30 December 2008

I am proud to say that I have scaled new heights of insanity and plunged greater depths of Mad Hatterness than ever before. A challenge for one such as I to be sure, but by Zeus I've gone and managed it.

In the early hours of the morning, unnaturally wide awake after a mere smattering of sleep (my liver doth protest too much at the wine of russet hue, methinks), I could be discovered sprawled within the sheets of my bed listeneing to Prokofiev's 'Dance of the Knights' from the ballet Romeo and Juliet on my electric-pink i-pod at full blast. Complete with flamboyant arm gestures worthy of the most passionate of conductors. And enthusiastic (though, admittedly, silent) singing along to the rousing chords that herald the descent of feuding Montagues and Capulets. It is as if the fires of hell open for the length of a track, apocolypse is upon me in vast swathes of smoke and brimstone, I am Juliet ready to die for love, my heart about to burst through my chest, and... then I press stop and settle down to sweet dreams of men in tights.

By the way, silent singing along consists of very intense mouth miming, with gob wide open, and a great deal of imagination. That's for those of you who have never given silent singing to classical ballet music a go. Which everyone should. Preferably in bed. At 3am. Does wonders for the soul, believe me...

24 December 2008

Pop Goes the Bubbly, and Pop goes Anna!

Apologies for bringing the mood down, especially at this festive time of year, but I feel for those geese destined for fancy foie gras tins in their afterlife. Aside from all that comes with being a moral vegetarian, I take particular umbrage with this form of rearing birds. I feel their pain at being stuffed and stuffed until they bloat, making their livers engorged and fatty. And all to make them ready for the 'refined' palates of the rich. The cruelty is blatant and I won't dwell on it, but will instead move on to the more jollity&mirth steeped self-inflicted gorging that is in such abundance at my favourite Christmassy time.

Though decorations are aplenty during this season, bedecking halls and whatnot, it is a shame that balloons are not traditional fare. I could well stand in for one of these hot-air filled adornments, feeling as though I may pop if a pin punctured my wee pot-belly. Though it would not be a raspberry of air that would burst out, but a spray of mincemeat, ice cream, chocolate and chestnuts in a spectacular, seasonal fountain. Pa has an oft-repeated refrain that surfaces at times of excess of food and hugs, which goes along the lines of 'Don't squeeze too hard or the green stuff will squirt out of both ends'. This could be a very real possibility this year- you are forewarned...
I am considering adding one of those squiggly Spanish symbols above at least one of the n's of my name (which this keyboard doesn't seem able to express, unfortunately, showing a shameful lack of multiculturalism) as I am currently enjoying being very like a pinata: party time, glitter, bright colours, decorations... and hit me with a big stick and I'll explode in a shower of sweets, spurting out all manner of partly-digested goodies, festooning all with a churned up festive feast!

I need to go on a whirlwind, roller-coaster sleigh ride with Santa in order to shake it all up. I need to shake, shake, shake it like the proverbial Polaroid picture in order to shift and shape. Shake it down to get a J-Lo booty. Shake it up to get Angelina Jolie lips. Or shake it all about for a good even spread like the infinitely more fabulous Jo Brand. She may be marshmallow-soft around the middle, but she's got a tongue, mind and wit as sharp as a meat cleaver. And that, after all, is what matters.

10 December 2008

Click-click, Whooooosh!

After driving over Putney Bridge for the third time in half an hour, thoughts turned to magic powers.

We, a car-load of Kirks, were taking a tour of London. Granted, this wasn't actually what we were supposed to be doing. But it was lovely nonetheless. Following the river in search of Hackney and sweet, sweet windband music, we saw the many bridges lit up in all their glory, one after another, and sometimes four times over. And, of course, the jazzy fairground London Eye, ghostly, mist-swathed St Paul's, amber-lit Houses of Parliament and many riverside city gems besides. London plus Night multiplied by Christmas equals awe and wonder squared.

Nevertheless, there were places to be, flutes and bassoons to be listened to, and tempers and tensions to be calmed. The most common answer to the question 'What would your super power be?' is probably the power of flight. I, however, would love to be able to disapparate. This would be the perfect magic gift. Time, money, stress, and unpleasant experiences on buses and tubes would all be saved. One would only have to think of the place they want to be and - kazaaaaam! - there in a blink of an eye.

When discussing this, one little cousina of mine, at the time sporting a Christmas cracker 'tache which was a little unnerving, quoted the late, great Judy whilst clicking her heels. 'There's no place like home, there's no place like home...' She had hit upon something. This motif from the Wizard of Oz is very similar to the whole disapparation ideology. Only it is SO much better as it involves fabulous shoes. Sparkly, ruby heels that glitter and hold magic powers? Yeah, baby!

And the best bit? They wouldn't even pinch and cripple squished feet. Walking is not necessary when sporting these beauties. A couple of clicks and you're (very stylishly) away!

But if I did have a pair of these of course, I never would have discovered the delights of Putney Bridge. Three times.

28 November 2008

A Post Named John

I have yet another reason to think Tilda Swinton one of the coolest people that currently graces this increasingly crackers planet with her presence. The current list is as follows... 1. she flaunts her striking red (i.e. the much-maligned 'ginger') locks, 2. wears some truly daring creations and pulls them off with aplomb, 3. holds film festivals in rural Scotland, at which she, as hostess, is pyjama-clad and if you bring a home-baked cake you get in free, 4. has an unapologetically unconventional domestic set-up, in that she lives with her children and their father (who remains a great companion and friend of hers, though no longer what she calls her 'sweetheart') yet also has a much younger lover who frequents her country dwelling and travels with her to foreign parts - all parties are happy with this arrangement, and a glorious one it sounds too.
Anyway, the new reason is that she refers to the father of her children, John Byrne, by his full name at all times. People do not do this often enough, and it makes situations have an air of the comical and absurd, which I love. 'Dinner is ready, John Byrne'. 'Oh drat it, John Byrne, could you please remove your wellies from right under my feet?!'. See, it totally works.

I'm actually thinking of changing my name to John. Apparently little Shiloh Pitt-Jolie (spawn of the glamorous Hollywood couple) will not answer to anything else but 'John'. This is the ultimate form of rebellion, and a big two fingers up at the sheer ridiculousness of her parents' cruelty in naming her something so 'unique' and 'original'. According to my sources (okay, I admit it, I am an avid reader of Glamour online) she has chosen John because of the character in 'Peter Pan' - the eldest, slightly geeky, Darling child who is whisked off to Neverland. Ahh, a wee bit of whimsy in amongst the usual drudge of meaningless, yet addictive, celebrity gossip. That tiny starlet will go far; I hope to the heavens she doesn't end up in rehab.

Although thought of as rather generic, especially in these bizarre times of Tallullahs, Pixies, and anything spelt as oddly as possible with accents and umlauts aplenty, the name John holds a certain solid appeal. There are too many Annas about these days I feel, and being a John would really set me apart.

And I have my pick as to who I was named after. John Keats. John F. Kennedy. Evil Prince John of Robin Hood fame. John Cleese. John Thomas (snigger, perhaps not). Maybe even Jean-Paul Sartre. The list goes on. Yes, that's decided it. I shall henceforth be known as John.

I may go as far as being Sir John... or Dame John.... or Marquis de John...

17 November 2008

The Little'un, the Wasps, and the Wardrobe

As I have now been living in Mat Fleeting for a fair while, the weird and the wonderful no longer faze me. This could be viewed as rather sad and regrettable, in that the enchanted amazement I used to experience when encountering the bizarre has grown to become merely the mundane and everyday. But actually this is rather marvellous in itself. The surreal is now hyper-real. I am at one with madness.

When watching a programme about children's illustrated books, as one does of an evening on board the rickety raft of Old Clem, talk turned to the masterpiece that is Each Peach Pear Plum. Tom Thumb was shown to be, naturally, in the cupboard of Mother Hubbard. And he was eating jam out of a jar roughly the size of himself (incidentally, this is Old Clem's idea of heaven) with a big shovel-like spoon. I went to the fridge for mid-programme sustenance and, what do you know, there was the Little'un himself - Tommy nabbing our extensive collection of jams. The wee little chap was quite at home in the cavernous container of delights that is our fridge, smacking his lips happily and sampling the homemade raspberry conserve, a personal favourite. Of course, I didn't hesitate to offer him a slice of bread and glass of milk to accompany the jam (Old Clem was so proud of my polite hospitality; he has taught me well), then sent him on his merry little way back to the land of nursery rhymes as it was past his bedtime.

This whole episode did not surprise me one bit because we are well-used to unusual kitchen visitors. There is an odd buzzing that emanates from the freezer every so often. Without warning, a violent aural attack descends, a sinister disembodied humming. We have come to the conclusion that there must be some form of hornet's nest built amongst the peas and pizza. There is no other explanation. They can get driven into a buzzing frenzy now and then, shivering their little stripes off in the chilly depths, eager to get out and join our chit-chat over tea and crumpets in the kitchen. Interestingly, it's when the honey is being spread that the buzzing becomes particularly prominent and over-enthusiastic I have noticed. Perhaps one day we shall let them out to fly freely, but I fear they may get too excited and sting us in a flurry of disorientation as they are let loose into the warmth. Best to keep them lying dormant, next to the sausages.

Talking of cold places, my wardrobe seems to have its own micro-climate. No matter how toasty it gets in our humble abode, it remains 'Brrrrrr!'-inducingly chilly. I have to brace myself for the snatching of clothes each morning, often hastily grabbing whatever is nearest, making for some rather eclectic outfits. It does mean that it doubles up pretty well as a larder - one to rival Mother Hubbard's in fact. I like to believe that it gets so cold due to it actually being a portal to Narnia. The eternal winter that reigns in that magical land is bound to cause the entrance to be a bit nippy. Alas, there are no glamorous fur coats at the back like there were hanging in the original wardrobe, only green silk pyjamas and red Princess dresses. Nevertheless, I am honoured to have a doorway into such a supercool other world in my bedroom. I'm sure I hear Aslan growling from within sometimes (though, admittedly, this could just be C from the next room), and I expect to be visited by a talking faun bearing Turkish delight any day now. Of course in my Narnia there is DEFINITELY Christmas. What is winter without Christmas after all?

I love that this all seems perfectly natural and normal to me. The bosom of Mat Fleeting is a comforting yet extraordinary place in which to be nestled.

11 November 2008

Are You There Rene? It's Me, Paranoid Pre-pubescent

Just in case I never get to the end (or even the beginning) of 'Troilus and Creseyde' and therefore monumentally and spectacularly fail my degree (which unfortunately seems to rely rather heavily on good old Uncle Geffrey, the prolific dullard) meaning that I would not be able to go forward with further study and become an eccentric Academic specialising in the subtle nuances of all the 800 year old's begetting like nobodies business in Genesis, I have a back-up plan. Well, actually it's a back-up back-up plan, as my first back-up career path is obviously being window dresser at Liberty. That goes without saying. However, if it turns out I get fired from that esteemed mecca of elegance and sophistication, for causing carnage amongst displays of Liberty-print luxury and shiny chandelier opulence and am driven to iridescent peacock feather frenzy, induced by a haze of splendour and sumptuousness, exploding expensively like a fountain of the best champagne, then I shall have to earn my keep by other means.

I shall write teen novels for young girls growing up, helping them come to terms with the gritty issues they will inevitably struggle with and preparing them for the harsh realities of adolescence.

They could be in diary form.

'Dear Rene,
Today was a friend oriented day. I met all the girls for a milkshake. I wore my new sparkly pumps. They gave me a blister, but I didn't care! It was worth it as they are so cool and I'm sure I got some very envious looks. They're almost the same as Cheryl's from Girls Aloud. Anyway, Stacie had big news. She went to a party at the community centre last night and actually got kissed! I am so jealous. The guy, Mikey Roberts, is nothing special, but I guess it's the luck of the draw when you're playing 'Spin the Bottle'. She said it was on the lips. I really wanted to ask more details, like if her brace got in the way at all or if she was worried about getting the wires caught or if there was much spittle, but we got too giggly.
I cannot wait until my first kiss. If only it could be with Matty B. He is so sparky and dreamy and he wears those scarves with such flair. I am sure I sensed a moment at our last meeting. Even though I had that pimple the size of Pluto on my chin, which I bet he noticed. I knew I should have resisted squeezing it. He definitely caught my eye whilst telling me to watch my grammar. He is such a perfectionist! I would give anything, anything (even my new GHD's), for him to have a game of 'Spin the Bottle' with me. I would just DIE if I got the chance to play '2 Minutes in the Closet' with him. Could you imagine? Bliss!
Had chicken and chips for tea. Stupid Danny threw a chip covered in ketchup at me and mucked up my favourite Mackays t-shirt. He is such a BOY. I hate brothers. Why can't they just be normal for once in their lives?
I've just done twenty rounds of my 'We must, we must, we must increase our bust!' exercises and cannot wait for a long sleep after reading 'Sugar' magazine. I've plaited my hair extra tightly tonight so it will be really wavy for tomorrow. I hope Matty B sees it.
I'm exhausted after laughing so much with friends, so...
Good Night Rene xxx

Top of the best seller lists around the world methinks. Universal themes of heart-ache and yearning, laughter and woe. No doubt I would have read it when young, fancy-free... and illiterate.

3 November 2008

A Spear By Any Other Name... Would Kill As Brutally?

Everybody is acquainted with Excalibur. Everybody who is worth knowing at any rate. The sword that is inextricably fused with peril, legend, myth, grand battles, knights, chivalry, gory warfare and mystical adventure. It bears an illustrious and regal name, befitting of its status and reputation. Excalibur. Poetic, evocative, rolls off the tongue.

It may interest you to know that King Arthur also had a helmet by the name of Goswit, and a shield called Pridwen. Archaic and paganistic titles, exuding a sort of rugged magic. One can well imagine such weapons facing the likes of dragons in order to save damsels in distress.

Probably even less familiar to you will be King Arthur's spear. His spear whose name was Ron.

Yes, Ron.

'The bold Arthur took Ron in his hand, the valiant king advanced the stout shaft'

This is why I took Middle English. As if the idea of naming weaponry wasn't ridiculous and mad enough. Ron the spear. Ingenious.

But, hey, if it does does the job and is plunged into the breasts of the heathen hordes, cleaving their hearts in twain, hacking out guts and entrails, and making the battlefields run red with blood, then what the hell does it matter if it's got a less than resplendent name? It could be worse. It could be called Wayne.

27 October 2008

Anna of the Remedial Stream

There are times when it is as if you are disembodied from yourself and you see a scene objectively, like it is being played out on a stage. Take a step back and view things as they appear to others. It is worrying. Eyes are opened.

I had such an experience the other day, in an old, beige and brown, musty seminar room. The one with the huge black and white Renaissance portrait just outside it. It was as if I was floating about the peripheries of the room, watching events unfold. I saw myself in full technicolour. Bright pink oversized jumper, knitted by my mother when she was my age, belted tightly at the waist with a man's brown woven buckle belt that belongs (well, belonged...) to my father, with the excess flappy bit held in place with an old hair bobble. Five year old, three pound floral skirt peeking from underneath knitted affair, with its burn hole in the front, scorched through by a hot rock falling from an enormous joint as it was passed across me by a stoner known as Jeff, (whose name was not Jeff) at a hippy-dippy summer garden party a few years ago. Ancient battered Converse encasing my feet, with only one Converse sign still affixed, bearing mud from the Blue Mountains of Australia, the grounds of Leeds rock festival, the fields of Brampton folk festival, and many compulsory countryside adventures besides. A second hand paperback Penguin copy of Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year in front of me, bought for a couple of quid from a northern emporium of cast-off books. The ubiquitous John Mullan loudly denouncing me as 'Anna of the remedial stream' due to having a silently altered version of the text, but dismissing his harshness with a jolly 'Oh, but she understands I mean it ironically'. And me actually loving that I'm being insulted by this cocky, arrogant, esteemed Literary Figure.

Because he writes for the Guardian.

He asked us for any instances of mistaken identities in well-known works of literature, or of lapdogs cropping up in novels as he left the room for his mid-seminar Ribena. It seemed totally off subject, but I knew what he was referring to - his weekly column in the Review section (which turns out to pay for his weekly groceries). I was cringeworthingly eager to show that I read it and that I knew what he was on about. I saw myself. I saw myself as that goddamn archetypal 'Guardian Reader'. I engaged him in chit-chat about it, half wanting to actually know the answers to the questions I asked, half wanting to just show that I read the paper to which he is associated. I was asserting this fact. Like it is how I define myself. Liberal, slightly hippy, self-indulgent 'arty' degree-taking, middle class bloody 'Guardian Reader'.

Oh the shame. But true.

Sometimes it is good, and indeed rather liberating, to unapologetically embrace stereotypes. 'My name is Anna, and I am a Guardian reader'. Don't judge me.

15 October 2008

A Fleeting Fortnight

When not gadding about the city being either Sally Bowles or Lydia Lopokova or, in more insular, maudlin moments, the Lady of Shalott, I am getting ever closer to becoming the ultimate of my heroines. I now have my very own, rather enormous, spider that lives in my room, providing increased atmosphere for my aspirations of being Miss Havisham. It just needs to make a few cobwebs and settle itself in. Alas, I do not have a mouldy old Wedding Cake rotting in the corner, but on occasion there is the odd furred-up coffee cup, or day old mac-in-a-can lying around. Close enough. And I am without a fading lace wedding dress. A party frock from Primark will have to suffice. The bright-eyed, manic glares, passionate cries, and reputation for eccentric insanity are all present and correct though.

In other Mat Fleeting news, Salsa Queen vomited in her handbag which now hangs on the airer as a reminder of the perils of free cocktails from city boys.
We have acquired a cup in the kitchen which has something to do with not using taps when somebody is showering. It has 'shower cup' written on it in black marker. I do not understand the rules of the cup. Apparently it is an important issue. I let it wash over me, just as I let the ice cold water wash over me in the shower when somebody is doing the dishes downstairs...
Old Clem's electricity paranoia has reached new heights. He actually turned the toaster off at the mains when my toast was in it. It gave him quite a shock when the bread popped up.
A new literary genius has been discovered. On the kitchen wall there hangs a hand-written poem. Anybody who visits is asked to guess who wrote the poem. Answers have ranged from Donne, to Eliot, to Plath. It is actually much more contemporary, and makes the guessers feel like idiots. The first line contains the phrase 'depleted uranium breasts', and it was written by none other than the Pie Jesu lover of this household, henceforth known as Ave Maria, when sitting half naked in her armchair after a drunken night out. This is the most creative and intellectually rich time of day, when one should harness the musings of the soul.

Top youtube finds from the past fortnight have included an original episode of The Magic Roundabout entitled 'The Cocktail Fruit Party', the opening of a German cartoon about a little bee which is the most adorable thing despite having phallic references and a theme tune that is at times reminiscent of Tom Jones, and the part of Disney's 'Sword in the Stone' with the Marvellous Mad Madam Mim.

If the whole Miss Havisham thing doesn't work out for me, then Madam Mim is definitely next on the list of people to aspire to.

30 September 2008

House of Mirth

Mat Fleeting House Rules

  1. Always have post-it notes to hand in order to write down stupid/witty/downright hilarious things the residence say and stick them up all over the place.
  2. Be either a) totally extravagant and absent-minded in leaving all switches on the whole time, or b) completely neurotic and anal in going round switching absolutely everything off constantly (even, accidentally, the freezer...)
  3. Every time you go into the kitchen put the kettle on and make a cup of tea/coffee for yourself and anybody else who wants one, which is inevitably the whole household. And this does mean every single time you go into the kitchen.
  4. Always delve into the well-stocked, choc-a-block goodie cupboard for something sweet to dunk into aforementioned hot beverages.
  5. Say 'yer mum' in at least every other sentence, or to finish off other people's sentences.
  6. Ignore the buzzer going. Unless you are Gary, who finally cracks.
  7. Use beds as sofas, coffee tables, dens, rafts out at sea and cosy places for period drama love-ins.
  8. Sing either 'Where is Love' from Oliver, 'They're Taking the Hobbits to Isengard', the Mushroom song or 'Pie Jesu' continuously. Or all on a loop.
  9. Have ketchup with absolutely everything.
  10. Refer not to individuals, but to 'Mat Fleeting' as a whole (which originates from a drunken mispronunciation of 'flat meeting' back in the day). We come as one single entity and are a team. Or, as I like to think of us, a harem.

23 September 2008

The fundamental signs of a bad date:

Guy wearing old school shoes as 'going out' posh shoes. Bootleg-a-licious.

Guy's most predominant achievement in life being employee of the month at Matalan, with greatest aspiration being working at Waitrose. Failing that, Tesco.

Guy quoting his sci-fi/fantasy poetry. Rhyming 'the challenge is hard' with... wait for it... that's right... 'Isengard'.

Science Fiction poetry. Special.

14 September 2008

I have fulfilled a long held ambition. I can now cross it off my list of 'Things To Do If I Was Magic And Motivated'.

I have stayed at the Weasley's Burrow from the world of Harry Potter.

It is an editorial slip that this amazing pile of bricks is situated on the outskirts of Ottery St Catchpole. It is actually in Cambridge. I have been there and seen it with my own eyes.

A kitchen crammed with crockery, cottage-shaped teapots on dusty shelves, fresh flowers, foliage and plant pots, brightly coloured paintings created by children at various stages of their artistic careers pinned up, aprons hung from hooks, mismatched chairs and cushions, and cobwebs decorating the upper displays of hoarded knick-knacks and collected obscurities. Cosy. Comfortable. Pure Weasley.

Mrs Molly Weasley was not present when I dropped by (perhaps visiting Charlie in Bulgaria at the time) but in her place was an equally maternal figure, an eccentric add-on to the cluttered kitchen. Just as much of a larger-than-life character as Molly and more than a match for her.

Patrice boils up chai tea in a saucepan on the stove. She takes her own teabags with her, even to the hairdressers, so she can have her own particular choice of brew. Herb supplement and vitamin pill jars (many assissting with symptoms of menopause) are on every surface, some holding what the label displays, some containing spices, loose tea, peppercorns or dried rosemary. She is on a crusade to get the world meditating, driving a determined one woman campaign to promote the benefits of this 'alternative' way of life. She herself meditates every morning. She swings from wishing to live in Cumbria, to Kenya, to buying a random plot of wild land and building her own environmentally friendly house. She enthuses about the Russian novelists. She says that Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' does not show the real Conrad, 'Nostromo' being far superiour. She never eats breakfast but loves lashings of very smelly cheese. Her reaction to a huge splat of bird excrement on the front windscreen when driving was exclaiming 'Oh! Isn't that just wonderful!', in her lilting Dublin tones. When our plans changed at the last minute, with us deciding to go to the Botanical Gardens as opposed to some tearooms a fair way off along the river, she vehemently and effusively cried 'But the apples Isabel! The beautiful apples!', expecting us to go back on our decision due to the fruit they put out between the tables this time of year. She gave us a book she had just picked up from a friend which had vivid and intimate diagrams of how to have sex whilst pregnant. She calls her phone her 'friend', disregarding the fact that it is falling apart ('I just have to press the 'e' a little harder'). She makes peanut butter cookies in a flash, finding random plastic bags, whatever they may have previously held, to dispense them in so she can take the offering to whomever she may visiting. She is, in a word, a marvel. More magic than anything J.K. Rowling could come up with.

And she gets to live in the Burrow, which I have always thought to be one of the most marvellous places in existence (or imagination at any rate).

3 September 2008

A Bout of the Pouts

Keira Knightley is one of the most despised women in the world. Mostly despised by other women, but she can inspire hatred in men too. At least two thirds of the blokes I know think she's weird looking, and she suffers countless attacks in the media from her own fair sex. Not that I am particularly sympathetic. She earns squidillions for basically dressing up, kissing dreamboats and drinking champagne at hedonistic parties. I just wanted to hammer home the point that she provokes an awful lot of scorn, before going on to relate that my mother, my own mother, thinks I have 'a look' of Knightley.

A resemblance to the pouty, open-mouthed poser who looks permanently affected due to being unable to close her bloody smackers? Thanks. I asked if I did the pouty thing, to which the reply was 'only when you're in a strop'. So most of the time then. Great. I thought that I was adopting a cutting, withering, downright soul destroying expression that would cause the root of my displeasure to shrivel and die under my glare. Nope, just look like a hated public figure.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the alleged resemblance stems from the fact that we (and yes, I am aligning myself and Knightley using a united 'we'. I will take that liberty thank you very much) have been castigated for rocking the skinny minnie look. Thin people with pursed lips look similar. Well, perhaps. I did just make that up. Sounds plausible though.

However, I wouldn't say no to the life she leads, even if I object to the physical comparisons. Playing my heroine Elizabeth Bennet. Acting alongside Jonny Depp. The lovely clothes in 'The Edge of Love'. Going out to dinners and parties every night. Being interviewed in 'The Guardian'. Being able to read literature and become characters, without having to write essays or take exams on them. And, frankly, I would kill for that green dress in 'Atonement'.

I think, alas, the similarities end with the mouth. She may have to put up with the world's women hating her skinny ass, but at least she doesn't have my nose.
Though it is heartening to read Oscar Wilde: 'The moment one sits down to think, one becomes all nose, or all forehead, or something horrid.' This simply must mean that I'm an intellectual.

25 August 2008

He who dares... delivers dairy

I recently wrote of one of the most ridiculous and obscure jobs I have ever come across (the piss preventer), which I heard about from a friend when at the pub.

Well, a comparable conversation happened at this very same pub only last night. This may not be the coincidence it first seems however, as I visit this esteemed drinking hole on a very regular basis. One may even regard it as my 'local': a magical place where sleeves stick to tables, curries come on Thursdays, and pinot grigio is on tap (I kid thee not. I want a similar wine pump fitted into the new flat, with a choice of white, red and rose), slightly frothy on top and cheap as chips. It's these little touches and attention to detail that keep me coming back. In fact, I even lunched there with some temporary colleagues last week. A group of hard hitting journos and roving reporters. That's just the kind of clientele this swanky joint attracts, baby.

Anyway, I was catching up with a friend over aforementioned white wine. She was telling me of one of her older sisters and what the dickens she's been up to recently. The sister had apparently had this notion of living in Australia since she was a mere tween and a few months ago, at the grand old age of 22 and after notching up a fairly extensive travel record, she finally took the plunge and has been there ever since. She'd been mooching and settling and acclimatising to the Aussie way of life, with its OJ's, cold beers, national legend Dr Karl Kennedy etc, when she sent a text to her sister back home.
In order to finance this life, she had thrown caution to the wind, battled in the face of adversity, bitten the bullet, grabbed the bull by its horns and... become a milkman.

She went to Australia and became a milkman.

And no, it is not appropriate to say milkperson. God knows, I am all for political correctness and gender equality but, in this case, it just doesn't sound half as cool.
Apparently she's really enjoying it. She gets free milk and everything.

15 August 2008

The (un)Realities of Climate Change

Heat has transfiguring powers and metamorphic effects. Especially on those usually ensconced in rural Northumberland, where one must huddle on the Aga to read the paper in the middle of August. Temperatures of up to 38 degrees Celsius, therefore, can bring forth a sort of madness, a hazy delirium that blurs edges and has an otherworldly quality. It was in this other world that we spent two weeks.
A fortnight of fairytale castles, princesses and knights. A land where people are fearless and unafraid of death (yet frightened of toads, especially those going by the name of Alan- perhaps because they could turn out to be princes when kissed). Everyone adopts an adventurous streak, climbing out of windows for the perfect photographic image and hurling their bodies about when very close to cliff edges. They are generally a 'bit vigilante', in keeping with the barbarous medieval atmosphere that seeps from the surroundings.
The heat distorts, and renders what would usually be considered insane when in the earthly world entirely right and proper and wholly unremarkable. Fish-shaped soap dishes are used as ashtrays. Ice cream is laced with lavender, violets and rose petals. Stalactites and stalegmites resemble cauliflowers and mushrooms, flourishing and blossoming in underground caves before our very eyes. Concerts of experimental harp pieces, complete with vocally simulated woodland noises and sounds of the sea, are played in town churches of an evening, to a meagre audience of chic white-haired ladies and violently blaspheming teenage boys. Characters 'say what they like, when they like, then they eat it', not stopping until they sleep. Others use the time of slumber to exercise their vocal chords, moaning, groaning and conversing in their dreams, oblivious to the excitement of thunderstorms that crash open doors and windows, spraying warm rain. Seth Lakeman plays on a loop, adding to the sense of inescapable insanity.
Calculating angles in such heat becomes an impossibility, yet must be attempted in order to survive. Desserts must be divided equally. Straw hats must be mathematically cocked to specific degrees to achieve that London wide-boy look. Verticle hills must be climbed by legs with metal cores and arthritic feet, with only carefully gauged angles making the experience a pain-free one.

After being so steeped in this magical land anything and everything becomes an adventure. Even going to Burger King for a feast of fries and veggie burgers at 10pm. Wonder at how something so tastless can be so delicious! Behold the transforming effects of ketchup! We cross the stormy seas to a surreal place of salt, tasty greasiness and heart attacks; a departure lounge-style service station with Star Trek toilets and blatant falsehoods emblazoned on enormous signs - '24 Hour Service'. Deserted expanses of white with multi-coloured wiggles on the ceiling do nothing to alleviate our delirium, but rather add to the dreaminess of our travels as we drive on through the night, speaking inanities mindlessly. An odd adventure granted, but an adventure nonetheless. Such is the effect of heat on unaccustomed souls.

17 July 2008

The Isadora Gypsy

Labels, boxes, stereotypes - not really my bag baby. I champion the individual, the unique, those judged on their own personal merits...
However. However, I did come across this rather glorious snippet from a shamelessly trendy, self-satisfied, uber-up-to-the-minute magazine supplement that did rather capture me, though I am reluctant to admit it.

The Isadora Gypsy
Named after Isadora Duncan, that crazy chick who leaped around barefoot in the dirt waving a piece of chiffon and, as a result, invented the concept of modern dance. The Isadora gypsy has a strong theatrical sense and a love of dressing up: she wears panne velvet and vintage lace, and medieval robes and turbans a la Edith Sitwell. She adores enormous rings, beading and devore. Her dream is to find a vintage Fortuny tea gown. She is more cultured, better educated and less trendy than her euroglam sister. Virginia Woolf is her favourite writer; olive green is her preferred hue.
She is prone to bouts of melancholy. She does not have the reservoirs of happy superficiality that keep the euroglam gypsy shrieking with laughter 24/7. While the euroglam is knocking back champagne at Art Basel in Miami, The Isadora is far more likely to be found contemplating the translucency of an art nouveau vase on the Portobello Road or weeping quietly in the corner of Vita Sackville-West's all-white garden in Kent.
Caution: the Isadora gypsy is accident-prone. She is quite likely to drown whilst having an Ophelia moment in a fast-running stream, or, like the original Isadora, get throttled when her scarf gets caught in the wheels of her sports car. Her death, though often unexpected, is never mundane.

Remind you of anyone? To be an Isadora would be a marvellous thing... What whimsy. What fancy. What escapism. Alas, not the reality of life. But a wondrous label to aspire to.

11 July 2008

Now comfortably over the hurdle of a half century stint, the parents are increasingly attempting to conceal the onset of Alzheimer's, senility and general out-and-out madness that goes hand in hand with the passing of the years and the jellying of the brain. One such way is that their children (and, indeed, them themselves when addressing each other) no longer have individual names. This would be far to difficult to handle and confuses the poor dears so much that the lenses of their bifocals shatter and they end up hitting themselves frustratedly on the head with their ear trumpets.
So, when not being referred to as Annaman (snapped by J in the regional accent of the day), Narna, Lambkin (by Dad, nauseatingly), or just stared at incomprehensibly whilst the aged folk try to focus, actually see me and then remember who I am, I am stuck with a rather long winded moniker. The same moniker that the whole household has to bear. We are all known as MichaelJontyNicholasHenryWhatsitWhicheverChildI'mSpeakingToDoodah. It has a certain ring to it I think you'll agree.

With the names of five Kirk offspring to remember, I reckon the previous generation had it right. Aunt Mary knitted a fetching jumper for each, with names embroidered on the chests. What a cool clan they must have been, whilst out on their Compulsory Walks and breathing in the wholesome Cumbrian air. And how very Weasley.

We could do with such an Aunt Mary. Rather her than the terrifying fascist figure of Aunt Eleanor, a character who has loomed large in Kirk folklore and is now more myth than matter. Sounded a hoot though. And if one becomes notorious, such as she, then nobody is going to forget your name.

5 July 2008

Urine the Right Job

Though I am possibly not the best person to judge, seeing as my CV consists of reeking of chip fat whilst slaving away re-heating moussaka for a Greek skew-eyed psycho, sitting in an overly air-conditioned office mindlessly licking stamps and surreptitiously checking Facebook, and irritating people over the phone by asking them inane questions about how many Nectar points they think the Jamie Oliver Cookbook is worth and trying to avoid being hung up on, BUT I think I may have come across the best job ever.

I was catching up with folk that I hadn't seen for quite some time, learning of recent exploits and adventures. A friend had been to Glastonbury. So far, so unremarkable. However, she didn't just attend the festival, she was working there. And her duties were to basically hang around certain allocated areas and watch out for people pissing illegally. So if they were relieving themselves somewhere other than the fragrant, luxurious, especially dug pits that constitute as latrines at British music festivals they would become the victims of a demoralising experience. Namely, being run after by my friend and her cohorts as they blew their whistles and shouted 'PISSER!' at the tops of their voices. Whilst donning bright jackets and special caps. I like to think that these garments bore the legends 'Piss Police' or 'Bladder Control'.

My friend got a free ticket, three meals a day (and apparently people were spending over £20 a day for food at Glasto), pretty decent tents, and proper toilets, all in return for legging it after a few drunken pissers which, frankly, sounds like a slightly surreal blast. She was able to see loads of bands, get drunk from noon onwards, and wallow in mud and madness along with the rest of the festival-goers. Brilliant.

And I'm sure it'll do wonders for her CV.

26 June 2008

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against people with speech impediments. I admire their courage, determination and resilience against ignorant mocking. In fact, some of my best friends suffer from such linguistic idiosyncrasies that can often be debilitating afflictions. No one can accuse me of being un-PC...

But, and let's not beat around the bush here, they can be bloody funny on occasion. When the laughing is with and not at of course, in a relaxed and comfortable environment among friends. Too much sun and a few glasses of wine are often factors. These tend to bring out the aforementioned impediment noticeably to the forefront of the scintillating, intellectual conversation that we will doubtless be engaged in.

'You know that Debbie C?'
'Debbie C?'
'Yeah, Debbie C. Well, guess what their daughter's called?'
'Who's Debbie C? I don't think I know her. Does she live near us? Is she from your estate? Was it a teen pregnancy?'
'She? What are you talking about? You haven't heard of Debbie C? Shame on you. The famous composer. You know!'
'Erm... I think you might mean Debussy. De-bu-ssy.'
'Oh. Yes. That's what I said...'
'Sorry. Just to clarify. We're not talking about 'me mate Debbie C' who got up the duff round the back of Aldi. We are in fact talking about one of the world's greatest composers and a prolific contributor to a canon of exceptional musical works?'
'Yes. Well. Anyway... His daughter was called Chu-Chu according to this book...'
Tapers off into silence. Further sips of wine. Giggles. Guffaws.

Of course, she could have been using her not-always-conventional way with vowels as an excuse for a brief moment of silliness. I doubt good ol' Debbie (as he shall thus be known) would give two hoots. Or even a half-hearted crescendo.

6 June 2008


I remember it well. I felt so grown up, like I'd been initiated into a special group, the next grand stage.

On the cusp of adolescence and, being the eldest of three, having quite an elevated opinion of my maturity and a highly developed sense of how 'adult' I could come across, I had my introduction to a whole new realm of what being a grown-up could be like. I am, of course, referring to the first time I saw 'Sex and the City'.

There was something so deliciously illicit about it. For some reason I was up rather later than usual, and it was just me and Mum curled up on the sofa. Not in the play room, but in the sitting room; a place often forbidden to those of more tender years. An episode started and I asked what it was. The shock and delight did not stop at the title. It was not so much the graphic scenes that made me appreciate that I was most definitely watching a 'grown-up' show, but the way the women talked, what they were talking about and how the adults were portrayed in a wholly different way to that which I had previously experienced.

I was heady with the excitement of actually being allowed to view such a thing, and the treat continued as Mum, brilliantly, produced the ultimate cliche: chocolate and vanilla Carte D'or icecream. Inspired of her to do such a thing, as if to truly acknowledge and toast my awe-struck and imagined adult-hood. We scooped it straight out the giant tub with tea spoons whilst lounging on the sofa. I had only ever had ice cream out of a bowl, or in a cone, and never at this late hour in front of the TV. It was the image of pure femininity to me. Grown-up girliness, of which I had seen on 'Friends' and would read about in 'Bridget Jones' Diary'. Perhaps not the most feminist image, but the one I wanted emmanate the most at that time of life. I was chuffed. And a little bit honoured to have been invited into that new world. My first taste of chick-flick style solidarity.

And I haven't looked back.

25 May 2008

Give us this day our daily... pie??

So I know a chick who has a bit of a liking for Pie Jesu. On purely aurally delighting grounds rather than anything religious or, you know, meaningful I hasten to add. No judgement, each to their own etc...
I know another chick, present at the time the first one was typing Pie Jesu into youtube (as one does. Frequently, I find), whom the phrase 'for somebody who's supposed to be bright...' was probably coined in reference to. She, needless to say, thought that the youtube search was for Jesus pie.
Now there is more sense to this than one may first assume. Although one is definitely more pastry based than the other, they are arguably just as wholesome. And Pie (pronounced pee-ay of course) is most commonly translated as 'sweet'. So it kind of fits, as long as we are thinking of dessert as opposed to the stodgy meat'n'gravy, steak'n'kidney type fare.
God used the male human form to spread the word, inhabiting the flesh, so is it really so much of a leap of conciousness to think of Jesus as a slice of pie? Catholics are always eating the body of Christ after all. Why not make it a delicious American Key Lime pie? Or a French patisserie-style latticed tarte au citron (though perhaps without the criss-cross patterning, ah-hem)? Or a good old traditional apple pie for those Old Testament fundamentalists? Satisfying both the soul and stomach.
We shall, in the end, all receive our just desserts on the day of Judgement, so why not indulge in a bit of spiritual pud in this life, eh?

14 May 2008

I Return... Humble, with Great Zeal

Business as usual.

And an education.
After slaving away for God knows how long over Old English poems, certain phrases will be permanently branded onto my conciousness. These, naturally, have been introduced into everyday lingo. Well, the everyday lingo of a posse of geeky English bods.

For the uninitiated, here is a sample of the inspired linguistic nuggets that the ancient tongue is studded with.

Elne Micle: Now this means 'much courage', or as the legendary Marilyn with her effusive Scottish tones prefers, 'great zeal'. It pops up several times throughout one of the poems. At one point it follows on from 'humble', which frankly makes no sense. Humble and zealous at the same time? Such is the paradox of the poem, religion and all that Old English bonkersness. Also follows on from 'he might climb on me' which is blatant innuendo, despite it being the cross of Christ speaking. The phrase can be, and is, added after pretty much any verb. Works equally well in the original language and in modern English. Very versatile.

Snottor: Means a 'wise man'. Who would have thunk it? Amusement-wise it speaks for itself really.

Soaked with the passage of blood: Elevates anything to epic levels.

One a bird carried away, one a grey wolf shared in death, one a sad-faced man concealed in a cave: What, what, what? Yes, men die. Yes, it may have been more dramatic in days of old when they were all warriors and the like. But really?? A sad-faced man? What's that all about?

I was kissing and embracing my liege lord, laying on his knee my hands and my head: Asking for it. Not a jot of subtlety and a great a temptation for English students to exploit.

Collenferth: Means 'stout hearted'. Yet is pronounced Colin Firth. Brilliant. (That Colin does get around in literature, I must say).

Wacwiga: My personal favourite. It means 'weak warrior', but should be used as a term of greeting or endearment in a faux gangsta style. For example, 'Yo, yo, 'sup wacwiga mofo?'. Satisfying to say.

Of course there are many more (as we had to learn the whole bloody things by heart - a slow and tortuous process that caused 'grievous torment', and me to feel 'wounded with defilements' by 'weapons greedy for slaughter'), but these are the real gems and the ones that seem to have infused daily chit-chat most prominently.

So, there you have it. Use them in a sentence today.

14 April 2008

I was reading an article about feminism. Now these are Good Things, both feminism and educating myself about it by reading the newspaper.
I am wholly on board with the sentiments and do not shy away from the F-word. I am not afraid of being branded with the whole dungaree/doc marten/man-hating/butch cliche as I know that feminism comes in many forms and that this stereotype is not actually the case of many forward thinking females. I've read Wollstonecraft and Woolf, revere Greer and hold any ambitious, campaigning, strong woman in the highest esteem.
I am also a very bad, bad, shallow, bad person.
There was a picture accompanying the article. It was of a woman holding up a banner in what I would guess as being the 1970's. The banner read 'Judge women as people, not as wives'. What I did not immediately think was 'I hear you sister! Solidarity! A beautiful and universal message that should be acknowledged! Right on!'. What I instead thought was 'I love that woman's headscarf! I wonder if I could arrange my hair like that. And where did she get that fabulous jacket?! Ahh, the seventies was such a cool fashion age!'.
Now this is A Bad Thing. Germaine would be ashamed of me. Must try harder to curb my instinctive habit of concentrating on the aesthetic.
'They may have struggled to get their voices heard, to be treated equally, to have freedom but, damn, they looked good whilst doing so!'. No, Anna, no.

9 April 2008

Big Baby

Ahh, glorious Northumberland! The rolling hills! The rural wildernesses! The inevitable regression...

As I sink my feet back into the mud, I sink back into spoilt brattish child mode. I sit sullen as I watch the teenagers crash off to parties and the pub (of which I will be regaled with tales of later), which is arguably more old womanish than baby-like. However, I chuck my rattle out of the pram whenever possible to assert my juvenile deliquency.
Demanding entertainment (with me in charge of viewing options), parents pandering to my every whim (foot massages), slurping whilst eating and getting it all over my face (though this was the case for everybody, as we were eating melon, so I am just about excused), hoping that I'll sleep through the night (in the foetal position, naturally), throwing tantrums in exasperation over the behaviour of others (though often half-mockingly), using expressive noises and nonsense words in place of the articulate speech that evades my unevolved mind. All symptoms of baby behaviour.

It's a shame we no longer have that double buggy affair that we used for the boys. A seat for each bumcheek and I'd be away!

1 April 2008

Seductive Sentence

I think this may be the most perfect sentence ever crafted:

'The chauffeur, a Russian czar of the period of Ivan the Terrible, was a self-appointed guide, and the resplendent names - Cannes, Nice, Monte Carlo - began to glow through their torpid camouflage, whispering of old kings come here to dine or die, of rajahs tossing Buddahs' eyes to English ballerinas, of Russian princes turning the weeks into Baltic twilights in the lost caviare days.'

What a shame I didn't write it.

Sometimes there is just no beating a bit of purple prose. I am green with envy over the writer's style. It makes me smile, and want to nestle further into the folds of my duvet and the folds of my imagination.

Perhaps that's why Fitzgerald's wife went mad. She was driven so far into her own head, pushed too far into her own imagination by the prose created by her husband, that she could never escape, and thus remained entrapped and caged.

If I start going bonkers, wrestle the book from my hands.

23 March 2008

Tally Ho Chaps!

Yes, I may technically be an adult. And yes, I am a student of English literature.

Now that that is taken care of and acknowledged I can proceed to express my outrage. Check this out http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0,,2266691,00.html

Incensed? Angered? Provoked? I certainly am. Especially as this piece of heinous sacrilege came to light just a few short days after I was initiated into my very own Famous Five. I was tremendously excited about our explorations, super sleuthing and discovery of smugglers. And of course, returning home in time for Auntie's famous sarnies.
I, due to my strong masculine physique and air of strapping male leadership, am of course Julian. Chloe is the home-maker and super-feminine Anne, destined for the apron and aga. Frances is the tomboy, ultra feminist, bra-burning George. Claudie is Timmy as she is a mad dog. And Gary's Dick.
A secret handshake has yet to be devised, but plans for picnics of ginger beer, potted meat, fishpaste sandwhiches and cream buns are in full sway. And we shall require some villainous thieves to stalk, as well as jumpers in various pastel shades. Jolly times will be had and lashings of good clean fun, followed by afternoon tea.

Except we shall have to try even harder to continue the hallowed traditions old Blytey endeavoured to maintain in polite society so well, now that all this preposterous 'modernisation' seems to be taking place. The sexism, misogyny, mild racism and childhood obesity through artery clogging clotted cream and sticky buns that Enid was such an afficionado of could be in danger.

She would be turning over in her grave if only it wasn't for the likes of us, fearlessly countering the beastliness of the politically correct world. Hurrah! Top hole! Super!

15 March 2008

A Reminder of Roots

Browsing in a bookshop in a post-lunch haze of contentment is a simple pleasure but one to be treasured.
Even better when the bookshop is not your run-of-the-mill, generic Waterstones specimen that has tables of Richard and Judy recommendations and is indistinguishable from any other populist book outlet. Staffed by a Bill Bryson look-alike, light and airy, appealingly arranged and with a cafe selling hefty slabs of cake attached - perfection.

The words 'pottering' and 'mooching' were coined specifically for a bookshop experience such as this. Bumping into bookshelves and fellow browsers is commonplace when your head is buried in the first few pages of a book that caught your eye. You forget where you are, and jump when your mother comes up behind you with a query about a paperback she picked from a display. 'Is this that book we...?' But she need not finish her sentence as her daughter has the same book open in her hands, selected from the packed shelf before her, and is a number of pages in. Sometimes a moment can charm and astound. You can remove the girl from her cultural and literary mentors and influencers, but you can't remove the lasting effects.

A quick pit-stop at the comic book/graphic novel emporium and straight on to the British Library! It's a hard life.

7 March 2008

Paying for Genetics Through the Nose

What would you get if somebody posessed the face of the Disney Sleeping Beauty's Malefacent, the body of The Princess Bride's Fezzick, the arms of Edward Scissorhands, the mind of Stephen Hawking/Jeremy Paxman and the voice of Alan Rickman? A force to be reckoned with is what. It would be so cool...

Unfortunately I only have the ordinary attributes of a rather pathetic adolescent. Except for one thing that I claim absolutely no responsibility for, something that is independant from my body as a whole and that has a mind of its own.

My nose seems to have a seperate circulatory system, going bright red in complete contrast to the rest of me, and is more akin to a tap than to anything of vaguely human origin. Not to mention its total and ill-judged departure from the general asthetic of my face as a cohesive image. 'Characterful' will not cut it.

I may be forced to cut my nose off to spite my face.

If only anatomy could flatter me. But no, it went and shat on me.

2 March 2008

Pessimism Schmessimism

I am sure people don't actually refer to things as 'half empty'. It's more natural terminology to say something is half full surely, as the receptacle will contain at least some kind of substance and is therefore rather more filled than it is if empty. Anyway, I understand that it is a useful way to illustrate the optimist/pessimist distinction. I like to think that I can always see the upside of situations and glean at least something useful or amusing from any unpleasantness that occurs. Take the last couple of days for instance...

The bar at the Union was absolutely packed last night, with people clamouring hotly and sweatily for cheap drinks, slopping beer all over the place and continuously prodding me in the back, which drives me a little bit crrrrrazy. A girl behind me went ahead and ordered her drink before me, despite it being blatant that I had been waiting far longer. Grrr. However, the longer wait did make me notice that there was a young chap sitting right amongst the hullaballoo, pint set down on the bar, sedately and leisurely reading the Guardian obiturary pages. This unexpected image made me smile.

The final of Masterchef has aired, meaning that the series is over and I won't see Greg's bald, cheery noggin or John's jowelly chops until next year. They, and their cries of 'Cooking DOESN'T get tougher than this!' and 'It will CHANGE THEIR LIVES!', have been a pretty much constant source of amusement and chucklesome pleasure over recent weeks. Alas, no more. This does mean that those phrases may actually get out of my head now, and opens up new viewing opportunities, such as the returned 'Love Soup' with the super Tamsin Greig. Or I could do some work.

It turns out no Tattoo parlours in Soho are actually open after 8pm (who knew? Soho obviously not as wild or hardcore as it makes out to be), so it looked like our evening trip had been in vain. Yet we were enlightened as to the exterior decor of sex shops, strip clubs and lingerie boutiques. It was an education of sorts. We saw some pretty neon lights so not a wasted outing.

I sliced my finger whilst trying to prise open a tin of 19p rice pudding without the aid of a tin opener. It hurt a little and bled a lot. However, the result was worth the price of a few pennies and blood. The pudding tasted damn good.

So you see, I'm a glass half full kind of a girl. Of course it helps if the glass is half full of a semi-decent white wine. Or, indeed, completely full.

22 February 2008

The Power of Footwear

'I don't need shoes do I? No, I just need jeans. Shoes are not necessary.'

'Mmmm... hmphlf... ynoh... mmm...'

'Okay, ready to go? Yup, I'm all ready to go.'

'Uh? Uh huh... snflph... yup huh... wha ehr...'

*Door shuts.

*30 seconds pass

*Door opens...

Head bowed, 'I felt insecure without shoes.'

18 February 2008

A Brief Bloggy Fill-in

Okay, so I was going to launch ito a whole spiel about how if one distills the kaleidescopic sequence and progression of life into pure, isolated, concentrated images that epitomise and validate certain profound notions of positivity and ecstasy, giving meaning to existence, what would pop up in this slide show of lucid, undiluted snapshots.

Then I thought, oh bugger it. I'll just do that boring bloggy thing of compiling a list of Moments of Perfection. It is nice to muse on these things after all. Sweetness and light, sunshine and lollipops etc. So here they are, according to Anna...

Kicking heels off after a long night out dancing.

Drinking peppermint tea out of my huge, clunky Guardian mug whilst watching BBCiplayer.

Being propped up by the Aga, pretending to read and soaking in the conversations that surround.

Splodging and squelching through thick mud. In walking boots or wellies. Up North.

Watching the ballet in the Royal Opera House, blown away by orchestral music and visual oppulence.

Head hitting the pillow after the perfect amount of wine, sending me off into the perfect deep, cosy sleep.

Being swaddled on the perfectly arranged sofa in front of Sunday evening telly.

The Libertines actually being played when I am on the dancefloor.

Ditto Spice Girls.

The cat stretching its paws out and gently stroking my chin in absent minded affection.

The feeling when in the throes of an intense yet exhilerating piece of work.

Guilt free celebrity gossip page reading.

Walking through Regents Park/Bedford square/along Gower Street/through the city in general when the light is perfect and I am preferably holding a takeaway coffee.

I am pleased to admit that these are just the tip of the iceburg really. Now you can have the sick bucket. Finishing one's essay does rather give one a lust for life and appreciation for the finer things I must say.

13 February 2008

Road Rage

Travelling by Megabus is like being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Or, indeed, between a Nietzsche reading bespectacled nerd/seasoned back packer and a softly round Indian man who eats bombay mix out of a huge bottomless packet with a spoon, shovelling in mouthful after crunchy mouthful noisily.

The volume of Nietzsche was in another language and the spoon shovelling completely bizarre.

I buried my head in The Guardian Review, transporting myself to a world of straightforward black and white, print and paper.

They were probably thinking 'Who is this scarf-draped, left-wing, pretentious child who is so irritatingly rustling and wrestling with her crumpled paper?'

Such is the way of the Megabus. Best to snore and drool one's way through the ordeal.

5 February 2008

Yearning for my Aga: A whistful nod to the North

Wedged in after the indulgence of Christmas, all those New Year's resolutions to not indulge so much, the partying of Superbowl Sunday when everybody over indulges in drink and potato chips as a kind of rear-guard reaction to watching healthy sporty types and surviving a miserable January of failed resolutions, comes Shrove Tuesday.

A day when everything of an indulgent nature should be hoovered up before the abstemious period of Lent. Yet another opportunity to repent and redeem one's wickedly gluttonous ways. Except Valentines Day follows this supposed 'last chance' to indulge, when chocolates, champagne and fancy dinners will abound (for the few lucky ones, at any rate). So basically, there is always an excuse to celebrate, and indulgence is always justifiable.

What is not justifiable, however, is buying a big plastic tub of gloop labelled 'Pancake Mix' from the supermarket in order to create the beloved traditional rounds. Sacred Bleu, I dread to think what those lovely chaps en France would say, who use those clever, flat, batter-scraping devices with such flair and skill to create the thinnest, most delicate and delicious crepes (best eaten when wandering around a sunny square in Normandy I'll have you know). 'Zut alors!' indeed.

One can also get 'Pancake Mix: American Style'. Well, I'll be bound. Those are not pancakes as we know them. Rather skyscrapers of thick, layered carbs, dripping with syrup and, inexplicably, bacon. Pig on a pancake?? Two hands, a knife and fork, thick set jaws, resilient teeth and a constitution that is not susceptible to heart failure are all required to tackle those bad boys. And now you can produce them out of a tub apparently.

No. The way to do them is on an Aga. The only way. With everybody wanting to help and assist. With flushed cheeks and a dash of manic stress. With everybody wanting the first one. Even though the first one is inevitably always a failure. And with major experimentation going on.

Nothing beats the old classic of grated cheese (cheddar preferably) and dollops of ketchup. Squelchy and lip-smackingly disgusting. In the best possible way. This how to do Mardi Gras baby. A Frenchman did once tell me it was 'crepe', but I think our pancakes are actually pretty darn good!
(Geddit? Ahem)

I have bets on J consuming the most, though Father will no doubt give him a run for his money. Raise the ketchup bottle in acknowledgement of my absent self, chaps!

30 January 2008

A splash of colour, a flash of culture

In keeping with the previous theme, I have been donning my little red riding hood in recent weeks. Except it is more like my little red, three-quarter-length sleeved, shawl-collared, woolen, vintage coat. With brooch and jaunty scarf. One has to move with the times, doncha know.

Anyhow, there is nothing quite like sauntering or, indeed, moseying about the streets of London in my striking sartorial cocoon, matching the double-decker buses and telephone boxes in A Very British Manner. Tightly belted at the waist, hands plunged in pockets, I am ready to take on any wolf that should happen upon me in the metropolis.

It is a coat made for those impromptu and oh-so cultural outings. Mooching in the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery on a Sunday for example. Glorifying at the gold-flecked embellishments adorning Virgin upon sweet-faced Virgin, Christ upon crucified Christ. Staring agog at the transporting, beautiful, characterful visions that I sometimes fall into within my subconscious. Me defeating the devil, a la St Michael. Me flying with the beautifully dressed angels...

And so must the coat takes me from the Sainsbury Wing to Sainsbury's. But in style.

Glorifying at the lurid chocolate bar wrappers covering biscuit upon crunchy biscuit, caramel finger upon chewy caramel finger. Staring agog as I wait in the megalosaurian queue and try to politely ignore the overly friendly or sinisterly silent staff. This commercial institution holds almost as many wonders as the mystically blue-toned wing of the gallery. Two long custard doughnuts, dusted with icing sugar and bursting with glistening yellow goo, for £1.09 (Why that 9p? Why such an awkward figure? So as to use up all those pesky coppers of course. The genius of these doughnuts knows no bounds) are just one of the gems bejewelling the harsh-lighted cavern.

Gallery to keep my mind intelligent, alert and open in order to be prepared for wily wolf attacks. Supermarket to fill my basket with sustaining goodies to take to 'Granny' (or myself, or poverty stricken students of my acquaintance). Little Red Woolen Coat. That's me.

22 January 2008

Dashed Hopes

Frances Hodgeson Burnett may have been wrong. It is possible that not all girls are actually princesses.

This has come as a short, sharp shock, especially to one who's favourite Disney is Sleeping Beauty, has been classically trained in the art of the curtsey, and is in possession of a tiara.

But I break this sad news after the discovery of something horrible beyond measure: I was sitting on a pea throughout a whole dinner without realising.

Princesses are supposed to be able to detect peas through mountains of mattresses. Yet this one was actually affixed to my derriere and I was none the wiser. I bow my head in shame; I am obviously without the credentials to be a true princess. I lack the necessary qualifications. And have a pea stained ass.

So it's back to the land of peasants and plebs I go, working my weary way out of the fairytale. I may have to consider being a bloodthirsty warrior or woodland sprite instead.

14 January 2008

Literary Links

On hearing that well-known nightclub venue 'Tiger Tiger' being mentioned on the peripheries of my aural awareness, a dialogue began between a well-read, philosophical chap and myself. He mused that there should be William Blake themed cocktails available at such a nightclub. Naturally, thought I. But what would these drinks consist of?

After applying my mind, I have come up with one or two ideas. Squid ink (of the sought sometimes used in posh spaghetti) could be used as a mixer, signifying all the ink spilt on Blake's poetry and beautiful drawings and pictures. Another ingredient would have to be communion wine, representing the heavily religious aspects and overtones of all his works. It may not taste particularly delicious, but it would be intellectually nourishing.

It was then said (and I would like to stress that this remark was not made by me. Heavily stress) that Rudyard Kipling themed drinks would contain the blood of natives and have to be drunk from a rhino horn, or hollowed out talon of some sort.

This then lead me to other literary links along this line of thought. For instance, Tolstoy is apparently 'fat' in Russian (information courtesy of The Guardian) which takes a little away from the romanticiam of the figure, I find. Also, something that I retained when reading Rousseau's Confessions was that he was keen to see the Gentlemen of Spoon. These were a group of Catholic noblemen who in 1527 swore to eat the people of Geneva 'with a spoon' (a little like the Sheriff of Nottingham's suggestion in regards to the practical matters of eating Robin Hood's heart) and wore spoons round their necks to remind them of this oath. I think this is brilliant. Apart from the cannibalism of course.

Although not in keeping with the theme, another thing that I was captured by in that particular text was that a woman of Rousseau's acquaintance, Madame de Vercellis, broke wind when on her death bed, then pronounced 'Good, a woman who can fart is not dead'. These were her final words. Rousseau commented that she died like a philosopher.

3 January 2008

Heard the one about Herod?

You may be forgiven for thinking that I had been abducted by aliens in recent weeks due to lack of postage on the old blog. In actuality, I narrowly missed such a fate. It so happens that a certain motor-savvy friend of mine has an amazing automobile (which goes by the name of Pablo incidentally) in possession of properties associated with alien life forms. It has, no word of a lie, windscreen wipers that sound exactly like Daleks.

When the rain falls it is like a Dalek attack. Much more exciting than any Christmas edition of Dr Who. Even though they managed to blag an appearance from Kylie this year.

So, after avoiding being 'exterminated' in my near death experience with aliens and wild driving in the Northumberland countryside, I thought I should kick off this new year we have stumbled into on the blogosphere. Make it official like.

I shall start this year, however, with a glance to the past. The dim and distant past. A past so far back in history that the word 'blog' would no doubt have met with a chorus of 'Bless you!' if uttered in public. Picture the scene...

A nativity play narrated by adults, with a troupe of adorable children miming the traditional tale. Heart warming and comforting, with bevvies of rosy-cheeked angels and shepherds with stuffed sheep and tea-towels on their heads. Then, behold! A figure of terror. A figure of impressive gravitas. A figure of creative ingenuity in regards to make-up application. My six-year-old mother as Herod.

I love that she is playing, of all the characters that populate the sacred and holy story of Christ's birth, the murderous baddie. One of the cruelest figures in history in fact. And, on all accounts, with great aplomb. Apparently nobody realised it was dear little carrot-top Christine. She could have been a star! We could be living the high life in Hollywood right now. Instead, of course, she took to all the make-up and costume and organisation and creativity of it all. Dash that controlling community spirit of hers! If only she had a more selfish prima donna streak. Fame and fortune would have surely beckoned.

Stories of the past are often fabulously entertaining in retrospect (even from a renowned less-than-sparkling teller of tedious anecdotes) and no doubt, when looking back on the year that is currently laid out before us, there will be many a funny fable to reminisce over. As well as embarrassing hairstyles, outfits and pictures documenting all our monumental mistakes. Bring it on I say.