30 November 2006

Gorgeous George

Ooh, this made me laugh. And it's seasonal...

29 November 2006

Arts Corner

This is a serious blog, you know (!), and as such, should obviously have an Arts Corner. Much like that bit in The Guardian that you never read, cos it's full of reviews of opera, biographies of obscure authors and how the telly isn't as good as it used to be (discuss).

So here goes.

Item number one: The Tempest. Shortly to be appearing in London, but last week brought to the provincials in Newcastle courtesy of the RSC.

It should have been fantastic - it starred the thinking woman's favourite Star Trek Captain, Patrick Stewart, for a start. I have to say I was distinctly underwhelmed though. It had the usual RSC groovy-yet-ingenious-scenery and staging, some pretty weird music and some really good actors, but to be honest I fell asleep in a couple of places, and Mr Stewart wasn't anything to write home about. I was expecting someone with real stage presence - I've seen a couple of people (Kenneth Branagh and a very young Toby Stephens spring to mind) who were so mesmerising that you simply had to watch what they were doing no matter where they were on stage, but I just didn't get that with him. And he was a bit fond in places of the shouty hammy thing that actors do when they are attempting to get all emotional, so you can't tell what the hell they're on about. Speak the lines dear boy. Us punters in the gallery who can't necessarily see all the facial expressions and movements need to know what's happening. Or we fall asleep cos it's dark, warm and we were up at 5.30am with a teething toddler. You have to allow for these things.

Thinking of Toby Stephens reminds me of item number two: Random Quest on BBC Four. Which didn't contain Mr Stephens at all, but the lovely Samuel West instead. I know it's not much of a segueway, but I'm trying, I really am. Anyway, I saw it completely by accident - you know how it is, you end up eating your tea in front of the telly watching some mindless rubbish, stay tuned, and actually end up with something really really good. Plot wasn't amazing (it was an adaptation of a John Wyndham short story, and lacked a ballsy ending), but the whole look and feel of the piece was gorgeous - the alternative reality segments looked to have been shot in a house that could have been straight out of Wallpaper. Me wantee. Anyway, nice restrained music, great acting...it was one of those dramas that don't leave your head for a while afterwards. And it was sci-fi. Now that doesn't happen often.

Arty-farty stuff over. Toodle pip.

24 November 2006

How to celebrate your birthday

  • Get woken up at 6.30am by overenthusiastic toddler.
  • Make exciting breakfast of Shreddies and milk.
  • Take a walk to the park, to feed the ducks. Get menaced by starving swans, who turn out to be about 5ft 4in when stood up waving their necks about.
  • Eat lunch, while attempting to avoid being smeared with Marmite and toast.
  • Go to Sainsburys. Allow toddler to stand in trolley, in direct contravention of about 540 byelaws in order to go round store in less than 5 hours.
  • Make tea. Sort out washing.
  • Collapse on sofa in front of Home and Away.

I have to say that throwing bread at the assorted swans/ducks/geese was pretty good fun (although a bit scary due to the sheer numbers of huge birds with very pointy beaks who demanded dough with menaces). I quite liked annoying the staff in Sainsburys. And I especially enjoyed the Marmitey kiss.

And I did get to go out to a very fancy restaurant in the evening (Secco, on Pilgrim Street) where I ate my way through the Menu Gastronomico (orichette with squid! tiger prawns baked in sea salt! fig and walnut torte! prosecco!) before collapsing in a rotund heap.

Best birthday for ages, I reckon.

19 November 2006


If I ever start making noises about going to IKEA on a Sunday, then will someone please shout NOOOOOO at me, preferably at very close range. I'd forgotten how completely hideous it is in the run up to Christmas, full of people (me included) who fancied a trip out to buy some some candles and a pack of napkins, and unaccountably returned with some coat pegs and endless lightbulbs. And who meander. Very very slowly. Around the whole store, four abreast, so that you can't get past (especially not when your toddler insists on pushing the trolley as well). That's it. I'm abandoning Christmas shopping, and going online. Ebay here we come.

17 November 2006

Smug, me?

Rather worryingly, I seem to have produced a child that will devour tagliatelle with chicken livers for lunch. I can't claim any credit though - rather than anything Nigella-Lawson-domestic-goddess-ish, I suspect it was the lure of smiling Italian waiters. I'm sure it'll all go to hell in a handbasket, and that there will be refusal to eat anything except beans on toast at some point, to terrify the middle-class mother in me. But for now I'll sit back in a smug and self-satisfied manner, while looking at all the furore on advertising junk foods during children's tv. My downfall will come soon, no doubt. Probably right about the point that she discovers there's chocolate in her Christmas stocking.

In other news, I'm currently watching the back-slapping celeb-fest that is Children in Need. Much as the cause is worthy, it makes for some really terrible tv. Lots of miming bands, awful local tv segments (sorry Wendy Gibson) and Peter and Jordan. I think I need to go and lie down. Or at least top up the glass of red wine that is conveniently sat right next to the laptop.

16 November 2006

"Give Satan an inch, and he'll be a ruler"

It's amazing what you can see in 6ft high red letters on church billboards. This one had the unfortunate effect of making me laugh out loud at the idea of Satan as a wooden ruler, circa 1982 - those ones that you had in class that always had nicks and scrapes out of them so you could never draw a straight line properly. Dead scary, that would be.

Actually, it's been a day of religion, in one form or another. Took M to Durham, to see the cathedral, which is probably one of my favourite buildings in the world. I just love the ridiculously fat pillars, the sense of height and space, and the fact that it's warm in there when it's hurling down outside and the trees on Palace Green are horizontal. I also have rather a sentimental attachment to it, having taken David Rollason's Northumbria course in my third year at Durham and spent several happy hours pottering about looking at cathedral architecture.

No indication of the cathedral's opinions on Satan, though, which was a bit of a disappointment. Where's the fire and brimstone when you need it?

14 November 2006

Fashion nonsense

Having not bought anything remotely fashionable for a while, I've finally succumbed. And I'm rather proud of the fact that it happened in Top Shop, surrounded by bizarrely dressed 16-year olds. And on a Saturday as well! It's so long since I've been shopping in town that it was all quite exciting (sad, I know). And once I'd stopped myself from looking at toddler-related stuff I had a ball.

Anyway, all that is a long way round of saying that I've bought a new t-shirt and long jumper (grey, no less). I'm in touch with fashion, me. But not as in touch as the sales assistant I saw in H&M, who could have have been in Grange Hill, circa 1982. She had Trisha's flicked long hair, a grey and red stripy long-sleeved top, stripy tights, and some killer dungaree shorts. Made me feel very old...

09 November 2006

Boy band ahoy!

This made me laugh like a drain. And a hyena combined. In fact it's just made me laugh so much that I'm in danger of waking up M and half the neighbourhood. If you loved Take That's cheesy videos (in an ironic manner, obviously, as just liking Take That would have been far too uncool) the first time round then this one's for you. I'm off to You Tube now, to try and have a look at the real thing.

UPDATE: Oh, come on boys, you're not trying. Where's the dance routine? Or at the very least a few outstretched hands? And shouldn't you be in implausibly white suits that remain spotless despite being in the most windswept and rugged location?

I will say this for them, though, they've definitely worked hard on the pouting over the last 10 years. And top marks for the artfully dishevelled hair. It must have taken days to courier over enough hair mousse for the shoot.

UPDATE II: And of course you can't beat the lovely JRT's take on Back for Good... Go JRT!

UPDATE III: I think I may have spent too much time looking at You Tube.

06 November 2006

Mistaken identity (3)

How about Captain Jack Aubrey? Although I'm not sure our Captain Jack has Russell Crowe's frown quite right yet. He's been practising for the last couple of days, but he's still not mean and moody enough.

03 November 2006

Abandon hope...

I wrote the most marvellous post last night, all about this band and their mariachi-inspired spooky Halloween gig that we went to at the Sage on Tuesday. It got to 9.30pm, and my eyes were starting to ache...the next thing I knew, I'd woken up with a start and was gazing at a blank screen. No words, nothing. All very Torchwood.

Sadly, you'll be deprived of the literary genius that was my work as I've completely forgotten what it was that I was wittering on about. I could baldly state that Calexico were very good, but it won't inspire you to go and see them as much as my late-lamented post would have done.