more likely he was to dump me - yes, another of those vicious circles.

On the positive side, we managed not to fall out, and I got myself together so completely that Christmas Day turned out to be really good; relationship and baby worries were pushed so far away that they didn't feature at all. But of course, the topic will have to be revisited on another occasion, which I am not looking forward to.

Biggest surprise of Christmas

Christabel. I was very wary of taking her - a virtually deaf and blind and partially incontinent cat - away for Christmas, scared that the change of scene and the car journey (which she hates) might tip her over the edge. I'd made all the preparations I could, and I'd carefully arranged for her to be kept in one room in J's parents' house, as advised. But I should have known better ... Christabel was having none of it. Within seconds, she was walking from her allocated room into the hallway. And within minutes, to my huge surprise, she was marching up the stairs! I couldn't believe my eyes. How can a blind cat do that? She proceeded to have a great Christmas - she paced around in front of the oven while the turkey was cooking, and sat at the table with us to eat her portion. On Boxing Day she dined on prawns and smoked salmon. And she spent most of the final day at J's parents' house marching around the large garden, while I stood on the sidelines, bored and shivering, but so happy to see her full of life again.

Biggest laugh of Christmas

I shouldn't say this, but ... Christabel falling into the swimming pool in J's parents' garden. I was horrified at the time, but, looking back, I have to admit the situation does have a comic element.

Most nerve-racking bit of Christmas

Introducing J to my parents for the first time. We went round on Thursday evening and had dinner with them. I know J was very nervous, but he did brilliantly - I felt so proud of him.


A great Christmas, filled with lovely food and drink, good company, and lots of relaxing. We played Question of Sport (I was rubbish) and an 80s music trivia game, and we watched Planes Trains and Automobiles. J and I went for a brief walk in the Peak District, and then to Ashbourne for some last-minute Christmas shopping and a drink in a cosy and friendly pub. And I spent seven days and nights with J in a row, during which (apart from the matter referred to above) we got on great. Oh, I wish it could be Christmas every day...
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In love ... with a cello case [29 Dec 2006|04:01pm]
Is it possible to fall in love with a cello case? Because I think that's what happened to me this morning. I've decided I need a hard cello case, especially in view of my band's forthcoming mini-tour - the soft case I currently own barely protects my cello at all - and so I went to a music shop in central London to buy one. And there it was - a bright red cello case, beautiful and shiny, exquisitely curved, perfect in every way. But it was £100 more than the plain black case standing next to it. And I simply couldn't justify that extra expense. So I did the sensible thing and came home with the black case, but my head and heart are far from convinced...

A Christmas update will follow later, for those of you who are very bored.
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