Thursday, 25 December 2008

Candy Kissed

Just a little Christmas wish for everyone I love and care about, wishing you lots of candy, mulled wine and presents under the tree - and, of course, all manner of Christmas kisses.

Thank you all for a fantastic year - the best I've had in a very long time. Excellent friends, wonderful company, good times, plenty of laughs - it's been emotional. I love you all, in a very understated British way.


Thursday, 11 December 2008

Slutting about

Just thought I'd share with you the lovely new blog that I shall be contributing to...

Along with Anonymous Friend, I shall be slutting about for your entertainment. Aren't we good to you?

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Italian Dreams - Part 1

DaddyC being a photographer, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that he booted me off the cruise ship each morning, blinking pitifully in the unfamiliar light of dawn, with instructions to venture forth into the Italian cities and take as many photos as possible. I obeyed, of course, because that is what one does in the face of parental instruction, and thus earned a reputation as tour group liability, generally to be found trotting along at least 50 yards behind everyone else, relying on my brother's impressive height to help us see over buildings and find them again.

So far, I have only processed and uploaded photos from the first two days of our cruise and, in doing so, have filled up a Flickr account. Apparently you can only have 200 pictures unless you want to pay out to go pro (which I don't), so I shall think laterally and make a second account for the rest.

You'll notice I'm skipping over the fact that I took 200 photos in two days. Before anyone panics and pastes on the fixed smile, this is the bulk of them - DaddyC ventured off the boat with us for the latter part of the week, so I handed over documenting duties to him.

I actually joined the cruise on the second day, having thrown a hissy fit at the idea of missing out on Eddie Izzard and a night out with Laura and W*P*D (which actually included Danni, too, as a welcome surprise). I bought a tshirt that says "Cake or Death?"; people will think I've gone a bit peculiar, but who am I to argue?

As an aside, because I'm sure at least some of you were wondering, here are the evening's official Laura Leandros Memorable Quotes:

  • Are there small people hanging off my face?
  • Am I the skanky goo pigeon?
  • I can't imagine leaving the house as a willy in the morning
  • I was generally dribbling about the area.

I think we finally clambered into bed, full of cheesy curly fries and chicken wontons, at about 4am, congratulating ourselves on avoiding a hangover by eating most of Tescos. The car turned up to take me to Luton airport at 9am and found a scraggly, hungover mess shivering in the snow. So that worked well, then.

All was well once I landed in Nice, of course, because as anyone who has been on a cruise ship knows, at least three quarters of the onboard space is taken up by Things To Eat. MummyC and BrotherC took me on a whistlestop tour of the ship and then it was time for the first of many, many meals. A three course one, in the posh dining room.

Shortly followed by a slice of pizza along the shopping arcade and a little visit to the 'informal' dining room upstairs, which was basically an enormous room filled with troughs of deliciousness. Even if you limit yourself to a demure spoonful of each dish that catches your eye, you still end up with an edible mountain. I do so miss that dining room.

On Day 1, my brother and I joined the organised tour to Florence and Pisa. We were the only English people, because the ship is American, so we were treated to the inevitable conversations about how politely we eat, how strangely we spell everything and how bravely we put up with all that drizzle. I think we were something of a novelty.

Follow the photos on the Flickr backwards, if you so wish, to see where the tour took us - as far as I can tell, we covered almost every landmark. Our tour guide was most impressive at herding us about the place. I need - and want - to go back and spend a little more time there, because it's impossible to take it all in at that speed, but it was a perfect introduction.

Day 2 was Rome, and quite possibly counts among the top 10 days of my life. I came back full of dreams of moving over there for a while, perhaps signing up as a tour guide and treating tourists to my uncanny ability to get myself completely lost.

I would love to do it, it's the most beautiful city I've set foot in, full of history and culture and beauty literally everwhere you look, not to mention the ridiculously attractive people. I hardly knew whether to gaze at the ancient monuments or ogle the tour guide.

This tour was as packed as the first , taking in Trevi Fountain, the Imperial Forums, the Coloseum and Vatican City, and there's plenty more I'm itching to see - so W*P*D and I have hatched a plan to go back for a long weekend and rent a villa on the outskirts, to give us time to have a more leisurely explore of the city. I'm pining to be there again.

Of course, both days were finished off with some quality MummyC time, moving from food outlet to food outlet at our leisure. These cruise ships also have their own theatre, big enough to seat 1000, so we took a slice of cake and some popcorn and settled in for a magic show on the first night and an ice show on the second.

Do feel free to browse my many, many photos if you're particularly bored at work. There's a little gadget on the sidebar that will take you right to them, or click here. Part 2 coming up when I've regained my sight from processing the first batch...

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Born Slippy

Apologies for the lengthy absence, I've been swanning around (sort of) sunny Italy on a cruise ship for a week. I'm still trawling through my million photos of that, so expect to be bored with holiday snaps shortly.

Meanwhile, I have my friend Leah - a roomie from our student days - staying with me and much Christmas shopping and giggling has been going on. Tomorrow we're off to see Edward Scissorhands, the stage version (had no idea there even was one until half an hour ago), after a bit of lazing about.

I was forced to leave her napping on the sofa this evening though, because I had tickets to see Slipknot and she summed up her opinion of said experience as coming runner up to the prospect of chewing off her own foot.

Now the best thing about this evening was that I got to take Scott, who is excitable about absolutely everything, to his first ever metal concert. In fact, so clueless was he that, while we were in Camden the other week, he repeatedly asked me whether various songs we heard were anything like Slipknot were going to be. Including, at one point, Girls Aloud.

Understandably, I was somewhat nervous about his reaction - growling men in masks aren't everyone's cup of tea. Being an incredible sweetheart, he volunteered to accompany me just because he knew how much I wanted to go, so I was dreading the look of horror I was sure would spread slowly over his face.

Fortunately, Scott is one of the world's limited stock of truly open-minded people and was bright eyed and headbanging just one song into MachineHead, the support band (we managed to miss Children of Bodom thanks to my tortoise bus), and declaring himself a convert. He loved the atmosphere, had a whale of a time people-watching, seemed to appreciate being cussed at between songs and perfected his metal hands after only one or two false starts. His huge grin made a fantastic gig even more fun.

The highlight for both of us, I think, was when the drummer was raised, drum kit and all, and flipped sideways and upside down in the air, drumming away as he went. Genius. You can sort of see it in the photo, but everything was a bit flashy and flamey and most of my pictures are pretty balls of light.

I can't hear a thing and my feet are killing me, but man was it worth it.

Friday, 21 November 2008

When Magic Happens

A couple of months ago I'd never heard of Ryan Adams, much less listened to his music. W*P*D, who worships the man as muse and idol, asked if I'd like to join her in seeing him live and I, always encouraging the new and interesting, very happily agreed.

In the meantime, I listened to a few of his songs, made friends with a couple of them and, on one memorable occasion, burst into spontaneous tears at W*P*D's house on hearing "If I Am A Stranger".

So, all in all, I was expecting to enjoy the gig, the company and especially watching W*P*D's face light up in child-like joy. I was not expecting to fall in love.

Without exaggeration, it was the most incredible live performance I have ever seen. Note perfect, completely in tune, his pure voice poured out while The Cardinals produced sounds I had no idea were possible outside of a recording studio. In short, they were sublime. Song after beautiful song without ever a dip in quality - or genius, if I'm honest. And, as W*P*D pointed out, the whole room was completely still, just letting the music wash over them, and everywhere you looked there were people singing their hearts out. The man is honestly loved.

Now, W*P*D has always said that Ryan is her muse, which I understood on an objective level (she will be returning the favour on Saturday by joining me to see my own muse, Eddie Izzard) but not really an emotional one. I accepted it was a very good choice, because his music is wonderful, but I had no personal experience of the impact it can have.

"Do you get it now?" she asked me as we left, eyes sparkling.

Oh yes, I get it.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

A moment of amused

I think I have a contender for Best Paragraph Ever. This hasn't been my favourite week, so I thought to cheer myself by re-reading an old favourite: Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. During which I re-discovered potentially the most amusing piece of prose ever written (in my humble opinion).

To give you a little background, the canine in question is a hellhound that has taken on the appearance of a small, scruffy dog to fulfill the overheard pet requirements of its master, a boy who has yet to discover he is the Antichrist. Its usual form is large, terrifying and bad-tempered.

And then there were cats, thought Dog. He'd surprised the huge ginger cat from next door and had attempted to reduce it to cowering jelly by means of the usual glowing stare and deep-throated growl, which had always worked on the damned in the past. This time they earned him a whack on the nose that made his eyes water. Cats, Dog considered, were clearly a lot tougher than lost souls. He was looking forward to a further cat experiment, which he'd planned would consist of jumping around and yapping excitedly at it. It was a long shot, but it might just work.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Pixel Glory

I'm not sure from whom the challenge originated, but the Second Life blog feeds are currently filled with people's attempts to make a pixel version of their true selves... and this one would be mine.

Now, first things first, I should point out that this is one fecking hard challenge. The sliders just don't go where you want them to go, and when they do one has a tendency to end up looking like a special. My real nose, for example, tilts downwards, but if you copy the proportions in SL you end up looking like you've got your nose stuck up against the window while dribbling and (probably) scratching your arse.

So this is as close as I could get her. The hair isn't bad - severe centre parting (it does it all by itself, that's not a life choice), straggly bits and a touch floofy at the top. The eyes, by our very own lovely Laura, aren't far off either.

The dress, of course, is by Canimal, who is therefore responsible for my decision to purchase both the pixel dress and its real life counterpart. It seemed only fitting.

I'm not convinced she looks an awful lot like me, but frankly any longer playing with the sliders and I'll lose what marbles I have left to me and WillowZ will stab me for repeatedly asking her what she thinks.

So what do you lot think?

EDIT: Edited to capture forever this comment from Shelly on Plurk, which I can't stop giggling at -

Shelly: pretty close pretty close! And the nose doesn't look shortbus yay!

Monday, 3 November 2008

The Cani Invasion: Various Celebrations

I've been faintly remiss with reporting all the yummy fun Cani and I have been having since she arrived, but I do at least have a wealth of photos to show off our weekend of sensible cultural activities.

In amongst the trips to Camden and a Little Big Planet preview thinger we went to see (I cannot tell you how much I want a PS3 now), it was, of course, Halloween.

As England are a bit pants at celebrating Halloween - unless you're a child or sufficiently terrifying that you can go trick or treating and people will be too scared to withhold sweeties - we went to a funfair in Crystal Palace.
Fully attired for the occasion, of course, in our gothic finest. I even dyed my hair in celebration, and then spent some considerable time cleaning up the evidence from the bathroom. All the trips to Camden came in handy though, as I had the perfect dress and thigh-high socks and Cani was a striped and corseted wonder.

Most of us came away from the place with significant injuries (I'm still limping now thanks to an overexcited and badly brought up small child on the dodgems who seemed intent on bashing us into the next county and poor Best Mate was assaulted from all sides and hopped about for days) but it was an effing good laugh nonetheless.

I even cajoled dear Best Mate into providing one of her gorgeous hair extravaganzas to complete my outfit. It fell down thanks to a combination of g-force and head wibbling, but it was so purty while it lasted. The pink trident with picture of unicorn in this picture did not actually belong to Matt, it was a prize Cani won at a sideshow. He seemed to like it though, and who are we to deny the man his pleasures.
I'm pretty sure you're meant to be afraid of Dracula, rather than intrigued by his crotch, but seeing as Anton allowed me to smear eyeliner across his face and didn't complain when I poked him in the eye, we'll focus on the purtiness of Best Mate's dress, shall we?
The Twister: do not approach if you have recently eaten or have a short skirt on. I am assured it was not the case, but remain convinced that the world and his spaniel saw my undercrackers.

We do Bonfire Night in rather more spectacular style over here, of course, and I couldn't let Cani go home without throwing a penny for the guy. Fortunately, Richmond's festivities were a couple of days early, and it wasn't even raining for once.Fireworks to a James Bond soundtrack while surrounded by small squeaking children - and, if you're Cani, wearing black bunny ears that flash red. Devil bunny ears, if you will. It was an unusual experience.
Richmond did me proud though, bless it, and we even spotted the guy being carted off across the pitch, though we were a bit late to see the bugger burn.
And a toffee apple, to make the whole thing complete. You can't have a bonfire night without a toffee apple, it's illegal. Or bunny ears, dems the new rules.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

The Cani Invasion: Quote of the Day

If you're in England, you might well be watching the new E4 series for Halloween, Dead Set. If not, I don't recommend you panic because it's pretty much just "28 Davina Mcalls Later" with all the standard plotlines and incidents one expects from zombies. Complete with zombie-in-the-safehouse, run-for-supplies and first-meeting-with-zombies moments. All boxes checked, then.

Maybe I've been spoiled by World War Z, but I do wish they'd be a bit more imaginative if they really must make more zombie stories.

Anyway, that's beside the point - what I really wanted to do was share a Canimal quote that creased me up with laughter during last night's episode.

One of the characters, the Big Brother TV producer who's a complete twat and highly unpleasant to the woman he's trapped in a room with, was having, to put it delicately, a bit of a poo in a bin.

Cani: Well you can't really blame him, I'd need to go if I was that scared.
Me: I think actually it had more to do with the three tubes of Pringles and bottle of champagne he had in the last episode.

*brief pause*

Cani: That doesn't sound like Pringles.

Canimal Zephyr, Defecation Expert. Who knew?

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Fight like the star you are

I am typing this from under six blankets, wearing gloves and a hat and fluffy slippers and shivering while my nose runs. Yes, I have succumbed to the weather and am sick as a dog - which I mainly blame on being out in Camden when the snow hit last night. It was, however, totally worth it.

Best Mate and I went to see Fightstar at Proud Camden, which is a fantastic little gig venue stroke art gallery in a converted stable, so the fairy lights and stone floor are set off by the bar, seating areas and merchandise room being each in their own individual stable. Hard to explain, fantastic to wander around in.

Now, I know most people can't quite get past the idea of Charlie from Busted being capable of making legitimate music, but I assure you he can - and he looks ever so pretty while doing it. They even go quite far into growling metal territory and do so surprisingly well. Don't believe me? Give it a go...

It was also fantastic for eye candy - lots of boys in eyeliner for my viewing pleasure. As it was very loud and I couldn't hear a thing, I suggested to Best Mate that I write a text saying "You're the hottest guy in here" and show it to one particular yummy specimen. She perfected the line by suggesting I say to him, "I wanted to text you this, but I didn't have your number".

Best chat-up line ever? I'm thinking so. I chickened out, of course, but maybe I could try it on Charlie...

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Happiest Day of the Week

Seriously. You should have seen me beam with pride. Could have done with a bit of a grammar check, but who's complaining?

Now to teach the world when to use "which" and "that".

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The Cani Invasion: Day 2 (ish)

Pictorial evidence of drunken behaviour - always the most positive way to commit a good evening to memory. On Cani's second day here in Londinium Town, Loaf and Willis joined us for an evening of alcohol and far too much food, packed tight in my miniature flat with glasses of vodka and (once Willis arrived) champagne.

There are plenty of pictures with which to bore you because Cani and I were enthusiastic subjects (unlike poor Loaf and Willis, who very patiently wielded the camera and were thrust in front of it while we insisted on endless angles and poses for everyone).

Still, nothing wrong with a good set of shots, eh? Our day of drinking began suitably early, with a vodka and coke thrust towards Loaf the second he walked through the door, our glasses refreshed constantly as we watched silly movies (Doom might be daft, but Karl Urban needs to give me babies), administered to our hair (that would be Cani's dye-and-straighten extravaganza) and ate muffins and Rolo doughnuts (best invention ever? I'm thinking so).

At some point we wandered into Second Life for a discussion about the relative merits of skins and eyes, as you do, and spent some time shouting drunkenly at Thema and Autumn (and others, but my memory is a little fuzzy).

Eventually Willis arrived, and had to be fetched from the station. Nobody fell over on the way, not even Loaf. Absolutely not, no stumbling at all.

We headed - after a phenomenal amount of fussing and photo-taking, into Kingston, the idea being that we show our faces in Oceana, a huge club I've never actually been to but boasts a French parlour room, a New Orleans lounge and lots of other swanky bits and pieces that I took to imply sofas to collapse on and more alcohol.

Our plans were very slightly scuppered, however, when I tottered off to the bathrooms, managed to slip on a wet patch (I'm trying to avoid guessing what it was, if that's all the same to you) and knocked myself out on the way down. At least a thousand people woke me up asking if I was alright, to which I replied a thousand times that I was absolutely fine and staggered to my feet. Promptly passing out again for a little nap on the floor. The lengths I'll go to to nan are obscene.

So that was that, sadly - no clubbing for us, just a gentle bus ride home supported by Loaf, who may very well be the loveliest man on the planet and deserves yet another medal (thank you Loaf!). I was fine, you'll all be very relieved to hear, but a little woozy and sporting a cute little bump on my forehead (still bloody hurts).

So, like the fashionable set we are, we ended the night with The Devil Wears Prada in our jim jams. What better way?

Friday, 17 October 2008

The Canimal Invasion: Day 1

As many of you already know, I am blessed with the company of a Canimal for the next couple of weeks, which is certain to result in plenty of mayhem and an awful lot of shopping. It did last time, at any rate, and a repeat performance is no bad thing. Fewer cartoon bollocks this time though, I'm hoping.

Within half an hour of arriving (dragging behind her the most impressively voluminous suitcase ever engineered by the hand of man), she was scampering around my flat with a pig shower cap on her head and plying me with jewellery-based goodies straight from Paris. Which I shall, of course, make sure everyone is aware of when I wear it. It's from Paris. Paris, that's right. Huge rings, red and black, metallics - apparently she's perfected the art of styling me in real life as well as Second.

After a nice long nap (and you call ME a nan) during which I pondered whether to hang things from her, just as we would any of us do if she went afk (I didn't, because my self control knows no bounds), we went for a drink and a chat and a chicken salad in the pub. Fascinating picture, I know, but here for the sake of documentary evidence.

Now it's movie hour, and she's all curled up warm, comfortable, fed and watered on the sofa, so my mothering instincts are satisfied and I can finally stop fussing and fetching. Early night, you see, in anticipation of tomorrow's extravaganza with Loaf and Willis, for which I intend us to need all our energy.

She's threatening to wear the pig hat. Heaven help us.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Public Service Whine

Today was supposed to be the sacred, long-awaited day of joy and excitement on which I purchased my new iPhone, ridding myself for good of EVIL T Mobile and the complete lack of signal I get even at home - which, incidentally, is 3/4 of the way up one of the bigger hills to grace the capital city. If this is a signal black spot, where the hell are the white ones? Speaking on the phone involves hanging out of the window, just like it did in the 90s.

Just to complement this, I've never had a phone break on me before I signed up with these Beelzebubs, but I managed to flip the top off the flip-top they palmed off on me, and the one I have now, the Samsung U600, gives me very special feelings of hatred. At first it made its ill temper known by going a bit peculiar when I texted and switching itself off when it felt like it, so that sometimes it would take me half an hour to send one measly text. Not all the time, just when it felt like it.

I got a bit rageful with its wilful behaviour during Doctor Who, while desperately trying to ask a friend with inside info what was going to happen, and threw it against a wall. This did not, to clarify, solve the problem.

Though that's not what broke it, oh no. It threw a strop about lord only knows what while I was innocently bobbing about in a club with Laura and switched itself off for good. They replaced it, with the same model, but even though this one behaves itself, it still gives me special feelings.

Since the summer I've been pining after an iPhone, not least for its GPS facility, which, with a bit of luck, will prevent me from trotting off in the wrong direction quite so often. And to have lightsaber duels with Tim, of course. And to replace my cumbersome, ancient iPod, which these days qualifies as an antique. And finally because it's quite the most crush-worthy electrical object I've seen in a good long time.

But I've been cheated out of my iPhone for another month, thanks to the evil bastards at T Mobile, who lied about when my contract was up. Displeased doesn't even begin to describe it - T Mobile, I curse thee!

Friday, 10 October 2008

Norence Frightingale

We're booked and ready to go! During a perfectly selfless trip to W*P*D's on Wednesday (that's such a fib, but we'll go with it) to administer comfort food and sick-bed companionship, we successfully booked our flights and hotel for February's American extravaganza.

It came about quite by accident: W*P*D mentioned in a blog post that she wanted to go back to New York, I squeaked that I would give my right kidney to join her and from there it speedily spiralled into a coast-to-coast trip taking in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, where I had been promising for about a year to take myself to visit Vici and Ther.

We've managed to get flights there and back for a ridiculously cheap £350 each, and we've even secured seats at the back so I can do small child googly eyes out the window and W*P*D can shuffle back and forth to the toilets whenever she wishes.

We've also booked a hotel right in the centre of NYC, apparently very close to Madison Square Gardens and within easy distance of everything from the Empire State Building to the Met. Fortunately for me, W*P*D is an old hand at the NYC thing, so I will be trotting around after her still making my small child big eyes.

After five nights there, we fly over to LA, where we will be staying with Vici and Ther and, at some point, with Lisa Marie Presley's private chef. Which is just cool. We'll be spending the weekend in a cosy lodge in Big Bear and, apparently, skiing, which, as it may well result in me breaking everyone's bones, isn't likely to increase my popularity levels.

And then we drive to Vegas (I have insisted we stop at a proper diner and have fries and a slice of pie, and I want a matronly waitress to ask me if I want a coffee refill, like they do in the movies) for another five nights, where we will be trusting Vici to show us a good time... somehow I think my hangover will still be lingering in April.

Mostly I want to see all the places, do all the things and eat all the food you see in the movies, from shopping on Rodeo Drive to tucking into mac and cheese. I want to completely revamp my wardrobe, go to cool indie concerts and swanky restaurants, shout for taxis, visit massive casinos and museums, scream on rollercoasters and go googly eyed yet again as we wander round the movie studios.

In other words, I am going to be a small, excited child for the duration and will probably need to be put on a leash.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Bus Addendum

When I tell people I have absolutely no interest in having children, ever, for any reason, they occasionally give me a look I have come to recognise should be interpreted as meaning: "Ah, now, you'll change your mind when the right man comes along".

My decision was given new strength on the bus home today, however, when a small boy in a pushchair took a liking to me.

He was happily playing peek-a-boo with me, giggling away as he grabbed my trousers and tried to copy my crossed eyes. He was a cheeky chappy and highly appreciative as I went through my repertoire of baby-amusing techniques.

Having run out of new ideas, I got bored and stared out of the window.

It cried.

She's going as fast as she can

A weekend with Best Mate (and Best Mate's Fiance) is never an ordinary affair, nor would I wish it to be. Thus I present a picture-based diary of the last couple of days, complete with quotes, anecdotes and discussion points for the keenly interested.

During the initial phase of 'becoming inebriated', Anton and I decided to spy on the neighbours out of the bedroom window, soon realising that, rather than hiding our actions from potential tattle-tales, we were illuminating ourselves for all to see with an exciting lit-window-based framing device. Cue even cunninger plan to hide our shame with a curtain, thus transforming ourselves into a pantomime curtain beast.

After which sparkling success, Best Mate blew our minds with a stunningly convincing impression of Plato at the local rave. It was beautiful, man.

Shortly after which we perfected our joint impression of a Push-Me-Pull-You.

Then the conversation turned to Wicked, which we have been planning to go and see together since, oh, I think January, when Best Mate began reading the book version and promised faithfully to finish as fast as she possibly could so we could see it.

Now, the relative reading speeds of Best Mate and myself are infamous. I read like Johnny Five from Short Circuit, while Best Mate (thanks to her brain rebelling against enforced reading at university) goes at a sedate, steady, nan-like pace. One evening, for example, while reading in tandem, I completed 63 pages of my book to her 13.

Me: Have you finished Wicked yet?
Best Mate shakes her head and looks shifty
Me: Oh my GOD but you promised you'd hurry! How can y....... you are hurrying, aren't you?

And finally I bought a fluffy coat that matched Best Mate's fluffy coat and we did snuggly hug poses for a while before launching me off on my most badly executed weekend travelling mission thus far. It's a miracle I'm home, let me tell you. Let me also tell you that bus drivers lie and should not be trusted to know their own routes.