Archive for November, 2008

Tune your violins please…

… because the pity party starts here and I’m going to need an accompaniment.

This post is by way of excusing myself for the next few days. The Sausage Factory is set to kick my ass to the moon and back again.  I’m about to embark on another terrifying thrilling work project which engenders working from- get this:

10am Friday to 2am Saturday, filming people who have jobs far more important than my own (people who can’t use my work get-out clause “hey, we’re not saving babies”, because, well they are). Then I’ll travel back to home base and sleep from around 5am on Sat morning until I have to get up to start- START- editing at 4pm. Yes, after it is dark. Sob. I’ll wrap up there at silly o’clock, then start again on Sunday morning. Repeat through Monday and Tuesday.

So as you can imagine, there will be little time for blogging. Unless it’s to deafen you all with sound of the full string section I’ll need to accompany the self-indulgent wailing of “I’m tiiiiiiiired! I work so haaaaard! Woe. WOE!”


Mud Girl Rides Again

Momentarily, we’re heading off for a twinkly weekend in the Malvern hills with my best friend pei and partner, to stay with pei’s mum, who is also my mum’s best friend, and my sister H’s godmother. You follow? It’s going to be lovely, and quite Christmassy, with rumoured reindeer (in the town, not the house), mulled wine and perhaps some snow.  I love Christmas, and don’t mind if it starts in November. Why, before we set off for the hills, I’m going to tip my bodyweight of dried fruit into a mixing bowl, slosh it with brandy and leave it to get drunk while we’re away, in preparation for baking the Christmas cake on Sunday.

Before I go, I wanted to write at least something that would put a more measured lid on the rather spiky and unravelled ball of angst that was my last post. I don’t just want to leave it… stewing… there, you know?

So here’s a random observation from last night’s British Military Fitness class: How wonderful it is to get totally caked in mud, so that you have to scrub yourself with soap in the old-fashioned way in the shower afterwards, brown water sploshing against the tiles and clods of grass dropping into the bath. Seriously. Getting totally mud-caked and then completely clean is a very wholesome, exhilerating experience (shout out to all you gardeners!), perhaps because it’s something that we usually leave behind in childhood. When I was four, I stripped totally naked, covered myself in mud and crowned myself Mud Girl (I have photos. You will not be seeing them). Aged 28 I might not go that far, but I still get a childlike joy from rolling around in the dirt.

Oh my. I can just envision the pervy google search hits I’m gonna get now…

Dancing With Wolves

It’s been a while. The truth is, I’ve been feeling a little eeyore-ish and glum, and each time I’ve opened up the “new post” window, nothing has happened. Type a sentence, delete it; type a word, for instance “hello”, delete it; click away from page; go read someone who has something interesting to say.

(Room 101: Blogger Edition. Item no 1- bloggers who blog about blogging. And then blog about blogging about blogging. Out, out, damn spot!)

Every post I try to write seems to boil down to “things that piss me off” (see last week’s offering). So now I’ve given up the ghost. Let’s talk about things that piss me off!

I go to a Street Dance class on Tuesday nights, which I greatly enjoy. Incidentally, yesterday we learned a new move which the teacher rather creepily demonstrated by saying “imagine you’re tiptoeing over a body”. The class takes place at an actual bona fide dance school, and sometimes some of the students- at least I assume that’s who they are, given their top dance skillz- come to the amateur classes, bodypopping with their baggy trousers and firm little torsos and artfully mussed hair, alongside the rest of us in our tatty jogging bottoms and Barack Obama t-shirts (question: it’s no longer cool to wear am Obama tee is it? Also please note that my Obama tee does not impact upon my journalistic impartiality).  

The Dance Kids really get on my nerves. I am not (just) jealous because they are young and lithe boys and girls, who might one day get the chance to dance in a Justin Timberlake video, instead of lumbering sweatily around the living room demonstrating their Street Dance moves to their boyfriend and imagining they are in a Justin Timberlake video.  I am not even resentful of their ability to bust a perfectly-timed move.

They annoy me because they are smug little show-offs, who must be thrilled that dance studios come lined with mirrors, so they can gaze lovingly into their own eyes as they leap and preen. They clap themselves and indulge in ad lib grinding with their fellow DKs, all the while admiring themselves in the mirrors.

They also whisper about people. I am not being paranoid. One girl (who is particularly irritating and wears trousers four sizes too big, as if to say “look how wee I am, I’m swamped in by these child-size joggers!”), actually put her hand up to her companion’s ear last night, and whispered something as they both looked pointedly at a less graceful member of our troupe.

I’m sure the Dance Kids are fairly benign, but they are so caught up the fact of being cool that they don’t stop to be humble about their talent, which would ironically make them so much more attractive. I mean, we all have our skills, and that doesn’t mean we need to show off and make other people feel bad. I don’t pose in front of a mirror whilst directing a piece-to-camera.

The reason they get to me, really, is because my sister was really good at dancing. Like, really good. Better than the Dance Kids, in my opinion. So, I confess, I’m bitter that they are still here making me feel like a performing bear when I dance next to them; whereas she is no longer here to spend the entire time dancing while we are supposed to be washing up, or putting on a hooded white dressing gown over her pyjamas and pretending to be Kylie in the Can’t Get You Out Of My Head video.

She was also very pretty. Prettier than the Dance Kids (you get the picture. I vastly prefer her to the DKs). After she died, one girl wrote in the condolence book that H was “the only one who looked good in a catsuit”. Actually, that particular girl also looked good in a catsuit.  She was also killed three years later, which just goes to show: life isn’t fair.

So, to recap: H was sixteen, tall, skinny, beautiful and a brilliant dancer. And yet! She was nothing but nice, and kind, and tender. She would never whisper about people behind her hand or show off or stare at herself in the mirror. In fact she was more likely to help someone who couldn’t learn a move. Her dance teacher always tells us how H put elastic bands around her hands to practice her GCSE dance piece (she got top marks in class), when she was told that she should keep her fingers together to make the dance more elegant.

Which means that, though in my heart I know that the Dance Kids are harmless and just young and narcicisstic, I can’t help but think- to slightly misquote the Beegees, whose music reminds me of my sister: she should be dancing. She should be dancing too.

Room 101: The Vaguely Work-Related Edition

I’m feeling particularly snippy this evening, as a result of having to work, all day long! Can you believe it? Also, it’s a whole hour until my Street Dance class, which is near my office, so I have to stay here and do further work- for there is only so long reading blogs can sustain me.

So, in extremely sour and grouchy style, I present my  top five Room 101 items, limited to that which I can sort of relate to my noble profression.  If I listed all my pet peeves in all spheres of life, I’d miss the start of Street Dance (do you see how I use capitals, as if it’s a special holiday, or a person? I’m not sure if this is gramatically correct), so it’s been necessary to focus on the work-related:

1. People who do their make-up in the loo.  This is selfish. I can’t bear going to the loo at work when someone else is in there. It’s bad enough having someone hear you, well, tinkle. But at least under normal circumstances the person in the next cubicle is in an equally embarassing predicament. But when your fellow WC occupant is applying touche eclat in a leisurely fashion beyond the chipboard divide, it makes for an especially upsetting visit.

2. Superfluous words (says she! Ha!). In an ideas meeting, if you have an idea to contribute, please just say the idea. Please do not preface it with “I heard a thing on Five Live, and it’s probably not really the kind of story we’d cover, and it doesn’t have a credit crunch angle, or even any animals, but anyway here it is- and it’s sort of, just to go off on a tangent for a moment, a bit like something we discussed last week….” etc etc.

3. Yourselves, myself, himself… “Please send the information to myself, so we can organise a meeting between yourselves and themselves”. Revealing your lack of intelligence by aping intelligence…  there is very little more unfortunate. Or maybe I’m just an enormous snob.

4. Deliberately banal adverts (this is where the work theme becomes tenuous. But, eh… they are on telly, so…). Toothpaste advertisements which are filmed with a deliberately out of focus, overly-edited style; cereal commercials with a contrived wobble on the camera . When adverts are emulating bad TV, on purpose, in order to make us believe that these are real people captured forever perhaps for a cheap cable TV “REAL STORIES REAL SHOCK REAL TWO-HEADED BABIES” series, it makes me want to hide under the duvet until production values have restored themselves and people have grown brains once more.

5. Press officers. Through the trapdoor with you, obstructive guardians of information all! Obsequious one minute, snooty the next, threatening the next and even more manipulative than the journalists you seek to trip up, I am tired of your sneaky ways.

Yours curmudgeonly,


Don’t Mention The Kevin

Once, when I was waxing lyrical about how great it’s going to be when we have a real life baby to put into plant pots/colanders to make us laugh, my friend Steven- who does not want children- sniffed:

“I don’t understand you people. You think having children is going to be so great, but what if they turn out like Kevin?”

Now if any of you have read We Need To Talk About Kevin (and at this point, anyone who has spoken to me over the weekend is going “oh not bloody Kevin again” and clicking away wearily), you will know what Steven was talking about. But at this point I had not read that book (hissss) so was innocent, unsullied and optimistic, not the quivering, traumatised wreck I am today.

“Oh but I’ll parent them so well, they won’t turn out evil!”, I chirped back, as visions of babies sitting  hilariously in fruitbowls danced in my head.

“But Kevin was born evil”, Steven shot back, eyes narrowed.

“Oh, piffle”, or similar, I said.

And then I read that book. Now I am traumatised, harrowed and chilled to the bone. I have a fear of people wearing too-small clothes, and yell at G if he so much as looks in my direction with anything  close to a cold, blank stare. I am suspicious of small babies on the street if they are crying (in which case they are torturing their mothers), and if they are not crying (in which case they are fixing the world with a cold, blank stare).

Having devoured the book greedily over the space of two days, I now almost wish I’d never picked it up, much in the same way as one feels after an ill-advised Big Mac. On some vague English-Lit-graduate level, I’m aware that We Need To Talk About Kevin raises some valid arguments about motherhood, childhood, national identity even. But on the level on which I operate 99% of the time (neurotic and irrational), I feel cross with Lionel Shriver for terrifying me so. All I can think about his weird baby Kevin with his cold blank stare and rage-filled scream; creepy toddler Kevin and the nyeh-nyeh-nyehing; horror child kevin with the bleach and the ink; and the ENDING, THE ENDING! Oh god.

I’ve been scared before, oh so many times, by books and films. And nothing can dislodge Jean-Baptiste Grenouille from his special place of terror in my heart. But whilst I don’t feel afraid of Kevin himself- I don’t think he’s hiding in our house with his (shudder) crossbow or anything- this book has disturbed me. I’ve always had a vague fear that when I do have a baby and it is laid on my chest for the first time, what if I don’t feel that rush of overwhelming love that everyone talks about? And if I don’t, does it mean I’ve spawned myself a Kevin?

Has anyone else read this book? Were you equally traumatised? Let’s have a support book group!

Who me?

A kind lady, whose blog I am a fan of, gave me an “I love your blog” award, which was both startling and very nice to discover. I’m to pass the award on (but can’t work out how to upload the badge thingy that goes with it), and I’m not sure who to bestow it on. It’s hard to choose from the blogs I read- and many of them are the “big ones” who don’t need a badge from little old me anyway. So I think, in the spirit of discovery, I’ll seek out a blog I haven’t read before to love. Any recommendations?

In the mean time, apparently part of the thing is that you fill in a meme (which I always thought meant “me me”, which seems appropriate, but apparently is a word in and of itself). I secretly love these quizzes and am happy indeed to have an excuse to fill one in:

1. Where is your mobile? In my handbag. Heh, if I was an American I’d be like “hanging over my cot, silly”

2. Where is your significant other? Upstairs, asleep.

3. Your hair colour? Brown.

4. Your mother?  She’s very nice thankyou. And living round the corner.

5. Your father?  Living round the other corner. Also very nice.

6. Your favourite thing?  My brain.

7. Your dream last night?  I dreamed I was falling asleep. How lazy is that?

8. Your dream/goal?  Peace of mind and a happy family.

9. The room you’re in?  Dining room, which is knocked through to the living room.

10. Your hobby?  Gardening and writing.

11. Your fear?  Losing another sibling. Can hardly type the words.

12. Where do you want to be in six years?  Popping out babies.

13. Where were you last night?  On the sofa, drinking a decadent Sunday night vodka, lime and soda.

14. What you’re not?  Sporty.

15. One of your wish-list items? A piano. Which is silly, as I have one already, if only I can ever be organised enough to arrange a mover to bring it from my Dad’s house to mine.

16. Where you grew up?  Around yet another corner.

17. The last thing you did?  Sang Over The Rainbow at chorus rehearsal

18. What are you wearing?  Shoo-boots, black trousers, white blouse, black cardie, mustard yellow beads.

19. Your TV?  What is my TV wearing? A chic black plastic number.

20. Your pets?  Don’t have any. Can’t deal with the cleaning up element of pet ownership (gag).

21. Your computer?  Is my boyfriend’s computer.

22. Your mood?  Tired. Slightly flat.

23. Missing someone?  My beautiful sister. My Grandpa.

24. Your car?  Is called Borat and he rocks.

25. Something you’re not wearing?  Lipstick, any more.

26. Favourite shop?  Selfridges, if only for window shopping

27. Your summer?  Was pretty eventful and not always in a good way.

28. Love someone?  Many people.

29. Your favourite colour?  I’ve never understood the concept of a favourite colour. It’s like having a favourite child- how can you choose between such myriad wonderfulnesses?

30. When is the last time you laughed?  Today when a colleague told me his Scottish Grandma remarked crossly that it was as if the US election was the only election happening- what about the Glenrothers by-election?

31. Last time you cried?  Yesterday, on my Granny’s shoulder, after an All Soul’s Day service at Christchurch Cathedral, Oxford. See Q23.