Monday, 4 October 2010

Bye-bye, beloved Bowlface, hello, Baby Bowlface

BOWLFACE HAS MOVED.

It's ok though, because you can still catch the latest AND comment to your hearts' content at alicevincent.net.

As ever, thanks for popping by - look forward to hearing from you on the new site!

Friday, 1 October 2010

"Is that guy your boyfriend? Because if you're living here I don't want any couply stuff"

I got home at an acceptable hour this evening to find my bed had tripled in size. My 'bed' being a futon mattress, this upwards expansion signalled that although I might sleep comfortably this evening, it was going to be as means of a swansong in my current steal of a gorgeous, taxidermy-filled Williamsburg flat. Believe it or not (easily unbelieved, due to the poor blogging show), tomorrow will mark four weeks of having lived in New York. Four weeks also being the length of my current dream sublet.

Last weekend was a horrific blur of relentless flat-hunting. Like most things in New York, once you've done it here, it will seem an absolute breeze in most other English-speaking western countries. If I thought most aspects of my young adult life have been fraught with competition: surviving the UCAS lottery, battling it out for work experience and competition places, finding even summer jobs, let alone the graduate malarkey in the laughably competitive world of journalism - renting a nice, inexpensive apartment outside of a ghetto in New York is way up there.

It works like this: the weekend before you become homeless, you search frantically on a website called The Craigslist. Known for being riddled with scammers and people who will spam you forever more (my old email account answers only to people who say I've won a lottery or that I need to help them), The Craigslist is also the most effective means of finding accommodation in this insane city. So, up at 9am to check the darned thing, scouting for listings that are spelt correctly, aren't in BedStuy and are within my price range. Cue string of slightly desperate emails emphasising the fact that 'I'm a British intern at Nylon magazine, freshly graduated from university and a respectful, clean, laid-back and fun roommate'. Cue a handful of phone calls, followed by hurried appointments being made in moleskines. At 85% of the doors I turned up at, both myself and the renter had trusty moleskines in hand. The shame. Arguably, most of these places were in Williamsburg or Clinton Hill, but there's nothing like living up to a cliche.

So, on a totally beautiful freakishly hot weekend, when essentially all the trains that service Brooklyn were out of service, I entered strangers' (of varying weirdness, the title is a real-life quote from one of them) and nosed around making unnecessarily polite musing noises whilst thinking where the nearest exit was. Of course, I ended up taking the place I had first looked at. Because the extra sting in the tail of NY apartment hunting is that it is essentially a personality contest. One reasonably priced room in the heart of 'touristy Williamsburg' as New Yorker friend calls it, (rather than the Hispanic grubby outskirts) gained fifty responses within hours of the craigslist post. I had made the lucky first six to view it. If they like you, they call you. It's not even the case that if you like an apartment you can say 'yes please, here is my money'. It's like apartment speed-dating, except you're about a four on the hot scale and the person you're trying to pull is a ten. I was lucky -  all it took for me to find a match in a swish Bushwick penthouse was a weekend - albeit a hungover, sleep-deprived, sweaty weekend. On the plus side, I know a lot more about Brooklyn's geography now, having walked a cumulative 25 miles.

I also know a fair bit more about the Lower East Side's weekend nightlife, after a nocturnal two-on-a-bike jaunt around it last Saturday. The bike was called The Love Tycoon and belonged to fellow Nylon intern Caitlin Smith. To ease the pain of her fleeing New York on a rainy day to the bohemian lure of her native San Francisco, I've been taking the new-in-town graphic design zine intern Holly Black out to a series of  Williamsburg date places we didn't realise were quite so candlelit upon entering. As a result, we had to head to the grime of Monster Island to watch Kevin Morby play and for me to pretend to be a Nylon TV camerawoman, and renowned dive bar Levees for $10 pitchers - just to set the tone back comfortably. 

This week's discoveries include:
- SoHo's answer to Ben's Cookies in the form of Vesuvio Bakery. I fear now I've discovered their cookies, I won't be able to stop.
- That tbs is on channel 8 at breakfast time, which means SAVED BY THE BELL. The original crowd. ON TV. It's like I'm eight again, except now I can really appreciate the retro fashion and poor script-writing to the best level. From tomorrow I'm not going to live anywhere with a TV, but it was sweet while it lasted.
- That ridiculously posh SoHo deli Dean & Deluca may play classical music and force their staff to wear chef hats, but will serve up a mighty fine bagel a lot cheaper than any bagel cart in town.
- That you can buy blankets with faces of varying North American animals on (wolf, bear, lion - not strictly from America -stag) in K Mart for under $20.    

Thursday, 23 September 2010

"MAKING ASSHOLE NEIGHBOR ENVY ME BY SHOWING HIM MY NEW PET HOLLY THE TURTLE"

"There's a storm a-coming!" That's what was shouted at me and a buddy as we braved our way through Williamsburg's less salubrious neighbourhoods to find haven in the kind of Mexican places that hipst-anic (hipster+hispanic) communities produce best: cheap tacos, good beer and all the latest underground tunes on the playlist. Despite making a return to summer today in NYC - hot pants were donned in SoHo and chiauauas shunned their tiny tapestry waistcoats due to the heat - I bore witness to an explosive lightning show in an overground train station in Bushwick this evening. Then the rain came. So it's a damp posting this evening.

Enough about the weather - evidently, I'm in the States now and people are far more likely to open a conversation about what their therapist said to them than what's happening with the climate. In the last few days since I posted various developments have taken place. I turned 22 in a wonderfully bizzare Indian restaurant in the East Village, complete with novelty thrift-store gifts and free candle-lit ice cream. Panna II prides itself on having look like a child with especially bad taste had been left to decorate a particularly naff Christmas tree in solely shiny and flashing things. They should have a sign warning epileptics off, except you can see it flashing from two blocks away. Having a birthday in a different time zone really is a win-win situation as you get a whole extra five hours of people wishing you a nice day. Therefore any fears of having it forgotten (a very real fear after spending my Sunday at the Lincoln Centre Film Society's John Hughes memorial day and watching Sixteen Candles) were dispersed as soon as I woke up to the ultimate of Maternal Inbox Treats: "you are probably asleep, but it's your birthday here, wakey-wakey!" and got into my office to find cake and post on my desk.

Last Friday I had my brain exploded a little bit twice. First by NY's American Museum Natural History, something which really does deserve its own post, but for which I will currently reference as 'GIANT SQUID SPERM WHALE BATTLE'. Secondly by Refresh, Refresh, Refresh - a relatively cultish comedy/storytelling night amongst funny media types in Chinatown. Headlining were New York's answer to a Twitter-happy Reeves and Mortimer, Wise and Cranky Kaplan, who were pretty hilaire in person, but whose tweet feeds continue to keep me LOL-ing inappropriately throughout the working day. Cranky's possibly my favourite, mainly because his sadistic tweets regarding tortoises remind me of similar boyhood antics that apparently went on between my late great uncle and my grandfather. Follow them both, though - American 'humor' never was so good.    

Friday, 17 September 2010

I want a Jeremy Scott meat dress, but made out of poptarts.

I'm averaging six hours of sleep per night at the moment. However, unlike the guilty, educationally-associated sleep deprivation I have bemoaned before, this type is from having ludicrous amounts of fun. I'll admit it, I love the 9-5 (or 10-6, whatever). Especially when the hours you're meant to be at work are spent at New York Fashion Week shows, or interviewing your latest girl crush, or running around NYC smuggling packed-lunches into swanky SoHo cafes.

My optimism in organising my internship around NYFW's S/S shows paid off - I managed to witness four shows in as many days this week. Granted, this is hardly a packed schedule in comparison to that of Susie Lau (whom I could spy sitting opposite during Sunday's Preen show), but considering I was turning up to every one in thrift-store finds, it's not bad going.

A 1982 SLR definitely makes me out as a serious fashion journalist and not someone who just blagged their way into a Preen show...
Exciting designer newbie Ann Yee's presentation in SoHo the next evening followed - inspired by Blade Runner, her pretty, accessible silk jumpsuits and crop-tops with flouro accents suggest that she'll be hitting the NYFW schedule in the next few years. The next evening saw Samantha Pleet's Chelsea presentation on behalf of green fashion week, which was breathtakingly beautiful. With a video starring this season's muse Victoria Legrand of Beach House forming the backdrop to a collection of vintage and fishing-inspired whimsical dresses, jumpsuits, blouses and bikinis named things like 'rust red walkabout shorts' and 'ivory moonbeam blouse', there was little else I could do but eat the free cupcakes and feel deeply inadequate - in a thoroughly inspired way, natch.

All of this intelligent, classy, accessible ready-to-wear was, however, blown out of the water by Jeremy Scott's celeb-tastic, 1970s NY homoerotic punk-inspired, screamy, pouty, sexy S/S collection. With guys built like tanks being sent down in bondage-style mankinis, girls wearing everything from bodega-bag-vests to meat dresses (Gaga, eat your heart out) and only a straight-jacket wedding dress pre-empting Scott's own lap of victory around the front row in an angel-tipped leather jacket and kicks, it was beyond amazing. Sitting opposite Kelly Osbourne and Kanye in the front row was pretty surreal, too.

To round of my celebrity-stalking in a more laid-back way, I caught up with newly-discovered girl crush Rebecca Schiffman. Full details on her greatness are to come in Nylon's November issue. However, two facts: she LOVES pigeons and bought me a hotdog. 'nuff said.    

For news about what I get upto when I'm actually IN the office, my first guest post for awesome aspirational writers website Wannabe Hacks made it up this week. As for now, my day off consists of far less glamourous things - wondering what's happening to my clothes at the laundromat up the road, contemplating what new flavour of poptarts I'm going to buy and itinerising my way around taxidermfest at the Natural History Museum... Oh, and happy Yom Kippur!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

losing various virginities.

So much for the daily blogging. Bowlface, like my normal diet, has been somewhat neglected over the past week. What used to be my sole output of journalistic musing has become a well-loved but ever-so-slightly superflous friend in these days of insane tipping rules, glossy magazines and wierd brown stuff in plastic cups that everyone carries everywhere. Think it's frozen coffee. They're attached to peoples' hands here at all times.

So, I left off at the Supermarket saga and I begin again after my first real day of culinary success and initiation. Initiation not into gross types of viscous cheese (once. never again.) but into real Mexican and then excellent home-cooked pescetarian/vegan cuisine. My tummy is beginning to love me back after the serial (ha, cereal, Dad joke) poptart incidents. Mexican corn on the cob is potentially my new obsession. Costing around two bucks, this vegetable treat comes tossed in a small amount of normal, solid cheese, chilli and lime - and I just found out there's an establishment selling them around the corner from my office. WIN.
See you at breakfast.

In between the struggle to fit in three meals a day this past week many more New York firsts have been ticked off. First $20 mani/pedicure (a dangerous habit, I'm sure). First under-Williamsburg Bridge rooftop nighttime impromptu photo shoot. First randomer calling me obscenities for no apparent reason in the street. First venture into 'real' Chinatown under Manhattan bridge. First standing up guilty $1 pizza-slice consumption. First 'real NY party' in a dingy club on the lower east side. First getting-on-the-wrong-bus-and-ending-up-in-Malcolm X-street. First time I've had to put on an American accent to ask for a bottle of 'waahh-derrr' to be understood. First buying-a-futon-off-Craigslist and shifting it up six floors. First visit to The Container Store. And, most notably today, first 9/11 anniversary. Those cloud-hitting lights which mark the position of the Twin Towers were the only sign of Manhattan that could be identifed from a placid Ridgewood barbeque this evening.

Plus, of course, my first week at Nylon. There's so much to be said about my experience of editorial internships in New York that to smush it in the bottom of this post would be frankly ridiculous. Furthermore, there's news of my first day coming up soon on an excellent website created by a few clearly success-bound wannabe hacks. I know it hurts, but you'll just have to contain your anticipation a little bit longer. However, to keep you tided over, one more first: my name on the Nylon blog. Right here.

Monday, 6 September 2010

'There's a new whole foods store here, they sell bio-degradable food'

Things have moved on considerably since the jet-lag hotel situation. Granted, I'm feeling a little dozy right now but I think that's from consuming a peanut butter sandwich, which, despite my best efforts to find bread without sugar in, was definitely considerably sweeter than a UK one and a whole load of grapes which need a couple of bites to eat without choking. My stomach's got a lot of sugar to deal with so it's nicking all the energy from my brain.

Enough of the pseudo-science and back to reality. Although, I'm still finding it difficult to believe I'm actually here - three mornings on and with a pretty hefty amount of Williamsburg and part of Manhattan investigated. Stuff I've got goonishly excited about so far:
- people gambling in the street under the railroad of Flushing Ave. Station on Broadway.
- Being able to buy a hotdog for $2
- Seeing the Empire State and Chrysler buildings from the warehouses of Kent St, near Brooklyn's coast to the East River whilst on my way to this.
- Seeing tiny pedigree dogs walked and carried EVERYWHERE.
- The fact that there's a stuffed deer head in my apt.
- Waking up to blue skies, bright sunlight and fire escapes on the buildings outside windows.
- The literal metres of choice of bagels and peanut butter and two 'Vincent' products in the supermarket.

The supermarket has been my latest conquest (shortly following the subway and the shopping streets of Upper East Side Manhattan). Not least because you have to squeeze through metal bars to get in, which considering America's obesity statistics is somewhat cruel. For all that popular culture can teach you about America, I was still left standing, gawping, staring at the shelves. I was Mr. Burns, picking up identical bottles of stuff and trying to decipher between 'Catsup' and 'Ketchup'.

Whilst I picked up an insane amount of asparagus for $1.69, buying a bag of Spinach would set me back double. A whole cooked chicken will cost you as much as some boxes of cereal. Poptarts come in every flavour except the 'produced for the UK' Choco-mallow. I picked up a box of 12 's'more' flavour ones, but after the sugar OD of sandwich and grapes I'm going to have to take a 'raincheck' on them. Strawberries are cheap, win, prepared salad leaves are not, fail. Journeying around Key Food I found my brain's feeble mathematical capabilities going into overload - not only converting everything into sterling, but creating a weird kind of food ratio, e.g: huge lump of Parmesan : one bottle of 'magic soap'; 'jar of pesto : 24 poptarts'. Maybe that's why I'm sleepy too.

Meeting other lovely Americans has also brought to light the most unlikely aspects of British vernacular which remain unrecognised in the US. British accents are pretty much un-commented on here; only when I asked if they stock Rimmel in Sephora (FAIL) and spent a good while trying to pay for a bottle of Snapple's Pink Lemonade (the addiction that started in California aged 11 has come back to haunt me) with change have my home county tones become apparent. However, words like 'fortnight', 'stone' (as in weight) and 'pastiche' are apparently Brit-centric, if not in need of definition. Fortunately so far my new buddies are cultured enough to know what I want when I ask for the loo, as yet the dreaded 'restroom' has not been uttered from my lips.

Some things, however, seem not to change across the pond. Yesterday a septuagenarian commented on my shoes, which then struck up a long conversation about dance footwear and comfort over style - this has happened at least three times before in Blighty, and it makes me feel all the more at home here.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn

So. I am in Jamaica - the one in Queens, NY, rather than the Caribbean island. It's 05.18 here, but my frustratingly consistent body clock had me up at 4am. After forty minutes or so of rolling around and huffing, I figured I'd do something constructive with myself and create a massive sleep debt with a little Bowlpost.

It seems a long time since the Fancy Nancy discoveries - since then I have packed, re-packed, taken out some definitely essential knitwear, denim and shoes, packed again and underwent varying tedious airport things. The flight consisted of me catching up on some heavy cheekbone-action from Tom Hughes' bad boy performance in the Gervais-Merchant hillaire that is Cemetery Junction, eating some not unpleasant airline food and sending myself off to sleep with a G&T. Once I'd got through the rigmarole of security, in which I repeated that yes, I was staying just in Brooklyn for 90 days, about eight times to three increasingly terrifying men in uniform, my bag had kindly fallen off the baggage carousel for me to establish that one of its straps had decided to retire to make the most of its 'vacation' in NY. I gather it was just very keen to be searched by blue-gloved hands unsuccessfully for something that wasn't clothes or Marmite.

A little wander down the dark streets of Jamaica, past a couple of Gentlemen's Clubs and even a Liverpool St and I arrived as a sweaty wonder in the hotel. Four hours of sleep later, and here I am.

NY fulfilled-cliches and discoveries so far:
- I am old enough to be called 'ma'am'
- A 'Bodega' is a corner shop.
- American people do say 'lift' instead of 'elevator', but they might just have been humouring me when I questioned its whereabouts.
- The aforementioned lifts are so far the same size as most of the bedrooms I've rented.

OK, fairly underwhelming list but if you check back: I've been in this country eight hours and asleep for half that time. I've not even switched on HBO yet on my insanely huge TV, which is directly opposite my insanely huge bed and in front of the insanely huge shower.

Just one hour until I can run downstairs and gorge myself on (hopefully insanely huge) pancakes. Excellent.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Fancy Nancy is BACK

Back, back, baaacckkk! Yes, FN Fans, she's been returned to the internet. In her righteous, 1988, authored by Ruth Craft, illustrated by Nicola Smee, glorious, old lady-battling form. I'm so in love with these books that I've semi-permanently attached them to my face so that I can type and be close to them at the same time.

This is possibly the most degree-relevant thing I've done since graduating - and I can't help but think that my Childrens' Literature tutor would be mildly proud and potentially distressed at the excitement I'm experiencing.

Re-discovering FN is also fairly life relevant round about now, as her noughties counterpart is New York based and I'm heading there on Friday to try and become a real journalist and eat bagels and whoopie pies. If I wasn't worried enough about people misinterpreting my love of irony for rudeness, or asking me to repeat words like 'snooker', or having to ask where the 'restroom' is, or indeed giving up within seconds and throwing myself under a yellow taxi the minute I escape from JFK - this Fancy Nancy business is enough to lose sleep over. Alas.

As a comfort blanket, then, I've scanned in the most life-affirming (and potentially influential) moments of FN. FN Gold, if you will. I've also picked illustrations where FN's mum is wearing similar clothes to those I favour - classic 90s mum.

Note excellent skipping and satchel efforts from Fancy Nancy and similarly pleasing cardigan/jeans/jazz shoe combo sported by Mum.

Fancy Nancy fights large overdressed lady for the elusive whale-covered bag.

Fancy Nancy befriends somebody else's animal on public transport. Standard.

That's better. Now I've shared FN's original greatness with the world I can happily tuck myself into bed with these fine publications and dream of a New York experience that involves dancing around in a star-spangled banner on a fire escape staircase whilst smothering myself in S'mores.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

101 Dalmatians. In mole form.

Although I love it when scientific friends tell me fun facts, in general that whole scheme of things goes somewhat over my head. However, yesterday I got a fun, relevant AND scientific fact through my inbox! Obviously, when the subject heading of an email is 'Internet Mole Facts' it's seriously exciting because:
a) it might be about the subterranean animal
b) I like facts.

But when the content turned out to be the following:

"Beauty spots they may be, but many people with prominent moles consider them unsightly. Having a high number of moles could be a very good sign indeed. It could mean that you are biologically six or seven years younger than your actual age. A study by researchers at King's College in London found that people with more than 100 moles tended to have longer telomeres than people who had fewer than 25.


Telomeres are the bits of our DNA that tend to get shorter as we age. What that means is that moley people may retain youthful looks and delay the onset of the diseases of ageing by more than half a decade."

I was ecstatic. Thing is, I'm a pretty moley person. In fact, this blog should probably be called 'Moleface', except it sounds a bit creepy and I dread to think what the google image results may look like. But this is great news! Finally, being covered in tiny brown lumps and being flat chested until the age of 17 pays off! I may well stay young-looking and smug far longer than my smooth-skinned companions.

This is, of course, all rather academic - and in more than one sense. After all, I spend most of my time in NHS spectacles, high waisted jeans and dubious knitwear reserved solely for, and often bought from, the elderly. Which brings me onto another equally amusing and shocking inbox delivery.

Upon remarking on just how good a word 'fancy' is with my sister, I was reminded of a childhood literary favourite: Fancy Nancy. Normally I'd include and explanatory link here for all the poor souls who have been kept in ignorance of FN's greatness. However, something heinous has occurred and the internet seems to think that FN was an invention of 2005, complete with a totally lame illustration. This was brought to my attention by a Maternal Inbox (Un)treat, subjected: 'LOOK WHAT THEY'VE DONE TO FANCY NANCY!' It's true. All over the internet there is no trace of the original FN, a girl who, rather than this feather boa-ed travesty, helped her Gran grout the bathroom and fought old ladies for handbags with whales on in jumble sales. Indeed, a girl who clearly had a formative influence as I spent most of my childhood watching my Mum grout bathrooms and, admittedly only two years ago, did unsuccessfully battle old women for 20p vintage treats in a jumble sale in High Heaton.

Bowlface has a new mission on its mucky paws: returning the original Fancy Nancy to the interweb, and fast.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

100th POST: ZOOTIME

ZOOTIME is the prog-rock effort of The Mystery Jets on their debut album Making Dens. As well as being a piece of useless mid-noughties indie trivia, ZOOTIME is also what I dubbed today's activities. Namely, going to Whipsnade Zoo with my parents for a full day-off childhood reversion and, as a result, Bowlface's 100th post.

Along with the moral and psychological crises that arise with seeing potentially damaged animals in enclosures that are clearly disproportionate to their native habitats, I underwent the natural glee, severe excitement and obligatory fanciful conversations that animals are clearly incapable of which accompany any good zoo trip. Well, any acceptable zoo trip at least - the previous one, to Belgrade Zoo, just brought mild amusement and increasing misery at witnessing the bizarre co habitations of animals that definitely were not designed to know one another.

First discovery of the day was that of a Mara, whose anonymity in the animal world is so great that when you googleimage it, the ratio of photos of the animal to photos of varying scantily clad women is 2 : 9,630,000. Here it is though:


As you may well observe, this is, as Daddy Bowlface exclaimed, a FREAK DEER. Identified as a wallaby and a muntjac before this clearly correct definition, Maras are dead cute and skipped around all over the place. I took a much better photo than this (especially of its bemusing white behind), so sit tight. After a cementing of childhood reversion by falling over and grazing my knee whilst witnessing a naughty sea lion during a rehearsal (total diva), a few more zoological discoveries were made:
- Rhinos like pedicures and enjoy eating floor-Sudocrem as an after-banana treat.
- Red Pandas are basically the Cheshire Cat.
- Dwarf Crocodiles look cuddly.
- Sloth Bears enjoy cardboard boxes.
- Wolverines are the ultimate ANIMAL FAIL.

This last discovery requires deeper analysis. Yes, Wolverine, the animal immortalised in cartoon and pop culture throughout the centuries for long claws, a ferocious attitude and fearsome teeth is a zoological WolverFAIL. Rather than a hefty king of mutant dogs, the Wolverine is actually the king of the weasels. Arguably, in Wind and The Willows, being King of the Weasels was a pretty big deal - but that's a kid's book, the ferocity levels are set at about 3.2. Instead, Whipsnade's Wolverine was a shy, fluffy little thing that refused to come out from under a tree. It wasn't even cute. In fact, I could have chucked a bit of fur fabric on a bush and more people would be interested. I would suggest that Mr. WolverFAIL changed his name to one of the others he goes by, but even 'glutton' sounds a bit too cool.

Even with the WolverFAIL, Whipsnade rocked. What rocked on an equal value was a sibling inbox treat with the subject heading of: BAKE OFFFFF. Yes, Mary Berry and her Great British Bake Off is spreading faster than a viral youtube vid. So far I'm averaging three baking-method conversations a day and, even more exciting, plans are afoot to get a Bowlface team in the bake off to show them how high a scone really should be...
  

Monday, 23 August 2010

Bake Blog

Yeeoush. Long gap from the last written post. During which, however, I have been slaving to high end retail (it almost goes without saying), involved in certain freelancing activities, maniacally making lists (to-do, reading, shopping...all of which constitute my deceptively literary-looking moleskine) and even jetting abroad.

How best to sum up the last 22 days? Well, to be quite honest, it's a task as threateningly dull as its results would be to read. So, here are my highlights:

Discovering Gary Hume has collaborated with Marni (granted, this broke a while back amongst fashion circles, but the Shire is somewhat distracting in getting news hot off the press)

Compiling a mental 'irony playlist' out of the multitude of retro CDs at work. Tracklisting includes Queen's 'I Want To Break Free', Belinda Carlisle's 'Heaven Is A Place On Earth' and Roy Orbison's 'I Drove All Night (to avoid Bicester Village)'.

Watching films with androgynous heroines and their desirable boyish costume wardrobes, e.g., Winona Ryder in Girl, Interrupted, Dianne Keaton in Annie Hall, furthered by amazing styling like this.

Plus munching amazing Malaysian-Thai hybrid food in the open windowseat of Makan London whilst people watching at Portobello Market; taking photos of dogs in Turkey and, most recently, getting hooked into a programme called 'The Great British Bake Off'. Anything where grown, overweight men cry over a sunken sponge whilst announcing they're a 'pastry and pies kinda guy', which incites conversations between Mummy Bowlface and I about the consistency of a sponge mixture and, best of all, involves the narrator saying 'classic ganache' the same way Jeremy Clarkson would announce 'six cylinder engine' knocks Dave Lamb right off my culinary TV top five. Furthermore, the genius assessing the quality of the cakes is no other than the ULTIMATE CAKE LADY herself, Mary Berry.




To celebrate this TV hour of cake-dedicated national pride, and a relevant holiday snapshot, here is Daddy Bowlface sporting a cake moustache. Bon Appetit.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

From Fields to Field Day and Beyond (Retro).

Having just turned off Channel Five's Don't Stop Believing out of outrage that Essex's 'Original Talent' show choir - fine masters of both Gaga-inspired dancing and a Billy Jean meets Gnarls Barkley's 'Crazy' - was cruelly voted out in place of 'Swish' - teenage Robbie Williams' cheesemongering fankids - I decided that I'd put an end to a week-long Bowlface abstinence. It's what Sunday nights were made for. Or rather, the first of seven nights of roaming around in a parent-free house. Announcing a free house on the internet may in some cases cause myspace parties with thousands of teens high on Coca-Cola and the placebo-effects of WKDs. However, I celebrated freedom by eating a dinner comprising of a bit of pork pie, peanut butter on toast, cherry tomatoes and a microwaved doughnut; a myspace party would suck in comparison. Just in case, though, I've removed the 'location' tab from the bottom of the last few posts.

Over the weekend I left the fields of the Shire for the 'fields' of London's Victoria Park in a pseudo-village attempt of a 'chin-scratching music' festival that was Field Day. They won some 'Village Mentality' points with the pig roast and the sack races. However, had they hired in some inter-related country types (to preach sayings like "it's no use planting a cooked potato", rather than having them printed on sacks and hung up) I could almost have been in my native Shire given the high-middle-class level of expensive but scruffily dressed, fake mockney posh kids kicking about. Amongst the stripy shirts (which I too was slightly shamefully clad in) and overpriced cans of Stella I enjoyed a healthy amount of inte-lectro beats and euphoric sounds from the likes of Gold PandaPantha Du Prince, Hudson Mohawke and Moderat, amongst others on far too many stages for a festival of just over ten hours in length.

We hadn't had enough artful hair do's and ironic-dressing on Saturday, so we headed to Brick Lane today for the mega Sunday market and a cheap brunch. Where, amongst all the various unwanted crap being sold on the pavement - my favourite sight being a slogan T-shirt saying 'OH MY GOD, I'M SO RETRO' - I found a tote bag that could well provide me with more happiness than most things. That's because it falsely labels me as a member of the fictitious Hackney Guild of Taxidermists. Because it is technically an imaginary guild the fact I don't practice taxidermy in Hackney is irrelevant. I'm a massive stuffed-animal fan, and my Oxford Literary Festival 2008 freebie tote is being retired to occasional use due to getting tragically threadbare. You too can celebrate a love of canvas and double-headed swans here.

And now back to the Shire, which is free of continental dance music producers and more than twelve people within the age group of 18-24. Despite leaving an extensive note, the absence of parents probably means that there's going to be little to 'make blogs' about, as Daddy B would say. To compensate for this emotional whirlwind, I end on my favourite Shire-ism of the last week:

Daddy B on witnessing a police car siren past the house: 'alright, we're not in New York'.      

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Taking on Applejack.

Arguably, when the closest one's Friday night gets to a club involves driving home to Annie Mac Presents, Saturday morning lie-ins are unjustifiable. Especially for a morning person. Despite this, going for a run at 8.25 during one is still pretty ungodly.

After a couple of glasses of wine the previous evening (consumed post-work, alongside a family meal and 'civilised' conversation. WILD), I agreed, nay, was coerced, into going for a jog the next morning avec newly-fitness-fanatic sister. As regular readers may know, I've not been adverse to an early run across the acres of field that comprise the Shire, and so, despite not having done any exercise for two months, this seemed like a great way to squidge in some sibling quality time in a weekend otherwise lost to H.E.R.S (high-end retail slavery, get with it). Or so I was told.

The thing is, I should always have been suspicious. VINCENTS DON'T DO SPORT. As recent nostalgic 'accidental' replaying of home videos from the early nineties has demonstrated, we're missing that from both gene pools. Granted, we're not overweight nor lazy; enjoy a walk and some hands-on gardening. However, P.E and Games were never timetable highlights, the fact that Dad couldn't join in the Dad's Race at primary school sports day due to 9-5 commitments never massively grieved us - we weren't blind to the comparable size of the rugby team fathers - and I, one-time team member of the Rounders 'B' Team in year 9 and a fourth member of the winning relay team due to peer pressure alone, am considered 'the sporty one'. As a bored child I much rather had crayons than quoits, to the extent my mother threatened moving 'to a flat with no garden if you don't go and play in it'. No thankyou, sport, we do vintage motor cars and baking, a healthy equilibrium considering the slight of arse necessary to fit into the former.

Therefore the announcement that female sibling Bowlface had a) decided to run 10K, and b) for a sense of self-achievement, a celebration of youth and well-being and, even more shockingly, c) NON-CHARITABLE FUN, shook us as a family unit somewhat. The lack of sponsorship has been a point hotly and repeatedly justified by her over the weekend, especially considering that Mummy B confessed to 'telling everyone [she] was doing it for Cancer Research'.


I woke up at 8.03 on Saturday morning, sleepily surmised that sister B would be pouncing into my room at any second and that, like my five year-old self trying to avoid a smack, hiding under the duvet would make it all go away. Eight minutes later my room was indeed invaded by Sister B dressed head to toe in overpriced, 'scientifically-personalised' lycra garb from some kind of Clapham-specific running shop. Reader, my resistance was short-lived and futile. At 8.16 I joined her, (in freebie scene-mag teeshirt and grubby mum trainers) analogising that whilst she resembled (My Little Pony) Applejack from our childhood toybox in temperament and appearance, I was feeling like 'Claude', the peculiarly chunky mauve plastic nag from a French supermarket.
Don't underestimate that doe-eyed expression. 'Claude', not unsurprisingly, does not have a Google images entry.

This proved true for the entire 30 minutes and 2.5 miles of tomato-faced 'sibling quality time'. I do believe the words 'go on without me', were muttered at one point. I had turned into the Billy Pilgrim of a Shire-based Slaughterhouse Five, complete with her disbelieving my sheep theories. Never again.  

Thursday, 22 July 2010

another way to waste one's day

During the heady days of my second year at university I first ventured into the world of the weekly column. Called 'North by South', it made sweeping regional generalisations based on the often tragically amusing anecdotes that comprised my life in Newcastle. I managed to string it out for 18 issues and get my face recognised in Marks' and by drunk student clubbers, who would often subsequently remark that I was an ignorant southerner or something, and that they read my weekly 600 words of self-indulgence solely because of how pleasantly angry it made them (this is another tragically amusing anecdote, by the way). Plus it allowed me to write about Greggs every once in a while.

Were I to try writing one now, I'd be a bit stuck. After all, today, my last work-free day before I lose another sunny weekend to an air-conditioned hole, I have achieved the following things:
- hemmed an early 90s Aztec-print charity-sourced skirt WITH POCKETS.
- secured a 'tutoring' gig.
- taught myself how to tutor about King Lear (i.e., read King Lear)
- enjoyed the news that Nick Griffin was refused entry to the Buckingham Palace tea party - Go Queen!
- baked a couple of cakes, cocked up the icing. I think it looks 'rustic'.
- Decided that any attempts to make my late 80s hounds tooth-print summer trousers acceptable enough for Milton Keynes (teaming them with savage wedge boots and a top not sourced from my floor) was not worth it to watch Toy Story 3 and reluctantly changed out of them (comfy) into early 90s mum jeans (comfy, but nothing in comparison).

Hardly face-recognising quality content. This became all the more apparent when I was directed to Neil Boorman's new column on viceland.com. Unlike me, he's actually formed copy on events of interest to more than one person and writes about them with Paxman-esque withering 'tude whilst owning a diversely proportional amount of qualifications. Check it outttt.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

My Mum's having a love affair with American Apparel

Wednesday night. Katie and Alex: For Better, For Worse. Large amount of 'reject' meringues consumed (due to the lack of essential gooey chewy middle, and increased risk of explosion, a whole batch got replaced by a new batch for parental party last weekend). Huge manly fleece jacket adopted. Potential bliss.

I can justify this middle-class, parent-free squalor by having been enslaved to high-end retail for nine hours today. Yesterday, however, I spent my day off in a not dissimilar situation. Unfortunately, penury dictates that I can't always spend my enslavement-free days on bikes in other Northern European countries, so I undertook similar activities to that of a bored housewife. Without a husband or children to entertain, thank God.  

Amongst shoe polishing, laundry, and buying some baking essentials amongst other groceries, I also lowered my psychological age by a generation and got on with my 'making American Apparel rip-offs' project. Or so I thought. Because, shortly after fabricating a near-perfect imitation of a circle scarf for £4.95 and a bit of love, my Mum returned (to dinner on the table, may I add) only to announce her recently discovered love affair with American Apparel.

Turns out last week shortly before a ladies-who-lunch lunch, Mummy Bowlface stepped into the American Apparel in Covent Garden, and finally realised why I had been chatting on about AA since the gold leotard-purchasing event four years ago. Granted, since then, as certain leaked documents detail "The New Standard" demonstrate, gold leotards are no longer as hot as lace blouses. Still, Mummy B's grabbing of my homewear favourite, the Sailor Stripe Long Sleeve Pullover, was the sartorial equivalent of hearing Vampire Weekend's debut album played at last years' garden party: an enlightening, delightful moment of generational bonding, just one somewhat tainted by an impending sense of losing my 'edge'. (Yes, that 'edge' which is sharpened by housewifely activities).

On reflection, it makes so much sense that Mums should love American Apparel more than twenty-something trend-following types. After all, they're not going to be made to feel podgy and inadequate by the overwhelmingly attractive staff, nor experience the inevitable sense of competition that seeps from each piece of baby cord; because AA isn't the usual dinner party wear, and, (if we are to believe them), their offspring are just as pretty as that chiseled cheekbone-owning waif in the corner who's folding things with a sense of superiority. Furthermore, for a woman who likes to leave notes directing me to my dinner half a metre apart, the super-clear labelling of every garment in 's', 'm' and 'l' is a dream come true. Too much of my 'acceptable' (i.e, high street originating) wardrobe has been purchased from AA for me to give it up, plus it's just too damn comfy. Although if Mummy B has her way it may soon be making its way, garment by garment, into hers...

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Mole-stuffing and Munich

Yeouch, evidently I've broken the two-posts-a-week rule. Bad times. As ever, this is due to:
a) not much happening, and
b) too much happening to get to blogspot.
Yes, that cruel paradox.

Last week pretty much comprised of slavery to high-end retail, minus the amount of customers which make such slavery bearable. As a result, we came up with means of entertainment including trying on all the ugliest clothes in the stock room (ok, so that was just me, but everyone else enjoyed it), discovering mutual love of Shakira and discussing the metaphysics of The Stray Cats' lead singer. What if he really was a cat? This is what infinite repeats of 100 Hits of the 80s CDs will do. I would embed the video but I fear that listening to it in a non-work context may result in my brain imploding.


Other highlights last week including STUFFING A MOLE. I know, it's a pretty big highlight for a taxidermy fan. A local rookie taxidermist friend is constantly on the hunt for mini furry victims of natural death and animal-suicide to give a second life to, and lo and behold, parentals Bowlface found a mole of such unfortunate circumstances in our garden! Everyone (me and local rookie taxidermist friend) was very excited. Anyway, it's been stuffed! and called after the real Bowlface familial name of Vincent! And we (see above generic plural) really want to dress him in tiny Victorian garb! Here's a pic, the squeamish may want to look away - despite his friendly giant-pawed gesture he's got a bit of a bloody jaw.





This week, however, has been enslaved to high-end retail for only the latter half. The former half I went to Munich on some super cheap flights for social reasons (getting out of the Shire). Cheap flights involved a fair amount of coach travel. However between Memmingem and Munich I really got into the Deutsch of things and cracked open Slaughterhouse Five and Kraftwerk's Trans-Europe Express to accompany me along the borderline Black Forest autobahn, which unavoidably caused images of Nazi propaganda (the prettier ones with fields in) to come to mind. Once in Munich, time was mainly spent getting excited over the taste sensation that is Weissbier and cycling around on 'rescued' (albiet by means of sawing off a chain, prior to my arrival) Holga, the prettiest once-abandoned bike in Munich.



Munich is made for cyclists; the cycle paths are as wide as the roads, they have their own traffic lights and pedestrians who walk in them tend not to out of shame (massive contrast to England where I feebly ring my bell before shouting CYCLE PATH in the face of whoever I nearly crash into as a last resort). Holga, naturally, had a basket which we shoved copies of German Vice magazine, Brot und Kase and other fun picnic stuff into, before embarking for the 'English' Garten to swim in fake rivers and giggle childishly at wierdly shaven old naked men.



Holga, I miss you so much.


I also listened to Belgian artist Michael Borremans in conversation with an undeniably critical German chap about his awesome paintings, how easy it was to find Nazi magazines in Belgium and how much he ripped off Caravaggio. I think it helped that he'd removed his brogues and sat happily in bare feet, or that he had a ginger beard, or that he retorted to the challenging philosophical art questions with lines like 'well, yes, she could just be sat in a bath of chocolate...or shit', but I fell a little bit in love with him. Here's one of my favourites:

Aaaand that just about takes us up to riight now. There's another big social event in the village tonight (the Shire is just one huge social whirlwind - should probably set up a new label for it), except this time it's in my parents' garden. I've been warned by Mummy Bowlface 'not to write anything nasty' about her on the blog -even though it stems from deep, deep affection and pride - so tomorrow's review may well be censored. I can, however, say this much: there has already been conversations both about and with the furniture this morning. As ever, I'm going to make a fashionably late entrance, not because I'm cool, but because I'm working. Exciting times.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

G is for Grunions and Graduating

This Sesame Street-style means of titling posts has really popped out of nowhere, and indeed not only illogically starts on the seventh letter of the alphabet but seems there to stay. There is good reason, however, and that reason is the invention of the word GRUNION. I've relished that ol' Biblical nugget 'out of the mouths of babes and sucklings' many a time, including on Bowlface. But that's because time and time again it comes true! Grunions, as well as being a little-known eel-fish hybrid which are known for an 'unusual mating ritual', are also old people, according to the definition invented by an 8 year old Bowlface relation. More specifically than 'old','those who need a concession'. The fact it's been so well thought out really pleases me. Granted, if you look on urbandictionary.com there's a load of crude and frankly disgusting definitions of grunion, but using it to describe my Dad through his age alone is way more fun. Especially when it's used in a form of secret code.

So that was Sunday tea time, when I reverted to a happy childish place to deflect the academic pomp that was my graduation ceremony the next day. Yadda Yadda, multiclapping, wearing family heirlooms, not tripping up the step, being hooded by the 'hooding marshall', proceeding to wear the hood a bit like the Scottish Widow afterwards, eating a load of celebration food, making Mummy and Daddy Bowlface proud.

So, satisfied some Newcastle cravings and almost said a fairly comfortable cheerio to my student days before arriving back at the Shire to think that falling into the world of teenage style bloggers was a great progression. I really should know by now that putting even the smallest of toes into this giant talent pool only results in a state of misery and feeling I've failed in life. Tavi Gevinson, as practically any cult glossy magazine fan will know, shot to fame at 13 for her forward-thinking and ludicrously good blog. Ok, so she's 14 now, but at that age I was wearing dead people's jewellry and trying to grow boobs, meanwhile she's mastered the bowlcut/granny glasses combo that even at 19 I didn't wear as well. However, green is not a good colour for me, so I put the envy away and started following her on twitter. This resulted in a plethora of other teenage style 'rookies' (ha!) who all look like they should be on an American Apparel billboard, if only their mothers would let them out. Here's a couple of my faves:

http://ifthesokfitz.blogspot.com/
http://hipstermusings.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

G is for Gaga and Grandparents

Went on a Shire road trip to visit Grandpa Bowlface today. He's 92, lives in an unwittingly amazing house decked out in enough kitsch and vintage furnishing and wallpaper to stock most overpriced Shoreditch interior design stores for several decades, and takes me out to lunch to places where they paint 'CONGRATULATIONS' and flowers on a plate with free fudge for 'graduating' (which I haven't officially done yet, but what kind of weirdo turns down free fudge?) We drank Earl Grey, ate a load of cake and talked a lot about birds and converting to Judaism. It was the best.

As if my day off couldn't improve much, I come home to find THIS little bloggy nugget on twitter.


Yes gents, contrary to model rumour, this is Telephone-head Lady Gaga herself rocking the androgynous look. Two of my favourite things coming together in a beautiful slightly-Prince-esque way. For, nearly exactly a year after that ridiculous hermaphrodite Glastonbury motorbike scan(man)dal, Gaga has now shown exactly what her lady (gaga) bits look like in the Telephone video and demonstrated that so girly is she that she can even be a man. I've always backed the 'Gaga's a Man!'-dle, in that, hell, if she was a bloke, she was doing a bloody good job of being a lady. 

This piece of styling genius is down to Nicola Formichetti, internationally renowned stylist who I can pathetically name-drop after working the desk at Dazed and Confused during an internship. It took me at least two hours to work out how to put through calls from important types from the likes of Prada and Giles, always asking for 'Nicola' on strict first name terms. Shouty, continental fashion types are scary at the best of times, let alone when they keep being accidentally hung up on. 

Moving on, needless to say I am seriously considering getting a subscription to Vogue Hommes Japan now. Granted, I won't understand much of the text, and I'm not a Japanese man, but who knows which celeb may come under the androgyny treatment next?   

Saturday, 26 June 2010

For non-pet people, animals really love our house.

Unfortunately, due to the success of Justin (shitmydadsays) 's once-pathetic living at home existence which happily coincided with an elderly parent, this post isn't going to have quite the same pizzazz nor book-writing novelty. However, as my parents are not (yet) elderly and it has taken me three years of living away from them to realise the pure unadulterated and often worrying gold that leaves their mouths, I can be given this one as an epiphany.

For, in a mere two weeks, my parents could have aided numerous wannabe BBC 3 comedy writers with their bizarre and unwittingly amusing utterings. Arguably, that could be construed as not so many, but it's definitely something I've never really noticed before. Sure, there were always the classics; like when my mum dubbed a social networking site as 'myface', or referred to Radiohead circa '99 as 'that moany band your brother likes'. But it's reached a whole new level now. Particular favourites include:
- My Dad on hearing that yesterday was the anniversary of Micheal Jackson's death: 'that was all rather unfortunate, really'.
- and in general regard to the news: 'What are they doing wheeling that old dinosaur on?'
- My Mum on Australians: 'well, they're all descended from convicts anyway'.
- and on my graduation outfit: 'you better try that on again in case you've put on weight and you can't fit into it'
My favourite responses include: 'stop taking the piss out of the deaf presenter man, Mum'.

Therefore, when the aforementioned childhood-friends-come-of-age-village-parent-lunch-party was described as a 'champagne avalanche' at 11am today, I knew it was time to get involved. I was, however, mildly distracted by a small maternal shriek, which was immediately followed with 'THERE'S A SPARROW IN THE KITCHEN!' Even in the dual context of 'shire' and 'parental outbursts', this really was the stuff of fiction.

Whilst Mummy Bowlface has an irrational fear of cute newly-fledged sparrows under an all-encompassing feather fear, Daddy Bowlface has an entirely rational love and fascination of fowl. Especially buzzards. When driving. But I think that's just a Dad thing. Anyway, I walked in to the kitchen to find Mr. MiniSparrow (or Spuggy, as Kirsty Golightly so adorably calls him) perched happily on top of the antiquated toasting-grill above the aga, inside an inglenook. Add some alpine foliage and it could have been a Christmas card. I tried to take a photo of him, however, like most creatures I aim my early 80s SLR at, he swiftly flew off, settling for the microwave. After a bit of bemusement with a Jamie Oliver sugar jar, he found a bottle of vitamins as the next appropriate perch, before finally settling on his rightful place on Daddy Bowlface's shoulder. Never before has the Shire produced such a cutcopy of a Snow White and Zipedeedoodah video hybrid.

Can someone give me abs, please?

Old habits die hard. It's my day off from 'style advising' in high end retail hell and blogging has already been interrupted by 'style advising' Mummy Bowlface's lunch party outfit whilst simultaneously explaining my life plan. This wasn't even the old habit I was referring to dying hard. Because, friends, I've returned to the early weekend 'bed blog' - a means of psyching myself up for a run which has, naturally, resulted in me sacking it off. The sun's come out now - a couple hours ago it was still cloudy and under my duvet vague thoughts of dashing through fields seemed a bit like a Witch Hazel advert, from which I would return with rock-hard abs.

Alas and welaway, I shall remain podgy and maybe attempt a few crunches during Friends. Oh hai, being sixteen. Without distractions from the outside cultured world, such as The Creators Project, I find myself using sad bits of trivia and comments from the middle-aged ladies I serve as a root of autodidacticism. Or blog fodder, at the very least. Yesterday I repeated this feeble joke in both verbal and text form to at least four people:

'what's the best cheese to hide a horse?'
'mascapone!'

I got that gem off Radio One, which, Bowlfans, you may remember me shunning in light of Radio Four's erudite leanings. However, I just like 'chart and chat' of a morning when it's spent inside a car, driving to a place which insists on repeating the same Hits of The 80s CDs for eight hours a day. Yesterday it took my colleague about 4.9 minutes to comment on my 'neck beard' - a bit of tufty fluff which, contrary to the urban dictionary definition, was once my hair until an unfortunate sunny afternoon and a friend with scissors resulted in a feeble undercut attempt - before announcing that the septuagenarian she just served smelt like me. Upon entering the fitting room this lady had been occupying, I couldn't smell a thing, which proved her point. Apparently, it smells like 'dairy', more specifically milk - I'm hoping she's trying to describe the smell of cocoa butter because otherwise this is a whole new symptom of Shire Syndrome.

Later the influence of Gok Wan that all broadsheet weekend colour supplements like to comment on at least quarterly was realised as the following conversation occurred between two customers:
'oh, if you try that dress on you have to wear a belt with it'
'why?'
'because Gok puts a belt with everything, so it must be good'.
It's sad but true that the man who adorns high street items with hideous haberdashery really is transforming lives.

Add a couple of Italians who I overheard saying 'Mamma Mia' and the fact that the campest hairdresser in the village down the road isn't free to deal with the neck beard until THE 8TH OF JULY and I had a thoroughly gob smacking day. Lunch party later: cue scenes from The Graduate. I'm contemplating printing handouts with bullet points justifying my graduate existence to save repetitive and awkward conversations.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

HOT AND JONZEY

Good god, it is HOT. Not that seductive, slightly perspiring holiday kind of hot but the too-muggy-to-wear sweatpants (ironic, given the name), doing chicken-dance to fan armpit kind of hot. Especially when I'm blogging on the ancient parental PC which is radiating heat as it struggles to open more than four tabs on any one browser.

What's both cooling me down slightly and encouraging me to stay on this retro noughties beast of an electronic engine is the latest offering from The Creators Project, involving Bowlface favourite Spike Jonze. Even before we get to the vagueries of this man having been the inspiration behind Yeah Yeah Yeahs' indie ballad of dreams Maps, he's also responsible for cult film classics such as Being John Malcovitch, Adaption, and all the best music videos. I spent most of my Contemporary American Fiction seminars arguing with my tutor about why his adaption of Where The Wild Things Are is actually incredibly great and not ludicrously tedious and seeing as I am, of yesterday, officially First Class at English Literature (had to sneak that in somewhere), it's got to stand for something, as The Creators Project now recognises. Excellent.

Here's the vid. I've got to go and take a cold shower.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Shire Syndrome and possible cures

if more american apparel adverts looked like this my self-esteem wouldn't get such a bashing after Vice popped through my door every month


Some of you may be glad to know that since the pity posting things improved dramatically. I deleted 300 of my facebook friends, booked some flights to Munich and started some fantastical plans to become Jennifer Grey. Clearly leaving the Shire on a 48 hour impromptu dirty stop-out trip to London was highly necessary, otherwise several other cheap European flights would be under my belt and I'd be trying to get euros out of my minus money.

Being a dirty stop-out obviously wasn't my intention when abandoning the beloved Yom-mobile in the most economically friendly of Milton Keynes' station car parks at the peril of bored and potentially neglected local children. Instead, I was headed for a reunion with old school buddies at Camberwell College of Art's end of year show. This chap, in particular, as well as being a completely lovable long-lost friend, was luring us in with shiny invitations. I've been a fan of the comic geek since it was transformed into something Seth Cohen shaped in the O.C. However, Harvey's comic books, including 'Have Love Will Travel' and 'Not News Comix' are super great and funny, and accesible on his site. If Bowlface was the type of blog wise enough to have 'top tips', buying them would be one of them. Another top tip would be to bear in mind that 'Have Love Will Travel' was created in a week and a half with a brush, which makes it the product of such talent that my mind is a little bit blown.

It was, however, the second mega-inspiring exhibition of the day as I stumbled across the Sally Mann exhibition at The Photographers' Gallery whilst trying to avoid wierd hair-model scouting types on Oxford Street. Southern America + freckly kids with attitude + dead people + a load of clever silver screen photography techniques and that makes for one incredible first UK solo show. Especially when Mann's kids bicker with her in a video about touring photos of them as small naked children, which was like a much cooler art version of what happens when my mum thinks it a good idea to dig out the family videos.

Other than trying to smush Harvey's non-smushable face, my girltime companion and I figured we needed to calm down from two cumalative hours of inner-city bus travel with some inventive tea and ludicrously good cake at Soho's Yumchaa. This was just the start of an international gastro feast which partly justified the dirty stop-out-ing, (alongside the knowledge that if I returned to the Shire I would book some flights and maybe start stalking Harvey's native Shire-based home) and continued via a Chicken Sagwala and some Sunday lunch Dim Sum. According to a discussion going around the table at the time, Dim Sum translates roughly to 'little delights' which is simultaneously cute and creepy. I'd say the same description could well apply to Dim Sum itself; such as the fact you eat pudding (egg custard tart equivalent, well lush) before savoury and many dishes apply the term 'cake' in the loosest possible sense. However, it does mean that after last weekend's oyster experience I have made new food virginity loss a second consequetive weekend. If next weekend falls into a similar pattern I can see myself developing a new and scarily addictive kind of church.

Friday, 18 June 2010

pity post

I would promise that this wouldn't be a few hundred words of snivelling, self-deprecating pity post action, except it is. Surely the fact I'm blogging, sober, on a Friday night having chewed through the bottom of a tub of slightly old ice-cream (n.b, verb use of 'chewed') and switched off the TV after seeing that the episodes of My Super Sweet 16 are re-runs is enough to explain the title alone?

This time last week I was nursing foot bruises from awkwardly rocking to Bon Jovi in those shoes at the grad ball, and about to embark on a nine hour pub crawl before losing my oyster-eating virginity (like the first go at most things, it was awkward and a bit gross) on Northumberland street. 


A sneakily-taken photo of my friend sneakily planning my shock oyster eating experience.

Now, however, I am back in the Shire. Hopefully for the last ever time of permanent temporary residence, although those are potentially words that are waiting to come back and pleasantly smack me in the face. Delightful as it is: punnets of raspberries with post-it notes saying 'For Alice's pudding! Enjoy!' in the fridge, near-constant parental love, a cleaner, carpet that doesn't have stuff stuck on it and Joan-replacement, my beloved Yom-mobile; an early noughties Corsa (which apparently smells of dog but is pleasantly homey to me), a lack of young, intelligent people and any kind of society is numbing my brain.

I'm finding myself conducting life bitterly through the Internet. Just another symptom of my regression to a teenage state. Despite having stripped my bedroom walls of life size posters of general idol and all-round indie heartthrob Karen O and other geeky 'I'm into my music' teen paraphernalia, I'm still reading Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, becoming introverted at work because of my jumble sale handbags and moaning because we've run out of Shreddies (arguably, this still happens in my 'grown-up' life, except, as the person who buys them, I've only myself to blame). This Friday evening the closest I've got to social activity is the handing out of my parents' mobile numbers to old college friends so they can gatecrash their weekend activities in Lincolnshire. I wasn't even invited. I think the only difference between my teenage self and my current state is that I've not hit the gin supplies. Not because drinking alone is a level of loser I've not yet reached, but because my parents have probably locked the cupboard. On the plus side, I've just found Ferris Bueller's Day Off on Film4.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

deja vu deja vu

Despite being occupied with new activities daily, namely, dealing with the ever threatening prospect of leaving my beloved Newcastle, the deja vu blog post theme continues. Indeed, the theme is one of such recurring frequency that perhaps I am having deja vu about deja vu in a never-ending cycle... Enough of the metaphysics. This deja vu issues from one Jesmond takeaway pizzeria and yet another comparison to a bizarre early 90s film character. Sounds familiar, non?

Sociology Flatmate and I have developed a tradition over the last three years in which we call each other during our journeys back to the house for various reasons:
a) establishing if the other is in the house
b) discussing the purchasing of food
c) providing necessary chat during walking.
Thus, I should not have been surprised to find myself sitting alone in Mistletoe Pizzeria a good four hours before they expect any of the usual drunken clientele (approx. 18.30 hours) as a phone call of the aforementioned description revealed Sociology Flatmate's pitifully desperate need for pizza. I couldn't go home to such a sad, cheese and dough-deprived, face.

This is Mistletoe Pizzeria's quaint letterbox. I wish it would say 'pizza' instead.

Just as I was dealing with a cocktail of emotions - love for Sociology Flatmate; shame from sitting in Mistletoe Pizzeria at 6.30pm and, mostly, a strange absence of drunk Lancastrian men sporting mullets - the pizza proprietor switched on the sound system as a means of customer recognition. With it came a near-spiritual moment. Granted, it's probably got something to do with my current heightened emotional state, but music seems to be, wait for it, 'speaking' to me. I know, but carry on reading.

For example, a woeful departure from dear friends was accompanied by my i-Pod's shuffle choice of Neil Young's 'Don't Cry', only to be followed by Simon and Garfunkel's 'Only Living Boy In New York', my location as of September. Most than anything it probably shows I need to stop raiding my parents' record collection, but I was a tad spooked.

Add to the mix the following announcement from the pizza sound system: 'Welcome. Welcome to the end. Do not be afraid. The world is changing.' Weird, in many a way, but not in the least when this bizarre 'welcoming' broke into Black Eyed Peas' smash dance hit 'Boom Boom Pow'. Sociology Flatmate's adorable Dutch surname has resulted in our calling of her 'Boom' - the pizza sound system, therefore, was serenading her pizza with her own name.

As for the likeness comparison, the deja vu fails a little in that it emerged not from the Mistletoe Pizzeria, but from Jesmond Tesco's Latest Resident Big Issue Seller. In the past he has tried to persuade me to part with my hard-loaned cash with crude statements and catcalls. However, this time L.R.B.I.S posed a question of sorts so I couldn't just leave it at a withering glance.

Caught off guard, probably trying to buy essential Shreddies milk in so as to expose my homewear for as short a time as possible, I was told that I reminded L.R.B.I.S of someone famous, although he couldn't remember who. I did not suggest 'Superman's Girlfriend'. Necessary dairy products purchased, he cornered me on my way out with the opener 'you know Wayne's World'....

Turns out I look like 'Garth's girlfriend', a.k.a Honey Hornee, a.k.a Kim Basinger. She's blond. Despite this, I'm going to relish the retro-film theme to post the best educational/transformation movie montage of all time:

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

on a creative note...


'scribble me pretty' by Aimee Matthew-John

Oh wowzers, just as I was getting over musical inspiration of a morning along comes a combination of my favourite things in: underwear, fashion illustration, and names including the word 'pretty'. Aimee Matthew-John, my ever-present favourite young designer, has been shortlisted in the Triumph Inspiration Award, and my, I want to wear it.

If you feel the same way, you can vote for her here: http://www.triumphinspirationawarduk.com/vote/?v=1

Fathercraft and other creative ventures

Another bleak morning, another Woman's Hour-inspired post title. It was all good - about Victorian and Edwardian fatherhood; which tapped happily into all the notes on Victorian fiction I threw fairly unceremoniously out yesterday afternoon - until yet another episode of the cringe-inspiring drama attempting to portray the domestic life of a gay couple came on. And off with the radio.

Fortunately, there is a video offering from the Creators' Project to fill the gap left by Radio 4 historians. The Creators' Project being pretty much what its name would suggest: a lovely jumbly showcase of envy-inspiring creative types both established and about to conquer the world. It's quite something to be fronted with of a morning. This video shows Mark Ronson being somewhat blase about 'playing in some New York clubs' as a means of starting out and then making some fun beatbox noises about half-way through. From here I'm gunna check out Pheonix, CSS and maybe Nick Zinner as a kind of Goth-Elf desert. Yum.

Whilst I'd like to say that would merely be the start of a thoroughly creative and successful day, I know that all I'm really going to do is sit in an old lady cafe and maybe see some taxidermy. Still, yesterday turned up a few trumps after the somewhat negative morning prediction. For a start, I managed to complete the grudge shoe buying with relative success; after accidentaly throwing the lid of a lipstick somewhere under a pile of croptops in Topshop and getting odd stares from the assistant in Dorothy Perkins when trying to match my acid yellow dress to any of their mainly horrific shoes I got a cracking five inches of heel for £15 in the sale of a department store I'm too ashamed to name.

What I was most greatly cheered by, however, was the re-appearance of a busker on Northumberland St who, in my mind, is called Carlos. This bulky Hispanic chap is wooing the eldery of the North East with his leather jacket, slicked back hair and crooned out versions of ballads of the fifties. It seems I spend most of my life walking up and down Northumberland Street so I've become pretty familiar with the effect he has on his audience, positioned outside M&S. You can always expect to see some slightly goofy smiles, invariably accompanied with a foot-tap. Sometimes they hide their love for him behind a grandchild, who is rocking out to 'Hound Dog' when The Big C decides to step it up a little. These children often act as a medium for Carlos-eldery flirtation when he bends down and sings directly into their eyes. An unnecessary translation, you may think, but bearing in mind the threatening look on Carlos's wife's face when she turned up in a matching leather jacket, I'd say she was all too aware of the amorous grannies' advances. Anyway, yesterday it was taken to a whole new level, in which the Grannies had clearly won out: crooning 'I can't help falling in love with you' directly into her eyes, Carlos was a mere metre away from one lucky blue rinse. I've never walked into M&S with such a facial expression.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

inappropriate family jokes

Blogging Sunday has clearly become Blogging Tuesday. This is because on the Sunday just gone I spent most of the day, albeit situated near the laptop, but otherwise rolling around, moaning, and occasionally lifting my head to eat a pasta bake that should have been thrown out a while ago. See below.

Also, it's because I'm having yet another De ja vu moment from this time last week. Arguably, the weather isn't quite as poor - if anything it's an improvement on the last couple days - but it's still far from the scorching, tightless days of last week, and not in any way encouraging me to leave the house. Unfortunately, like last week, leaving the house and entering the terrifying commercial palace that is Primark is one of my few tasks for the day.

As pure, unadulterated evidence that I am a near-complete failure of a girl, I find the prospect of going out and buying party shoes an utter ball-ache. (Even the fact I use ball-ache as an adjective, despite not having testicles, suggests a femininity flaw somewhere). Cruelly enough, I have enough oestrogen to cause me to recognise that my one pair of party shoes just will not go with the dress I've dragged out of the back of my wardrobe for my Graduation Ball on Thursday - I'm spending money and begrudging shopping trips as a sole result of unavoidable recognition of poor taste. Via the dry cleaners.

Tuesday Blogging again, then, has come to the rescue in the form of necessary distraction from the chores of real life. Like packing. Leaving Newcastle in an ever-shortening number of days necessitates that I shove my overly large and pretentious collection of literature and glossy magazines into some kind of vegetable box (said box was nabbed from the Grainger Market yesterday, under both the guidance and inquisition of two equally charming and mean market stall holders). The box remains empty and propped up against the bannister. Maybe, just maybe, I'll do something about it. Both bleak prospects of shoe shopping (especially on a £20 budget) and packing were only a slightly better thing to wake up to after a threatening dream about a Primavera-style festival in Cuba, with bomb-dropping and me threatening to throw a vintage camera into the sea.

Some things have cheered me up, however. Switching on the radio to hear the dulcet tones of NME's first lady Editor Krissi Murison chat about being a girl in the music journalism industry, for example, was a nice treat. Potentially even nicer than the morning play about the private lives of gay men they had on yesterday. Then the suggestion of listening to Owen Paul's My Favourite Waste Of Time, which can't help but raise a smile, really. In fact, I've embedded it here as a reward for reading this diatribe of self-pity. Just to top it off, naturally, a familial inbox treat reminiscing on local old men who used to come and do assemblies before it turned out he was being convicted of paedophilia. Black comedy is the best medicine, apparently.
Also, as promised, is a sneaky review of Major Lazer's set at Primavera on Thiskindofmusic...seemingly I have achieved something in the last week other than a collection of equally bad tan lines.

Oh blogging, you're my favourite waste of time....

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

hey June, hey rain.

Even though I had been part of a collaborative prediction that today would be the worst day of the past two weeks; I hadn't foreseen drizzle. The prediction being based on the fact that I've spent the best part of last week and this weekend at Primavera festival in Barcelona. Primavera being a relatively, but gloriously, unknown event showcasing an impossibly well-curated selection of bands and DJs in a concrete jungle built upon Barcelona's coastline and attended solely by beautiful, civilised and international music geeks. That I didn't fall into this classification, and that we managed to blag a whole weekend ticket with our £15 Pitchfork tickets made my enjoyment even better from the position of festival imposter. There are some live reviews coming up on appropriately niche website This Kind Of Music all in good time...

Anyway, having spent the past couple of days in cold, predominantly wet, Newcastle; surrounded by the overdressed 'festival fashion' tweeny attendees of Evolution Festival, the contrast couldn't be greater. I was, however, still reeling from dancing barefoot to the Pet Shop Boys and their incredible dancers, screaming along to Major Lazer's remix of Say It Ain't So, lying on the beach, invading old man tapas bars and the like. Today I am bitterly aware that Primavera 2011 is a whole 363 days away.

The only thing that can provide solace is a healthy form of autodidacticism or mini-project. The former has become quite a list now, including Daniel Johnston, HTML, David Lynch and Evelyn Waugh. The latter, potentially more exciting, involves one of my favourite underrated British voiceovers: DAVE LAMB. The backstory involving a holiday that could potentially be ruined by a near-fascistic enforcement of Come Dine With Me competition, the challenge being to get a letter from Dave Lamb (Come Dine With Me narrator and general funnyman) to suggest this isn't such a great idea. It's become known, originally, as The Dave Lamb Project, a.k.a DLP.

So far, I've got as far as a twitter account; sadly without the option of direct messaging, and a seriously dodge-looking agency website. I am, however, going to call them. It's the only option for fun on a rainy Tuesday Blues morning.