Thursday, 25 September 2014

New Girl

Well it's been a while hasn't it? Life has been moving at break neck speed. 

Lots to write about but the main headlines are:

I am officially middle aged as I have just celebrated my 41st birthday.  Obviously most of my 40 before I'm 40 list are languishing discarded.I did have a party, I had a blast.

I have moved house.  In January we decided enough was enough with this divided family routine and so bought a house & we relocated in the summer.  Yes me, towny southern girl, moved away from the bustle to a small market town in the midlands. There isn't even a station here.  The buses run hourly.  There is a weekly market which consists of about 8 stalls.  Its nice.  Its different.  Its not London. Thats not a criticism and yet it is.  The bustle is programmed into my very being and so it is quite a readjustment.  Girls 1 & 2 seem to be settling in quite quickly but me, what do I do? 

There aren't many times as a grown up where you consciously make new friends, you tend to pick them up along the way; at university, at different jobs, doing hobbies and activities.  The last time I consciously made new friends was when my eldest daughter was born and we were all bound together with the shared fear and unknown of having a first child.   I am now in a position where I know no one.  Not a soul, other than my husband and to be honest the playground can be a really lonely place without having someone to simply smile hello to.  And its not as if people are unfriendly, its maybe that lives are just busy or having lived round here all their lives they have no empathy for someone who knows no one.

Mr D is fairly self sufficient, he moved around so much as a child he thinks he doesn't need people, he has friends, old friends but doesn't really deem friends necessary.  But no man is an island, especially not me, I need people.  Life is too lonely without someone to talk to.  

After having a particularly shitty school run the other week, where no one even made eye contact with me, I'd had enough.  My mum phoned and I burst into tears. "I thought this would happen at some point" she said.  Fed up of being told 'It'll take time' I decided to do something about it and arranged to join a group which was meeting the next night.  I don't know if I changed or what but the next morning we ran into a child from Girl 2s class who lives round the corner.  His mum is lovely, we walked to and from school, she introduced me to people.  I went to the group that night and meet women, several of whom have recently moved here.  One in particular swapped numbers with me and we arranged to meet for coffee. 

Its weird isnt it at the start of a friendship, almost like a courtship, how long do you leave it before texting or friend requesting? don't want to seem too desperate, don't want to seen aloof Early stages you dont want to scare them off with neediness or misjudged humour.  Trying to play it cool but wanting to cling on shouting "A friend, a friend, I've made a friend!". 

But low and behold I think I may have the beginnings of friendship. A spark that needs to be nurtured with coffee and cake and shared experience. She has recently moved into the area and despite being on talking terms with many feels alone in the crowd.  I have someone to say hello to. 

Friday, 21 June 2013

15 years

When I heard that James Gandolfini had died this week of a heart attack at 51 my dad was all I could think about.  Dad died aged 52 of a massive heart attack on 21st June 1998.  That makes today the 15th anniversary of his death.

15 years seems so significant, such a big number.  I feel like it was yesterday.  I feel like it was forever ago.

I was 24 (almost 25) when he died and his passing no doubt shaped me into who I am today.

It was Father's Day & for once we were all together at my sister's house for lunch.  For once we had made a really big fuss of him.  We sat & had Mexican food, we talked, we laughed.  Dad then went upstairs for a nap, the rest of us were going to go for a walk, it was a gorgeous day.  My mum went up to talk to him before we went out and then called down to us, she was panicked.  And I knew that something awful had happened from the tone of her voice. I knew.

We went upstairs & he wasn't really conscious, he was a horrible colour and he breathing was laboured.

My sister called for an ambulance, I shouted at him to breathe.  My other sister waited outside for them to arrive.  The ambulance came & we all decamped to the living room.  They didn't want us to see them trying to revive him, and then to try and get my father, a large man, down the narrow stairs.  My older sister kept on saying 'whatever happens it's for the best'.  

My mum went in the ambulance with dad & my soon to be brother in law.  I followed with my sisters. 

They took us through to a family room off A&E.  He was in crash.  "He wouldn't like that" Mum said "anyone who goes into crash on Casualty is a gonner he says".  Turns out he was right.

 The next few hours was a blur of phone calls ringing people to tell them.  I volunteered to break the news to my grandparents and their reaction will haunt me forever.

I can't really put into words how my world crashed down around me when he was gone.  My Dad.  My Daddy.  I kind of lost focus for a while

But life does go on and time does make things a bit easier to bear.  Anniversaries and special occasions bring it back. And music.  I can't hear The Beatles without thinking of him.

So much has happened in the past 15 years.  Me & my sisters have all got married since he died.  We've had 7 children between us.  My mum has had breast cancer twice.  We really could have done with having him around.  Even if he was a pain in the arse sometimes and told embarrassing stories and naff jokes and made me rub his feet all the time.  I miss him.

My heart goes out to James Gandolfini's family and their loss.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Blurred lines

I have a song completely stuck in my head.  I wake up humming it.  Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke (who?) & Pharrell Williams. 
I love love LOVE the song but hate hate HATE the video.  Rated or Unrated versions feature the very handsome Misters Thicke & Williams suited & booted and looking very hot dancing with 3 very beautiful & young models who are scantily clad in the rated version or topless in the unrated one.

I saw an interview with Robin Thicke in which he said the fact that he, Pharrell & T.I. (the guy rapping) are all married make it perfectly OK.  He thinks that having 3 middle aged men (can you believe that Pharrell Williams was born in 1973?) with near naked young girls is funny like Benny Hill.  I think the mistake that Mr Thicke is making is that Benny Hill was from the 70s where casual sexism was the norm. And lets not forget Benny Hill was not really very funny.

So it's meant to be funny or tongue in cheek.  I read that they wanted to make it as outrageous as possible, Mr Thicke has said about it "It is mostly throwaway fun, but naturally Pharrell and I - being in love with our wives, having kids and loving our mothers - we have a lot of respect for women.". 

I can't say that really comes across Robin with the naked dancing girls and the helium balloons spelling out 'ROBIN THICKE HAS A BIG DICK'   

The only really blurred line here being whether this is funny or grossly sexist

To me it smacks of a cynical marketing ploy.  How many hits has it received?  And the "unrated" version has been "banned" from YouTube - however is extremely easy to find as if you find the video on YouTube there is a link attached to take you to Vevo to view it.  Along with the hash tags plastered across it all (I haven't searched for it on twitter yet but as sure it's at saturation point.  

Robin Thicke has said that his wife OK'd him doing the naked video & even came up with some of the ideas for it, and that having half-naked women pouring themselves over him is in no way sexist and he jokes that “If that’s sexism then so is everything inside the Louvre.” 

Hmmmn.  I'm not entirely sure that, that argument washes.  He can't possibly be suggesting (even in jest) that this pop promo is art can he?

I really am not a prude but come on it's 2013.

Like I say I love the song, it's fun, it's catchy, it is a real earworm.  I would rather have just looked at Robin & Pharrell for the duration of the song.  Or would that be objectifying them?

 Hey hey hey

Monday, 10 June 2013

Listmania continues. Bands I've seen

I found this lurking around in my draft posts.  Yet another list born out of the Listography exercise we had done at my writing group. I definitely should buy this book, such a unique form of diary.  The thought of future generations reading all about my claims to fame or drunken moments makes me smile.  The idea that I won't just be a photo in a album but a rounded person appeals to me.  

So today is Bands that I've seen.  So in no particular order & also including individual artistes..  

1) PULP at the BIC, Finsbury Park, Brixton Academy (amazing venue but the sloping floor kill your calf muscles), Wireless Festival in Hyde Park, Brixton Academy (again) - I kind of love them. Jarvis Cocker; funny, clever, slightly odd but damn sexy (even with a beard)

 I was closer to the front than this!
2) Summer XS at Wembley Stadium the bill included Debbie Harry in fishnets & with a whip.  I was always a huge Blondie fan.

3) The Hothouse Flowers

4) Jesus Jones

5) Jellyfish - I loved that album

6) and INXS.  Amazing.  When they came on stage I heard someone screaming their head off.  Turns out it was me.  Michael Hutchins was sex on legs.  Beautiful.

7) Went to see U2 at Wembley Stadium for the Zoo TV tour.  They were amazing.  We ended up in corralled in a standing section at the front.  I went with a friend who was a huge fan & his face lit up like a small boy when they came on stage.  We missed the last train home & so I had to call my dad who got to Charing Cross in about 20 minutes (from the 'burbs) & then ended dropping everyone home.

8) They were supported by Big Audio Dynamite 2 (yeah me neither) who started every track with their back to the audience & then turned round.  I was really gutted because Bjork supported on one of the other nights.

9) PJ Harvey whilst she was still grungy & had very hairy arm pits.

10) Dodgy played at a ball at university.  Thinking about this makes me smile as a) whenever my parents back out of our drive at home onto the busy road they always said "Shhhh.  DODGY" and also because someone I know got caught shagging up against their van at the ball.

11) The drummer from The Fratelli's played at a wedding I was at

12) I went to see Cliff Richard when I was about 10.  I wasn't really a fan but my friend's mum was a huge fan.  We liked the laser show.

13) Have seen loads of bands at Proms in the Park (besides the BBC orchestra).  Lionel Ritchie who was fab

14) Jools Holland with his big band (& Sam Browne) who get everyone up & dancing on a freezing cold evening in Hyde Park

15) Simply Red - "Simply awful" we said

16) The Bootleg Beatles - it amused me that they stayed in character in between songs

17) Bjorn again - ditto

18) The Tide - a covers band at a pub at Stockwell.  They were great. We were very drunk.  They left the stage like rock stars grabbing people's hands.

19) James performing at the BBC

20) Natalie Imbruglia at The Town & Country Club (not sure if it still was called that then).  I sat next to a very strange middle aged man who called out "Natalie!" to himself and whenever she said "Thank you" he said "No, thank you"

21) Kylie Minogue at Wembley Arena.  I was 18.  It was during her faux Madonna phase.

22) At the Pulp Finsbury Park gig Catatonia - supported.  I love Ceris.  I sang along to all the songs in a dodgy Welsh accent (well you have to don't you)

23) Bernard Butler also supported Pulp.  He got really pissy as he was on earlier on in the day & people were just sitting around and not paying full attention to him.

24) Grace Jones supported Pulp at Wireless.  She was amazingly nuts, hoola hooping in a leotard.

25) I went to the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party in 1991.  I can't remember who performed apart from Carter USM as one of them rugby tackled Phillip Schofield

26) Went to see Jason Donovan in Joseph (not sure if that's cheating)

27) Prince at Earls Court.  He was AMAZING.  Midget man oozed sex appeal.  Diamonds & Pearls

28) Blur at the Town & County club, early days when they had only released one single.  I went with my friend who I was secretly in love with.  We watched several really shit support bands, my friend's friends drank too much cider & threw up, my friend came out to me & we left before Blur came on.

29) S Club 7 - my friend got tickets.  We were the oldest ones there without kids.

30) S Club Juniors did their first performance there

31) Badly Drawn Boy at an Amnesty International gig.  He was brilliant & very funny.  He started a Mexican wave.

32) Kelly Jones also performed at that gig. Gorgeous voice, handsome man.

33) Lick who were a 90s band, in a place in Camden

34) Freak Power played at my Fresher's Ball at university.  

I couldn't remember what this track was called until I googled it

35) Take That as a 4 at the Milton Keynes Bowl.  Went with 2 other friends we got horribly lost on the way there and couldn't believe the ice cream van there charged £3.50 for a 99!!

36) They were supported by Beverly Knight 

37) and the Sugababes who did a cover of Obsession which is probably my favourite 80's/one hit wonder ever

 (obviously not the Sugababes but I love love this song)

38) Take That as a 5 at Wembley Stadium.  AMAZING

39) Robbie Williams performed a set on his own. Always my favourite but a bit of a Sweary Mary that night

40) Supported by The Pet Shop Boys who were camp, quirky & fabulous.

41) Roger Walters performing The Wall at the O2.  The night before all of Pink Floyd joined him on stage.  Seats so high in the gods I was afraid I would fall.  Went with Mr D his thing really, if I'm honest I found it a bit dull (but shhh don't mention that to him)

When I first started doing this I was under the impression that I haven't been to many gigs, but on reflection maybe I have seen one or two. Undoubtedly I've missed some off the list and there are still gigs I would love to go to.  I think this list proves that my taste in music is eclectic.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Moral Conundrum

Is it wrong for me to dislike a child? Not hate as hate is too strong a word, but be really really irritated by them?  And this isn't even my own child (god knows I can be irritated by them when they don't listen or leave toys all over the floor or kick off when you're in the supermarket...)

No, this is a friend of my biggest girl, lets call her Sally.  A year older than my gorgeous girl, Sally seems to throw her weight around as she "is the oldest".  Divisive & manipulative I watch this child coercing my girl into games or situations I can tell that she would rather not be involved in.  She tells tales on my youngest daughter which grates on me a lot as I keep pointing out to this girl, my smallest girl may not be the best behaved child but she is half her age so she needs to cut her some slack.

Girl 1 comes home with stories of how Sally has sent people over to ask her to play with her or declared that she has no other friends & demands that my girl stops what she is doing / who she is playing with and fall in with whatever this other girl wants.  The emotional blackmail sets me teeth on edge.  I am trying so hard not to say anything negative about this girl, I know she is not my friend so I don't necessarily have to like her but still...

I have tried to talk around the point that maybe it's not very fair that Sally wants her to drop her other friends whenever she clicks her fingers & I think it's sinking in a bit.  My girl recently negotiated with Sally that either she join in with the existing game or she would play with her another day.  A very proud mummy moment there. 

But disliking a child makes me feel like a bad person.  She is after all 9 and therefore 30 years younger than me.  Maybe I should cut her some slack?

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

All my best stories start with I hadn't had much for tea & then I started drinking....

If you are my mother you might not want to read the following...

So hello, I've been a bit slack of late with my blogging as real life or RL keeps getting in the way (can you tell I've been reading fan fiction recently - a post about which is brewing....).  My writing group has kind of petered out of late which I was sad about, I'm missing that outlet.  But today I had lunch & a catch up with my writing mentor/teacher/friend.  We were chatting & I mentioned I'd made loads of notes recently for my blog based on the Listography exercise we had done which started all my Claims to Fame posts  but not written stuff up. So when I got home I had a flick through my notes & found this..

So the idea of the list was drunken moments but I realised that all my best stories begin with 'I hadn't had much for tea (& then I started drinking)...' so I compiled a top ten (in no particular order).
1) ... I went to a party at my ex boyfriends house.  I drank a litre of wine in about 20 minutes (he was ignoring me/I was bored/ I was REALLY thirsty).  Feeling slightly unwell he escorted me to the bathroom whereby I turned away from the toilet at a crucial moment & vomited on him (classy eh?).  And I wondered why it didn't last?

2)...I had a few drinks and ended up dancing on a table at a wedding in a very short dress.  (A dress that my mother deemed OK as long as I didn't raise me arms above me head.  Cue me on table dancing arms above head.)

3)...I got drunk at my leaving drinks from a job, my then boyfriend (Now Mr D) took me for food to try & sober me up.  I fell asleep in Pizza Hut, head on table so we had to take the pizza to go.  When I woke up the next day I found the pizza on the kitchen table & asked my bf why he hadn't given it to a homeless person.  Apparently I had actively stopped him from doing that.

4) ...On my way home tipsy from '1 drink' after work (no such thing), I hiccuped & puked down myself.  I immediately sobered up & agreed with everyone around me who were giving me 'you're disgusting' looks.

5) ...when I woke up the morning after a party in a room full of people wearing only my pants & a sheet. (luckily innocent explanation for this)

6) ...had the same conversation with a friend at a party 3 times word for word.  By the end he was finishing my sentences & I thought he was psychic.

7) ...I conceived a 2nd child. (that was a good holiday)

8) ....I was seen drooling against a cab window by a work colleague.  A very handsome work colleague.

9) ....I kissed a (girl) friend as a dare.  Hilarious photographic evidence discovered recently whilst going through a box of old photos.  You can see we are cracking up, the funny thing is the male friend who is gazing on intently

10) ...I kissed a gay man.  I had no idea he was gay.  I was introduced to him several weeks later & I pointed out we had 'met' before he said "Oh, so you're the one!"

I am in no way advocating this sort of behaviour, I was very lucky that nothing really untoward happened to me, but I think it's quite common to go through a faze like this when you're younger & exploring your limits.  Of course I don't do that kind of thing these days* I am a grown up.

However, I will ensure that my children never hear about these stories & if anyone tried to tell them I will deny all knowledge. 

What are your best stories?

* well very rarely

** Mum I told you not to read this!**

Sunday, 26 May 2013

tape girl

I was having a clear up (again) in my bedroom & found a bag of cassettes (I was going to write stumbled across but that made it sound like I'd fallen over them - "I'm not surprised" I can hear my mum saying "the state of your bedroom")

Now for any young drama queens out there cassettes are an audio format (a bit like a CD but older) & if you wanted to record anything to you to press record & play at the same time on your tape recorder.  You could record tape to tape at high speed on fancy stereos (think old school ipod) & the music sounded like Pinky & Perky (...oh never mind).

This treasure trove of nostalgia included:

The original Now That's What I Call Music - which reminded that side B of cassette 2 was always the dodgy side

A tape of some friends from university's band - which I still love & I wish I had the kit & know how to digitize it as I would share it as they are great.

A cassette of Mick Brown dedicating 'Rush Hour' to me & my sister number 10 in my last claim to fame list

A load of compilation tapes that I made years ago & although it's a dead format I cannot bear to throw them away.

It reminded me that I used to cut out photos from magazines for covers for my tapes

but I also used to name my compilations

this one is called Jason Donovan's Chest because that's what's on the cover (going for the Ronseal approach)

Lurking at the bottom of the pile were two tapes which I knew even before looking at the track list were heart break tapes.  

The first one 'Emotions' is your standard fare of weepy mix tape; some early Beatles tracks, Everything But the Girl (before they  went all dance on us), Crowded House & Simply Red.  I barely remember what heartbreak it was over (but think I can guess because of the inclusion of the Simply Red track).  But if it was that guy I'm wondering, why was I tormenting myself over him?  He was a dick.  I didn't love him, I liked him, he made me laugh (sometimes), but he was definitely not worthy of my tears.

The other one is just labelled Summer 95 and this one is properly sad.  I know by the date (as well as the contents) what this one is all about). 
I can just picture that poor sad little drama queen listening to her tape weeping into her pillow, nursing a broken heart.  A good cry can be so cathartic to get it (them) out of your system, but there is a fine line & I'm sure on occasion I crossed over to wallowing in it. 

Being that I probably unkindly dissected a mix tape an old girlfriend made for Mr D I thought I would share the track list:

Side A
Return to Innocence - Enigma (I know but that would fall into one of the songs HE liked)
Cross My Heart - Everything But The Girl
Love is Here Where I Live - EBTG
Apron Strings - EBTG (obviously working my way through the Everything But The Girl back catalogue)
Everybody Hurts - REM (guaranteed weepy.  I want this song at my funeral.  I want EVERYONE to cry)
No Need to Argue - The Cranberries
Jealous Guy - John Lennon
You've Got Me Thinking - The Beloved (classic of the time)
Favourite T - The Lemonheads
Bell Bottomed Tear - The Beautiful South
Linger - The Cranberries
Caroline - Misty Oldland (yeah, me neither)

Side B
I Need Your Loving - Baby D (original is better)
Badhead - Blur
Take a Bow - Madonna
No More I Love Yous - Annie Lennox
Back For Good - Take That
Sour Times - Portishead (got to love a bit of Portishead)
Driving With The Brakes On - Del Ametri
Across The Universe - The Beatles (another on the list for my funeral - love love this song)
Heaven Help Me - EBTG (again!)
The World Is Stone - Cyndi Lauper
They Dance Alone - Sting

I did say I have eclectic taste in music (Mr D insists that means it's a mix of good & shit). An unusual mix I'll admit but the odd gem in there.

Just in case you need a good cry. 

 Hopefully it falls under the 'good' music in my collection x