Thursday, May 31, 2007

Out of Step

I sometimes feel so dislocated from popular culture, from what the rest of the population is evidently interested in. This feeling is always heightened by the Big Brother season.

I’ll admit I was hooked on Celebrity Big Brother the year George Galloway was on it, but I’ve never properly watched the regular Big Brother. I tuned in briefly during the first series when there was some discussion about someone not liking eggs so they were having a cheese sandwich instead of an omelette – at that point I decided it wasn’t for me – no point in watching something more boring than my own life. Since then it seems to have declined – at best a parade of fame-hungry slack-jawed morons, at worst, people so unstable who you wonder how they passed the psychiatric examination.

Even though I don’t watch the show, its still hard to avoid hearing about it - whether its conversations in the office, covers of magazines or in the newspapers. This morning, on Radio 5, they were discussing the new contestants, and I heard this ’53 year old bisexual from East London, who recently went to a Scissor Sisters gig dressed as a mobile phone’. Did I hear this right – dressed as a mobile phone? Why? What does that signify? Am I missing something here? Or did I mis-hear? I can’t think what else they could have said – dressed as a mobile home perhaps but that makes less sense.

I just don’t understand. Modern life, it confuses me.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Driving Miss Daisy

I've been up north for a few days - to a world without internet i.e. my mum's. It was a good trip but pretty uneventful.

One thing that happened was we went for a drive in my sister D's new car. D just passed her test two weeks go and has bought herself this car, who she has christened Daisy. Whilst it wouldn't have been my choice, it has made her very happy.

Going for a drive in Daisy doesn't exactly make you inconspicious and attracts a lot of attention around the quiet streets of the north east. However, whilst D expects you to coo over Daisy as if she was a newborn (including taking her photograph), once she is behind the wheel, she seems to forget she is driving a pink floral mobile, and was puzzled the other day as to why a group of people at a bus stop were pointing and laughing. She thought they were laughing at her glasses which she only wears for driving!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Over the course of the past couple of days, I’ve punched holes in about 1000 documents (my education being put to good use again!).

The past two mornings, I’ve woken up with a terrible ache in my left arm.

These two things are connected. I have an industrial injury from hole-punching. I’m so weak it is embarrassing.

I really must do something about this, but I’ve never set foot in a gym and my preferred exercise, swimming, doesn’t really help with this, even when I’ve been at my peak of fitness.

Any suggestions?


At Christmas we found out our friends W & L were expecting a baby. It was a bit of a surprise as not only did L always say she didn't want children, but she actually always said she hated children.

We saw them both at the weekend - rumours (put about by W) that L was huge were greatly exaggerated - she had a tidy little bump.

Last night we received a text to say L had gone into labour 10 weeks early and had given birth to a little baby boy by C-section. He's ok but very small and will be kept in for a few weeks. L is fine and will be home at the weekend.

On receiving the text, I burst into tears.

My relationship with W & L is strange - sometimes I avoid seeing them for months on end as I feel they look down on me, and then I see them and will think perhaps its my problem and nothing to do with them.

I think this proved once and for all is that they are my friends and I love them both so much. And I hope the little one, Samuel, is going to be ok. I'm wondering what sort of toy he would like best and the OH is wondering if Adiddas make trainers in size -10 weeks.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sensory Overload - A Day at the V&A

I went to the Victoria & Albert Museum today. I think it might be my favourite museum. There is just so much to see. It also has the John Madejski Garden which is definitely one of my favourite places in the world. Its just so civilised (despite the overpriced and chaotic catering outlet in its corner).
I still haven't managed to see everything in the museum - partly because I keep getting lost and partly because I keep returning to the same favourites. But today I walked around a good proportion of it - taking in the silverware section (dazzling, I was like a magpie in there) and looking over at the sculptures (stunning - my pictures don't do it any justice).

I mainly went with the intention of seeing the Surrealism exhibition - which was interesting enough but I'm not going to dwell on it as I'll probably have nightmares tonight about being unable to reach someone on my lobster phone.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Dogs Tea Party

Whilst I enjoyed my afternoon tea at the Oval last weekend, I think I would have preferred to go to this event at Claridges.

A Dogs Tea Party no less. A winning combination of two of my favourite things.


  • It was probably misjudged to wear a jumper and jeans today as its quite sunny and warm
  • It was probably misjudged to have gone back for seconds of the bread pudding yesterday
  • It was definitely misjudged to go out for a Chinese meal which is my least favourite food
  • It was definitely misjudged to stay out until after 11 after yesterday's event
  • It was definitely misjudged to try to go home on the overground train home so late
  • It was probably misjudged to buy a huge fruit salad and a packet of crisps for lunch

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Event Horizon

My job involves organising events. It isn't glamorous, it certainly isn't fun and no matter what the event, they are certain things that are guaranteed to happen no matter how well it is planned:

  1. Booking will start off slowly and everyone will be pessimistic My manager will talk about cancelling the event or never doing another one
  2. There will be lots of last minute bookings, creating havoc
  3. People feel the need to make excuses about why they are booking so late - 'I've been on holiday' (what for 2 months?), 'I lost the booking form' (what all 3 we sent out?), 'My PA ate the booking form' (its only a matter of time before this one is used)
  4. Several people won't be able to remember whether or not they have booked - they never have - this is just a variation on the excuse for late booking (see above)
  5. Someone will turn up who hasn't booked
  6. Someone important won't turn up
  7. Someone's name will be spelt wrong on their badge
  8. There will be an interesting range of dietary requirements
  9. Someone with a life-threatening food allergy will have forgotten to mention it
  10. People are obsessed with tea - no tea, not enough tea breaks, too much tea, no herbal tea, no fruit tea, no biscuits with the tea
  11. No matter how feel the event goes, somebody will complain about something which will put a downer on the whole event
  12. Manager will vow never to do another event again

Tomorrow is our second largest event of the year and a large stress cloud is looming over my head.

Art Nemesis Part 3

I just spotted this in the entrance way at work. It must be new because surely I would have noticed it before.
The picture isn't very clear but that is perhaps because there isn't really much to capture. It kind of looks like an empty frame to me. Perhaps someone has stolen the picture? Unsurprisingly it is untitled - perhaps because it is just an empty frame?
It was donated by Charles Saatchi. Charles, you shouldn't have! No really, you shouldn't have.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Damned if you do, Damned if you don't

I was rather disturbed by the story in the Metro this week about Melanie Griffith's knees. Not sure much by the picture of her wrinkly knees - I hate the bit above my own knees and I've seen pictures of that bit of Kate Moss too, accompanied by an equally bitchy item about how her hard-living was taking its toil there. What disturbed me more was that such an article was being written and published at all. On one hand, it criticised Ms Griffiths for having spent a huge amount of money on cosmetic surgery in a bid of look young and in the next sentence was mocking her knees for daring to show signs of aging. You really just can't win. And whilst, I have a minimal amount of sympathy for the rich & famous, it is really is no wonder that so many women have body-image issues when articles like this are published in what is supposed to be a newspaper.

On a similar note, I have recently been suckered into buying a jar of the much-hyped Boots Perfect and Protect serum. I didn't queue at dawn for it - I bought it online with relative ease. It promises to reveal 'younger looking skin within 4 weeks'. I've been using it for two now and can feel a slight tautening of the skin. I am slightly concerned though by the thought of any return to my own younger skin - whilst my skin now isn't great, I don't want to go back to the spot-plagued skin I had at 19 - someone else's younger skin is what I'm hoping for. Really I'm not normally one for such vanity and no doubt I'll lose interest in applying it before I see any results.

The Most English of Afternoons

The OH has become a member of Surrey County Cricket Club which means he gets free entry to selected games and entry into the members pavilion. So yesterday afternoon we went down to the Oval to watch a bit of country cricket and (more importantly) have afternoon tea. Can you think of a more English way to spend an afternoon?

I was actually quite excited about our trip as I'd never seen a proper game of cricket before (OH & his friends playing does not count) but the OH warned me not to get too excited as the game was already pretty certain to end in a draw. Cricket is a bizarre passtime in that respect, in that often the result is secondary to the spirit of the game.

We arrived during the lunch break so had time for a quick look around the facilities before settling down with our drinks to watch the game (Surrey v Warwickshire, if you're interested). The match umpires walked past us on their way to the pitch and one of them (a little bald Welshman) gestured to the OH and said 'I've always wanted to do what you are doing, watch the cricket with a beautiful young lady and a beer, but I never get the chance'. I was rather embarrassed by this and could only draw the conclusion that cricket umpires like football referees must suffer from poor vision as I'm not sure I count as young anymore (although by county cricket watching standards, I suppose I was) and nobody has ever accused me of being beautiful before!

Anyway, we watched a few overs and saw Mark Ramprakash make a century, but then, as must be almost a daily hazard, rain stopped play and we were forced to return inside. Although it wasn't quite 3 o'clock yet, we decided to bring forward our afternoon tea, selecting a table by the window with a view of the field should play resume.

Seated at the table behind us were three men, one of whom had a very distinctive voice and was talking quite excitedly about problems he'd had with his Visa card in the USA. 'Is that Alan Wicker?' I asked the OH, not particularly seriously, but it turned out it was! A man who was famous for travelling around the globe and then went on to advertise a credit card was sat behind us, talking insistently about troubles with creditcards whilst on holiday! He eventually left behind the topic of credit cards and proceeded to go on a 'namedrop-athon' which took in Gaby Logan, Elton John and Michael Grade. Whilst we were happy to tuck into our tea, sandwiches, scones and cakes, we struggled to have our own conversation as Alan's monologue seemed much more interesting.

When we could eat and drink no more (the OH having exceeded his usual weekly tea dose in one sitting), we had one last look around the ground, but the rain was still coming down, so we decided to leave. As it happens, play did resume later but as expected it was still a draw so we didn't really miss much.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Fool Britannia

So Tony has finally stepped down and the nation’s thoughts turn to his successor (well, the few of us who actually bother to vote for anything other than television shows).

Already I’ve heard lots of radio discussions on Gordon Brown. I’m not sure about Brown – I don’t know enough about economics to know whether he has been a good Chancellor, but this, it would seem, is a minor matter. Some people are concerned about him being Scottish, some about his backing Tony on the war, but these are all fringe issues. The main problem people have with him appears to be that he is serious.

Personally, I think seriousness is a good quality for a Prime Minister to have. Its a pretty serious job. We are not picking someone to stay in the Big Brother house or to go through to the next round of Pop Idol. This is someone to run the country.

And the fact that he sometimes uses long words that most people don’t understand, again I don’t think this is a bad thing. I want to feel that the Prime Minister is more intelligent than me. Its not a job I could do so I do want someone more intelligent than me in the job.

What’s the alternative, Cameron in his ‘down with the kids’ fake Converse?

A return to politics where the policies are what matter would be a good thing.

(NB. This does not mean I support Labour)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Suburbian Railway - Some Observations

I’ve been taking the train into work for about a month now. It is very different from my previous journey into work by tube.

  • The train arrives a few minutes late most days, especially if I’ve panicked and hurried there
  • The train is shorter than the platform but there is no telling where it will stop as it changes daily
  • Everyone moves along the platform once the train arrives even if they were already level with a door
  • The ‘No Smoking’ rule doesn’t seem to apply on the platform yet it applies on the outdoor tube station platforms, which are essentially the same
  • The polyester suit is the outfit of choice on the suburban rail line
  • You see the same people every day. Some of the ‘characters’ on my journey include the girl with the severe platinum blonde hair of looking like my ex-best friend, the scruffy man with the greying ponytail, the man in shorts, the art student with her portfolio. I wonder if anyone has noticed me and realised that I’m new?

Film Festival: Shane Meadows

Sometimes these Bank Holiday weekends just sneak up on me and I haven't made any plans. This weekend was like that. I didn't really do very much of note, but over the course of the weekend, we managed to watch three films directed by Shane Meadows, our own mini-Shane Meadows Film Festival.

We started on Saturday night with 'A Room for Romeo Brass' (2000). Paddy Considine plays a lunatic who befriends a couple of younger boys. Not exactly life-changing but interesting enough and better than the vast majority of British films.

Next up on Sunday was 'Dead Man's Shoes' (2004) which we had previously seen - at its UK premiere no less. It was still excellent on second viewing although knowing the story took away some of its impact. Again Paddy Considine was excellent, again playing a psychopath although in this case, a justified one. The plot again involves older men befriending a young boy.

Yesterday, we went out to the cinema to see his latest offering 'This is England' (2006). No Paddy Considine this time but many of the same actors from his previous films, and the plot - a young boy is befriended by some older males, this time a group of skinheads. It was ok - I don't think the word 'enjoyable' is appropriate - it held my attention, but I found it the weaker of the three films. The plot was rather predictable and the 1980's setting was hammered home a bit too hard.

I wonder how much appeal any of his films have outside of this country. Would people struggle with the Nottinghamshire accents? Are the themes too parochial? All of the films are certainly far removed from the made-for-the-overseas-market versions of Britain in glossy gangster films or genteel upper class comedies.

Does it matter if our film industry has gone down the drain? Its not as if we ever led the world at it or that we invented it (unlike, say football!).

Sunday, May 06, 2007

My Babies

Tomato Plants, courtesy of the American at work.

I have been given explicit instructions for their care and nurture - but I have also been given four of them in the hope that at least one of them will survive. Good thing this theory hasn't extended to actual offspring.

I would love to have some success at this gardening lark - I'm picturing a modern take on 'The Good Life' (although I prefer the other couple - Margo for her clothes and I had a bit of a thing for Paul Eddington, bizarrely).

I hope I don't kill them.

Friday, May 04, 2007

What's in a Name

I’ve just discovered this website Corolla Cream – a feast of vintage-y stuff for the home and to wear.

Its makes great browsing but the thing I like best about it is that each item for sale has a person’s name –Vera, Madge and Philippa are teapots, Debs, George and Janet are cushion covers, Mildred and Cheryl are glovers.

As you may be able to tell, this has amused me no end.

Pictured here are George and Mildred, looking slightly different from the 70s sitcom of the same name.

There is even something with the same name as me (not Sanddancer – my actual name) – rather typically, it is a hideous pair of old curtains.

Dress Dilemma Update

I completely ignored the rules I'd laid out for myself previously and ordered this dress online from Topshop.

It broke the no common high street shop rule, something I might wear again rule and something that goes with shoes I already own rule. It also ignored M's helpful suggestion of something plain that could be dressed up with accessories.

In real-life it was foul. Shapeless, unflattering and cheap looking - and on reflection now even looking at the picture, it looks rather nightgown-esque. It has been returned and the search continues.

The New Local

We went to our new local again last night, the F.

The F is a lovely traditional pub with wood beams on the ceiling, friendly staff, a beer garden and as we discovered, a quiz night on Thursdays. To reach the F. we walk down a path alongside the canal, then down a street consisting of lovely stone-clad cottages. The F has been one unexpected bonus of the new area - in the old place we never had a local so we glad to have found one here.

But here is the problem.

It isn't strictly speaking our local - there are actually three pubs closer to our home. The nearest, The W, is a dump, the sort that shows endless horse-racing - but this is in the 'wrong direction' from our home, so we don't ever need to pass it or acknowledge its existence. Walking to the F. though you have to pass the V, a nice enough place, recently done up so fancies itself as a bit of a gastropub and recommended to us by the Estate Agent which is a bit of a negative point. Then even closer to the F, is the D, which we went in once while we were househunting - there was only one other customer in who was having a rather involved conversation with the landlord about drains that they tried to involve us in.

So are we allowed to call the F our local? The walk there is very pleasant, but truth be told it is in a nicer area than the one we live in, so are we fooling ourselves? My mum certainly seemed impressed when I mentioned walks by the canal which gives a false impression as really we are still living in an urban ghetto with poor rubbish collection service (although a green recycling box has re-appeared).

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Music was my first love...

After the not very good Flaming Lips gig last year, I really did think I might never see another live band again. We considered going to Glastonbury again this year (quite a few of our friends are going) but then we realised we didn’t really fancy it that much – in my case I was mainly worried I’d be missing out on something. In the ‘are we too old for this festival lark’ conversation I talked about which bands we would actually want to see live – it wasn’t a very long list and many of the bands on it didn’t seem that likely to actually play anyway.

But then a few weeks ago I saw an ad in the Observer (how civilising and middle class we are now!) for the Connect Music Festival. The line-up was pretty close to my list of who we would go to a festival to see – Primal Scream (obviously), Jesus & Mary Chain (reformed with Bobby back on drums!), LCD Soundsystem, Hot Chip and this bit I was stunned by, Big Star! All in the grounds of a castle by the a loch which looks stunning.

But there was still the issue of it being a festival which involves camping, tents and all sorts of other unnatural things ("if we were meant to camp, God wouldn’t have given us hotels", has always been my motto). I contacted every hotel, B&B and caravan park within the area but they were all booked already. So we were faced with the choice of camping or not going. So we are camping but deluxe camping, where the tent is already prepared for you complete with airbeds and new sleeping bags, so all we have to do is turn up. To soften the blow, we are staying a hotel in town the night before and then one night in Glasgow on the way back. Since we’ve bought the tickets, Polyphonic Spree and Modest Mouse (also from our list) have been added to the bill. I'm almost not dreading the camping now.

Then this week the line-up is announced for Jarvis Cocker's Meltdown - and he had Roky Erickson of the 13th Floor Elevators playing, supported by Clinic. Two more from the list! How good this will be remains to be seen as Roky has had a rather difficult past but I'm looking forward to it.

I'm not sure how much this counts as being back into music as most of these are reformed groups rather than new bands but I'm genuinely excited by it all.

I'm also quite keen on seeing Macbeth at the Open Air Theatre this summer, but I think I might have used up all of the OH's good will towards obscure cultural outings for a while.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Great Recycling Swindle

I’m sick of hearing about how, as a nation, we aren’t recycling enough. I know it is important and I want to do my bit but they don’t make it easy.

In our last place, because it was in a block (or multiple dwelling building as the council called it) we weren’t on the recycling collection route. This being London quite a lot of people don’t live in houses though so a fair proportion of the population isn’t able to recycle. Of course, we could have taken our recycling to a recycling point but the nearest one was about a ten minute drive away – two problems here 1) we don’t have a car, 2) even if we did, surely driving there is just as unfriendly to the environment?

So when we moved, I thought ‘great we’ll be able to recycle easily now’. I was wrong. Firstly, they will only take what fits in the supplied green box – if it is overflowing at all, they won’t take it, the recycling men being sticklers for the rules. My weekend newspaper habit alone is enough to fill the box.

But then the recycling took a turn for the worse. Our box went missing! We’ve been box-less for two weeks now. I’ve requested a new box from the council but so far, no joy. I’ve tried putting out my paper mountain in a bag labelled ‘recycling’ in the hope that they will take it away, but no, if its not stored in a magical green box, it apparently can’t be recycled.

I can only hope that a new green box arrives before we drown in newspapers and tinned tomato cans.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Foot in mouth

As I was getting off the tube last night, a man approached me. An aging surfer type.

Man: I just had to say I love your feet.
Me: ?
Man: I don’t mean to embarrass you but I love your shoes, your feet and your shoes. They are lovely. But I don’t want to embarrass you.
Me: Thank you.

I didn’t want to be embarrassed. I really didn’t but my checks were burning up by the end of this exchange. I didn’t know what to say. What is the correct response in these situations? I thought about telling him where the shoes were from and how little they cost (Peacocks £12), but I don’t think he wanted to buy a pair.

Instead I said thank you and then pretended I was in a bigger hurry to catch my train than I really was.