Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Pretending to be Heathcliff

Yes, I am back in studentdom and, according to all cliche, should be rolling around in a cesspit of a bed, groaning, with my mobile phone stuck to my cheek as it sends off its seventh snooze alarm.

However, despite the previous post demonstrating just how much of a college movie life I lead, I am awake, dressed, and full of the joys of bleak late September and blogging.

This is because I went for a run at 8.49 this morning. Perfectly timed so as to avoid anyone making their way to lectures, and early enough to stop me procrastinating, my feeble excuse for a jog furthered my love of Newcastle; not least because of a Geordie wonderland known as the Town Moor.

Yes, just out of the centre of the city is a massive patch of land, (bigger indeed than Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath put together - suck on that one, Romantics) which is frequented by joggers, cyclists, dog walkers and most brilliantly, cows.

Therefore, starting my jogging circuit through the angry gridlock of yummy mummy Jesmond traffic - a wonderful freedom to pant deliriously past Chelsea Tractors - across the Great North Road and into the freedom of big skies, morning sunrise and long grasses by the six minute mark is my preferred wake-up call.

The cows are incredibly tame, and for a Shire bird there's something very comforting about the possibility of patting a curly-haired forehead with the landscape of St James' Park, tower blocks and Gateshead in the background. Added to the fact that any sweat is immediately combated by a bracing North-East wind, and it's practically perfect.

A bypass through the alleys behind the redbrick terraces of my humble abode, and I've basically turned into Billy Elliot. The previously gym-only trainers have now been marred with khaki cow poo, sure, as have my socks and lower calf (bud-um-bum-ching), but I think that's a fair price to pay.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

My life is like a Geordie college movie.

Ha, ok, so the college-movie state was ironically referenced in that title. But there's nothing like a bit of Freshers' Week action in a very small city as an unwilling student Unionist to make you feel that there should be a punk-pop whiny soundtrack to all those little red bricks.

Essentially, what with one thing and another, I've spent the last four days in Newcastle not actually ticking off anything on my to-do list because I keep bumping into people. Which is really nice, but after spending half an hour trying to get from the Union building to where Joan, my bike, was locked up 200 yards away I'm starting to worry about doing any kind of academic work at all...

On the plus side, the other thing I'd forgotten about Newcastle was quite how brilliantly Geordie it is. Sounds stupid, I know, but three months in the south clearly has some impact. I had to slowly wheel Joan down Northumberland Street it was so blimmin' busy. Mainly because there were a group of "cheerleaders" grinding, quite ironically I thought, to dance music containing the lyrics 'I don't mean to be disrespectful'. When you'd got past those there were the Greggs queues, the old lady trolleys and buggies and Primark bags and buskers and the rest. How I'd underestimated the lunch rush I've no idea.

Anyway, onto the market and even before I'd got in a guy came out of his white van to tell me I'd locked Joan up wrongly, as "you'd just have to loop it o'er tha seat, pet, and you'd be haway, like". He was, of course, quite right. However it was most disconcerting to find my independence vanishing before my eyes as he watched me chain her up, only to give his approval from the van afterwards. See, things like that just don't happen in the south. Not in cities, anyway.

This was followed by people taking great interest in my bike basket as a shopping receptacle - the grocery guy packing it for me, whilst saying 'whey aye', a lady half my size apologising as I strode around the market with it, and a few comments on how pretty it was. Joan was touched.

Thus, I cycled home, sweaty after a three month cycling break, in the September sunshine, full of that yummy feeling of Geordie acceptance. Everyone should be as nice.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Oh, and it just got better...

The aforementioned teacher just made this comment on Facebook with reply to a former student/colleague's engagement news:

"oh my word! Can I make the dress?"

You just can't make that stuff up.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

My home-tech teacher was in a film I watched last night.

So, it's my last morning in the Shire and who knows what's to become of my blogging habits upon returning to the North East. Without the company of the middle-aged, the inebriated elderly and even the slightly inbred, I'm worried these posts may take an even more pedestrian turn.

Therefore, making the most of it, I'm blogging in the last twenty minutes before my departure for a five hour coach. On a Sunday morning. Yesss.

Last night I was taken out to the cinema and for dinner by the parents, which was very nice. The film choices were 500 Days of Summer, The September Issue and Julie and Julia. However, I don't think that even the Vampire Weekend inclusion on the 500 soundtrack would convince the parents and I'd clearly be the only person in the whole of Milton Keynes enjoying The September Issue, we settled with Julie and Julia, because my Dad loves Meryl Streep.

I was somewhat dubious - going only on an overheard critique of it as "two women just cooking their way through their lives", I figured I'd come out hungry and riddled with feminist angst.

Instead, I came out with a warm fuzzy glow from having laughed out loud in the cinema (and sneezed, but that's not entirely film-related). It turns out that Julia Child, posh American cook of 50s Francophile proportions (Meryl Streep) IS the same person as my textiles and food tech teacher, Mrs Sloss. The high-pitched squeaking, the fuzz of brown, tweaked hair, even down to the erratic whole-body movements over food - something I came into contact with twice a week during my teens.

Mrs Sloss was one of those iconic teachers that everyone pretends to dislike and yet finds themselves talking fondly of in their spare time. Classics like balancing everything on her bust during demonstrations, to the time she discussed her breast reduction operation (no more balancing), when she compared her daughter's afro hair to that of lambswool, telling me constantly that I needed to grow boobs, making up facts about silk worms, chastising my friend who is now a Central St Martins' womenswear student, announcing loudly at how tight/short/ugly the garment you'd lovingly made was, along with telling me off for taking my mum to see her on parents evening, "oh, she's only sitting here for praise" - mean that a big screen version is totally, totally brilliant. Especially when you'd be as equally shocked, and yet understanding, when they announced a tube of pasta was "as hot as a hard cock".

Julia Childs was apparently a far gentler beast, but she was channeling the Slossy all the way.

The film was also pretty good because of Julie's blogging obsession, and the fact her Mum was somewhat sceptical about it but yet is the only person to comment on it. Rings true... Clearly, all these similarities mean that I also will come home one day to 65 voice mails offering me a TV contract. Obv.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Bowl Spawns Miniballad.

Well, whatdyaknow, everyone likes a bit of self-proclamation in a blog post. Actually, no, nobody likes that.

Anyway, there's this really boss quarterly magazine called Ballad Of and despite only just being into its second issue you can buy it at Selfridges and all sorts.

I managed to take over their minds for a couple hours and they hired me as a style columnist. If you like reading about ugly things that amazing people wear, then you can check out September's offering at:

Monday, 14 September 2009

Latest Discovery: old cars drive old people wild.

Mr. Nash, clearly not in his natural environment.

The other night in the pub I remember explaining to someone who was propping up the bar that, no, despite my middle-England-middle-class accent and Shire come-from, I have never been skiing in my life and I certainly am not enamored with horses in any way, shape or form. Stinky, foot-treading, constantly-aroused creatures.

Instead of taking up reigns as a pony person, I spent my youth struggling with musical instruments, going to Brownies, eating cake mixture (as previously discussed), drawing incessantly and, as I said to this bloke, "playing with my Dad's cars".

This isn't as rebellious as it sounds. Daddy Bowlface has always had a vintage car in the garage. My siblings and I have always been driven about in them, had naps in the back of them, burnt the back of our thighs on hot leather seats during the summer and distracted DB when he's working on them. Indeed, with one particular model it became more of a game of "how many children can we chuck in the back of this thing?"

The garage has always had that inexplicable smell of car. Which is an amalgamation of oil, leather, hot metal and man-in-overall and is always lovely.

Anyway, since becoming only a temporary Shire resident, there have been fewer vintage car rides, what with one thing and another. I had forgotten quite what an impact a 1936 Frazer Nash would have in our local town.

So, donning several large cardigans and scarves, I squidged into the car and off we went. Getting the odd look from a white van man at a roundabout is pretty much obligatory with these things, so I didn't take much notice.

However, once we'd got into the 'historic centre' of town - i.e, where Woolworths used to be, and general hang out of the elderly - a whole new experience happened. Suddenly, an old man with a flat cap raised his walking stick at us and said "good morning". We didn't know who he was, but clearly the car was a justification for happy greetings.

Then, a herd of trolley-pushers paused, as if struggling to comprehend what the hell was going on when my Dad was parking the beast. It was as if they'd literally never seen something as old as them still working before.

Thus, looks and stares continued, along with cries of "what a lovely old car!" which is quite nice, I suppose. Clearly we brought something into their day, and, on a more sinister note, stunned them to the extent that I could have technically mugged them all by the time the handbrake was up.

I mentioned this to DB when we got home. He seemed most blase about it, "oh yes," he said, "most of them think it's an MG".

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Last week's papers

Alongside the England Women's football team defeat at the final of the European Championships, the announcement that South African runner Caster Semenya was indeed a hermaphrodite - both of which acted as a justification for a load of sexist drivelling, e.g. 'I can't comfortably watch [the final] knowing there are 22 hungry men out there' - there were a couple of pictoral delights which should've gone up on here a good few days ago.

First is the fun game of 'Spot the Politician'. Grandpa Bowlface and I had a good chuckle over this during the sacred meal that is the hour-long, three-course breakfast in his house. I put on at least the equivalent weight of an average pack of lard during my stay with him last week, but found myself easily adapting to sheets, blankets, and 1950s cuisine; hello, boiled onions.

Anyway, here's the fun part: Spot the Politician!

I think Kila Kela may even take him on as his percussionist, chaknow?

'Oh, the grand old Duke of York...'

Best photojournalism I've seen in a long time...

The other little beaut I saw won the Cutest Discovery award amongst all those wierd looking and frankly quite dull new species they found in Papua New Guinnea. Best kind of ring, ever. I WANT ONE.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Mugging Cake Ladies

There's the glorified Shire dream.
My sister and I have always had this vision for when we're old and spinstery. Instead of going slowly round-the-bend alone, we'll live in a little house, have a couple of lapdogs to coo over and make and eat an incredible amount of cake. From that point on, we will decline slowly and happily into obese insanity and scare the local children. Kind of like the Gingerbread lady of Hansel and Gretl fame, but without paedophilia and cannibalism, natch.
The stimulus behind this quite possibly lies in Mary Berry. 50's celebrity cook supreme, and writer of the best baking Bibles on which the Bowlface home is founded on. I swear I was weaned the day I discovered there was a bowl to lick.
Much to my hysterical delight, local Shire town Winslow decided to open its newly debuted Farmers' Market with the cake goddess herself. Upon hearing this news in the Shire rag, the date was firmly marked on the Bowlface calendar and we were going to meet our cakey idol, goddammit.
It seemed few other people shared my excitement. In fact, I had to explain to practically everyone just WHO Mary Berry was. However, come Sunday morning, the gathering crowds implied just one thing: the Shire was hot for celebrity, and it came elderly-shaped.

That's some serious ribbon-cutting action right there.

There were about 300 people there, at 10.30am on a Sunday, which pretty much sums up the priorities of Shire folk. People hadn't come so much to buy overpriced offal as to gawp at all the other locals, have a gossip, take numerous increasingly-trodden-on dogs out and, the wee 5% that were left, to get some celebrity chef action.

She was literally one of the cutest things I've ever seen. My mum liked her jacket, but a tiny 5'1'' vision in pink was only slightly disappointing in comparisons to my hoping she would have baked her own clothes. After holding a clearly nerve wracking speech about EC funding (to great cheers of 'hear hear' - I can't believe that even happens outside of costume dramas) and pigs etc, we got down to the nitty gritty and pounced on that cake lady.

I'm not that kid with the eyepatch, by the way. She was my competition.

It was amazing. She congratulated my mum on covering her cookbooks in plastic, signed them with 'best wishes' (although not 'love', which someone else got...we'll gloss over that), and left a whole lot of joy in my heart that even cake can't reach.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Umbrella Inventor: Bet he never got a spoke in his eye.

You can practically hear the violins.
I have a fairly relaxed attitude to umbrellas. For a start, I never buy them. I reckon they're the kind of transient, non-purchasable item that just gets passed on from stranger to stranger because they're nearly always left somewhere.

I used to feel sad for all the umbrellas I'd see abandoned in various doorways, coat racks and under seats on public transport. Until I realised that it's actually their destiny, and that being the most popular object in the world when the heavens decide to open must be pretty nice.

Thus, I have given in to the slightly amoral habit of stealing abandoned umbrellas. Only because I know that I'll abandon it somewhere and it will be picked up by another ethical thief. It's like a physical karma.

However, despite this habit of accumulating rain-protectors, I rarely use them. Normally it's because I don't like to carry a giant handbag containing objects for every eventuality, or because I cycle everywhere. Or so I thought until yesterday, when I realised EXACTLY why I don't carry umbrellas.

It's because they become near-lethal objects when any slight amount of wind power is involved. Holding umbrellas sideways, like a shield, completely defeats the point of them as your bonce gets increasingly soggy. Even such a compromising position, however, cannot prevent you from the Ultimate Umbrella Catastrophe: the turning inside out.

Wandering down Southwark Street at rush hour, U.U.C happened to my recently-claimed pink number. It was the saddest thing that happened all day. What had been so proud and shiny had turned into a mangled wire lump. I felt like I was working at the inanimate object version of the RSPB.

Pinkie stayed at home today. It's recovering, and I probably will continue to use it, albeit in a wonky state, once this violent memory has been repressed. It's just a little too much to deal with right now.
On the plus side, I have been cheered up by Andersen Ben-Hilliens Aarhus and his blog. I bet Jordan wouldn't tell him that she'd 'cut him up aswell'.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

My Inner 16-year old is SO IMPRESSED right now.

Ok, so it's been heavily tweaked by the real journalists, but this is my first venture into NME's hugely informative news site, and I'm shamelessly posting it on here. Yessss.

Hell, it's on Twitter, Facebook and everything else.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows: The day I became a sweet shop lady

She looks miserable in comparison to the glee on my face yesterday

Most people don't like to work on Bank Holidays. In fact, working on Bank Holidays normally comes within those lists of things people hate. Granted, if you work in some large corporate company selling disposable fashion items work in some large corporate company selling disposable fashion items you normally get double pay or something to ease the pain of serving everyone enjoying one massive paid day off. However, it's still pretty painful.

That is, unless, you've not yet reached the gruelling schedule of a nine to fiver, Dolly Parton's epic workplace tune presents a distant, quaint-sounding situation and you don't live for the weekends. For those people, like me, Bank Holidays are just when every road, service and public transport facility is at breaking point in desperate attempt to aid people's optimistic plans for the day.

Therefore, when I was offered to make some cash by working in a sweet shop on the Bank Holiday, I was pretty keen. In fact, that's an understatement. I made sure I'd picked exactly the right kind of vintage floral dress for the occasion, to make the living of the sweet lady dream even, well, sweeter.

Things got even better when it became apparent that, as temporary staff, I had no boring responsibilities such as restocking, cleaning, visual merchandising etc and was literally told to 'make myself sick' on as many free sweets as possible. That, and the nice wad of cash I got shoved before being told to 'close when it gets quiet'. Best negligent boss ever.

So, the afternoon passed fairly quickly, dishing out a few hundred grams of fizzy strawberries here, some white mice there, trying to persuade a small spaniel that flying saucers are much better than they smell, and other such sweet lady duties, all in an increasingly dizzy haze brought on by incessantly inhaling sugar.

Thus, at a slightly premature end to the day - it did get quiet - I headed home with a fairly bad case of post-kid's-party syndrome, caused solely by the combination of too many edible chemicals, and that slightly furry metallic taste which is what your mouth makes when it craves salt. Both were a small price to pay for basically being Mr. Ben for the day. It doesn't stop there, I'm living the dream at NME's offices this week - my inner sixteen year old is LOVING IT.