Thursday 31 May 2012

Sparkly Poo

  • The weather lasting longer than anybody said it would
  • Getting amazing things in the post
  • Lazy cats everywhere I look, just hanging out and being lazy
  • The level of excitement online for a fantastic indie event
  • Being busy at work in spite of the heat (such is the love for Aerockbics)
  • Best Mad Men and Game Of Thrones episodes so far both broadcast in the same week
  • Reading really, really tacky novels (not Fifty Shades... yet, I'm limbering up with another terrible Susan Lewis)
  • Taking my first corporate training session in Temple Newsam yesterday - a few more of these and I might actually start earning half a normal person's salary
  • Hen planning for my best girl, and knowing how much she's going to love everything we've got up our sleeves
  • Discovering brilliant new music - seems to be a lot about at the moment. Check this for perfect summer sounds:
    In many ways, this has been the biggest bum-fart of a few weeks we've had in a long time, but there's always a little bit of sparkle in the poo. It's just a case of remembering to look for it. Yes, look at your poo. Go (metaphorically) on. There, see the sparkles? Good. Now listen to that Catcall song, it's brilliant.

Wednesday 30 May 2012


Today I've got a sad face, which is annoying because how upbeat was my post yesterday? Pretty chipper.

Yesterday I had one of those funny days when you try really hard to count your blessings, but there's no getting out from under that pesky raincloud.

Isn't being sad on the internet funny? You get so used to putting yourself all out there, and then all of a sudden you want to say something that isn't pithy or entertaining. It makes people uncomfortable to read it. What do you want them to do? Is saying it out loud a bit like asking for help? Maybe sometimes it is.

This time it isn't though. I am writing about my sad face because I don't have anything else in my head to write about, and it's filling me up like a gassy burp that needs to come out. So pardon me while I burp, and then please do go about your day.

Here are some things I wrote on the lately which are happy:


Tuesday 29 May 2012

What I Think About When I Think About Writing

I heard a thing about career changes on the radio recently. Apparently, everyone's well up for it these days - jacking in the daily grind and going for gold in something new and exotic. One of the top chosen professions is writing.

I don't know why this got under my skin. It seemed sort of flippant. Because writing is one of those things everyone thinks they can do, you know,  if they tried. If they actually ever, you know, wrote anything. And that feels a bit dismissive of the people that are out there trying and doing - the people furiously writing under desks while they work a day job, the letter-writers, the epic emailers, the bloggers, the secret short-story writers, the poets, the diary-keepers, all of YOU. You know who you are.

I also think my grumpiness was connected to my own insecurities. I worry that I'm not trying hard enough or doing enough, or that I'm not pushing my energies in the right direction. That there's something obvious I haven't thought of yet. A part of the dam that hasn't been plugged. Another plate that needs spinning.

I also worry that I'm doing too much of the wrong things. Pursuing the things I enjoy. Writing too much about music, writing too much - well - waffle. When maybe I should be putting on a business hat (bowler? top?) and doing something....I don't know. Entrepreneurial.

Isn't that what proper writers do?

At what point do you break out of that box of career changers who just talk about writing and become.... a writer? Your first paid job? Your hundredth? When it takes over your entire working day? When it earns you enough to do it full-time? I don't know if I would call myself a writer yet, but I'm working my way down that list. I now spend more time writing than I do anything else. When I'm not writing, I'm thinking about writing. Not all of it pays, and hardly any of it pays well, but I'm in a very different place to where I was six months ago. I am finally serious about something.

I am not sure I would call myself a writer.

But I now believe there may come a day when I do.

Monday 28 May 2012

Blister In The Sun

8 days until our first wedding anniversary.

11 days until we go to Portugal.

I ALREADY feel like I'm on holiday.

 (so much so that I'm feeling too lazy to blog anything but pictures, clearly).

Hope you all managed to get some serious vitamin D this weekend.


Friday 25 May 2012

First Dance Friday: Guilty Pleasures

I think it's utterly ridiculous to write off an artist just because they're a pop star. What exactly is wrong with selling lots of records/being a bit cheesy/having your clothes picked out by a stylist? I mean, really. It doesn't make your music rubbish, or make you an idiot, necessarily. It's a job.

It's nice to be able to write music and be beautiful and an amazing singer with oodles of drive and charisma, but more than likely you will be good at one or two of those things, so it's up to somebody else to do the rest. This means that (in theory at least) pop stars are more likely to come up with a truly excellent song, because they have legions of talented songwriters and producers behind them. Teamwork makes the dream work, as my best friend (who loves Kelly Clarkson) would say.

And you've heard it before, but look at Tamla Motown and the Beatles were a boy band. Etc.

Anyway, my point is, KELLY FRICKIN CLARKSON. She is great. Not only is she a bit normal looking, she has a mighty set of pipes and I heard her on the radio banging on about Opem Arms by Journey (what a great rock ballad), and ...well, OK the internet says that Against All Odds is her favourite song, but come on, Against All Odds IS an amazing song. Could you write Against All Odds? No you bloody couldn't, because if you could you'd be in a castle right now drinking champagne out of a Faberge egg. And Kezza's favourite artists are Johnny Cash, Bonny Raitt, Jeff Buckley.... you know. I'm not saying she's a record nerd, I'm pretty sure she doesn't have a secret stash of Rites Of Spring rareities or anything. I'm just saying she's a normal person who loves music.

My rather meandering point is that my best friend (see above) absolutely loves this song and always goes all coy when she talks about it. "It's my guilty pleasure!" she protests. I really don't think there is anything to be ashamed of though, because this is a great song, and so is Since You've Been Gone while we're at it. It's not like she's owning up to liking the Vengaboys. Best friend is outing her secret next year though, as Sausages are under instructions to perform this very song at her wedding. EEEEEEEEEEE. Gonna sing it like Kezza, or possibly (up to) 59% as brilliantly as she does *pumps fist*

What are your guilty pleasures? Stand proud and declare them - let them be a pleasure that is guilty no more.

Thursday 24 May 2012


Do you remember that perfume advert?


I do.

A few weeks ago I happened to look at my last few online interactions and noticed I have almost completely abandoned the full stop in favour of the exclamation mark. If I want to create more emphasis, apparently I now hold my finger down on that button, to create a slightly psychopathic posse of exclamation marks (what is the collective term for exclamation marks anyway - a shriek?). If you have never met me before, you would be forgiven for thinking I am an over-excited toddler with its head permanently submerged in a bowl of Skittles.

Consequently, I have given up exclamation marks.

At first I slipped up almost constantly, generally when responding to people online. It's hard to sound likeable without exclamation marks. Everything you type sounds like Eeyore is saying it.

"Brilliant. Can't wait to see you on Saturday."

How very sarcastic. Yeah, I can't wait to see you on Saturday, and I also can't wait to poke my own eyes out with a rusted spoon.

So I have taken to using the methadone of exclamation marks - the smiley face. It's not pretty, it's not clever, but it will tide me over until I can work out a way to communicate with people without coming across as a total bitch.

The only real bonus I've discovered is that when you say something genuinely funny without an exclamation mark, it makes you sound all droll and witty rather than like a prat who is laughing at their own joke. Unfortunately this has only happened perhaps one time (or, on reflection, maybe half a time) since I gave up my favourite punctuation mark nearly a week ago.

When I finally reinstate my Ex-Cla-Maaaa-tion, I hope to use it sensibly and abuse it no longer.

Feel free to SHIFT+1 it up in the comments, my will is iron.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

This Is My Jam

This is my new thing....

The premise is dead simple. You pick a song every now and again, to represent what you're listening to.  That song is then "your jam" until you change it. The jams of yourself, plus friends/people you are stalking are then assembled together into a lovely playlist for your ears. It does seem to be a good way to discover new music, and seeing as everybody is too busy with Twitter and Facebook to make each other mix-tapes anymore it is only polite of the internet to throw us a lifeline by which we may attempt to clamber out of the horrible musical ruts in which some of us are festering. In fact, if we don't take action, I fear some of us may dissolve into a parody of our own music taste (Sam certainly will if he listens to another Doobie Brothers or Billy Joel record - he has joined).

I do try really hard to find out what my friends are listening to, but if I'm out and somebody recommends something to me, I've forgotten the name of the band by the time I get home, because I'm getting old and senile. So it acts as a handy audio notebook. Also, I feel so bamboozled when I look at Spotify sometimes. There is such a thing as having too much choice.

You should all sign up and add me. I'll only play the good shit, I promise.

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Let's Get The Band Back Together

Some bands you watch, and they make you want to dance. Some bands you watch, and they make you want to go to the merch stall and buy their CD and listen to it every day for a year.

Other bands you watch and they simply make you want to BE IN A BAND.

You know the ones. They're more like a gang than a band, and they make playing on stage look like the most fun you can have with your pants on that doesn't involve cake. You want to be in their club, and when you realise you can't be, you start to think about forming your own. Never mind that you can't play the sitar, or whatever they're playing. Never let reality get in the way of a good daydream.

I always feel a bit like this about bands, to be honest. Every time I go and see a metal band, I go away thinking "I'm going to be in a metal band! And write lyrics about monsters and the apocalypse and ghost horses riding through a purple stormy sky!" but then I'll see a synth-pop band and I go away thinking "I'm going to form a synth-pop band! I definitely own a keyboard, now all I need to do is make up dance routines for all the songs and we'll all wear matching hats!" and then I'll go to a warehouse party and come away thinking "fuck guitars, fuck bands, I'm going to be a deeejaaaaay!" 

It's nice to have daydreams, but I do think I actually need to be in a proper band again now. I am writing songs and they have nowhere to go. I went to see Sharon Van Etten this weekend (she was so, so amazing) and I stood there thinking "I used to do all that bleak folk music too, where did that vanish off to then?". For the last two years I have been on music production and DJing courses in the hope of getting to a point where I could satisfy myself (so to speak) without bothering anyone else, but it hasn't worked, probably because I have the patience of a Yorkshire terrier on amphetamines.

I miss being in a gang.

Monday 21 May 2012

Leeds Love

Is it me, or is there suddenly almost TOO much stuff to do in Leeds? I have been pleasantly frazzled by a weekend of gigs (Milk Music and Sharon Van Etten), tramping around Temple Newsam trying to pin down the Race For Life route, eating cake at the People Of Leeds rotation curation party, and then exploring art installations under the Dark Arches as part of Overworlds & Underworlds.

All this and I still managed to fit in going to Hannah's to bitch about watch The Voice, go to Spin, make two different kinds of flavoured vodka (Werther's Originals & Fry's Chocolate Cream - OH YES) and drive all the way to Sheffield to get Sam a new car. The man we bought the car off had this coffee table:
And he'd just bought himself a white Mark 1 MR2, which (in case you were interested) is my dream car. We had to leave promptly as I was in danger of dribbling on all of his possessions. Sam's new wheels aren't quite as exciting as that, but they'll get him to work in minimal style while he tries to breathe life back into the Sunny.

I will leave you with a picture of the beautiful People Of Leeds pavlova (photo courtesy of @MissPembers who is People Of Leeds this week)


How about you - eat any cake this weekend? Go to any artistic interpretations of a journey along the River Styx? Go to a house with a giant Rubiks cube in it?

Friday 18 May 2012

First Dance Friday: The Bangles

To me, the phrase "Stars In Their Eyes" has nothing to do with the 1990s Matthew Kelly ITV extravaganza. Its sole meaning lies in the little-known, long-forgotten annual Stars In Their Eyes gig, put on by a bunch of punks and record nerds in Leeds, for other punks and record nerds to come and get drunk and stupid at. I miss our Stars In Their Eyes. I miss the camaraderie, the golden years before everybody got mortgaged, married and boring. Most of all I miss the opportunity for anybody with a tenuous link to the music scene to don a wig and live out their most ridiculous hairbrush-and-mirror rock star fantasies.

The basic principle was thus. Every Leeds band got a chance to pick another band (an actually famous one) and perform a set of five songs in the style of. And this is how I ended up as one of five girls (one actual other girl, the rest being be-wigged "girls") and singing the songs of the Bangles at 4:30pm on a Saturday afternoon.

The Bangles! What a band though. They had some real tunes, and not just the Woolworths-tastic singles either. In Your Room - great song. Hero Takes A Fall - perfection. Hazy Shade Of Winter - better than the original? I think so. Go unto Spotify now, and find their greatest hits, and you will start to believe me when I tell you that Prince actually came down from the sky and made the Bangles by breathing glossy melody into the ears of unicorns until they vomited magic sand.


(listen to this, it's really, really good)

They don't get the credit they deserve, which probably accounts for our early billing and the fact that we got beaten to the trophy that year by Dugong doing the Pixies (audience votes only really work if your audience doesn't triple after 8pm NOT BITTER THOUGH).

I did, however, manage to hit and hold the high note in Eternal Flame.

Those days of going to gigs on school nights (we did that! every week!), spending all disposable income on screamo LPs with handwritten origami covers and drinking vodka with irn bru until loss of vision occurred.... they are behind us. However, a brief look around at my greying, fattening, wrinkling comrades shows that an alarming number of us are in wedding/covers bands now.

I guess we have Stars In Their Eyes to thank for that. For lighting our Eternal Flaaaaaame.

Thursday 17 May 2012

Thursday Thought Fluff

Today I am frazzled, having come to the end of two weeks of writing deadlines. My usual desire to drivel on at you has been utterly run through the mangle.

Thoughts today...
  • I'm going on a self-imposed exclamation mark ban, having glanced at my feed on Twitter and noticed I permanently sound like an over-caffeinated 8 year old.
  • I have a weekend stretching ahead with very little to do in it. What free things do you do when bare of pocket? It must involve spending less than £5.
  • I am 150 pages away from finishing Anna Karenina. I am hoping for a zombie apocalypse at the end.On the plus side, it will make a very useful doorstop when I've finished it.
  • It is three weeks away from our first wedding anniversary. THREE WEEKS. What can I do as a present? Must cost less than £5, see above. 
  • I wrote about the Live At Leeds Unconference for the Culture Vulture here. I recommend reading it if you are in any way involved in new music. It was a great event, even if it did make me feel very old and uncool...
  • ...and my latest record reviews for Florence Finds are here . My favourites this month are Jack White and Ellen & The Escapades. It's an Americana kind of month.
  • Finally, husband has returned from the Wakefield gig triumphant, but without a three-album deal for Retarded Fish. This is good news for anyone who didn't wish to see him in his bloated, sequinned jumpsuit wearing phase (although there is still time for a Dugong reunion I suppose).
That's all for today. If you know anybody who needs anything writing, I will do it in exchange for food/entertainment/small change. Love you all, little horsies.

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Fifty Shades Of Grey

Having had two moderately-high-brow previous book club reads (Where Angels Fear To Tread and Tender Is The Night), we've decided to go all self-published e-book 'orrible with our next choice Fifty Shades Of Grey.

If you've missed the hype - and I have to confess I had - this book is all over the place at the moment. The only reason I can fathom for this is because it's very saucy and being bought by ladies aged 30-40, meaning the book is being rather dismissively dubbed "mommy porn" by the press. I say dismissively because it seems a little unfair to declare mothers the only subset of society stupid enough to read anything supposedly this self-published and 'orrible, when clearly book clubs who have already fulfilled their classics quota for 2012 may also be hungry for trash.

I am only mildly apprehensive because:

-in spite of its ubiquity, I've not heard anyone say it's even alright, let alone good.
-on the Wikipedia entry it mentions that it was originally intended as Twilight fan-fiction, which is Fifty Shades Of Fucking Horrible whether you like Twilight or not.

The rest of me is just delighted we have snuck another smutty book into Book Club, regardless of the fact that I got annihilated for choosing Riders a couple of years ago. Although I'm hoping it's not as graphic as The Story Of O, which I could barely talk about because I was so embarrassed.

....will report back....(and tell you which page numbers the naughty bits are on, obv).

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Style Me Sweaty

I've really enjoyed reading about the exploits of those taking part in Style Me May. I am SO jealous of you all.

Fitness and workout clothes are about as far from my personal style as it is possible to get, and yet this is what I have to wear 5 days a week. 6 days if I'm working Saturday. Oh go on then, 7 days a week, because I always go to the gym on my day off too.

Look at the horrible outfits. LOOK:


None of those people own anything by Sonic Youth, do they? 

I have spent the last three years working in the fitness industry, and (aside from retro shorts with contrast piping over jazzy leggings - my only real "look") I still haven't worked out how to not dress like a gym bunny clone. I've tried Flashdance-inspired batwing t-shirts, but the fabric flops all over the place and stops people seeing what I'm doing when I'm demonstrating exercises. I've tried vintage sportswear but none of it is designed for you to actually sweat in (nylon= quite obviously NO). Sweatbands are great, but if you're not going to an 80s theme party they actually make you look extra-sporty, like you're a professional tennis player. And as for legwarmers? Newsflash: if you don't mind something making your legs warm while you're exercising then (whisper) you're not doing it right.

I miss the days of working in a television production office. The days of high heels and floral dresses and casual blazers. Jumpers without hoods. DENIM.
Tell me, fashionistas. If you were a fitness instructor, what would you wear?

Monday 14 May 2012


Morning campers! How was your weekend? I forgot we like these hot-or-not things, so here's one:

 The Bridge
BBC4's latest Scandi-crime-romp-that-begins-with-a-mysterious-and-gruesome-murder-and-features-a-lady-detective-who-has-zero-social-skills. Covetable knitwear count: zero. Bad hair day count: sky-high - it's only the frazzled Danish detective who doesn't make me want to attack the television with a hairbrush and some dry shampoo. Naturally, the programme is excellent.

The last two weekends have involved buying proper cups of coffee from proper coffee shops (including the awesome Laynes Espresso). Coffee is the new beer, especially when you're a busy lady who needs to shop for wedding dresses on a hangover/ stay awake for a slightly rubbish horror film after a spin class. Sadly, our household is now on financial lockdown until we can find a new lodger, so I've had to turn to the kitchen cupboards to create my own lunatic rocket fuel, generally involving throwing things like cinnamon into a very strong cup of Douwe Egberts to get me to the end of my next deadline. Vanilla and cinnamon seem to work well. Coffee snobbery is an affectation I plan to develop when I'm finally wealthy enough to invest in the right tools.

Kenzo designed this one! So bizarre.
 Power Plates
These wibbly wobbly boards are currently having a renaissance with me, due to my being too ridiculously busy to have a workout of longer than 30 minutes in the week (that I'm not teaching myself, anyway). You can slag off these things all you want, fitness industry, when used correctly they work. I'm doing 30 minutes of 30 second intervals and it's completely brutal. Admittedly having a masochistic will of steel, a mental encyclopaedia of exercises that comes from having taught Power Plate classes for a year and drinking a large cup of strong coffee (see above) before going to the gym are all useful to get good results.

Now for the bad and the ugly....


The Cribs
Nothing to do with their music, more to do with the fact that they asked my husband's old band to reform specifically to support them at Wakefield theatre, then booked the gig on a Wednesday.  Don't the people who organise these things know I teach Aerockbics on a Wednesday? I am beyond devastated to miss the return of the late, great Retarded Fish, playing in such an ace venue, supporting a band so cool they actually have a song on the OK Karaoke playlist. This is why, every now and again, running your own business sucks bottoms (see also: not being allowed to be ill, ever).

Talent Shows 
It's not the talent shows themselves that I hate, it's more the fact that I always seem to get suckered into watching them. I'm letting Britain's Got Talent off just because I bloody love that dog. Look at his little smooshy face! However. All the contestants on the Voice need to stop dicking around and sing the proper notes. Apart from Ruth Brown, who I'm letting off for her excellent style and the fact that she played the drums in the rehearsal VT and.... oh....see? Suckered.

No Lodger
Currently the cause of cancelling every social engagement not already paid for (thanking my stars I already have Sharon Van Etten tickets for next weekend) and having to put things back on the shelves in the supermarket that aren't entirely essential. I'm like a reprimanded toddler, but one who is constantly reprimanding itself, resulting in a stern/tantrum cycle that's making me feel vaguely schizophrenic. If you know anybody who is lovely and needs somewhere to live in Leeds, let me know. We're really nice, the rent is cheap, and the room is huge and beautiful.

Friday 11 May 2012

First Dance Friday: Sitting In The Backseat

I used to love long car journeys when I was little, staring out of the window and pretending another me was riding a horsie alongside. Neigh! Jump over the fence horsie! And the enormous power station cooling towers! I dimly remember hearing Blondie at a very young age, and definitely this song, which is appropriate because it's by the Cars, and when I first heard it I was in one:

At the age of 7 I was given my first Sony Walkman (scream!) a beautiful brick of a thing that smelled like the future. I had TWO cassettes for it.

One was a four-song compilation I sent off for with Weetabix tokens (featuring Aretha Franklin's latter day hit Who's Zoomin' Who - much underrated), and the second was a C60 with Bad on one side and Thriller on the other. This new Michael-Jackson-themed-soundtrack-to-imaginary horsie-riding quickly became threadbare through overplay on long journeys, probably because it was at this stage I started kicking back at the music being played on the communal car stereo.

Gary Puckett and the Union Gap's creepy hit Young Girl, Neil Diamond (who admittedly I now love) and anything by Dr Hook... these horrid AOR crooners suddenly took over thanks to a triple cassette compilation of Love Songs From The 70s bought by my stepdad on a camping trip to France in 1988. Thinking about some of those songs still makes me feel a little bit car-sick. I only removed my headphones for Queen Greatest Hits Vol 1 (and NOT Bohemian Rhapsody - which I thought was weird and vaguely satanic) and Brothers In Arms, which is still one of my favourite records of all time. Sorry about that.

As time rolled on, my various parents had less opportunity to inflict their music taste on me (which is just as well, as a Chris DeBurgh phase was imminent). I tried to get into my Dad's blues tapes, having a sense that this was what I ought to be listening to, but at that age it was just too serious for me. I figured at this stage my parent's influence on my music taste was over. How wrong I was.

On a road-trip across the States in 1993, in which I was parcelled in the back of a maroon Oldsmobile (middle seat from Ontario to Florida - numb bum central) my mum suddenly de-closeted her secret love of country music. It seemed our proximity to the world famous Dolly Parton theme-park Dollywood was more than she could take. She put her foot down, rather stoically ignoring everyone else mocking her horrible taste, and off we went (I think this prompted another purchase at a petrol station, this time of country hits. No wonder I didn't know record shops existed until I was 12 - I thought everybody got their cassettes at Esso garages).

Well. We quickly desisted our sniggering- it turns out Dollywood is beyond great. Not only that, but the steady dripping of country music from that holiday continued when we got home and all of a sudden Glen Campbell and Tammy Wynette became family favourites to be hollered at top volume (changing the words of Galveston to the name of our village - Calverton - has ensured the song has lives on like a football chant in our collective memory). And Dolly! I've gone from sneering to being utterly besotted. I will always take my foam-padded headphones off for a bit of Apple Jack these days.

What songs do you remember listening to in the back of the car? What songs did you rebel with on your walkman? Am I really the only person who used to imagine they were riding an imaginary horsie? Really?

Thursday 10 May 2012

How To Make Flavoured Vodka With Tuckshop Sweets

In the world of Penny's goldfish noggin, there are no recipes. So for those of you who like to be told precisely what to do, not only have you come to the wrong place to find out how to make flavoured vodka, you've come to the wrong place to find out how to do anything. We're primarily concerned with the right side of the brain up in here. At all times.


You've probably all heard about students making Skittles vodka. I had. It occurred to me that it might also be possible to make vodka with other sweets, and guess what? The internet is alive with stories confirming this is indeed possible. Needing another cool gift for my dentist friend who only gets seriously excited about gardening, teeth and booze (and for whom I have bought a jazzy gardening fork and Mr & Mrs tooth-face badges in previous years), I decided to get all George's Marvellous Medicine and give it a go with (the far superior) Barratt's Refreshers.

Guess what? IT'S REALLY EASY.

You do need to invest some time, however.

I bought a four pack of Refreshers and a 750ml bottle of vodka, which I decanted into an large, empty plastic pop bottle (I bought 2 litres of ginger beer precisely for this purpose, and had a jolly time drinking it too). I then sat in front of Come Dine With Me and popped about two tube's worth of sweets through the top of the bottle. Left the whole thing on the worktop overnight, and all of the sweets had been dissolved by the next day. I tasted it neat (in the interests of science, you understand) and finding it still far too alcoholic, I put another two tubes' worth in. A day later, and it was perfect. You could easily experiment with quantities to taste, you just need to leave plenty of time and go slowly - add too much and it could easily get overly sickly so it's worth taking your time to get it perfect.

Next up, getting rid of the hideous looking layer of frothy stuff on the top. You need to sit a funnel in the top of your vodka bottle, lined with either a paper coffee filter, or a clean tea-towel. Then HOLD ON TIGHT and pour the lot in, gradually.

That's it. It'll look a bit like urine, so make a pretty label:

I promise you though, it will taste delicious. Even Sam could drink it neat, and he's not into spirits at all.

Apparently you can make it with all sorts of boiled sweets  (if Barratts want to send me any more to try it with, or any vodka companies want to send me any of their wares to dissolve it in, I'll happily sell out for alcohol). I'm planning on making some more flavours to take to Beat-Herder next month, and will report back with my findings.

Anybody else tried to make flavoured vodka? Think I'm a grubbby student? I'm not, you know.

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Why You Should Do The Things That Scare You

That old chestnut-

It is better to regret something you've done, than to regret an opportunity missed.

Things I did this weekend that made me a bit nervous:

-Drew a moustache on my face with liquid eyeliner
-Drank sambuca
-Showed my engaged best friend the Pronovias rail in a bridal shop (when I'm supposed to be the responsible one)
-Went to a film premiere
-Patted a cow
-Slept in til after 10am

All these things have enriched my life.

Apart from maybe that sambuca.

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Chocolate, Cake, Biscuits Or Icecream?

You have to choose.

There's always one that comes first, isn't there? The one that dissolves your will in the face of the best intentions. Maybe it's the come-hither looks of a Cadbury's Twirl from the vending machine, perhaps it's the splendid victoria sponge that winks at you from the cake-stand at afternoon tea, the siren call of a new Ben and Jerry's flavour from the freezer aisle or the comforts of the traditional biscuit tin, drawing you wrist-deep into piles of jammy dodgers and chocolate hobnobs.

Come on. If you had to pick one, at the expense of the others, til the end of time. Which would it be?

Me, I love icecream. I LOVE IT. I tell you what gets me - the bells and bloody whistles you get on it these days. Ever since B&J's rocked up on our shores with their crazy chuck-anything-in philosophy, my interest (piqued at a young age by Gino Ginnelli's maverick Tutti Frutti flavour) has turned into an obsession. I can't walk past the counter at the Vue cinema without my stomach turning into an empty pit of longing. Marshmallow on the Coconut Choo-Choo Bus? I'll have a three scooper please.

What's really brilliant though, is icecreams on holiday. Icecreams in Europe are next level. Even the  tiniest corner shop has 19320303 flavours, including BLUE FLAVOUR and pistachio (icecream flavour of the kings), both of which are inexplicably unavailable in the UK. Of course, because you're on holiday it is the LAW that you have to have an icecream every day, because it's not a proper holiday if you don't put on at least 5lbs. Right? Right? Right?

Icecream is so bad for you though, isn't it? It's so bad for you.

Don't eat it. Don't even think about eating it. Don't look any of these lovely pictures of food because it will make you want to eat something sugary and naughty.

What's your poison?

Friday 4 May 2012

First Dance Friday: The Birthday Party Edition

It's the Bank Holiday weekend! Outraged that I was initially expected to work, I have stamped my feet and managed to get May Day off. And now my client has cancelled her session today, so effectively I'm on a four day weekend.


I'm in a particularly chipper mood because Penny & The Sausages are playing an extremely rare Leeds gig at the Adelphi tomorrow night, in honour of our friend (also called Penny) and her 30th birthday celebrations. It's a 20s/30s fancy dress theme, and rather than flouncing about in a frock I'm going to get suited, booted, braced and cravatted with the boys. I'm especially excited about twatting about with my cane (sorry in advance if you're there and I poke you in the eye - I'm envisioning some Freddie Mercury-style posturing). So if you're in the area, come and say hi! We're on from 9 until 10, and will be playing many excellent party anthems, including this one:

Will post pictorial evidence of me looking stupid next week, so you've got something to look forward to there.

Are you jammy enough to be enjoying a long weekend? Whatcha doing then?

Thursday 3 May 2012

School's Out!

I just wanted to share with you this gallery from the Guardian website earlier this week, showing high school pictures of great US rock and pop stars as fresh-faced teens. It's compulsive clicking.

I was genuinely surprised to discover that this earnest-looking young man is actually Bruce Springsteen. Shouldn't the Boss be a bit more effortlessly cool, even at this age? I like that you can see so much clear-eyed intelligence under that extremely awkward hair. It gives us all hope that we too might be great oaks, grown from spotty little acorns.

The rest of the celebs are more or less neatly divided into self-possessed popular kids (Fergie, Axl Rose, Snoop) , beautiful and misunderstood outsiders (Gwen Stefani, Michael Stipe) and raging weirdos (Eminem, Iggy Pop). Sadly I didn't see many contenders for my personal category (wacky nerd, in case you were wondering), which I suspect means I won't ever be a rock 'n roll star of significance, or have my school picture featured in the Guardian (unless I go on a killing spree - there's always that chance).

Go and a look at the pictures, then tell me which gang were you in at school?

Wednesday 2 May 2012

When You're Smiling...

Let's face it, modern life is stressful, and other people are annoying. I'm sure we're all guilty of making the odd reactionary comment every now and again. It doesn't mean we necessarily want to be taken literally. "*insert middle-of-the-road-band* FANS ARE ALL IGNORANT PEOPLE WHO HATE MUSIC!" I'm sure I must have said a variation on this theme at least once a month for the last 15 years. Did I mean it in a literal sense? No, I did not. However, if somebody said this about a band I loved, would I be upset, in spite of being aware they didn't mean it in a literal sense? Maybe I would, just a bit. I'm starting to realise this now.

                                                                                                                        image source

Generally speaking, I think I am getting more tolerant as I get older. I don't mind if you have a Keane album (even the new one), really I don't. It doesn't impact on my ability to buy the music I prefer -which, let's be honest, is probably just as bland. The only thing that's really starting to upset me as I get older? Other people getting annoyed. Not just mildly irritated, but actually full-on balls-out wrathful about the most mundane of things. Social media gives a platform for those inside-voice moments when somebody walks past with a brolly and pokes you in the side of the head with the sticky-out bit. "FUCKING BROLLY BASTARD!" you shout "I HOPE HE FALLS OVER AND IMPALES HIMSELF ON IT!" Well. What a cross person you are.

Maybe that's not the best example. I concede that inconsiderate people with umbrellas are a bit annoying, and I've definitely sworn myself blind over similar. And I also get that grumbling about a vague group of thoughtless people is sort of what social media is for, isn't it? Let it out, it's good for you. But what about when you say something that has the potential to get personal? There's a lot of shite on the internet (admittedly much of it accesible from Facebook/the Daily Mail homepage), and my timeline is often peppered with people having the screaming abdabs about stuff they've read online. "THIS MAKES ME WANT TO GOUGE OUT THE EYES OF THE PERSON WHO WROTE IT!" you scream "I WANT TO SHIT IN THEIR EARS!" Seriously. Do you really think this about another human being? I'm not even angry with you. I'm just really, really disappointed.

Does nobody else read something, feel cross, and then take a moment to think about why it might have been written? Think about the person doing it, what their life is like, what they might have been feeling at the time and why? Think about (in the case of certain columnists) what they might have been paid to write for it, and how you'll be perpetuating that culture by sharing the link to their work? Did you ever think about how it directly affects you? Oh, what's that... it doesn't really affect you directly at all, other than giving you something clever and hilarious to say?

I know I'm not a completely innocent party here, but I'd like to feel like I try to be positive. To take a step back and think first before reacting.

Go and tickle a puppy. Smile at a stranger. Count your blessings.

And if you're still young and angry now, I promise you'll get sanctimonious and disapproving like me in a few years.  So there's always that to look forward to.

Tuesday 1 May 2012

License To Brand

I know I'm late to the party on this one, but did you hear that James Bond is now drinking Heineken?   Gone are the super-styling martininis - the Dutch lager overlords have bought their way into the 007 legacy, and Daniel Craig will be drinking Heinies in the next Bond film.

I don't understand. Isn't this like Carrie Bradshaw ditching the Cosmos in favour of Lambrini? Is it.... (whisper) possibly even worse than that?

I mean I do appreciate the film-makers' position. I know that Hollywood movies have to pay for themselves somehow, and that corporate sponsorship and product placement are standard practice for big budget films now. Never one to miss an opportunity to illustrate a point with a clip from Wayne's World, see below for horrible evidence of this (a terrifying 22 years ago):

It's almost acceptable for other films now. All these slick, CGI-addled, slightly green-looking blockbusters starring Tom Cruise generally need cars for the characters to drive around in and mobile phones for them to use, so who really gives a monkey's chuff if they're driving an Audi/ have an iPhone welded to their ear? The characters are so woefully underdeveloped and the products themselves so uninspiring and modern-techno-iBlah that it all just melts into a mush of boring and nobody really cares.

But making James Bond's drink of choice a Heineken fundamentally changes his character, and cheapens the Bond legacy. A man in his late 30s/early 40s who drinks a martini is a completely different man to one who CHOOSES to drink Heineken. Note: CHOOSE. James Bond is not going round to his mate's house for a barbecue on a Sunday afternoon and politely taking what he's been offered. NO. James Bond, the international spy, is going into a bar where we assume there are many drinks on offer, and he is CHOOSING to drink Heineken. JAMES BOND. Not a student in a Walkabout bar down to his last fiver.

I don't object to Bond being a beer drinker per se - I just assume he'd go for a nice Belgian craft beer. Something strong and tasteful, in a slightly ritzy looking glass. He is, after all, the original metrosexual man.


I can only assume that Skyfall is set at a large, rubbish corporate music festival where there's only one tap at the bar.