Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Gaga Din

Well, I just finished my third plate of spaghetti bolognese in three days... when will a complete lack of money ever stop being fun eh? Huh! Brilliant. Ho hum. I'm starting to think if I ever have to eat it again then I'll just start rocking backwards and forwards and exclaiming that my chicken money will be worth it when we've got 8  gold medals per athlete.

The thing is, something seems to have gone wrong (at least, I think it has because I can't see how it's right) but I'm being taxed about 33% of my wages... and, given that I'm only really working 2 weeks out of the month... it's quite a large chunk to kiss goodbye to. If anyone knowledgeable on this subject would like to get in touch then I'll actually listen and not roll my eyes and pretend to listen when in actual fact I'm very bored.

I've still got about 3,000 emails to respond to and then I need to pack to go away tomorrow and yet my brain is refusing to deal with any of these pressing issues. Instead, we're just sitting in a chair marvelling at how much we enjoy being in a chair. Huzzah for chairs and comfy bums that sit in them very comfortably. Despite my best efforts to shed some pounds, my bum is still in comfy mode post Edinburgh. I've been trying to shape up recently so that when I go home with the two gorgeous sisters, we can attend out night out and I won't feel like frumpy frumperson.

Heading back to the West Country is always great... I had a reminder this week of how much life can change when you take your mind off the direction. This week I heard the most amazing news; my best friend from my school days has set the date for her wedding and is set to marry the guy she has been dating since we were on a year nine school trip. I've not spoken to her for a few years now - not through design, just through a change of lives which has meant we've not really crossed paths. Now, I'm not invited to the wedding - which is quite normal given that you don't normally invite people you never talk to to important events - and this isn't a whiny piece about how I wish I was etc etc... it's just, it got me thinking about how sometimes you should be grateful for the relationships you have held on to because it hasn't happened naturally.

I take the fact that I have such a great relationship with my sisters for granted when, really, I should be glad every day that we all decided to put the effort in and hold on to what we have. You can't lament a relationship that fell away a little bit through life changes as though you did something wrong; it was just that you can't hold on to everyone and sometimes your life and the individual days make the choices for you.

I'm thrilled for my friend... even more thrilled that due to the miracles of Facebook (even with an updated version currently being berated) I will still get to see the photos!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sweet Child of Mine - Some Thoughts on our Nation's Capital (With No Idea How to Use Capitalisation Appropriately in a Title)

I'm beginning to think living in London is a bit like having a child. I have (naturally) not fully thought this through and so will be experimenting with doing just that below. If you want to see whether this survives beyond the bloggosphere and onto a stage you'll have to come and see me gig (or ask me - I'm a pushover).

Also - my skin itches a bit today and I think I like Kasabian. So far the two seem unrelated.

1. When you go out in London it's always in the back of my mind that you have to be back at either a sensible hour, or make arrangements to stay out all night. The transport system becomes very much like sorting out a babysitter...

 "I could go home at 11pm on a normal tube" = "I can get my usual babysitter who is happy to stay out that late."

"I could stay out all night and just sort myself out in the bright 10am sunshine where the tourists will think I am ultra cool" = "I'll leave the kids with my parents and they will judge me the next day for being a poor parent."

"I could stay out until 3am and get the night bus home" = "I'm going to have to get that babysitter with the club foot and 3 unspent convictions."

(It's just occurred to me that in my hypothetical world of having kids I am a single parent. I'm really shocked, and also worried about what this says about my self esteem/safe sex practices.)

2. By the end of a day with either you need wine.

3. Just waking up in the morning and deciding to leave your front door is going to cost you at least £10. With a child you need to carry a suitcase of Sudocrem and nappies and bottles and the kind of cloth that must spontaneously combust when your child reaches three because you never see it again until you have the next one. When you're a Londoner you only have to look out the window and your Oyster card has been charged £1.30 (unless it's January 2012 and it's risen again by 8% to fund the Olympic celebrations that you aren't attending because you'll be in Edinburgh bleeding money into another city instead). Once you've paid for your trip wherever you're going it's almost expected that you buy some sort of frothy, milky coffee with something interesting added. It doesn't matter whether or not you drink it, you just have to be seen walking (very quickly) down a high street with it and scowling at people who stop on the streets. I'm 90% sure that in Ye Olde English "tourist" was a direct translation for "Ass hole" and it's just a prank we've been playing on people for centuries.

4. When you tell other people that aren't in the same boat as you they always say the same polar opinion:

"I like kids when you can give them back!" - - - "Ooh, I like it for a day but I couldn't live there!"

Then they look at you strangely as though you're a slightly different breed for doing something they aren't doing. When this happens, it doesn't matter whether you've spent the entire morning berating your child/Boris Johnson and swearing that you're never having another one/moving to Oxfordshire as soon as you get a pay rise, you immediately start defending your chosen position.

Of course, the second you mention kids and London in the same sentence and you immediately invoke a barrage of "opinions" on why doing anything that brings the two together or separates them is utterly wrong.

"Oh, I couldn't possibly raise my kids in the country - what would they do? Where would they go to school? They'd only have about 4 kids to be friends with!"

"Oh, I couldn't raise my kids in the city - too many cars and people and asthma."

As though children raised in either environment have been total fuck ups for years and it's just an epidemic that has thus far failed to hit the news. Unless you read the Daily Mail, in which all people under 18 are morons who will eat your skin if you don't give them a Nintendo DS.

5. At some point in the first two years of both you will get another human's vomit on you.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

(S)He's Not There

He wasn't waiting on the door step. He hasn't even called to apologise for being woefully late.

Also, all the interesting things in the world did not happen the moment I stepped out of my front door to go and gig in Essex. In a way this was useful because, had that happened, the rest of my life might be somewhat anticlimactic. What did happen was that I drove to Essex with a nice man, arrived at the venue to discover it was Fresher's Week and there were roaming hordes of Freshers out trying to hook up and start a merry chain of sweaty regrets. They came in waves - ordering a shot each and then leaving.

It was a pretty depressing experience to be in the queue for the ladies with 14 other girls who were all wearing smaller skirts that were less "Seductive" more "I've Only Worn This Much Because I Have To". The three girls behind me were having an animated conversation and bonding over the fact they all really needed a wee.

"I need a wee!"
"Oh my God me too!"
"I know - I really need a wee!"
"How funny!" - Back to first girl.

Not even the tiniest bit of irony from any of them. I desperately wanted to express my regret at not being able to join their conversation but I was actually queueing up to take a massive shit. I refrained and continued to shake my head inside and wonder when I made the complete transformation into an old woman. I was standing in the queue with my cropped jeans, hoodie and flip flops on feeling about 39... have I really got that old that quickly?

I suppose I must have been the same when I was their age? I have certainly never been one to dress as a bit of meat - in the early days it was a total lack of faith in the hocks that the good system of evolution has bestowed upon my family as "progress". What the hell did we start with if a cylinder of cottage cheese with a baked potato in the middle is where we are now? My ancestors must have been stumping around on legs made of spit, corned beef and a few sticks lashed together - I doubt knees were any more than a luxury for my gene pool until at least the 1950s.

Nowadays I still have very little faith in my body being a display item but I like to chalk it up to moral beliefs about the female body being all to readily displayed and therefore diminishing its value. Supply and demand - ladies, if we flood the market then who's going to want to work for it?

I've never been particularly comfortable being a dolled up girl - every now and again I find the perfect outfit that makes me feel great. If it's a little skimpy (and by some miracle I've enjoyed wearing it) then I'll wear it with pride. Generally, however, I prefer jeans and a t shirt. It doesn't mean that I don't get inexplicably jealous of girls who can dress up and carry off the "My Body is Designer" look that people drool over. I say 'inexplicably' jealous because I clearly don't want to do it, or I would have done - but I for some reason still look at girls like this and feel totally intimidated by them. Perhaps it's conditioning.

Right now though I'm wearing track suit bottoms and my old University of Kent Cricket Club hoody... so I suppose Glamour Magazine is going to have to wait until tomorrow - or until I find my hair brush (4 days and counting),

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Zip Squeak

There's a gap in my mind where my blog for today should be... I've tried eating a bagel, watching a milisecond of Two and a Half Men to inspire me to better things, smashing the most useful bowl in the kitchen... none of it has worked. I'm now reduced to using time pressure because I have 18 minutes to finish this blog and publish it before I have to leave for my gig. We're going to have to pray that inspiration comes winging in through the bedroom window quite soon.

The only thing I can really envisage coming in through the window (which is closed) is some kind of drilling pigeon. The sheer amount of time it would take said winged adversary to get through the glass would give me sufficient time to either:

a) abandon my post at the desk and run for some hills
b) get my phone out and prepare to become a YouTube sensation

My brain is totally fried from an entire day spent sifting through stuff that makes me want to beat my fists against either people or my own chest. The most irritating things I've encountered today are:

The CV of a woman who is only 6 months older than me, has the same degree, and is earning nearly 50k a year. No amount of being consoled about how dismal her life must be makes me feel any better on my life choices.

The CV of a woman who had kindly thought to include a photo of herself on a night out with a large glass of wine in her hand. I suppose if nothing else she gave me faith that I am nearer the first woman on the scale of career success.

We've now got 12 minutes left to think of some comedy gold. I feel like I'm going to go to all this effort to produce something resembling sentences and then, the second I step out of my front door to go to my gig tonight, everything interesting in the whole will happen and I'll wish I hadn't bothered. I'm really hoping that my interesting thing will somehow involve Will Young. I really cannot explain quite how much I adore him. It'd be quite pleasant if he'd just be waiting on my doorstep looking a little awkward with all the seasons of Gilmore Girls (except season one because he's read my blogs and follows me on Twitter under a pseudonym and knows I already own it) and a bottle of sparkling wine and he wants to just hang out. He'll explain that this is really embarrassing and he doesn't usually do things like this but he just can't help himself because he just knows we'll be best friends if I give him the chance.

We've now got 8 minutes left because I had to just go down and check the front door (got myself a little over excited) - he was not there. Which, if nothing else, shows that if he is there when I go down and check again when I've finished this then he has excellent timing. Praise be to Mr Will Young for being brilliant in every single way imaginable. Hell. If he's not there then tomorrow's blog might be more tears than letters.

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pants Party

Today I learnt that my infant nephew could climb higher in my esteem, considerably higher. He recently became  potty trained and, my sources tell me, since making the change to grown up pants he now refuses to wear trousers.

This is mind numbingly excellent in my opinion. The thought process makes my knees a little weak when I consider its brilliance -

"These are a whole new item around my bum. I really like them. To hell with covering them up. People need to see how brilliant I am to be wearing these. I am brilliant... in my pants."

I really thought this child couldn't please me any more with his renegade approach to life - and then he goes and throws this curve ball and I have to take a long hard look at my graph tracking how and when my opinion of him shifts.

I mean, I also learnt today that, despite being about 92% potty trained, he took a massive dump on his car mat. There are good arguments for whether this should be impressive or disgusting:

Disgusting - he was so engrossed in the TV/cars/lego he just decided to poop where he was.

Impressive - he was so engrossed in the TV/cars/lego he just decided to poop where he was.

Disgusting - he may well have ruined a pair of his brilliant tiny pants.

Impressive - he didn't play with the poop once he'd produced it.

Disgusting - the living room now smells a little funky and Rusky.

Impressive - he may well have been imitating the common Somerset road experience of muck spreading. Clever, clever boy.

Either way it's only 10 days until I see the little lad and we can really sort the world out. I have already been told in no uncertain terms that I am not allowed to hang out in my pants with him for the 10 days I'm back home. I'm mildly devastated but I think I'll find ways to get around the strictness of my sister's ruling. She can't be everywhere at once, and, if we can just show her how much fun it is to be in your pants she might give in and join the party.

This is pretty much the light at the end of my HR tunnel at the moment. I knew I wasn't built for an office when I had a proper job, however, at least then I had tasks which took a modicum of intelligence to accomplish. My temp positions are so far proving impossible to undertake without having to really moderate the level of eye rolling I'm prone to. Obviously, this is the point of a temp job - it's to be expected. What I wasn't expecting was how surprised people would be when I was capable of doing the "jobs" set out before me. So far I have been given a bottle of wine for putting 300 letters into envelopes and a £10 HMV voucher simply for turning up to work. I mean wow. If I continue in this vein I could be the Queen of the Temps before too long. In my pants.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Why Lumiere!

I had guests!

I had guests round tonight for a meal (that I cooked all by myself) and they all (said they) enjoyed it. The warmth that this brings to my little heart is immeasurable. The meal - which I cooked, did I mention that? - had at least 3 ingredients and even offered a carnivore option for those who were not on the herbivore path through life. How terribly cosmopolitan of me. Incidentally, I have no real idea of whether or not this is cosmopolitan having only ever seen 3 episodes of Sex and The City. Should Sarah Jessica Parker, or indeed Kim Cattrall, wish to get in touch to enlighten me they may do so through the usual channels.

There's something quite satisfying about cooking if you let yourself give in to it. Chopping an onion in silence with some music on in the background could rival skiing so long as you're using a very sharp knife. Tonight was the first time I've cooked in 3 weeks and I have to say that the alchemy that ensued my trip to Tesco was pretty thrilling.

Tesco was also brilliant because the woman in front of me only bought Shredded Wheat and Southern Comfort. She's everything I presume I'm going to be in about 15 years when this whole comedy endeavour has definitely not worked out as I had hoped. In hindsight I should have asked her if we could swap numbers so that she can pass on any tips for how to keep the Shredded Wheat crunchy without losing any of the warmth of the Comfort. Respect your elders.

I suppose today was a taster for what my life could be if I gave up on all my dreams of future careers; it wouldn't be that bad. It would be today on a loop. It would be a boring verging on bad day, followed by excellent company to make up for 8 hours of tedium and disappointment. I'm not sure if I'm terrified or relieved that, given a few years to acclimatise, I probably wouldn't mind too much on a day to day basis. It would just be the day I woke up at 50 and realised I'd never pictured myself working without passion that would kill me.

Pudding was sadly amazing this evening. What with my placement at Shoe Headquarters I didn't have time to bake as well and so pudding was provided via The Hummingbird Bakery... it undid every good intention that Monday brings in terms of behaving oneself re: calories. The apple and marmite sandwich (separate entries into the lunchbox) I had for lunch just laughed hysterically in my tummy as I layered them with risotto and cheesecake cup cake. More fool me for actually believing I could stick to a normal diet!

Now to bed, in time to experience the next delight of the 9-5 routine; the Tuesday pain when you realise Monday was not a one off and, yes, you are expected to repeat this pattern until Saturday. Even on Saturday your body will wake you up at some unGodly hour so as not to "waste the day" by being asleep. Someone needs to tell bodies that on many an occasion it's actually been consciousness that has wasted a day when sleep would have been a much more satisfactory answer.

Of Course I Adore You (A Bad Day)

My day started with a constipated homeless man. As I crossed the road to the bus stop on my way to work I saw two men in dirty tracksuits talking next to a wheelie bin. Then, one of the men pulled down his track suit bottoms and his underwear and squatted down on the pavement. Immediately, the school girls around me erupted in a chorus of "Oh my days!" (potentially the mating call for South East London) and squealed with repulsed delight at the morning's festivities.

I couldn't tear my eyes away from his backside, his hands clutching at the cheeks as the 8am sun displayed his flabby derriere for all the world/The Old Kent Road to see. His skin was marked and scarred and dirty and of a sickly tone. He hovered inches above the pavement.

His friend casually waved the passers by on, I momentarily shared his frustration with the interest of the passers until I realised I was staring with a more intense fixation than anyone else. I could not stop watching. His friend was telling people to keep walking, telling them to stop looking. He just hung there - suspended above the paving slabs with his body forcing downwards with all his might.

The school girls were in their element; "Who would take a shit right there on the pavement?! What is he doing?! Why don't he go down an alley way?! I can see his ass! I need new eye balls! Oh my days!".

I wanted to cry. It's not escaped me that this is two days in a row I've failed miserably at producing anything remotely funny; perhaps I should be in a different line of work - if you're beginning to wonder if this is the "difficult third series" era of my blogging, then you may be right... (but hopefully not, I despair at seriousness - it might just be a nervous breakdown). This bothered me. This bothered me an awful lot.

Who would take a shit right there on the pavement? Someone who has absolutely no where else to go.

More to the point, how has a body become so physically disorientated that the desire to shit is overwhelming enough to resort to that, and yet there is nothing coming out?

My own hypocrisy with regards to homeless people has become somewhat of a civil war within myself. I judge them for smoking, for the state of their pets, for not having pets, for the coffee cup used for money collection, for the place they've settled themselves in - whether it's too windy or non-profitable... I walk past and apply measured logic and sheltered evaluation to a situation which is far beyond the comprehension of my mind. As with most of the world's issues, it's too big for one person to tackle... but by doing what you can, the overthinker can overthink themselves into a black hole of inadequacy which completely eradicates the initial good that was done.

What I saw this morning was wrong for a society which is what ours is. The fact that it could stop so, so unblinkingly easily is a horrible indication that we are a species evolved for our own survival and not a race designed for better things. It bothered me a lot.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Wrong Word For Today

It's the anniversary of 9/11 today; if you own a media device then it's an almost inescapable event. Even popping to the pub this afternoon brought waves of coverage into my world. It's been 10 years. As ever, here's my disclaimer; I don't know what I am about to explore but I know I feel something complicated so here goes...

I feel like anniversary is an inappropriate word; I feel like we need a word which means a negative anniversary. Dress it up how you like, but we're not celebrating anything. You can try and celebrate the lives that were loved but I see this as positive mourning - it's to be applauded but it's not celebrating. An anniversary should be to celebrate a life that still exists; we need a new word.

I dislike days like this because I don't know how to be. As a general statement I can't bear Facebook statuses with "RIP" in them; they seem a tad crass to me no matter how well intentioned the person was. I struggle with forging a connection to something that was so powerful, so life changing for so many people... but was fairly remote for me. I feel a disconnection towards trying to emit sympathy because thousands of people lost their lives. Individuals lost individuals - that was the reality of it, trying to consider those individuals en masse and amalgamate their loss into something big enough for me to emote on feels shallower than ignoring it.

I watched parts of the coverage in the pub this afternoon and felt quite confused. There's a lot going on for me:

I should be watching it; it's respectful, it's historic, it's something we should all be banding together on.

I shouldn't be watching this; I have no emotive connection to it, it's rude to feed my emotional conscience on the grieving of others.

I don't want to watch this; I cannot for one second conceive of the pain anyone with a connection to those events is going through. And I don't want to.

I was 14 when the twin towers happened. I was doing a school project at my friend Emma's house and my mother phoned to check I was OK. Of course I was OK, I remember thinking, I'm in a tiny village in rural England and this is happening in New York. I didn't really understand the way things like this shook adults; because I was a child and so it seemed like yet another film happening on the TV. We watched the coverage while doing our project, because deadlines weren't going to stop for us whatever happened in America, we had our priorities. We were children.

The media makes me feel I should be including myself in the coverage. Its asking me to be a part of it. I can't shake the feeling though... and I have no idea whether this is an acceptable way to feel... but, I can't shake the feeling, that it's really nothing to do with me. Yes, it was an atrocity that was aimed at people just like me, because of things that my society, and I, did and do. For all the things that 9/11 has stood for, my life has been impacted accordingly. I've lived with my country being war, I've had family members fighting over there, I've seen security and racial tensions tighten as a result.

But, for the memorial of the actual day; this is no place for me. I was a 14 year old cutting out shiny paper; I did not, and do not, grieve. I'm not meaning to speak cruelly; I don't not regret the loss of life, I wish it could have not happened, I think the world would be a better place had all those lives been saved. But, I can't grieve for people I didn't know and things that I didn't experience. I don't grieve for 9/11 any more than I am currently grieving for the starvation in Somalia. I can stop and consider the impact it has had on my life and on the world I live in, but that's all.

The media has done a curious thing to our reactions to death, in my opinion, we feel like we should be huddled together around a television watching the memorial services. Because we remember the day and because it was about something bigger. To me, and I may be in the minority, I think this is wrong. I think grieving is for the people who lost. The rest of us should be respectful enough to recognise that we are not grieving; what we have to deal with is something else. Ownership of an event is for the people in the eye of the storm and I dislike living in a world where it becomes something so strangely magnified via an external hand.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Some Sort of Someone

Today I did more housework than any human should be capable of doing before midday. I scrubbed, cleaned, washed, rinsed, scoured and hoovered. I hoovered until there was very little dust left in my room. You could staple an asthmatic to my bedroom floor and they would be absolutely fine. Then I realised that my new house mate went out for his birthday last night and was probably less than impressed with his anally retentive housemate sucking the living life out of the house. I'm frankly surprised the house is still standing given how much strategic dirt I've removed.

This afternoon I had an audition... to play an imaginary 8 year old boy. Now, I can't decide at the moment whether I'll be gutted if I get it because it means I'm a convincing 8 year old boy... or whether I'll be gutted if I don't get it because I (depressingly) know I'm perfect for the role and the Director obviously didn't realise my potential.

It's pretty much been a day of two halves; first half Cinderella, second much more Pinnocchio. What an identity crisis to have on a Saturday.

This evening I'm going to go and sample the delights of a sunset in St Albans. Let's just hope there's something in the air up there that helps me behave like a normal 24 year old. Pray for me.

Friday, September 9, 2011

There Goes My Face For The Winter


Today is either going to go down in history as the day people realised I had a thus far unforeseen talent for hair dressing, or, the day people finally woke up to the fact that, left to my own devices, I am dangerous.

I've only said four words today: "Happy Birthday" and "Oh, bye". These were to my house mate who left the house when I got up. Other than that I've been very alone. I don't like to be alone; I need company.

So, I was looking at the mirror after my shower and I thought, "Hey, that's a long fringe I've got there." Then I thought I should carry on getting dressed so I can go to the library and work on my play. I would work at home but I'm worried I'll start drafting it in bodily fluids if I don't surround myself with people soon.

Then I thought, "Maybe I should go to the hair dressers on my way to the library." But then the part of my brain that most closely resembles an X Factor auditionee who's gone there for Louis said, "We've got scissors here..." and then I cut my own fringe.

The amount you'll enjoy my new feature will strongly correlate to your opinion on triangles. If you're in the isosceles camp then you and I should probably hang out a lot over the next few weeks. If you're a fan of the film About A Boy starring Hugh Grant and an ugly child, get over here and we'll party. If you're a fan of the game, "Let's list worse things that could be on your forehead" then the Old Kent Road is the place for you today.

Obviously I've tweeted a picture to Lady Gaga so we can find out whether this is self harm or social trend setting. I've not heard back yet but someone on a withheld number did phone me up and laugh for 14 minutes earlier so there's good potential she's delivered a verdict.

I think the only solution is going to be to shave all of the hair off one side of my head so that everyone is very aware that I am making a statement. Then I'll need to think up a good statement or buy so much eye liner that no one bothers to ask me the statement because it's implied that the statement is so obvious that if they don't immediately get it then they are stupid.

Cardigans and skinny jeans are going to be essential for my new look. Unless sellotaping my fringe back on works, in which case I'm fine and I'll be in the library in an hour. If not, I'll be stopping at all charity shops between here and a cliff to try and remedy the situation. It's essential that there is a balaclava somewhere in my house though or I'm just going to slowly starve to death listening to the Jeremy Vine show.

I'm not sure this counts as Super September.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bothering Teabags

The majority of my day has involved stuffing some kind of inappropriate food into my mouth and hoping the consequences only add to the artery traffic rather than pushing it over the edge. If you've never eaten liquid cheese, that's right; not melted cheese, but liquid cheese, then I suggest you never do. However, if you do somehow manage to abstain from pumping this catastrophic substance past your canines then you will never experience what is now known as the "Liquid Cheese Highs and Body Palpitations".

I'm happy to be daft in public; in fact, if I'm out with someone who doesn't like to draw attention to themselves, it is almost my favourite way to spend a day. I quite enjoy singing to myself on pavements, making things in restaurants or just generally letting loose a little bit as and when. If I'm alone, I do it purely because I want to; I like exploring urges to do things in the same way children do. I dislike the thought that I do it for attention. However, if I'm out and about with someone shy, then their sheer embarrassment at someone having a little giggly playtime while people stare in horror is worth more money to me than you could stuff into a ten gallon hat.

Today I experienced the sort of Liquid Cheese High that had me singing to the waiter, stuffing napkins into crevices throughout Soho and incapable of using my own accent and voice. Glorious.

Unfortunately this was quickly followed up by a Liquid Cheese Body Palpitation in the form of a nose bleed. Yikes and cripes. Jings even. This rather irritating addition to my day could not have been timed better. There I am in a shop in Soho when all of a sudden my life source decides to go on an outing via my smell holes (the upper decks) - this doesn't particularly worry me, I get them all the time. I calmly go and sit in a chair and stuff a few errant napkins up my nose. All of a sudden I see an ex boyfriend of mine, he's wearing a t shirt which suggests he works in the store. He's coming towards me. Now, I have no ill feelings towards this guy at all... fine fellow, relationship ended fine... but I still don't particularly want to bump into him after 2 years whilst I have some recycled tree slowly being pumped with vein juice piped into my coke cavity.

As he approaches I try very hard to look casually at my shoes but somehow, heavens knows how, he manages to recognise the pig tailed napkin junkie in the corner with a rouge nose and pale face. What follows is one of the world's worst casual conversations (it's quite hard to be suave when you're snorting snot rags) and a promise of a coffee date that I think both parties hope to God will never come to fruition. Ah the trials of the Liquid Cheese diet.

This evening, after moving on to another restaurant where I couldn't decide on a pudding and so ordered three, I attended a screening and Q&A session about Neil Innes. Fascinating stuff. I only include this because I would like to seem cultured and less like a calorie guzzling bleeder who squanders her days being an attention seeking moron. Hooray for me.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Shine Up Your Old Brown Shoes

I visited Harrods today... Harrods is an incredible shop with a history that is absolutely fascinating.

Not very many people know that it was actually set up by Queen Elizabeth I during a period of her reign known as the Sassy Decade by historians who documented her years. Queen Elizabeth I (QEI) was famous in Elizabethan England for being, well, the Queen, but also for being a huge fan of dressing up in fancy pants and painting her face whiter than a fresh sheet of the old A4.

Being the Queen, she struggled a lot to go shopping - portrait artists for Ye Olde Heat Scroll were always out and about in the markets she tried to frequent. They would scribble nonsense rubbish about her and the men who were oft by her side for protection. She soon grew tired of it, because her management had made it very clear that if the gloss were to come off her "Virgin Queen" routine then she would be finished and would have no chance of cracking America. The Americans are very pious, see.

So, QEI decided to set up an emporium where she could shop in peace. Also, she was an enormous fan of escalators and had some big ideas for designing the fanciest escalators you could ever lay foot on. There were blue prints for all kinds of escalators... now, obviously in those days there was no electricity. QEI had to employ (we say employ... there are no pay records to prove it was consensual work) thousands of Spaniards to run beneath the escalators and keep them moving. In the director's cut off the film Labyrinth, they reveal that the idea for the final stairs scene was actually inspired by QEI and her dangerous obsession with tricky stair designs.

In the early days, there was no such thing as the Toy Room or the Designer Wear section - it was simply:

Things To Make Lizzy Smell Good (Rough translation from Olde English)
Things To Make Lizzy Look Good
Things To Make Lizzy Cook Good
Things To Make Lizzy Make Other People Jealous

After QEI passed away the shop space was handed down to her faithful court Jester - Jonathon Al Fayed - and it stayed in his family for generations until it became the gilded money hoarder haven that we know today. That's a lot of information to obtain on a Wednesday, I can only hope I've done it justice.

This Beast

I sat in the audience of a gig tonight and watched a comedian. Nothing special; I was literally just fulfilling about 30% of my duties as an audience member. The other 70% I sadly wasn't fulfilling (listening and laughing), the direction of causality here has yet to be determined. Personally, I think I stopped listening because I wasn't laughing but I'm willing to give the guy the benefit of the doubt and assume I couldn't have been laughing because I couldn't hear him.

I was literally just watching him. I was totally spellbound watching him pace back and forwards, stepping from side to side, lifting his feet awkwardly and then putting them down in strange shapes. Turning, twisting the microphone in his hand and then stepping backwards again as he delivered his new material to an eager crowd. He reminded me of a zoo animal in an advert to get you to give 50p a month to a talking dog, or a polar bear in a cage that was too small. I stopped listening completely as I tried to work out whether he was even particularly aware of the way he was moving and pacing. I didn't feel like he was.

It suddenly struck me, that sometimes performing live comedy is such an uncomfortable and "wrong" experience that you are literally trying to fight yourself to continue to do it. It was like, in the struggle to get all the words out in the right order, and calculate their effectiveness, he'd completely lost track of his limbs. I've been known to do this when Safety Dance gets too much for me, but watching it with detachment was very interesting.

Comedy is a barmy game; tonight I tried out some new material that has potential but needs a point, some more punchlines and then a rhythm before it's really going to work itself into a set. I find the idea of this so fascinating; I write my material fairly meticulously, word for word, a few times in my note book. I prepare exactly what I'm going to say and then I make a list of topics to cover, I step onto the stage and, when faced with the audience, instantly start chopping and changing it around and editing on the fly. It's like you get given a tiny insight into what is and what isn't going to work; just right there. Sometimes you can reshuffle a gag; sometimes it's too late and you bomb. But, what I find interesting is that, I at least, cannot seem to do the final editing on paper - it needs to have the "in the moment" mind melt and energy exchange of the audience.

Apologies if all of the above is rambling nonsense - it was interesting when I was thinking about it. Sometimes putting things in to words other people will understand is a lot harder than I think it's going to be... I may need to buy myself a paint brush and/or a harmonica with a laser....

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Universe Via The Bowl

Once upon a time there will have been a person who ate something, like a piece of bacon, and that bacon went into their tummy and gave them a load of energy. Then, a bit later they went to the toilet and sat on the seat and some of the bacon energy came out through their thighs. This energy hung around in the toilet seat for a while until you came along and sat down and then the little squiggly bacon energy climbed out of the toilet seats and into your own thighs.

Now, even though you didn't eat the bacon, you've got some of the bacon energy hanging around in your thighs until you pass it on to someone else. You can't destroy it, see, because it's energy. The energy didn't even start with the bacon; it started with the pig (or the mushroom if it's Quorn bacon/Fakeon) who must have eaten some swill and then had all the energy in him until the first toilet person ate it.

So your thighs are made of potato peelings and weird mushy food, which have been through a pig, which have been through someone else, out through their thighs, into a toilet seat, and out again into your thighs.

I'm not sure what this means but I'm sure it's very important so have a think and we'll reconvene tomorrow.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Neighbours Everybody Needs

I got home yesterday to find the people with the house opposite my room were having a party. Not just any party - this was the sort of party where they made their own music; loudly. Music that, had I not seen a guitar, was not necessarily distinguishable as music. This was the kind of singing and strumming that you would expect if someone grabbed any member of Girls Aloud, put a gun to their head and said "PLAY ME MR TAMBOURINE MAN NOW BITCH OR YOU WILL DIE".

I imagine the individuals at this gathering had imbibed a fair amount of alcohol and then decided to express their pleasure via the magic of noise. It was guttural, it was pure, it was painful. Had I not opened the blinds I'd have been fairly convinced that I was listening to the back catalogue of Israel's entries to the Eurovision song contest. Obviously I'm a big Eurovision fan and so this wasn't a problem based on any kind of moral or taste factors - it was just an issue of it being supremely late, me wanting to watch West Wing in peace after an amazing day (Twickenham double header followed by one of the best comedy line ups I could have dreamed).

Once, when I was in Bradford, a particularly forthright taxi driver told me that he would never even consider moving to London because it was a horrible place. I hesitated to ask him to take a quick peek out the window and explain why he had settled here instead. He said to me, "I bet you don't even know your neighbours" and I thought - "Of course I don't! I only know my house mates because we share a kettle." I didn't think this was particularly weird. I lived in a tiny village in Somerset for the first 18 years of my life and I didn't know most of my neighbours then either... am I a deeply unsociable person or is this just standard practise for the modern world?

It would worry me that if I sought out these people and attempted friendship based purely on geography, it would be blindingly obvious that we hadn't hit it off when we suddenly stopped talking after the initial chit chat. Surely you can only begin to become friends with the people around you if you naturally find some reason to interact?

Isn't this why the good lord invented postmen with their little red slips that tell you number 82 have your parcel? My new winter coat last year is the only reason I have ever spoken to any of the people who live in my street. Surely even in Bradford people don't just bake up enough cookies for everyone and then hope that only the good folks open their front door to your welcoming knock?

Should I have grabbed a few cans and a grass skirt last night and hopped over the fence to play strumalong, instead of lying in my bed scowling and wishing Sam Seaborn hadn't departed so early? Perhaps I would have done if I lived in Bradford... but had I been murdered last night, I really can't see the police thinking "Poor girl, just trying to help out with the Big Society and she was hacked to death by an ex-Israeli popstrel with a badly tuned guitar". They would have thought - "Why on earth, in this day, age and post code would you a) leave your house after dark, and b) willingly go into a house that is emitting torture noises?"

It's not that it wouldn't be nice to meet all your neighbours; after all, how else do you get ideas for sitcoms and ways to start affairs, I just don't think it's a realistic aim when, for financial reasons, you're living on the sort of road Sesame Street warned would happen if you didn't listen in school. Perhaps at my next residence I will aim to be the hostess with the mostess and have people dropping by for high tea all the time... but after last night I think it might be purely recorded music.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Pretty Frank

Yesterday, my good friend had a wicked time convincing me I was going to die alone because I don't necessarily link sex and affection. Incidentally if we're related you might be more comfortable looking away now. I'm not going to do any sketches, don't worry - not least because that would most likely just be me drawing on the computer screen as I have no idea how to get a picture into the computer - but I would like to explain why I'm not mental for having this opinion.

It's not that I don't enjoy affection - affection is absolutely lovely - I just think it's quite a different thing from getting it on with someone. This doesn't mean I don't have feelings for the men I've ever slept with, I just don't really enjoy dusting them off and singing about rain drops while I'm getting PHYSICAL.

Now, last night my wind up merchant of a friend had a wonderful time telling my disinterest in cuddling and or eye contact made me an automaton who would one day bark at small children. I'm not that adverse to the concept of barking at small children, but I refuse to admit it's because I like my sex with a backbone.

And, yes, obviously his winding up of yours truly has worked to the point where I'm still thinking about it this morning - but - well, I have no defence of this. I just want to check that I'm perfectly normal for thinking you can switch off the more sensitive side of yourself when you want to have a more industrious evening? Do the affection after! Cook a lasagne whilst singing along to Tony Bennett and brushing various people's hair - just keep your feelings out of my sex please.

Incidentally, I'm not a terrible bed hopping slut - I have made it my life's ambition to try and limit the number of people who might be able to do a startlingly accurate representation of where my body deviates from the normal shapes of humans. That way, when the internet suddenly springs up a page called "Shapes No Man Should Ever Have To Deal With", I will have a decent starting point as to who is responsible.

I don't think sex has to necessarily ruin friendships either; I'll never quite understand people who have an awkward fumble and then find it impossible to look each other in the eye afterwards; get over it. I'm not sure why some people think sex has mystical properties. Of course it's great - why do you think we consciously and sub consciously spend the vast majority of our days trying to make other people want to sleep with us - but it just a thing. It's not like once someone's had sex with you they all of a sudden hold the key to all your inner secrets and can use them against you whenever they see fit.

I'd feel far weirder with someone if I woke up next to them with a banging hangover having just sung along to an entire Celine Dion album and told them about every argument I've ever had with my mother whilst showing them my scrap book entitled "Smells I Shouldn't Have Been Able To Make", than if I woke up to find we'd had some sex but he knew nothing more about me than he did 12 hours ago.

I'm not sure if I've gone wrong somewhere in my opinions on this... it seems quite logical to me: sure, you have to be very careful with sex and I certainly don't advocate sleeping with everyone you meet. But, if you want to, and you do it safely (and brilliantly) why be embarrassed about it? Why have to pretend it really meant something? It did mean something - it meant you felt great... don't feel you've got to ladle on some deep and meaningful to go with it.

So there we go. There were some thoughts on that. Family members can resume normal scanning of my daily life to check I'm alive/not in a cult/still got 4 limbs. Consider me successfully wound up.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Super September is Underway!

Super September got off to a banging start with an excellent gig at Downstairs at the King's Head - I sucked up my usual nerves and ploughed through 5 minutes of brand new material which was mostly received very well. An excellent start. It then took me about 2 hours and what felt like £5,000 on my Oyster card to get back from Crouch End to Old Kent Road. I just don't think buses in the dark will ever make a lot of sense to me... it's like  all logic suddenly vanishes from my consciousness and every decision I make is the wrong one. In the future I will only live in cities where bus drivers are:

a) friendly
b) wearing green jumpers if they are driving a bus that will get me home

Obviously I am now home though (have been for a few hours), sitting in a towel listening to Will Young's new album (because my social experiment to see if I'll still worship him when I'm well into my twenties is going excellently well) and looking forward to being brilliant for the rest of the month.

Now, while most people wouldn't see sitting on their bed in a towel with absolutely no plans as being a particularly successful day - but they are wrong. There are tonnes of things that could be less successful than today, and most of those I've done this week already (in the bit that was still August so it doesn't count).

One thing I have been working incredibly hard on is not contacting the dreaded ex... now, before you kick off and exclaim to me that I should definitely be totally over him by now, save your breath - I've given myself that stern lecture, I half listened and then I gave myself a mouthful back about how I am over him but I am just naturally a hoarder - whether it is old receipts, greetings cards from people I no longer speak to, or meaningful relationships; I am a clinger.

He contacted me at the beginning of the week and, whilst this is usually enough to send me into a tail spin, this time it felt different - I felt a bit detached, but nonetheless curious... is this good progress? Having never really had any other significant liaisons, I don't really have a template for knowing whether this is a good state of affairs. I'm going to say that it is.

Having satisfied my curiosity and found out he is well, I realised that contact with a long finished ex is a bit like watching Nickleodeon as an adult; you sort of smile fondly and realise that, as an adult, you just don't understand why there are so many talented twins in America, can very clearly see all the reasons Ray and Lisa aren't together, but you still wish your best friend came in through the window with his own ladder. As a child you just hummed the theme tune and frequently forgot to flick back after the music channels in the ad break - now that you're grown you're starting to question the lyricism of "sibling synchronicity".

Of course, it helps that this particular instalment of "Laura being a dickhead because a long forgotten man friend gets in touch" fell straight after the delights of Edinburgh - if nothing else Edinburgh is very good for making it supremely easy to swear at people whether they have wronged you or not. Edinburgh 2011 saw me call a lady (approximately 72) an asshole. This is obviously not something I would do in the real world (I won't say I'm not proud though), but she thoroughly deserved it. I like to think she will change her way of dealing with people in the streets having been dressed down and told to learn some manners by a ludicrously over tired midget wearing a sandwich board.

So, all in all super September is thus far certainly super. It will get entirely more super tomorrow when there's rugby and a trip to Twickenham to get busy with. Chin up folks, I get the feeling we might actually be able to cure something big this month...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Make It A Good One


It's September - I love September. I love the smell, the weather, the trees, the colours, the stuff that happens. Everything about this month is going to be great - I have officially decided. Here is a list of stuff that's going to happen to me this month;

1. I'm going to learn how to paint my toe nails without getting lots of paint all over my toes and then washing it all off. This will mean that by the time summer comes round next year I will be one of those glam people at the beach who looks effortlessly great and has vibrant toe nails. I feel like vibrant toe nails will help to give the impression I am incredibly chic and have everything under control.

2. I will once again consider learning French fluently so that I can happily just up sticks and move there should exactly the right cottage become available. That way, me and my perfect toe nails can go and operate the lock and grow peonies and I will be the mysterious British woman who never talks about her past. The only reason I won't talk about my past is that it's very dull and if the French people knew the truth then the local children would stop thinking I was magic and I would be bored.

3. I'll turn 25. Once I'm 25 I'll start toying with the idea that I'm genuinely going to live past 30. It's occurred to me recently that (very subconsciously) I don't really consider myself living past 30. Not in a morbid sense, I just struggle to cope with the concept of not having completed everything by the time I'm a thirty something. I am officially going to chill out around 25 and start enjoying myself rather than being a little on the irritating side of uptight. Wish me luck with this because it sure as fuck is not going to come naturally.

4. I'm going to write to the people who have made the latest JML hair trimmer advert and tell them that no one sitting on the sofa during the day wants to watch a man go from shaving his nasal hair to his back hair in one easy step. Trimming hair off a man is something only people being paid in cold hard cash should have to do. Removing hair from hard to reach places very nearly caused the premature end to a relationship I was once in; my boyfriend at the time asked me to pluck (yes, that's right, pluck) the stray hairs from his shoulders and back for him. I, like any sane woman, refused point blank and then yakked up a large amount of stomach acid at the thought. He countered by telling me his ex used to do it happily for him... it's not that he was surprised at how quickly I packed up his stuff, called his ex to warn her he was coming and then smacked the tweezers out of his clammy hand... but he didn't ask me to pluck anything again. Gross.

I think that's a fair amount to set myself to achieve in a month - obviously I could start with the big things like getting some money in or achieving something great, but I feel like September is a good month for being manageable.