I’m Back!

Song: Dolly Parton – Here You Come Again

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, so I thought it was time to say Happy New Year and fill you in on a few things…

2012 was a big, brilliant year. On the whole, it was magnificent, but I can’t celebrate the good times without remembering that it hasn’t all been rosy.

The Bad: There have been some tough times since I last blogged in March – family illness, my lovely dog Phoebe passed away, and some of my closest friends have been tested to the limit.

The overwhelming sadness last year was Sam’s stepdad Mike passing away in November. He was a wonderful, funny, wise, kind and indeed one-of-a-kind man and it was an honour to get to know him over the year I had. It’s hard to accept all the utter marvellousness of life right now without wondering how something so heartbreaking and unfair can happen in amongst it all. Sam’s family have been unbelievably strong and I love having them in my life – they’re a huge part of all the good things that happened too.

The Good: 

– I went travelling for 6 weeks (erm, yes, I’ll get back to you on that in more detail later…)
– I AM AN AUNTIE AGAIN! I have a gorgeous wee nephew called Charlie who is as cheeky as his name deserves. An absolute bundle of joy.
– I was shortlisted for Young Wine Writer of the Year
– I handed in my notice after 6 superb years at The Wine Society – I finish at the end of January and start my career as a freelance writer full time (so, er, if you want to hire me then please get in touch!)

I’m going to be blogging more frequently from now on on various topics, from weight-loss (I’m on Weightwatchers and firmly believe it to be evil) to my joyous travels, food adventures, and any other shenanigans I fancy telling you about.

It’s good to be back.


Secrets of the Cinema

The Drifters – Saturday Night At The Movies

I love a random turn of events, and that’s exactly what I got last night.

My beau Sam and his Dad decided to take me to the cinema last night to watch us a bit o’ Shakespeare in the form of Ralph Fienne’s latest flick Coriolanus.

When we arrived, however, we were met by a very anxious-looking man who apologetically informed us half of the film hadn’t arrived, meaning the show would very much not be going on.

Not to be easily distracted from a lovely evening, we instead enjoyed a free beverage or two and some Pringles (it’s not quite Shakespeare but you can make the crisps into beaks and do killer Donald Duck impressions which is almost as good).

Then, the apologetic man – who we later found out was called Steve – asked whether we’d like to see the projection room instead. Never one to miss an opportunity to geek it up, I insisted we took him up on this offer.

The projection room was small but meticulously organised. The reels were huge and still looked like they did in The Artist (so, kind of a billion years ago), and Steve explained how the movies arrive in parts and have to be spliced together.

He then showed us backstage (the cinema doubles as a theatre), the dressing rooms, the props, and told us that the theatre has a ghost of a man who died in a fire before the cinema was built, and he has seen him more than once walking up and down backstage. He calls his name sometimes.  “I got the feeling he was a nice ghost, though,” Steve explains, although that’s probably just to ease the terrified look on the faces of Sam and I. We’re such pansies.

Steve is a man who clearly loves his job. He told me he’s been doing it for 20 years – only part-time, as he has a regular ‘day job’ too – but he works from 7am-11pm without a break every weekend.
Why? “It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.”

He explained his passion surrounds the technology of getting the film into action. He loves the big projectors, he loves how much hard work it is, and he loves the giant old film reels.

“I’d love to get some real classics to show people like Mary Poppins and North by Northwest, but you can’t get many films in this format these days. They’ve fazing it out to introduce everything in a digital format instead,” he explains. I asked whether this would mean his beloved technology – and the reason he loves his job – would soon be obsolete. He nods.

“All of these machines – they were worth £80,000 when we bought them, but now they’re just going to be scrapped. By next year at the latest everything will be digital.”

I asked what he thought of the digital format instead. Diplomatically, he assures me it will be far more environmentally friendly as there won’t be tons of film reels rotting away in waste sites any more. And it will take about half the work and half the time to get a film ready for screening.

But he will miss the technology he has learned to master so efficiently. “I’m being really positive though. I’m being brave and moving with the times.”

Steve was a thoroughly decent chap (he certainly didn’t have to give us the delightful impromptu tour), and I really feel sorry that he is going to suffer at the hands of our ever-increasing technological wizardry. But I’m grateful to his kindness because I’m pretty sure that is going to be my one and only chance to see a real old-fashioned projector in action.

I’m a total geek, but my sweet little experience left me torn between my love for the old and the new. Obviously I didn’t get to watch it and so this next judgement sounds a bit daft, but I’ve a feeling that experience beat Coriolanus hands down.

I Can See Clearly Now…

About eighteen months ago, I blogged about how I’ve always been really insecure about wearing glasses.

The blog post was kind of whiny, self-indulgent and more than a little bit shallow, but it is one of those body-image hangups we’re all guilty of that I wanted to share, because it’s been hanging around in my brain for over half my life now.

After I wrote it, I felt better but I still didn’t wear glasses all that often, and never when I wanted to ‘look good’ (replace ‘good’ with ‘less like Professor Trelawney’ if you like. Meanies.)

Then, stuff happened. The uber-trendy (YEAH alright that’s Tinie Tempah, but he’s cool) have been wearing big old chunky frames for a good 3 years or so, but it started filtering down to everyone else, and I started hankering after a pair of specs the size of my face.

^ My delightful friend Carrie let me borrow hers while we were absolutely off our tits on free cocktails (marvellous evening, my love!) and that was it: I had to get my mitts on a pair of my own or I WOULD DIE.

So I mooched on down to Specsavers with my beau and we both tried on ridiculous glasses for about three hours until we realised we were actually there for a reason.

^The pair I eventually chose were by Gok Wan and made me feel very sexy indeed. SERIOUSLY: glasses that make me feel sexy. And I’m getting compliments all the time. It’s happened. I’m cured.

They make me want to wear glasses. I actually choose to wear them as part of an outfit. Like this one we chatted about on Twitter last week after I got inspiration from another Domestic Sluttery pal, Elizabeth (she’s rad):

Maybe you’re all thinking this isn’t exactly breaking news, and isn’t even blog-worthy, but for me, on a scale on one to pretty darn hoorayful, it’s up there.

Years of insecurity have gone up in smoke and now I’m going to frolic about in glasses and not give a monkeys whether I look like a geek or not. I’m a glasses girl and proud.

Why Valentine’s Day is EVIL and MUST BE STOPPED

Etta James: My Funny Valentine

Today is 14th February. Nothing else, nothing special, just the day after the 13th and the day before the 15th and also my boss Deb’s birthday and if I mention her in this blog she might give me a payrise. (Seriously, happy birthday Deb. I’m nice.)

But for some reason, despite it being just 14th February, everyone seems determined to make it some day of FUN and LOVE and BEING NICE TO PEOPLE WE CARE ABOUT and EATING STUFF IN THE SHAPE OF HEARTS. Well, fuck them. Fuck them in the eye.

Okay, I should stop there, because if anyone mistakes this as me being serious then I will have to fuck MYSELF in the eye, because I actually really don’t mind Valentine’s Day at all. I quite like it. And I do not want to fuck myself in the eye.

Last year, I blogged about it from the point of view of a singleton sick of being presumed to be bitter about the evil V-Day, but this year I actually haz a fella (I know, I don’t believe it either) and – seeing as this year I’m neither single nor dating a total dickhead*** –  I’m celebrating Valentine’s properly for the first time ever.

Yes, I bought a silly card. And I bought him a present (nothing soppy, just something I think he’d actually like). And he’s taking me away to a mystery surprise location for the night (the only clue I have is they serve oysters), because, according to him, I’m awesome. YAY ME. There, I said it.

Normally, when people get bought presents for whatever reason, we as humans are quite happy for them. We exclaim things like ‘How NICE!’ and stuff. But, when someone buys you something on Valentine’s Day, suddenly there are at least three things that are fundamentally wrong with you as a person:

1. “Valentine’s is so commercial!”

Catch up, shit-for-brains, so is every holiday.

At Christmas @fart retweeted all the spoilt brats who didn’t get the right colour iPhone, and it made us all giggly at people who thought shiny presents were important, and now @shoutsatcows are doing the same with people who didn’t get enough presents on Valentine’s. We get it, they’re tools. Doesn’t mean that everyone that likes Valentine’s Day or Christmas subscribes to that particular brand of fucktardery.

Yes, it can be tiresome: suddenly, there’s a card for everything. These days, you can’t successfully digest a meal without someone you know scuttling off to moonpig.com and finding a hideous photo to mark the occasion to show they care. Doesn’t mean I have to start doing the same, but I’m not about to piss on anyone’s cornflakes if that’s what they want to do.

People that want you to buy stuff are going invent excuses to make you buy stuff. Duh. You don’t have to buy it – you don’t have to buy anything –  but you also don’t have to do a sneery face at people that do decide to spend money on someone for no other reason than a stupid myth about a saint.

2. “It’s so smug.”

Yeah, I know. How dare people be happy and, you know, actually show it? Twats.

NO ONE ELSE is allowed to be happy until YOU ARE EQUALLY HAPPY. Them’s the rules. If you’re a douche.

3. “Why not do it every day?”

Exactly. Look at them: all these people wandering around COMPLETELY ignoring the person they care about until this ONE DAY of the year. If you celebrate Valentine’s Day, it actually, definitely 100% means that throughout the other 364-5 days, neither of you can bear to look at each other’s disappointing faces, let alone be seen together in public, and they can buy their own fucking birthday present. Yeah, that’s definitely how it works. You just don’t care, do you? People that celebrate Valentine’s Day are monsters.

So we’re doing it wrong: according to lots of super-happy, never-grumpy and certainly not cynical people, in fact every day should be like Valentine’s Day, apparently. I mean, why do we even have days about stuff anyway? Christmas? Sod it, I’m having a twinkly tree in my living room all year round. Birthdays? Pah. I want candles on my food every day. All this doing stuff on a certain day is such a menace to the rest of the days in the year, and must be stopped.

…Okay, I think I’ve ranted long enough. Basically: stop hating on a day just because some people want to buy each other stuff, you miserable bunch of sods. If you don’t want to mark Valentine’s Day: jolly well done. I do. And just because you insist you would rather be loving for the rest of the year instead, it doesn’t mean you get to be a total c*** on the day itself to balance it out.

And – no shit Sherlock – I’ll also go out and about with my fella pretty frequently – Valentine’s or no Valentine’s. It’s what people do. I’ll buy him stuff sometimes, if I want to, or sometimes if I have to because it’s his stupid birthday.  I’ll even tell him he’s not a smelly bumface occasionally (gotta keep him sweet, after all). And he’ll be nice back (hopefully), and will probably even keep  giving me a lift home every time my friends and I drink so much we can’t remember where we live (so see you at the usual time on Friday, babes.)

But tonight, we’ve got a daft, silly, meaningless excuse to have all the usual fun we have, but with a tiny bit extra pizazz than normal. And oysters. And so we will.

***And no, they weren’t just dickheads because they didn’t celebrate Valentine’s, before you get all agitated about it in the comments. Shush.

TV Review: The Royal Bodyguard – Now in 2D

My third New Year’s Resolution is to be more confident in my own opinions, so: this. Basically.

Now, let me qualify first of all that I think David Jason is the God of television heaven. If British Comedy were a country, he’d be on their stamps.

In Del Boy I find essentially an amalgamation of my entire family in one small, humourously-bad-at-French man, and I have David Jason to thank for the one comforting programme I have to watch if I’m ever too far away from said crazy brood. Every episode is a masterpiece, and he also steals two of my other favourite things ever to appear on the tellybox in the form of Open All Hours and The Darling Buds of May. They’re cleverly written, even more cleverly performed, and joyfully feelgood. He can do no wrong.

That is: until now. David Jason is currently starring in The Royal Bodyguard, written by Justin Sbresni and Mark Bussell, appearing on BBC1 on Mondays at 9pm. In it, he plays the recently appointed Royal Bodyguard (er, clue’s in the name) and general all-round buffoon who falls into things a lot.

So far – out of a hopeless loyalty to the man whose work has so far set the benchmark for what I expect of British comedy – I have persisted in watching all four episodes. And so far, the only thing I’ve learnt is that when he signed up to this series, David Jason was surely on intensely potent narcotics, being held at gunpoint, or just mischeviously picturing the stupid looks on all of our faces. Oh, and also: boy, does he love spilling stuff on people. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING, DEL BOY?

David Jason is not the main character because there are no characters: just a number of people wearing costumes that say things to one another that sometimes, very rarely, remind me of something vaguely amusing. The whole show is so two-dimensional it makes Carry on Camping look  like an arthouse film.

It’s not big and it’s not clever, in fact it’s not anything much at all. It’s so frustratingly predictable it made my eyes bleed until I was longing for an episode of Chucklevision or something, and it is to original plotting what Pat Butcher is to earrings (God rest her soul). It’s like a CBeebies reject, and I found myself cringeing so much I swear at one point my eyebrows actually folded into my face. I honestly can’t understand how it got a primetime slot on arguably the most prestigious channel there is without the use of some kind of hostage situation.

I’m not angry, I’m just really disappointed. Because now – much like how we tend to remember the hangover more fiercely than the shenanigans and tomfoolery had the night before – I’m scared all I’m going to remember of David Jason is this intensely bad decision. The Royal Bodyguard did the same thing for me and David Jason as that one, last Long Island Iced Tea did for me and my night out last week: made me shout at inanimate objects, caused me to lose valuable hours of my life, and left me hesitant to risk them again. Not cool, DJ. Not cool.

New Year’s Resolution #2: Stop Waiting For New Year’s Day To Resolve Things

“Don’t say that later will be better”

Well, I blame school for this one entirely.

As a child, we seemed to live for the holidays. Not just because it meant a few weeks without having to look at the maths teacher’s weird button earrings, or getting detentions for spreading rumours that the physics teacher had silicon bum implants that expanded when he leaned against the radiator at the front of the class, or even because on the last day of school we tended to do daft things like filling the Deputy Head’s office with balloons (all true, in our case), but because the holidays gave you a chance to regroup.

Among the holiday sleepovers, pirate parties and trips to a rat exhibition at the local museum (oh yes, we were the cool kids), I always had a chance to catch up, to re-evaluate how I was doing things, and to decide what needed to be different and make it so. Repainting my room lilac and yellow (LILAC… AND YELLOW!) was a very bad by-product of this, but it’s important to learn not all changes are good changes at some point or other.

I started to associate this metamorphosis-period with the holidays, and the holidays alone. So when, mid-way through term, I’d find things were getting on top of me, or I needed to change my gameplan when it came to my (home)work-life balance, or even when I just needed to tidy my bloody room, I’d automatically put it to the back of my mind until the holidays.

I’d wait for the time when I had time, and just muddle through until then, even if that meant I made life harder than it needed to be, and also even though this re-evaluating ate up a lot of my rat-exhibition/forming a girlband/writing-a-frankly-dreadful-musical-about-hairdressers time with friends when the actual holidays did turn up.

I left school almost six years ago now, so I no longer get such regular holidays (although, I plan to rectify this when I become QUEEN OF EVERYTHING.)

And yet: I still wait for the holidays to sort my life out. Time booked off work tends to end up NOT with relaxing, or even a cheeky trip away somewhere sunny with passionfruit margaritas on tap, but rather with fretting about how I’m going to sort my life out before ‘term’ starts again.

Christmas is the worst, because everyone else has time off too, and everyone else seems to spend it wondering what they can do today to make them feel proud, which quite frankly gnaws into the eat-party-fall over-sleep-repeat routine way too much.

So you want to quit the smokes (dodgy or otherwise), eat more green things, have more adventures, start writing a musical about hairdressers, whatever: why wait until January 1st to decide to do it? Why not do it the second you think of it and spend your January energy on a more fun start to your year? (I highly recommend rat exhibitions.)

Resolutions are fine, but waiting until New Year’s Day to implement them is a little bit mental when you’re just putting unnecessary pressure on one tiny period. Be Resolutiony whenever. Because, otherwise, what if you fail? Oh dear. You’re going to wait a whole year again, aren’t you. Give yourself a slap in the chops and go and sit in the corner.

Just like when you wake up to see it’s 8.21, and you have to wait until half-past before you get out of bed, putting off something you already know you want just wastes precious little segments of your life. Basically: get up when the alarm rings, silly.

Happy Sunday 1st, everyone. And thank you: this daft wee blog got 11,000 views last year. You’re all ace.

New Year’s Resolutions #1: Don’t Be a Rabbit

Firstly, let me qualify that I have achieved a lot this year. Just a few of those things are:

  • Met some truly special people
  • Become a paid writer
  • Worked with one of the best blogs out there, writing about what I love
  • Had some adventures, including absinthe being administered out of a drip, a night on a bench in London, a lock-in, getting mistaken for Lady Gaga, exploding my kitchen, killing an awful lot of ants, and singing songs about knees.
  • Visited Bordeaux and deepened my love of wine
  • Moved house
  • Started a new novel
  • Entered short story competitions
  • Proved I can actually cook
All good things. The last two or three months haven’t been what they could have been though. The year tired me out.

It’s worth remembering that 2011 has been the year of the Rabbit.

I like rabbits, but I feel like towards the end this year I’ve sort of turned into one. A creature of habit, unadventurous, hopelessly timid and a bit foolish. Fortunately, all those metaphorical carrots have helped me see a bit better in the dark, and I feel like now more than ever I know what I want and where I’m going.

And guess what? 2012 is the year of the Dragon.