28 May 2007

A Short Study of Folk Folk... (though a big well done, and sorry, to N)

The people of Hexham dug deep in their wardrobes (and capacity for community support and tolerance) for lumpy wooly jumpers and/or handstitched kaftan-like ensembles in preparation for a weekend of folk. The bearded and bohemian flocked in their droves to be vigorously fiddled and fluted until their eardrums were worn down and withered away with a little sigh.

Even I embraced the Folk Philosophy and sported an oversized knitted affair. One has to appear willing to fit in at events such as these; it is hard to tell the expressions of folk lovers due to the abundance of wild, untreated (unless with henna) hair that they are enshrined in, despite the ample use of scarves and hippy head wear, but I would hazard a guess that they convey anger and disgruntlement adequately towards those openly shunning their beloved music.

There is something mildly disconcerting about the way a seated audience mutely and motionlessly watch folk bands on stage, who in turn are motionless apart from whatever part of their body is required to produce instrumental sound. They stare out into the crowd, soulless and disturbing, with only a foot manically tapping in time, whilst the music is full of life, rhythm and vigour (even if every single tune is actually the same one repeated, I refuse to believe otherwise). It is fascinating.

Actually, I may be exaggerating slightly. There was the odd person in the audience who insisted on persistantly juddering out the beat, making the entire row of seats shake. That, and the infrequent half-hearted whoop from an embarrassingly 'in the zone, feeling the music' spectator.

In direct opposition to the dead-to-the-world players was the awe-inspiringly enthusiastic and animated host of the event. The word 'magic' was associated with the horrors of folk music no less than 17 times. Fact. And I lost feeling in my fingers due to the requests made for 'showing support' and thanking those on stage and generally celebrating the joys of musical collaboration, youth, high spirits and jigs. One more clap or mention of the 'wonderful power of making music together' and I would have been done for.

A woman behind me actually lent over to the girl seated at my rear (who, incidentally, had been one of the jigglers and whoopers) and said 'You know, it's a very good thing that you're crying. It shows the strength of emotional reaction to the music.'

I'll show her intense emotional reaction to the 'music'.

20 May 2007

An Education

Life at school is a bowl of strawberries and cream.

Quite literally in the case of our last lesson with Clenny. Punnets were produced, complete with sugar for sprinkling, cream for pouring and spoons to cram the summery combination into grateful, fruit-smeared mouths. Pearls of wisdom from an experienced, if eccentric, source have been duly noted over the months, and now we are festooned with fare fit for Wimbledon? The man has class. One such pearl that was collected and stored away eagerly was that Augustus had a pet name for the poet Horace, and that name was 'Little Cock'. Thus ended our affair with Clenny.

The last week has come upon us, as has the sun, leading to long and lazy days sitting out in the grounds and avoiding revision. Perhaps this is why schooldays are referred to as the best of one's life. It is almost nauseatingly idyllic.

If the media is to be believed I should really be suffering both verbal and physical abuse at the hands of hooded, foul-mouthed yobs, be subjected to dire teaching as all the concentration is on the ADHD kids, have to hang around in bleak, grey concrete blocks of misery when not failing at the 'dumbed down' A-level curriculum and vandalising school property. Instead I am reclining on luxuriantly green grass beneath pituresque overhanging foliage, drinking (reasonably) fresh coffee from sixth form cafe mugs, watching frisbee and football, and having a bit of lighthearted banter with passing teachers as we wile away frees.


Of course, this is between having panic attacks due to failing exams, being suspended for being drunk at school in the morning, sneaking out for tabs behind trees and outside school grounds, being asked to move yet again from directly outside one of the rooms where GCSE's are going on, scrawling profanities unfit for repetition all over folders and books in despair at the true tedium of work, getting shaky from sugar highs due to all the sweets the teachers are loading upon us in the final lessons before breaking up, and being guilt-tripped into not attempting anything that could be contrued as harmful, destructive, or indeed fun in any way, on muck-up day (despite the clue being in the name).

It will all be mourned and sadly missed no doubt.

13 May 2007

Last Orders

I have come across a new drink doing the rounds whilst on my extensive pubtastic travels. It tastes delicious, despite containing one of the most disgusting concoctions known to man: Southern Comfort. There must be some sort of chemical reaction that cancels out the yukness of this vile spirit. All I know is that it tastes goo-oo-ood. Lip smacking.
Ingredients: Southern Comfort (one shot for the already merry, two for those on a mission)
Shot of Lime
Ginger Beer to top up

I like. What I am not so sure about is the name. This amber brew, a tall glass of nectar, has been dubbed a 'Gatsby'. The intention, I presume, is conjure sophisticated images of decadent, swinging parties and to give the drink romantic connotations. Fair enough, but it doesn't quite fit.
When one thinks of Gatsby, one thinks of a pyramid of babycham glasses with bottles of champagne being poured lavishly over the top so that bubbly is overflowing over the rims, and flapper girls hold them precariously in one hand, cigarette holder in the other, whilst they dance the Charlston. Lickety spit.
I do not connect ginger beer with the suave yet troubled enigma that is Gatsby.

Just my two cents worth for those marketing chaps down in their underworld of consumer dictatorship and flashy suits.

If I don't end up being a mad old cat woman (as is foreseen) I should like to live in a castle type of place - or near enough, some pile of stones would do me as long as it looked stately - wearing knitted garments over satin or tulle frocks, woolen socks and slingback heels, copious amounts of pearls and gems, and stalk about drinking from babycham glasses filled with clear spirits or bubbly. The glasses would be slightly dusty and there would be silver champagne buckets dotted about to catch the drips from the leaky roof. I would draw my finger round the rim of the glass to make that haunting high pitched note that would resonate when I stood at the window, so the locals would grow suspicious of the old eccentric. I would think of Gatsby and his parties and how I used to drink a cocktail named after him.

7 May 2007

The weekend starts here...

There are two answers to the question 'What did you do this weekend?', a different one given depending on the person asking and how I wish to come across. Both are true, though through omition and manipulation differ in the telling.

I was mostly home alone this weekend and used my time in ways I saw fit.

Answer a)
I finished 'Vilette' and started 'The Bell Jar'.
I wrote an Ancient History essay on how Augustus gained the support of the people and how effective this was.
I perused the Guardian Review section for snippets of literary inspiration and exploration whilst sitting out in the sun.
I composed a poem based on T.S Eliot's 'The Waste Land' for English.
I watched 'The Culture Show' and thought about the transience of blockbuster franchises and the rediscovery of the original Manic Street Preachers sound.
I lit candles and was enamoured of the second half of the arthouse film 'Bagdad Cafe'.

Answer b)
I drank so much coffee my hand began to shake amusingly, which I then proceeded to smirk at, fascinated.
I read every word of the Weekend, though starting with the fashion pages.
I played solitaire intermittently, but never for less than 35 minutes each sitting.
I read Glamour Magazine on the internet and looked at the celebrity fashion pictures.
I talked to the cat.
I watched 'Dr Who' whilst eating a (salt-laden and saturated fat injected) ready meal off my knee.
I lay in the garden looking at the sun through my fingers, making light patterns and causing blotches in front of my eyes, listening in to the neighbours conversations either side, whilst trying to stop the Review section of the paper from flying off in the wind.
I ate pints of ice cream straight from the tub, remote control furiously flicking in my spoon-free hand.

A solitary weekend well-spent. Whichever way you look at it.

2 May 2007

The Creeps

He looks like the archetypal British tourist abroad. He is either anorak clad or sporting a fleece. He has the most enormous rucksack I have ever encountered. He is allergic to everything. And I mean everything - it is non-stop sneezes, sniffles, deafening nose-blowing, and throat-clearing. He is an expert on ancient battles, talking about armour, tactics, weaponry in excrutiating detail. And I drew the short straw today and had to sit next to him.

Few people actually make me physically shudder, but the Phlegm Dislodger (as he shall be referred to) invokes this reaction effortlessly. His leg, usually in some shapeless tracksuit bottoms or multi-pocketed combats, nudges right up close and shakes in a way that conjures thoughts of things I would rather leave unconjured. Dirty old man or sexually frustrated adolescent....yuk just doesn't cover it. He leans over close and breathes in my face as he asks me which source we're looking at or which page we're on. Spine chilling. At Christmas we were going to watch a video at the suggestion of the teacher, but the Phlegm Dislodger said loudly and firmly 'Am I the ONLY person here who actually wants to pass my exams?' Yes, yes you are, because the rest of us all want to fail miserably of course. So we spent the lesson working half-heartedly, with him to blame and the incident never being forgotten. Also, he knows Suetonius inside out and back to front, which should always raise suspicion and denotes an unsound mind.

Today a new revelation was made. He commented, in a series of distracted mutters, that a member of our class who was being rather vocal at the time should be 'tied up, gagged, thrown out the room and left there'. Charming. When this remark came to light there was uproar from the victim which resulted in the Phlegm Dislodger attempting sounds akin to chucklesome mirth and saying 'Sorry, I apologise for thinking nasty thoughts about you.'

I dread to think what goes in his mind. I bet he sits there in his disconcerting fidgety way running unsavoury thoughts through his brain about each and every one of us.

I understand that he's a bit of a loner and that often he's just wanting some social contact, but I can't help feeling a bit uneasy when he comes up and tells me that 'you look very nice today by the way, have you done something different? I really like you're scarf, I like scarves'. Or when he sees I'm doing ancient history on the computer and asks if I need any assistance, like he's the world expert on the subject despite getting crap results last year. I realise I should be a better human being and answer his cry out for a friend. But he kind of gives me the creeps. There, I said it. Bad person.

But somebody should not make you be a little bit sick in your mouth when they come too close.