Friday 29 July 2011

Primal Scream

Today we are honoured and excited to be featured on the splendiforous Any Other Wedding, screaming at our own wedding cake. Go see, and go read all the other loveliness that is there. These are awesome ladies.

Thursday 28 July 2011

Meet Our Furry Child

I think it's only right I should introduce you to the third member of our little family.

What me? I would NEVER do a wee up the side of your record collection!

This is Granville, and he is Sam's fluffy little cat.

He is very small, for a cat, and rather camp. He spends a lot of time grooming himself and posing, like a dapper little dandy boy. He sticks his nose in the air if he comes across anything he doesn't like. This includes any brand of cat food less extortionately expensive than Whiskas.

I didn't like cats that much when I started going out with Sam. I was well and truly a dog person. You know where you are with a dog, all bouncy and friendly and reliant. I couldn't work out for the life of me why Sam had a cat especially one that A. wasn't that cute and B. appeared to have a stick up his arse when it came to making friends with humans.

Daddy's favourite little munchkin, kissy kissy kiss (G not looking impressed)

So Granville and I had a bit of a stand-off for a good year before he finally decided he would grace my lap with his furry bottom and start purring. Then, as I would be merrily walking by, he started inexplicably rolling over onto his back in front of me and waving his paws in the air, blocking my path. Most inconvenient. Did he realise how ridiculous he looked, I wondered? Then he began springing out from behind pieces of furniture as I was walking by, grabbing onto my leg with his paws, as if I was some sort of prey. "Do you know how ridiculous you look?" I would say. Then he would skulk off, sheepishly, as if suddenly realising the folly of his ways.

Cats are strange. But Granville clearly thought I was a bit odd too. And maybe he was right. So grudgingly we built our own strange sort of loving friendship. The sort of friendship where I'd get up far too early and he'd come and fall asleep on the sofa on me while I was listening to techno (just the kind of thing you do at 6am) and I would switch on the webcam and make little films of him doing hilarious cat raving, paws aloft. And he really didn't seem to mind at all.

Now sometimes Granville would rather sit on me than Sam. I expect this is probably because I am a bit squidgier than Sam, but Sam still takes it a bit personally.

Hopefully this swaying of feline favouritism has finally prompted my husband to declare that I am now his best friend (how d'ya like that, kittypants?) and not Granville, as previously implied over the years.

Sorry G, you may be cute and fluffy, but I don't shit in the vegetable patch.

Love you really fluffy cutiekins, (now that we've finally sorted out the will...)

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Scrambled Heads

We are back, but I think at least half of our brains are still in the Garden.

So I am forced to do a list post. Unable to form proper sentences.


-Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. Best act hands down. EVEN BETTER THAN BLONDIE. A 70 year old woman in gold sequinned trousers looking like a goddess and belting out one Motown gem after another. I loved them so much I bounced like a zebedee through the whole thing. And I think I may have fan-girl screamed a bit too much for everyone around me.

-Random Kigu abuse... by the Sunday night we were all so tired we just started pushing them over and calling them names. I know it's not behaviour becoming of gardeners, but really they were EVERYWHERE. Make your own costume, you lazy trendy people. We were a bit naughty to be honest. But we're northerners, if we didn't do this to the southern softies, they'd all be disappointed. Honest they would.

-Sam took all the leftover postcards from the wedding and wrote challenges on the back of them for strangers to do. The man in the Chai Wallah tent who took off all his clothes and put them on backwards (INCLUDING HIS WELLIES) was my hero.

-We had kazoos as part of our Saturday wasp costumes. You would be AMAZED how many people think you can just blow down a kazoo and a noise will come out. They must have had WASTED childhoods.

-Husband festival Sam is much more brilliant than Boyfriend festival Sam. We didn't lose him once - first year ever. He just wanted to cuddle me and show off his new wife to all his new festival friends. SQUEEE.

 Wasp husband falls asleep on his own bottom

Thursday 21 July 2011

Off Down The Rabbit-Hole

Have a wonderful weekend, whatever you may be doing.

See you on Monday

Love from

The Bad Penny xxxx

PS. Think I've finally fixed the comments. Who knows! Give it a go and see what happens... ;)

Tuesday 19 July 2011

For Better Or For Lost

It's no secret that my Sammy likes a tipple at a festival. But, unlike the rest of us, when he starts drinking he can get a bit over-excited. Suddenly, we all look around and he is gone.

Where does Sam go?

To Planet Sam.

Sam can disappear onto Planet Sam for up to eight hours at festivals - not so good when your friends are spending that whole time looking for you. It gets  to the point where we know if he goes off to the toilet or for a cigarette by himself, he just won't come back. X hours later he rolls into the tent at 5am, completely oblivious and says (affronted) "Where were YOU LOT then?"

And everybody wants to punch him.

Last year, I had a GREAT IDEA.

I dressed as Little Bo Peep, and we dressed Sam as a sheep, with a great big tag around his neck with his name on, saying "If Found, Please Return To Bo Peep".

It didn't work. Everybody thought it was a joke. He still wandered off, and we still couldn't find him anywhere.

"I'm hiding in here, playing with my balls!"

The thing is with my darling husband is, he LOVES an audience. And he knows the four of us have heard it all before, many, many times.  But to a group of wide-eyed, Southern, hip young things at a boutique festival, this foghorn of a Yorkshireman (who has just pinched their acoustic guitar and started bellowing out "Your Mum's fallen in the water/ Your Mum's fallen in the sea/ Your Mum cannot speak properly/ And she smells of wee BOOM BOOM BOOM") is like the perfect Out-There Secret Garden experience. He gets rapturous applause. I've seen it happen.

 Sam as PC Primark of the Fashion Police, making a very public arrest for offensive use of dungarees

I did actually wonder how well I might handle this now we're husband and wife. Before, although I loved him just as dearly, there was always an element of "oh well, if he falls off the Pagoda into the lake it's his own stupid fault" in amongst the anxiety.

But now I am MARRIED to a drunken runaway mine train I feel like I have this responsibility to actually keep him in line. Plus I will feel genuinely sad if I go to a festival and don't see him all weekend.

Then I had a Eureka moment.

Booze + Sam = No Brain. If I could somehow STEM the flow of alcohol into his brain, I could possibly contain this rampant subconscious Bono-like desire to hold court with randoms. Perhaps I could even keep him in his more rational mind until, I dunno, at least 1am.


I keep hold of ALL our money.

If he leaves the source of money, he leaves the source of beer. He will have to return to base camp in order to replenish his Lager Level. And if he gets drunk and wanders off? He'll be forced to sober up and come home.


Mind you, we said that last year about Bo Peep.

So if my mission is thwarted, and you're going to the Secret Garden Party this year and you stumble across a man who looks a bit like this....

Please tell him he's a married man now, and he needs to go and find his wife.

I will be eternally grateful.

Sunday 17 July 2011

Sam's Tips On How It Feels To "Do A Marry"

Yesterday we had an utterly BRILLIANT day at the Out Of Spite Festival. OOS is small weekend fest in Leeds with a load of shouty bands, and hundreds of people from all over the country who have been meeting up and growing old together over the last twelve years or so. And as we all get fatter and greyer, a lot of us are starting to get married.

My husband loves to drink lager and dispense wisdom. So, with his new expertise in the field of marriage, he delighted in rolling round letting everybody know Exactly What To Expect.

(gleaned from yesterday's monologues to old friends in various stages of engagement)

"It will be a montage! The whole day will just go by like fucking hell! And the night before you'll think - well, I'm getting married, but I still feel a bit normal - and you'll have some bubbles and you'll go to bed... and the next day you'll wake up and think 'well, this is normal' and you'll get dressed in some nice clothes and then you'll get to the altar and you'll be waiting and all of sudden you'll be like .... fucking hell this is horrible! And it'll just hit you like WOAHHH and it'll be ARGGGG and then all of a sudden she'll be there and you'll be so relieved and it's like THANK GOD..... but that's when everything starts happening all at once and it's like a montage and it all rushes by LIKE A MONTAGE and there are all these people and you'll think, well I'm having an AWESOME time but I don't really know what's going on and then there's all this food you've been really excited about eating but you don't eat any of it and you drink loads but you don't feel pissed you just feel like WOAHHH this is like a MONTAGE.... and then the next day you wake up and think.... *exhales heavily* ...WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED??"

"WTF? I did a marry!"

Friday 15 July 2011

Weddings As A Spectator Sport

Ever since our wedding day, I have been nagged for photographs.

The worst offenders have been the staff and members at my part-time job. Most of them are 50 +, and all of them women. If there was a demographic likely to be nosey curious about a wedding, people, this is it.

Yesterday I took in a photoshopped collage of official pictures Sam had put together and put it up in reception, in the hope that it would finally shut them up. Knowing full well they were presuming a "proper" wedding, with a beautiful elegant dress and lots of pretty "wedding things".

I put on my best thick skin, just for the occasion.

I felt like our wedding was in a cage at the zoo, ready for people to point and stare at.

"It's a short dress!" they cried, and then "I never though I'd see a bride wearing plimsolls!" followed swiftly by, "Is this what they call 'funky'?"

I was surprised, actually (knowing some of the members quite well) which of them seemed perplexed, which were polite but incredibly sniffy, and the tiny minority who seemed genuinely excited and wowed by it being so different. Needless to say the reaction of those last few just made my day and made me feel tough enough to not care about the others.

I knew I would find it difficult getting reactions from people who don't really know me very well. It does make me a tiny bit sad that I was put under so much pressure to bring in anything at all. But as a happy, peppy gym instructor, you can't be cagey. Holding back photos for a WHOLE month (in spite of bringing them cake!!) is an action at odds with the open, cheerful person I am at work. Consequently I think some people thought I was ashamed of our wedding. And I DEFINITELY wasn't - far from it. I just knew that not everybody would "get" it. I needed to put some distance between myself and the emotion of the day, so I could deal with the inevitable snooty remarks that were bound to pop out (EDIT: although, again, I wasn't expecting some of the lovely things people did say - those who were genuinely interested rather than just rubbernecking for the sake of gym gossip - and hearing those kind words made me really happy that I did bring the pictures in eventually. God I'm a sensitive little muppet)

I suppose it's made me realise how such an enormous part of my main job - being a personal trainer and fitness instructor - is about listening to others and forgetting myself. So much so that these people I see every day really know nothing about me at all. And I quite like that.

Anyway, yesterday I was so swept up in this new spirit of self-expression, I went straight to the hairdressers and got pinked up ready for the Secret Garden Party next week.

Guess this will take the heat off our wedding pictures for a while....

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Boys In Bands

"I don't understand why you can't go out with some NICE boy who isn't in a band and doesn't have so many of those ridiculous vinyl records" -My Mum, 2005

As a self-proclaimed "rock wife", I thought it was time I did some explaining of this slightly overblown title.

It might imply that I am married to Rock. Which I am. In a lot of ways.

Or that I have a rock 'n roll husband. Which I definitely do.

But really, I think the "rock" that goes with the "wife" is all me. I am a woman of rock. This is what my mother failed to understand, as she spoke these despairing words, moments after yet another of my relationships crumbled. I dated boys in bands because I was IN a band, and and as far as I could see there was no other option.

I gave up dating boys who were NOT in bands at the age of 18. I had tried SO HARD.

I was a girl spending all her time with a lot of cool boys. Not just the boys in my own band, but the boys in all the other bands that became our social circle. Not so great if that's your girlfriend.

And being a girl playing lead guitar (I wasn't bad at all when I was a teenager, although a lot of people I've been in bands with in my 20s would deny this- keep practising kids, or you WILL lose it) I did get a lot of attention. From everybody. Simply because, sadly, I was an oddity. And it was weird (and incredibly nerdy, in retrospect) for a girl to be waxing lyrical about how, yes, that is indeed a super-strat 1982 Japanese copy, and yes the original whammy is blocked off and I replaced it with a toilet door handle because I'm a PUNK and yes that is a Crybaby, and yes that is a vintage Carslbro 50 Top head, and blah blah blah. I wasn't even cute as a teenager, and I was painfully shy, and suddenly I had an audience of supremely geeky boys who had never found common ground with a girl before.

Boys in bands it was. And once you're in that circle, there are just... well let's say there are quite a few.

Tatako playing the Castle Hotel, Manchester - I had grown up enough to remove the toilet door handle by this point

So, inevitably, I've been out with a lot of a few boys who are in other bands. Sometimes I've even formed bands with these boyfriends - great for a while, but nightmarish for everyone when the relationship ends and the band doesn't.

But -shock!- I'd actually been a VERY good girl and never dated ANY band member of any band I was already in (and there have been lots) until Sam. Through all those years! Trust me, other girls I've been in bands with -terrors one and all- have never been that restrained *takes a moment to polish halo*

And, reader, I married him!

Photo courtesy of the awesome BlackEyeSpecialist

I like to call that good judgement.

I am virtually a nun, yes?


Now can you phone my Mum and tell her?

Sam and I are still in a band together now, and it's great. Practices and gigs are a time-suck, but if your other half is with you then nobody gets left home alone (of course, Leeds being Leeds we are both in two bands each, but at least half of that time we get to be together when we wouldn't otherwise).

We got to play an entire set together at our own wedding, for heaven's sake. And it was ACE fun. How many couples can say that?

Now, see Mum? You wait til we produce our own mini-Brian Eno/Guy Chambers/Dolly Parton talented brood whose song-writing royalties will keep you in luxury cruises well into your dotage.

THEN you'll be glad I didn't listen.

Just Married-core

Monday 11 July 2011

What's In A Name?

So, do you change your name when you get married, or not?

Most of my friends have.

Some have not.

Some have double-barrelled, and some - AKA my fabulous friend Suzy - have left the it up in the air, cultivating a mysterious air of will-she-won't-she, only slowly beginning the process of switching 18 months after the wedding. One former colleague changed his surname to his new wife's (how awesome?)

As for me, I proudly announced to everyone that I was definitely going to change my name. After all, who wouldn't want to be a Smyth? Being a Smyth has cachet. My husband's family are like the coolest gang in school, being asked to become a Smyth is like ....well, it's like being asked to join the Ramones. They call each other by their surname, they have a "secret dance" (yes, and no I can't, it's a secret), they look out for each other with fearsome loyalty, and they dominate every room they walk into. They are BAD-ASS.

I know smoking is NOT cool. But LOOK AT THEM. And this is only three of them. There are MILLIONS more.

But then, three days before the wedding, I was driving home from the gym, and suddenly -

SHIT. It all hit me.

My name has been my name for thirty years.

I am Penny B_____r.

(P-Braz to my friends)

What's more, I am the last B___r in our family line. I am out on my own. My Mum has re-married, step-siblings all have different surnames, my Uncle has sadly passed on having had no children of his own... it's just me and my Dad flying the flag. AND I LIKE THAT. Suddenly I realised, by the traffic lights at McDonalds, that I don't mind if all my kids are Smyths and I'm not. I genuinely like being the odd one out. I like being the maverick. I like being Braz-Face.

Maverick aged four with her VERY special castle

So I went home and made Sam promise to keep calling me Braz, even if I did change my name to his. And that sort of felt okay. Sort of.

And then we got married, three days later, and it still felt sort of fine. Sort of.

So we went home and I changed my name on Facebook.

My slightly hung over Maid of Honour came round to our house the next day and logged on to the good old FB and BURST INTO TEARS because (slightly dramatic but still) I wasn't me anymore. She said later that there was this sense of grief... this passing over of her little Braz into the gigantic Smyth Clan, that she just didn't like. And I must admit, it was a similar discomfort as the one I had felt at the traffic lights at McD's just days before.

Well. Luckily we are honeymooning in the USA so I can't do a right lot about changing my name anywhere other than on Facebook at the moment - passport control being rigid as it is over there. Which is nice, and it keeps the in-laws quiet for the time being. And I am hopeful it will give me time to warm up to the idea of changing my name again. Maybe by mid-September, when we get back, I'll be ready to do it, and all this will seem like a silly wobble.


But whatever I decide, in my heart I will always be P-Braz.

P-Braz rocking her hen night wearing a tiger print hat, in a karaoke bar, having simultaneously performed both Warren G AND Nate Dogg's parts in Regulate to AWESOME effect. Seriously, I had to help them put the roof back on the building afterwards.

And NO, as good as it will look on my bank card, I will never be Penelope B____r-Smyth (yes I am a Penelope, yes it is pronounced Smythe, and yes I KNOW!). Simply because I can't ski for shit, I've never worn jodphurs and I drink my tea out of a mug.


Saturday 9 July 2011

Two Hearts, Living In Just. One. Mind

(thanks Phil Collins)

Us newlyweds went to see that Terrence Malick film last night. YOU KNOW. The Tree Of Life. The one that one the Palm D'Or at Cannes and has got 5 stars from every single film critic EVER.
Think it looks clever? Let me tell you it has a CGI dinosaur in it. OH YES.

We didn't actually intend to go and see it. We wanted to see the terrifying sounding Les Ojos De Julia (love Guillermo Del Toro, LOVE slow, creeping, atmospheric horror) but our favourite Leeds art house cinema cleared its entire programme for A WHOLE WEEK to play The Tree Of Life, because that's how good a film it is supposed to be.

So, off we went.

Re-Re-Rewind back to 2007 when Sam and I were first starting to hang out as friends....

....insert wibbly lines a la Wayne's World at this point.... was at this time that Sam took it upon himself to educate me in all the films my mother never let me watch as a child. Robocop, Terminator, Buckaroo Banzai, and basically anything with Arnie in it that was 18 certificate.

We would eat Chinese food and watch these incredible 80's films that everyone said were terrible, but they were Sam's absolute favourites. At that point I was working in a television script department and obsessed with film and screenplay, how it worked, what made plot tick, what made characters leap off the screen. And what I learned about film-craft from watching all this.... well, it hands down beat all the high-brow arty stuff I was watching at the time. It was honest, unpretentious, the dialogue was insanely good and very, very funny. Action films in the 80s/early 90s were GREAT. I was amazed to find that I loved Sam's favourite films too. LOVED THEM. Still do.
I have absolutely no idea why my mother wouldn't let me watch this. NONE.

At around about the same time, I was seeing this other guy who was...well... he was a bit of a dick. It was Bank Holiday weekend, and I knew Sam wasn't busy, and I kinda liked him, but I thought I'd better spend it with this dude - let's call him Mr Ponce - who I had already invested 6 weeks of my life in dating.

So Mr Ponce takes me to this pub (I never really got to pick any pub we went to: *warning klaxon sound*), and we have a few drinks, and we decide to pick up a DVD on the way home. Now, although I DO enjoy intellectual films, when I'm drunk, I can't concentrate on anything that doesn't have the words National and Lampoon in the title. So, I let Mr Ponce choose, but with the stipulation that it couldn't be ANYTHING heavy that would require concentration.

What do you think Mr Ponce chose?

He chose this:

Which I am sure is excellent, but I wouldn't know as I drunkenly talked over the first half an hour and then promptly fell asleep.

And the next day I woke up knowing full well that Sam had sat at home watching this:

And I suddenly realised that what I'd need the night before was BEERFEST. Not just Beerfest, of course, what I really needed was Sam. Somebody I could actually be myself with, somebody who would never EVER bore me, somebody who was lovely and funny and didn't take himself even a bit seriously. Somebody who did what he wanted because he liked it, somebody who genuinely didn't give a toss what anybody thought.

I never saw Mr Ponce again.

*insert wibbly lines here as we zoom back to the present day*

So we're in the cinema last night watching this film, and I don't want to spoil it for you, in case you love Terrence Malick and you're off to see it tonight (in which case you will be VERY excited) but basically both Sam and I are sat there, intently trying to enjoy it because the other one is SO clearly very absorbed in all the impressionistic loveliness (and I know Sam is stubborn and doesn't like to waste an admission fee by walking out).

And all these people around us are getting up and leaving.

But we simultaneously think NO! I shall stay here with my spouse and try my hardest to enjoy this film. And by the end of the two and a half hours, unbeknownst to each other, we are both ready to gouge our own eyes out with the straw in our drinks carton, we have both attempted to properly go to sleep twice so as not to entirely waste the time spent sitting and staring at pretty pictures, but neither of us can because we both hate this film so much it has made us SO ANGRY that we can't even chill out enough to nod off.

We have actually both had the same thought that if somebody had given us all that money to make a film, and given us Brad Pitt and Sean Penn to be in it, and the stupendously talented supporting cast and director of photography, our own MOTHERS could have come up with a more engaging film.

Of course, only ever wanting to make the other one happy (soppy) neither of us said anything. And we sat through the whole bleeding lot, when we would have been far happier on the sofa rewatching the first series of Arrested Development.


The moral of the story is

1: Say it nicely, but always say what you want.

2: Don't go to see a film with no plot if you like plots.

3: (if you ask me) THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES!

4. My blog posts are getting BLOODY long. Sorry.

Have a great weekend.

Go and watch a film that makes you happy, with a person that makes you happy.

Thursday 7 July 2011

Shit Happens

Today I read the most tremendous post on the brilliant Any Other Wedding.

It says it much more politely than me (I am a BAD Penny after all) but it batters home the point that on our wedding day, at some point, we need to let ourselves off. Because shit happens every day, and it will happen on this day too.


This post?

That was me beating myself up about our wedding day not being perfect. Little did I know, some or ...possibly all?.... brides go through this to a degree. This post-match analysis. Whether it's a tiny niggle, a minor regret or a mahoosive perfectionist wig-out like mine. We imagine this day SO many times over the course of our engagement that it could never possibly play out that way. How can you know how you will feel, or what it will all look like on the day? How can you predict what will go wrong and what will go brilliantly right?

And so much went brilliantly right. But I need to allow myself the other stuff too.

So I'm going to borrow Aisling's glorious format and exorcise my own demons.

It's OK if....

-You spend three hours worth of Mac tutorials realising you CAN wear lipstick and not look like a clown... and then forget to put any on before you walk out the door.

-To be oblivious to what is actually happening all morning (normal day, tum-ti-tum) until you actually have to walk up the aisle, and then your legs turn to cooked spaghetti and you want to throw your bouquet in the registrar's face and run as fast as you can in the opposite direction (with your wobbly spaghetti legs) screaming "THE PRESSURE! THE PRESSURE!"

-Your husband's immediate family are so numerous, boisterous and rowdy that your poor mother does that tight, strained "I'M COPING" tooth-baring smile all day and then spends the rest of the next week being ill from the stress of what her daughter has married into.

-Your beautiful, beautiful blue suede 6 inch heels CRIPPLE you before the reception even starts... you end up wearing Converse for the whole evening, which make your legs look stumpy in all the photos

-For some reason you thought playing a gig at your WEDDING would not make you sweaty, even though every other time you play a gig, you get VERY SWEATY. But of course it does. And this time, your hair frizzes, your nose goes shiny and your veil falls off.

- You didn't get a chance to say more than hello to your husband's Aunt and Uncle who have travelled all the way from Spain to be there. In fact, you don't get much of a chance to say more than hello to anyone all night, because you are now the HELLOHOWAREYOUTHANKSOMUCHFORCOMING robot

-Apart from with small children, who are now the only people you can communicate with effectively in your brain-addled state, so you spend a good hour chasing your friend's 8 year old daughter round and throwing glitter at each other

-You go a bit wild on the gin and then think it will be really funny to make your new husband wear your veil during the first dance (luckily most of the traditionalists had gone home by the time we actually got round to having it, as we were running so ridiculously behind schedule) which is a shame, because it was the only thing hiding your gig-frazzled hair and hideously "glowing" complexion

-There is so, so, so much cake left at the end that you turn into some Doggy Bag Nazi and stand by the door proffering foil containers and screaming at everyone "TAKE IT! TAKE IT! TAKE IT!" (they all thanked me the next day when they were hungover)

-You are so completely exhausted at the end of the night that you shut the disco down early and your Maid of Honour and her boyfriend have to take you away in a taxi and force feed you cocktails in the hotel bar in order to get you to construct a sentence of more than one syllable

-Your other friends got married on the same day and had a PROPER wedding with a car and a stately home and an actual dress from a wedding dress shop. And you know, you did things a little bit differently, and that's OK too.

It's all OK.

In fact, now I see it written down, it sounds sort of fun, and lovely.

And now we have the photos, and I look at how happy everyone is, and how awesome everyone looks, and I can genuinely say, for the first time in over a month


Fuck it.

Our wedding really was ridiculous, chaotic and perfect.

And now I get to be married .... my ridiculous, chaotic and perfect man.

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Making It Together

That title is not a corny or a sexy one, I promise.

When I talk about making, I mean physically MAKING STUFF.


Sam and I went to a local arts festival this weekend. It was awesome. Best bit? They had a CRAFT TENT! And we went into it and promptly landed on (woo-HOO!!!) Planet Making Stuff. It is Penny and Sam's favourite place to be. A place filled with PVA glue, buttons, pliers, sticky back plastic, glitter and pink fluffy bits. It's a place where you can't hear your mobile phone ringing and your friends screaming "we've cycled all the way to Bramley Park now where the f**k ARE you!" For maybe nearly a whole hour, the world outside ceases to exist.

Planet Making Stuff is where we spend a lot of our lives.

We make birthday cards, we make garden gnomes, we make giant boxes of Kellogg's Cornflakes, we make trivia board games, we make stories, we make guitar-shaped wine racks, we make teddy bears. Then we make trousers to go on our teddy bears. Just because, well, we are a bit sad.*

"My legs are cold!"
"I know, let's get Penny and Sam to make us some lovely trousers!"

We are not normal people. We are Makey People. We were Makey People before we met each other, and now we are Makey People together, often arguing about the correct way to make a fluffy orang-utan costume, often competing with each other to see whose model Santa Claus is the best, and always coming out with a ton of bizarre/useless stuff at the end. And a big pile of mess to clear up. (NB. Sometimes the mess doesn't get cleared up, because we are so tired after making things. Sometimes the mess just becomes part of the room, until everybody gets used to it being there.)

So our wedding was always going to be a DIY fest.

In fact, I'm fairly sure our 5 month engagement was due to the fact that we simply couldn't have fitted 6 months worth of DIY wedding projects into our house.

Forced to decorate front room with table place cards and pom-poms as nowhere else for them to live

Among other things....35 metres of bright pink, blue and yellow bunting, home-made matching tablecloths and giant pom-poms, endless strings and strings of pastel vellum paper hearts, hand-painted signs, a bizarre collection of unicorns, a mannequin with a pink mohican and no arms dressed in unicorn pyjamas, a Doreamon groom's cake, 6 varieties of cookies in special wedding jars, and best of all our own Penny & Sam Wedding Fanzine, with comics, puzzles, interviews and a cut-out-and-keep Nissan Bluebird.

We were considering kicking our lodger out just so we could use his room to keep stuff in. Because obviously we bought things as well, cake toppers and centre-pieces and all that business that you've never even thought about/heard of/expected to take over your life until you get engaged.

There was other stuff, but I feel tired thinking about it.

After the wedding?


We fell out SO much over those 5 months. And these are two people who are doing their favourite activities in the world. I always felt I should have been doing more, and would come up with new ideas of things to make at a rate of about three a day EVERY day, and Sam would be tearing his hair out because they weren't practical, or because he couldn't make them as perfectly as he would like (I am slapdash in my approach- whereas Sam is whisper it a teeny bit anal). We bickered constantly. We wanted to be "us" but I would start to freak out if a single person somewhere in the world of Wedding Blogs had done something we were doing before, because our friends (I thought) would expect us to be completely and perfectly original. I became obsessed. Sam became a maniacal perfectionist who started taking ages over everything even though we had deadlines goddamnit.... well, you get the picture.

Anyway, the wedding came, and everyone enjoyed the details and now we like each other again. PHEW!

And now it is just a little over two weeks away from the Secret Garden Party and we are enjoying making our costumes together, and helping each other, and not snapping or panicking or stabbing each other with tacking pins.

So if you, or anyone you know, is doing even the smallest bit of DIY for their forthcoming nuptials, be kind to them. And if that person is you, be kind to yourself. You are not in your right mind. And whether you love it, or find it all a bit of a challenge, it will be worth all the madness in the end.

*We may not get out that much, but I promise you, we do actually have friends.

Friday 1 July 2011

One Month Hitched!

Four weeks ago tomorrow, I got married.

A man agreed to marry me! And he actually did it!

And it wasn't a thunderbolt, like I always thought it would be when I was younger. I ended up marrying a man I had known of for approximately eight years, and had been in a band with for three years before we even got together.

This would surprise my younger self (as well as the fact that I didn't marry Keanu Reeves).

I am an impatient person, and I like to think I have the measure of people fairly quickly when I first meet them.

When I first met Sam, I thought he was an idiot.

In many ways, this is probably a fair comment. But I overlooked -not only the fact that I am also an idiot- but also that as you get older and more patient, people can surprise you with qualities that may not be immediately apparent. It took me a long time to work out that there is a lot more to Sam than meets the eye.

I still did not end up with the sort of person I thought I would. I don't think Sam did either.

It's a very, very good thing.

If there is a moral to this story, it probably ought to be something trite like not judging a book by its cover. Or by how loud and drunk the book is.

But I prefer to think it's more about learning to let go. Not rushing into anything. Life isn't about ticking boxes, so let it evolve and grow by itself.

The most amazing things happen when you least expect them to.