30 September 2007

Allez les Pingouins...

I'm not the most professional of football fans. In fact the last time I went to a football match was back in 1994, when Burnley went to Wembley in the division 2 playoffs. I wore a Burnley hat (still a good choice of headgear for embarrassing my husband in winter) and stood with my brother and dad in the middle of thousands of yelling fans. It were great.

So last week's experience was a bit of a shock to the system. For a start, Libourne v Nantes (a second division match) took place in a stadium the size of a small teacup (if you can imagine a teacup with floodlights). We paid the princely sum of 2 euros to go on the terraces (actually a small slope of about 3 metres rather than a terrace, if you're nitpicking, and rather marvellously called the tribune) and stood with a whole load of French folk who looked as if they'd been dragged in off the streets.

Contrary to English custom, people in Libourne don't necessarily go to a football match decked head to toe in team kit - you might, if they're really pushing the boat out, see a team scarf. It was all rather relaxed - the terraces were full of teenagers doing their homework, small children hopping up and down with excitement at seeing the ball, and the usual chain-smoking Frenchmen of indeterminate age wearing macs of indeterminate colour. There was a strange, yet heady mix of smells - overpowering aftershave fighting the burger and baguette stall for dominance.

I can't really comment on the football. It was fairly fast, the players had nice legs, and it all looked an awful lot better than it does on the telly - quite skilful, in fact. I've still no idea what the French for "the referee's a wanker" is, but I can now shout "Libournais, Libournais" with the best of them.

Nantes were 2-0 up by halftime, and the game stalled in the second half. By 85 minutes, in drizzling rain, my dad suggested it was time to go. The game wasn't going anywhere, and our car was pointing in the wrong direction so when 3,000-odd people came out of the match, we were going to be stuck.

We got just outside the gate when the first massive cheer erupted, followed by a shrill whistle. Penalty. Followed by a massive cheer. It obviously went in.

Back at the car, another massive cheer, followed another minute later by a slightly quieter one. Surely Libourne couldn't have scored twice? And then Nantes belted in a winner?

We drove home slightly worried. For the first time in his life, my dad had been to a football match and didn't know what the score was.

We looked it up in the Sud Ouest the next day: Nantes 3, Libourne 2. Three goals in the last seven minutes. Brave Libourne had fought to the end.

I wait 13 years for a football match...

20 September 2007


OK. I don't normally watch ads (too busy not watching telly), but it's the middle of the Studio 60 ad break, and I've just got to say:

  • Will somebody shut Dervla Kirwan up? I'm sure she's a lovely woman, but she's not just annoying, she's beyond annoying. Especially when she's plugging blatantly summery food and it's pouring down outside.
  • What is it with M&S women on trains parading about in their underwear? You only usually get that on the 2am express from Newcastle to Durham...

Update: ooh, Rupert Penry-Jones in the Tesco ads. Nice. This advert-watching isn't that bad, you know...

19 September 2007

I'm sure I've heard it somewhere before

If you're a fan of political cliche and jargon then you'll love Not my words, Mr Speaker on Radio 4 - it'll enable you to bottom out the forward march of progress towards the latest blue sky thinking, and allow a synergistic rollout of inclusive, holistic visioning on the road to total incomprehensibility. Don't worry, I'm sure there's a practical workaround to allow top down cliche management.

18 September 2007

Paris nostalgique

These pictures just make me want to hop on Eurostar, and head over to Paris. I've not been for three years, and I've missed it - it's one of the few places I've visited that I've been back to, and one of even fewer that I'd love to live in.

I first went as a penniless student on an interminable coach trip, and stayed in La Defense - not the most hip of areas, but with architecture to die for, especially at night. The OAPs headed off on a Seine cruise and dine experience while we roamed the snowy February streets in search of crepes with Nutella and free museums. It was absolutely freezing, and I spent the whole time parading round in an enormous black men's old-fashioned coat, which I'd bought on Cambridge market, and a purple velvet hat. Very bohemian.

A couple of weekend trips later, it was time for our honeymoon. This time I'd ditched the hat in favour of sunglasses and sore feet (dancing in posh wedding heels really takes it out of you), and we spent 10 days mooching about the city, getting lost in the Marais, drinking champagne for breakfast and marvelling at the view from the top of the Pompidou Centre.

I've been back since (and found the best cheesecake in the world), but I now need my fix. Maybe next year...

16 September 2007


The hallway painting continues.

We've lived in our house for about a year now, and are just getting to grips with the decor. The two guys who sold us the house were wonderful (on the day we moved, not only was everywhere spotlessly clean but there was also an enormous bunch of lilies waiting for us), but their taste leaned towards the baroque edges of bachelor pad. Lots of dark mahogany wood. Two chandeliers in the hallway, with more in the dining room. Friezes. A bathroom covered in dark maroon paint and beige marble (the photos of Judy Garland, sadly, went with their owners).

And a hallway. A huge Victorian monstrosity of a hallway, with high ceilings, dark red shag pile carpet, and deep red walls.

I'm a Scandi-style type of girl. You must know the kind of thing by now - lots of pale colours, floorboards, open-plan sunny living. White curtains, sunshine, cheerful children running across fields eating strawberries (oops, no, that's the Boden catalogue). I really don't do deep pile carpets (I have a cat and an asthmatic husband. Say no more). Dark colours make me depressed (and if that's the case in Gateshead, then who knows what effect they would have in the middle of Sweden in December - I can see why Abba wore white jumpsuits).

So it's on with the 97 coats of one-coat paint. The house will be light and bright and white. It will. If it kills me.

15 September 2007

Arts Corner: Sparkle

And so it did. Sparkle is a pretty little British rom-com, just the thing for a grey and windy night in Newcastle. Boy on the make (Shaun Evans, a younger version of JRT - it's a hair thing) sleeps with potential boss (Stockard Channing), gets job, meets lovely girl (Amanda Ryan) and falls in love - but she just happens to be the boss's daughter. Oh dear. Bob Hoskins and Anthony Head are around to dispense some charm and wisdom, and it all turns out ok in the end. As it always does.

I'd not seen a good British urban rom-com since Martha, Meet Frank, Daniel and Lawrence, and I'd forgotten how nice it is to laugh a bit, cry a bit (I'm a terrible weeper at films - don't ever sit next to me in the cinema unless you can put up with a lot of sniffling) and smile at a happy ending. And all done in a proper accent.

Actually, that was the only thing that jarred for me - Stockard Channing's English accent. She sounded fine - I just can't get used to seeing her as anything other than the First Lady.

12 September 2007

Paint wars

I hate the Victorians. Their hallways are enormous.

Although on second thoughts, at least they believed in dado rails, so they can't have been all bad. God only knows what acreage of wall I'd have to paint if they hadn't.

11 September 2007

Here endeth the wardrobe lesson

Praise be. The wardrobe doors are no longer brooding mahogany beasts, but have been lovingly transformed into sleek New England-style shutters. The bedroom looks about 50 times bigger, and light is no longer sucked mercilessly into a wardrobe-sized hole.

Next on my list: dark red hallway walls. This house will be shorn of Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen/Liberace affectation if it kills me. Although I might keep the chandeliers.


One coat paint.
Doesn't do what it says on the tin.

08 September 2007


Drove past Darlington today (home of the very exciting brick train), and was, as always, filled with an impending sense of doom. I'm sure there's lots of lovely people there, but the outer reaches of suburbia (full of boxy housing, windswept playing fields and disreputable pubs) that you drive through to get to the A66 remind me of a fairly horrible year I spent there.

Back in 1997, there wasn't really much of a scene in Darlington. Lots of pubs, the Plastered Parrot (their 10p shots may not have been of the highest quality), a flea pit cinema that closed shortly after we arrived, and some down-at-heel former bingo halls turned discotheques. Oh, and the chippy down by the station that specialised in deep frying sticks of rock. A night out on the tiles was likely to lead to a terrible incident on the tiles, particularly if you were sporting a vaguely non-northern accent.

In between studying journalism, I failed to sell posh shoes in joseph M (where my crimes included not having all the coathangers facing the same way), nearly suffocated with cigarette smoke while working in Ladbrokes (sadly, have completely forgotten the intricacies of betting), had a lovely time shelving cds alphabetically in HMV, and spent a long time photocopying at NEDL. Glamorous it wasn't.

So I fled north to the flesh pots of Newcastle, where at least there was a cinema, lots of places to drink where you could actually hear yourself think, and shops other than the twin peaks of mighty Boyes and posh Binns. Not much to ask, really.

06 September 2007

Where does the time go?

You know how it is. You sit down at the computer of an evening, thinking, "right, I'll sort out a couple of invoices, write a spiffing blog post and have a wander around the blogosphere before knocking off in time to watch Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip", when you get sidetracked into hobbits, Facebook and other sundries, and you realise that you have precisely 2 minutes to set the video recorder.



Made it! Yes, I know video recorders are from the Dark Ages and what I really need is one of those magic recordable hard drive thingys that can pause live tv and everything, but until our dark red hallway with the red deep pile carpet is sorted, modern technology will just have to wait.

01 September 2007

Joseph's coat was elegant the cut was fine

Well what else can you do when your soon-to-be-two-year-old has an obsession with Joseph and the works of Andrew Lloyd Webber, and said she'd like a 'big cake' for her birthday?

(sorry, picture from mobile phone so a bit duff)