Thursday, October 26, 2006

Quiz me up to the max

Apologies for the quite appalling lack of blogging of late. I am absolutely run off my feet at the moment, and when I get in from work I am more inclined to pass out on the sofa in front of the TV than try to write witty things on here.

Anyway, tonight I managed to escape work at a relatively decent hour in order to mug up for tonight’s pub quiz at the Nobody Inn. We used to go to The George or The Rosemary but the quizzes there were scarily preoccupied with questions about History which is easily our worst subject between us.

Pleasingly, the one at the Nobody Inn has no truck with such subjects, preferring to focus on current affairs and showbiz, which is much better suited to us lot. It is also an absurdly generous place in terms of prizes. KT and I went there a few weeks ago and ended up doing the quiz while completely hammered. We came rock bottom, yet were still invited to choose a prize (we had a choice of a family sized bar of Dairy Milk or four cans of Carling. God knows what the winners got, considering this generosity. Gold bullion?)

So, Heat magazine read and the names of family-abandoning Tory politicans memorised, we’re ready to rock. All we have to do now is choose our team name. I am hanging out for ‘Heather Mills-McCartney is a total ho’, but I fear that while this is factually correct, it is not quite witty enough in comparison to our fellow Hackney quizzers.

Wish us luck!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Smells that remind me of childhood #2

The present is far too annoying to blog about at the moment. The broadband’s bust, the office roof is still dropping great big pieces of rotting ceiling panel on my head, and Derek Acorah is on my television and won’t go away because the Sky box has had an attack of the vapours and won’t let me change channels.

So, what better solution than a descent into the past? People seemed to enjoy the last foray into childhood, so let’s head back there.

The other morning I woke up late. I hopped in the bath (a shower would be quicker, but the water pressure is completely buggered and neither The Fiance or I have the slightest clue how to fix it, so it’s baths all round for us at the moment), hopped straight out again, shoved on my clothes and ran out of the door to go and fail to get on a number 30. Halfway there, I realised I had forgotten to put my deodorant on. Yes, I know it should be an automatic thing to do, but I’d been out on the beers the night before and if I’m being honest was only vaguely awake.

Luckily there is a Boots round the corner from my work. Being bleary eyed and not generally one blessed with great patience, I failed to spy the actual deodorant and so picked up the nearest thing to it I could see – the Impulse body spray. Specifically, the O2 Impulse body spray that, in the words of Ralph Wiggum, “smells like burning”. I ran out of the shop spraying it all over me. Then I actually smelled it, and felt like I had morphed back into the 14 year old who was taller than everyone else in her peer group by six inches and who had to wear a vile retainer brace at night.

Judging by what I read in the papers nowadays, my friends and I were rather fresh faced and well behaved adolescents. No alcopops or fags for us; no mobile phones which we were constantly tap-tap-bloody-tapping into; not an ASBO among us; and a pleasing enthusiasm for riding our bikes and rollerblading. If I was 14 nowadays I’d be bullied mercilessly and being told I was a dork on MySpace. However, this was the 1990s, when teenagers could use their spare time for things other than downloading ringtones and stabbing pensioners. Good times.

There was a gang of about 15 of us that spent pretty much every spare hour together when we weren’t at school. I’d known most of these people for my whole life, either through primary school or Brownies, or gymnastics class. A few of the boys were friends of one of my male friends – the only one of us to have been shunted off to private school. These few privately educated boys were looked on as much more glamorous and exotic than my comprehensive bloke mates, and were therefore flirted with outrageously by all the girls while the poor comp fellows sat morosely on the sidelines comparing their curtain haircuts.

Not being the sorts of 14 year olds to spend time trying to blag our way into pubs (the traditional Sunday afternoon on the Pepsi down the hockey club – us playing pool badly while the parents got happily spannered – was enough for us) we had limited options in terms of where to go in order to indulge in rudimentary mating techniques and experimental swearing. Therefore, the entire summer of 1994 was spent in the playground of the local park; taking over the swings, trying to escape the attention of the traditional park warden who was rumoured to be a murderer, and on one occasion, hiding under the slide with one of the private school boys following a comedic teenage row with my parents over something that seemed like the end of the world at the time but was more likely to be stupendously trivial. I feel rather bad now, as I hate it when I walk past the local park and it’s full of screaming teenagers terrorising toddlers and throwing Strongbow cans around.

Of course, every few Saturdays there would be the obligatory trip into the local ‘town’, which was unfortunately Staines. Doh! Looking back, the effort that went into these jaunts was amazing. All the girls would congregate in someone’s bedroom for the donning of the latest fineries from Bay Trading or Mark One; hair would be sprayed and mucked about with (I realise I do sound like I grew up on the set of Grease here – not the case. We’d just discovered the glory of pulling down the front two sections of one’s ponytail, tonging the hell out of them and then spraying them so they kept their new curly shape. And you thought chavs weren’t around in the ‘90s) and make-up would be applied, often with highly comedic results. I remember my friend C copying a look out of Just 17 which involved pale blue shimmery eyeshadow up to the eyebrows, combined with some rather fetching bright blue mascara. Her mum was rather conservative when it came to teen magazines, and I fear she may have replaced J17’s make up section with one from Bunty without C realising.) Oh, and of course there was the obligatory intoxication of everyone in the room with the application of Impulse body spray.

WHY were we so obsessed with these? They really do smell like nothing else on earth. I was so appalled by the Impulse O2 unfortunateness that I went home via Superdrug that night and spent a stimulating hour testing out every Impulse spray they had in there. Every single one smelled like something one would use to disarm a mugger.

As tends to happen with these groups of friends that one has during their formative teenage years, we all drifted apart once we’d finished school and had grown deep enough voices/big enough boobs to get us into pubs. I still saw some of them on occasions – on the train on the way home from Kingston (our shopping location preference matured as we did) or occasionally in the Magpie of a Friday night, but none of us had anything in common anymore.

I did get a phone call from one of them when I first moved to London, asking if I wanted to attend a reunion sort of event (incidentally down the hockey club where I spent every Sunday between the ages of 12 and 15). I was living in a dreadful hovel in Wood Green with two gay men and working in my first full time job. I was cooking dinner for eight of us as I did every Friday – something which I found at the age of 21 to be a terribly grown up thing to do, and which was probably half the reason I said no. At the time I didn’t really want to hark back to a time of not unsevere teenage angst; and I’m not really sure I would want to now. Besides, if I want to be reminded of them, all I have to do is have a sniff of my Impulse body spray. And then wait ten minutes until I stop spluttering.


Curses to the baseball season! Prison Break and Vanished are on temporary hiatus at the moment, meaning that the Fiance and I have been scouring the depths of the internet for stuff to download. We could, of course, watch British TV but it's just getting worse and worse - even EastEnders is useless at the moment. So, what did we find last night?

An all-new reality programme, pleasingly not featuring Sophie Anderson or Jade Goody. However, it does feature......Mr T.

I Pity the Fool, brought to you by batshit crazy US channel TV Land, features the man himself dressed in a variety of jumpsuits, taking on the role of what calls a "motivational guru" for those finding professional or personal life hard.

What the fuck? I'd offer an in depth analysis of the programme, but I laughed throughout it to the extent that I couldn't hear what the hell was going on. Apart from this "motivational" gem of course:

"Dude! You only got eight outta twenty! That's like, a third! And third rhymes with...uh...turd! And that's bad."


There was also the pleasing bonus of American adverts to watch as well, which I love. I was especially entranced by the notion of a new snack food over in the States, which seems to comprise of pizza in pastry. Which makes me feel somewhat better about the lardy steak tea I am about to shove down my throat.

Monday, October 09, 2006


I must be the only person in the world who can spend £30 on Clarins moisturiser which then makes me break out in hives. It's back to the Boots own brands for me.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Smells that remind me of childhood #1

I was cooking meatballs for the Fiance and me a couple of days ago. I love making meatballs, because it involves smashing a load of herbs and spices up in the pestle and mortar and then squidging it all together with the meat – something that I find hugely satisfying. So, there I am, crushing the crap out of the homegrown garlic given to me by K’s dad (thanks, Mr K!), with tears pouring down my face because the organic onions from over the road sting like nothing else on earth, singing at the top of my voice to the Lost Boys soundtrack (yes, again. Shut up) and seasoning the hell out of the lamb mince with cumin; when suddenly I get a sniff of said cumin and I’m ten years old again helping my dad cook dinner on a Saturday night. Perhaps ‘helping’ is not the correct word, though.

Dad always cooked on Saturday nights. I think it was his way of relaxing after a tedious week spent in a government office dealing with a Home & Away obsessed PA and people like John Redwood. And also a nice break for Mum, who had generally spent five days trying to force vegetables into me and my brother and who thoroughly deserved a night off to sit in a hot bath and not be disturbed with inane questions about long division or being asked to referee a fight over whose turn it was on the Nintendo.

Dad would start the cooking process a good few hours before the food would be on the table. My bro and I would have already eaten (also cooked by Dad – the main element of the meal would be anything from sausages to chicken kiev, but I remember he’d always serve it with boiled potatoes, which even then I could not see the point of if you weren’t going to either sling them in a pan of oil or mash the hell out of them.) He’d then shut himself away in the kitchen to crack onto whatever meal he was whipping up, but would inevitably be interrupted by some outrageous whining from one or the other of us (“DAD! It’s MY turn to sit nearest the TV! She sat there yesterday! S’not fair!” I know Mum and Dad were very much all for meals at the table instead of off laps, but considering the amount of arguments the sat-on-the-same-side-of-the-table-so-one-of-you-is-always-nearer-the-telly situation caused, I’m surprised they didn’t relax the laws on Saturday nights at least. Or tell us to shut the hell up and go back in the kitchen to let us finish slicing up each others’ femoral arteries with knives and Lego bricks.)

So, kiev snarfed and boiled potatoes forced down, Bro would potter off to try and further his understanding of the mysterious force that was Zelda, and I’d wander into the kitchen where Dad would have a sauce-stained cookery book propped open on the stand, slicing up onions and doing a gleeful stocktake of the spice rack.

I am sure that Dad didn’t cook chilli con carne every Saturday. He’s a great cook who likes trying out new stuff, and so there’s no way he’d have stuck to the same thing every week; but it’s all I can remember him making. As a result I can cook chilli con carne from memory. I can’t remember my own age at times, but thanks to Dad I can whip up a chilli with no worries and no cookbook, which for me is amazing because cookbooks are like sacred texts to me and I follow recipes to the letter.

I’m not sure exactly what I used to do while he was cooking. I recall being put in charge of browning the mince a few times, and pushing the button on the food processor to blend the herbs and spices (with Dad holding the lid on tight as he knew I was a hopeless scatterbrain who would forget to hold it down and then get my face sliced to fuck with the processing blade and covered in spicy paste to boot). I think most of the time I’d just get in his way and talk to him about school. I know there was always music on, and this is probably where my love of “dad music” comes from. We’d play Simon and Garfunkel, or Fleetwood Mac, or my favourite compilation tape of all time, which Dad made for Mum full of “her songs” and which I am still hanging to get put on CD for me as I don’t own a tape player anymore and don’t have a copy of it anyway.

I know sometimes I was a pain in the ass to have loitering about in the kitchen – the occasion when I didn’t believe him about how hot cayenne pepper was and stuck my tongue in the jar to prove a point being a prime example. I like to think that when he was holding my head under the cold tap and making me stick my tongue out he was desperately trying not to piss himself laughing and making Joey Deacon faces behind my back.

We moved house when I was 13 and I don’t remember helping him to cook again. This was probably because we moved to a different part of the town where all my friends lived and, more importantly, I’d discovered boys and was about to embark on a duff pubescent journey that involved lots of bike races and sitting in parks in the rain.

I’m not quite sure what the point of this post is. I think it’s because in recent months it’s kind of hit me that I’m a fully grown adult who has a mortgage, is getting married and is hopefully going to have children soon. Weekends aren’t for sitting on my arse watching cartoons and playing hockey and being allowed to brown the mince anymore. They’re for doing all the stuff I don’t have time to do during the week, for running errands, for hoovering and scrubbing and spraying Fairy Power spray onto everything in sight in my kitchen. They’re also for catching up with friends, for afternoons sat in the pub with piles of newspapers or watching football or going for dinner. Stuff that proper grown ups do. This is great, and I love how I live my life, how it’s all worked out, when at times over the last ten years I never thought anything would go right. However, I think sometimes it feels like it’s all going past too quickly, and sometimes all you want to do is be back at ten years old, trying to stab your little brother in the head with a fork and not having anything to worry about at all apart from what spice jar you’re going to try and stick your tongue into next.

I’m back with Mum and Dad next weekend for a wedding dress fitting. I might stick around on the Saturday night and see if Dad’s cooking. If he is, I bet I deal with that cayenne pepper a hell of a lot better than I did sixteen years ago.

Road to Damascus style realisation #1

Star from The Lost Boys plays Melissa in Twister! How can I have seen both these films about 2o0 times and never realised this?

Also: Bill Paxton = hot.

Regulators! Shut up!

Gah. I have had Warren G in my head all damn week, and it's driving me completely crazy. There was a brief respite when I told C at work of my plight, and she helped me out by singing a variety of other songs from the 1990s at me (examples included Stiltskin's 'Inside', The Shamen and Beats sodding International's 'Dub Be Good To Me'.) This act of kindness was much appreciated, but failed to exorcise the Warren horror. Which surprised me, because once I get Lindy Layton in my head she usually stays there for a good three days.

What duff songs do other people get stuck in their heads? I would love to know, especially if one of them can get the hell that is 'Regulate' out of mine.

Televisual excellency, and further evidence towards the case of me being elderly

Apologies for my recent lack of blogging. I would say I've been busy saving the world and helping out at soup kitchens, but it would be a lie. In truth, I have been sat in front of my TV lapping up the autumn scheduling. The PCs have been working overtime to keep up with our downloading, and it's working out brilliantly as I've pretty much stopped going out. God bless America, for its excellent shows that were it not for the wonders of computers, would not be being viewed by me for another six months.

In other news, I am officially turning into my mum. Following the Hollyoaks dad-fancying of a few weeks ago, I've been keeping a beady eye on who I fancy on telly at the moment, and it resembles a SAGA member's Fantasy Sex Camp. Let's look at Vanished, for example. If there was a remotely youthful bone in my body, I would be fancying the pants off the FBI agent, or the sensitive son, or the Mysterious Figure From The Past, or even the deadbeat boyfriend. But no. I've found myself lusting after John Allen Nelson - who was last seen being strung up by rubbish POTUS Charles Logan in 24. Not the typical object of lust for the average 26 year old, I'd wager.

Another prime example is Prison Break. While I see and appreciate the obvious hotness of Wentworth Miller, I am not one of these sorts who writes on forums "OMG Wentworth Miller is soooooooo hot! Where can I meet him I'm gonna marry him and we're gonna have hot kids!" Miller is excellent as Michael Schofield in Prison Break, but he's one of these people that is hot because they look perfect. Look at him - he's completely symmetrical, which is just plain weird. No, I'll leavce Wentworth for my workmate Liz, who is quite obsessed, although hopefully not to the extent of leaving the above message on TV forums. No, instead bring me...

Paul Adelstein is so hot as Kellerman in this show. I'm not quite sure what it is about him. The fact that he is such a Magnificent Bastard (TM Sobell) probably helps.

But that's not all. This show also features William Fichtner as Super Intel-Agent Mahone. And I LOVE William Fichtner. Screw Michael and his piercing blue eyes, or Shirtless Wonder Linc Burrows, who appears to have graduated with honours from the Grunting and Sweating School of Drama, the alma mater of alumni that include Ross Kemp. Kellerman and Mahone are quite enough for me, thank you.

It remains to be seen if this elderly approach to televisual lust will last. I think it all rests on series 6 of 24. If I tune into that and spend all my time panting over Bill Buchanan instead of Kiefer, we can officially conclude that I am desperately old and need to be put into a home. The Fiance, however, will probably relish the change of subject.