Wednesday, 31 March 2010

The Family Curse

Since I was a little girl I've heard people in my family say we're cursed.  It's just one of those things that's become a family joke.  In the last week I've begun to agree with them more than ever.

I've cried, prayed, lay awake thinking horrible things, bored people to death with what's happened and then snapped at people at work when they've decided to throw in their own opinions on areas they know nothing about.

I don't wish to share with you yet what's happened, merely to apologise for my absence.  The praying failed but we're all alive.  For that I am grateful.

Thursday, 25 March 2010


A few years ago, back when I was sweet, innocent and 18 (1 of those statements was true) I spent just under a month in Ghana. As part of the Staffordshire/Ghana Exchange we travelled all along the coast meeting people, getting to grips with the culture and helped to complete a school.

It was quite possibly the most difficult and most amazing time of my life.  People got malaria, food poisoning and God knows what else.  We travelled to Cape Coast and saw where the slaves were kept, we met the leaders of many different tribes, stumbled upon a village that openly practised voodoo magic and wrestled our way through markets bartering (apparently you have to it's the custom, I felt terrible) to get traders down by a few pence in some cases.

We had some very Western teenager moments where we snuck out to go drinking with a bunch of American's, I got drunk at the British Embassy and then made a speech (I was supposed to make the speech, just not drunk) and had everyone applauding with laughter and clapping because I had this added confidence, we flirted with some cadets , we moaned about the toilets and got in trouble for taking pictures that happened to catch a Ghanaian who then wanted paying.  He then chased our bus.  We did a lot of good too, we cried at how terrible the slaves were treated, we made children howl with laughter when they saw their picture on a digital camera for the first time and then made thir day by giving them balloons, handed over this fantastic school and were very close to adopting one of them.

I've been reminded of my time there a lot lately.  Firstly when I noticed all the African inspired fashion pieces, then when I realised now an entire range called ASOS Africa full of all these prints I saw whilst I was over there.  Most importantly I was reminded of Ghana and the wonderful people there when I saw BBC's programme on chocolate.  Panorama: Chocolate - The Bitter Truth focused on child trafficking and how they are forced to leave school to work on cocoa farms, as well as how easy it is to sell this into the supply chain that provides our high streets with chocolate.

There is a good bit to the story...Paul Kenyon, the Panorama reporter, helps rescue a 12 year old boy - trafficked across borders - to pick cocoa as a modern-day slave and reunites him with his mother.  For the first time, we meet the kids who harvest our cocoa but who have never tasted chocolate."  As Easter approaches I've suddenly been put off chocolate. It'll make you re-evaluate how lucky we are.  It made me think how little of a difference I made.  Every little bit helps though I suppose.  If you didn't see it catch it on iPlayer by clicking the programme name above...remember you only have a week from now to do so!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Yeasayer: One

So Radio One keep playing all these songs (obviously as they are a radio station) but not many stick in my head.  This one did.  And it was very annyoing.

Round and round it's been going and I couldn't remember who the hell it was.  Then, my musical genius best friend just said: "Oh its Yeasayer.  That's the one you keep saying you like at work."  She know's everybody I'm pretty sure.  She should maybe get a hobby.  Go out with me more maybe.

Anyway...key point is I can now share it with you.  I'm never ahead of the game with music so please don't confuse me with someone that thinks they're really cool.  Just enjoy.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Matchbox Twenty: You Won't Be Mine

I love the shuffle button....and this song keeps coming on when I'm on my way to and from work.  Absolutely love the piano.  The tune keeps coming into my head so I thought I'd share.

...There are also live versions on YouTube if you fancy it but the quality of the track's actually better on this random video version.

Sending it to to my friend now...continuing our tradition.  Hope he likes it.  Hope you do too...enjoy!

Let's Talk about Sex

So whilst listening to Radio One today at work I hear that apparently teenagers 'want to talk about sex more with parents'.  Personally, and extended to most of the people I work with, that's not so.  In fact, my awfully polite friend said: "Well that's just not right though is it.  It's just bull shit really."  It sounds like Newsbeat have been conned by the government.

According to the article 40% of teenagers would have waited longer before losing their virginity if their parents had spoke to them more about sex and the emotional effects rather than just contraception and STI's. mom was sometimes embarrassingly open with me.  But I love her for it and we talk all the time about things still.  I think she's the only one in my family that I'm truely honest with about stuff, so in a way it must have worked.  However, I think your friends have more to do with sex at a younger age.  It's that peer pressure 'everyone is doing it' thing.  I didn't succumb.  Some did.

So...environment, friends, parents or school?  Who should be drumming the sex talk with kids?  Or is this all a big cop out placing the blame on parents when essentially it's always going to be an individuals choice when to have sex?

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Chris Ofili: I shit you not...

Chris Ofili's Nigerian inspired artwork is being exhibited at Tate Britain between 27 January and 16 May 2010.  Having seen some of his work at Tate Modern years ago I have always remembered the presence of elephant dung.  Glittery elephant dung in some cases.

The Tate website says it a bit better:
"Ofili has built an international reputation with his works that bridge the sacred and the profane, popular culture and beliefs. His exuberant paintings are renowned for their rich layering and inventive use of media, including balls of elephant dung that punctuate the canvas and support them at their base, as well as glitter, resin, map pins and magazine cut-outs."

And to be fair, it is pretty good.  If it wasn't I wouldn't remember seeing it 5 years ago would I?  The Tate however have taken it one step further, commisioning a London artist who goes by "INSA" to respond to Ofili's work.  Here's the result:

Yes shoes with platforms of elephant poo then.  I shit you not.  (Sorry I couldn't help myself!)  This is one eco-friendly material I didn't think I'd see within fashion.  See the full range of images at Ecotuerre.  Doubt I'll forget these in a hurry either.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Love, Ire and Song

"You've got to laugh really, just because he's a man."

When this statement came out at work today I did laugh.  I couldn't help it.  My theory that things get easier when you're older well and truely put to shit by a woman who has recently turned forty.  All this just because my managers husband was sending some hilarious texts, all because he was either pissed/didn't have his glasses/both whilst at the "cub"...being the club/pub, nobody knows.  "It's alright," says my manager, "I'll just drive around the village until I find him."

I wonder if they find us so amusing, mocking us amongst friends/collegues because we've done something funny...funny just because we're female.

I have a friend that is pretty amazing.  I recieve wonderful emails on a daily basis that recieve nothing but a song.  Yes I've mentioned it before, it's a wonderful idea...after all, I started it.  I submerse myself in these songs and hope to learn something new about him from it.

Then I got this...

...and I bloody loved it.  Political humour in a song.  Genius.  I'm guessing I only recieved this because he found it amusing.  That alone.  I learnt nothing new.  Just that he has good music.

Song title is pretty apt though because that's what I look for in his emails: Love, Ire and Song.  I know he'll probably think I'm a complete freak when he reads this and discovers that not only do I listen to the songs over and over but I write about them here all the time.  Then he'll say "You've got to laugh really, just because she's a woman."

Squelch, Squelch, Squelch

It's been one of those weeks...though I'm sure you guessed that by my lack of blogging.

I have felt poorly sick, lots of ASOS interview prep to do, my boss hung up on me for taking time off work for being poorly and then today it rains.  It rains on the first day I'm wearing pumps obviously and so my feet are all squelchy and shit.  Squelch, squelch, squelch I went, whilst Paolo Nutini's 'Ten Out of Ten' blared in my ears making me think of sunshine.  I got to a hill and attempted to move downwards and almost fell on my face with my feet slipping all over the place within my stupid black suede pom pom shoes.  Suede ballet pumps and rain...nightmare.  I need a holiday, I really do.

Of course, being in England it rains in the Midlands.  However, I honestly can't remember the last time I actually had to walk in it.  It reminded me of this illustration...

It's one of a series I produced to represent 'Where am I now?' in a Personal and Professional Development module at university.  The image, whilst illustrated by me, is not my own.  It's one of Azuzephre's Pon and Zi cartoons, I have only been creative enough to change the words.  Cutest little emo characters ever.

Anyway, I digress...this illustration summed up how I felt at the time.  I was beginning to feel trapped in Preston.  Well, that was silly.  It took me three years to get bored of Preston, which was only brought on by my continuing stress to be amazing at uni, and now 9 months at home and I wish I was back there.  Masters?  It's becoming more and more appealing.  Rain or no rain.

The grass is always greener isn't it...definitely need to just make the most of what I have.  Bugger.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Aqualung: Strange and Beautiful

Sometimes an artist releases a song that is pure genius.  Today I was reminded of one of those.  I don't know what happened to Aqualung, I don't know any of their songs but this one, but I do know this is one of my favourite songs of all time.  So why did I need reminding?  It's never on the radio, I accidentally wiped it from my iPod (because sync is the devil) and my hard drive broke meaning that it was pretty much just erased from my life.  What a bugger.

Anyway, here it is...Strange and Beautiful.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Friends: "It works both ways"

Whilst reminiscing with my friend at work today we suddenly started reenacting/quoting a scene from Friends...the bit before Chandelor and Ross discuss the Hug and Roll know the bit about instant reactions?

Rachel: "Does my bum look big in this?"
Ross: "Noooo. Does size matter?"
Rachel: "Nooo."
Ross: "See it works both ways."

We laughed about this because for our generation Friends has been with us for a very long time.  In fact, for many years E4 has simply played every season over and over, starting again when they're done and tagging on new seasons.  (Shockingly they recently decided to stop doing this.  About time really.)

Do you remember that scene?  It's the bit that comes right before this:

YouTube completely let me down and didn't actually have the bit I wanted.  Sad huh?  Though, in the suggestions box that did come up I had a variety of things, from How to Hug and Roll video to How to Seduce Yourself.

Yeah, you read that right: How to Seduce Yourself.  (Embedding is disabled to click the link.)

I really hope that this video is a piss take but I really can't be sure.  Seductive videos surely shouldn't include Closer?!  I've seen that film and don't remember being turned on at any point.  Sometimes going off on a tangent provides the most amusing results.  And remember guys..."It's the safest sex there is."

Thursday, 11 March 2010

LSD Wonderland

So...for my birthday (as we went out on the weekend) I journeyed to the cinema to see Alice in Wonderland.  There is no mistaking that this was a Tim Burton film.  If not because of the Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp aspect because of the way everything seemed to work, like some mad journey.  For this reason I can't think of anyone better to direct it.

I refused to go with expectations, I knew it'd ruin it.  Sat there, definitely not being cool in my 3D glasses, I gaped at the screen, grinned at Johnny Depp and rubbed my temples when things got too much.  Johnny Depp was my only expectation, I expected him to be amazing.  I love him, so in one way he the other his accent flitted from Willy Wonka to Jack Sparrow to a bad Scottish accent and back again.  I live in the UK...I know what Scottish should sound like and that is not it.  I'm not sure whether this should be a negative, he was playing the Mad Hatter so really flitting around like a mad man with split personalities surely is right?  Really to assess his talent I'd have to know if it was intentional.

My favourite characters were the Bristish ones.  This probably makes me biased but I don't care.  Matt Lucas played the Tweedle Twins amazingly, Steven Fry was a wonderful Cheshire Cat and Alan Rickman made the perfect stoned caterpillar.

The best thing about the movie was the costumes...and the make up...

My friends review was the best.  Blinking into the corridor all he could think to say was "I feel like I've been on LSD for an hour."

"Hurrah! Scientific evidence that men prefer curves."

"Hurrah! Scientific evidence that men prefer curves."  Grazia are shouting it to the rafters but I can't quite stop my cynicism.  Whilst they're right about wide hips being linked to good health and good child bearing this surely doesn't translate to a size 20 woman whose waist has been lost to cupcakes.

I must state (before someone reads this and shouts at me) that I am a healthy size, I don't have problems with my weight and I don't judge those that are bigger than me.  However, whilst I have been blessed with a a fairly shapely houseglass I'm not pretty sure that indulging in donuts will create child bearing hips, it will more just create muffin top.

Don't diet, don't gorge, just be yourself and make sure you dress properly for your size.  Surely that's more important than what any man thinks?  Therefore, whilst cinching in my waist with a belt and allowing a loser dress to cover my currently bloated stomach I indulge in a lemon cupcake (my favourite) complete with butter icing, lemon curd and white chocolate curls.

So, in the spirit of the Oscars, here are some beautiful celebrities enhancing their curves in stunning dresses...

Kate Winslet, Selma Hayek, Helen Mirren and Vera Farmiga

Sunday, 7 March 2010

OK Go: Music to make you smile

Sometimes things just make you smile.  OK Go are one of them for me and their video, This Too Shall Pass, is amazing.  It's like a very intricate game of Mouse Trap.  I like to think it required no editing and worked in one take.  Really the fact they're covered in paint (the finale seeing them getting shot at with paint) from the beginning show's me this dream is already shot on at least one account.

It's not their first video that's made me smile.  The treadmill one for Here It Goes Again did a pretty good job of it too.


Unique store a butchers!

I'm not much of a meat eater.  I don't like the taste, the fattyness (not in terms of my own diet in terms of the chewy-factor) and I definitely don't like the smell or even the look of meat.  Basically I only eat chicken and only because if I eliminated this I'd have very little left to eat.  I'm picky.  Extremely.

Needless to say, I was amazed when The Cool Hunter highlighted a Sydney based butchers that actually makes meat look worth my time.  Victor Churchill's store utilises rich timber walls, marble flooring, refrigerated glass fronted copper cabinets and a ‘chook cam’ wall (a nod to the recent 2008 Fall Louis Vuitton window display, with multiple video cameras trained onto our daily special within a glass domed display pedestal).

Theatrically Victor Churchill's butchers slice and carve at timber block 'stages' and behind the glass fronted cooler where cuts of meat rotate for viewing purposes.  Of course, "the backdrop for all this is a Himalayan rock salt brick wall that infuses the hanging meat with flavor and sterilizes the air."  The designers (Dreamtime Australia Design) have thought everything through visually and practically...a far cry from the butchers in my village, from which the stench of meat permeates through the sliced plastic door curtain.  Nothing is hidden but nothing puts me off either.  This is reinventing the expected and it's what more brands should be doing!

Music: Bringing people closer since forever

I love music.  It has the power to make you forget everything or remember something.  Basically you sink into it...or you turn it off essentially.  In an attempt to reconnect with a friend a few weeks ago I started emailing music that I thought they would like/reminded me of them every day.  I gave up when I had no response...then recently they started doing it back.  This made me smile.

I'm waiting for todays song whilst relistening to those I've recieved so far and trying to decide what I should send back.  It makes me feel close despite the many many miles between us.

My favourite so far, and indeed the first I recieved ('s a hard one to top), is by The XX.  It's called Stars.  It's epic.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Let football be about football

I don't like football, I don't know who's who, who they play for or even where teams are located if it isn't clearly stated.  That's why it was such an unlikely event for me to argue in favour of football as a sport against my best friend, with whom I rarely argue or even differ in opinion a lot of the time.  However, with the whole Egypt v England thing I got very annoyed that all the media seemed to be focusing on was the love lives of the players and not their actual football skills.

The fact my friend showed true concern for Cheryl Cole and actually stated that she feels "like Cheryl Cole is a personal friend".  Nations sweetheart she may be...please don't be offended that her husband was a tosser.  If he's good (which in all honesty I don't even know if he is) let him get on with his job eh?

I don't care whether you're John Terry, Wayne Bridge or even Ashley Cole.  Can you kick a ball?  Does your team have a better chance of winning if you're there?  Good for you, off you go then.  You do that.  I don't really mind what happens in your not so private life.  I even promise not to boo at you for sleeping with someone you shouldn't. (Please Mr Radio 1 man don't try to make whether or not John Terry will get booed at a news story.)

As hot as Cheryl Cole may be it's possible she wasn't all sweetness and light.  How ironic this song is though...lost your parachute Cheryl?

The Defrosting of Charlotte Small

I finished a book the other day.  I know, shock horror right?  It's not like it's breaking I devour books like chocolate.  Though chocolate actually hurts my teeth lately, I'm pretty sure I'm grinding them in my sleep.  Anyway, I'll get back on track, I've just finished a book called "The Defrosting of Charlotte Small" by Annabel Giles.

The sleeve says it all: "After flattening a friend's dog, carelessly losing not one job but three, and waving her daughter off to spend Christmas overseas, Charlotte hits the wall...Consequently, having thrown the entire contents of her house on to the street, she's found by the police lying on her back under a Christmas tree with an empty bottle of Port and a half-eaten lump of Stilton."  Not a good Christmas really.  She goes on to claw her way back, to allow herself to feel more and get her life back in gear.  And she goes on a mission to find love.

With each chapter is a quote and some of them are wonderfully apt.  One of the things that made Charlotte understand herself a little more was writing down what she found fun.  She made a list.  So I'm making a list.

Things I like to do for fun:
...writing rambling blog posts that people probably never get to the end of
...rating things on a scale of one to ten
...exaggerating i.e. loving or hating not liking/disliking
...dancing when I'm drunk and/or in my bedroom where nobody can see me
...eating cake in particular
...singing badly to music
...going to the theatre
...going to gigs
...travelling (anywhere from Chester to Cape Coast)
...writing letters
...recieving letters
...trend (in all forms of design)
...sleeping (to sleep, perchance to dream)

After doing this she fixes her career, begins to love herself, mends broken bridges and lives happily ever after...I hope.  Here's to a fresh start.  In 4 days I'll be 22.  Old right?  Everyone has their own personal journey.  Mine won't involve googling love.  Sorry Charlotte Small but I doubt anyone can tell you what that truely is.  That's why the answer to "how do you know you're in love?" is always "you just know!"

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Baby Talk

In complete contrast to the mass of commitment phobes are those that are becoming all serious.  You know the ones...21 with kids, slightly lack lustre engagement rings, houses and plans to settle down.  In fact one friend has it all planned out, right down to whe she'll actually get pregnant to maximise time out of work.  She's a teacher you see...plan it right and she can not only have her year but then the summer off as well.  Marvellous.  Apparently.

Needless to say, with my mind firmly set in my career and the thought of moving on rather than maintaining a relationship I've been pleasantly surprised at my reaction to new mothers.  (I must state that despite this I am currently watching One Born Every Minute on Channel 4 and cementing my desire to not have a baby.  Especially not any time soon.)

One of my most wonderful, independent friends and my more immature sisterly cousin have had children.  Within three weeks of each other.  Turns out I can listen to them talk about babies, sick, nappies, oz's of milk, transportation issues, lack of sleep and even post natal depression with vigour.  It seems not only does it take my mind off my own issues but it makes me smile to see these lovely women bloom with happiness as the motherhood makes them all mature and smiley.  Despite going against the grain re:settling down with their partners it's wonderful.  Turns out babies can be wonderful creatures after all (until they're sick on my new top and coat though...lovely dry cleaning bill coming my way)  and some young moms are pretty fantastic.

I was right on the body front though.  Sagging stomachs that won't go away do not increase confidence.  Luckily though there are some fantastic maternity clothes that can be worn for yonks after the baby's born.  Even Topshop are on the wandwagon (they have been for ages but it's surprising when you see it's not tat) producing not only clothes for mom but baby too.  In fact I'm sat in a cheap and cheerful maternity dress now, belted tightly at the waist.  I just thought it was supposed to be clue it was maternity.

Oh and I'm going to be a god mother for the fourth time.  Turns out they see something in me too.  Who knew?  Maybe it's my ability to buy fantastic gifts and nothing to do with maternal instinct.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Embellishments Rule at Emilio Pucci

Boho prints and maxi skirts contrast entirely with the mini-dresses and...more importantly...the embellishments that make a lot of those prints come to life.  Fringing, feathers, sequins Pucci's latest collection is luxurious right down to the colours.  Rich purples and reds nestle next to high shine golds.

Unlike many designers though Peter Dundas' creative direction is all encompassing, including everything from maxi dressea to flirty mini dresses, stopping off along the way to include leather jackets.  All sexy and unique of course.  Scarfs and statements coats make wrapping up for winter seem fun and fashionable.  Though, saying that after the blue sky and sunshine today roll on summer.