Sunday, 30 December 2007

The Right Kind of Soft

One of my personal quirks, being a lunatic by nature as well as nurture, is that I am slightly obsessive about soft things. Not just any old soft things, however. They must be The Right Kind of Soft: so smooth and fluffy under the fingers that one might be stroking a cloud.

It can all be traced back, I suspect, to the fact that when I was a Small Sarah, many moons ago, I sucked my thumb while grasping Hankie, one of my dad's old handkerchiefs that I rubbed between my fingers until it was as soft as soft can be. Slowly but surely, of course, I would whittle away the fabric until all that was left was a sad little scrap.

My poor parents dreaded the day when they could no longer put off Hankie Substitution, because they faced histrionics and heart-wrending grief until my busy little fingers were able to create a suitably soft area on The Imposter.

I did thumb-sucking obsessively, too, finally allowing my nearest and dearest to coax me out of the habit at about the age of 13, when my teeth had bored such a nightly hole in the top of my thumb that I sported a permanent tooth-wound almost reaching the bone.

Interestingly, I was a smoker within about a year. Oral personality, perhaps?

The upshot of this sweet little story is that my very favourite present this year was not the hugely expensive camera or the drool-inducing Battlestar Galactica box set. It's a 3-inch tall wolf finger puppet with irresistible fur.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Thoughts from a Train

I'm back home from my lovely, cosy Christmas with the parents, having dragged two suitcases and a large bag across the country despite the ill will of every other passenger on the train (Christmas spirit doesn't take long to dissolve, it would seem).

I had the cunning idea to pack a second suitcase inside the one I was taking with me, thus giving myself double the carrying power on the return trip. However, as usual I underestimated the sheer volume: the Christmas day haul and the results of three consecutive days out in the sales (they started on Boxing Day this year - did you know that the Lakeside House of Fraser took £1000 a minute during the first hour?). I had to add another giant carrier bag to the already precarious equation.

None of this was helped by the train guard announcing I would have to be 4 carriages up if I wanted to clamber off at Clapham, which apparently has a stunted platform - getting everything I was carrying down those thin aisles was an act of sheer will.

And even now there's a huge box of stuff back at home in Bournemouth that I just couldn't manage.

My Christmas pile filled three boxes, not least because my stocking has slowly become a sack over the years and every item on my Christmas list was huge. Highlights of the treasure pile include Battlestar Galactica season 3, a chocolate fountain, a George Foreman grill in pink (how girly is that!), three Jeremy Clarkson books, plenty of jewellery, bathroom scales, a stepper, a posh meetings folder and a number of Neal's Yard gift sets. And, of course, my main present: a swanky professional camera.

My sale items were no less numerous:

1) 2 pairs shoes
2) 2 pairs trousers
3) 5 skirts
4) 1 dress
5) 1 handbag
6) 8 tops
7) 2 necklaces
8) 1 pair earrings
9) 1 handbag
10) 3 DVDs (Bettie Page, Shaun of the Dead and Miami Vice)
11) 1 DVD box set (the complete works of Eddie Izzard for £12 - I almost fainted)
12) 1 calendar (of the movie 300 - what could be better than all those nekked tummies advertising the year?)

As you can see, Mum and I are frighteningly efficient in the sales - not a single item on that list was frivolous or won't be used.

Here, for example, are my beautiful shoes.

Anyway, I must toddle off to start the unpacking marathon, as I stupidly decided that I was not allowed to put anything away without throwing out old stuff to make way for it. I hate my brain.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Sale!

Monday, 24 December 2007


So here I am at home for Yuletide, well fed but bereft of digital companionship - my poor computer, I whine about it so very much but at times like this, one realises how lucky one is.

I'm typing on my mother's laptop, which has a screen the size of a postage stamp, has never in its existence been used for anything more exciting than checking the prices of QVC bargains and has keys that make the following sound when typing:


The heady pace of technology is a beautiful thing. I'm jus' sayin'.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Merry Christmas (plus a Sabotage Story)

I wanted to leave you, as I swan off to the heady heights of Bournemouth for some familial mindlessness, with a sophisticated Christmas blessing.

I wanted to send a thing of tasteful beauty and make you smile in anticipation of all the Yuletide happiness ahead, rejoicing in the luxury and togetherness of the week to come.

Unfortunately, Laura got home as I was taking the picture and excitedly tried to join in, without my knowledge or permission. She, like, totally lowered the tone. Tut.

Bollocks to it, next year I'll just send you all some socks.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Extreme Posting

This is a Public Service Announcement for everyone in Britain: December 20 is the last day to post your 1st class packages. I repeat, today is the last day for post.

If, like Laura and I, you like to live life on the edge and add a little danger to your gift-giving, you will doubtless have left the cards and packages on the hall table until this, the very last minute, while you warm up for the challenge of Extreme Postage, accompanied by a Rocky-style training montage.

(I'm not sure what would be involved in one of those, maybe speed envelope licking and postbox lunges.)

The photograph above is an actual scene from this year's Extreme Postage qualifying rounds, taken by super-photographer Laura. Heed the warning, people: to truly excel, you will need appropriate gear and the right attitude. Half-hearted attempts will not cut it on the Last Day of the Post: you will need to push it right to the last second, to cross the finishing line just as the Royal Mail van pulls up. You will need to overcome terrifying obstacles and look fear right in the eye. You will need nerves of steel and balls of iron.

Is this you? Are you among the masses who engage in this yearly sport?

Good luck, my friends, may the Parcel Force be with you.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Tat: A Tribute

With Christmas coming, it's been a joy to experience the generosity and kind-heartedness of Second Life's designers, who have been leaving gifts under Christmas trees, carefully designing exciting treasure hunts and dreaming up special freebies for their fans.

All of which feeds nicely into my compulsion to test the limits of my inventory.

I have ceased to be able to control myself. The second a freebie is announced, I'm off. I call it my Tat Collection: things I do not need, things I will not be able to wear after Christmas Day, even a couple of things I already had. I run for them, with fear in my heart that I will be too late.

Mixed in with the ice skating outfits, the snow globes and the lemming guns, you see, are some fantastic items - gold bangles I actually went shopping for an outfit to pair with, trousers that seem to match every top I've ever bought, skins I didn't realise would even suit me. Who knows what the next freebie announcement will bring!

I'm beginning to love my tat. I don't want to take my reindeer hat off and I'm wondering if I can make ice skates a personal gimmick.

If you thought my inventory looked a bit daunting before, you ought to see it now. I'm not even bothering to unpack any more because the second I start, there's another announcement.

So yeah. Merry Christmas. Give me stuff.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Clunky web-swinging

I've just returned from watching Spiderman 3 with Best Mate and Anton on an overhead projector thinger he brought home from work - marvellous contraption, it made the image huge (probably about the same size as the Richmond Odeon screen - which isn't really saying much mind you) and the sound is extra loud and comes from behind you, which feels like a proper cinema experience. None of this surround sound nonsense.

Loved the movie, a fittingly excitable end to the trilogy. Nothing like a bit of clang and bang of a Sunday afternoon and now I'm in a post-movie glow of serene happiness.

Favourite moments: when Peter Parker drove across the screen on his small, crap scooter and Anton commented that it sounded as if it was powered by an army of very small wookies. And the typo that Best Mate made when sending me an IM in which she announced she'd finished lunch and was ready to watch Spidernan (that would be me, were I a superhero. Actually maybe not, I couldn't be a spider, I'd frighten myself stupid).

There was one annoying clunky bit near the end: I won't give too much away in case you haven't seen it yet, but basically a random peripheral character who has literally two lines in the whole movie appears from nowhere to reveal something to a main character it was clearly implied he had just realised for himself - and it would have been a better message had he been allowed to do so. It was so obviously added on after a test audience full of thickies didn't understand what was happening that I'm almost convinced Sam Raimi made it clunky on purpose.

It's all got me to thinking that I'd quite like to have a go at graphic novels. I'm not sure where to start, but I think I know exactly who to ask...

P.S. Laura has asked me to somehow include the word 'pants' in this post, so there it is to please her.

Thursday, 13 December 2007


Finally pinned New Boss, who has been dithering to extraordinary levels over the last couple of weeks, down long enough to ask him about the results of the Open Your Mind town test.

Apparently they're rechecking the test figures because the retention level (i.e. how many people came back to buy Issue 2, for those not at all interested in dull publishing jargon) was so astonishingly high they can't quite believe it.


And I no longer mind the fact I had to go ALL the way into the centre of London, which is full of rude people and frost.

And now I have lots of lovely work to do over the next week, which will keep me out of mischief and amused. Hurrah for Faffing Boss, as he shall hereby be known.

P.S. The shop down the road makes astonishingly good breakfast baguettes. Best Mate and I had one for breakfast and I'm pining miserably for another.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

A Wheel-based Fantasy

Oh the joy, the pure and unsullied joy. For those who labour under the impression that virtual worlds have nothing to offer, let me present to you a happy little exercise in wish fulfilment...

Step 1: I develop a wanton obsession with Top Gear and spend a growing proportion of my waking hours wishing Richard Hammond was my lovebunny and Jeremy Clarkson lived under my stairs.

Step 2: I articulate this wish to others, often and loudly. Dearest Laura, being a sensitive soul, picks up on my subtle vibes and begins to plan a Willow Wonderland.

Step 3: Summoning me to our little virtual abode, Laura attracts my attention with the following casual notice:

Step 4: Naturally I decide to check. And lo! A shrine to the wondrousness, covered in large, prettily framed pictures with a chair in the centre so that I can settle into my daydream. Is my roomie the bollocks or what??

When, in real life, the main light bulb has blown, the door handle is hanging by a thread (both of which were, incidentally, today's traumas) and all hope of a new hoover has gone, I will know that my own personal paradise awaits me on Second Life, smiling down in BBC-authorised glory while Laura watches the telly in the next room. Bliss.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Heaven help us all

I just saw on Friday Night with Jonathon Ross that the Scots have spent £125,000 on a new advertising campaign to attract tourists to the country. Something to welcome visitors to the vibrant, modern Scotland and make it a visit they will never forget.

They came up with:

Welcome to Scotland

Words fail me.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Cartoon Bollocks in the Black Hole of Calcutta

Today was a mixture of very very good and very very bad. This morning I was woken by the landlords' latest weapon in the fight to make my life a misery: blokes wanting to change my windows. Which seemed fine to me as they were, I had a door and a window and they both opened and closed, which is all one really wants in a ventilation system.

I then spent the next couple of hours wearing two jumpers while the window men knocked out most of my back wall:

Exposed to the elements, I was. Brave, I was. They then came trotting round the corner with...double doors. Incensed, I was. I can't have double doors in my flat, that would mean I had NO windows at all, what the hell am I meant to do in the summer? I can't go off to bed and leave the door wide open, I'll hard boil. Grrrr! If anyone of a legal persuasion knows what I can do about this, do please shout...

(As an aside, note my little bin, sitting majestically and pointlessly in the middle of the garden.)

The day improved dramatically, however, after I met Canimal (who now lives in London, how marvellous!) to see Beowulf at the iMax. Which is a fab movie in 3D! It would probably be a bit shite in an ordinary cinema but watching monsters cavorting off the screen and Angelina's perfect form swaying about (apparently that's really her figure, the lucky cow) is rather spectacular in multi-dimensional glory.

I think what we both took away from the experience (aside from a splitting headache) was an impression of gore and bollocks. The gore was satisfying, if revolting, but the bollocks never really appeared, they were merely promised to us.

Beowulf needs less excuse than Pamela Anderson to strip off, you see, and spends an awful lot of the film flipping open his buckles provocatively. And then, of course, there's the Austin Powers strategically-placed-objects scene when he decides to fight the monster in the nud. As you do.

Still, it was entertaining and I am gazing longingly at the Tim Burton season, hoping that when Cani said she'd happily go see someone filing papers if it was in 3D, she meant it. She's in the same city as me now, she's doomed :)

Monday, 3 December 2007

Grumble - tagged

WillowZ very unkindly tagged me, so now I have to think of things about me that are even remotely interesting. Prepare to be bored stupid, rest of the world.

“Eight Random Facts” meme.

Here are the rules:
(1) Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
(2) People who are tagged need to write a post on their own blog (about their eight things) and post these rules.
(3) At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names
(4) Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

I hate things like this. So here goes...

1. I have a clicky, sort-of-dislocated jaw from the impact of a champagne cork, which popped out unannounced and caught me on the chin - bloody hurt, that did.

2. When I was little, my granddad used to walk me around the house saying "Good morning Mr. Begonia," and "Good morning Mr. Banister," in the hopes of furthering my vocabulary. I was 3 days old when he started.

3. I had 15 years of voice training, which means I have a gold medal from LAMDA and can project my voice for miles and miles, even when I'm trying to whisper.

4. I've never had an operation and the only bone I've ever broken was in my little toe.

5. I played truant from school with my best friend Jo at the age of 8, but when the teachers heard our excuse - that we had gone to give her gran her paralysing tablets - they were straight round to get us.

6. I play the box sets of shows I really love (Buffy, Angel, Battlestar Galactica) over and over and over in the background when I'm working, because it's comforting. I can also watch Top Gear and then watch it again on +1, which is also WillowZ's doing.

7. I really like puzzles, like the nan we all know I am - my favourite are nonograms, Japanese picture puzzles.

8. I'm dithering a novel. I'd say writing but I've managed 4 chapters in as many years.

Hmmm...who to tag without inviting a speedy death...ok Best Mate, Hallie Greenstein, Vicious Firefly, Canimal Zephyr, Tymmerie Thorne, Sparky Tim, Inexplicable DeVice and Sysperia Poppy. Sorry guys, I'll send you cookehs.