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.