Tuesday, 25 February 2014

10 things

Back in Jan 2013 I had all these great plans of every day coming up with a list of ten things I was grateful for - in a bid to appreciate my life more, instead of comparing it endlessly to others' and feeling cheated/jealous/frustrated. Comparing your life to anyone else's is utterly pointless anyway - as futile as envy itself. Anyway, I would tell my workmate and nicest man in the world (TM) DG about my gratefulness and he would humour me and nod along encouragingly. (DG really deserves this title by the way; another friend T says she judges all men by DG's moral code. If a man she knows does something [good or bad or in between the two] her question is always - 'but would DG do that?' From there, the answer is always clear). Anyway, daily I would tell DG my list. Somewhere it petered off...

So, without going all new agey and freaky on y'all - I just want to share what is making me happy round these parts of late. Because I am really feeling pretty good - and as my blog is usually filled with woe and stress, I just wanna take a moment when life aint too bad at all.

1. True Detective has started. Don't think I need to extrapolate any further. The cinematography alone is worth watching for. The stunning dusky shades that paint each scene are truly beautiful. I now have 6 weeks of Saturday Night TV worth watching - hurrah! (Which has been vacant since The Bridge 2 ended).

2. A lovely lovely writer sent me a Smythson notebook. I had missed the post when it was delivered, so my best mate had helpfully picked up my parcel from the post office miles away and dropped it to me on Sunday. As I unwrapped it, I kept thinking, 'but I didn't order anything...'  Then I opened it. Unexpected gifts, of such thought - in such beautiful packaging, make my day. In truth, forget flowers and perfume and all that romantic bollocks - give me a lovely bit of stationary and I'm in heaven.

3. I feel WAAAAAY less stressed. There isn't so much panic and urgency any more and I can actually breathe. It feels positively decadent. I'm not trying to pack a world of chores into a day. So what if the dishwasher needs unloading - I'll do it later, I've got time. I'm less frantic, less on edge. I am verging on chilled. Ok, I'll never be chilled. But you know, I'm knocking on the door of relaxed.

4. Plus, most of all, I'm really digging hanging out with my kids. A thought struck me the other day as my son (Sproglet) asked for 'privacy' as he got dressed: I have only 10 more years and you will leave me. It made my blood run cold. He is 8 this June - and if heads off to Uni or travelling or whatever when he is 18 that is only 10 years away. IT FREAKED ME OUT. It made me want to hold him tight and never let him go. Sproglette meanwhile, is hilarious. She NEVER stops talking. Dear god, she is so like her father...Meanwhile she refuses to wear her trousers/leggings (the kid won't go near a skirt or dress) in the normal way - she pulls the legs up to her knees so life is constant pedal pusher/cigarette pant. WHY? I have no idea - her idea of fashion. Aged 3.

Anyway, if we're hanging out getting cake; taking in a movie, laughing at Modern Family, trying out new recipes (last nights curry was winner - as long as I lose the lentils. Lentils are a NO NO according to my mini Jay Raynors) or discussing the merits of Prince - it is a blast. Maybe it's their ages, maybe it is because they now play with each other (Deborah Sathe you were RIGHT!) or maybe because I have less on my plate - I have more time for them and as mundane as it can be when I am thinking what the feck do I cook for dinner tonight - I really am pleased to have this time with them. It won't last forever....

5. A small MAJOR thing happened: Husband is changing jobs. Not just jobs - but industries. So blogs like this, they won't exist any more! YAY! He will have 9-6 hours and no weekends working. It all happened last week and it will change our lives. He is thrilled. Apart from the fact he'll be taking the car to work and I will be stranded in small villagey town all day - it is amazing. It feels like new beginnings and with new beginnings, there is always lots and lots of hope.

6. In having more of this precious thing - time - I've been able to see people again. I mean, I'll be broke in a couple of weeks and won't afford to do anything - plus I'll be car-less, but no matter. Whether it's having friends for dinner, or hanging out with our fab neighbours, or having coffee with buddies I haven't seen in ages - I'm liking the ability to catch up with people. Time flies by and we often forget to see folk and then months have gone by...

7. I have time to write. Or at least get my head in gear about it all and begin structuring stuff... and I have no idea where it will all lead - I don't care. For a few months I'm going not beat myself up - and just see where it all takes me. I am so fed up of feeling that I HAVE to achieve this and this and this that I exhaust myself. ENOUGH.

8. Have you tried this? Dear god it is sex in clear wrapping. My local Carluccio's has run out of it. Apparently it is for Valentine's only. My campaign starts now - get this thing in stores EVERY WEEK. You will love it. Unless you have a nut allergy and then you most certainly will not love it.

9. February is nearly over - thank god. Which means Spring will soon have sph-rung and life will be much better. Plus I am off to gay Paris for Easter with 2 dear friends. Having that to look forward to is ace. Sproglet is beyond excited about seeing the Eiffel Tower - and I've only been to Paris twice, both times for work - so to go for a trip... cannot wait.

10. Okay this grateful thing is getting tough now... 10... 10... Er... Oh yes, Kung Fu Panda. Yep, there are some amazing life lessons in there, trust me. Kids' movies rock. Anyway Po, our protagonist and unlikely Dragon Warrior, opens the sacred scroll that holds the secrets of all Kung Fu... It has NEVER been opened before and when he does he discovers .... it is blank. But reflective - the idea being, you have all you need already. Last week, I had a Po moment myself. It was raining, cold and wet and the whole family had ventured to a local restaurant for dinner: Sproglette refusing to take off her shades - even though it was dark outside... Sproglet busy colouring up a storm... Husband pouring me some red wine, toasting his new job. It might not be perfect and there are always money worries and the garden needs done and the front door window pane is still broken... But it pretty great and I just have to remind myself of that.



Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Dear Prince...

Dear Prince (Rogers Nelson)

Forgive the old open letter malarkey, but I have no other way of reaching your funky self. Let me start by stating a fact: I have loved you for 30 years. There, said it. My name is Suzanne, and I have loved you for 3/4 of my small life...  (That is older I am sure, than most of the folk at them there BRITs tonight...).

But Prince, (is it ok I call you that? I know over the years you've been a few different names and a symbol or two)... I'm a bit disappointed... Yep. I'm a bit gutted really. Because it seems that with all my devotion, all my enthusiasm for you and your various bands (the Revolution, NPG, 3rd Eye Girl etc) that I just cannot get to see you get your funk on at all these 'secret gigs' in London town. Not for want of trying - oh no, on want alone, I'd be getting down last week in Camden, shaking my booty at N1 on Friday, or rocking out at KOKO last Sunday... But life - and when I say life - I mean two small people aged 7 and 3 - my kids - got in the way. With no sitters and Husband working and all - I just couldn't physically get there and queue - which trust me, I would happily have done. I'd have sold a freakin' kidney if they'd let me exchange my offal for a side seat at Ronnie Scott's....

But so far - you have remained elusive to me - which is pretty disappointing for someone who has the responsibilities and obligations that most of your old old fans would have - unlike many of the 18 year olds who can queue all day and next....  If I sound bitter - I aint. I just want to get near your purpleness... somehow.. some way...

You first hooked me in when I heard 'Let's Go Crazy.' I'd question how anyone COULDN'T be hooked in when they hear your guitar riff at the end, or even the prayer to begin - but for me, that was a defining moment... My step-sister made mix tapes on a weekly basis - you know that old 'press play and record' trick on the tape machine? Do you miss mix tapes? Me too. Anyway, she'd gathered together some rubbish 80s music and in between the slushy ballads and the synthesized warblings - there you were. I stood stock still and fell in love. I was almost 11. Immediately (no internet in those days) I raced to the local record store and bought Purple Rain. I took to sketching the face on the album inside sleeve on my art folder and doing all the obligatory things to announce to the world that YOU were my favourite artist. That's where the love began - somewhere between 'When Doves Cry' and the naughty 'Darling Nikki.'

Fast forward to the summer of '85 and this here hick from Belfast is in the big smoke, strutting down Oxford Street to HMV. Pocket money saved, notes in sweaty hand and I buy 'Around the World in a Day.' Paisley Park is still one of my all time favourites. I practically wore out my record player needle on that record...

And so it went on.. That Xmas I rummaged in your back catalogue and bought 'Dirty Mind' - which is one of your finest albums ever - fact. Then Prince, For You, Controversy, 1999, Parade... But nothing really prepared me for the mighty tomb of 'Sign O' the Times.' I have that album on tape, record, CD and downloaded. It is without question, my favourite album of all time.

I remember being up a mountain on some awful Duke of Edinburgh award with school when I heard you'd cancelled your UK dates for the Sign O' the Times tour. I cried all the way down the hill... That was the summer of '87. You cancelled again on me in 1990 and I started to take it personally... Finally I laid eyes on you in the flesh in 1992, your Diamonds and Pearls tour... and in 1993 and of course at the O2 in 2007. Of course you didn't disappoint...

Which is why I am amping to see you. So when you and those lovely 3rdEyeGirls have rocked Manchester into next year - can you PLEASE come back to London and offer some tickets - so as us oldies - the ones that have kicked around since '84 and even before - can come and worship at your purple altar - and not miss out just because we can't stand in the rain for 9 hours?

Thanks Prince, that would be ACE. Oh and for encore, I'd love Starfish and Coffee, The Cross and When you were Mine. Thanks.

You look great by the way. You've aged way better than me.

Much love, always. Suzanne xxx

PS. You should employ @MrFunkyG in your PR team - as he has been nothing short of incredible with all his promo work on twitter. #justsayin'

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Valentines Schmalentines

Valentine's Day sucks ass. No matter single or in love. It is just a load of rose red chocolate coated rubbish. My hate for it began as far back as 1987:

I was 14 and completely and utterly smitten with a boy called Gavin Robinson. Like all good heartthrobs, he had a fringe that bit too long, huge green-ish eyes and a lopsided (verging on smug) grin. Determined to make him notice me (how could he not, with my dishwater blonde hair, the ENORMOUS gap between my front teeth and my famine victim legs?) I set about WOWING him with my Valentine's day plan.

I'd saved up my pocket money, splurged on a massive Garfield card and duly spent a good week decorating it in crude rhymes and stickers. Then I posted it, having done great detective work and found out his address (yes, I looked him up in the phone book. It was that era).

But me being me, I just couldn't wait for him to do all things according to my great 'plan': receive this anonymous card, deduce it was from me, immediately call me, declare his love and take me to Speranzas (Belfast's relatively new pizzeria for a Funghi and coke).

So on Valentine's night, I picked up the phone and nervously rang him, 'disguising' my voice to make it a few octaves lower. Clever eh? I was hoping to prompt young Gavin into action - namely, becoming my boyfriend.

He picked up.

"Hello Gavin... this is..... Linda here."
"I don't know any Lindas."
"You do. From the bus home."
"With erm... dark hair. I sit at the back."
"No, I really don't know any Lindas."
I cut in. "Anyway, did you get any Valentine's cards?" 

(Waits with baited breath).

"Yeah... erm... 8. Yeah, 8 and a chocolate heart."

I gulped. 8????? Feck.

"Yeah... but did you get any that were really class?" (NB 'class' meant 'great' in Belfast slang. Apparently still does).

Gavin paused for what felt like FOREVER and then said, " A few. I did get one from Suzanne though... but I burnt it."

I stopped breathing. Then remembered I wasn't meant to be Suzanne. I was Linda.

"Oh right.. yeah. I don't know er.. her. Any Suzannes. I'm Linda. Gotta go. Bye."

Then I hung up and died of shame - never admitting to anyone that my love had been so callously rebuked. This little story could sum up most of my romantic life - little did I know it. Gavin himself, (last seen in Belfast around 1996 - still hot) admitted to me when I was 16 and he 18, that he had in fact kept the card and not burnt it - he knew that it was me on the phone all along. You might think that this confession made me feel better - and momentarily it did. But for 2 years I thought the boy hated me, whilst all I did was dream of 'Robo' whisking me off to the school dance. *Sighs*

So, me and Valentines - we aren't great mates. Husband avoids it - usually is working. One Valentine's I went to the movies to see The Hours - by myself. Not the most uplifting of films, especially when you are the ONLY single person in the cinema. I wanted to scream, 'I have a boyfriend,' but just bought comfort food instead.

So in spirit of all things anti-Valentine, I thought I'd look back on all things vaguely romantic and give you single gals a guide to the 6 types of men that are out there, that you must AVOID at all costs. They usually fit into one of these categories - some maybe cross over into both. (Scary). If you find anyone outside these types - marry him.

And ladies, who needs a bloke anyway? Grab a mate and a curry and you're set.

No. 1 The HOT boy

So hot that you literally can't think of anything else but having sex with him. You don't want him to speak, you just want to rip all his clothes off and rub belly buttons. His lips are so perfect that (to quote Purple Rain) they would make a lollipop too happy. And you. There is another reason you don't want him to speak: he is as thick as champ. He is so vacant, you aren't sure he can read. But god, did I mention how hot he is? You try every which way to make him funny, interesting, witty - but actually he is only these things when you are sinking your 12th vodka tonic. Have sex with him then delete his number. Never ever go for dinner, or you'll slit your wrists before the main course.

No. 2 The NICE guy.

He is your best mate. You cried on him when FLIRT boy never called you back - because how could he NOT want you?? He is always there as your surrogate boyfriend, date for ANOTHER WEDDING and you once snogged his face off because goddammit - you are meant to be together aren't you?? He is so kind and thoughtful and all your flatmates love him and you've known him forever, since you both were on that graduate scheme... and it would just be perfect, completely PERFECT - but for the small matter that you fancy a dead frog more. He either has stubby hands/white socks/over bite/ a small chin/tiny eyes/ a stocky body and you like tall or tall and you like stocky - whatever it is, he aint your match. No matter how many times your buddies tell you it should be. Just don't lead this one on - and beware, he'll meet a girl who likes him back and will ditch you in seconds.

No. 3 The FLIRT.

There is something electric when you are near him. He stares in your eyes, finds any excuse to touch you, send you cheeky emails/texts and leads you completely.... up the garden path. You and the other 35 million ladeez he is making feel 'special.' Signs to watch for - he will never admit to having any feelings for you - he'll let you do all the talking. Then when he has got you where he wants you, and you are putty in his hands, he'll be like, 'what? I thought we were just good mates?' All you are, is a notch on his EGO belt. Refuse to give in - no matter how sexy his eyes are, or how much blarney he'll spin you. The minute you have sex, you won't see his too-cool-for-school trainers for dust. He's on to the next conquest. This man is the wannabe George Clooney of his mates, no matter how much he tells you he wants to 'find the one.' AVOID like the plague.

No. 4 The AMBITIOUS boy

He is amazing. All you ever wanted in a man. He is just SO attentive. And funny and charming and gorgeous and.... he sees you once a month. Not because he is afraid of commitment, no, it is just he is SO busy. With work, and rugby/football and his buddies and his sick Gran and his job - did he mention that he is line for promotion? This boy is everything you want - for 24 hours and then he gone. He'll keep you hanging just enough for you to think that yes, he is your boyfriend. Isn't he? but in true Mr Big style - he'll never meet your mates, usually see you after dark and tends to have sex and then call you a cab (even offering to pay which makes you feel SO good). He does want you obvs, just completely and utterly on his terms. Run for the hills.

No. 5 The BOYF from back home.

Is he the one that got away? I mean, you gave him your virginity and every Xmas when you see him you can't help wondering, should you have dumped him second term of Uni in? What if you'd stayed together? Because he gets you - he knows you in a way that no one else ever has... And remember Stu's party when you both did that beer funnel? Or the camping trip to the Lakes where the tent caught fire? Or the time you had sex in his dad's car and got gear stick burns on your thigh? But he just looks SO good (is it the semi-beard, the tie?) and he is doing really well, bought a flat in Kilburn, still makes you laugh... Where is his number? What's that - a 'save the date' email? The fecker is only getting hitched. Oh well... Trust me - he never got away. You let him go - for a good reason. Probably plenty of them.


Things were going well. You've even had a mini break. He bought you flowers and met your Mum. The sex is... who cares about sex, when you have SO MUCH IN COMMON? The dates are fun. He likes art house cinema, you like art house cinema. He hates red peppers but likes green - just like you. You both love Thai food, dogs, fry ups, The Guardian, Olive magazine and onesies. Plus it is SO great because you both enjoy doing lots of exciting things all round London - biking and the London Eye, Columbia Road market, theatre, movies, clubbing, picnics, salsa lessons, mate's dinner parties etc etc etc etc - it is all really safe and NICE. So NICE. But deep down in the pit of your stomach you wish he wouldn't try and touch you in the morning and ultimately you want to pretend that you never found the ring in the drawer, and when he asks you'll have to say yes, when really you want to have sex with the photocopy boy on floor 21. But that is just relationships isn't it? NO. RUN.

Happy V day!


Friday, 7 February 2014

Leaving. Again.

For most folk, a job is just a job. Somewhere you go, earn your dollar, put in the hours, and then head off to your life. For lucky people, their job is their passion - something that every day inspires them or motivates them. For me, whatever I've ever done to earn a crust, it has had to have 2 things: The first being it has to be something I love, something I care about - or what is the point? Even when I folded jumpers in Gap just before I went travelling after Uni - I cared about those customers. (I remember getting a woman who was a size 22 a pair of jeans that made her feel amazing about herself - she tipped me a fiver and it made my day. I didn't win employee of the north for nothing you know!). (I didn't care so much about the jeans wall, to be fair - but anyone who did/does needs to get a life).

The second thing - equally as important - are the people. Presenting live telly for 3 hours asking brain dead viewers to 'guess the blurred green thing' on Quiz TV (one man rang up asking was it in fact a sheep - that's the kind of viewer those channels pillaged money from) was quite hideous. Not the finest moment on my chequered CV - but the crew were amazing; one cameraman massaged my pregnant wrestler like feet while I presented. I always arrived swearing I had to leave as it was so mind numbing; then I'd throw on some slap, straighten my hair and then talk rubbish for 3 hours (trying to avoid talking about the bloody inane quiz and more about my own life) - leaving in an infinitely better mood than I arrived.

Why? Because the people were so much fun.

And none more so, than the folk I left today.. This afternoon, I said goodbye to the place I've kicked around in since 2008 (on and off). I thought I'd get through the bit where they bring you to the breakout area and give you gifts and cake and fizz and cards, without weeping. (Last time I left in 2010, I was sobbing so much I actually couldn't speak). Who was I kidding? It is a complete impossibility to stand there as people say lovely lovely things about you, to your face (because that doesn't happen that often does it? People listing your qualities...) and in front of all your colleagues, and not weep. Particularly if the person talking is also weeping. The gifts were beyond thoughtful, the cards filled with love and the cakes - the cakes! Pippa and Sue would give Mary Berry a run for her money...

It felt a bit like my birthday - but sadder. I know I'm doing the right thing - at least I hope I am, but it still isn't easy. I get such joy from seeing all these folk and hearing about their lives and (clearly from my card) telling them endless tales about everything from smear tests (replete with a demonstration) to having to be sick in my hand on a train home from one night on the razz, because the doors didn't open quick enough. (That obviously was years ago, in my youth, obviously).

I have loved loved loved my time on that show. I've had so much joy in debating stories and character traits with writers, fighting for ideas to be upheld, the struggle in getting journeys right.

Only working in tv drama, do you discuss if characters would shag on a bar top, or if they'd wear a nurse's uniform to seduce a doctor, on his desk... The intimacies you have to share to defend why a story should be a certain way - are revealing to say the least. I am sure there are things I have told writers that my husband doesn't know. Scrap that, everyone probably knows... but you get my drift.

Anyway. I picked up my son and he asked if I had been crying. I admited that I had, then carried all my gifts to the dining table and showed him my incredible bourbon, my signed script, my Selfridges' vouchers, my wonderful Clear Eyes, Full Hearts sweatshirt (and if you don't know what that is from shame on you) and my mug... He looked at the cards and said 'I'm sad and glad. Sad because you are sad to leave, but glad because I'll get more time with you.'

It is the second time I have left and it never gets easier. The show gets into your blood. The people do too. I'm missing them all already. But on to the next chapter...

At least if things go tits up, there's always Gap again, eh?