Showing posts with label oh dear. Show all posts
Showing posts with label oh dear. Show all posts

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Perfume, pubs, people-watching, all of that.

So in the pub the other night - people-watching, like one does. At the table next to us, a couple. We decided (after they'd gone, we're not animals, for God's sake) that they were either a long-married couple on the verge of meltdown ("You bastard, Adrian, I told you not to gamble away the solar panel subsidy!!!") OR on a first date where they had both been grossly misrepresented, either by mutual friends ("They said you looked like Brad Pitt!" "Well they said you looked like someone off Strictly Come Dancing, but they didn't mention it was Anne Widdecombe!") or themselves ("Fun-loving curvy blond/e... loads of personality... my mum says I'm handsome..." fill in gap).
At some point during the starter I turned to my brother-in-law, who takes us out to dinner regularly to thank us for allowing him to occasionally sleep on the cardboard placemat we like to call a spare bed (for work purposes only - he has a very nice family up North). I said "Are you covered in Vicks?". In my defence, he hadn't been feeling well. He was slightly taken aback, and said no, so I remained mildly confused. Until the angry couple left, after having spent most of the evening (while they weren't glaring at each other) texting other people. And I realised it was her perfume, namely (and I will name names) "Pomegranate Noir" by Jo Malone.
Don't get me wrong, I like it, especially on my friend Nix, but it is boldly heavy on what it claims to be opoponax (??? answers on a postcard), pepper, and patchouli. These are its claims, but I say there's a truckload of eucalyptus in there too. In large and over-optimistic first-date splash-it-all-over amounts, it smells of Vicks Vaporub. Or a koala, startled in the act of shoplifting some Vicks Vaporub and a pomegranate. And why not, if I was Jo Malone I'd use some high-flown word like "opoponax" rather than "Vicks".
At this moment I wondered whether their burgeoning relationship could have been salvaged if he hadn't got all the wrong olfactory signals, and either thought she had flu or was perhaps an aggressive man.


Saturday, 9 May 2009

Guilty Pleasures (not technically a meme)

Lovely Foxy emailed me a link to a Guardian article about how top chefs secretly love crisps/salad cream etc. Actually quite fun (and secretly reassuring) to read, although I say Spot The Pseud. I don't think homemade blueberry pancakes count as guilty - doesn't a REAL guilty pleasure have to have a brand name in front of it? So as a tribute (mostly to Angela Hartnett - I think I love her) I am giving you a selection of guilty pleasures. Not really guilty pleasures, because obviously I'm too embarrassed to admit to them (lard! Marion Zimmer Bradley! "Clouds Across The Moon" by The Rah Band! Aaaaaaarghh!!!) but the socially acceptable ones...

Food : BabyBel cheese. Walker's Prawn Cocktail crisps. Fanta. Findus Crispy Pancakes. Hellmann's Mayonnaise. HP Sauce. Lemon barley water. That horrible (yet compulsive) tinned chicken supreme you can get from M&S. The chunky peanut butter KitKat. Cheap shish kebab in limp pitta with hummus and extra pickled chillies, hold the salad. Bearing in mind that I'm on a very low carb diet, most of these are things I have feverish withdrawal dreams about (as are pasta, roasties and toast).

Books : How dangerous is it when you work in a bookshop to admit that while you do mostly read interesting and worthwhile literature, sometimes you crave the book equivalent of a bag of crisps? To which end:

"Gone With the Wind" - a pot-boiler, true, but the absolute queen of pot-boilers. It has transcended its pot-boilerdom in the same way that Bizet's "Carmen" has.

-anything by Jilly Cooper - to be read behind the adult equivalent of a bikeshed, chewing your hand so you don't shriek out loud with delighted schadenfreude as she blithely describes inner-city comp school children as "black and terribly sweet really", and play Spot The Hero (he's inevitably the one with a dog - also English, posh, charmingly slobbish) Or Villain (foreign, greasy, cruel to animals, into kinky sex).

And. With a deep breath, I will admit that I am currently sniggering in secret over "Fools Rush In" by Anthea Turner. It was notorious in my W*terstone's days as the book that sold about 47 copies nationwide (well, in W*terstone's, anyway), never even made it into paperback, and ended up mostly pulped. It is, nonetheless, an object of awful majesty. It cost me 1p plus p+p on Amazon. Not only is it a testament to the most hilariously twee, self-congratulatory personality I've ever come across, but it is also ghostwritten - and even that didn't stop it being compellingly terrible. Only a genuine fool would ask a very very bad chick-lit writer to ghost her autobiography. Some choice phrases: "My little hand strayed to the chocolate box" (she's in her 30s at this point), "My eyes filled with tears as I watched him drive away in his Jaguar" (good to know that as your One True Love drives out of your life you can appreciate a fine automobile) , "The gentle British holidaymakers (this is in Magaluf! - ed.) were devastated by the news of Princess Diana's death. I gave them what comfort I could." She also has a disturbing tendency to refer to her more successful sexual encounters with the phrase "It was good to be in experienced hands". I am torn between recommending it (seriously, it's a whole Fray Bentos steak 'n' kidney pie of awfulness) and really not wanting to give it any more press than this. Examine your consciences. 1p on Amazon. I will say no more.

Music/TV/Film: - I think I'll do that next time. I'm exhausted by the literary equivalent of a binge on salad cream and tinned pineapple rings.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Flailing of hands

As long as I can remember, I have waved my hands around too much.

- Cue montage of Lucy Fishwife at assorted ages gesticulating wildly and (a) smacking, or worse, innocent bystander in face* (b) knocking over glass of, inevitably, red wine on tablecloth/bride's white dress/small baby (c) accidentally bidding for a Rembrandt. Well, not the Rembrandt but you get the idea.
Shortly after I graduated I had a job working in the Royal Ear Hospital in Bloomsbury. I was "Clinic Supervisor", which actually translates as "temp who makes appointments/tea and fetches medical records". As you may well imagine, most of the patients had hearing problems, and after I'd been there about three days one of the speech therapists came to see me. "We've had a complaint from one of my clients," she said sternly. "He can't understand your signing". It turns out that while I had remembered to speak clearly so he (and other profoundly deaf patients) could lip-read, I had forgotten that my wildly flailing hands were a distraction to people used to looking at hands for meaning. My lips were saying "Yes, Tania is just finishing up with a client and can see you in five minutes", while my hands were saying "Cheese! Nailgun! Exterminate my beans and vote tapir!!!". I sat on my hands after that when anyone with a hearing aid approached me (although I couldn't help wondering - how DO deaf Italians manage? Surely it's a constant barrage of meaningless information?).
However. While idly Wiki-ing Hinduism the other day (I was reading Hindi cyberfiction and had forgotten what Ganesh rides on. A rat. Further reason to love rats!) - I came across the concept of mudras. In pictures of Hindu gods (also Buddha), the position of the hands (and, in the case of Shiva, feet) is vitally significant. I have decided, although luckily no longer in the ear trade, to adopt certain positions which are symbolic of something soothing - for example :

I will look slightly odd, but the likelihood of me poking someone in the eye with my biro or knocking coffee into the computer is greatly lessened.

*Aged 16, I was waving my hands around and poked a lit cigarette up the nose of Bronwen Roberts's boyfriend. Bronwen, if you ever read this, I'm still sorry!!!!

Monday, 12 January 2009

The Point Of No Return

At what point in one's life do embarrassing songs simply stop being embarrassing? And why? When we were children we would happily bop about to pretty much anything with a beat (how else to explain the constant popularity of inane dross like the Tweenies, Take 5, Sportacus, etc etc...). And then puberty struck, and everything reduced us to paroxysms of squirming, particularly if our parents liked it. In fact, as I remember, you were only allowed to admit you liked songs/bands of almost proscriptive obscurity - if you'd caught the name late at night on John Peel and nobody else had even heard of them yet, that made it all the cooler. And if they ever got into the charts, you had to stop liking them immediately and whine about how they'd sold out. In my day it was tantamount to social suicide to admit you liked anything that could even vaguely be categorised as "disco" (ie anything poppy with a beat), which led to a huge crisis at parties - in the event that you did anything as uncool as dancing, rather than sneering in eyeliner from the edge of the room, there was very little you could actually dance to. Gothy posturing to Joy Division hardly counts, as it's more in the ballpark of "I will now portray Anomie And Social Despair through the medium of modern dance".
So - when was it that the disco rot started creeping in? I have a memory of a distinct turning point in my second year at college, when I shared a huge house with (among others) a girl who would unashamedly start a Saturday night off with "Never Too Much" by Luther Vandross. It was all downhill from there. And once you've conceded that Abba are possibly the finest popsters in the world, and you stand up to be counted, admitting with barely a blush that you know all the words to "When I Kissed The Teacher", well, the primrose path to Shameless Musical Leanings beckons. Rapidly you find you actually know the dance to Bucks Fizz's "Making Your Mind Up". You play the Nolan Sisters at parties. And songs such as the one below are greeted with whoops of delight rather than the general slinking off in shame that they deserve. Go on, admit when Marks and Spencer used it in an advert you were actually pleased to hear it again...

Monday, 9 June 2008

A quick thought on downright inept parenting

I have a friend who swears blind she was at school with a boy called Hugh Janus. I mean, really, at what stage did his parents not notice this was going to cause him problems in later life? Did his father not lean on the mantelpiece, his firstborn tucked burping over his shoulder, saying meditatively "Prime Minister Janus... H. A Janus QC... Dr Hugh Jan-.. oh bugger."
This is a very quick post (mmeh, Monday) - but I will just leave you with the thought that even the apparently beautiful and privileged can screw up on a spectacular scale where kids' names are concerned - did nobody think to point out to the glowingly attractive celeb couple that is Brangelina the appalling and unfortunate spoonerism in their daughter's name - Shiloh Pitt?

PS really ...Just also remembered the case in "Freakonomics" of the woman who called her daughter "Shithead", to be pronounced "ShuhTeed" - a minute's awed and almost admiring silence for sheer parental abuse there. And MantuaMaker's just reminded me of the boy called Nicholas Bott her brother was at school with..