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 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 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: