Friday, December 23, 2005

one, two, brie

Soundtrack: Phil Spector - A Christmas Gift To You

I was chatting to my dad last night about our traditional Boxing Day 'picking tea'. Posh people might call it a buffet. Basically we have leftovers, dips, salad... you get the idea. My poor dad seems to think that he can never satisfy my vegetarian requirements; he was so worried that I said I'd buy my own Christmas meal gubbins. And when my sister told my dad to get some vegetarian pizzas in he exclaimed 'But Sue, ASDA don't do vegetarian pizzas!'. So with this in mind, the following conversation took place last night:

Sharon: I'll have some of my leftover veggie haggis..
Dad: Yeah, I said that to Dave, but he said you can't have haggis 'cause it's got blood in it
Sharon: This one doesn't, it's vegetarian
Dad: But I don't understand. What's it got in it?
Sharon: Oatmeal, turnips and swede, lentils, that kind of thing.
Dad: And you just slice it like haggis? Right, suit yourself. So what else do you eat? Do you eat cheese?
Sharon: Yes, I like cheese. I'm just not a big fan of blue cheese. Get a cheeseboard.
Dad: Well what do you eat? What do you like?
Sharon: Oh just simple stuff, you know, Brie, Edam... Whats that soft cheese with herbs in it?
Thom: Boursin
Sharon: Yeah, Boursin. Get some Boursin.
Dad: Bore, boor, bour.... Bore what?
Sharon: (spells boursin). And get some Wensleydale, you know, with the apricot or cranberries in it?
Dad: Oh yes! (smacks lips). Lovely stuff!
Sharon: You could also get some pitta to use with the dips.
Dad: PITTA? What do you do with that?
Sharon: Pitta, you know, just buy a six pack, slice it, and use it for dips.
Dad: Well if you say so. What's that nice Italian bread?
Sharon: Focaccia?
Dad: No, it's like...
Dad: That's it! Get some chapatta
Sharon: No dad, ciabatta
Dad: Oh yes, I know the difference. Different country. Right, I'll get some chapatta. So that should be alright for now; I've got a list. I'll pick you up at Rochdale at half 5ish. We'll pop to Carole's, but we can get a bit o' sommet to eat at Tesco's on the way.
Sharon: Tesco??
Dad: Aye, they have a restaurant there
Sharon: Tesco??
(This is the point where Thom is convulsing with laughter)
Sharon: Is there nowhere else to eat in the whole of Rochdale?
Dad: Well, you try finding somewhere in Rochdale on the Friday before Christmas
Sharon: (in fits of giggles) Dad, I'm sure we can find somewhere in Rochdale that sells food on a Friday night
Dad: Suit yourself. Don't say I didn't warn you.

I have four days of this... Merry Christmas everyone, and I'll be back next week!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I believe in Father Christmas

Soundtrack: Johnny Cash at San Quentin

We had a secret santa at work yesterday. Somebody knows me very well:

I love the look of this yarn! It will go well with my bright red winter coat, and look ace with my black velvet jacket. It's asking to be made into a wide drop neck scarf when I head home on Friday.

I felt sorry for poor Peter though. I can understand the problems of a secret santa, especially when you draw a music fan. The obvious choice is 'CD'. But if you don't know music yourself, my word of advice is don't buy your recipient music. A music fan does want music, but they want something considered. They probably own everything anyway, so why not buy them a book? Or a DVD? What they definitely do not want is a Green Day CD. I have been in this situation. I have been the recipient of a Green Day album. I believe that Green Day have only sold so much because they are the choice for musicfanrecipients/don'tknowmusicgivers everywhere. Next time you participate in Secret Santa, please consider my advice.

I'm nearly ready for Chistmas. I ran out of wrapping paper last night (typical) so there'll be a emergency diversion to Paperchase tonight. And I'm still knitting my mum's scarf furiously. I need help. Look at it:

I took the inspiration from Crazy Aunt Purl - easy yet eye-catching. But isn't it a bit uneven? And I know the answer - I'm going to have to block it, aren't I? Help! I've never blocked before. I don't have a very big abode either. Help! Can I just steam it with an iron and dry it on a towel rack (I have no central heating)? Can I do all that on Thursday night and it will be ready to pack in the morning? Help!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

from Rochdale to Ocho Rios

Soundtrack: Wendy and Bonnie - Genesis

Thanks for the comments everyone. It's the funeral tomorrow, so I'm off back to Rochdale tonight. At least I can make good progress on my mum's Christmas scarf on the train. My new camera has finally arrrived, so I'll take some pictures when I get back.

I feel quite mixed up my grandad's death. I mean, he wanted it. He was ready. He told my dad he was ready to see the angels, but wanted to see my Uncle Phil first. Two weeks after Phil comes back, he passes away. He had a box containing the insurance details, burial plot details (he's being buried with my nan), the money for the funeral and even getting the first round in. My grandad always got the first round in. Yet despite the initial reluctance with the residential home, my grandad was enjoying it! The social workers were even talking of getting him a flat! But he was ready.

It's Christmas in just over a week, and it doesn't feel like it at all. We have no decorations at home because we have no room. The office was looking pretty miserable too, so we've just chipped in to get some tinsel. I have all the presents ready, bar a few knitting projects to complete (oops). Yet it doesn't really feel like it yet.

I've bought more gloves this year than I ever have in my life, and not to mention suddenly becoming obsessed with stripey socks. I'm feeling knitter's guilt right now, and feel like I should confess to the god of DPNs, but I'll be better in the new year when I have more time. Honest. I've made good progress with my second glove, so I can feel some redemption already.

Friday, December 09, 2005

worst year ever

My grandad died this morning.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

the greatest bus in the world (a tribute)

Soundtrack: The Monkees - Missing Links

It's a very sad week. As of tomorrow morning, the London Routemaster is no more.

I work by the route of the 159, which will be the last Routemaster service. All week there's been hordes of men taking photos at the crossroads, but it was only yesterday when reading BBC Magazine that I realised just what they were taking photos of.

Today has just been funny. I popped out at lunch, and I've never seen so many of the bloody things. And there were gold ones! And there were pre-Routemaster ones an'all! My boss took a slight detour (via two Routemasters) on his way back from a meeting and said there were hundreds of men with cameras. A fellow passenger apparently exclaimed "They're not usually this clean".

I was terrified of Routemasters when I first moved to London. I'm going to fall off! How do you pay for a ticket? Where's the bell to say what stop to get off at? Back then the 159 and 12 were both Routemasters and I had no choice but to conquer my fear.

It was very soon that I realised their glory. You can sit up at the front and pretend you're a driver! Is the traffic slow? Sod it, jump off in the middle of the road and get run over - at least you'll get to your destination quicker! You can pull the bell string and pretend you're a conductor! You can risk your life and catch the bus when it stops at traffic lights! You can pretend you're on a rollercoaster as you stand by the exit when you turn a corner.

The Routemasters make London. I'll be so sad to see them leave. :(

Thursday, December 01, 2005

walkers like a man

Soundtrack: New Order - Get Ready

Just seen and bought: Walkers Seasonal Turkey & Bacon Crisps (vegetarian)

Verdict: 2/10
A bit like smokey bacon (without the tang), but with the addition of chicken flavouring that may have gone out of date 20years ago. They gave me a headache.

Come and see us play The Beat Hotel tomorrow. And then dance to Thom and I DJing afterwards. I might play some Frankie Valli.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

you have to copper up if you want to get down

Soundtrack: Neil Young - Harvest Moon

Yesterday I went for leaving drinks (not my own), and when I was told it would cost me £17 for half an omelette, three chips and three small glasses of wine, I claimed I'd need to 'copper up'. This caused quite a commotion. Absolutely no one had heard the phrase 'copper up', even the other North Westerner there, although it was thought to be a quaint turn of phrase.

A google search doesn't bring back anything. Even my beloved slang dictionary has let me down. Have I created the term 'copper up'? Have I been mishearing 'cough up' all these years? To 'copper up' is to scrape together all your change to be able to afford to buy something, so it's quite different to cough up.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Queen is watching

Soundtrack: Air - The Virgin Suicides

That was a good weekend. A nice combination of the relaxing, the doing, the drinking and the cooking.

Thom was a bit impatient on Saturday and went into town, but sod that, it was my first day off, so I just stayed in bed knitting my clapotis and dying my hair (in the bathroom, not bed). It's a bit cold in our house, which is my excuse for staying in bed and not getting dressed. The clapotis is my current home project, and it's going really well. I love the yarn I'm using - Noro silk garden. Getting splinters from the yarn is particularly amusing. It's not that boring to knit as there's a rigid pattern that I need to remember every other line, so I just sit there thinking 'ooh, I'll just do row 6' and before I know it I've finished a whole pattern repeat. And I have to concur with Crazy Aunt Purl, the coloured striping is enough to keep you entertained. Just as you get to some shitty grey and you think it's time to peel a potato, a pretty pink bit starts being introduced.

I've finally got to the stage where I'm dropping stitches. It feels very naughty, yet it's not quite as gratifying as I expected. Although I haven't been splitting the yarn whilst knitting, there are lots of irritating little strands that get wrapped around the stitches, so I almost find myself ripping the yarn when trying to make a ladder. It will be worth it in the end though. I can't wait to wear it as a seasonal transition wrap!

We played a gig in Hythe, Kent on Saturday night. It was an odd venue - the British Legion. To move from the standard gig circuit in London to some seaside town cabaret club felt odd, but it was worth it for all the nuances it offered. We arrived at the venue to be greeted by a Union Jack, but the pi├Ęce de resistance was a painting of The Queen that hung over the stage. It all seemed worthwhile when we knew Her Maj was watching. I'll put photos up as I get them.

Half of Sunday was spent in bed watching Hollyoaks/keeping warm/knitting. At lunch I thought I should probably leave the pit, and so headed into Windsor to try and spend my high street vouchers. This is an impossible task though; despite Windsor being quite a sizeable town centre, it only caters for tourists or posh people. Heaven forbid I should want your bog standard Dorothy Perkins. Not that I can spend my vouchers at any decent shops anyway, it seems. I did a bit of research and found that only classy establishments such as Iceland and Ethel Austin take the vouchers.

I still managed to spend a fortune on underwear and hot chocolate, and I bought these GORGEOUS shoes from Marks + Spencer. Look! Gold hearts!

Sunday night was finished off down The Stag, revelling in the novelty of a pub being open until midnight on a Sunday, but still getting to bed by 10.30 (with an orange hot chocolate).

Friday, November 25, 2005

I hope I die before I get old

Soundtrack: Stephen Stills - Stephen Stills

More absurdity this week, but not necessarily in a good sense.

Since my uncle died, my grandad (who lives with my auntie Carole) has taken to not leaving his bed and not eating. I won't go into too much detail, as it's a long and emotional story, but he basically said he was waiting to die. Being 82, a chain smoker and suffering from emphysema doesn't seem to be helping him along, and his demanding self-pity has literally taken my aunt to breaking point. After quite a rigmarole, he's been placed in a residential home. We all think it's the best thing for him - mixing with people his own age, social events, and possibly more freedom than he had at home, if that makes sense.

My dad told me all this on the phone last night. I wasn't aware of it all, because he didn't want to worry me while I was in Berlin. So I was quite amused when he dropped into the conversation that the infamous 'Uncle Phil' had returned. Phil is an alcoholic who lives homeless in France, and I haven't seen for around 15years since my dad chased him out of our house where he ran down the front garden and hurdled the 6foot fence into the sunset. My memories of him are that he bought me a globe, and we used to play Connect 4. A few years ago he was mugged and had his passport stolen. Phil made his yearly phonecall to Carole last week, in which he found out her husband had died and he rushed straight back (via the British Embassy who had to issue him emergency access over the Channel).

So, he's back. My dad says he's been very helpful to Carole and he seems to be doing well. He's tackling his alcoholism 'I used to drink 12litres of wine a day, but now I only drink 8!', and he told my dad that he really enjoys his life. Don't we all try and achieve that? I mean enjoying life, not 8litres of wine a day. He's going in a couple of days, and said to my dad yesterday 'A loaf of bread, a bottle of wine, some cooking oil and no change from a fiver? And you wonder why I don't want to live in Britain?'.

So after my grandad's first day, my dad relayed the feedback from the residential home last night: 'He's had a full meal, a shit and shower. He's having a fag and entertaining everyone with his stories. He'll be on the karaoke next - they have more going on there than at Kirkholt Club'.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

the lurgy

Soundtrack: The Byrds - The Notorious Byrd Brothers

It's been very quiet in blogland this week. It seems everybody has come down a cold and taken time off work.

I've been under the weather since last Wednesday. I thought it would spoil Berlin, but I managed to get over it. Yet here I am, still ill. It won't blow up into enough to take the day off (and I've said before I find it hard enough to take sick days), but every morning I feel like I'm waking up with the worst hangover. And I'm also going through tonsil stone hell right now, which is just aggravating all my other symptoms.

We had our first band practice in a month on Monday, as everyone's been on holiday. By Tuesday morning I felt absolutely rotten. I'm really worried about this not sorting itself out by our gig in Hythe on Saturday. I could barely sing a note in rehearsal, or rather, I was singing worse than usual... I have lots of strepsils, tissues and homemade vegetable soup to get me better, so wish me luck. :(

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

adventures in knitting

Soundtrack: John Martyn - Solid Air

It seems John Martyn is quite a productive soundtrack to knitting. In my time-consuming secret project, I usually complete 1 row from Datchet-Staines, 1 row Staines-Twickenham and 1row Twickenham-Waterloo. Today, with the relaxing confines of a first class carriage sweeping through the foggy plains and Martyn twanging away in my ear, I managed 6rows!

In sudden contrast to the past couples of weeks, I'm having a quiet spell again. When it's like this someone really should take my visa away from me, because I only end up buying yarn. I wasn't quite so naughty this time, as 2balls were for a present, and I was sensible enough to take the 20mm needles out of my basket. My desire for a chunky moss-stitch scarf can wait.

Yellow seems to be my mum's favourite colour at the moment, so I bought a ball of Cashcotton 4ply in cream and limone. The aim is to double up the yarns and knit the cable-esque scarf in Stitch'n'Bitch Nation. I haven't used the yarn before, but it's 57% extra fine merino and 10% cashmere, so it should be lovely and snuggly. It's also machine washable which is a bonus! For myself (naughty) I bought a ball of Kid Silk Night in Starlight. Again I've bought yarn that doesn't help my metal allergy much, but I would only wear this on a night out, with it being slightly metallic and white. And this will be my first venture into the world of curly whirlie scarves!

In a Christmas present dilemma my sister's asked for some gloves. I'd love to knit her some, but I can't find any patterns that don't require a million double-pointed needles. I'd rather not have my first experience of double-points in an urgent knit-out. I have my pattern for fingerless gloves that could probably be adapted, but I just don't know where to start. And I'm so scared about the gauge issue, it may be better to buy some gloves for the time being.

Which leads me onto taking my knitting to the next level! I've been trying to find a knitting group. There's loads in London, but they're a bit of a trek home on a weeknight. I posted my request for a Berkshire one on the UKHK group, and was emailed back by a lady who runs a group in Reading on behalf of the Knitting and Crochet Guild. Saturday afternoon once a month sounds good, but I'm not entirely sure if it's the kind of knitting group I was looking for. It seems a lot more organised and planned, rather than turning up and just knitting and chatting. And while this is obviously a rewarding and educational aspect to the group, it might not always satisfy my social needs, so I don't know whether to go along. Does anyone out there have experience of knitting groups?

I'm also considering signing myself up for a New Year knitting workshop. It's proper learning of a few things I've scraped through, and it should conquer my fear of gauge! In terms of learning I need a combination of preparation and visual. I always read through a pattern first, but it's only when I see the project forming on my knitting needles that I begin to understand why certain stitches are used, and how to take the next step. So a workshop environment could be good for me.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

the x-files

Soundtrack: Electrelane - The Power Out

It's been another week of the weird and the wonderful.

You might remember my post about the John Peel obituary left on Thom's work desk... Well the strange incidents continue.

I was on a train to Preston this week, and whilst tucking into my apple and cinnamon muffin I thought I'd take a look at the onboard magazine. I open up to find the following message:

I turn to p.29 to find one of the most fabulous random acts I've ever come across!

This wonderful lad, Richard, decided to write his autobiography in the magazine. He said how he was a student who had broken up with his girlfriend of a couple of years. He's feeling better about that because he's met somebody else who has become his friend, but he thinks she is way to pretty and witty to ever consider him.

It was all very Belle & Sebastian, but it gave me the biggest smile on my face. I think I need to make an effort to leave random messages across the country, and spread the happiness myself!

Part 2 of the random incidents... Thom and I were in Berlin this weekend. Crikey, it was cold. Snow and everything! Lots of scarf inspiration too, but that's probably for another post. We came home last night and as I was trying to sleep I was thinking of all the things we didn't get to do, so I'll have to go back (when it isn't snowing).

Anyway, after walking all day on Friday, Thom and I walked into our hotel reception to find all of Architecture in Helsinki waiting around! It was the funniest double-take: look at band, look at each other, look at band. Thom went up to them to see if they were playing, and they said they were playing that night not too far away. So off we trundled to the Bastard Club in Prenzlauer Berg. It seemed rude not to see them again seeing as they were at our hotel!

I wasn't feeling too well at the gig, as I'd overdone it on the Gpoma at a Mumbai restaurant around the corner, but the band managed to clear that away. They were far better than when we saw them at the Scala on Sunday. They even performed 2 encores - the second one being a set of covers as they didn't have any songs left! After asking for requests (and denying my Dexy's request saying they could never do it justice) they launched into a very good take of Roxy Music's Love is the Drug. They are still 'bis does prog', but they improve with more listens.

So after that bizarre week we're going to go to the pictures to see the new Harry Potter. Yes, watching Jarvis Cocker play a Weird Sister should probably put my life back on the straight and narrow.

Monday, November 14, 2005

architecture and morality

Soundtrack: The Tax Evaders Isley Brothers

Well that was a busy weekend. Friday night was spent driving up to Rochdale (on a diet of M+S sweet potato crisps and Percy Pig & friends). We got to my dad's just gone midnight and caught the end of 'Later with Jools Holland'. I remember, back in the day, when watching Jools was a huge event. It was the only time you'd get to see your favourite bands on telly, and ok, the weekly selection was usually eclectic but you appreciated the contrast. It doesn't seem that way now, as Friday's guests were Santana, Sigur Ros and Paul Weller. We missed Sheryl Crow. Oof.Whatever's happened to the programme?!Looking at the link above, on this week's show is Sean Paul, Babyshambles and Texas. Hmmmm. I was sad about Sigur Ros' performance. They've changed the Later... set to what looks and sounds like an aircraft hanger. This did Sigur Ros no justice, and what is usually an evocative performace just sounded like mush.

Saturday was spent having lunch with the family. I was in Rochdale, so naturally I had cheese'n'onion pie and chips. Bloody London and it's inability to make cheese'n'onion PIES and not pasties. Then Thom and I trotted off to a party in Leeds, via Dewsberry. Thom's grandparents were from Dewsberry, and Thom hadn't been back since his grandfather's funeral so he wanted to look around (and to get some rare Ben Shaws). We arrived and Thom was horrified to find that the house had turned into a newsagents! We asked a couple of people 'Is this Leeds Road?', 'Aye'. Thom was devastated. And then we realised we were in the wrong town! Bloody West Riding or sommet. We eventually found Dewsberry, saw the old house was still in one piece and Thom was delighted to see Mrs D, the Polish shopkeeper on the corner (who was at least 100 3 years ago) was still alive, and she sold Ben Shaws in GLASS BOTTLES! In terms of Ben Shaws I-Spy, this is a thousand-pointer. So we bought a few bottles of yellow lemonade and headed to Leeds.

The party in Leeds was fine. Not very interesting if you don't know anyone, I suppose. But I did have my first experience of 80s karaoke on a playstation, and hung out with a few 18 year olds pretending I was a student again. It was good to catch up with a few friends, but a little strange on the whole. Mainly because the party was in a halls of residence. I just felt like a fraud. Best moment of the night for me was when sometime Sunshine Pop lurker JamieC told me how he woke up one morning with 'Shiftwork' in his head, and he just had to get online and listen to it. He might have used the words 'fucking superb', but he was drunk and so was I. (You can listen to it at The Gresham Flyers website or on myspace)

On our way back on Sunday we bumped into a random record and vintage audio fair. I found a couple of Beach Boys albums on vinyl, but spent all my money on the entrance fee. We drove back to King's Cross on a diet of peanut-flavoured crisps (a Spanish holiday present from my sister) to see Architecture in Helsinki at the Scala. There's 8 of them, they're Australian, they call themselves an 'avant-garde musical ensemble, influenced by the twee pop aesthetic' and they all change instruments mid-song. It was quite entertaining at first, and I particularly enjoyed their cover of Soulfinger, but on the whole they really irritate me. The constant 'percussion' (real percussion and lots of sieve-hitting) lost it's appeal after a while. But I finally put my finger on the main source of irritation - they don't have any choruses! Every song is in 6 parts; basically it's Bis doing prog. You could tell which were the singles (as those songs had less parts), but I just wanted one song following a semi-conventional structure. Bah, another sign I'm getting old!

Friday, November 11, 2005

I've got that Friday feeling

Soundtrack: Gather in the Mushrooms

I don't know what it is about Friday, but I'm completely incapable of working in the afternoon. It gets to 2.30 and I think, oh not long to go, I'll just check the internet. Before I know it, it's home time. This afternoon's procrastination has involved washing up, having a wee, making a brew, buying a twix, and now blogging. I deserve it though. It's been a busy week and I've barely been in the office. I love it when it's like that. I've been working with minor celebs, interviewing inspiring people, doing this that and the other. It's been requested that I didn't work on a project due to "inexperience" (I've only been here 5years), proved the bint wrong, and been awarded £100 of vouchers for the contribution I've made to another project. So yes, I deserve this slight break.

*bites twix*

Another form of my procrastination has been trying to find decent online travel guides. The internet doesn't have ANY good travel guides, it seems to me. I find the odd mini-guide associated with a travel agent, but nothing of substance. Fair enough I guess, as Rough Guide or Lonely Planet want me to buy their books instead, but how can I know where to go if I don't know anything about the place?!

I'm in a holiday frame of mind today, and I feel like I need to get something booked. I actually forgot I was going to Berlin next week, instead I'm working out what I want to do in the new year. Thom and I were thinking of Dubai, as his friends (our landlords!) live there now. I watched a programme about Dubai on BBC2 this week for inspiration, but instead it tried to sell me the idea of buying property over there. It seemed like a promotional video for whichever Sheikh it is trying to promote international investment, and all it showed was garish shopping centres the size of London, ugly apartment complexes and overweight sunburnt Geordies playing golf. This didn't sell it to me, so I wanted to look online to see if there were other reasons to go to Dubai, but I can't find any good sites. Any suggestions are welcome.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

the only way is up

Soundtrack: The Four Tops

Well after the stress of the photo below on Sunday, my hat has finally found it's natural position on my head! It looks pretty good, actually. It seems to make my hair flick out even more than it usually tries to, and it feels very comfortable. All this is incredible now I realise (although I already knew) that 2 of the main stitches in the pattern I knitted completely wrong! It was all the 'knitting through back loop' business that got me, and I did look online, and I did consult my knitting books, and I couldn't find anywhere that could demonstrate how to do the stitches. Yesterday I did manage to find some explanations on, which will put me in good stead when I attempt the infamous clapotis.

I've also realised another reason for my lacking knitting confidence; the yarn I've been using. No doubt I've made the mistake most novices make, in knitting the most attractive and fluffy yarns first... all that big chunky fluffy furry wool. This is all well and good, until you've had to rip the project up a few times, or until you've worn the item fo a week or two. Then you're just pulling fluff off all the time, and the item looks old and deteriorating. This week I've started knitting a present in Rowan wool cotton. Oh my god it's BEAUTIFUL! So soft, and such great stitch definition. I've even been doubling up my yarn, yet there's no split stitches, no dropped stitches - I haven't ruined it! And everything looks so neat and professional. Now I realise I CAN do it! :)

Monday, November 07, 2005

this one starts quietly

Soundtrack: Beach Boys - L.A. (The Light Album)

Last week Thom arrived at work to find a binder on his desk. With no explanation, someone left a binder of John Peel obituaries. There was no note, and no one is claiming responsibility.

Thom has a picture of John Peel on his booth (I imagine it comes second in importance to his Sharon shrine), and he likes his music so someone obviously put two-and-two together and decided to leave him this present. Thom doesn't work for the kind of organisation that would happen to have a binder of John Peel press clippings, which makes this all the more confusing.

I forgot all about it until Thom brought it home yesteday. I just expected a plastic wallet with a few newspaper cut-outs inside. But no, this is beautifully photocopied and well-presented. All clippings are referenced and chronological (obituaries first, tributes later). The person who created this has even thought about the front cover - a shadowed portrait shot of Peel.


Last night Thom dragged me to see The White Stripes. I would've been quite content to stay home to listen to the Vashti Bunyan special on the Freak Zone, as The White Stripes aren't one of my favourites, but I couldn't really get out of it.

The support band, The Greenhornes were ok, if delving into Ocean Colour Scene towards the end. The pre-gig music was an assortment of 60s bluesy psych-garage and Nuggets, and this was reflected in The Greenhornes set. But what started off promising actually went pretty dull. First I thought we'd be treated to a singing drummer, as he was placed front centre. He only sung backing, and although he was very skilled, he lacked the dynamics. He still had 100times more charisma than the rest of the band though. Dear god, bands should be forced to attend a stage craft course before they're allowed to play live, because I've never witnessed anything so lifeless. The lead singer/guitarist performed plenty of guitar solos, but I don't think I saw his body move once during the whole set. And he just kept his head down, with his baker boy hat covering his eyes.

So the lack-lustre support coupled with the fact that Ms Shortarse here couldn't see anything just made me just want the night to end soon. But The White Stripes won me over. They were so, so loud. I don't think I've ever been to a gig so top-heavy, so unrelenting, so euphoric and rapturously received, so chemistry-driven, so dirty.

They know how to give it to us. And my, they didn't half get our imagination running with their clothing so tight they must've jumped off a wardrobe to get into it. Jack's quite renowned for dressing to the right, but poor little Meg. She stood at the front to sing lead on a track, after the men's roaring died down I suddenly heard squealing from the girls. And then 'Sharon, you have to see Meg'. I stood on my tiptoes to be greeted by the most incredible camel toe I've ever witnessed.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

raspberry beret

It's been a busy week, and I'm feeling quite knackered today so this will be a short one.

I wanted to post the beret I've just knitted.

I can't actually seem to wear it properly at the moment, so the picture isn't great... I'm feeling a confidence crisis with it too, as usually I wear hats really well. Also, it was a bit of a swine to knit. I don't understand it, but I've ripped it up about 6 times, and I just couldn't get to grips with 'knit 3 through back of loop' and 'slip purlwise'. So it doesn't look how it's meant to, but at least it is 'textured' as it claims it should be. And it's beret-shaped, which is the most important thing. With this hat going a bit funny, and coming to a halt with my glittens (I'm having cast-on and continuation of ribbing problems) I'm going to knit something simpler next. It's for a present though, so I need to get my confidence back on track.

We had a work away day on Friday. Just as I get really busy, we're all dragged out of the office to talk about the work we should be doing. It wasn't all bad, as we got to go on the London Eye afterwards. I've been on before in the daytime, but it was dusk as we went on, and a beautiful clear night.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

one foot in the grave

Soundtrack: Roxy Music - Country Life

I'm such a miserable sod. It was Halloween last night, and on my walk home I passed FOUR groups of trick or treaters. You get the obvious tweenagers in their bin bags, and then there were the cute kids who were properly dressed-up and being dragged around by a mum.

So what did I do when I saw the cute ones opposite my house when I got home? Well I ran in, locked the door, drew the curtains and turned some lights off. There was the cutest and most apprehensive knock at the door, but I didn't answer. Thom even turned his Transformers DVD down. See! I'm Victor Meldrew before my time! It's not like we had anything to give them, and in this day and age you'd get a firework through your letterbox for refusing... Ok, so the cute kids probably wouldn't have done that, but I shouldn't feel pressured on my own doorstep!

Being a miserable sod is inexcusable seeing as I used to do the same as a child. I was that child who wore a bin bag and carried an up-turned umbrella to collect our treasures. I was the kid who dragged my sister out and walked around the houses playing Good King Wenceslas on my recorder. Eeee, them were the days. When did I turn so bitter and cynical?

Sunday, October 30, 2005

hot potato

Soundtrack: Love - Four Sail

I went to an engagement party last night, and this afternoon I'm feeling a little fragile. And looking at the wrong time isn't doing much for sorting my head out either. Still, it's been a nice relaxing recovery day, and bar the LOUD band practice we have at 6 it's worked wonders.

Seeing as I'm at home I'll upload a few photos. Last night I took a picture of Thom and I dressed as Bonnie and Clyde for the 'dead celebrity' themed party last night, but my camera is even more RUBBISH than I thought possible that it makes Thom have no eyes. So I've just deleted the picture straight off. What I will upload is a picture of the amazing hat I bought for the costume.

It is so beautiful, but it was bought in haste. It had got to Friday lunchtime, and I still didn't have a costume sorted, so I popped to Radio Days, a vintage emporium near work. I love that shop; they have loads of old wirelesses for sale. They also sell very expensive hats, and I had to pay £35 for mine. But then again, it's gorgeous. I walked around the shop with it in my hand for half an hour, consciously fighting it out within about whether it was worth spending so much. I eventually decided it was, and the sympathetic shop assistant said 'promise you will wear it again?' as he wrapped it in tissue.

I saw a great ad in between Hollyoaks today. It was for cheese, and involved one person eating amazing looking cheese and toast (it does look amazing when you're craving carbs and grease). Someone sees them eating cheese and toast, and has to make some themselves. Then that gets seen, and the next person needs cheese and toast. The tagline was 'Cathedral City - once you see it, you want it', which was pretty spot on as I was licking the TV screen at the time.

Well we have no cheese or bread. We did have a potato, so I made myself a jacket spud inspired by saz's technique. Microwave first, and then before putting it in the oven, cover it in oil, salt and pepper. I've never done the oil thing, so I covered the skin in olive oil and it's quite possibly the best jacket potato I've ever had. Oh my. Words cannot describe the scrumptiousness of the potato skin. And here's photo evidence - you can actually see how yummy it is:

The rest of my recovery is involving knitting a hat that I ordered from Kim Hargreaves. My attempts looks nowt like it:

I've ripped it up about 6 times, because I'll knit a complicated row and then realise I've been knitting the stitches completely wrong. Bah. Still, it's only me who know how the pattern should be, and the hat is shaping nicely so I'm not over worried. And at least now I've figured out what I was doing wrong, so I'll knit it proper from now on.

This week I received my high-technology bluetooth USB dewberry. Technology, eh? It's the first time I've used Bluetooth an'all, but now I've managed to transfer my cameraphone pictures onto my computer - they are INFINITELY better than the ones my normal camera takes, and here's a couple that I particularly liked.

This is Thom enjoying the Autumn leaves on our walk into Windsor the other week. The colours around Windsor are amazing at the moment.

This was a sunset outside work last week.

I was on a training course next to Chinatown the other week, and I couldn't believe it when I saw that they'd hung a phonecard banner over this beautiful gateway!

And then during the London bombs I discovered Tooting train station, and this inspiring shop.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

what a tool

Soundtrack: Buffalo Springfield - Last Time Around

You may, or may not, know that I am in a band called The Gresham Flyers. I might've mentioned it a couple of times.

Last week Thom found this amazing auction on ebay!

An original gresham flyer spanner! Well, we had to get it... I don't know why, I don't know what for, but we just had to have it. Desperately. So Thom starts the bid. £1.45. A week passes.

I was online last night and noticed the spanner had 15minutes left to go.
'Thom, do you want me to keep an eye on it?'
'No, I don't think so - it's only a spanner.'

Thom was outbid.

The winner was made-in-hull. We have a bandmate called Martin Hall; could it be him with an amusing pseudonym? We check made-in-hull's previous wins. Spanners. Nuts and bolts. We lost the spanner to a TOOL.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

you knit what??

Ok, my day has got better. I've found another great knitting blog: You Knit What??

This is what you can expect:

rainy days and wednesdays

Soundtrack: The Beatles - Past Masters Vol 2

It's 10am and it's officially the Worst. Day. Ever.

Last night (ok, that was yesterday) there was a powercut. So instead of going home, because we couldn't cook, we went to Thom's mum's and ordered pizza. Ok, so that wasn't so bad, just an inconvenience.

Because I hadn't been home I'd forgotten all about the power cut, so as I went to bed I just switched the alarm on not thinking. The alarm went off. Obviously my body new something was wrong; I couldn't speak, I couldn't make sense of the world, it was extremely dark. I was running around like a chicken with it's head cut off [/Stephin Merritt]. I looked at the clock - it was just gone midnight. I reset the alarm and go back to bed.

It's morning, and it's light. Thom wakes me up - it hasn't even been light walking to work, so something's obviously wrong. The clock flashes 3:30. Great, another powercut. My train is due in 5minutes. I have to forego a shower and go to work feeling greasy and dirty and horrid. Inexplicably, I decide to wear a top I bought two months ago but haven't worn yet due to Thom exclaiming 'That's DISgusting'. So today I feel just great. I get to work an hour late.

Well, I deserve a cafe latte after all this rigmarole, so I buy my coffee, go to make toast, and then go to collect my coffee. In the meantime the coffee machine has broken down.

And then I get to my desk and discover that two members of one of my favourite bands, De Novo Dahl, are leaving the band.

I want to go back to bed. :(

Friday, October 21, 2005

these boots weren't made for walking

Soundtrack: The Gresham Flyers - Bush Studio Demo

I love autumn and winter. It means it's time to get my knee-high boots out, get my denim skirt on, nice thick tights just poking through. It also means by the time I get to work and the balls of my feet are aching, I take them off. Then I get warm, and my legs (a little on the chunky side to begin with) decide to expand, and before I know it I can't get my bloody boots back on. My hands are an absolute wreck, what with the cold, bad soap, knitting, playing bass (they still haven't recovered from last month) and now trying to pull the zip up my boots. They're red raw and peeling like mad. Gah.

Or perhaps it was my boots way of telling me I didn't really want to go downstairs to get a bag of crisps.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

a ship called liberty's

Soundtrack: Jackie Wilson - The Sweetest Feeling

Not much to report this week. I've been mad busy at work, had the (minor) celebrity spot of Jimmy Carr, worked with a lot of Welsh people who were probably in Pobl y Cwm. Nowt much going on really. After my recording session yesterday I couldn't just walk back to Oxford Circus and not go into Liberty's, so in I trundled, lift to floor 3...

There's something about that damn haberdashery display and the antique wooden displays that just just gets my blood pumping. Is it wrong to get so excited about all the pretty colour yarn in their little cubby holes? Well of course it is. But I do really need a winter hat (it's gone bloody freezing) and I've had to admit defeat with the mini-hat I knitted out of the my scarf dregs. I managed to find a ball of Rowan Big Wool white with flecks of red and black in, so it'll go perfectly with my scarf.

Price of yarn: £6.75
Price of shop-bought woolly hat: £7
Price of knitting my own hat up: Priceless.

Not that I need much persuading anyway.

I've nearly finished already after starting it on the train to work this morning, although I'm not following a pattern so it could all go wrong yet. I've been a bit slack with pictures recently because I can't find my camera anywhere, but when I'm finished I'll take one on my mobile and post it when I get my bluetooth USB from Amazon. :D

Monday, October 17, 2005

warning: may contain traces of domesticity

Soundtrack: Folk is not a four letter word

I've so got into cooking since moving in with Thom. It's a bit nuts really. When I lived with my sister, I'd usually just stock up on veg and eat with a meat-free garlic kiev. Every night. You'd buy a pack of veg, and it'd last 3 days. If I was feeling extravagant I'd break out a quiche. If Thom was staying over, I'd crack open a Knorr Sizzle 'n' Stir.

That's all changed now. This week saw our first ever delivery of ORGANIC VEG. Well, I was quite taken aback to come home to a box on the door step and to find it all covered in DIRT. There was none of that 'rinse under the tap' malarky. Hoh no. This is a proper scrubbing-brush -in-every-nook-and-cranny job. And everything's a weird shape. The cauliflower had taken on the shape of an alien life-form. Then the sign of pukka authenticity - delving my hand into the box - a slug sandwiched between my hand and the cabbage. Said item got thrown across the room with fright.

And if all that isn't exhausting enough, I had to figure out what I was meant to do with a pak choi.

Anyway, I've managed to survive the experience; stir fry (I never cook that), chilli chinese soup, macaroni cheese with true spinach and alien cauliflower - and I can't wait to order the next box! Sad, I know. Gone are the days of getting home and being too tired to cook. Now I can't wait to see what I concoct next! I'm sure it won't last. For a start, there's a couple of Sizzle 'n' Stirs in the cupboard that need using up...

Thursday, October 13, 2005

from Scotland, with love

Soundtrack: Love - De Capo

Oh, our Scottish tour was so much fun. Bloody knackered now though. Highlight of the weekend was Saturday's aftershow party in a Glasweigan castle drinking vodka banana smoothies. Lowlight was not being allowed to knit. We must have been in the van at least 20hours. And that's not to mention at least 4hours of waiting around at soundchecks. But the first time I got my knitting bag out was greeted with amusement. It didn't feel very rock'n'roll either, so I left the knitting in my bag. There's more about the Scottish tour in The Gresham Flyers blog.

Well, I finished my right-hand 'glitten', finally. I'm going to take a photo tonight. It's a wee bit on the tight side, and I accidentally started two fingers the wrong way round, so they're showing wrong-sided stockinette stitch, but after getting it out in the pub (to lots of cooing, I hasten to add), I'm spurred on to finish the other glove. It is tight, but I can probably get away with it. They were only being knit to try something adventurous and to warm my hands up in the cold office. In the meantime, here's the scarf I finished, modelled by myself and my funny face in the tour van on Friday:

Thursday, October 06, 2005


It's going to be a good weekend.

It's my last day at work this week, so it's off to band practice, and then back home to pack for our Scottish tour this weekend! Thom's been a bit daft and named it the 'Rock the Highlands' tour, much to the offence of the Scots because we're going nowhere near the highlands. Oops! I hope they forgive us and turn up.

So tomorrow it's in the minibus (with a table!) up to Edinburgh. We're supporting the fab Lucky Luke, and hopefully I'll get to squeeze in a quick cointreau hot chocolate in The Elephant House. I reckon this'll be a good night because we're playing a Student's Union during Fresher's Week!

Then Saturday it's the Winchester Club in Glasgow supporting Speedmarket Avenue, hopefully via some spicy chips in Mono and fruit beer in Nice'n'Sleazys. I love Glasgow. It might be a quiet one though. Belle & Sebastian had the foresight to announce a gig that clashes with us. They did that the other week too - suddenly announcing an anti-war demo performance against our all-dayer. They obviously hate us.

If you're around, pop along to see us. You might get an exclusive present...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Soundtrack: Agincourt - Fly Away

Oh I'm so happy! The glittens I've been knitting for the last month, and had to restart twice, well I hit such a brick wall with them. It was basically inexperience more than anything. Anyway, after about a week of contemplating exactly how I was meant to go from the thumb back to the main body (or should that be hand?), the penny just dropped. And now I'm knitting away to my heart's content.

When I hit this rut I just went back to complete my scarf and knit an (almost too) small hat in the meantime. I just wanted to prove that I could actually complete something, as the glittens just weren't happening. But now I feel like I could knit anything! And I'm here looking at knitting websites getting excited about my next project! Weeee!

Now to just get these fingerless gloves ready before Christmas. It's getting cold in the office, and a girl needs to type...

I got home late last night, after a bit of gyming. Cooked a quick curry listening to my latest ebay purchases (Agincourt and Icatha, thanks to the wonderful introduction on Freak Zone), and then Thom and I settled into one of our night-time routines - he goes online, and I get the knitting out. I joked 'it's a good job I've got a hobby with the amount of time you spend online', but then I realised how good it did actually feel to have a hobby.

I've always been one to read, do puzzles and go online in my spare time, but they're just things you do. I never thought of it as something I looked forward to doing. But now I have the band, and I have my knitting. And I look forward to finishing work, and consuming myself in these activities. And I like planning how to further develop my hobbies, from looking at patterns and tabs, to wool and MicroKorgs on ebay. I can't believe I've never really felt this level of satisfaction with my personal interests, I've always just 'done' rather than commited myself to and enjoyed.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I had too much to dream last night

Soundtrack: Erin McKeown - Grand

My dream last night:

I dreamt about Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. You know the one. The mad carnivore who likes to eat things that no one else would dream about.

Well in a shock move, he appeared in my dream last night to cook me a vegetarian feast. Basically he cooked lots of veg and nuts that he found whilst foraging, in goose fat. He insisted that I was ok to eat goose fat as a vegetarian, as it was only for flavour and I wasn't really eating meat. And the platter tasted magnificent. The carrots were a little grainy, but the wild mushrooms were to die for. And the swede... well, it was certainly enhanced by the goose fat.

Everything was going just yummily, until I bit into a roast chestnut and found it was a bit squidgy. I turned to Hugh and said 'I'm not sure, it's more squidgy than the last time I ate a roast chestnut'. He took the chestnut from me and laughed. 'That's because it's infested with maggots my dear. But don't worry - that's good! If maggots are eating it, that means it's ripe and tasy!'.


Thursday, September 29, 2005

fish? curry?

For Dan.

He made a tuna curry for his tea t'other night. I repeat, TUNA curry. This is what it might have looked like:

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

rip it up and start again

Soundtrack: King Crimson - In the Court of King Crimson

What an odd day. Despite the prospect of having to stay at work until 8pm tonight, I've got a right spring in my step; despite leaving the house late this morning I still arrived at the train station early! I must have been bouncing. These were the thoughts that carried me on my walk to work:

Thought # 1

This is a sad one, but it's bin day tomorrow. Usually after a week we need to break open the second bin bag, but last week we finally received our recycling box. Our waste has gone down so much! I don't think the bin bag is even a quarter full, we've put so much into recycling. This makes me happy because I hate not recycling. It was really easy in Tooting as the council would just give me orange bin bags that recycling could be thrown in to, and they'd collect it every week. So I ordered a recycling box for the new house, and started this week. Today I feel like a superhero.

Thought # 2

It's been a stressful weekend. There was a Bowlie meet-up, which involved me not only playing a gig with The Gresham Flyers, but also setting up the gig (with Thom, John, Sally and Geoffroy). Although it was relatively easier than the last Bowlie All-dayer, you still can't relax until it's all over. Thankfully it went well. Anyway, leading up to this weekend, my sister Sue was finally moved to Cardiff (I had to keep renting the place for a month whilst she completed her Masters). The problem with this weekend was getting hold of the elusive landlord to get our deposit back. He suddenly turned very slippery when it came to us wanting something from him. Anyway, we managed to get him to tentatively agree to come over on Saturday after Sue came home from university to find him in the house! She managed to add emotional weight to our argument of needing our deposit back quickly because she had a Sainsbury's cashier steal her debit card last week. Bastard.

This passage doesn't even begin to describe how much chasing Sue and I had to do, and how we still weren't sure whether we would see him even half an hour before he was due, but the upshot is we got our deposit back. Minus £100 because the garden wasn't 'up to scratch'. Thom and I spent 5 hours and a week of not being able to move sorting the garden out the weekend before, but I'm sure the landlord would've taken more off our deposit if we hadn't. Bastard. It was worth losing that money just to get the whole debacle over and done with.

And yes, the cheque cleared.

Thought # 3

I was listening to the Kaiser Chiefs on my walk to the train station. I'll have to say this quietly so as not to offend the rest of the band, but The Gresham Flyers certainly have an affinity with this band - on the spunkier songs, anyway. It's the melodies and energy I think - it's very similar to our alcohol and nerve-fuelled live sound. And I'm sure the mutual respect of Blur and XTC helps too. This reminded me of walking home last night and coming up with a Kaiser Chief-esque couplet. All I need to do now is write the rest of the song around it.

Thought # 4

I'm currently knitting some 'glittens':

They are sparkly fingerless gloves. And they are Doing. My. Head. In. I've already had to 'frog'* them once. Now I've just started knitting them again, but there's no light at the end of the tunnel. I know what I did wrong last time, that's fine, but when it comes to the hard bit of making the finger holes, it's going to go all wrong again, I can tell. So to prove I can knit, and in time for our Scottish tour, I finished the scarf I started in March. It's black, red and white ribbed, and gloriously cuddly, and about 4foot long. I was going to make it about 8foot, but I had a cunning plan instead...

You might have noticed that baker boy hats are in fashion right now. It's getting nippier, so it's time I had a winter hat. Every morning in Waterloo station I pass Accessorize, and I keep seeing these hats. Yesterday I finally popped in to see how much they cost. £28!!! They can sod off, there's no way I'm paying that. So yesterday I got my arse into gear, cast this scarf off early, and with the remaining wool I'm going to knit a cute ribbed hat to go with my scarf. I'll post pictures of the scarf when I get a camera in my hand.

* A technical knitting term. It means 'rip it' - the sound a frog makes.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

a journey through technology

Soundtrack: Super Furry Animals - Phantom Power

I love technology. It just takes me a while to adapt, and sometimes I get it wrong. I received my first CD player in 1994. In 1998 I bought my first mobile phone and started using the internet. I doubt I bought anything online until this century. I bought a Minidisc recorder in 2001, but that's no use now. I bought an mp3 player and started my first blog this year. I love the idea of RSS and all that technical malarky, but I won't get round to using it until everyone else does.

So, my new advancement in technology? Renting DVDs online! It's such a good idea, but why haven't I done it before?! Why has it scared me so? I was talking to my American friend Rick yesterday; he's a member of Netflix and couldn't say enough about it. I wasn't convinced, until he explained how the whole DVD renting thing just fits around your lifestyle. And it's really cheap. And there isn't a video shop in my village, so I've got nothing to lose! So I've gone with Amazon, and already have 25 DVDs lined up. It's a bit mad that there is a service that's so obvious, and accessible, and cheap, and such a good idea - and I've been to scared to do anything like it. I'm sure it will change my life. ;)

Friday, September 23, 2005

fried spam

I've just turned word verification on in my settings. There seems to be a lot of spam recently (a lot more than there was in my day), so it's probably the best idea.

I'm going to miss the messages of business opportunities. And I'm going to miss messages of 'love the site'. They might have an objective in spamming, but at least they're polite with it.

And every girl needs a confidence boost every now and then. :(

being a girl, part 2

Soundtrack: Vashti Bunyan - Just Another Diamond Day

I did it then. I managed to venture into Lush AND buy stuff. It took me two attempts though.

Number 1 - I'd been at work since 7.30, and finished at 6.30. I was hoping to finish at 4 so I could slope off and do a bit of shopping, but alas, 'twas not to be. So on the way back to Piccadilly Station I walked via Carnaby Street, safe in the knowledge that I would pass Lush. Well, I seemed to remember always having to walk on the opposite side of Carnaby Street. Once I was at O'Neills on Great Marlborough Street (the street before Carnaby Street) I could smell it! I knew I was close!

So I went in. I held my breath. I got a headache. I didn't know what to do. It all looked so odd. There were, like, cakes of stuff (soap?). There was jelly. I stuck to the bottles, but couldn't smell anything because all I could smell was Lush. I ran. I smelled of chocolate cake all night.

Number 2 - Yesterday I finished a training day on Shaftesbury Avenue, and had to walk up to Regent's Place. I thought 'I know! I'll go up Regent Street. I'm sure there's a Lush there!'. Sure enough, by Great Windmill Street I could smell it. And a third of the way up Regent Street there it was. I had an hour to kill, and I planned to make the most of my time. It all looked a bit scary upstairs, but with a certain degree of trepidation I found my way to the basement, and before I knew it an hour had passed... Again, I had no idea what to do, what to buy, what to do with what I bought, or even how to buy it. How do you buy jelly?!! But I figured it out, with the help of a lovely girl who swooped on me smelling the Ring of Roses butter cream soap saying 'I love this stuff, I love roses, I love using it, I love the smell etc etc'. She walked off. Finally I plucked up the courage to ask her exactly what I was meant to do with it (basically it looks like a slice of pink-iced cake).

Then it was like complete enlightenment. It was weird. Suddenly, I just wanted to buy everything in the shop. I didn't care, every product had different properties. Every product was filled with magic. I restrained myself though, and walked out with the pink cake...

some blackcurrant jelly...

and something in a normal bottle that smells of grapefruit and lemon and makes me smell all sherberty...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

being a girl

Soundtrack: The Zombies - Odyssey and Oracle

I think one of my better qualities is that although I'm a girl, I'm not really that girly. I have short hair, I don't wear make-up and I don't take more than half an hour to get ready for a night out (including the shower). But I've noticed over the years that my girliness is creeping up on me.

As soon as I was allowed to start dressing myself, skirts and dresses went out the window. I was a strictly leggings, cycling shorts and waistcoat girl (this was the 80s). At college I was a cords and velvet jacket girl. And at uni I was a jeans and band t-shirt girl.

I never used to enjoy this thing called 'clothes shopping' that girls are meant to be so good at. I'd walk into a shop, realise they didn't do my size, and walk straight out. I could probably say that throughout 3 years at uni I spent about £50 on clothes (excluding the XL band t-shirts). I spent hundreds on Doc Martens and trainers though...

I think losing a bit of weight did it to me, but about 3years ago I started wearing skirts. Suddenly I realised that skirts could be fun! It took me another couple of years to have the courage to wear skirts without tights, but I made it. And now barely a day goes by when I'm not thinking about the right shoes to go with my skirts, or whether my hairclips will co-ordinate with my colour du jour. I've learned to accessorise.

And now, after work this afternoon, I'm tempted to pop down to Regent Street and visit Lush for the first time. I've always crossed the street when I've come to that shop because of the smell, but now I'm getting excited about other girls talking about shower gels called Sonic Death Monkey and I. Must. Have. Now.

I'm even considering starting to wear simple make-up for the first time.

What's happening to me?!!!

Friday, September 16, 2005

busy, busy bumble bee

Sorry, I haven't had the chance to divulge about Saturday's shenanigans. Instead I'm going to cheat.

This is what Thom posted about Saturday on The Gresham Flyers' website:

Well THAT was fun!

Welcome to another brief (eh?) installment from me; I know I'm breaking my own rule and posting more than once in a month, but someone's got to do it...

Thank you everyone who came down to West Kensington last weekend (especially the two girls who aren't on Bowlie and only knew us cos of our gig with Saturday Looks Good To Me; you are our first offical fans, I think!), your support was very much appreciated. Certainly the most bizarre gig I've ever played and I hope you liked it. For those of you that weren't there, allow me to elucidate...

There I was, at home on Thursday evening, watching The Simpsons when the phone rings. It's the promoter for West One Four with bad news- the venue's double booked on Saturday! We're going to have to move to Sunday night. Thankfully we had a rehearsal scheduled for Sunday night, so I knew it wouldn't be a problem. I called the rest of the band to tell them, and they were all agreeable (though the issue of 35 heads through the door became a moot point due to the change). So I phone the promoter back. Then he tells me it's still going to be on Saturday, but in the bar downstairs. Fine, I say, and phone everyone again. We're not pleased, but a gig's a gig.

Come Saturday, we trundle to West Kensington, eye up the area around the venue, along with the 'interested' looks from the local gangs and unload the gear as quick as possible. The barman tells us to close the stage door as people are prone to wandering in, picking up anything valuable-looking and wandering out again. Point taken before any gear does, the door gets closed.

We set up on stage for sound check. It's at this point we realise that a) the pub resembles a Wetherspoons in all aspects; comfy sofas, faux-wood decor, sports on the big telly, b) The 'stage' is in fact a raised non-smoking area with bannisters round it. and c) Dan, the enthusiastic soundman is hampered by the fact that he's had to cobble together the PA from a stray mixing desk and spare bits from the venue proper. And he's never worked here before. To his utter credit, he did a fantastic job, and I reckon with the right tools he's a magic bloke to have behind the desk. However, by this point, Sharon looks beyond the state of despair.

The other bands soon arrive, and it's obvious that due to the venue change, two of them (Black Cabs and Dialog in this case) have decided that they don't want to play. Hooray, we think, we're headlining. While we're soundchecking, the guitarist from Dead Monroe comes over and questions the situation, asking what we think about the poor choice of venue and the attendant deficiencies that a pub PA will bring. They don't seem happy, and after watching/ hearing us soundcheck, promptly walk out, claiming the PA can't handle their sound. A shame, cos I'd have liked to have seen em.

Then there were two. The only trouble is, this is a pub, and the Flaming Monkeys are all aged about 14. The bar manager tells them in no uncertain terms that she can't let them play in a pub. Ah. They (and their undoubtedly pushy father/ manager types) retreat to their people carrier (comlpete with tinted windows!) and sulk before driving off, no doubt muttering under their breath.

"Would you like to do two sets?" the promoter asks us. By this point, the mood in the Gresham Flyers camp is somewhere between confusion and hostility. We've hired amps, driven miles and set up. We don't have another gig for a fortnight, plus we've told people we're playing. We can't leave now. Okay, I say, we'll do two sets. Dan negotiates the entry fee down to four quid, but even that's a bit steep. I'd rather play to fifty non-paying punters than charge for a substandard night, and the way this has gone, it is indeed sub-standard.

Come 9pm, we get up on stage, and play a set. The assembled punters number somewhere around eight. It's nice to cut loose and have some fun, so the set is relaxed, but not so that we're taking the piss. We include our two top-secret cover versions, but drop a couple of songs just so we don't overdo it. The melodica gets its' stage debut on a couple of songs. A few more people come in, though the promoter turns away probably twice as many people cos they don't want to pay four quid. All told, a good but sloppy set.

The valiant Tim Silver of Fifteen Minutes comes to rescue and fills the slack space with a few choice tunes of his own, including one great song that I remember playing with him when we were in a band about three years ago. Up we go again. Sharon's had a bit to drink, but we pull out all the stops again and play the whole ten-song set. This time, we're on fire. I don't know how it sounded out front, but to me, that was the best we'd ever played the songs. We dedicated Cat Hits Car to Tim as it's his favourite and he did us a great favour. The set ends as usual on an epic version of Pretty But Not Beautiful with an ending that seems to go on for ages- I've certainly run out of octaves by the time the end comes round. Nonetheless, we seem to have gone down well, and despite the sparse attendance, the reception is very enthusiastic. Thank you everyone!

But there's still one thing; it's 10.45pm. The licence for live music still has 75 minutes left! So, in a move of either great bravery or great stupidity, we decide to play some more. The fact that we've run out of songs is neither here nor there, as Waz the human jukebox simply shows us a few chords and we fall in behind him. Before you know it- BAM!- we're playing Sit Down by James. That ends and after a brief pause for Andrew to remember the guitar part, we're doing Echo Beach, which we haven't played for months- in fact, I think it was the first thing we ever played together. Needless to say, we forget bits of it. Our former sax player and original seventh member Jess is in the audience, but sadly neglected to bring her instrument along and I have to sing the sax solo. Badly.

Non-paying punters from the back room come in and sing along/ dance. One even requests something by The Jam (if only...).

Dan strolls off, claiming to have had enough. Andrew gets behind the kit and we plough on. Common People by Pulp and Transmission by Joy Division follow (despite not being familiar with either song, Andrew's drumming was still magnificent). Dan comes back to play keyboards on Transmission. Girls are dancing!! And not just ones we know!!

The soundman, having endured quite enough of this malarkey, tells us to make the next one the last one so he can get the last tube home. I struggle to remember how the bassline to Pump It Up goes (another early rehearsal room chestnut) so instead we somehow end up playing Another Brick In the Wall Pt 2 by Pink Floyd. Out of this comes a drum solo from Dan, a bass solo and band introductions, hotel house-band style. One last flourish and we're off.

And breathe out. We get off stage, collect our gear, and absorb the situation. The mood is generally positive- even Dan, the band's biggest in-house critic is happy with the spontaneous ending. A drunk lady tells us in a roundabout way that we'd be good enough to play Salsa music- a high compliment to these ears. Thinking that we've done well, we beam all the way to the car as we load the stuff in.

One particularly inebriated bloke stops Waz and points him out to a girl he's vailantly chatting up/ holding onto for support.

"See 'im? 'E's in the band!"
"Yes, I am." says Waz
"You were fucking shit, mate."

You can't please everyone.

Monday, September 12, 2005

forever autumn

Soundtrack: Stevie Wonder - Innervisions

I wanted to start by talking about Autumn today. Ms Berry will think I'm copying her, but I ain't, and I'm allowed, ain't I?

The weather's turned, and today is the first day I'm wearing tights. Well, it's the second day, but Saturday was for fashion reasons, so it doesn't count. This weekend, and today too, the weather has been reminding me a lot of being in Seattle last December. It isn't raining, but you get wet when you're outside because the air is so moist. Last week there was actually fog on my walk to work - I couldn't see the park or anything. It's a bit weird, considering the weekend before I turned beetroot pink with too much sun.

You have to wonder about the sudden changes in weather. They say global warming, which would account for a lot, but then you can never quite remember what the weather does. It's always a hotter summer than last year. Autumn always comes earlier than last year. Things are never how you remember them. I could swear Autumn didn't hit until October last year, but here's me wearing my transitional knitted pink scarf for the past 2 weeks.

Anyway, I like it when it's like this. Not too cold that I have to wear gloves at work, or a jumper in bed. The kind of weather where you can just put on tights and a cosy jumper, and you feel snuggly. I'm enjoying my red shoes, black opaque tights, black skirt, red vest poking out, black lose knit cuddly jumper combo today. We were just chatting in the kitchen about the exciting prospect of buying new tights and jumpers. I think a trip to H+M is in order. When I went last week it was too hot to buy the cute jumpers they had in stock.

Yesterday was a proud Autumn day. I cooked a nice lasagne, and put a bit of nutmeg in the white sauce. All the windows were steamed up, and it was grey and murky outside, but inside the house was filled with a warm sweet smell. The rest of the day was split between reading the new Harry Potter and knitting some fingerless gloves for work. I felt like I was getting into the spirit of things. I better hurry up though, seeing as it's turned cold so quickly. I have my black/red/white ribbed scarf to finish before it gets too cold for the transitional scarf. I better knuckle down!

Saturday was a funny old day, but I'll have to leave that until I have more time...

Friday, September 09, 2005


Just a quick bump to remind you of the next Gresham Flyers date.

This Saturday, 10th September, we're playing West One Four in West Kensington, and we can promise lots of surprises! More details on The Gresham Flyers' website.


Soundtrack: Bobby Womack - Poetry in Motion

My dream has come true. Jeff Wayne is performing War of the Worlds live for the first time in April 2006, and I've just bought Thom and I a ticket. Justin Hayward is a special guest. They're going to use the presence (and probably exhumed body) of Richard Burton. And a 48-piece string orchestra, named the ULLAdubULLA orchestra. This is going to be AMAZING.

War of the Worlds is one of those albums that has seen me through life. It's one of my first memories of music, and as everyone my age says, it used to terrify me as a child. I have memories of decorating the house with the family while listening to it, and being too scared to go in any dark rooms. My sister studied the book at school, and her teacher used the artwork of my mum and dad's LP copy for the school display. You might remember my story of going to a friend's wedding, the stressful journey that ensued, and how Jeff Wayne brought calm and serenity. And FEAR. Hehe. I even own a copy of the CD signed by Jeff himself (given to me by my friend George, who herself recieved it when her mum won a copy in a Weston-super-Mare tombola).

This is going to be the stuff of dreams.


This morning was the first morning in our new house that the alarm woke me up. Every morning I wake up way before my time. First someone leaves for work at 5am every morning (thud, brummmm). Then the first Heathrow planes start (meeeeeeeeoionnnnnnnnnnnnn). Then the first train from London (chug-ah-chug-ah). And the sunlight coming through the skylight [insert sound of an epiphany here]. But this morning I slept right through, and damn do I feel knackered now. A bit like I've been stunned into existence.

So I thought, it's alright, I'll sleep on the train. It wasn't as simple as that though. As soon as I lost my tension, started to succumb to the pleasure of relaxation and dreaming, I kept waking with a start. And the problem was thus: if I got too relaxed, there would be the threat of passing wind.

It's my greatest fear, falling asleep on the train and being so relaxed I fart. And my meal last night has done nothing to help matters. Last night I cooked with chickpeas for the first time, and made a delicious chickpea and potato curry from scratch. So chickpeas + spicy = wind.

I remember at Cropredy, everyday we were eating potato wedges and the like. Then one day I came back with a plate of curry from the veggie curry place. Channa massala, bombay potato, tarka dhal, raitha, bhajis, pakora, naan... my dad saw my plateful and his eyes lit up. He didn't care that there was no meat - LOOK AT THE SIZE OF IT! He doesn't understand that meals can be eaten without meat. But he didn't find the chickpeas agreeable, and found himself shitting through the eye of a needle. Poor thing. I thought he was exaggerating, but chickpeas do actually make you feel a little uncomfortable. I told my dad what I cooked and he said "Oh no! Never again! Woz on the throne 4 a week. Do poor Thom a chop".

Anyway, my curry was nice in the end, if a little loosening. I just went to heat up leftovers in the kitchen, and a workmate said "Ooh, looks good. Chickpeas are very in at the moment, aren't they?".

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Day 4

Soundtrack: A Cellarful of Motown 2

It's been a slightly captivating week, seeing as there's the odd new job trickling in. And when I'm not working, I'm dreaming because I'm feeling odd this week. It's probably that getting back to work feeling. Thankfully day 4 has seen me stumble back into normality slightly.

So I'm all moved and settled into suburbia. I was walking home last night and all I could smell was cow muck. On my first 'proper' day of living in suburbia, I walked to the corner shop and saw three men washing their car. I didn't see one car being washed after 5 years of living in London. And one of the men even said 'How do?' to me. Glorious! Really our place is pretty faultless, and I'm very happy with it. I think it helps that we've settled in pretty quickly, and it also helps that Thom's a tidy freak so I haven't felt like I've been bogged down in mundane chores. The bad things about our place (noisy low-flying planes, minimal space) are more than outweighed by the brilliant things about the place; our creative storage, HUGE CD collection, a wooden bedroom balcony with fairlyights, a Bang & Olufssen hi-fi set-up, the location, and it's homely and comfortable.

It was a nice week off, being homely. I was ready to go back to work though. I just spent the whole week shopping, it seemed. IKEA, Sainsbury's, and then checking out the clothes shopping in Windsor and Slough. Say what you like about Slough, but it's a great shopping centre! Just a bit o' a dump. A bit like Birmingham but with better shops.


So next year is looking like it's going to be fun. Thom and I are looking to do to Dubai (and hopefully Oman) in January, and then we're going on a US Road Trip and sharing a car with the lovely Sarah and Hannah. I'm quite daunted at the prospect of a road trip - it's going to take a lot of planning and organisation - but it's going to be worth it. It's a bit of a dream of mine. I was chatting to Liz&Phil (who we're renting the house from) as they've just spent a couple of months in America. They were strongly against driving through America, saying it was all a bit dull. I can see their point - I can't imagine anything exciting about driving up and down the M6 either. I think the main thing is to make sure you see a bit of the places you end up in (at least the nightlife!), and just make sure the route is scenic. If we're going to stick to InterstateX everyday it will be dull!

The route is looking like New York - Nashville (through the Smoky Mountains, I'd presume), Nashville - Natchez Trace Parkway over to Austin. Then it's get on Route 66, head to Albuquerque, up to the Grand Canyon/Hoover Dam (I would imagine that's quite scenic!), over to Las Vegas (apparently the drive into the city with the twinkling lights is a sight to behold. I'm picturing Blackpool illuminations here), and then to the end in San Francisco (I'm going to insist driving over the Pacific Highway). Oh my. How can that be dull?!!! I can't wait. I need to book about 3 weeks off work though, so wish me luck!


I was talking to my dad last night about travelling. He's got such a yearning to travel, but never quite goes through with it because he doesn't have anyone to go with. Anyway, he's made friends with the bigot from across the road, and they've book 2 weeks off to get a last minute deal. My dad's thinking of going to Thailand of all places (the most exotic he's had before is Florida!). Then he said how his friend Mark (now back on the scene) spent 2months travelling the Far East last year. He's doing it again in January, and wants my dad to go with him. God I hope he says yes. My dad sounded on the brink of accepting last night. The thing is, my dad is a lorry driver, and Jan/Feb are the quiet times. He's paid of his mortgage, and it's really easy to get agency driving work. He was saying everything seems to be going right since he turned 50 this year. He suddenly has a life again. I really hope he does this.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Mission Accomplished

Ooh, a review of The Gresham Flyers' first gig!

"Jarvis once asked “Do you remember the first time?” and he could recall that “it was the worst time”. First gigs can be tragic and can scar musicians for life, making them opt for living room or selected audience performances to justify the presence of family members only.

Fortunately, this fate did not cross The Gresham Flyers’ path on Sunday at the Pleasure Unit, where they performed their first gig ever! The enthusiasm, the nerves and the thrill of a first gig were there and so was a big audience – well, yeah, it was their first gig, remember? – and the band did not disappoint.

Despite some initial sound problems, their set was very good and rather bold for a band who is just starting up. Surely many hours must have been spent rehearsing this sunshine pop bonanza set which was not limited to a classic combination of rhythm sections and guitars. “Shiftwork” was captivating and bouncy with a dominant keyboard feel, “Pretty but not Beautiful” had a joyous, graceful stream of xylophone which faded into the end of the song accompanied by jangle guitars, while “Student Nurse” flirted with some catchy funk overtones.

There is room for improvement, especially on the vocals side, but overall it was a good performance.

An audience of music lovers – not just relatives - can be devoted but also very critical. Seeing all those people cheering and tapping along, I can only say one thing: “mission accomplished, serge”."

rar rar rar

Soundtrack: Tindersticks - Simple Pleasure

I've been quite busy this week. It's nice. I'm off work next week, so I like it when I've had stuff to do leading up to it, and then work to do when I get back. It makes the break worth it.

I was just trying to work out what I did this weekend, and I couldn't think for the life of me. Then I realised - I went to a picnic in Kew Gardens. It had been pissing it down all week, so I didn't have high hopes for the Saturday, but thankfully the sun broke through enough to make it feel like summer. I saw my first brown leaves this morning, so it's not really summer, but anyway... lovely weekend. I can't really remember much of it though, due to the 2 bottles of wine I consumed. Oops.

Sunday consisted of me nursing my hangover til about 1.30. I came out of the shower to a text from Kristin saying 'where shall we meet?'. Thankfully, as Thom left for work that morning he reminded me that I'd arranged to meet Kristin on that day. I text back with 'Well I have to be in Shepherd's Bush at 6' then went downstairs to potter. An hour later I came back to a text saying 'I'm on my way'. Aargh! She'd made it to the 'Bush before I'd even left the house. Nooooooooooooooo. Not stress. Not when I feel like this. In the end, it turned out a bit o' a slumber in the Defector's Weld was just what I needed before band practice.

It's Thom's birthday today. I was so excited about his presents that I woke him up at 6.30. I gave him 2 x The Tubes albums (not the good ones), Harry Potter, The Art of Mix Tapes by Thurston Moore, Three Men in a Boat (Thom's favourite novel - which he lost his copy of), a Motown shirt and Big Train Series 1&2 on DVD. Weeee! He seems pretty chuffed. It's quite a weekend too, as we're moving in with each other tomorrow. I'm finally leaving London for the peace and relaxation (and chavs) of Windsor. Well, Datchet. Actually my address says Slough, but it isn't.

I finally saw the place last night. We're moving in, but I hadn't even seen what it's like inside! All sorts of complications with current tennants, contracts, it being Thom's friends' house etc. It's not too bad, actually. A lot smaller than my current place (thank god I chucked out 5 bags of clothes) and I have no idea how we're going to fit our CDs, vinyl and books in. Still, it will look homely in no time. And I love the fact that the bedroom has a balcony that overlooks the living room. Aaah, it'll be like Romeo and Juliet! I won't have internet access for the next week or two, so wish me luck! I'll try and take pictures when I've unpacked.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

it's a fair crop, guv

Soundtrack: Beach Boys - Sunflower

So the weekend was spent at Fairport's Cropredy Convention. It's a folk festival. But this year it was quite an off-kilter one.

The merchandise shirts were firmly fixed in the 60s, with their illuminous flower power writing boasting claims of peace and love. Fine. But the bands... quite an unusual mix, compared to the last time I attended. There was The Muffin Men, for starters. They're basically a group of music teachers covering Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart. I'm quite impenetrable to Beefheart, so I used the time wisely to buy a melodica instead. Then there was The Dylan Project. They were basically Fairport Convention fronted by a Bob Dylan-wannabe. By the time they came onstage, Thom and I had suffered a day of intolerable coldness, so when we went back to the tent to get our sleeping bags we thought 'sod it', and went to bed instead.

So the weather put a bit of a dampner on the weekend. A bit of sun on Thursday, freezing on Friday, and freezing with rain on Saturday. But there was still fun to be had. Firstly by meeting up with Kelly (New Order) and Wood again, and secondly by playing 'Cropredy I Spy'...

You might remember the fun Thom and I had at Crosby, Stills and Nash recently. Well Cropredy was a veritable goldmine of I Spy frivolity. The most prevalent was the gay dog wearing a neckerchief. Bonus points for a pink neckerchief which Simon claims to have seen, but has no witnesses to substantiate this claim. There was also the oldest Cropredy t-shirt found. Kelly claimed a 1989er, but again, a lack of witnesses means it doesn't qualify for points. 1 pointers for the exotic waist coats/comedy hats brigade. 'Folk Mothers' were quite a funny one - she wears a Cropredy shirt from many a year ago, drainpipe jeans, has her hair in a dishevelled bob and is usually trailing 3 miserable kids behind her. My favourite was capturing a folk knitter. She must've been using needles that were 2inches wide!

So from this fun to poignancy. Carole, my recently widowed Aunt also came to the festival with us, and after Fairport on Sunday night the family traipsed over to Cropredy Bridge to scatter my Uncle Alan's ashes. I felt very bad for Carla, my cousin. I was stood next to her and she was understandably upset. I didn't know whether to hug her not. I tried stroking her back, and she didn't respond. But Carole was getting all the sympathy it seemed. I couldn't bear to leave Carla alone, so I gave her a huge hug and rested my head on her shoulder. This time she hugged me back.

It was a sorry sight though, the water under this particular bridge. Cropredy has a wonderful canal running through it, but under this bridge the water was quite stagnant with rubbish thrown in it - but it had to be that particular spot. Then there was a silly moment. Suddenly Carole clocked a Morrison's shopping bag, and Carole couldn't help but laugh. 'It's a sign!' she kept saying - the Morrison's bag symbolising my uncle's passion for The Doors. You have to laugh, really.