Category Archives: Consumer

Chicken Soup; Tidy Home, Tidy Mind; Man Up.

Woke up hideously early in the morning; read for a while, then tidied the kitchen until it gleamed. Sadly we don’t own a mop or a broom so shoes are still de rigeur, and there’s no recycling or glass bins yet so there are bottles, boxes and assorted plastic items in a heap by the back door, mixed in with pegs and shopping bags. But it’s not unhygienic, and it’s not impossible to work in, and that’s something.

Now I’m going to tidy my room and it’s going to be beautiful. Not a wire or a greying pair of knickers drying over a drawer handle to be seen, promise. There will be a box of things to go home, and space for a load of new things to come up. Then I’m going to fill in a few more forms, and I’m going to go to the post, and I’m going to go into town, and I’m going to buy a finally-I-got-my-loan treat for under a tenner (I’m thinking new knickers, always fun), and I’m going to get on a train and listen to something mellow and knit. Then I’m going to get off the train and have a wonderful weekend.

You see, I’ve decided that the best way to be OK is to make myself be OK. I am pretty and worthwhile and I can do the washing up, see? I am intelligent and interesting and I can break hearts if I want to. I can impress parents, sometimes. I can befriend random strangers at pubs and parties and on buses. I can knit. I am going to garden things. I go to lectures and I read books and I live and I’m trying to get a job. And the people in my life are there because they want to be, and because I want them to be, because if they didn’t want to be, they wouldn’t be. That is how the world works.

The doctor prescribed me a book.

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Filed under Beliefs, Books, Cloudlife, Consumer, Family, Friendship, Happenings, Introspection, Knitting, Life, Relationships, Sex, Society, Thoughts, University

You Lot Are Ridiculous

Facebook is getting ridiculous. I know I have a lot of applications; I use about three of them, if you count ‘Video’ as an application rather than just another aspect of Facebook Proper these days. I also use Lexulous and have just got Farmville just to see what all the hype is about. I’m not sure yet why it’s so popular, to be honest. Perhaps if I were, what, eight? We’ll see.

Other applications are just downright annoying. ‘What kind of character from history would you be?’ ‘What DC Superhero would you be?’. Stupid questions with no relevance to the ideas and descriptions they come out with defining you for utterly spurious reasons as this or that. What Disney Princess would you be? What Psychological Disorder Should You Have? Yes, that’s a real one. IQ tests, grammar tests, the whole lot. Yes, I do them, with the same healthy dose of scepticism as I expect most people who answer these quizzes actually have. Or rather, I did. I’m getting bored of large swathes of the internet, I really am. It’s a pretty stupid addiction. I read fewer comics these days, keep up with fewer blogs. Although you should definitely read The Daily Kitten. Everyone needs a regular dose of Insanely Cute.

Anyway I just wanted to drop by and say, I really hate Causes. Yes, we all don’t like Child Abuse, Animal Neglect, Rape, or Torture. Most people don’t approve of these things. But there’s no point in standing up and saying so by joining whatever Cause it is. Don’t go thinking you’re doing something about Saving The Donkeys just because you’ve joined a cause. Don’t think it’s an active step saying I Don’t Support Child Abuse. It’s not helpful to think of joining a Cause as an active step, as a way of Doing Something About whatever-it-is because then whatever you could really do to help – which probably involves a little more effort, or money, or signing a petition, or whatever – will seem like just a bridge too far, and does, to many people. If you really want to do something about something in this world, don’t just meekly sit and be counted with all the other six million twenty-somethings, think what you could actively do. Joining a Cause doesn’t make you a better person, it doesn’t make you look like a better person, not to anyone with half a brain. If you have no money, give time. If you have no time, give money. If you have no time or money, feel guilty, like me, or find some time or money (I know I’m no saint). But don’t just sit about telling us what a giving, sharing and kind person you are, because you’re not, seriously.

There we go. Rant over.

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Filed under Beliefs, Consumer, Internet, Life, Politics, Society, Thoughts, World

But The Dear Knows Who I’ll Marry

Well, actually, I don’t have a clue where I’m going, or who’s going with me, who I love or not is a little irrelevent, and nor do I have a clue who I’ll marry, so the old song is a not terribly pertinent, but very pretty if you know it. Sadly I can’t remember what it’s called but it’s an Irish folk song and rather wonderful.

Anyway. Tonight I am going to a party in the middle of nowhere, a beautiful house, all rambling gables and tree-surrounded leafy huge garden, and then leaving terribly early having not drunk a drop and having also done some fire poi. I am then going home on the train and will be arriving home horribly late – take a book and hold on tight to your bag, think I. Then tomorrow I am ringing my tutor to Discuss My Options, and possibly then going up to Uni Town to Discuss My Options Further.

I was rather looking forward to my last few days at home, sadly – I would have passed all those exams and, stress-free, would have spent the time with P and his friends relaxing, there would have been a reasonable amount of beer and pubbing and sunshine and autumn and things. I was going to have a fire evening, it was going to be beautiful. Then I was hoping to go and say with P in P’s Uni Town Elsewhere which would have been wonderful – several long days together with no responsibilities and no reason to get up or go to bed early or late or anything, a chance to experience a whole new city, and a lot of fun, really, before going back to my Uni Town for the new year; now it half looks like I’ll be in Uni Town or Home Town and I’ll have a million things to sort out and it’s all going to be rather stressful. It’s not that I don’t deserve it, I do, entirely, I’ll admit that. I was ill, yes, but I’m also lazy and arrogant.

Right now I just want to curl up in P’s arms and forget about all of this just for a little while.

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Filed under Beliefs, Consumer, Family, Friendship, Happenings, Life, Relationships, University

Fancy Dress Is A Weird One

Guys can dress up to look really stupid – cover themselves in pink paint, don pink tights and pritstick feathers  to their chests whilst wearing beaks and aviator masks, paint themselves gold and wear grass-skirts and beautiful maori spirals everywhere, dress up in weird wigs and onesies and lycra and all sorts, the aim of the game merely being to look as ridiculous as possible. Drag, lipstick, silly dresses, tiny skirts, glitter, the whole shebang.

Meanwhile the objective of the fancy dress exercise as far as girls are concerned is to wear as little as possible and look as hot as possible – exposure and make-up that might usually seem tasteless or trashy is suddenly deemed OK because actually you’re dressed as a panther / nurse / secretary / twelve-year-old-in-skimpy-pyjamas / schoolgirl / smurfette / sea creature.

How come the guys get to look silly, so that their costume and character is on display more than however much of their body may also be on show, while I have to get my legs out?

Cue lengthy feminist rant; or I could bitch about my legs for a while and how they’re not public property anyway and totally probably not worth seeing except to a select audience of about one. Actually I quite like my legs, but the point still stands.

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Here’s Something That Puzzles Me

When I get drunk, I fall asleep really easily after a certain point, and can be absolutely fast asleep for hours, it would seem.

Yet it gradually dawns on me the next day that I am absolutely as unrefreshed as if I hadn’t gone to sleep in the first place. Why is that? I’m assuming I’m missing out on several usually crucial aspects of sleep – but is it the deep stage 4 sleep I miss out on or the shallow dreamy REM sleep that I go without, leaving me utterly washed out?

Oh and does anyone have any idea why I am eating so much at the moment? It’s frankly disgusting. About ten fairy cakes today, some cookie dough that never made it to the baking tray at all, two fried eggs, and some pasta with a wonderful sauce concocted by the glorious Anthony. Yesterday wasn’t a whole lot better – a load of stewed apple, and some lasagne, plus again lots of flour/sugar/butter mess. And a bottle of wine.

I’m not sure whether we left at the end of dinner, or before the pudding was brought in. But a bottle of wine should not have robbed me of my memory or dignity like that, especially not at a dinner party. What has happened to me?

You don’t even want to know what sort of a state I was in by the time I got home. I fell down the stairs, and that’s just the start of things. Oh, Jenny.

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Tonight I Am Going Out To Dinner

Tonight I am going out to dinner with A for his friend H’s birthday (I gather she’s already drunk as we speak). So we have the usual set of dilemmas. What do I wear, given that my top half only is going to be visible most of the time, so it needs to be something that looks good in halves? Furthermore, I can’t really wear white because it’s almost a given that I’ll spill something on myself, because I’m like that. Is it smart enough that I should or can wear heels and if I don’t given the limited amount of stuff I have with me at the moment what should I have on my feet? Can I get away with jeans and some kind of vest top and a necklace?

Let’s now assume that I’ve got there safely, and decently dressed, and immediately you have the conundrama about what to order (yes, ‘conundrama’ is a word, I just made it up, and it seems just exactly right here). I never know the etiquette about pizza consumption in a restaurant – some places you can get away with just picking it up and eating it in slices by hand, other places you realise you can’t, and then you’re stuck with the following dilemma: cut into slices as if you are going to eat it by hand, but then actually cut those slices up into bite size pieces? What is a bitesize piece with pizza anyway? I always get this wrong and either end up nibbling on tiny little bits of pizza or trying to cram great chunks of hte thing into my mouth, and anyway this entirely depends on the behaviour and size of the toppings, how big the pieces are, whether or not they all fall off (and yes now you have tomato sauce all over that white dress, knew I should not have worn that…). Or you mince your way through the entire pizza cutting tiny little bits out of it and advancing slowly across the pizza (and should you spiral your way in, sweep slowly across the pizza left to right or from near to far edge, encroach upon one slice-shaped section slowly then start on the next, or what?). So yeah, pizzas probably out because whilst I’m deciding all this I’m sitting there like an idiot who has never seen cutlery before, let alone food.

Pasta is obviously out because most of it will end up on my clothes rather than in my stomach, especially if it’s spaghetti or tagliatelli or something. Clearly noodles are a risk for the same reason – and oh christ, chopsticks. I like trying to use them, but in public? No, no, no. Definite recipe for disaster (but probably going to be more of a success than using a prawn cracker as a spoon, as I once had to do – cue Ood-like tentacular display of noodles hanging from my mouth whilst I try to say something witty in the middle of a public park, cue my companion falling off his seat laughing, cue me laughing too and, well, noodles everywhere).

Steak means steak-knives and me being a weakling and therefore unlikely to be able to successfully cut it up without accidentally shooting my steak across my plate and covering myself in sauce or chips or something. And lets not even start on complex things like lobsters or crabs, or half a chicken, or mussels (this mainly means creamy winy sauce on my chin and indeed everywhere else, but it’s worth it because, well, moules mariniere = practically orgasmic, as far as I’m concerned). And you wouldn’t have predicted it, but salad is a disaster. It’s so much easier to eat with your fingers than with a knife and fork – it’s so badly behaved, leaves just jump out of my mouth or something.

And of course, restaurants. Wine. Lots of it. And I get giggly and even more klutzy and actually sometimes it surprises me that I still have a social life, let alone friends who are actually vaguely civilised and capable of choosing food based on what they like, and conveying it successfully and elegantly from plate to mouth. Why they even talk to me still is beyond my comprehension at times.

So, yes, I can sort of understand why Debenhams is honestly giving cutlery-purchasers lessons in how to use a knife and fork. Just in my case it has nothing to do with a lifetime of ready-meals, and everything to do with being the kind of klutz who can crash-land in a tangle of limbs on the floor after a failed attempt to switch a light off with her chin.

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We Might Have Been Born Here

Next up: Show of Hands album Witness. It’s beautiful, old-fashioned folk with lots of guitars and violins, of course, and beautiful rich vocals. The songs are about subjects like how no-one British really knows anything about their own heritage any more (‘Roots’ – I’ve roamed this land from shore to shore…stood in the street with my own guitar, but I’d be richer than all the rest if I had a pound for each request…for… American Pie…Swing Low, are these the only songs the English know?), about however much you dream of escaping something will always drag you back (‘Undertow’), about childhood and fatherhood, love, religion, and more. Very easy to listen to, very moving, beautiful, lyrical, uplifting, thought-provoking, and wonderful.

There’s this idea that folk music is stuck in the past, that the songs folk singers are all written as if from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, in a slightly arcadian England that never really existed; and this album, for one, proves, that the traditions of folk music are an ideal way to talk about things that are far more relevant to many of us than the things that are sung about in the americanised, commercial hiphop/R’n’B that dominates airwaves everywhere at the moment. Another good example of singer-songwriters with their sentiments and lyrics firmly in the 21st century, and their musical roots in folk, would be the wonderful Amy MacDonald, of whom I’m sure you’ve all heard. Anyway. If you don’t know her stuff then you absolutely should and I might ban you from this blog until you have. Not that I could.

A lot of this album just resonated with me straight off, in a way music rarely does. It just fit entirely with what I was looking to hear in my head, it filled that gap. Perhaps just because it is so easy to listen to.

Then the other folk album I’ve just bought is Steve Knightley’s Track of Words, which is more personal and introspective, more melancholy in parts, calmer, and oddly, less emotive, I think.

More importantly, perhaps, the music itself is beautiful. Beautiful instrumentation, clear recording, and some great and exemplary playing of the various instruments involved. Lovely layering of different ideas and themes. I don’t know what I’m doing with this whole music crit. nonsense; I forgot everything I knew about music apparently as soon as I had my last cello lesson about three years ago, which is a shame, I do miss it.

Anyway, all that aside, any other recommendations I should be checking out in this vein? Any and all suggestions very, very welcome 🙂

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Bach Was A Bloody Genius And If You Don’t Know That You Don’t Know Anything, So There.

… I am currently listening to Angela Hewitt’s new recording of Bach’s 48 Preludes and Fugues and this is an utterly stunning recording. Arresting. I say currently listening, I’ve had to pause it in order to type because I can’t listen to this whilst doing anything else. Very much worth having added to my collection – I borrowed the CDs from my father. Her interpretation of these pieces is quite modern, in that a lot of purists would criticise her for the way she pulls the tempo and dynamics and such about, but we don’t still live in the eighteenth century and nor should we try to – I think Bach would actually rather like this himself. Although what do I know, and how dare I presume to judge? Anyway, if you get the chance to get hold of a copy, do so. Honestly.

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Sorry I Haven’t Been Around So Much Of Late

Here, have some news.

I am less angry than I was because it’s nobody’s fault.

My birthday was lovely – the meal out, with P and family and W, the weekend which followed (another dinner, P paid, cue much guilt), a great evening at P’s with probably too much wine and lots of wonderful people and a midnight birthday kiss and a great fun journey home and lots of lovely presents (new handbag! really shouldn’t be that exciting. And lots of books). Then an evening spent outside with wine and playing backgammon by candlelight with my parents and really wanting a cigarette not because I was stressed (for once – usually that’s a sure-fire trigger but at last it’s losing it’s power to make me want nicotine…) but because it would have been lovely just to have a cigarette in just exactly that chilled kind of environment. Never mind. I didn’t succumb.

Plans, for parties and pub quizzes and such, long conversations in the middle of the night, train tickets, festival tickets, money, I think I may actually pass these exams. Ice-cream, chocolate. Some bad days, some good days, gawp all you like, you know where.

And I discovered the tool on the new post editor where you can schedule when an entry is to be published, which I wish I’d already known about, because now I can set it to slowly publish all my draft entries. Not that many of them are all that exciting, but it gets them out of the way, y’know?

And I’m reading the Sandman comics, because I am the most awful geek, and really enjoying them, so there. And if you get the chance get hold of Bad Science because it is a great book, but I may have said this already. I’ll put a link to Ben Goldacre’s blog (he wot wrote Bad Science) in my Aspirations and Inspirations blogroll. Enjoy.

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Filed under Books, Consumer, Family, Happenings, Life

Some New Music

I just bought Regina Spektor’s new album, Far. I really like it; I think it’s more contemplative than her previous album and the things sings about seem to touch on bigger topics than in the previous album, Begin to Hope. It isn’t as cheerful as that album but I don’t think that’s to its discredit.

Musically it is just as interesting as Begin to Hope, if not more so. I think it’s possibly more piano-led this time round too; but then she’s a good pianist and clearly capable of far more in terms of being a good pianist. Although anything cleverer on these songs would distract our attention from her beautiful voice and the sheer poetry of her lyrics.

For poetry it is; from the beautiful ‘Laughing With’ which is a haunting commentary about why people do or don’t believe in God, without any judgement one way or the other, to the seemingly jaunty ‘The Calculation’ in which the two protagonists rip out their unbleeding hearts and smash them into each other until sparks are produced (‘this fire, this fire, it’s burning us up’, or something like that), to the flowing melancholy of ‘Genius Next Door’. There’s a lot of story-telling, watching other people, talking about different characters. Regina Spektor seems all grown up; not that she ever wasn’t. There’s a lot of thought behind all of this. It’s all wonderful music, I’m just sorry I’m such a terrible reviewer. If you’re looking for new music (and who isn’t, really? I love new music, I listen to music all the time and I’m always looking for things I don’t yet know) I would absolutely buy this album. For an extra pound on iTunes (£8.99 rather than £7.99) you get three beautiful bonus tracks which I would utterly recommend.

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