Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Just Do Nothing

I thought during lockdown maybe I could start my blog again and send my manuscript off to agents and get really into yoga and write my novel and clean the flat from top to bottom and practice my French and in reality, I've watched a lot of TV.

You know, it's alright to do nothing.

I saw a Tweet the other day that said 'If you don't start you side hustle during lockdown then the problem wasn't that you never had enough time, it's that you never had the motivation.' (Or words to that effect.)

That's rubbish. If you don't start your 'side hustle' (erghhh) during lockdown it's because there's a fucking worldwide pandemic going on and you're lucky to be alive and well.

Don't feel the pressure to be your best lockdown self. Just be in lockdown, that's enough.

If you fancy doing a bit of exercise, I've been doing Frame's 80s aerobics class, you can sign up to their online classes for £10 a month but I think you can try one for free first:

It's so fun! They play the music loud and yell over the top of it, which is great – I can't concentrate enough to do a quiet yoga class right now:

https://online.moveyourframe.com/

And if you can't get hold of any yeast and want to make something bready (which is all of us, right?*) this flatbread recipe makes really nice pizzas!

https://www.you.co.uk/tart-london-flatbread-pizza-recipe/

But if you don't want to do any exercise or cook anything, don't! Just eat biscuits, watch telly or stare out of the window, and wait. We're all just waiting to see what happens next aren't we? Not exactly a fucking driver of creativity, when you've got one eye on your health (Have I got a cough or am I just thirsty???) and one eye on the impending apocalypse.

Anyway, this song is SOOOOO GOOOD:




*It disputes the theory some people have that we're all secretly wheat-intolerant and actually weren't made to eat bread... the fact that during a pandemic, we're all craze-buying flour and baking loaves of bread – even people who have never baked a cake before – as if we've returned to some kind of bread-obsessed primal state and we, proves that we were indeed meant to eat bread, don't you think?)

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Locked Down

Welcome to Crazy Town.

Last week, after two days working from home, I drank a beer in the bath, in the dark, and sang Memory from Cats to myself.

I actually love working from home, I'm lucky that I'm able to and that the agency I work for as been as busy as ever. I really thought I'd have more time to blog.

Anyway, I just wanted to post a little something to say hello to any old readers.

I started this last week, before I realised how much work I had to do:

Well look what the coronavirus dragged in...

If it isn't old Left Bank Manc, come crawling out of the woodwork to tell us about her weekend in Paris, as if it's 2010 again and we haven't all aged 10 years and gone into self-isolation... 

MAIS, C'EST VRAI!


I've been working from home for approximately one hour and already I'm trying to bring the blog back.


Isn't this just the most head-fucking, stomach-lurching, reality-questioning time? Who would have guessed, when we were all flitting about Paris, that in ten years time the whole city would be on lockdown, with people in masks queueing up to buy baguettes, like in some dystopian arthouse film? 


And no, I'm not in Paris now, by the way; I was there at the weekend, when the city went into lockdown. (Although I guess it was only semi-lockdown, compared with how it is at the moment.)


Let me tell you the tale in excruciating detail, just like the good old days before I became self-aware and realised that my weekends aren't interesting enough to warrant a 2000-word essay each.


Soooo we were a bit anxious about going to Paris, given the corona scare. But up until a few days ago, I honestly didn't realise what a big deal it was... I thought the situation was bad in China, and Italy, and Itan, but as the UK government wasn't testing people coming in and out of the country, and the number of cases was still minuscule, I just thought the media was scaremongering to be honest.


Last week, everything in France seemed fine. On Wednesday, Macron made a speech imploring French people to carry on as normal. On Friday, they closed the schools. On Saturday, me, Lauren and Claire arrived at an eerily quiet Eurostar terminal at St Pancras.


We drank prosecco on the train like we normally would, and shared crisps and dips (after using hand sanitizer, of course), but there was a slight tension on the train, as if everyone was wondering if this was all ok or not.


As soon as we got out of the station, any fears disappeared. It was balmy, busy, the sky was that gorgeous, glowing grey/blue you only get on Paris evenings, and we were glad we'd gone.


I know it's a cliche, but Paris does not change. It's been seven years since I left, and every time I go back it's as if everything is just the way I left it. The metro lines I used to use, my favourite restaurants and bars, the faint smell of wee that lingers on every street corner... it's all exactly the same. It still feels like home.


We went to Abby's apartment in East Paris (it's the kind of place I dreamed of living in when I was in my little Cinderella room; all wood and light, with a separate bathroom and a bedroom partitioned off with glass panels) and then out to dinner at my old fave, Les Parigots.


It was so nice to see Abby again! (Older blog readers will remember she was my first Actual French Person friend, and she's how I met Julia, who now lives on the other side of France.) 


She's been travelling the world for months, after having the shittest couple of years you can imagine, and was finally ready to rebuild her life in Paris... enter coronavirus.


Everything started so well. I had a steak, even though I'm a vegetarian now (because you can't go to Paris and not have a big bloody steak) and we all got crème brûlée for pudding. We were just about to get another bottle of red wine when Abby looked at her phone and said 'Putain'. They'd just announced that all the bars and restaurants would be closing at midnight.


It didn't feel real. We ordered more wine, and a tart citron to share (we debated ordering French onion soup as it would be our last chance to have it over the weekend, but we were too full).


That's as far as I got. 

You can imagine the rest... we walked back to the metro, down Rue Oberkampf, and the streets were full of people being kicked out of bars and restaurants. The police came hurting down the street, sirens blaring, and they all just got out of their cars and stood around looking unsure of themselves. An English stag group staggered past, and we heard one of them 'What the fuck is going on?'

The next day we went to the woods, along with half of Paris, and had a lovely day in the sunshine. That night they made an announcement on TV. 'Stop going to the bloody woods and having picnics in the park.'

We stayed in, drank wine, Abby cooked us a lovely meal, and we got a bit hysterical playing that game where you all draw a bit of a character. When we unfolded them, to reveal the full drawing and a name we'd written, they were nightmarish. A staring pumpkin head on an Eiffel Tower body, with no arms, called Susan. A weirdly attractive muscly man, with a merman's tail and teeny monster feet. 
A horse's head with a big swinging dick and tutu. He was strangely our favourite.

Anyway. We got back to England fine. And then exactly the same thing happened: they told people to stay away from each other, and they didn't, so now we're on 'lock down'. People aren't really listening to government advice so I guess they'll have to take stricter and stricter precautions. 

It's all happened so suddenly hasn't it? 

Abby's dad has got corona virus, which is fucking shit. But it sounds like he's getting better already.

Fingers crossed.

Hope you're all safe and well! 


Friday, 14 June 2019

Whatever happened to the Birthday Monster?

Does anyone remember Birthday Monster?

Now I am older, my Birthday Monster has mellowed out a lot. He's happy to go with the flow. He's 'wound his neck in', so to be speak. He's shed his thick, bristling fur to reveal soft, downy skin like one of those naked cats. He's so much less high maintenance now.

His ears still prick up when anyone asks me, 'So what are you doing for your birthday?' but now he does not react, merely listens, simply interested rather than enraged. 

He nods as he hears me say, 'Oh probably won't do much, can't be bothered to be honest.' 

He shrugs when he hears me say at a later date, 'I think I'd quite like to do some casual drinks, actually.

He barely reacts when, the next week, he watches me invite people to 'My 30th Birthday Drinks' WhatsApp group; he just sits, thoughtfully stroking his fringed cloak, which has somehow unfolded itself and crept down from the top of the wardrobe.

He is silent when, in a WhatsApp group of my old work friends, the conversation turns to planning a weekend away together and somebody proposes the first weekend of July and everyone else says they are free that weekend even though that is the weekend of my 30th birthday drinks thing. I am silent too; we are silent together. We do not want to bring attention to our birthday as not all the old work friends are invited (we suspect one of them is cheating on his girlfriend and we will not have that sort of thing at our birthday), so we cannot mention it but also we do not want to mention it out of principle. 

Anyone who wants to come to my birthday party would have written it in their diary, right? 'Right,' soothes my smooth-skinned imaginary friend. (I cannot call him Birthday Monster anymore, perhaps he should have a new name.)

He approves of my plan to make a new WhatsApp group with all the same people minus the old works friend who have forgotten about it. He is understanding when I abandon this plan as it is petty and ridiculous and also who gives a fuck? He agrees with me that it is much better to be silent and wait for one of them to realise and say, 'Oh shit mate hang on isn't that your birthday thing?' and I can just reply breezily, 'No worries.'

My little friend knows all this because – and this is just dawning on me but maybe I knew it all along – he is now Birthday Martyr.

We can take or leave birthdays, can't we Birthday Martyr? 

He smizes at me, a picture of serenity, stroking his cloak absent-mindedly. By his feet, I spy that little birthday hat he used to wear with such aplomb... strange how it has ended up on the floor. Even stranger, it has somehow become all scrunched out of shape, as if someone has been holding it tightly in their little fist.



Just found this very old photo from 2012 (almost seven years ago, where does the time go??):








Saturday, 12 January 2019

How to be a Copywriter

I am editing my blog into a book. Don't laugh. When I say editing I mean HEAVILY editing, as there are a lot of grammar and spelling mistakes and typos, and loads of posts where I start with 'Let me tell you about the amazing thing that just happened to me' and then digress into tales of babysitting and buying Milka chocolate and then either never mention the amazing thing again, or bring it up five months later for No Reason.

Old Left Bank Manc readers may be surprised that I am a now copywriter, as it requires serious attention to detail and sometimes, people will ask you how to spell words from across the office and you have to shout back 100% correct first time without hesitating or you look like a FRAUD. (Once for 'a laugh' I shouted back random letters and then while the designer typed them in silence, getting more and more confused, my brain brought up the real spelling for me. When I am a very old, very senior copywriter I think I will do that all the time until people know to stop asking me.)

ANYWAY.

I thought that I would write down how I became a copywriter in case anyone is interested. If you love writing it is a great job. Of course being a novel writer or a poet might be your first choice, but if you don't have the luxury of spending a year or two 'working on your novel' without doing much else (in my heart of hearts I know that if I was really able to write novels, I would have been able to juggle my writing with bartending, but in reality, when I first moved to London, working in a pub a) made it hard to pay rent and b) made it hard to see any friends or have any kind of life.

SO here is what happened that made me become a copywriter:

1.
Emailed a website called House and Heels, which publishes articles about house music, which at the time I was bang into (I have no idea what's happening nowadays, which is sad) and fashion, which I'm always into. They emailed back and basically said it started as a uni project, so no money in it, but that I could write content for them if I fancied. And I fancied!

2.
Emailed hundreds (OK like 50) marketing agencies introducing myself, sending links to my best Left Bank Manc articles and asking if they needed any content writers, two got back to me. One while I was still in Paris, asking me to write a one-off article for them about 'off the beaten track' Paris (I got fifty quid for that I think) and another said they would have regular content work for me, which I started once I'd moved to London.

3.
I moved to London in September, got a pub job and started writing content articles for the marketing agency. They gave me a couple of examples to make sure I was alright, and then they started sending me more and more articles. I was paid eight quid an article (only 800 words), so I learnt how to write each one EXTREMELY fast, so that I was at least getting paid sixteen quid. They paid me through Paypal (just in case you ever get work like this and wonder if Paypal makes it dodgy) and wouldn't pay me until I had registered as self-employed. So it was all above board but took a long time to sort out. The 'articles' were pieces of content for mad brands, e.g. '5 times famous footballers won big at the casino' for a gambling site, or 'Top tips for surviving your first term' for a car insurance company that wanted to target students. Absolute crap.

4.
A lovely copywriter friend of Glasgow Laura's called Claire, who I made a couple of times in Paris, sent me a link to a copywriting internship. I applied, sending the content articles I had written (didn't mention my blog at this point as realised it was full of swearing and shagging and somehow it felt weird letting them know the Real Me, when I might be working in an office with them). I got it!

5.
Just before I started my internship, the au pair family had emailed asking me if I would return to Paris. I was SO tempted as life was pretty shit at the time, but I thought I should at least give the internship a go... The work was great, writing for fashion advertising campaigns and in-store stuff, and after three months they offered me the position of Junior Copywriter and that was that!

Now I'm a Senior Copywriter, working for a lovely agency, writing for foodie clients. I LOVE IT.

If you have any questions, comment below and I will get back to you.

If you're not interested in being a copywriter hopefully you didn't read all the way to the end.

Happy Saturday!



Wednesday, 14 November 2018

November

I've got a new job. Praise me, I mean praise be!

I'm so excited. It is a million times better than my current job in every single way. I am genuinely excited to do the work that I will be doing (one of the clients I will be writing for is in my top five favourite brands), whereas currently my day is split evenly between: making tea, drinking tea, staring out of the window, stretching and sighing, and reading recipes online.

Today I have been quite productive actually. I have written a spell to make Boris Johnson fall into a hole. I really feel that it could work. Please feel free to light a candle tonight and incant it in a hoarse whisper like a spooky lunatic.

Jen gave me the idea. In my WhatsApp group with Lauren, Jen and Claire we were all trying not to get worked up about Brexit and Jen said 'I wish Boris would fall into a hole'. And I realised that he SHOULD fall into a fucking hole. He absolutely needs to.

And so I wrote this spell. You never know, it could work! Stranger things have happened. (It doesn't wish him serious harm so I don't think the karmic implications are too dire. Anyway, the shit that Brexit is about to slick across all our lives is dire enough. I think we get a karma pass, don't you?)

WISHING SPELL, WISHING SPELL
GRANT MY WISH
FOR A MAN THATCHED OF HEAD
AND EVIL OF HEART,
WHITE BLOND LIKE ICE
AND THINKS HIMSELF SMART.
I WISH THAT HE FALLS
DOWN A HOLE DARK AND DEEP
NOT SERIOUSLY INJURED
BUT EMBARRASSED AND MEEK
WISHING SPELL, WISHING SPELL
GRANT MY WISH
MAKE BORIS JOHNSON
FALL INTO A HOLE.

On the bright side, Christmas is coming and I am BUZZING for it. I start my new job after Christmas so I am not going to go mad on Lidl's snide Bailey's like I did last year, resulting in streaks of festive acne along both sides of my jaw. But I can still be merry and bright. And maybe Boris Johnson will fall into a hole!!!! We can do it!!!! Visualise it!!!! This video will help.

See you on the other side of Christmas, probably!

Thursday, 6 September 2018

September

Fuck it. I'm writing a blog post from work, I have nothing to do, absolutely nothing to do.

We've moved offices, to the Strand, I'm writing this looking out of a huge wide window, it's great for people watching. And it's so strange, because Mum used to work in Somerset House, when she lived in London and before I was born (obviously). I popped out the other day for lunch to explore the area (we've only been here for a few days) and I was struck with this weird nostalgic feeling, for Mum's lunchtimes. She told me once about going to a local sandwich shop, where she'd eat a weird combination that at the time everyone thought was great (grapes and hummus? I can't remember now) and one of the guys in there took a shining to her, and the old fellers would call him out from the back when she came in, "Your friend's here."

All those lunchtimes of walking up and down the Strand, little did she know that in thirty-odd years her grown-up daughter would be doing the same thing, while she was back up north, living in Another Northern Mill Town, with her son too (he moved in with her this week, to save money for travelling, he's got a one-way ticket to Vietnam and I'm very excited/terrified for him).

I love this window, even if I can mainly see buses going up and down. I can see a couple of theatres too, I won't say which ones in case my ultra determined (and ultra fictional) stalkers are reading.

This job. What the hell is it.

I'm just trying to enjoy having money. Moved in with my boyfriend at the weekend, I live in Walthamstow now, it's in Zone 3 but we've managed to get a two-bedroom flat and it's close to the marshes and wetlands. Every window looks out onto trees, I wonder if they'll turn red and gold soon, or if they'll just drop all their leaves, leaving us our windows all naked and exposed.

My boyfriend was at a stag do in Margate on the weekend we moved in, so I was there on my own, unpacking. The flat looked so spacious with one person's stuff in. On Monday when he brought his stuff over from his friend's house, we realised that I had used up most of the storage, so flat is a bit messy now. Oops.

I was worried about him going on the stag do, to be honest, as he told me about one in the past where they all shot BB guns and someone gave the groom an electric shock. I needn't had worried this time, however. he got there too late to go clubbing on Friday night (they came back at 11pm, all very drunk and tired), everyone slept in and missed the paint-balling they'd booked on Saturday afternoon, then they got to Dreamland just as it was closing. He told me this on the Saturday night on the phone. "What are you going to do then?" I asked, and he said 'mushroom tea'. Someone drank his while he was on the phone to me, so in the end he ordered a pizza and had an early night.

It's funny isn't it, how you can get old with without think you are? I mean, I know I'm not old. But moving in with a boyfriend (Lauren moved in with her boyfriend, by the way) is quite an old thing to do, even if loads of people in London seems to do it as soon as they both move here from uni.

I've been reading my old Left Bank Manc posts, I was literally still a teenager in my mind, thinking I was grown-up because I was in my twenties. LOL. I acted like a child. My spelling was terrible. I did stupid, ridiculous, dangerous things.

It's a shame I haven't been blogging since I moved to London, because it would be nice to look back as a fifty-year-old woman and think 'Wow, I was literally still a teenager in my mind, thinking I was grown-up because I was almost thirty."


Thursday, 28 June 2018

Back to Paz

Sneaky blog post at work!

I am going to Paris tomorrow I am so excited, can’t quite believe it. Haven’t been back for three years. All I want to do is eat bread by the river. I haven’t told the au pair family I will be in Paris, I reckon the kids are too old too care now. Right?

The youngest girl follows me on Instagram so can’t post any pics. Don’t know what to do.

Will worry about it another day. I just want to finish work now, pack and go to bed.

PARIS IT’S BEEN FOREVER!!

I’ve forgotten all my French. Maybe I will collapse under the weight of all the nostagia.