Friday, July 28, 2006

There's a reason it's a 12A

I’m not very good at going to the cinema*. I’m even worse at actually watching the film when I get there.

What is it with films these days? Whatever happened to investing a comfy hour and a half of your time? It doesn’t seem to be allowed any more. These days, it’s all two-and-a-half hour blockbusters, with plots stretched so thin you can see daylight through them. In an effort to focus your attention, there are an industry-standard fifteen plot twists per thirty minutes’ screen time, which must be as obscure as possible and may or may not be randomly strung together in the big reveal at the end (at which point the audience will collectively look blank), depending on whether or not a sequel is planned.

Which brings me effortlessly to last night’s trip to the cinema to see Pirates of the Caribbean 2.

Oh dear.

I saw the first film relatively late – on Sky at the end of last year. It was quite good. Funny, lusciously produced and with the added bonus of Johnny Depp bringing the concept of the sexy pirate to the masses. It’s been widely reported that the third film in the series was filmed concurrently with Dead Man’s Chest, and that the actors involved often had no clue where the scene they were filming featured in the overall narrative. I know exactly how they felt. It probably didn’t help that the slightly aged Dolby system in last night’s venue was cranked up to eleven, but the dialogue, and therefore the plot, was pretty much impenetrable. Every so often, someone on the screen would look either into the middle distance, or straight down the camera, and declaim portentous things in a sort of urgent whisper. Me? Not a fucking clue. I could have been watching anything. I fell asleep somewhere in the middle (this is not a reflection on the quality of the film, it’s just part of my cinema experience, along with hissing and snarling anyone who tries to sit within six seats of me, in any direction), woke up and was neither more nor less confused. And it went on for hours. It made me fidget, and yawn, and think about kittens, and pray to my personal god** that it would be over soon.

But it wasn’t.

And it wasn’t just the wafer-thin, hopelessly convoluted plot. Orlando Bloom still spends all his camera time expressing the emotion and urgency of a man who has just realised his library books were due back yesterday, not next Wednesday as he’d previously thought. Keira Knightley (Karen, to her mum and dad) veered between shrill hysteria and slack-jawed vapidity (a bit like a sheep on Thorazine), with all the charm and depth of character of the boy off of the Frosties advert***. There’s always Johnny though, isn’t there? Lovely, funny old Johnny. And yes, he was sexy, and rakish , and a little bit like Keith Richards. It’s just that there really wasn’t an awful lot for him to actually do. Lots of slapstick, of course. Lots of endless, carefully-choreographed swordfights with Jack Davenport too. The sort that go on and on and on and on until in your head you’re just muttering “just-STAB-him-go-on-right-in-the-heart-then-I-can-go-home-and-not-have-to-crane-round-the-back-of-that-man’s-head-any-more”. All very pretty, and nicely done, and all that. And, to be fair, if you’re a twelve year old boy, it was a work of genius from start to finish. But it was marketed with all that sly-wink innuendo of being a “Kids’ Film That Will Keep the Grown-Ups Amused!”. Except they forgot to put the bits in that amused the grown-ups.

Mackenzie Crook was ace though. Must remember to add him to my list of people that I sort of fancy but probably shouldn’t.

* It’s all linked in with my intrinsic hatred of the human race. I mean, I like people, but I don’t necessarily want them near me. And the cinema is the worst place for that sort of thing. Ugh. I’d rather go for a picnic on the moors with Myra Hindley. With this in mind, I have to seriously want to see a film for it to be worth a trip to the cinema. We don’t go to the multiplex in town, we choose the little riverside cinema in the next town down. Much better. As far as the setting goes, that is. You just can’t legislate for people, sadly.

** Marmite

*** Still not dead.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Your week ahead....

Hello everyone! It's Jonathan Cainer here! From the Daily Mail! I've done all your horoscopes for this week* and thought you might like to know what the universe has in store for you! To save time, I've just sort of lumped every sign together! After all, it's all the same anyway! Here goes!

You need to be stretched, challenged and taken out of a rut. Life is full of surprises. Be clear about this and it will be easy to deal with this week's dramas. Fallibility is inevitable. Mercy is desirable. Absent-mindedness is just plain silly! Are you starting to feel exhausted or exasperated? Rest if you can today. And don't be bugged by you-know-what. Don't think about it. Don't dwell on it. Don't go there. Rise above the silliness. Pay it no attention. Stay calm. Keep clear. And if you can't? Draw a veil over it. Blot it out. Disguise it. Don't torture yourself with burning yearnings. Draw a deep breath. Now draw another. Go on. It's free. What else in life is so abundant? Hope? Love? Comfort? All cosmic events are, after all, open to interpretation. You will have a nice week. Has anyone ever told you that you look fetching in a nurse's uniform? Perhaps you should wear one wherever you go. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. You can put salt in its food though. If you make your best effort, it will have some impact. Jackdaws, of course, seize on the oddest items with enthusiasm. Sweet wrappers. Tinfoil. Buttons. Don't bluff - and don't invite commentary either. You have travelled roads like these many times before. Poetry in motion? More like poultry in in motion. There's a lot of waddling and clucking going on in your world. A lot of squeaking and squawking, picking and pecking, fussing and faffing, scratching and hatching. That's what's happening. You want to see some grace, elegance, cohesion and continuity. This is no time to be chicken!

There! Super news, isn't it?! Ooh, and while I was channeling your new weekly prediction, something became very clear! Apparently, you have a "problem"! Call me on my premium rate phone number and I'll waffle on about challenges and waterfowl for a bit, play some whale music and charge you seven pounds! You know it makes sense! See you next week!

* Cobbled shamelessly together from the horoscopes in Britain's Shittest Newspaper, Monday July 24th, 2005. Seriously. How much do you reckon he gets paid for this drivel? Loads, I'll bet. Git.

Monday, July 24, 2006

In which, for a change, I complain about some stuff.

Working with Blogger lately is like being held hostage by a menopausal serial killer. It's all tiptoeing, and gentle stroking, and no sudden movements.

I am tired of not being able to log in. I am tired of logging in and then being unable to create a post. I am tired of creating a post only to lose it when I try to publish it. I am tired of losing a post while publishing it, publishing it again (assuming I can log back in) only to find that I have now published it twice and am completely unable to get into the "Edit posts" tab to delete the extra one, thus presenting myself to a largely indifferent audience as a bit of a twat.

But the thing that makes me crossest is myself. It's the knowledge that I am moaning about a service that is provided to me totally free of charge and that, when working, is a simple self-publishing interface that allows me to bore the world at large on a semi-regular basis. If I wasn't such a technophobe, I could bloody well get some hosting and stop complaining. Actually, it isn't even that. I've got the domain registered, and have even been offered free hosting but was too fucking lazy to ever do anything about it so the offer no longer stands, I shouldn't think. In my head, you see, it's like signing up for evening classes, or getting my car ready to sell, or not squeezing the toothpaste from the middle - attainable, but just too complicated. Except it isn't. None of that stuff is. I'm just terminally lazy and would rather sit around whining about things that are perfectly within my control to change.

At least the neighbours are quiet tonight. Although now I am just on edge waiting for them to start thundering and shrieking again.

What a miserable, impossible witch I am.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A Public Service Announcement

You'll thank me for this.

DO NOT buy Weight Watchers caesar salad dressing in the misguided belief that it will conjure up an authentic, tasty caesar salad but without all that troublesome fat. It tastes like if you boiled a dog and then strained it through a tramp's sock.

That is all.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Alternate reality

Asda. A strange place at the best of times.

Our office is only a five minute walk from the local “superstore”. It’s like a social experiment. I often wander around agog at the things people think are appropriate to wear when grocery shopping. On the plus side, the prices are ace and I always come away feeling better about myself.

In the lobby bit outside the main doors, there’s a display of patio furniture. You know, a display. Like where they put stuff out with the prices on it so you can see how it looks and decide whether you might want to buy it. Inspired the phrase “for display purposes only”. You wouldn’t generally take it as an invitation to take the weight off your feet while waiting for your spouse/sister/helper to finish trudging round the store, breathing through their mouth and filling the trolley with processed food in brightly coloured boxes (the manufacturers are missing an opportunity for a great inter-company game of Pro-Am Inappropriate Packaging Wars. I am of the firm belief that as long as there’s a picture of a pizza/pasty/frozen roast dinner on the front, and some primary coloured shapes, they could write anything they liked in the Nutrition Information panel and nobody buying that shit on a regular basis would ever, ever spot it. Things like “May contain strychnine in fatal quantities. Please ensure that your family can afford to bury you before attempting to ingest”. If I worked for Dr Oetker I would totally do that). Unless, of course, you’re the sort of brain-dead, low-browed shuffler that makes up at least half* of the regular clientele at our local Asda.

About three weeks after the display first went up, a sign appeared asking people not to sit at the table and eat their sandwiches. Then one asking people not to smoke at the table. I was already wondering what on earth possessed people to sit at a display of garden furniture and have a spot of lunch (in full view of everyone entering and leaving the store), considering that they would have had to have moved an enormous price label from everything before settling down. The practice eased off (I expect they employed a member of staff to read the notice out to people) and Asda took its collective eye off the ball. They got complacent.

As we approached the lobby this lunchtime it became apparent that, in view of the current heatwave (Look Out! Global Warming! Death! Horror! Destruction! Ice Lollies!), the display of tables and chairs had been replaced with furniture a little more suitable for sunbathing. Top idea Asda. Well done you.

The large hairy lady reclining on the sun lounger, with shopping placed carefully nearby, dirty flip flops on the floor in front of her and a refreshing bottle of own-brand cola on the side table seemed ever so happy with the new arrangements. I am fully expecting to go back tomorrow and find that someone has dragged the lounger into the car park in order to catch a bit more sun.

Jesus. Some people really have no shame.**

* The rest of the shoppers are people from our office and middle-class mothers doing that reverse snobbery thing where they have a coffee morning and conspicuously put own-brand Asda biscuits out so that they can talk earnestly about how it’s all the same, you know. Of course, they never eat any of them – they wouldn’t want to spoil the organic corn-fed chicken they bought from Waitrose for tea.

** I might be over-sensitive about this sort of thing. I was brought up to believe that you should never eat while walking down the street, and that brushing your hair in front of people is horrifyingly rude. Therefore I would never eat my lunch from display furniture. No. I would die of shame. I’m not judging you though – please feel free to go right ahead and take a picnic to your local garden centre. I’m sure they’d be happy to see you. Really.

Monday, July 17, 2006

How big ARE toilet windows these days?


Have any of you ever actually met anyone* that you only know through the magical (and slightly nerdy) world of blogging? I know there's the odd blogmeet every so often, but what about just sort of making friends with someone and then actually meeting them?

I'm sure it'll be fine. They seem** normal enough.

* LC, your Slurker doesn't count unless you own up regarding their identity. Until you do, I shall continue to assume that they are a figment of your fevered, single-man imagination.

** Everyone does though, don't they? Especially on the internet. I mean, one minute you're arranging to meet that person you've been emailing for the last couple of months (they're really funny and you're sure you'll get on), and the next thing you know you're spending your days looking at the inside of the cupboard-under-someone's-stairs and shouting through a polish-soaked duster every time the postman knocks***.

*** I may need to get over this fear. Probably before Thursday.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Seven things

1) The boy off the Frosties advert is NOT DEAD. Can you hear me, myspace kids? Not. Dead. He wasn’t beaten to death by a group of his peers (although he should consider himself lucky given the utter twattery of his performance. He makes me look like an accomplished actor, and I have the singular honour of having appeared in the Wickham Bishops Drama Club Summer Revue of 1982 [I was nine], doing a spastic dance in a pink dress that wasn’t done up at the back owing to me being too fat for it, while an ageing member of the Tennis Club sang “Thank Heavens for Little Girls” and stared lasciviously at my bottom), he didn’t commit suicide, he wasn’t stabbed, HE IS NOT DEAD. Please. Enough already.

2) I am making the Other Half cottage pie for tea. I was going to put “shepherds’ pie” but because I am such a complete pedant and somewhere on the autistic spectrum I couldn’t as I am using minced beef and not minced lamb and would therefore be lying. Incidentally, does anyone actually like turkey mince? I cooked some once and had to throw it away. It was grey, for crying out loud, and just smelled wrong. My brain couldn’t reconcile the smell of turkey with the sight of mince (well, it looked more like brains – all grey and wormy – but I wasn’t going to say that in case you were having your tea) and it just made me feel sick. Nasty.

3) My little sister gets married in two weeks and I don’t have a top to wear. I am also frighteningly poor. How do you think a Motorhead t-shirt might go down at a posh country wedding?

4) The Frosties boy? Still not dead.

5) I have now lost a stone doing Weight Watchers. This is marvellous news as it means a) I am more than halfway to my goal and b) I am living proof that, via the medium of WW, a person can drink six pints of strong lager on a Friday night and still lose weight. I should start my own slimming club! Yeah. For, um, bikers and alkies and that! It would be great! We could have our weigh-ins in the pub, and everything! It’s a guaranteed success – after all (and you know who you are, madam), if you get drunk enough, say….watching Dirty Dancing in the park or something, and are subsequently sick you can lose LOADS of weight!

6) We are out on the lash tomorrow. All day! Woo!

7) I can’t think of a number seven. Sorry.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Bite me.

You don’t know how lucky you are.

You see, we went to the hospital this morning to have Small Person’s cast removed. Our appointment was at 10.10am, but it all went a bit wrong. So I was going to write this huge rant about how, when we got there, the board already said that the consultant we were going to see was running forty five minutes late. I was going to tell you about how, after waiting for an hour, four of us sitting in the waiting area realised that we all had an appointment for the same consultant at the same time. I could go on for hours about the unpleasant woman on reception who met my enquiry with a sneer and the singularly unhelpful response “You’ve obviously never been to the Fracture Clinic before. It’s just the system”. Or tell you about how, when I explained that I needed to let my employer know what time I might be expected at work, given that my appointment was over an hour ago and there were at least four people waiting for every appointment made for that morning, she looked me up and down and suggested I should remember that my daughter’s health was more important than getting to work on time. You wouldn’t want to hear about how the red mist descended at this point, or how I simply walked away for fear of losing control completely and dragging her across the counter to batter her to death with an orthopaedic leg brace.

Supercilious, condescending fucking bitch. I bet she spent her tea break shaking her head and muttering darkly about women who neglect their children in favour of their careers. Nothing makes me more likely to descend into a foaming, biting rage than being condemned for not having a choice regarding staying at home with my child. Of course, in an ideal world I could have had a nice little job somewhere, say three hours a week* or something. My husband would give me the housekeeping every week, and I could save up for those little treats that make a girl’s life so special, like sanitary towels and shoes for the children. If I got really lucky, I could find myself living the high life as a Yummy Mummy* – flicking through the Boden catalogue and making home-made quiche between trips to Antibes. Well, it didn’t quite work out that way for me. When Small Person was born, her father and I needed to work to pay the bills. You know, all that frivolous stuff like keeping a roof over our heads, and eating regularly. We simply couldn’t survive on one wage. So we shared the childcare and then, when she was almost two, Small Person started at nursery. Ooh, poor neglected little mite. So awful. Except, do you know what? She absolutely fucking loved it. Of course I wanted to be with her. Of course I missed her dreadfully – I still do when she isn’t with me. But these are the circumstances I find myself in. And now, what with the added stigma of being (whisper this bit) a divorced mother**, the apparent need to justify myself to other people becomes ever-increasing.

The thing is, I’m sick of it. I’m not some ball-breaking career-hungry woman, intent on showing the boys who’s the best while expecting someone else to raise my child. I don’t know if I even believe those women exist, outside of the fevered imagination of the Daily Mail. I work. For a living. What would these people prefer – that I went on the dole and claimed a bit of free housing? Oh, no, can’t do that either, as then I'm sponging from all those hard-working taxpayers. So I’m developing a new tactic. Next time I find myself faced with someone who feels perfectly justified in judging me; some middle aged woman all full of smug and I-stayed-at-home-with-mine-you-know-and-of-course-it-was-hard-I-mean-Michael-was-only-earning-enough-for-a-big-house-and-two-holidays-a-year-but-it-really-is-best-for-the-children-the-trouble-with-these-girls-today-is-they-want-it-all-and-it’s-the-children-that-suffer, I’m going to get right up in her face and, firmly but politely, tell her to Fuck Off.

There. Aren’t you glad I decided not to trouble you with it?

*This is of course a horrible stereotype. I acknowledge that freely. It is, however, apparently okay for a certain type of women-who-stay-at-home-with–their-kids to consider all working mums to be a cross between Nicola Horlick and Cruella de Ville; swanning between the office and the nail bar trailing a stream of neglected children, then overcompensating wildly by throwing birthday parties with live bands and a real pony. Newsflash: Life Isn’t As Simple As You Would Like To Believe***. Different people make the best of their own circumstances. So therefore I am allowed a little sweeping generalisation here and there. I've earned it.

** Yes, I am oversensitive about this.

*** Aaaand relax…….

Monday, July 10, 2006

Dilemma, and a small discourse on the state of the nation

So, what to do? Remove any reference to the Frosties boy (who, incidentally, is NOT dead; neither stabbed nor hung nor cancered to death) because it is harming my artistic soul knowing that a great deal of traffic is heading this way because of him (and not because of my alarmingly witty writing and endlessly fascinating subject matter), or say fuck it and write sentences that include "Frosties boy twat", "Did the Frosties boy commit suicide?" and "Frosties boy stabbed to death" thus damning my eternal soul to writers' (ha!) Hell where Jilly Cooper and Liz Jones will spend eternity variously whining about their husband, bemoaning the cost of Cath Kidston wellies or banging on about handsome stable boys relentlessly shagging the daughters of wealthy trainers.


Anyway, what I wanted to say was what on earth has happened to good old-fashioned service? I mean, I know it was only Pizza Hut, and to be fair it has improved over our last visit (a twenty-five minute game of cat-and-mouse in which the Other Half and I attempted to catch the eye of a member of staff in order to politely enquire as to the location of our meals, even as waitresses parachute-rolled between partitions and used an elaborate system of ropes and pulleys to bring other diners their main courses without having to acknowledge our presence) but, seriously? If that waitress, I'm sorry, server, had asked us once more if everything was alright, guys, I was going to stab her in the eye with the handle of my (dirty) spoon.

I'm not expecting doffing of caps and obsequious compliments. I don't demand uniform-issue bodywarmers laid over the puddle of mayonnaise by the salad buffet. But please, please DON'T* do two things for me. Don't ask me four times in seven minutes if everything is alright with my meal (I know you're only doing it in the hope of getting a tip - what you don't realise is that, every time you ask me, my resolve NOT to tip you only grows stronger), and don't refer to us as "guys". Because, well, we're not. A simple "is everything okay with your meal?" will do.

Sheesh. Get me. You'd think I'd just eat somewhere nicer, wouldn't you? But then what would I have to complain** about?

*Or do? Which is it
**If it's any consolation, I hate myself much more than you could ever hate me.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Going anywhere nice on holiday this year?

So anyway, we had a conversation today which was triggered by the realisation that the new boy in the post room wears one of those Beckham-esque alice band things.

I know everyone’s supposed to be all metrosexual these days. I know boys are allowed to moisturise, and combat the seven signs of ageing (just the seven? Really?), and feel the benefits of pentapeptides and boswellox (which I am still convinced was discovered by Tom Bosley off of Happy Days and Father Dowling Investigates [at least I was until I found out he was Tom Bosley and not Tom Boswell like I thought]) and wax their chests and all that. I understand that it’s acceptable for boys to do all those things, and I can even see the sense in some of it. But I feel a line ought to be drawn. I’m referring to men with a “hairstyle”.

Boys’ hair is all a bit involved at the moment, and I really don’t like it. I am particularly weirded out by boys who straighten their hair. I mean. It’s just wrong. In my personal opinion, boys who straighten their hair are a little bit creepy. Just a bit. It's just so vain*. I am also confused by all the sticky-up-bits-with-dave-hill-from-slade-fringe-and-a-ton-of-highlights that seem to be the style du jour.

Personally speaking, I could live with a man who moisturises. I could even put up with a certain amount of “styling” in the hair area. But if you have your own straighteners and take longer to get ready for a night out than I do, I’d be suggesting you went to stay at your mum’s. Just for a couple of nights. Until I have the locks changed. You know.

* I know, poor old downtrodden boys. Why shouldn't they be allowed to take pride in their appearance? But I even asked GBF if he would straighten his hair or wear an alice band and he was all like god, no. And he's a gay. [/stereotype]

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A return to form...

It's been mentioned before, my little obsession with the wondrously self-deluded god that walks among us - David Hasselhoff.

Since the announcement of his impending divorce, it's been a bit quiet, Hoff-wise. Sure, he's pulled out of panto to judge some ill-advised talent programme-or-other, but that was about it. Until this week, when the weirdness that surrounds the Hoff was turned up to eleven once more.

First came the news that he'd injured his arm in a bizarre chandelier-related accident. He allegedly "hit his head" and shattered one (in a toilet?? Was he pogo-ing?), thus severing a tendon in his arm. However, as luck would have it, the ambulance controller on shift that night has a blog (not linked because he tried to conceal the identity of Big D), and says the incident was reported as a "shaving accident" involving something heavy being dropped on a glass shelf, thus severing said tendon. So far, so mysterious. For a man who famously escaped the Betty Ford Clinic on his first night, and who was subsequently found face-down and unconscious in the remains of a hotel mini-bar (I understand he didn't manage the Toblerone - shame on you, Hoffmeister), it's all looking pretty tame. Considering.

But let us not forget who we are dealing with here. In the last ten days or so, Ol' Chickenlegs has been proclaimed the King of the Internet, generating more traffic than the Iraq war, the poxy, parasitic, irritatingly-named WAGs of the England football team and Jordan's tits put together*. I rather suspect this might have gone to his head, a bit.

And so, today's fabulous article, in which the Hoff's press team vehemently deny that he was thrown out of Wimbledon for being, well, a bit pissed. Apparently he tried to get into the press area without a pass, and was "escorted" from the premises. Fucking brilliant. Far be it from me to revel in another person's problems, but if it puts headlines like "Hassled-Off" on the front pages of the red-top press then more power to his elbow.

All hail the Hoff! We bow before his mighty bouffed hair, his pigeon chest and skinny pipecleaner legs! We didn't really like the picture where he was naked with the puppies though. No. Not so much.

* I know I'm only adding, in my own small way, to his ego. But if he finds this blog and wants to marry me, well then it will all be worth it.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Oh, piss OFF!!

Some people really annoy me.

I received an email today and the sender had customised their signature to include their qualifications. I find this unutterably wanky*.

Why on earth would I care what you got for your degree? The membership of the professional body I’m going to overlook – that could conceivably be useful on a business email (it still makes you a ponce though). But your degree? What possible purpose does that serve, apart from saying “look! I went to university! And got quite good marks!” It’s the electronic equivalent of sewing your swimming badge on your trunks. I could care less that you have a degree. In fact, I am now irrationally annoyed at your pointing this out to me and, as such, am now deliberately not responding to you.

Should I do the same, I wonder? Should my email signature now look like this?

Surly Girl GCSE French, Grade C

or this?

Surly Girl Picked last for rounders, 1979

Or maybe

Surly Girl Form Captain (suspended after stamping on a drink carton in the bus queue and making Simon Teff cry, punished by having to hold Mrs Peters’ hand until the bus came), 1985


* I know, I know. Professional reputation and all that. You only do it because you're entitled to - you worked hard for that degree (nobody ever does it if they got a third in Media, I notice) so why shouldn't you use those letters after your name? I hear what you're saying. I still think it makes you look a bit of a twat though.

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