Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Present Past and Future- Weddings and NYE

If you read my last blog post, you could be forgiven for thinking I was nine years old. After the events of the weekend it appears I am in fact a bit older than nine... apparently I am old enough to go to a friend's wedding and make an absolute arse of myself.

I thought I had at least a decade left before I transformed into an embarrassing, drunken wedding stock character mais non, that was me on Saturday.

Praise the rain, I did not act alone.

Me and my friend Claire* travelled from Stockport to St Helens to see Chesh- our friend from uni- get married. Since we left uni, Chesh is one of the girls I haven't seen very often, even though we lived together for two years. It's always the same though, when we meet up. I'm so glad we were invited to the wedding. I just hope Chesh doesn't now regret inviting us...

Chesh has been with her boyfriend- sorry husband- for seven years and while we were at uni she'd talk about engagement rings and wedding dresses, so it was surreal actually being there on her wedding day. The ceremony was in a Catholic church and as Claire isn't Catholic, I took the opportunity to point things out to her, like The Stations of the Cross. She found it amusing that we were sat next to a charming wooden carving of a naked Jesus being forced onto a cross and having nails driven into his hands... Lovely decor.

I haven't been to church for so long that I'd forgotten a lot of things- like making the sign of the cross towards the alter before you sit on the benches, for example- but Claire egged me on to get communion. I felt like a bit of a fraud and half-expected the priest to challenge me on my Catholic credentials before he gave me a bit of Jesus's wafery flesh to pop in my mouth, but he didn't. When I got back to my seat with Jesus stuck to the roof of my mouth, I automatically got to my knees and started praying. Claire looked horrified and asked me what I was doing, just like Kayt did when I fell to my knees in the Notre-Dame.

Most of the time I think I definitely don't believe in God but sometimes I think I am definitely going to hell and I need to confess all my sins ASAP... so I always make sure I have communion if it's on offer. Better to be safe than BURNING IN HELL.

As we had both talked to Chesh A LOT about her wedding day when we were at uni, me and Claire made some very accurate guesses about the dresses. The bridesmaids were in a pale olive green (we guessed teal), Chesh's mum was wearing an olive green suit and a fabulous hat (we guessed the right outfit, but said the colour blue) and Chesh wore a vintage wedding dress, overlaid with beaded lace and flaring out into a long trail. We debated if she would go for her signature Red Lip- she did and we were so glad.

I surprised myself by crying when the couple said their vows. Chesh's voice started breaking and that set all the girls in the pews off. For me, weddings are normally all about the bride's dress and the alcohol, but Chesh kept smiling at the groom- a really big, genuine smile- and it got me, good and proper.

I had a moment of 'This is a really beautiful, lovely thing and I'm so happy for her' and that's probably the only none-disgusting thing I did all day. Once we started drinking our decorum went to shit.

(I've just remembered! Towards the end of mass, when you shake hands with those around you, Claire was saying 'All the best, take care mate' instead of 'Peace be with you.)

We were quite well behaved during the meal, but after the speeches Claire wrote #LADS in the guest book and from there we spiralled into silliness. Our other friend from uni, Jen, arrived from Gatwick. She'd come straight from a skiing holiday in Italy and she'd made a stop at the Duty Free.

Luckily we were staying at the hotel, so while everyone waited for the banqueting hall to be turned into a disco for the evening do, we sat in our room and drank some of Jen's duty free goods. Somehow on our way from the room to the reception, we ended up posing for very crude, silly photos. The only photo of me from the whole wedding is of me bumming Jen in a corridor... I can't help feeling that we let Chesh down.

We managed to chat to Chesh a little bit in the evening do, but she was so busy being a bride all night and making sure she got round to everyone, that we spent most of the evening in our disgraceful little threesome, somehow ostracising ourselves from the rest of the guests without noticing.

When Claire staggered off to get three Jagerbombs, Jen pretended to go to to the toilet to be sick... Really she sneaked off to our room and went to sleep, leaving me and Claire to get drunker and drunker, sillier and sillier.

Claire started doing a 'sexy' dance to make me laugh, as in a ridiculous stripper-style dance that we would never do in real life and therefore find very amusing, but as nobody else at the wedding knew who we were, perhaps in hindsight it looked as if she was genuinely sexy dancing.In her defense, I must make it clear that Claire was on the edge of the dance floor and nobody else was watching. (That we could see.)

Deep down inside, we're all little kids who just want to make our friends laugh. So the more I laughed, the more outrageous Claire became. She brought in a chair. I laughed more. She sat backwards on the chair... You get the picture. It got to the point where Claire was upside down on the chair doing the scissors with her legs and I was crying, with pains in my stomach, laughing so hard I thought I was going to be sick.

Then. Chesh appeared out of nowhere, a vision in white. She bent down and told Claire to stop it.

"James' family are very conservative!" she said.

We'd been told off. We'd disgraced ourselves. We should have gone to bed, but we didn't.

We continued to strut around the dance floor, clicking with our eyes half-closed, like two pervy uncles. The Dirty Dancing song came on and we start doing The Routine. I announced that I would be Patrick Swayze and for a while we had quite a good dance going... Claire ended up half-way across the dance floor so I shouted at her to run to me- I would catch her and lift her up, like in the film.

You can guess what happened.

Two seconds later, we were being helped up off the floor and Chesh said, "Girls, you're going to hurt yourselves."

Luckily we weren't hurt, we were laughing like two silly idiots. The worst thing is, Claire can't remember why we fell over and I pretended I couldn't either... I knew very well it was all my fault.

We started dancing again and for some reason I pretended to be a little old Irish man. I patted Claire on the back and said, "You're alright, I've got you, I've got you" whilst trying to lift her up again by one leg. While I was doing this, Claire was laughing and saying "I'm going to wet myself I'm going to wet myself."

I have no idea what everyone else must have thought and I hope I never find out.

The next morning at 7am Claire woke me and Jen up by shouting, "Oh god oh god oh god. I'm lying in a bed of shame."

We went down to breakfast so we could say goodbye to Chesh. Claire apologised for her behaviour and Chesh said she will visit us for a proper catch up in London soon. I hope she really meant it and that she hasn't washed her hands of us. Chesh and her new husband looked so fresh and wholesome, all clean hair and ski jumpers. I felt rough and grubby, head hanging in shame over my Full English breakfast.

So, not exactly on our best behaviour. Our excuse is that we hadn't had a night out together since we finished uni four years ago and it was technically still the Christmas Period of Excessive Drinking.

I can't believe it's NYE...

And I'm working.

The deputy manager who I'll be working with tonight said I can wear a 'nice top' and do 'nice hair and make-up', but what's the point in putting lipstick on if I'm just going to be stood behind the bar with a face like a slapped arse all night?

If I could get hold of some valium, I wouldn't mind going straight home from work and knocking myself out until next year, but I don't have any. I know I'll get home and feel all wired from work. I don't fancy watching Jools Holland on my own, stuffing myself with Christmas cheese and chocolate and crying.

The weird thing is, a couple of years ago I came to London for NYE and  my cousin had a party. We left it  to go and see her boyfriend in work... and his work was the pub where I now work!!! If I would have known then that I'd be spending a future NYE there, behind the bar... I probably wouldn't have left fucking Paris.

*I know I mention this every time I write 'me and someone' but I want you to know that I know it's not grammatically correct... I just can't bear to write 'Someone and I'. Ergh.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Christmas and My Cloak

Christmas has melted away again- I feel like the little boy in The Snowman, stood in the garden all sad and alone, looking down at a wet hat and cold potato, with only a scarf to remember the magical episode by.

Except instead of a scarf I've been left with quite a lot of good stuff! After this year's Birthday Present Ordeal- when I asked mum to 'surprise me' but failed to stipulate that the surprise couldn't be NOTHING- I thought I better be tacky and ask for a specific present to make sure I got one. I asked for heated rollers, because I am sick of my hair hanging heavy and straight around my waist like a mad tatty witch's. 

As it got nearer to Christmas I told her not to bother with the present, because I wouldn't be able to give her anything, or anyone else for that matter. Inspired by my friend Lauren, I'd bought jam jars and cellophane bags off Amazon with the intention of filling them with homemade presents... But after buying the Amazon stuff, I ran out of money. I thought about filling them with rocks and calling them Magic Fairy Dream Wishing Stones... Then I thought about claiming they were Jars Filled With Love but as everyone knows I don't believe love is a real thing (it isn't- it's an idea that doesn't exist except in the human mind, like The Moomins or algebra), they'd know I was just giving them an empty jam jar. Or a jam jar filled with invisible bullshit. 

In the end I got some extra cash from a magic money tree I'd had all along (curiously it was plastic, oblong-shaped and embossed with a 16 digit number) and I made chocolates and chutney for everyone. I also went to the swish charity shops near me and found a scarf and some earrings for my mum and a book for my brother. The good thing about family is that they have to pretend to like whatever you wrap up and present them with on Christmas Day. Ha.

I was quite pleased with everything, apart from the chutney which smelt like vinegar soup and tasted like tangy sugar, but the chef at work told me it takes a few weeks to 'mature'... These are the recipes I made from BBC Good Food if you need easy edible gift ideas:

White Chocolate Pretzel Bites (or 'Snowflake Surprises' as I called them)
I used dried cranberries instead of raisins because they go better with white chocolate and also raisins are minging.

Chocolate Hazlenut Truffles
My uncle who is a baker tasted one and said it was actually a grenache, so maybe rename them.

Chocolate and Ginger Squares
If you haven'g got baking parchment don't improvise with tin foil, or you're in for a very tense half hour of scraping and swearing.

Mary Berry's Christmas Chutney
Took bloody hours to make and it takes a month to mature, but it looks like you've made an effort.

The only snag was that they melted a little bit during my four hour coach journey from London to Manchester, but I think I just about got away with it. As my phone isn't working at the moment (O2 sent me a new monthly plan sim card, except they didn't, so my current SIM has been stopped and the only way I can talk to them about it is if I call them from my O2 number) I had no way of contacting anybody, so when I finally arrived in Any Northern Mill Town I had to walk to my mum's house, dragging my suitcase along a windy, hilltop road...

I felt like Charlotte Brontë, walking against the wind, surrounded by hills and bare trees, the old mill visible through thin winter branches.

Finally I was opening the gate and walking by the side of the house to the back door. I passed the kitchen and looked in at my mum, who was sitting at the table facing the window. She looked up in my direction and called to my brother, "Sounds like the back gate is going in the wind!"

Eeeeeeee it was really creepy, like I was a ghost trying to come home for Christmas. It's making me shiver all over again.

Heathcliff, it's me I'm Cathy I'm come home! Let me in at your window-oh-oh-oh-ohhhh!

Luckily, I banged on the window and she saw me. IT WAS VERY EXCITING!

The fire was on and my mum has a lovely little cat called Lily and my brother was home and we were so excited for Christmas! As I type I feel a bit sad because it's all over now...

But let me blog about it so I don't forget.

On Christmas Eve we drove with my gran to the Lakes. We haven't spent Christmas with my cousins for years and years and it was so lovely and fun and Christmassy. It was a bit of a mad, chaotic squash as there was ten of us and three beds but it was the best Christmas EVER. The night before Christmas my mum and my auntie got shockingly drunk, so much so that for the first time in our lives, we all woke up and Father Christmas hadn't left us a stocking.

Santa, you terrible drunk!

I woke up next to mum and told her about Father Christmas' outrageous unprofessional behaviour, then I dozed off again for a bit... When I woke up I kicked my feet out against something heavy and heard sleigh bells jingling. I LOVE CHRISTMAS AND I DON'T EVER WANT TO GROW UP. My cousins weren't so lucky, perhaps they are scarred for life as they had to watch me and my brother open our stockings and THEN their dog Paddy got to open his stocking... Seriously.

(Dogs are growing on me, by the way. Which reminds me... in case you were wondering what happened to my mum's monster lion dog, I did try and get on board and bond with the dog for my mum's sake, even when it was trampling all over me and I was screaming and couldn't get away and the dog trainer was stood in the doorway yelling DON'T BE A VICTIM! at me, but in the end it was too much hard work and it wasn't fair on anyone. The dog found a nice home on a farm with a family who want to put it in shows and I am slightly cured of my Dog Phobia but it doesn't change the fact that they EAT FACES and KILL TODDLERS and THEIR SHIT MAKES YOU BLIND so watch out.)

My younger cousin had to go to work so we didn't open our presents until after dinner. It was nice actually as we forgot all about the presents. Instead, the day was about family, togetherness and prosecco.

The middle sister of my three cousins is very similar to me in the way that sometimes she behaves in a way that others deem a bit unusual, except where I can be a little eccentric, Clo is (and I'm sure she won't mind me saying this) absolutely bat shit crazy. She has been living on a hippie commune in California for a few months and told me that tampons have a chemical in them that makes you bleed more and if you read the small print on a box of tampons it says it in the small print!!

Anyway.

Me and Clo went for a Christmas Day wander in my cloak. The setting was perfect, the fading afternoon light, the craggy, windswept hills... I know I've said I felt like Charlotte Brontë about six millions times already but guess what-

I felt like Charlotte Brontë!

You don't have to imagine it because I finally have some photos of my cloak! You are finally going to get a glimpse of it, are you ready?

Are you terribly excited?

If you say no I'm not putting the photos up.

Ok, good. I'm glad. Here they are:




Do you love it??????

I've now taken the first steps to wearing my cloak in public, but we still have a long way to go before I start wearing it on the tube, to the post office, for drinks etc.

When we finally opened our presents, I discovered that I HAD got heated rollers but as it turns out, I can't use them. I have honestly given it a good go this evening but I am hopeless. Looks like I'm not clever enough to create my own beautiful, bouncy curls and I'm destined to have horrible hair FOREVER.

On Boxing Day two of my cousins and my brother jumped in the freezing lake. Me, my other cousin and her boyfriend went along to watch and I kind of wish I'd joined it but the thought of hobbling along the pier afterwards trying to dry my feet and put my clothes on was hideous to me.

The lake was misty and still and eerily beautiful. To prove my new fondness for dogs I even held Paddy's lead:



On the night of Boxing Day us 'young people' went to the local 'club' for a night of hilarious dancing. I've never seen my cousin's boyfriend dance before and he was throwing himself around the dance floor like a cross between Mick Jagger and Lady Gaga, it was great.

Then this morning mum drove us home again and I feel a bit sad. I'm going to a wedding tomorrow which will be lovely except my hair's going to look SHIT then I'm heading back to London on Sunday.

Can't really be arsed with London but I think at the moment I can't be arsed with ANYTHING, it's not that I have a problem with London. Everyone keeps telling me stories about their travels and I am very tempted but I'm not a big fan of my life at the moment and if I fuck off traveling I would have to come back to this life eventually. Also I can't even save up to buy a new bra, never mind a trip around the world.

The point is... it was the best Christmas ever. When I was in Paris I really missed family time, so it was nice spending so much time with everyone.I'll miss bursting into song and four other family members joining in, and deciding to talk in an Irish accent and everyone else adopting the accent too without question.

I know what you're thinking and the answer is yes, you should get a cloak.


Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Yuletide

MERRY CHRISTMAS going to The Lakes in my cloak, the time for my cloak has come!!!!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

The Boyfriend Train

Last night London was so misty, I couldn't see the road ahead of me as I walked to the Post Office with my Christmas cards (I normally never send them, but thought I may as well use up all those bloody stamps I was FORCED to buy against my will a few weeks ago). It was perfect cloak weather- can you imagine the fog billowing away from the black velvet hem as I swished along mysteriously, folk in the distance squinting, Is that a cloaked figure in the mist?- but I bottled it.

Today is as good a day as any to finally tell you about The Boyfriend Train. Beth and Lauren have been asking me to blog about it for months, maybe even years...

I invented the Boyfriend Train analogy eons ago, nobody knows for sure but experts estimate it is between two and six years old. It is something that needs to be shared, it is very wise. As the Boyfriend Train will probably become a very successful international relationship-help movement, similar in scale to He's Just Not That Into You and He's Just A Massive Dickhead etc. I would like to take this opportunity to assert my sole creation and ownership of the Boyfriend Train analogy:

If anyone attempts to claim unauthorised credit for my idea I will go fucking apeshit and karma will get you, although please feel free to share the idea with as many people as possible. Just make sure you say 'Trademark Left Bank Manc' at the end.

Now we have the legal stuff out of the way let's begin. Imagine I am wearing a suit and stood on stage in front of a large projector screen, with a little mic on. Imagine you are sitting in the audience with bated breath wondering if all the reviews you read on my website are true.

"The Boyfriend Train is amazing! Everything makes sense. Well worth the $300."- Janet from Ohio.

Listen. People are surprised when they find out I have never had a boyfriend, because I'm 24 and seem relatively normal on the surface and most people have a partner at some point in their lives, even horrible people and animals and some types of fish. People either say: "God, I wouldn't have had you down as a massive slag."

or: "Really?"

which is a lot nicer than: "That doesn't surprise me sweetheart."

(This conversation recently happened with my mum, apparently she thought I had been having secret boyfriends for years and not telling anyone. What kind of hideous, freakish secret boyfriends did she think I was hiding??)

Then they say, "You'll get one" because they don't know about the Boyfriend Train.

You can't buy a ticket for the Boyfriend Train, you either have one or you don't. Your ticket will never expire. When friends break up with their boyfriends, I know they'll be back on the Boyfriend Train soon enough, even if they get off for a long stop-over in Single City. Tickets are non-refundable and non-exchangeable, so nobody is allowed to lend me their ticket while they have a break.

Think about it, you know it's true. The Boyfriend Train makes perfect sense.

There have been times when I've actually gone and waited at the station. The train pulled in but by the time I'd picked up all my bags and suitcases, I'd missed it. Then I realised I'd been stood on the wrong platform anyway. You know when you're really tired and you think your train has pulled in, but really it's the one on the opposite platform and everyone has seen you stand up to get on it and you feel like a dick? Well that's what happened.

The great thing is, if you have a ticket for The Boyfriend Train, you can normally upgrade it no problem. You just have to go and sit in First Class and when the ticket collector comes round, you ask for an upgrade. The problem is most people don't ask. They never go and sit in First Class. They just keep getting on the same carriage and feeling miserable about it.

You can get off the Boyfriend Train at any time, but the further you travel, the harder it is to get back on the same train. You could go past every stop but the last one for example and you can still hop off, but it might be extremely difficult to get back on that particular train. Your ticket is still valid, though. You'll just have to choose a different Boyfriend Train.

You don't have to get on the train just because you have a ticket. Some people have a ticket but never vaidate it because they don't like trains. However- if you're going to play, stay away from the train tracks. Like with all trains, don't fanny around dangerously close to the edge of the platform- there could be fatalities.

I

Get on the train or get off. The only time you can be half-on and half-off if is the train is stationary, if it's already moving you need to make a decision. Do you want to be on the Boyfriend Train or not?

It's impossible to be on two trains at once. If you are on a train and it's well on its way and picking up speed, don't try and jump onto another train. Ask the train driver to stop and descend safely. Have a little breather before you get on another train.

If you think a Boyfriend Train is coming but it's occupied, let it go past. Even if someone tries to passionately pull you into their train through the window as they speed past and it's all romantic, let the train go past. It's too dangerous.

I don't have a ticket for the Boyfriend Train. My friend Claire (not Posh Clare, as Claire with a 'i' would like me to stress) suggested that maybe I have just been saving up all this time to buy myself a First Class ticket but unfortunately you can't buy a ticket. I don't have one and that's fine because I've got a lifelong pass for the Cat Caravan.




So there you have it. The more you explore this analogy, the more sense it makes. Spread the word, but don't get upset if you would like a ticket but don't have a ticket because here's the thing- you can get a ticket at any time. Lauren has a relative who got her ticket aged fifty.

This doesn't apply for me though because I will never get a ticket. I don't want one now, but it would have been nice to know that one day I could get on the Boyfriend Train if I really wanted to... Alas, that will never happen. How do I know? I created the analogy so I know. Also, if I did have a ticket it's the sort of thing I would lose or throw away by accident. There is no hope for me. Leave me. I can hear a train coming... go, get on the train! Take snacks!

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Any News?

I need to get Dial-A-Tramp up and running. Does anyone have three grand they can lend me? I need it to print some posters off- top quality ones on shiny paper-and then we'll be up and running. Now that I don't live in the rooftops of Paris we won't even need the bucket and pulley system. I'm going to ask that nice Big Issue man I met whilst flyering to get involved. He could be on the advert shouting 'Blue Blue Peekaboo' to announce his arrival with a carrier bag full of chocolate bars.

I really think it could work. When Kayt told a Real Businessman about our idea he said it could actually work if we used young boys instead but as I said at the time, the name 'Dial-A-Young-Boy' has some unwelcome connotations. It would be a good way for teens to earn a few quid at the weekends- cycling round, responding to calls from hungover, lazy people :

"Come please, we need fizzy liquid. And chicken crisps."

Are you convinced? I'm trying to wish Dial-A-Tramp (remember, the name is ironically provocative) into existence because I need to get some chocolate from the shop, but there's no way I can leave the flat- I'm working in the pub later so I don't want to get dressed and go out until absolutely necessary. There's some copywriting work I should be doing but... I'm working later, I can't work in the day too. God.

The pub's ok. They play quite good music sometimes, hilarious covers mixed with old school RnB and soul classics. I've got the words solitary sister in my head, but I can't remember the rest of the song. When I got the job I thought that perhaps I could transform myself into a vivacious Barbra Windsor type but it turns out your boobs don't grow just because you become a barmaid. I'm not really a barmaid either, not in the sexy, tart-with-a-heart Bet Lynch way. When builders come to the bar with their hi viz jackets on, to order a round for the 'lads', they call me 'mate'. Yesterday I thought someone called me 'sailor' and I went ballistic because it was a step TOO FAR but it turns out he said 'sweetheart' in a ridiculous cockney accent.

The accent takes some getting used to. We have an ale called 'Runner' and it took me a few shifts to figure out what a 'ranna' was.

News, news. Do I have any news?

Last night my friend Anna stayed over, who I haven't seen for two years since she left Paris and went to travel the world. I'm jealous, I don't know if I'll ever get to go travelling in the way I always thought I would. If I saved up for a year and went traveling for 12 months, I'd be two years older when I came back and in the same position I'm in now ie. nowhere.

News, news... any other news?

Oh. As far as Person I Sometimes Go Out for Drinks With goes... I can't really afford one of those at the moment so it's more a case of Person I Visit In His Flat... At Night Time.

Hmm.

In other news, last week I got a nice surprise after work. Lauren called me and said Jen had got free tickets through work for a musical. I met up with Lauren at Covent Garden and we looked at the Christmas tree then walked to the theatre and met Beth. Jen didn't want to come, which made me a bit suspicious, but it was really good. It was 'Stephen Ward The Musical', based on 'the Profumo Affair' that happened in the 60s, which I had never heard of.

As none of us had had time to research the show or the historical events it was based on, none of knew what to expect. One scene in particular took us rather by surprise- lots of old men in their underwear being whipped and spanked and a man in a gimp mask singing 'Touch me! Come on and touch me!' If I'd have have known the play was about rich, posh people... I would have seen it coming.






Monday, 2 December 2013

SO JOLLY


Am I allowed to blame my last blog post on my hormones? I didn't realise that my emotions had been hijacked by Mother Nature but- and excuse me for discussing my Lady Cycles so publicly- as soon as the red carpet was rolled out (yes I just made that up, let's all start saying it and make it A Thing, much more grandiose than saying 'I've got the painters and decorators in') everything made sense. The black cloud of my own making suddenly lifted, revealing...

Christmas! 

I was feeling very sad about money, worrying every minute of every day about being skint, lamenting the fact that I would never again be able to afford nights out, hair cuts, chorizo... Then I realised that just because I am a bit skint at the moment, it doesn't mean I will be skint FOREVER. Things change, situations improve. Be calm and positive, rather than skulking about London like a sad spider.

After work today I met my cousin and we walked to Covent Garden to look at the twinkling Christmas tree. Then I went home and put up the Christmas tree with my flatmate, whilst listening to Christmas songs. IT'S SO JOLLY!

:Later my mum called me to tell me all about her weekend- she flew to Ireland for a city break with her friends and she loved it. I'm so happy that my stepdad is gone! Life is nicer.

I was worrying about buying Christmas presents for my family, but now that my head is clear and calm, it doesn't seem like such a big deal. What was I thinking? I don't need to spend my rent money on shop-bought tat for everyone! I should be using my many many talents to create unique and thoughtful gifts...

I'm thinking of preparing a personalised dramatic reading for everyone, or maybe an interpretative dance. If I devise something for everyone who is going to be there on Christmas Day- mum, my brother, Gran, my auntie, my uncle, my cousins Sophie, Chloe and Mollie, maybe Paddy the dog- and each 'gift' is about five minutes long, that means everyone will have to sit in awed silence and watch me perform for 50 minutes. And that will be my Christmas present to myself this year.

Ooh, I could wear my cloak!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

The Life Of

This is what I feared- coming back to England and finding it is full of idiots. Benefit tourism? I can't even be arsed arguing. I could go on and on and on explaining why 'benefit tourism' is a made-up thing but I literally don't have the energy. Even if people did want to come to the UK to claim benefits, which they don't, they wouldn't be able to. (It was a hard slog for me to get Job Seekers Allowance for three weeks this summer and I speak fluent English and have a British passport.)

If people really want to believe that 'foreigners' are coming over here to steal jobs and benefits then let them believe it, I don't care. I'm not going to go on a rant...

I would like to point out however, that there are over 5.5 million Brits living abroad, 'stealing jobs' in Spain, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Thailand, France, Dubai... The horrible truth of it is that the bigoted Brits panicking about 'benefit tourism' draw distinctions between British emigrants and foreign immigrants because they think British people are better than anyone else. They should just admit it- instead of saying 'I'm worried Polish people will come over to do the low-paid jobs that I don't want to do', they should just say:

'I'm a racist and I just want England to be full of English people, for no reason actually, haven't really given it much thought, I'm just painfully thick and shockingly racist.'

I'm so fed up, I hate England. I've got nothing to blog about. England is just a big sinking, dark hole full of shit. I hate it. I hate everything about it.  Why is the tube so expensive? Why is the minimum wage so low? Why are shallots spherical?

The only thing I'm enjoying at the moment is reading my book- 'The Life of Charlotte Brontë' by Elizabeth Gaskell- but I've just go to the point where everyone, literally everyone, is dying. I suppose I should be grateful, at least I don't have to walk for miles across cold moors every day, to sit in a cold chapel and hear a very long sermon, then walk home again for a couple of cold potatoes and an early night.

Charlotte Brontë keeps telling people in her letters that she would be very distressed and heart-broken by the whole thing, if it wasn't for the existence of God...

Oh, Charlotte.

Did you know that the Brontë sisters had a servant called Tabitha? And she told them how there used to be fairies in the valley, but they disappeared when the factories were built.

I've got my cloak with me in London now. It was actually here all the time, in a bag in Lauren's office. I might take it home at Christmas and wander the moors in it, thinking about croissants and crying. Look what I just found on YouTube:

Friday, 22 November 2013

British


 I'm not sure about this country I've moved to. Yesterday I went to the Post Office, walked up to the till and was told to go to the back of the queue. I looked behind me and there was an old lady stood about three miles behind me, who apparently was waiting in line.

I'd actually said to her 'Excuse me' because I thought she was just looking at the magazines and in a very British, idiotic way she had just moved out of the way for me and watched as I bounded up to the free window.

When I apologised and tried to laugh it off, she looked outraged and said something about being in the queue. Why bother being so British about me pushing in, to then be so very un-British?? I don't mind her kicking off, but why bother being such a doormat in the first place if you're then going to chastise people for pushing in? The British way is to shake your head violently and say, "No no it's all right, it's my fault, it's fine, please, I should be saying sorry to you," even if someone has suck up behind you in a field and kicked you up the bum, really hard, for no reason.

Why was the start of the queue so far back anyway? What confidential things to they think go on in the post office?

"So you're sending this to Zimbabwe?"
"Shhh! Her from down the road's over there looking at envelopes! Please keep your voice down. I'm sending a Christmas card to Robert Mugabe. I know what you're thinking but he sends me one every year, without fail."

I might have been feeling a bit 'hormonal' but I suddenly felt my throat go all tight, like I was going to cry. There were two lovely old German ladies now behind me in the queue wearing headscarves and boots and looking like they'd stepped out of a wooden etching. (Or do I mean wood etching? Discuss.)

"Don't worry," the one nearest to me said, "Queing is a 'holy cow' in England!"
"I know!" I said, "Why is the queue so far away?"
"You will get used to it." she smiled.

Ha! Living in France has turned me into a European!*

I felt smug and changed and sophisticated. No more would I be an awkward, British type of FOOL who queues up for no reason and who is too scared to tell the man at the next table that his chair leg is on the end of the coat.

"No, no. Don't want to bother him. We'll just stay 'til he goes. We'll probably miss the film, but... can't be helped. Oh, he's moving it... Ow. Now it's on my foot. Never mind. Don't want to cause a fuss."

When I got to the till, I asked her if I could buy a book of stamps with my card, as I hadn't walked past a cash machine. Really I only needed one stamp, to post a letter to my gran, but I felt cheeky asking to pay for one stamp with my card.

"Yes of course, how many do you want? Twelve?"

"Yes," I said.

In my head I was panicking, I didn't want twelve! I wanted six.

The stamps came to £7.20 and instead of running away, I put my card in the machine and bought them. That's £7.20 that was supposed to be going towards my tube fare next week. And I just spent it on stamps that I didn't want, like a bad idiot.

Yep. Not sure about this country AT ALL.

*I know American thinks English people are European but that is ridiculous- we may be on the same continent but we Europeans drink espressos outside cafes after 5pm and they don't crawl along the streets with their arses hanging out, being sick and crying.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Sci Fi

It's been a while. Don't have anything to say really. On Friday Olivia came down to London for her birthday and she said my eyebrows have never looked better. I glanced in the mirror so my eyebrows could see my proud face and I saw them give each other a little high five. I know you don't believe me and I don't care. To be honest, my current eyebrows are a result of two years hard graft. I stopped having them threaded and started plucking and trimming instead, organic eyebrows if you will.

While we're on the subject, a quick word for all my fellow eyebrow enthusiasts reading- I'd like to retract my earlier sentence about Rimmel's eyebrow pencil. Not because they are paying me to (sadly I don't think I will ever make any money from this blog, unless I stop swearing and start taking photos sipping bubble tea lattes or posting pictures of what I'm wearing every day* which I will never do because I have don't have a big enough vocabulary or good enough camera to do either) but because I have since grown to like it.

The secret is just a smudge on the inner eyebrows, then blending it through the rest of the brow. I've decided against the Benefit Brow Zings because, if I had a wax and a powder at my disposal, I know I'd  slowly go further and further away from the hairy, arched line that lies between Strong Brow and Insane Sci-Fi Villain.

"Have I overdone them a bit?"
In other news, I can't walk in heels anymore. Gutted for me. Apart from one pair of really comfy H&M platforms that I can run for a bus in, I only really wear wedge boots, so I treated myself to a pair of basic black heels from New Look last week. 'They are huge, but I'm very good at walking in heels,' I thought, like an idiot.


Cut to Friday night and I'm walking to the tube station at one mile per hour, gritting my teeth as I hobble over cobbles. A couple of hours later and I'm falling down Olivia's friend's stairs, thinking I can regain my balance right up to the last second, when I realise I'm actually going down. I untangled my legs from underneath myself as I fell, landing miraculously in a side-sitting position, as if I was in a family photo.

I can't believe I didn't hurt myself, I fell from the middle of the stairs all the way to the bottom.

The next day I was dreading work, because I was working a double shift, 11.30am until midnight, but it was actually fine. The shift manager bought me a croissant and a coffee from Pret a Manger and at 3 o'clock I had a two hour break, so I ordered a burger and then fell asleep in the cellar, stretched out between two broken chairs with my coat over me.

When I woke up I had a coldsore.

The beast that never sleeps.

Unfortunately, after Olivia's birthday night, I seemed to have lost my oyster card, which had a weekly pass loaded on to it. I held off cancelling it because I knew I'd find it somewhere, but on Sunday afternoon I finally called up Oyster and cancelled it. Then I found it in my coat pocket and cried hysterically into my pillow for about ten minutes.

I can't believe it. I even had a dream on Saturday night that I found it... I KNEW I'd find it! It was in my fucking coat pocket, where I keep it all the time. I just didn't look properly.

Hmm.

Anyway. Anyway. I've just remembered I've got the end of my book to finish- 'The Algebraist' by Iain M.Banks. I've read Iain Bank's books before- 'The Wasp Factory' and 'Espedair Street'- but I've never read any of his sci-fi novels, which he publishes under Iain M.Banks. I picked it up in my brother's bedroom over the summer and started reading it. It's a pretty old book, I wondered where it had come from but the other day I noticed a sinister note written on the inside cover about 'modified swarms' and 'group minds' which has got to be my dad.

At first I found it The Algerbraist hard to get into, I couldn't get my head around the descriptions of things. The vast hub curved over the floating scape of wheels, widening into a ridge a thousand klicks high... That sort of thing. I had no idea what was going on but as I got into it I found myself actually looking up from the book and thinking: WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT?

I'm very, very nearly at the end.

I'm seeing my dad this weekend, I can return it to him. I'm going to Liverpool to see a play that someone in our year at uni wrote, there'll be a few of us going so it will be like a big uni reunion. I planned on saving up and having a blow out but instead spent all my money and now have a fiver for the entire weekend.

I can hear something, a muffled sound. It's coming from within my wardrobe...

Hold on...

It was my new shoes that I can't walk in, having a massive fucking laugh at my expense.

*I did think about doing this for a joke, putting up photos of my day to day wear which normally consists of holey leggings and an inside-out vest top with my kimono over the top, above the caption: 'Today I'm feeling welfare luxe, this look will take me from the dole office straight to the cocktail bar' but I fear the irony would be lost on some people and I'd just end up looking like a class A dickhead.

Friday, 1 November 2013

East African Food

Last night I took That Person I Sometimes Go For Drinks With to an Eritrean restaurant. I say 'took', I wanted to pay this time because I thought I was going to FINALLY get paid from the pub (after five weeks) and he's paid the last few times we've eaten out. I felt like a suave old-fashioned gentleman who is very good at dates- I chose the restaurant and booked a table and everything.

Then I didn't get paid on time... But that's another story.

I wanted to go for Ethiopian food because we've had a conversation about the Ethiopian restaurants I went to in Paris. Well, I thought we had. When we sat down he said, "So why did you choose an Ethiopian restaurant then?" which makes me think that it wasn't him I had the conversation with... it was no one.

(That's the only reason I'm talking about him in my blog- because every time I see him and the conversation swings round to people we both know, he always asks: "So how did you meet TC and OJ then?"
And every time I say: "I met them through my blog when I was living in Paris."
And every time he says, "Oh, you have a blog yeah?"
And then he forgets again.
Unless it's all an elaborate ruse to throw me off the scent and he's actually reading my blog right now?
Hmm.)

Anyway, I really wanted to have Ethiopian food again. The first time I ate it was about two years ago, at Restaurant Menelik in Paris. Menelik is at Brochant, across the road from a bar called Le Soleil, which is always filled with aged rock musicians and archetypal Parisians: men and women with long grey hair and velvet jackets, leaning into you to say something outrageous, then cackling away to themselves, showing their claret-coloured teeth and lips.

One night we walked a few steps away from the accordion music and raucous Parisians crowding the pavement- a dog-eared postcard of Paris- and into the unassuming restaurant across the road, where the smiley owner shook our hands and gave us all a glass of kir.

The walls were crammed with paintings of Africa and photos of famous Ethiopians. The music wasn't a subdued restaurant CD, made to play in the background, it was loud, traditional African music. I wish they'd had a dance floor. As it was my first time eating Ethiopian food, everything was novel. The food arrived on a large, spongy pancake, with rolled up pancakes for us to tear and pick up the food with. We chose a selection of hot meat dishes- finally some real spiciness in a city where mustard is the epitome of 'hot food'.

The next time I had Ethiopian food in Paris was at Sheger, a tiny restaurant in the centre of the city. There was a mix up with our table, so we waited outside on cobbled steps and the staff brought out Ethiopian cocktails for us to try- a minty, sugary drink with chunks of ginger in it, like a throat-tickling mojito. The dishes at Sheger were similar to the ones I had at Menelik, but they were fresher somehow, maybe because it's a smaller restaurant and they make the food to order. There were just two chefs- we could see them cooking- two women working away in the open kitchen next to our table. At the end of our meal the staff narrated us through the Ethiopian coffee ceremony.  The coffee pot was brought out on a tray that smoked with scented wood, burnt to ward off evil spirits.

I asked Twitter for Ethiopian restaurant recommendations and a couple of people said Adulis at Oval, even though it's technically Eritean. The two cuisines are really similar, but the two countries are not. While Ethiopia is still accessible to backpackers (I'd love to go but think it's more for experienced travellers), Eritrea is currently advised not to go there by the UK government. Llike lots of East African countries, people who actually venture there say it's an amazing country; that there are ruins and deserts and islands to see; that the people are warm and friendly.

Adulis was lovely, the staff were really friendly and we had so much food, we got the Mini Kirchat platter for two which would have easily fed four. It was a mix of meat and vegetarian dishes, spicy stews, curries and salads, everything cooked in niter kebbeh- a spiced, clarified butter, kind of like an East African ghee. We mistakenly went in hard on the pancakes, when what we should have done was pick up bigger amounts of meat using tiny pieces of pancake so that we didn't fill up so quickly. Strategy, people! With one alcoholic drink each the bill came to £33, which was good value considering I could barely walk when we left the restaurant.

We went to Jamboree  afterwards, it was jazz night. Neither of us could dance because we were so full, but I loved the music. It sounded so authentic, three of the musicians in the band sang and they had old-fashioned, vaudeville-style voices. As it was Halloween, there were ghostly flapper girls floating around and the owner carried round a tray ice cube fangs, swimming in Bloody Mary, a black veil draped over her face. I felt like I was in a scene from a film, or Boardwalk Empire.

Oh Lord, on our way from Adulis to Jamboree, I realised I needed to buy tampons. I ducked into a corner shop and told the Person I'd Been Out For A Meal With to wait outside. They only had massive boxes of Tampax and I had a tiny little clutch bag with me, so I bought a box then quietly told the man behind the counter that I was going to leave him most of the tampons.

He didn't say anything, but looked at the ceiling like he was being robbed at gunpoint and wanted to pretend it wasn't happening. I opened up the box and started putting tampons in my bag.

"I'm trying to be discreet." I explained, but he didn't reply.

In the end I left most of the tampons on the counter. When I got outside the Person Who Had Been Waiting For Me said: "Shall I go back and get the rest of them for you? I could put them in my pockets."

I said thanks, but no thanks. I didn't like to think of him strolling into Jazz Night, pockets bursting with tampons.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Reverse-Butterfly

Well, haven't got anything to write about because I can't be arsed going out at the moment. I don't like anywhere I've been, don't want to go out and discover anywhere new. Alors.

I need to jump up and get out of the flat, explore nearby areas etc etc. Can barely bring myself to wander down the local high street. Sometimes in Paris I would get in this mood, I'm not looking back through rose-tinted spectacles and pretending I was a dynamic, happy-go-lucky city adventurer every minute of every day, but at least I went out most of the time, trekked across the city and tried new places.

I'm just an English girl living in England now, so what's the point in running around London pretending I'm here on holiday?  Maybe it's because I'm not in the centre like I was, so I don't see the touristy stuff everyday.

There was a moment last weekend, when I changed tubes and got on an overground train, and as I walked down the platform I realised we were quite high up and there was a nice view of the city. I saw the spires*of London, glowing and glittering against a dark cityscape, wide bridges and even wider waters between us and the buildings. I did a little jump inside and said, “I can't believe I actually moved here, it seems real when I see all that.”

And the person I was with just looked at me like I was a dickhead.

Tut. I miss the days when I could say things like that every other minute and instead of looking at me like I was a dickhead, whoever I was with would say “I know, I know isn't life amazing and none of our friends from home are here to listen to our conversation and tell us we're being nobs let's go and get a rose eclair and sit by the river or a champagne cocktail or both because we're in Paris and we don't pay rent and we've got loads of disposable income!"

I've been thinking though, about all that cash I used to have hidden away in bikini tops (I'd slip it in the little padding pocket) and empty perfume boxes... I'm glad I spent it all. I'm glad I didn't save up any money, because then I'd have loads of money and clearly, when I have loads of money, I just spend it. So you see? It's a Catch 22 isn't it? Le serpent qui se mord sa queue.

Any money I get seems to go on cheese and clothes hangers. I never would have bought cheese or clothes hangers when I lived in Paris, see how having to pay rent has already turned me into a sensible, practical grown-up?

Cheese is proper dear, by the way. A block of cheddar costs more than a Megabus ticket to Paris. The coach journey would last for about eight hours too, whereas the cheese could be gone in about twenty minutes.

I'm scared I'm going to stay in this mood for months, emerging in the spring like a reverse-butterfly, crashing out of my cocoon like a fat, pale floppy thing.

There's only one thing that can cheer me up and luckily, it's Halloween tomorrow, so it's a very appropriate time to post this video:


*small possibility they they were tower blocks, not spires.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Soup Sweet Soup

I have a home again! Me and my NEW FLATMATE have already made soup together and frozen some of it in an effort to be Healthy, Wholesome and Frugal. We love soup. We've made two different types and we're going to make more and live off soup and fill our freezer with soup and think of new soups and eat our soup, feeling smug and soupy. Although we both agree that the big chunks of fried chorizo we sprinkle liberally over each soup we have is the best bit. In fact, I'm not sure that we don't just love cured, fatty sausage rather than the actual soup.

It feels weird calling it 'my flat', as if I shouldn't be allowed because I don't really live here... But I do live here, I moved in on Sunday. It doesn't feel like I've moved in properly yet because I've just gone one big bag with me, full of clothes- I haven't been back to Any Northern Mill Town since I arrived. Not sure what outfit I had in mind when I packed one pair of jeans, three black skirts, three tops, a jumper, a leotard, my kimono and five jackets. Maybe I thought nobody would notice I was wearing the same outfit every day for six weeks on the trot if I kept changing my coat?

The nice thing about staying with friends is that I've been able to wear all their clothes. I miss Clare's tapestry pencil skirt and Beth's green coat with the big lapels. It feels like the skirt and coat are kittens that have run away in the night. My clothes are like the mingy dog that stayed behind, that I didn't want in the first place... apart from my kimono.

It's not kimono weather though.

What was I talking about?

Ah, I wanted to talk about how I have been staying with friends for so long, in an attempt to subtly explain myself to all the imaginary people that are slagging me off, saying things like 'Can't believe she has been staying with friends for so long.' They might be imaginary critics but their comments sting.

I never intended to couch-surf for six weeks (or, more accurately, 'bed hop', as I've been sleeping in beds the whole time but 'bed hop' makes it sound as if I've spent the last few weeks exploring the London swingers scene) but that's the way it had to be.

It meant living make-believe lives in each part of  London: busy Brixton bee with Clare, walking home from south London pubs and parties; a lady who calmly lives in one of the swankiest parts of town, with TC and OJ; a young professional, crossing over canals on my to the tube with Lauren, Claire and Jen in east London; and for the last two weeks of my prolonged 'mooching' period I lived with Beth in North London, not too far from where 'my flat' is.

The weird thing about North London is that I faintly remembered a life lived there. Since I was little I've always imagined the north of the city when I've thought about London and I've thought of tall houses, leafy streets, mohair jumpers, autumn. When I went to stay with Beth it was exactly how I'd always pictured it,  felt it. When I moved to my new flat on Sunday the feeling that I was stepping into a memory was even stronger.

After I'd moved in, my mum called me. She mentioned that she and my dad used to live round the corner from where I'm living. I don't know why she hasn't mentioned this before, I didn't even know my mum and dad lived together when they were in London!

My mum said she always remembers it being autumn when she thinks back to living in North London, exactly how I described it.

It's obvious to me and my mum that memories were passed into my subconscious, either whilst I was in the womb or by magic. I've told a few of other people this spine-tingling story and not all of them were supportive of our theory. When I said 'maybe it was a memory I have from the womb' to one person (who shall remain nameless), he said 'maybe you are mad'.

Mad about North London baby! From what I remember of it as a foetus inside the womb... haven't had chance to explore it yet, this time around.

I did have something else I wanted to tell you.

When I was staying with Beth, she needed to take the keys one day. She told me to just shut the door behind me. But when I went to open the door, a couple of hours after everybody else in the flat had left for work, it wouldn't open. One of Beth's flatmates had locked the door on the outside.

After my initial panic, I went into the living room to see if any windows were open. I'd completely forgotten about their balcony and luckily, the key was in the door.

I stepped out onto the balcony and looked down. They live on the second floor, but the flat below has a balcony too, so I considered lowering myself down onto it. A builder was walking past and I yelled to him.

"Excuse me have you got  a ladder? I'm locked in the flat and I need to get to work!"

He was coming to look at the gas in the flat above, so I suggested climbing up onto their balcony, then he could let me in. He said he could only let me in if the residents were at home to give permission. He went into the building and I looked up at the balcony above- it was a ledge that stuck out directly above my head, there was no way I could get up there.

A woman in the car park suddenly shouted up at me, she was a maintenance worker and she'd spoken to the gas man in the stairway. She told me she didn't have a big enough ladder, but she'd seen some painters up the road doing up the front of a building, so she could go and ask them.

By this point I was rather enjoying the drama of the whole thing. I rang the pub I told them I was going to be late. (Luckily the manager didn't think I was a big, fat liar.) I kept trying to call Beth... no answer.

Two painters rolled up, without their ladder. They wanted to assess the problem first, as if the maintenance woman and I needed a second opinion and a different flat-escaping method could be employed. After a quick conversation shouted up to me on my balcony, they agreed the only thing for it was a big ladder. I felt just like Juliet, only instead of declaring their love for me, they said "If you fall, it's not our fault. You can't sue us."

They came back with the ladder and put it against the wall next to the balcony, where there was a wide ledge I could step onto. I climbed down without falling off and was only fifteen minutes for work!

That seemed like such a better story as it was happening. I'm afraid this might have been my most boring blog post ever.

Erm.

I had some really, really lovely food the other day, The Boy I Went For A Drink with' is very versatile, he can turn himself into The Boy Who I Ate Some Food With quite easily. We went to a Pakistani restaurant in Whitechapel called Needo's. That's the kind of food I missed when I was in France, it was spicy, but actually spicy, not like the 'spicy' Thai soup we used to serve at the restaurant and French customers would often send it back because it was too hot for them even though it tasted like coconut flavoured yoghurt.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Lady Gardens

Yesterday I saw something disturbing. I was guiltily watching Game of Thrones instead of making a start on all the copywriting work I have to do this week, when I saw something on screen that made me feel a bit ill. One of the characters was being horrifically tortured and crawling round  a dungeon floor while his captors advanced menacingly, wielding a scythe with which they intended to cut his willy off. Then I saw it.

Two naked women were stood in the background- they were there for a good reason but I won't say why in case it spoils it for anyone who hasn't seen Season 3 yet. One of them was covering her vajayjay with her hands and the other one wasn't. And the one that wasn't had had a fucking Brazilian wax!!!!

What's awful is that the director and the costume/hair and make-up people must have discussed it at length- in a big-budget television series set in an ancient, magical world where there is so much attention to detail that they even went to the trouble of inventing new languages and creating different architecture styles for each city (yes I admit it, I bought the box set of Season 1 and watched all the extras), for authenticity's sake they obviously had to make sure that any Lady Gardens on show were lush, wild and growing free.

The fact that they didn't show a woman with a big, natural bush, thus betraying their own common sense and artistic integrity, means that they found a woman's pubic hair so disgusting and frightening that they just COULDN'T show it on TV. Each female character has her own hairstyle, based on the character's personality and ethnicity and cultural heritage, but this girl was allowed in a scene looking like she'd just walked out of Ministry of Waxing, ready for a night out on the town getting lashed on vodka, lime and sodas with the girls from the office.

They can show boobs and bums, men having their hands cut off, dead girls tied to the bed frame with arrows sticking out of their limbs; but they just CANNOT show a woman with a massive, hairy bush.

I've always had strong opinions about pubic hair.

I'll say it again because I can't believe I just said that:

I've always had strong opinions about public hair.

Ha!

No, seriously, I have.

Some of my friends think it is ridiculous. They cannot believe that there are fellers out there who have been exposed to the horror of my overgrown Lady Garden.

I say, I will never care. Sometimes, if the mood takes me, I will do some light gardening and on occasion I have even had a Brazilian gardener called in, purely because I'm going on holiday and little hairs curling around the edge of my bikini bottoms will ruin the overall aesthetic I was going for.

But waxing is a choice, not a necessity. It shouldn't be normal to wax. It's fine, of course it's fine- we can do whatever we want with our beavers- but it shouldn't be normal. Girls as young as twelve shouldn't be taking themselves to the salon to get rid of all their pubic hair- that's not normal. Pubic hair is normal.

At the moment I'm reading 'How To Be A Woman' by Caitlin Moran (I can't believe it's taken me this long to get round to it) and she perfectly articulates what I have been trying to tell my friends for years:

"If you ask the question, 'Why do 21st-century women feel they have to remove their pubic hair?' the answer is, 'Because everybody does in porno.'... But the hairlessness isn't there for the excitingness... all porn stars wax because, if you remove all the fur, you can see more when you're doing penetrative shots."

Ha! Women in porn films wax so that their intimate parts are exposed for the camera, much in the same way a vet will shave a little rat or poodle before an operation.

So there's no need for non-porno women to have baldy beavers. But like I said before, we can do whatever we want down there, so if girls want to feel like porn stars and have their bits all exposed, then they should definitely get it all waxed off and enjoy themselves...

UNLESS THEY ARE IN GAMES OF THRONES.

Ygritte defending her Lady Garden


I've not read the books, but I assume there is no internet porn industry in the 'seven kingdoms', so nobody would expect the girls to be smooth and hairless. If anything, I think they would braid their bushes and entwine them with little flowers.

This reminds me of a story about my mum's friend Jane, who passed away two years ago. She didn't always shave her armpits and they were really hairy. One day they were planning a night out and my mum said something to Jane about her armpit hair. Jane said she would do something about it, as they going to a club. Later that night, in the club, Jane lifted up her arms and there was a mass of dark hair there, covered in glitter gel. 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Jamboree

Recently I've decided to start calling myself a freelance social media manager and copywriter, much in the same way a binman from Bolton might decide to start calling himself the King of Norway.

But I actually have got some freelance copywriting work and I'm doing the social media for someone, so I guess I'm not being to... what's the word? I can't think of the word I mean. Maybe this copywriting business will be over before it's even begun.

Anyway, I'm don't want to blog about social media or copywriting. This can be my safe haven from Google+ and writing briefs and self-employment declarations.

Last Monday I went out for a drink with someone, to a little pub at Limehouse that looks out over the river. It's small and narrow, with red walls and low beams, like something out of The Shire. It just so happens to be owned by Gandalf, too.

No, really- it's owned by Sir Ian McKellen

Listen, the exciting part wasn't who owned the pub, but who was working behind the bar...

It was Mez- my friend at the pub in Paris, my Welsh MC rapping partner and sometimes fellow New York showbiz agent. Nice to see ya, kid.

I asked Mez if Sir Ian McKellen ever came in and she said she'd seen him once- he said hello to her in a booming voice and he was wearing a long, hooded white cloak. I'm lying about the cloak. (She did her last shift there last Friday, so don't bother trying to stalk her.)

It was one of those nights where suddenly something slides in your brain and you realise everyone in the room is your BEST MATE. Soon we were chatting to an American couple on the terrace who loved boats- the man was wearing a captain's hat- and an Australian businessman who was living on a boat in the marina. When he said that he didn't have any friends in London, I tried to persuade him to have a boat party so I could invite loads of people for him to meet but I don't think he was convinced... He ended up coming with us (by 'us' I mean me and the person I'd gone out for a drink with- I can't say 'my date' because that sound so American and odd) to a music venue round the corner called Jamboree. CLICK HERE to take a look at their website, look at the lovely, arty graphics they use:


Jamboree is so unexpected- it's an artists collective, hidden in a relatively quiet residential area where there's nothing but blocks of riverside apartments and a couple of pubs. The venue is part of Cable Studios- an assortment of buildings that are grouped around a cobbled courtyard, providing artists with cheap accommodation and studios.

I loved it. They have live music each night from all the world and the bands play on a tiny stage that looks like it could have been designed for a 19th Century cabaret club. It's a really small venue but it wasn't crowded at all- there are a few tables to sit at and everyone in there was really nice. When we first arrived a dreamy, folk band was playing.

The Australian guy we'd adopted undid his tie, shouting "This isn't me!"

Then he gestured round the room and said, "This is me."

I thought he might take all his clothes off but thankfully he didn't.

After the folk band, a French band came on and because I was really drunk I might have been shouting things out in French. I'm pretty sure I yelled allez-y which is the equivalent of shouting 'go there!' Luckily The Person I Was Having A Drink With doesn't speak French and thought I must be making perfect sense.

Talking of drinks... guess who else has been on a date?

My mum. Last night we were gossiping on the phone about dates and boys and I got a bit carried away and told her about The Person I Was Having A Drink With and accidentally let slip that I stayed at his house.

"Oh," my mum said, "Does he have a spare bedroom?"

No mum, no he does not.

I wish I hadn't told her anything now, because if she asks me if we've been on anymore dates and I say 'no', she'll think it's my fault for not going on dates with boys who have spare bedrooms.

Sigh.

My eyes are KILLING from looking at a computer screen all day, so I'm going to go now. I don't know when I'll next get chance to blog. What else did I want to say?

Oh, I went to Vibe Bar on Brick Lane on Saturday for Katie's birthday, a friend of TC and OJ's. The music was good but it was full of Sinisters. One of them tried to start a fight with me on the stairs and I did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO ANTAGONISE HIM. HONESTLY.

Oh, how come you always know when I'm lying?

I didn't realise he was being serious, I thought he was pretending to be a bouncer for a joke but he was actually just a nutcase who knew the bouncers and took it upon himself to randomly tell people off on their behalf.

London is not Paris. Here scallies do not want to engage in a bit of harmless, faux-aggressive chitchat, they just want to stab you. I always knew being a dickhead would be the death of me and now I've moved to London, it is only a matter of time.

By the way, guess who lives near Brick Lane? B. And Holly is moving into a canal boat soon in North London. Everyone from Paris is in London, apart from Mez actually, because she's leaving this week to go back to Wales. And obviously Julia is still in Paris, but she's coming to visit England in a couple of weeks!

Speaking of Paris... I woke up crying again this morning after dreaming about Paris. It's weird because I don't miss it when I'm awake, but when I'm asleep I transport myself back there and this very strong, familiar feeling will suddenly sweep through the dream. When I wake up I can almost feel it still, but I can't quite put my finger on it.

Sorry that was a bit depressing.

Will this cheer you up?


*I always forget to mention Lauren's boyfriend Ben but he lives there too. Lauren told me last week that she was going to Manchester for a few days so I could have her bed, then she had to withdraw the offer when Ben reminded her that their bed wouldn't be free because he would be in it. Ah.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Big, Brave Brows

I've burnt my mouth on a sausage. Now the roof of my mouth is going to burn when I sip hot tea. In other news...

I've got a job in a pub and I start tomorrow.

Last weekend I met up with my cousin Sophie and her boyfriend Dan in the West End. My cousin's boyfriend used to work in a pub round there and when I mentioned that I was still looking for work, he suggested we go in and say hello to his old manager. As it happens a girl had handed her notice in that day so the manager said I could have a job.

Yey.

The manager seems really lovely. She basically hired me because I know Dan. It was good timing. I can't believe it's taken me this long to get a job. I was starting to do that thing where I have nothing to do and I don't know what to do about it so I just sleep in really late, then I wake up and just lie in bed, wishing I was still asleep. Then when night comes I'm wide awake, thinking what the fuck are you doing what the fuck are you doing.

Sometimes I feel as if things are slowly working out for me and everything is going to be fine. At other times I have this horrible feeling that actually things are going from bad to worse. If it wasn't for my very nice friends I wouldn't be able to live in London at all, unless I wanted to be homeless.

A few nights ago when I was flyering, a man selling the Big Issue came and stood next to me."I feel sorry for you love," he said, "I wouldn't want to do your job tonight."

Then we got talking and it transpires that he actually does flyering regularly, for a big company called The Flying Squad.

"I could get rid of them like hot cakes," he said, pointing at my flyers.

He started to tell me how I needed to be 'bouncy', to cheer up the miserable commuters. His top tip is to have a few drinks before work to 'loosen the lips', which is actually a really good idea, as long as you just had one or two. I started to think that maybe this guy could actually teach me how to be a Top Notch Flyerer- most people were rushing past, shaking their heads at me before I'd even reached out to them with a flyer.

The Big Issue Man wished me good luck and then found a space to start working. I watched him with interest, to see what slick flyering techniques he was about to whip out. A woman in an electric blue dress walked past.

"BLUE BLUE PEEKABOO!" he yelled, chasing after her.

I don't know why there were so many women wearing blue that evening, but I saw him chase after people yelling BLUE BLUE PEEKABOO about four times. One of the women actually bought a Big Issue, so I guess it paid off, but I'm just not sure if that sales technique is for me.

Anyway. Pub job tomorrow! And between you and me... I have a third date. Although, the second date- a drinks at The Book Club in Shoreditch- ran into lunch the following day, so maybe it's a fourth date? Sigh. I tried to be old fashioned and chaste, just to see what it was like, but... you know.

EYEBROW NEWS ALERT!!!!!
As money is a bit tight at the minute, I can't actually indulge myself but for any of my fellow eyebrow enthusiasts reading, you need to buy Brow Zings by Benefit. Before I left Manchester I went in and asked the sales lady to put it on for me- my eyebrows looked like two beautiful hairy sisters (remember: 'Sisters, Not Twins'). Unfortunately I couldn't actually buy the product because people without jobs don't deserve nice eyebrows. But when I get paid... I will have the BEST BROWS MONEY CAN BUY. For now I've got a cheap brow pencil from Rimmel and I can actually hear my eyebrows weeping as I drag it across their sparse, dark arches. Mummy's doing the best she can! This is just while mummy gets back on her feet, ok? Don't cry, mummy needs you to be big, brave brows, just until everything gets sorted, ok?

Am I becoming a danger to myself and others?

Thursday, 26 September 2013

My Real Name

Safe safe.

All I've ever wanted, my whole life, is to be one of those people who answer the phone by saying 'safe'. Kayt lets me do it for a little lol but I think I will try doing it in real life, to everyone. Safe Mum. Safe Gran. Safe Job Centre. (Although I'd like to point out, I only signed on for three weeks then I signed off to go to London. So don't anyone be judgy-judging me.)

It sounds better when boys say it though. I might set up a sex chat line that girls can call and on the other end there's just a recording of a deep male voice saying SAFE. I'll probably do it later on today. Probably.

Anyway, stop imagining boys saying 'safe' on the phone because I actually have something important to say.

I was going to put up the link to an article I wrote for fashion and house music website House and Heels- a review of a house music night I went to a few weeks ago. Then I realised my real name was credited at the bottom of the article and as we all know I keep my identity Top Secret, for a variety of reasons ranging from the paranoid to the delusional. Then I thought... is it time to finally shed my black, floor-length cloak of lies and reveal my real name?

I don't work with kids anymore, so there's no chance the parents could stumble across my blog to discover how I was so hungover that I fainted at the school gates, or read about how I never planned my lessons for the nursery kids, so most of the time we just did the 'Okie Kokie' until one of them would inevitably run into the middle too boisterously and hurt themselves.

I think I'm going to tell you my real name, so that I can link articles to my blog and vice versa. Tell me, are you:
a) so excited you can't breathe and have just been sick?
b) not arsed?
c) bemused, because you already know my name and are in fact my friend in real life?

Anyone who said b) can stop reading now.

Right so, I don't want to write my name now, because your eyes might have scanned down from earlier on in the blog post and it will ruin the surprise. I might hide it  in the middle of a paragraph to make sure people read it at the appropriate point in the post. My name is Tabitha. Now you know my name, I can tell you about French people never being able to say it, because they can't pronounce 'th'. The closest most people got would be 'Tabeeta', which was hilariously shortened to 'Tabeet' by some of the kitchen staff when I worked in the restaurant... For anyone that doesn't speak French, ta bitte is slang for 'your dick'.

So, now you know my name, CLICK HERE to read the review I wrote for House and Heels.

Have I done the right thing, revealing my name? Is it the kind of name you imagined I would have?

Let's all pretend I'm still called Left Bank Manc, ok?

In other news, I miss Paris a lot. When I listen to this the nostalgia hits me so hard it's like being smacked in the stomach with a stale baguette and I'm back at Coco Beach and the sun is shining and I don't have to think about leaving Paris for weeks and weeks and weeks...

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Details

Still unemployed.

This is karma because I turned down that shitty Food Runner job at the Japanese restaurant.

A few days after telling the restaurant I wouldn't be taking the job because I'd been offered a job in my chosen career Social Media (i.e. I'd rather sit at home checking my Facebook than clear dirty plates away for rich arseholes), I had a trial shift at an English restaurant. It didn't go very well- as soon as I walked in they stuck a pinny on me and left me to it. I had no idea what to do with myself. The manager said she was too busy to 'look after me'. I was so nervous I forgot to take the foil off a bottle of wine before I opened it. I stood to the side of the table twisting the corkscrew round for ages, getting more and more panicky, before I realised what I'd done. Needless to say, I didn't get a call back.

Then there was the bar that kept calling me, asking when I could start and trying to arrange a trial shift. Every time I would say, 'I can start whenever' and they'd say 'Great, we'll call you back when we've sorted the rota out' and they NEVER did. I contacted them about three times and each time was the same. I really liked that bar as well. Although. When I had my interview, I was being really chatty and confident and I thought it was going really well, then at end the bar manager said:

"Well, go to your trial at the Japanese restaurant and if you don't like me, call me tonight and we'll get you in. Here's my number. Actually, I'll give you my email address. Email me. Otherwise my girlfriend will be like 'Grr who's this girl calling you?'"

Why did he feel the need to drop his girlfriend into the interview? Did he think I fancied him? Did he think I was just pretending to be desperate for a job so I could trick him into giving me his phone number?

I feel like going in to the bar one evening and yelling 'I'M NOT ATTRACTED TO YOU' but I don't think that would help the situation.

Yesterday I marched round Camden in the pouring rain, handing out CVs. A few places said they'd call me, probably out of pity because my ballet pumps were filled with muddy water and my handbag had broken so I'd stuck it back together with sticky tape.

Actually, I do have something else to talk about other than job hunting, but I'm not sure if I can go into it or not.

Long time readers will be familiar with my pattern of arranging to go on dates with complete dickheads who cancel and then insist we rearrange and then cancel and then rearrange and then cancel again and again. (Does anyone remember Mizmiz Man?)

Well. I broke my pattern- I went on an Actual Date. We arranged to go for a drink. We both turned up. Then I admitted that I'd never really been on a date before and that I wasn't sure when it was supposed to end, so he told me dates don't have to end they can go on and on if everybody is enjoying themselves. After drinks we went for something to eat and then we went for a coffee.

Damn I wish I could remember if I'd told him about my blog or not, so I could reveal more details.

Anyway, are you ready to be terrified? I'm staying with TC and OJ this week and they showed me a video they discovered on YouTube of Rolf Harris covering a Divinyls song. For any non-Brits reading, Rolf Harris was a national treasure (even though he is Australian) until very recently, when it was discovered that he is probably a paedophile.With that in mind, have a listen to this:



Guess what! Two seconds ago TC and OJ found out that they have had their offer accepted on a house, how exciting! They have been trying to buy a house for ages. How weird is it that a few months ago TC was just a commenter on my blog and since then I have been to their wedding, to SGP and to Bristol with all their friends and now I am staying in their flat?

Talking of flats...

The first weekend I met TC and OJ, we went to a rave in a cave (The Crave) with their friends Nat and Matt who were visiting from London... and in a few weeks I am moving into a flat with Nat! It's in North London and it has a little garden. Nat says we can make pies together and that we don't have to do the washing up straight away.

Of course, it's Number 7.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Motions

Thursday morning in Brixton. From Clare's rooftop I can see across rainy London to St Paul's. To be honest it might not actually be St Paul's but the point is... I'm in London.

Hold on.

Clare just called to me from the bath, telling me to take some bacon out of the freezer for her. I asked her if St Paul's was visible from the living room window and she said she didn't know. Then her Gentleman Friend Ed joined in the conversation and I realised he was in the bath with Clare. They are just casually bathing together, with the bathroom door wide open so that they can still converse with me. It's so nice that Clare has met someone with as little regard for boundaries as herself.

Staying with Clare is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, she leaves me little notes saying 'help yourself to cake and there's roast chicken in the fridge SMILEY FACE' and there's always fresh flowers in the flat and she has crates of Fever Tree (a really delicious tonic water that makes the best gin and tonic with Hendrick's, but they also make lovely lemonade and ginger beer) knocking around because she sometimes does promotion work for them; and on the other hand, on my first morning here I woke up to see Clare stood in the doorway, telling me in a pleasant but stern voice to get out of bed because it was ten past nine and she thought I'd slept in long enough FROWNY FACE.

I like it though, I feel as though she is turning me into a Productive, Valuable Member of the Great Unemployed. Today I am up and blogging for example and it's not even half nine.

Yes, I'm still jobless. The Japanese restaurant offered me a job after my trial shift, but they wanted me to be a Food Runner rather than a Waitress, just for a few months while I sussed out the menu and got used to the place... At first I said yes, because they were still going to pay me £17,000 a year which seemed like a lot, especially as I want to do Social Media on the side, but when I got back to Manchester I realised I was already dreading my first day. Absolutely dreading it.

The trial shift was ok, but there was no interaction with the customers, my job as a Food Runner was literally just to put down the plates and take them away again without speaking. How would I be able to do that job full-time, with no knowledge of the food and without the authority to take orders? I'd feel like a mute servant girl.  I thought it would be hard work, but I didn't expect such a high-end restaurant (the first customers during my trial shift were British B-List couple Rochelle from The Saturdays and Marvin from GLS) to operate in such an impersonal, mechanical way. I imagined myself sashaying around, serving sashimi, suggesting sushi to sample and saki to sip, plus many other activities beginning with s. Instead I was rushing around trying to be invisible, getting told off for not putting a glass down in the correct position on the table.

There's hospitality work and then there's soul-destroying menial labour.

There's been a lot of talk recently about people in their twenties not wanting to pay their dues, but I've had Saturday and after-school jobs since I was FIFTEEN. I don't think I'm being unreasonable, wanting a job that doesn't depress and drain me.

Luckily, when I was on my way to my trial shift at the Japanese restaurant, I got a phone call from a bar I'd handed my CV in to. The guy was really nice on the phone and as we were talking I walked past his bar, so I popped in and had a quick interview. He told me to email him if I didn't enjoy my trial at the Japanese restaurant, so I did as soon as I got home. Since then I've spoken on the phone with the manager twice and he's said he'll organise a trial shift for me and then he hasn't. Why do men just keep you hanging on, for no reason, ALL THE FUCKING TIME?

Anyway. Last night I asked Clare's Gentleman Friend Ed if he knew anyone that runs a bar in London. He texted some friends and within five minutes he had three replies. He passed on my number and they said they'd call but as they're all males I won't hold my breath.

I want a lady boss to call me. A nice lady boss who will just tell

OH MY GOD

As I was writing that Clare handed me the phone, it was a lady who is looking for a babysitter. She'd been given Clare's number but Clare has too many nanny jobs already, so she mentioned her friend who recently moved to London and has lots of nanny experience (me) and I'm going to meet the kids tomorrow AND they might need a nanny after school AND when the lady gave me her surname I noticed it was Greek so I told her how I worked in Corfu for the summer when I was eighteen and she said her kids speak Greek so if it works out I can practice my Greek with them!

I have to go now, Clare is pacing around trying to tidy up and I can't concentrate.

YES I hope I get this nanny job.

I know I said I'd never nanny again but it's nice work, if you can get it.

Ohhh I'm starting to miss my old life in France. Last week I dreamt that I was back in Paris. I realised that I'd never left and my new life England had been a dream that I'd just woken up from. When I really woke up and realised that Paris had been a dream, I started crying.

But London will be good. The clouds have cleared since I started writing, I can see right across the city to The Shard.

By the way, did you know that Drake is my guilty pleasure? Well, I admit it. Anyway, he's done a song with Sampha! I wonder how they met? Wait until 2.26 when Sampha starts singing. It makes me feel like melting into a heap and never getting up again.

Quickly, before I forget, has anybody checked that Miley Cryrus isn't trapped in a #thicke web of human trafficking? Have you seen her new video?


Friday, 6 September 2013

Blurred Lines

The girls pretend to be enjoying themselves, some of the time. At other times they just stare into space while the men in suits point out the camera to them. They are given toys and animals to 'play' with. They are told to walk in front of the camera, displaying their bodies.

Guess what I'm talking about.

I know this issue has been talked about to death, but I still feel angry about it. There's black bile running through my body instead of blood, starting in the pit of my stomach and then burning through the rest of me, spreading outwards, spilling into words and rants and rage that I need to write down.

The first time I saw the video I was at my au pair job, cooking tea while the nine year old girl watched television in the kitchen. Suddenly I looked up and saw what she was seeing- a very young model sitting on a stool and looking vacuous, wearing underwear that looked as though she was wrapped in plastic, having her hair brushed by a man in a suit.

The nine year old looked confused, not sure of what she was watching. We discussed what a rubbish song- and what an even weirder video- it was and turned it over. I didn't realise at the time that we'd been watching the censored version...

I know there's been a lot of criticism of 'Blurred Lines' and a couple of parodies that highlight the sexism of the video, but I can't believe there hasn't been a more serious backlash.

The video is offensive and the song is dangerous.

It's easy to mistake 'Blurred Lines' for a standard song about enjoying rape with lyrics like: I know you want it, I'll tear your ass in two... even when you dress casual etc. Ok, fine, nothing wrong with singing about how women secretly want to be raped :)

(Although I would say, maybe think about changing the song title? 'Blurred Lines' implies that there are, well, blurred lines between consensual and non-consensual sex when in fact there's just one very clearly-marked line [#thicke line?] and if you cross it, it's rape.)

But if you read the lyrics online (nobody can be expected to suffer actually listening to the song), the plot thickens (#thickens?) and takes a darker turn:

OK now he was close, tried to domesticate you
But you're an animal, baby it's in your nature
Just let me liberate you
Hey, hey, hey
You don't need no papers
Hey, hey, hey
That man is not your maker
Hey, hey, hey


Woah, woah, woah. Forget the whole offensive, sexist 'domesticate' thing, what most concerns me here is this man that she needs liberating from. Why does she need liberating? Why are you telling her she doesn't need papers, is this a problem for her? Has she been brought over from Eastern Europe under false pretences?

The way you grab me
Must wanna get nasty
Go ahead, get at me


I don't think she wants to get nasty, I think she's grabbing onto you, begging you to rescue her from a life of rape and forced drug addiction. It's all starting to make sense! Why else would three fully-dressed men be dancing around with three girls wearing nothing but thongs? Because they've bought them, they own the girls.

Look!
T.I brushing the hair of his real life sex doll.


Pharrell standing next to a girl in a thong, holding a live goat.
They've doped them up on heroin (see the girl being chased with giant needle) and now the girls are so docile that the men can brush their hair, make them do stuff to each other (at one point the blonde girl is on all fours and one of the other girls is resting a foot on her back), to stuffed dogs and to live goats.

Shake the vibe, get down, get up
Do it like it hurt, like it hurt
What you don't like work?


Thicke blowing smoke in the face of his drugged-up sex slave.
So.

What does this Robin Thicke (sorry, #thicke) character have to say about my accusations? I sent him my questions telepathically and he responded in an interview with GQ by saying:

"People say, 'Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?' I'm like, 'Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I've never gotten to do that before."

Well I think that's reasonable.

I'm off out now, I'm dressed casual but I still hope somebody comes along and breaks my ass in two, even if I say no. Especially if I say no ;)