Thursday, 29 April 2010

Of COURSE That Would Happen to Me

Thursday, 29 April 2010
On Tuesday at work I started writing that day’s blog post. You know, the one with all the kissing and licquorice and OMGOMGOMG’s? Yeah. That one.

Half way through writing an early draft of it, I wasn’t happy with the way it was flowing, so I printed it out and used my pencil to make a few amendments here and there, ready to copy in when I got home that night. I never thought anything of it.

Then, yesterday when my boss was reading something that I’d given him to approve, he handed a single piece of paper to me and said, “Er, that was in with your document from before…”

No prizes for guessing what it was. The first 5 paragraphs of “My Fickle Lips” blog entry. And now I feel slightly nauseated.

(I’ll wait here while you go and check where the 5 paragraphs end – look for the “hands in my hair OMG,OMG,OMG”, etc. etc..)

* * * *

See what I mean?


Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of what I wrote and AS A COMPLETED PIECE OF PROSE it rounds itself off nicely (though I say so myself) and contextualises all the bits that make me sound like a total nut job. A slutty, trampy nut job who is obviously writing an erotic autobiography.

On work time.


Tuesday, 27 April 2010

My Fickle Lips

Tuesday, 27 April 2010
Do you remember all your ‘firsts’ with a bit of extra affection than your all the ‘rests’? First bike… first car? Fab stuff like your first tattoo? First paycheque, or your first DRINK drink? First boyfriends? First loves? First KISSES?! Now I’m onto something…

I’m 34. So I suppose, in the grand scheme of things I’ve had a respectable reasonable amount of first kisses. On a scale of Mormon to Call Girl? I’m a good solid seven-and-a-half. All catalogued in chronological order in a dusty corner of my brain; a looping, swirling ‘Naughty/Nice’ list in my mind.

In my few unoccupied moments, I confess I sometimes allow my mind to wander back over them (oh shut up, you SO do it, too...) amusing myself with memories of a time when:

a) my arse was smaller
b) my hair was shorter
c) my standards were lower
d) all of the above.

It’s a decent read, my little kiss list: “initially sloppy with gradual improvement” ... “tastes of black liquorice” … “head-swirlingly fantastic smelling” ... “hands in my hair OMG,OMG,OMG”, etc. etc.

But it got me to thinking: if you look a little closer, interspersed between the fellas you will see a comprehensive musical soundtrack (no surprises there) which – it has to be said – is just as fascinating to me now as were Mr Swirlyhead and his contemporaries then. In the gaps between the names is where you will find my musical relationships.

And what a tangled web! I’m not just talking about my propensity to fall in love with guitar players - a blog post in itself – but so sweet was the booty call of some ‘first’ songs that I would often rush out and buy the bands’ entire back catalogue in one fell swoop. The indelible impression that those ‘firsts’ made on me have now taken their rightful place as the cornerstones of my entire collection.

I’d like to share a few of those kisses with you now:

The Jesus & Mary Chain – Head On: as if their name alone wasn’t enough to appeal to my naturally rebellious nature, their bass player only ever had two strings on his guitar and was once quoted as saying, “That's the two I use. I mean, what's the fucking point spending money on another two? Two is enough." Swoon!

The Pixies – Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf Mix): it was Christian Slater in ‘Pump Up the Volume’ that made me love The Pixies. Would that Google Images existed back then so I could see what a cock ring really was... but I digress:  what a beautiful song.

The Catherine Wheel – Crank: the video for this is a little wacko, granted. But not wacko enough to stop me from practicing writing my signature as ‘Mrs Nicola Dickinson’ after their delectable lead singer. Best (and most often) listened to at the absolute volume limits on my car stereo.  Another CW track forever burned on my brain is Black Metallic – check it out – to liken this track to a mere kiss would be a gross injustice of an underestimate... listen with headphones, loud, and when you get to about the 6:06 mark you’ll understand exactly what I mean.

The Cult – Wildflower: almost IMPOSSIBLE to choose a single distinguishable track from The Cult’s ‘Electric’ record because they are all damn dirty and delicious. I credit this record for how I can (almost) play the drums. My first ever “proper” boyfriend was a drummer; mad on The Cult. I was the tambourine shimmy to his bass drum thud, lemme tell ya. Sweet record. And also? Ian Astbury’s hair. Ssssslurp.

That’s enough for now – I’m spent. Music is a fickle business, and I will always be its shamelessly loyal bitch.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Happy St George’s Day from a Repat Expat

Friday, 23 April 2010
One of the things I really miss about Canada is Canada Day. The date of the Canadian Federation – the 1st day of July in 1867 -- is a date forever branded on the brain of every school child, and it is celebrated with zeal every summer.

Everyone gets the day off work – families have barbecues, friends meet for backyard bonfires and fireworks, it’s a proper red-and-white-maple-leafed brouhaha.

Here in the UK, today is St George’s Day. It’s supposed to be the closest thing we have to a national holiday… except that we’re all at work. No one really makes a fuss about old St George (maybe they don’t believe in dragons?!)

I don’t know why this is. We are a nation of fierce patriots – Exhibit A: the fever-pitch hoopla surrounding any important England football match – yet we don’t actually officially commemorate or celebrate being English on a designated day, even though it’s right there on the calendar.

This makes me sad. I’m a devoted dual-nationalist, equally proud of both my English blood and my Canadian heart. I wouldn’t mind so much, but take a walk down the high street on the 17th of March and every pub is decked out in Irish bunting in honour of St Patrick and it’s “top-of-the-mornin’-to-ya’s” and “póg mo thóin”-ings ‘til the bloody cows come home. No disrespect to my snake-shy friends across the sea, but even if half the English people who drank green beer a month and a half ago came out today in celebration of their own nation it would be a turn up for the books.

Anyway – I’ll shut up now lest I get a splinter in my toe from jumping up and down on this soapbox and wish you a happy St George’s Day. No fireworks, no barbecues, no days off work. I celebrate my heritage in the best way I know how.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Fortissimo Fridays - Shaun Keaveny

Friday, 16 April 2010
And so! The fates dealt me a minor brush with celebrity this morning! Such excitement in our little house and it’s not even 10 o’clock! This morning I was ALMOST a radio superstar.

You may or may not know that most mornings in our house have a particular musical accompaniment. Amongst the fog of baby porridge and Weetabix dust, between the younger child’s ‘Mammy-you’re-not-making-it-fast-enough’ whimperings and the older one’s ‘request-by-way-of-staccato-command’ instructions for how he wants his toast (“DAIRYLEA! DAIRYLEA! DAIRYLEA!”) can always be heard the dulcet tones of one Mr Shaun Keaveny on the BBC6 Music breakfast show – my FAVOURITE thing. Without fail, the DAB radio gets switched on before the tea bag hits the bottom of the mug and I can always rely on some great tunes to get me on the right track of a morning.

Some of them straight out of my own record collection (cue singing along much to the amusement of my children) and some new tracks... which I have often shared with you here as part of my Fortissimo Friday feature. I credit the 6Music morning show for helping my personal thawing process – you all know how I am musically frozen in high school.

But I digress... you want to know how I missed the bus of radio superstardom today? I was happily bopping around in the kitchen to this classic tune from my childhood sweethearts Depeche Mode when some tit from Sheffield offended the airways by requesting an Incubus song as part of the ‘My Morning Racket’ feature.  (This is where they get a listener on air to request a song.)  So, fuelled with Tetley’s Extra Strong and the safety of anonymous text messaging, I sent the studio the following:

What, in the name of arse, is this pile of wank? Is this what Radio 1 plays when it wants to be ‘edgy’?

So through a wacky combination of my favourite thing and my SECOND favourite thing (namely, being a total music snob who likes to complain about bad music) I got a call from one of the show’s staff not two minutes after the text was sent to ask me if I would like to be this coming Monday’s on-air guest for ‘My Morning Racket’.  I laughed, and blushed, and apologised for being a bit sweary.

Yet another example of why the Universe hates me by making me go back to work after ten months of maternity leave – you guessed it – this coming Monday. Curses!

Probably a blessing in disguise – I would likely have messed up the whole delicate programming schedule by roping Mr Keaveny into a satisfying yet passionate musical debate and lost him a whole pile of listeners. That’s if I could even choose a song. One song? ONE SONG to share with the entire nation to illustrate the depth and breadth of my schizophonic audio-obsession? Nigh on impossible. I’d not have left the house for the duration of the entire weekend, instead staying next to the computer flooding the studio’s email inbox with at least 400,000 “wait-I’ve-changed-my-mind!!” emails.

So, England... you won’t hear this honey-voiced-lovely on your airwaves come Monday morning. I will miss ‘My Morning Racket’ and instead be replacing it with my own from behind the wheel of the car in the morning rush hour by swearing at other drivers, innocent pedestrians and too-close-to-my-wing-mirror motorcyclists on the way to my first day at work in nearly a year. Bloody shitty bollocks and fuck.

But – it is Friday after all... so you’ll be expecting a song, won’t you, my dear readers?

Here’s what I would have chosen:


Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The Ugly "Ducklun"

Wednesday, 14 April 2010
Could NOT be more proud.

Monday, 12 April 2010

A Sneaky Week Away

Monday, 12 April 2010
Doubtless you will all forgive me - I hope - for the light posting as of late... last week we were away and this week, this HORRID WEEK, is the last week of my maternity leave before I go back to work.  That, combined with the fact that it is sunny outside, has kept me away from the blog and out of doors with my kids.

I will write properly again soon, but in the interim here are a few holiday snaps from our few days in Yorkshire last week.

Ben's second tooth fell out on the morning that we left!

Crabs for sale at the fishmonger's on Bridlington's promenade.  Ben said to a passing stranger, "I don't eat those, because we are VEG-A-TEAReans."  Atta boy, kiddo.  ;-)

Low tide in Bridlington harbour.

One of the highlights of our holiday - we went on a tour of the John Bull rock factory.  Here are two hunky fellas rolling what will eventually be loads of little sticks of rock. 

We even got the chance to have a go at rolling our own piece of rock -- Ben's had a 'B' running right the way through it!  So, so, so cool.

He also got to make a chocolate lollipop.  Here he is showing extreme self control by not flinging himself headfirst, Augustus Gloop style, into the vat of liquid chocolate.

We even got the chance to go out for a meal - ON OUR OWN - while we were out. 

Highlight of the week - a visit to Castle Howard... one of my favourite places ever.  I bought some lovely Yorkshire forced rhubarb from their Farm Shop and baked the most gorgeous crumble when we got back to the caravan, too.  Mmmm, more double cream!

The place is full of treasures...

...and even has an adventure playground for the kids.  Brilliant!

That's enough for now -- will write again soon, I promise!

Friday, 2 April 2010

My Favourite Kind of Day

Friday, 2 April 2010
Yesterday was my birthday.  And today is Good Friday, so we're all off work/school.  Hurrah!  So we decided to head out to Belsay Hall, Castle & Gardens in the Northumbrian countryside to have fun at their Easter Family Fun Trail.  Ben loved it; he got a puzzle sheet when we paid the entry fee, and all throughout the gardens there were hidden clues for him to gather.

Plus, it gave me a chance to play with the camera on my new iPhone (best birthday present ever, hurrah Jase!) and I am pretty pleased with the results!

Here is Belsay Hall.

Ben's reading is coming on gangbusters... he particularly likes to read notices and signs, so here he is working out that it won't be okay to blast across this bit of grass because the sign asks patrons to give the spring bulbs a bit of a break. 

We love going to English Heritage sites (they have not sponsored me, nor do they have any idea who I am, BTW)... I'm an old soul, Jason loves gardens and I have to admit, I get a little thrill watching Ben explore the old properties, wonder who used to live in them and push his imagination to making up stories about the people who used to live there.  I have this romantic notion that we are instilling in him a lifetime appreciation (and respect, and fascination) for all things historical -- totally worth the admission price!

People ask me all the time -- why do we live here and not in Canada.  The answer?  ... is because I get to take photos of things like this.

In the Quarry Garden... loads of exposed rock faces and stuff for kids to climb on/over/through.

 And then all of a sudden there is a break in the trees, and behold -- Belsay Castle, with its massive 14th century tower block. I'd never been here before today and fell in love with the place in an instant. Straight out of a fairy tale.

And then up the spiral staircase.... Stella McCartney's 'Lucky Spot' sculpture.  It is a 3-dimensional chandelier, made with over 8,000 Swarovski crystals, each individually hung from the rafters of the castle.  I remember hearing about it back in 2004 when it was first unveiled, and have always wanted to see it!  The picture doesn't do it justice.

(Rapunzel must have been washing her hair - she was nowhere to be found up top.)

Then Ben and I went back into Belsay Hall, which is currently undergoing restoration... so all the rooms were empty.  In earnest, I looked out all the windows for Mr Darcy heading toward the house in a soaking wet shirt and riding boots, but to no avail.  Bollocks!

A gorgeous day - just the tonic I needed.