Thursday, 25 March 2010

David Attenborough Live

Prime example of your normal hardcore 'horny pigeon' inner city stalking. Not, apparently, how they do it in the country.

Despite having little else but village life, parents and the internet as educative tools during my formative years, Shire experiences never cease to amaze me. Like, for instance, how right outside my window pigeons are performing a distinctly feeble version of Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On'.

As if Facebook, twitter, urban outfitter's newly-announced mid-season sale and green tea weren't distractions enough.
It's like a lame version of David Attenborough's Life down here. Except it's raining, and not super-heavy-monkeys-make-umbrellas-out-of-leaves rain, but thoroughly unwelcome grey not-yet-April showers. Furthermore, instead of close-ups, slow-downs and microshots (totes technical), I have a grubby window covered in intriguingly unidentifiable white stuff and a cut out silhouette of a hawk to stop fellow pigeons committing suicide by flying into it. This happened two Easters ago, leaving three All Saints-esque Gothic perfect pigeon prints with a collection of splayed wing/feet shots and, in one case, some poo.

It all started innocently enough with a bit of friendly grooming nestled inside the boughs of a Yew tree. Not dissimilar to that you'd see in the opening scene of Disney's animated classic Cinderella. Before I knew it, the dirty buggers were balancing on top of each other - scaly pigeon feet carefully placed into fluffy Shire-pigeon back plumage - and shaking whilst sliding down the lower one's back. Pretty weird. Mr Pigeon (I presume he was on top) was getting seriously puffed out by this point, in fact probably to the extent that lady pigeon flew away. That was it. Talk about anti climatic. He's been sat cooing miserably on the same branch ever since. He's still there, all the time I've been writing this. Loser.

In other news, I've found another reason why Heston Blumenthal and I should hang out. He writes today about his surprise at the lack of people getting excited about the asparagus season that's due to start in a month. I'M EXCITED, HESTON, I'M REALLY REALLY EXCITED. Furthermore, I've been really excited since February. Best kind of food spear around.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

"artists" with too much time on their hands

Eggs are an odd enough concept as it is, let alone with a tiny naked baby inside. Where did the unborn chicken foetus go?

Given my current state of mind/location/occupation, I could once have thought myself able to slip into the above category. After all, when I'm done stalking people-I-don't-even-know's facebook profiles, checking Twitter every ten minutes and contemplating when I can justify having another snack, maybe creating some crazy art might be the next logical step. I'm clearly not freaking out about the insane degree workload anyway near enough.

However, THIS just shoved me right back into the 'lazy student with a lack of work-related will power' category. Again, another maternal inbox treat - why she didn't send me crazy stuff like this when I was interning and spent my days trawling the internet for weird stuff for the Vice blog is beyond me. There's now a new label dedicated to such email correspondence.

So, there's a lady out there who actually had the brain wave to spend her days making tiny miniature babies and sell them for the best part of $100. Sounds like a long shot, but people are buying them - what you do with them after parting with a month's worth of grocery money is a mystery. Carry them around in your palm and put miniature baby clothes on, I guess. The closest experience I have to anything of the sort was when a friend thought it would be hilarious to carry round a tiny baby doll, which was terrifyingly grubby, and drop it in people's drinks at the pub. That was weird, gross and annoying enough.

Sunday, 21 March 2010


Three months on and the genre of Shire post returns. Quite a momentous occasion, actually, as this is the last University holiday in which the prospect of returning to Newcastle shines like a little black and white stripey light at the end of a Home Counties tunnel. Next time I'm down here it'll be all over - no more studenty goodness awaiting - and that's why I'm moving swiftly on to happier thoughts.

Like, the bitter, dark hilarity of the fact that I keep being invited to groups and fan pages on Facebook that concern my least favourite place in the world, Milton Keynes (MK). The Shire is located worryingly close to this postmodern nightmare of a city, only just into it's fortieth anniversary of existence. However, it is definitely, definitely, not 'home', as the group MK Is Not Much But It Will Always Be Home..... Big Up MK City!!!!! would like to suggest otherwise. This page pretty much sums up 'MK City' in a feebly-constructed piece of internet engineering. Like, for example, that Milton Keynes hasn't even been officially named a City yet - does it have a Cathedral? Does it have a University? - and that even its own citizens are happy to admit it's 'Not Much', whilst simultaneously making a string of posts along the lines of 'MK....City of Dreams', 'MK....City of Hidden Talent' and, my personal favourite, 'Forget London City....Its All About MK City'. The fact that illogical capitalisation and the mysterious four-dot ellipses are obligatory inclusions just adds something so special.

Anyway, after arriving into the rain-soaked MK temporary (although it's been there for three years, in which several thousand identikit houses have been built) bus station last night, I don't intend to return to Milton Keynes for at least ten days, and that will only be to go to the train station. After all, for the next month the Shire is acting as a kind of Tibetan monastery, out of which a good 12,000 words of academic brilliance and several pounds of happy flab are going to erupt from birdsong, broadsheet breakfasts and organic fowl-munching. The one irony of a university town being that attempting to do any kind of serious study in it is near impossible due to fun distractions such as society.

From here on in my dissertation breaks are going to be as follows: afternoons out to sites of national heritage, baking, girltime (best kind of distraction, usually involving Louis Theroux re-runs and duvets), charity shops and the occasional jaunt to London. And, of course, blogging. Get ready for near-daily updates on how many villagers have got an new dog/gained weight/started power walking.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

e-mails my family send me

yes, I am aware this isn't the first time a picture of a human dressed in an animal-inspired babygro has made it onto this site.

Slight step up from retro Bowl-post 'Notes my Mum leaves me.' I was actually hanging out with Kirsty Golightly today, in an attempt to make that prophesy come true. We wandered around the Quayside and it's many 'Heugh's in the sunshine for a stupidly long time trying to find a couple of speakers reverberating in the North Tower of the Tyne Bridge. When we found it, we left after about three minutes. Then it went silent and we thought we'd broken it. (We hadn't).

Anyway, I came home to two amazing bits of information thanks to Bowlface family members. Number one, from Mummy Bowlface, is that my link from my facebook page didn't lead to Bowlface, but here: Rather than the self-indulgent witterings of a bored aspirant journalist, this, as you will discover by clicking, is actually a site offering Bible tours. Unfortunate, no? You can imagine my distress when I find an email with the subject heading of 'Have you got religion ????????!!!!!!!!!!!' (not least because of the superfluous punctuation)

The superfluous punctuation is, however, somewhat understandable. Although it is pretty hard to imagine me offering 14 and 15 day package tours around Egypt, Jordan and Israel, three countries to which I have unfortunately not been, it is apparently a 'Mega site of Bible studies and information'. That 'mega' is highly suspicious.

Fortunately, after that little shock the next familial e-mail was far more comforting, in more way than one. Since the onesie obsession started, was fulfilled, and subsequently brought whole new issues in where I can and cannot wear it (essentially just the house, and certainly not when entertaining), like an addict, I've been on the hunt for the next onesie-equivalent obsession. Bro Bowlface suggested this little site. Verdict: oh-so cosy but somewhat over warm, and perhaps unnecessary given my relative lack of camping holidays. It was superceded today, and I can't stop thinking about how much I want a Kigu.

If I thought the opportunities for onesie-related fun were numerous, those for Kigu-related fun have taken it into a whole new realm. Imagine you're just chilling at home, pretending to be a flying squirrel/tiger/red panda/kitty and then your buddy rings and announces you're missing a 'totally rad' fancy dress party? No need to change! Or, say, you fancy going to the zoo and get trapped in one of the cages - you can just whip out a Kigu and assimilate with the animals.

Maybe this is why I haven't written any of my dissertation today. I bet if I was dressed as a red panda I would have pumped out two in this time, though.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

My lecturer has a better blog than me

I can only dream of the day people will send photos like this into Bowlface

Not highly surprising, as Bowlface is, unfortunately, only updated weekly at the moment. However, it's more the nature of the blog, and indeed, that of the lecturer behind it that makes it so totally awesome.

Last weekend, whilst outstaying our welcome at the pub, myself and a couple of literary mates had a bit of real-ale induced confession time. That confession being that, yes, we loved to try and work out what our lecturers did in their spare time; that we got small thrills from seeing family portraits when let into their offices on the premise of 'borrowing a book', and furthermore, these tutor-crushes had, in some cases, resulted in guilty googling.

This is not all bad though, as some lecturers are clearly made to be googled. Take, for example, Kate Davies. Although not a personal lecturer-fave (she terrified and inspired me in first year in equal amounts after shouting at people for talking whilst sporting Heidi-braids), the dedication of her blog, needled, to knitting, walking, and things that she'd like to take onto Radio 4's equivalent of show-and-tell gives her about a gazillion cool points. I can understand why my Davies-fan buddies got so excited upon discovering it.

Anyway, needled puts Bowlface to shame, and rightly so. There are daily updates informed, but not self-indulgent, musings, and an evident international fan base in the thousands. Hardly surprising considering this fan base is delighted with knitting patterns and knitting pattern-related competitions. Under the cryptic title of 'parliament', a whole other world of non-academic Kate Davies fans can be entered. In which a competition for the best woolly recreation of Kate Davies-created o w l jumper pattern resulted in a parliament of o w l s. Amazing is not the word.

Anyway, writing about Kate Davies' blog is like dancing about architecture, or something. Just check it out. And then send me an o w l jumper, that would be nice. I can't knit.