Sunday, 27 December 2009

"GIVE US TINA TURNER": festive dj-ing for the over fifties.

Christmas away from the Shire. Not really ever happened before. Let alone combined with winter sports. Still, no anticipatory thoughts could have geared me up for the Christmas day spectacle that, had it happened over 2000 years ago, might have taken the shine off Baby Jesus for a bit.

So, after a six course dinner and several glasses of Gluhwein, people had begun to get a little tired of shouting out "YOU SCUMBAG YOU MAGGOT", all in the name of festive Pogue spirit, natch. The Christmas CD was getting onto it's seventh rotation and it was clearly the best time for Mum to crack out 'party CD 2' playlist on her iPod. After a few civilised nods to efforts from The Kinks, the best of the Beatles' back catalogue over games of Jenga, I, for some inexplicable reason, started demanding Mud's 'Tiger Feet'.

So, over to the sound system armed with Mum and two new friends of a similar generation to entertain/embarrass teenagers with what Dad refers to as 'bopping'. Once 'Tiger Feet' had finished, however, Sting and The Police's 'Roxanne' popped up on shuffle - that's one hell of a playlist there.

One thing led to another and I was nearly dying from exhaustion keeping up with the dancing queens (thankfully Abba was, in this case, excluded). They, meanwhile, were owning the length of the bar with some side-stepping, air-guitaring, pointy-handing synchronicity. There's a reason clubs used to be called Dance Halls.

It had got to the point where only a bit of sloppy Carole King action would calm them down. However, the opening bars of 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow' went down like a lead balloon, to the mixed cries of 'you're a crap DJ' from my brother and 'GIVE US TINA' from the three-strong crowd. I left them with some Tina, which sounded surprisingly like Yeah Yeah Yeahs' 'Date With The Night' and wheezed up the stairs to bed.

Just as I was drifting off I heard the catcalling of 'In The Bleak Midwinter' down below. Well, it was a White Christmas.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Bowlface Poleface

The sport gene, because obviously such a thing totally exists, has always been absent in the Bowlface pool. My greatest achievement was making it into the top group for hockey at school, and that was solely because my violent wielding of the sticks could only be dealt with by the sporty girls. This alone has had me marked as 'the sporty one' in the family - pretty much representative of our sporting prowess.
Therefore, the notion of a mass family venture to the Dolomites for skiing purposes needed to be seen to be believed. Whilst other chalet guests were arriving with reflective visor helmets, all-in-one jumpsuits (actually, never advisable on a skier of any skill) and their own, foot-moulded boots; we happily got on with wobbling around in the hire shop.
First morning, kitted up and almost looking convincing, we headed down to the ski school to join a load of tiny children and Daniella, our Italian instructor. Considering he had probably once been a 'bucket baby', mewing happily by snow ramps from infancy and parallel-turning down the slopes from the age of two and a half, his patience with us was remarkable. Not least as I sped backwards down the slope, arse out, and landed head first in a pile of snow, a la Bridget Jones, instantly after clicking into my skis.
As the morning went on I almost recovered my dignity as Daniella taught us the 'bars-ick position' and how to turn towards the 'vall-ay'.
By the afternoon Bro and I had made our way up to the blue run, down which my arse also had a large amount of contact with the snow. In between avoiding poles to the face, wrestling with ski lifts, skis flying down slopes of their own accord and counting leg bruises, like a seven year old in the bath, we'd managed to tackle the slopes with a kind of graceless ability by midweek.
Bombardino (hot alcoholic custard with cream on top)-induced or otherwise, I'm hooked. Skiing, 1, Bowlface anti-sport gene, nil.

Friday, 18 December 2009


They don't know how lucky they are.

Yadda Yadda, I'm bored of the snow already. In a Shire context, it means slow roads, not enough of it to warrant any fun snow activity and being really cold. As for being in a Dolomite context...well we'll both find out next week.

The white stuff has pretty much summed up a totally Shire week. With the exception of nice parent-provided food and love and a bit of social activity as only these parts know best (watching David Attenborough and amazing kids' movies over 'chav deserts' - more on that later), it's been one long slog at Bicester Village and some guilt-ridden attempts to make a dissertation.

Bicester Village, as Bowlface regulars may know, provides an unwelcome second home to returning students and 'cheap' shopping for upper middle class types and tourists with dubious money. My top customers of the week were the Russians who paid for £700's worth of fur items in cash and the Iranian who fanned herself with sterling whilst propping a fur-clad thigh on the counter.

Back to the amazing kids' movies. Actually, Where The Wild Things Are is far more of a kids' film for adults - take a child along and it'll probably be confused throughout and thoroughly miserable by the end. I'm not going to stress this point too much; once Dazed and Confused have based an entire issue on Spike Jonze and Maurice Sendak's collaborative efforts Bowlface isn't really one to go there.

What the film did inspire, however, was a furthering of a onesie longing that has grown on me over the last few weeks. A onesie, in layman's terms, is essentially a babygro for adults. An all-in-one, jumpsuit, bodystocking kind of thing. I think the obsession started when I was hunting around for Baby Jesus outfits, and has subsequently grown through ebay hunting, onesie conversations with fellow fans, looking at the American Apparel website too much and, of late, the severe cold and my Mum emailing me onesie-related Womens' Hour news.

Max's wolf/wild thing suit in the film has taken this a whole step further. The onesie of dreams now has ears, fingerless gloves, monster feet, and, preferably, a tail attached. Oh, and it's got to be made out of snuggly snuggly fluff. It's all I want for Christmas.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Obligatory Festive Post

Technically, it's Boxing Day today in the Shirehome of Bowlface activity. This is because yesterday was fake Christmas, happening a good fortnight or so early due to festive travelling on Baby Jesus' actual birth. Double Christmas = good times.
Actually, it's more like triple or even quadruple Christmas, as I've been milking most Christmas-related excuses dry over the last couple weeks. Not least being the Christmas party, which we later discovered the best theme of a party ever. It's totally easy to do, I got to wear a nappy, like, comfiest thing, and we watched a hell of a lot of George Michael and weird Bowie festive videos.
Second Christmas activity came in the form of a carol service, usually one of my favourite parts of the season. However, outside of the Shire it would seem that students don't really sing and the festive spirit isn't quite right - even if there is an abundance of Greggs' mince pies. You live and learn. On the plus side, my mate was playing in the wind band, which was led by a seriously socially awkward conductor, which always makes for smiles.
The 'real' deal, however, was Fake Christmas. Essentially a cramming together of the normal two weeks of Christmas paraphernalia into a day. We went and got a tree in the morning, had decorated it to Band Aid by lunchtime and, after a walk, a load of rare beef and some slightly Cava-induced present opening, we could have created a music video. If Bowlface was of the sentimental blogging type, there would probably be something about the real message of Christmas and family love inserted here.

Friday, 11 December 2009

"Aye! We've cracked it!": Pretending to be in 'The Italian Job' with a taxi driver.

You'd be amazed how much studenty crap you can fit in the back of that thing.

Granted, this is a continuation on the ‘fun things that happen during transportation’ theme of recent posts. Possibly a reflection on the sad state of my life / sense of humour, but such are the affairs of bowlface.
So I had to get a cab, sober, in the middle of the day. A fairly rare experience as it goes, as Newcastle is a tiny place and I’m in a serious relationship with my bike. However, this was made practically into a memory for life due to the driver.
Didn’t quite catch his name, but he’d been in service 38 years, had a light gold Merc. with cream leather interior and was a king of taxicab travel. Today he too was presented with a lifelong experience, I’d like to think, in the form of a military parade.
Horses, police, tanks, soldiers and nationalists a go-go were occupying and lining the streets of Newcastle, with buses, cabs and cars getting progressively slower and closer together. It was gridlock, and I had a bus to catch in ten minutes. It was also the closest thing I’ve come to a real-life car chase. Yes.
Mr Taxi Man was also the Geordiest person I’ve ever come across, with the exception of the weird locksmith who merely grunted, chuckled and probably made inappropriate jokes about keyholes – all I could identify was “stairs”. When he saw the gridlock he treated it as a mission of mega proportions. I’ve never heard the word “gan” more often whilst he provided me with a brilliant running commentary of his Police-avoiding and bus-deceiving plans. As the fifteen minute journey continued he got increasing more animated, called a policeman ‘son’ and swore repeatedly at the poor souls who had tried to take a shortcut and got even more backed up. There were a few evil chuckles too.
By the time we were nearing the bus station he was totally, utterly triumphant because we had ‘cracked it!’. “Over The Moon”, apparently, which was certified by a happy little whistle. I reckon he was temporarily the taxi driver equivalent of Knight Rider in his mind.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

The Metro: transcending generations in beautiful ways

I rarely take Newcastle's inner-city public transport train system, a.k.a., The Metro, wunder-invention of the eighties; so when I do, I invariably witness pretty special things.
Whether it's 15 year-old Geordies oranged-up to the bleached hairline on a Friday night or old women eating Greggs out the bag, surrounded by Fenwick shoppers or commenting on my shoes, it's a pretty good opportunity to people watch.
Today I saw possibly the greatest thing I've ever seen on those funny little trains. The focus of attention was a small happy baby, and the two competing forces for it's laughter were old men. Neither of these varieties are in any way rare on the metro, but the combo today was incredible.
I was stood opposite the first old man who was taking pleasure in entertaining the baby. Whilst casually trying to hide the typically obscene American Apparel advert on the back of my Vice magazine, it appeared that he wasn't remotely interested with the latex-covered crotch of the model but with bending his forefinger at the baby.
He also happened to be wearing a bobble hathat with ears which were tied under his chin, a suit, shirt and tie and some quite incredible loafers. I probably could have flipped to the fashion shoot of the magazine to show him just how cool he was. Anyway, the baby and the man were in this beautifully symbiotic relationship of joy, when old man number two comes on the scene.
I didn't get quite such a good look at this chap, he was about four metres away from me and his elderly rival, and two from the baby. His act was not finger waggling but a series of whimsical rhetorical questions, like "ooh, what was that?" when my phone bleeped. A weaker technique, I think you'll agree. Old man number one OWNED that baby's love.
Unfortunately, I had to get off just as this was getting interesting, and as old man number two was getting into his stride. By God, imagine what might've happened by the time the train had reached Monkseaton, eh?