Saturday, 28 February 2015

Things I am digging - Fashion me Now etc.

February is meant to be mercifully short but boy has it d-r-a-g-g-e-d. I am more excited about March and spring than all the lambs in Christendom.

For one, I will be getting my arse to the gym, where a guy called Paul who looks as sweet as pie but who takes no prisoners, will be whipping me into shape. God it is gonna kill. I'm mentally psyching myself for the journey ahead - 6 weeks of abstinence and lunges - by eating as much cheesecake as I can get down my gullet. I am ready. By the time I turn 42 (WTF!!!) I will be a different person. Or at least will have discovered my biceps.

So what has been floating my boat as winter has worn on? What has got me through this dark miserable days when that shite Emperor's new clothes film Birdman stole Linklater's Oscar triumph from under his nose?

No. 1 House of Cards (season 3) is back. Yesterday it hit Netflix and tonight Husband and I will hunker down and try and limit ourselves to 'just the 3 eps.' But as 1am hits and we fight over who will get up the kids it may go on...and on... and on....

No. 2 I've found this great website for all things stylish. Called Fashion Me Now, it is the blog of stylist and writer Lucy Williams. She looks like a model, writes like a journo and has impeccable taste. Her boyf is a photographer and his shots are simply sublime. You just have to remind yourself that just because clothes look good on tall slim gorgeous bronzed Luce, doesn't mean they are gonna look the same on you. Her life looks enviable, but not so much that she comes over all Paltrow. You can relate to her, appreciate her fashion know how and ooh and ahhhh over her pix. You can thank me later.

No. 3 Nespresso delivered. HOO-RAH. Waking up to coffee is a JOY. But why on earth do they not bring back the Hazelnut flavour goddammit!!!

No. 4 Divine chocolate. OMG. The milk chocolate with toffee and sea salt is SEX IN A BAR. Plus Divine is the only Fairtrade chocolate company which is 45% owned by Cocoa farmers. Fairtrade ensures that farmers receive a better deal for the cocoa and additional income to invest in their community - plus company ownership gives farmers a share of Divine's profits. Sold in Oxfam and Waitrose, you can buy knowing you are being ethical aware and getting the best choc around. A double win.

No. 5 Busaba Eathai, my favourite restaurant on earth for week night eats, has started a kid's menu. So all the yummy food that I have been scoffing since 2000 is now available in smaller portions for your rugrats to munch on. My kids loved it - the guava collins drink went down a storm along with the lemongrass chicken. It is without a doubt the thing I most miss about living in London. Plus, we had an epic game of thumb wars. Ace.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Whiplash is simply wonderful

In my time, I've cycled through rain to get to a 9am screening; driven over an hour and a half to catch a flick at some obscure cinema, or cancelled plans to head to the movies alone. And it's all worth it, when the film is brilliant. This of course is a sadly rare occasion.

But last night, driving for an hour to get there and (due to an insane amount of roadworks) an hour and a half on the way back, paying £24 for tickets and £8 parking - I was still smiling. Why? Because I saw Whiplash. What a glorious, subtle, thrilling little gem of a movie it is. And I fucking HATE jazz.

'It's about a boy and a teacher..' someone said. Ok, so far, so Miyagi. Seen it all before. But this time is it Miyagi or the drill Sargent from Officer and a Gentleman? That was the burning question... With incredible performances from JK Simmons and Miles Teller (previously amazing in Rabbit Hole) and a director who makes jazz as thrilling as Fincher made coding (in The Social Network) and a script so perfectly tight that every single line is crucial, it is story telling at it's finest.

After Birdman I'd have been happy never to hear a cymbal crash EVER again, but here, I was mesmerised - someone willing to bleed for his art, quite literally. So many gorgeous themes were touched upon but not rammed home: was Andrew the little drummer boy, looking for acknowledgement from a teacher simply because he didn't get it at home? Or was it that his Dad - too busy adding chocs to the popcorn at the movies - just failed notice what really drives his son? If he didn't even realise his kid had to eat around the candy, then what else doesn't he see?

We all know that in every good climax there is a battle of sorts - but I have never seen one take place over a drum kit. To say it is beyond tense is an understatement. I won't add in any spoilers because it is simply too ace to ruin a second of your viewing pleasure. Go see. By the end of it, you may even be a jazz convert... 

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Job done

Phew!! Operation - done. Glad that's all over. The worst part always is having a cannula put in - and then having to sleep with this thing in your hand for the night. It took me back to the C section days - except this time I could just focus on recovery and not have to think about the small being I'd just created.

The staff at The Spire Hospital in Harpenden couldn't have been more fabulous. In fact, I almost enjoyed my night away in my own little room, getting peace from the family - if it hadn't been for you know, the surgery bit. Also, getting to do nothing for a few days - is bizarre. I find it a virtual impossibility to relax at the best of times - so being made to laze around feels very weird indeed.

The thing that made me most grateful was the kindness of others: several lovely Mums from my daughter's class texted, emailed and cornered my husband to check how I was and if there was anything they could do to help. Friends and family rang and cared - although the male members of my family stipulated 'I want to know absolutely NO details of your surgery - other than, are you ok?'

I think the weirdest part of it all, is the discovery that things can be going on inside your body and you have no idea; you attribute your symptoms to stress, or whatever things you can grasp, to explain them away. It made me feel oddly more vulnerable - but more than ever, glad I had myself checked out as soon as I realised something does not compute. If in doubt - get it checked. The worst part of all of this was the not knowing what was wrong - the mind is a dangerous place, especially when you google symptoms...

The cold spell has passed. My fears have all but subsided, and now I can look forward to the magic of spring. Being healthy is something I have often taken for granted. This small insignificant blip made me appreciate my body - cellulite and all - for all it can do. So with that in mind, this will be the spring that I shall whip it into a new shape. Not thin. #fitnotthin will be my mantra. Well, I've gotta balance out my cake love somehow, eh?

Thursday, 12 February 2015

7 Things

So the whole 7 things you never knew about me is doing the rounds on Facebook and what-not and the bizarre thing is trying to think of 7 things I haven't shared - as I am QUEEN of the overshare and always tell everyone everything. If I come back as anything - I want to a mysterious brunette with a sultry voice and a 22 inch waist. I have kind of done this before, but why not try and tell something new?

So here goes:

1. I once broke my arm aged 8, simply walking up the stairs back into school after break time. I tripped landed on my left arm (I think) and my only fear was that Richard Milligan would see my enormous regulation navy knickers. I broke the bone in two places, bent it, chipped it and twisted it. The worst bit was when they took the cast off it was attached to my skin - which they proceeded to rip off. Plus I had spent the day of the accident covering my arm in temporary tattoos and the docs throughout the leftover blueish marks in weird pirate ship and skull formations were in fact bruising and almost put the cast back on...

2. Between the ages of 14 and 18 I taught kids to love Jesus; taking Sunday school for a load of 4/5/6 year olds with my mate T. Often I was slightly hungover and regularly we would play hide and seek and leave the kids hiding for longer than was necessary as we dissected the previous evening's events. I did this to obtain my duke of Edinburgh bronze medal thinking I needed to do it for 2 years - when in fact, you only needed to do it for 6 months.

3. In the summer of '99 I was walking through China Town in London when I bumped into a hot stranger. We stopped, chatted and exchanged numbers. Turns out he was an actor who had just come off stage. The very next evening I arrived at a dinner party - to find him there. He pounced. Back at his flat, I noticed in his bedroom a picture of his (I thought ex) girlfriend beside an ENORMOUS black and white photo of himself in some awful pose. I spent the night but refused to have sex with him. He was a typical player. If I read any showbiz stories about Gerrard Butler, I see that he still is...

4. I still have a comfort blanket that was on my cot as a baby. My Husband calls it the 'piss rag' and refuses to touch it. Fair enough...

5. My only regret in life is not going to see U2 in the summer of 1993 with all my idiot schoolmates, who decided to hire a limo to take them from Belfast to the gig in Dublin, or was it Cork? Anyway, as they pulled in at a hotel - a whole wedding party flocked around the car convinced U2 had arrived, only to see my drunken and stoned mates all pile out needing a wee. They had a ball and I wish I had gone, but being a poor student at the time, I refused. Damn.

6. According to my husband I proposed to him 33 times before he proposed once and I accepted. The first gift he ever bought me in our relationship, was a bracelet with a small silver smooth stone hanging from it. I asked him to engrave it - hoping for some words of love. He gave it to me and winked. At the time I had proposed 3 times. The stone said, 'Lucky number 4?' Some guys just play hard to get....

7. The worst haircut of my life was aged 14 in Belfast at a cool hairdressers (the only one at the time in the provence) called ZAKKS. The guy cut my hair to an inch below my ear and then permed it. I was thinking of a Madonna look - he gave me a dirty blonde afro. I slept with conditioner on my hair for a week and immediately got the bus to town and bought a black cap which I wore all summer to hide my do. At the local ice rink 'Dundonald Ice Bowl' I bought a doughnut and the woman handed me my change saying, 'there you go SON.' Not what I needed to hear as a 14 year old girl with bad teeth and a bad perm....