Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Four Things

I was sent this on email today. I like filling in these little questionnaires, but this one makes me sound a bit dull as the places I've lived and been on holiday aren't that exciting in comparision to those of the person who sent it to me.

Four Jobs I've Had:
1. Children's Art Gallery Director
2. Web Editor
3. Charity Shop Assistant
4. The World's Worst Bar Maid

Four movies I would watch over and over:
1. Y Tu Mama Tambien
2. Trainspotting
3. End of the Century (Ramones documentary)
4. Breakfast Club

Four places I have lived:
1. South Shields, Tyne & Wear
2. Jarrow, Tyne & Wear
3. Norwich
4. London
(I really need to move around more)

Four Shows I like:
1. The Wire
2. Law & Order SVU
3. Monk
4. Have I Got News For You

Four places I have been on holiday:
1. St Ives, Cornwall
2. Madeira
3. Paris
4. New York
(these were the last four)

Four of my favorite foods are:
1. Toast
2. Satsumas
3. Pitta bread with hummous
4. Cherry Tomatoes

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. In bed
2. Topshop
3. Cornwall
4. At Camelot HQ accepting a cheque for a multi-million pound lottery win (I stole that one from the person who sent it to me as I liked it so much)

Look Magazine: A Review

I received my free copy of Look magazine with the London Paper yesterday. I had been quite interested in the prospect of something new to read on the way home and it was free.

I don’t normally read women’s magazines. I find that the features just seem to cover the same old ground that I’ve read a million times before and worse they assume women have a very narrow field of interest - when they features books, films and music, it is only ever the lowest brow, lowest common denominator stuff.

But I did think the Look’s USP of weekly fashion that was affordable and available in the shops now was a good idea, and to be fair that part of the magazine wasn’t bad. But unfortunately that only amounted to about 8 pages out of the 100+. The rest of it was dire. Lots of inane celebrity non-stories (Posh doesn’t speak to some people that much anymore, people Justin & Cameron aren’t going out with). Topped off with some real-life stories; the serious issue of honour killings/rapes presented in a salacious manner with shouting headlines that demeaned the subject.

I came across this quote elsewhere from the person responsible for it. This should have been enough warning really.

"'Young women now have 11 years from when they leave home to when they have children,' says Eve Webster, the IPC executive overseeing the launch, 'and they want to cram everything into their lives.' That could mean walking the Great Wall of China, but it is more likely to include owning a Chloe handbag, buying a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes or dating someone famous. So Look will focus on young women's twin obsessions - fashion and celebrity - to the exclusion of almost everything else; and, at more than 100 pages, will do so in forensic detail."

Is this really all women are interested in? And what happens once they have children – do they cease to be interested in anything or do they suddenly subscribe to New Scientist and Private Eye?

I read this magazine on the same day, I found out that the Arts Council will no longer be funding the women’s theatre company because ‘women are no longer a priority’ and Wags Boutique started on television – a new low for our gender.

I definitely won’t be buying this magazine in the future – if I want to know what is in the shops, I’ll just go and look for myself.


Another awful day at the office yesterday.

Vile colleague took to haranging me about what my plans were for Valentine's day. I had said the day before that I would have to make sure the OH didn't plan anything because we are working away from London that day and we won't be getting the train back until quite late. So yesterday he started asking what we would have been doing. Now, I'm quite a private person. I don't want to discuss the ins and outs of love life across an open-plan office. He could see it was making me uncomfortable but continued with it despite me barely acknowledging and was sniggering about it. The day before, he had glibly said that all women were stupid.

Nobody pulls him up on this though, but I'm sure if the straight males in the office were to questoin a colleague about her personal life and make such overtly sexist comments, they would be in trouble. But of course, allowances are made because of his sexuality.

I'm sick of it, but there isn't really anything I can do.

Monday, January 29, 2007

California Dreamin'

We are unlikely to have a proper holiday this year. We might go to Devon later in the year to stay with or housesit for a couple we know who are moving down there soon, but we won't have a proper holiday. This is mainly down to the flat-buying, but not just the money side of it - the OH only has five days holiday to last until July and a couple of those will need to be used for the move and decorating etc.

But we've decided to go to San Francisco on holiday next spring.

I'm very excited about this, even though it is ages away. I've wanted to go to San Francisco for a long time, but was having trouble persuading the OH. He is very much in love with New York and would happily go there for every holiday. But last week, he relented and agreed that SF might be worth a visit. Nothing to do with my powers of persuasion - more the promise of another basketball stadium and a suitable hotel from the same group as his beloved Muse Hotel in NY.

I've acquired a Rough Guide to California through the book swap website. It is 12 years out of date, but I thought it would do for now so that we can plan roughly what areas we want to go to and then I'll get a more up-to-date version before we go. I spent most of Saturday reading this and am even more excited I will be re-reading Kerouac, listening to Jefferson Airplane and watching Vertigo (and Monk) for further research purposes over the next year.

Can I sustain this excitement for 15 months or will my mind wander like a butterfly onto something else?

Saturday, January 27, 2007

What is Britishness?

There has been a lot of talk this week about the move to teach Britishness in schools. And this has got me thinking, what is Britishness? Despite having lived my whole life in this country and needing to go back four generations to find anyone not even English (great-grandmother was Irish), I'm really not sure what it means.

Our defining characteristics as far as I tell are:
  • An endless fascination with the weather
  • The ability to queue
  • The inability to complain effectively
  • Irony

Somehow I don't suppose these are the things that they will be teaching.

Tolerance and value of multiculturalism seem to be the qualities they are talking about and whilst these are undoubtedly good things a) it isn't unique to this nation and b) I'm not convinced these are things that can be taught in the classroom if children are surrounded by hatred and intolerance outside it.

Most kids pick up their beliefs from their parents and their peers, not their teachers and I think parents should take more responsibility for this. Likewise the falling levels of literacy cannot just be the fault of teachers and the government, some blame must lie with parents who foster a culture of ignorance is good (see Jade Goody).

We have produced some great works of literature, so perhaps they should concentrate on making sure everyone can read properly, so they can appreciate Shakespeare, Chaucer, Pinter, Shelley, Bryon, the Brontes etc. We do popular music pretty well too, I suppose.

Hate Mail

I'm furious.

On Wednesday, I received a card through the door from Royal Mail about collecting post that the postage had been underpaid. I assume it is a book from ReadItSwapIt and am slightly peeved. So today, I go down to the depot, queue for 20 minutes along with it seems half of west London.

It tunrs out it is not the book at all but junk mail for a local estate agents. So I have to pay 23p plus a £1 handling fee to receive something that is going straight in the bin. Plus I've wasted an hour of my day and had to walk through quite a rough estate for this honour.

I'm very tempted to send Sinton Andrews (of 84 Northfield Avenue, Ealing, London W13 9RR) some unstamped post in return. Perhaps something heavy.

I realise this is petty, but is it illegal?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Another thing I won't be buying

Sold out in most sizes on the Topshop website so again I must be out of step with the rest of society. I'm not one for delicate strappy sandals but surely these have strayed over from Topman?
I think I may have had a pair like this at school when I'd worn out my third pair of shoes that term and my mother started buying me boy's shoes instead hoping they would last longer (for quite a small female, I'm incredibly 'heavy on my feet' as they call it).
They also come in brown which might even be worse.

The Politics of a Handbag

Who'd have thought that a handbag could be should a contentious issue? But it is. Its one of the great debates of our time - the Sunday Times even had a two page feature on it a few months ago in the Culture section rather than the Style magazine and there was a round on University Challenge devoted to identifying designer bags.

I have just bought a new bag. Not a Mulberry, a Chloe or a Marc Jacobs, but a humble Topshop bag. Its made of real leather, I like the colour, it has room for all of my things and it cost me £50. I'm rather pleased with it but I know that to many people, it is a huge social faux pas these days to not have a designer bag.

But I can't afford to pay £500+ for a bag. And nor do I envisage a situation in this lifetime where I will be able to. (I do have more than £500 but that is reserved for furniture, washing machine and other boring things and if it was going spare, I'd probably rather spend it on some art).

Now from many people I've heard the argument that a designer handbag is a good investment and that buying cheap bags is a false economy, but for me it still doesn't add up. I'm not so fickle that I'm buying a new bag every other week according to the latest trend but nor can I see a bag lasting me a lifetime. I reckon I normally stick with the same everyday bag for about 2 years so at £50 that is £25 per year. This means that I would need to use the £500 designer bag for over 20 years for it to be better value.

Then there is the quality issue. I dislike plasticky market stall bags as much as the next woman, but really how much better quality can a £500 bag be than a £50 bag? I'm still clumsy and forgetful, prone to losing things, getting caught in the rain or spilling coffee over things and unless I've missed something, these bags don't come with supernatural powers that will protect them from these inevitabilities.

I'm not criticising anyone who can afford to spend that much on a bag (as it seems nearly everyone other than me can), but what I do object to as that I feel like a second class citizen because I can't (or won't). I've bought something I really like (and needed), but its made me feel a little sad in the same way as when Charlie Brown buys that pathetic little Christmas tree that everybody else scorns.

(If you haven't seen it, I thoroughly recommend 'Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown' - it makes me weep everytime I see it)

One man's rubbish...

As I mentioned earlier, I've recently joined my local Freecycle. I haven't offered or requested anything on it yet but we will probably use it get rid of a few things when we move. However, for now I'm enjoying reading what other people's Wants and Offered. Its fascinating.

One today made me smile:

Offered - two telephones. One has a problem with the number 2 but otherwise in good working order.

I suppose it would be fine for incoming calls but its a bit restrictive if you can't call anyone with a 2 in their number.

Or possible a great excuse for never ringing ex-friends you've outgrown - 'Sorry I just can't ring you. I don't have a 2'.

(Actually the person who I no longer want to be friends with who still rings me at odd hours despite me not having spoke to her for over 2 years, doesn't have a 2 in her hone number, but I could adapt it)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


No doubt blogs around the country are recording this momentous occasion. We have snow.

(The view from my window)

I can't remember the last time there was snow here. I don't know what to do in it. I'll probably be like Bambi on ice when I go out in a bit.

According to the news, we have 2cm of it in London. Predictably, the tube seems to have gone to shit Perhaps I can stay off work and claim to be snowed in?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Small Dog = Big Danger

Following on from my recent post about a giant rabbit, today I read a terrible story about a very small dog.

Lucy the minature Daschund from Gosforth, Newcastle may be destroyed under the Dangerous Dog Act for 'nipping' a neighbour's ankle. Lucy is only 8 inches tall.

Look at how scared she looks. Surely she isn't a danger to anyone.

And why is it that 9 times out of 10, these stupid stories come from the North East? Like the man who put the firework up his bum a few months ago.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Saddest Day of the Year

Today is, apparently.

Presumably, its a combination of cold weather, lack of sunlight and lack of money post-Christmas. And it falling on a Monday this year is probably going to make it worse.

Still, I'm feeling fairly optimistic. A certain colleague is out of the office today so it won't be as bad as most work days and I'm fairly buoyant from a good weekend.

Good luck with today, everyone.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Why did I agree to this...

"Cabaret of days gone by is the order of the day, courtesy of the Marie Lou Revue, Comedian Magician Steve Klinsky and a smattering of surprise burlesque - all wrapped together and delivered by Mr Dusty Limits with wit as sharp as Kate Moss's cheekbones - hell, her razorblade even"

This is what I'm going to tonight. What was I thinking of? I think I was dazzled by the array of cocktails on offer.

Its for a friend's birthday, a girls night out apparently which is not something I usually do. At the same birthday last year, one of her other friends (notice I'm distancing myself from them) was sick into her wine glass. It was truly one of the most disgusting things I've ever seen and it was only about 8.30, although to be fair, her aim was quite good. The warning signs were there though as this girl had got rather aggressive earlier in the evening when I asked if her beads were from Topshop and I thought she was going to hit me over it. She caused panic by thinking she had lost her bag which turned out to be on her chair. Then came the wine glass incident.

I ask again, why I am I going?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Our Woman in Havana

At the weekend, we saw 'The Last King of Scotland' - it was very good (I have a large soft spot for James McAvoy though).

Not really related to the plot as such, it did remind me of one of my unfulfilled daydreams. I've always fancied being the wife of a Foreign Office worker or Ambassador even, posted to a remote foreign land. I'd have little to do all day except moan about the heat & insects, attend embassy parties, perhaps have a torrid affair with a local and observe the political intrigue from a safe distance.

This is a rather odd ambition I must admit - ordinarily I would hate to have no other role than to be somebodies wife and I don't particularly like heat either. But still I get pangs of jealousy when I see these things depicted on screen or in books. I think I've read too many Graham Greene books - and even in those things usually end badly. Or maybe its just that Ferrero Rocher advert?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Small Successes

These are the small things I've done this week. I've not done any big things for quite some time!

- Swapped 5 books via ReadItSwapIt - I thereby declare it a success but I won't be doing any more swaps until I have read this small stack of books.
- Sold two textbooks on Amazon from my arts management course, making me £15. They cost more than this originally so it isn't technically a profit, but that was two years ago, so the money is a bonus now.
- Signed up to my local Freecycle where as luck would have it a fashion student was looking for bags of old clothes for a project, so she came to take away the three bags I'd sorted out at the weekend as being for charity (who probably wouldn't have wanted them anyway).
- Returned a dress I bought before Christmas without buying anything else.
- Received the Honorarium (a small discretionary payment) for the four months work I did at the Gallery before I left, which I thought I wasn't going to get as it is discretionary, so another unexpected bonus.

I still haven't been swimming in 2007, have eaten too many biscuits at work and am no nearer moving house, but small steps are good.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Colour Quiz

My friend Liz sent me a link to this Colour Quiz the other day which she thought was eerily accurate in her case. I was sceptical but this is what mine says and it does seem true, but maybe its because its fairly vague.

Your Actual Problem
Feels insufficiently valued in her existing situation, and is seeking different conditions in which she will have greater opportunity of demonstrating her worth.

Your Actual Problem #2
The fear that she may be prevented from achieving the things she wants leads her into a relentless search for satisfaction in the pursuit of illusory or meaningless activities.

The 'pursuit of illusory or meaningless activities' I thought was very much me, for example, and another and possibly even this would all come under that banner.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Object of Desire

The Sara Berman Herringbone Coat.

I've been looking longingly at this coat for about three months now. It was originally £190 (i.e. far too much for me to justify spending in these frugal times). However, it has been now been reduced online to £79.00.

I tried it on again in store at lunchtime (where it has only been reduced to £99) and I'm still undecided.

The Case For
- I really like it
- Its a significant reduction
- This picture reminds me of the video for Suede's The Drowners (showing my age/huge dip in credibility there) - although that's more to do with the shorts than the coat, so a pretty rubbish reason.

The Case Against

- I have a perfectly serviceable winter coat that a) isn't hugely different but b) is alot warmer
- I will soon have plenty of other things (e.g. furniture & paint) to spend £79 on
- The coat will not transform me into looking like this model, which is probably more what I want more than the coat.

I think I will take a chance and see if it is reduced further. In the meantime, if anyone would like to put me off it, then please do.

I don't like change Part 2

We have a new hand dryer in the toilet at work. It is over-sensitive, so it is now impossible to use the mirror in there without setting it off. It is also very loud. So when you've forgotten about it and are merely glancing in the mirror, it gives you quite a fright. I know this from experience.

I don't like change Part 1

Our favourite local restaurant has closed. It always seemed quite busy so its come as a suprise. I feel guilty that we didn't go there more often.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Read It Swap It

As mentioned previously, we have too much stuff. Some of it must go before we move.

After putting it off for weeks, I've eventually started on my books. Inspired by an item in the Guardina supplement about free stuff, I have spent several hours adding my unwanted books to Read It Swap It, which as its name suggests is a book swapping service. I realise this won't actually decrease the number of books I have as I will receive a book in return, but it will at least provide me with something new to read and mean that my books will be moving so not just gathering dust.

I've no idea how successful it will be, but it has motivated me into at least sorting my books into those I want to keep and those I don't. If it shows no sign of bearing fruit by the time we move, I will revert to Plan A of donating the books to the library or Plan B a charity shop.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Hard as Nails

My New Year's Resolutions are the usual vague hopes to find a new job, manage my money better, get fit and as it has been since I was about 13, get my nails into a decent condition so I'm not ashamed of them. Its not that I bite my nails, but they are very weak, snap easily and I tend to pick at them when I'm nervous. But at the moment, they aren't too bad which has spurred me onto to taking control of the situation and yesterday I purchased a nail care set and some nail hardener.

Last night I set to work on them, applied two coats of the hardener as instructed. So far, so good. But on reading the full instructions included with said treatment, I fear I'm doomed to fail, as I am what it refered to as a 'Nail Abuser'. I was always aware that I was committing a crime against my gender by not wearing rubber gloves to do with washing up, but I didn't realise that I wasn't supposed to use my fingers to dial the phone, but I should use a pen instead! Does anyone do this? Do they mean on a push button phone or is this referring to the old phones with dials? If the former, than what about typing, if the latter, then they should perhaps update their advice for this century.

I won't be appearing the Guinness Book of Records anytime soon for the world's longest nails.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Happiness Rabbit

I came across this picture in the various reviews of the year. Isn't he wonderful? He looks like so much fun and it cheers me up everytime I see this picture.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Cultural Review of 2006

What an poncey title that is!

Album of the Year
Primal Scream - Riot City Blues (rather predictable but I hardly bought anything that was actually from 2006). My most listened to album this year was Big Star #1 Record/Radio City, but these were recorded in the early 70s.

Film of the Year
Probably Capote (although this might be coloured by the novelty of seeing it on New Years Day in a cinema in New York). Also really liked Good Night and Good Luck.

Theatre Production of the Year
Avenue Q (I saw it twice admittedly I didn't pay to go either time, but it still takes alot for me to see something twice)

Television Programme of the Year
The Wire Season 4 (a bit of a cheat as we watched it on DVD as it hasn't made it over here yet). I also watched a hell of a lot of Law & Order SVU, watched Celebrity Big Brother for the first time and the Apprentice.

2006 Review of the Year

Happy New Year! Rather belatedly I thought I would do a review of 2006.

2006 seemed to pass too quickly (another sign of being old!) and it seemed to have been a fairly uneventful year for me too (which leaves me wondering why I started a blog this year).

Bad Year for:

Failed miserably to find a new job and my decision to leave the gallery which I'm still not 100% certain was the right thing to do. But on the positive side I did oversee the successful relaunch of the website at work and had some success at fundraising for the gallery before I left, so not all bad.

Started the year with an ambitious plan to save loads but it didn't quite happen (see Dresses below).

Not really been too thrilled by much new music this year and hardly went to any gigs and no festivals which in previous years would have been a main part of my social life.

I really haven't seen the inside of the local pool as much as I should have this year. Bizarrely though I've ended the year a lot lighter than I started it.

Good Year for:

We started the year in New York which was great - BB King's restaurant for brunch and the Harlem Gospel Choir which was probably my 'gig' of the year too. We also went to Paris for my birthday, Madeira and Cornwall.
The Relationship
Its had its ups and downs, but I think we are ending the year in a good place and he has agreed that I can get a pet rabbit when we move!

2006 was definitely the Year of the Dress for me. Is this a good or bad? My wardrobe is certainly much improved and I have at least one dress for every possible occassion, so in theory I don't need to buy anything more, but I am scared to count them.