I’ve been busy. If you want to listen to me talk crap for forty minutes every week, listen in to The Sort Out: A marvellous new podcast aimed at doing something about stuff. Or something.
Further info is on our blog at http://thesortout.com/
There’s also this. I made it. I am embarrassed.
*runs off into the sunset, going “squeeeeeeee”*
Right: Here’s the thing. I am busy. I never thought I’d say it, because I’ve spent most of my adult life crumpled in a ball on the sofa, but things have changed and I am now apparently a proper adult.
So, as you can tell from the cobwebs and the squatters over there in the corner, this blog has been cruelly neglected. But fear not fan(s) of nonsense, for I have done an idea out of my brain. I’m not really able to talk about my job or anything, which has resulted in a bit of a drought in terms of exciting things to talk about (“today I went to the corner shop and bought some Drum – it was mint and I can recommend it) and really, I’m limited to wanting to put pictures up for you to look at. Lovely, lovely pictures.
However, I’m not sure WordPress is the best place for this, and I do want to keep the old blog separate in case, well, I dunno. In case I do something interesting. However unlikely this is…
Soooo, my idea was this:
An affiliated tumblr blog for pictures of things I like. And that’s it, really. Nothing flash, nothing fancy, just things what look nice.
Enjoy, lovelies. I promise I’ll be back soon. :)
You guys! I’m not dead! Look at me, with my aliveness!
I’ve survived seven weeks in the new job with only one minor nervous breakdown, but even better than that, I bought a car. I can actually tick something else off the list! Go team!
(There’s a lot of exclamation marks in this writing. I suspect my brain might be trying to kill me.)
The list – which has been around on this blog since the very very beginning – is as follows:
1) Pass driving test.
1.5) Buy car
2) Find meaningful career.
3) Stop being fat.
4) Make effort with appearance.
5) Read some classics and not just Hornblower novels.
Actually, I just added the one about the car in just now. Did you notice? It’s because I wanted to make it look like I’d made some progress since MAY 2008 WHICH IS THE LAST TIME I DID ANYTHING OF NOTE. Oh no, wait; I became a teacher didn’t I? Gah, I’d already crossed that off because I’d thought about it and applied for a job in a school. I’ve literally not moved forward in my life at all in nearly three years?
Hang on, I bought a dress for work…
1) Pass driving test. 2) Find meaningful career.
3) Stop being fat.
4) Make effort with appearance.
5) Read some classics and not just Hornblower novels.
Look at me! I’m a grown up!
Anyway, car. It’s awesome. It looks like this:
And it makes me feel important when I drive about in it like a QUEEN or an EMPRESS or something. I literally laugh at the pedestrians as I pass them, unless they’re doing that thing where they dick on at a pedestrian crossing and then decide to cross just as the red man comes on. Then, I stop laughing and start imagining how they could be “taught” and “encouraged” to use a pedestrian crossing correctly: Mostly this seems to involve me herding them over the crossing repeatedly with a lash and a bucket of snakes, until they get the message and fall to their knees weeping in gratitude.
How quickly you forget when you buy a car… two months ago that was me – hovering at the curb and refusing to cross whilst the green man was flashing “just in case”. I was weak, I see that now. Now I am a great and terrible chariot commander, safely ensconced in my red wagon of fire and tearing up the roads with my awesome skills. Yes; it’s been a long time coming…
Didn’t stop me driving into the wall at the end of the drive last night though, did it?
I was in town yesterday, attempting to achieve the complex task of getting from my boyfriend’s house to the bus stop. I was wearing my new boots which I am convinced make my feet look huge. Everyone I know tells me they do not. This is important.
My first stop of en-route to the bus stop was Dickson’s the bakers, because @anguaji told me their pies are mint. Being that I was on my way to her house, I offered to pick up a family steak pie for us to have for tea. No family pies, but two individual ones equaled job done. I was now halfway to the bus stop.
I next attempted to cross the street. This isn’t usually an issue for me: The combined efforts of Tufty, Dave Prowse and my Aunty Hilda had pretty much ensured my continuing survival in inter-pavemental transit situations; which is great, until the day you are accosted by a street nutter in the middle of the zebra crossing who grabs your arm, grins and says “Hello! How are you?” and then looks at you with boogly eyes until you answer. Being English and therefore incapable of any form of confrontation EVER, I told him I was fine thank you and sort of moved off firmly.
Street nutters… I mean; really.
Onwards: And because of the no-doubt crushing disappointment of my individual pies, I decided that I would take something sweet with me. I took a shortcut and found myself within spitting distance (literally – a man demonstrated) of my favourite Christmas shop: Poundland. My head filled with dancing images of hideous plastic Santas and multi-save bags of PomBears, I entered the melee of pushchairs, motability vehicles, zimmers, electronic tagging devices and large groups of shaven-headed cherubs who were busily sticking the v’s up at the WPC who was patrolling the aisles. (As an aside: Why, WHY steal from Poundland? WHY? Who does that? I mean, go to Poundstretcher! Things in Poundstretcher cost more than a pound.) Don’t get me wrong – these are my sort of people. I had a good chat with an older lady about Christmas mugs – to the effect that realistically, they’ll be out all year and will only embarrass you when company comes round – and tried on novelty Santa earmuffs with a six year-old and her mam. Seriously, check Poundland out at Christmas. It’s the most genuinely Christmassy place I can think of. Everyone’s so cheerful! Anyway I selected a load of old shit and went to the counter. The man on the till apologised for having no carrier bags and offered me an “alternative” bag which turned out to be a bin liner. A man stood behind me in the queue nudged me, leant in and said, “That’s a bin liner, that”. When I agreed, and the man behind the till agreed and said, yes, it was definitely a bin liner, queue man nudged me again and said, “It’s a bin liner”. I smiled, and agreed again, and till man continued to pack – but agreed and nodded – and queue man nudged me, and pointed and said, “…Bin liner”. By this point, both me and till man were just nodding like ornaments stuck on a car dashboard by someone with no taste, and queue man, sensing defeat; turned to the woman behind him, nudged her and said, “They’re using bin liners. That’s what I reckon”. Till man looked at me with large, red-rimmed eyes and told me I owed him six pounds. I looked back and then away; handed him a tenner and waited for my change, half expecting him to grab me by the scarf and plead with me to take him with me – away from all this, off into the early evening and away into the unknown. Well: At least as far as Heaton. On the 63.
But he just gave me my change.
I was out the door before I realised that I’d bought a load of plastic tat, but no sweets, and being in no hurry to go back into the same room as a man so obviously threatened/excited by bin liners, I nipped into Greggs for some fancies. I was by this point, just across the street from the bus stop. Almost there. It had taken me so far twenty minutes to make what should be a three minute walk, so I was ready to enter Greggs, buy cakes, leave. I’d had enough excitement.
I got to the counter, barely noticing the man hovering in the corner of the shop. Perhaps if I hadn’t looked around to make sure I wasn’t… I don’t know; being stalked by ninjas or something, he might not have noticed me either. But he did, and I instantly heard footsteps. Oh, not again! I thought; remembering to remember that I am, essentially a friendly person*. He said, “Eeeee, you’re tall, aren’t you?” and because I was facing the woman serving me and he’d come up behind me, I had to do that ‘is he talking to me?’ face at her before I turned around. I mean, he was clearly harmless. You know the sort. So I just said, “Yeah, really tall!” and laughed. Then he said, “How tall?” So I said “Five foot eleven… Really tall!” and he said “Well I never!” and we laughed.
Then he said “Eeee, but yer bonny, aren’t you?” and I said smiled and the woman behind the counter smiled and I said thank you to her and to him and got my cakes. And then, as I was just about to say Happy Christmas and take care and all that, he looked me up and down and said:
“But your feet are MASSIVE.”
I wanted to cry. The moral of the story: Your friends and your family will tell you that your feet look fine in your new boots. But only a street nutter will tell you the truth.
So if you’re thinking about visiting Newcastle at Christmas, bear in mind that it is the time of year when everyone is slightly more pissed than usual; including our more ‘colourful’ characters. However, our nutters are also harmless – and in fairness, will offer valuable fashion critique that your loved ones cannot.
Swings and roundabouts, really.
PS: The pie was lovely.
*I only wanted some cakes… I’m not a bad person, am I? I just… seem to attract people who are a bit “different”…
I’ve been pretty much snowed in all week and apart from a slight facial tic and a few too many biscuits, I’ve coped quite well. (I did get snow in my knickers somewhere around day three due to a series of over-excited capers, which pretty much convinced me that staying indoors was advisable.) However, I’ve started to have dreams about making fish and chips with Sarah Palin, so I’ve decided that I need Projects to keep me going.
Today’s Project is a revisiting of an album that I was a bit obsessed with as a teenager*. All of my CDs except eight are in storage, so I do occasionally experience the odd pang for say, my Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci albums or similar – but usually it passes, or I just buy it off iTunes or Spotify it. When I was thinking of an album to revisit for this blog, I knew it had to be something I loved, something I hadn’t heard in full for at least ten years, and something that perhaps I had moved on from musically (God, that sounds so pretentious). I know I definitely loved this album. I know I haven’t listened to it for years and years. I know that I have certainly moved on from the genre. The fact that I appear to have moved on to Girls Aloud and early nineties dance music is moot.
So, lady and gentleman,** I will spend today listening to, and then writing about, this album:
Some background *adjusts research spectacles*: This album was released in the UK in 1995, making me 15 at the time. I bought it from John Menzies in the Metrocentre and listened to it once. I then saw the band supporting someone in 1996 (I have a terrible feeling that it was The Lightning Seeds and would like to pretend that I never went to see them) and gave it another listen. I won’t say that this was my favourite album, or that I was obsessed with it, but rather that it was ideal for having on in the background whilst doing other things; like revising for GCSEs and talking to friends on the phone. The other album I used to this end was The Bends by Radiohead, the difference being that I still listen to that one. I’m not sure why I stopped listening to Be A Girl, although I suspect that I just outgrew it. I remember it being fairly light and poppy, and by the time I hit sixth form I had cut my hair off and was ghosting about to Bjork and The Smiths. Oh, and The Monkees – which basically sums up my essentially contrary nature. I must have been a pretty cheerful teenage depressive.
Track by track; onward.
Track 1 You And Me Song
Obviously, this is the biggie. This song was on basically every indie compilation album at the time and it was a big hit amongst my friends. I think it’s a teenage girl thing. Squee!
Listening again, I can remember how I felt about this song at the time; namely that the quiet bits are ace, but that the choruses are a bit… shit. Add to that the fact that it’s possibly one of the most over-used songs in the history of the universe: Advertising; films; fucking Richard Hillman trying to off Gail and the kids… It’s got that Don’t Look Back In Anger quality, in that when you’re 17 and in an indie club you’ll sing it at the top of your voice, but you’d definitely never listen to it on your own time. However, it does have one of those plastic keyboard wind instrument toy things in it, which makes it about four thousand per cent better than it could have been.
So, I want to like this song as much as I used to, but frankly, Coronation Street has made it a joke. Sad.
Track 2 Might Be Stars
Ooh, I remember the opening chords to this song! Okay… more plastic keyboard wind instrument toy… standard indie format… Lyrics about being famous one day… It really shouldn’t work, should it? I should be thinking “this sounds like everything else from them days”, but in actual fact, I can’t help but feel happy. Sort of like I want to do a little dance! They’re clearly a band in their twenties; why are they singing like kids?? It’s really, really difficult not to like this, even if it is completely uninspiring.
Track 3 Love In June
Not ringing any bells as a song title, but to be honest, I am absolutely horrendous at remembering song titles. I’m one of those people who will go: “You remember that song about the, er, the thing? With the girl and the chorus and that? … No? … It’s got the guitars! And the bit about love!! You must know it!!!” And there’s nothing worse than that moment where the person you’re harassing goes “Well, sing it then” and you refuse and there’s a fight.
Anyway… *presses play*
Yes, I remember this. It’s a bit more grown up, and uses the boy/girl vocal dynamic in a less cutesy way. I have to say, I’m not a fan of that slightly syncopated punctuative “doom/doosh” thing that loads of songs in the 90s did. And this song, whilst pleasant, bores the adult me. I think it’s something to do with getting closer to death. Less time for whimsically singing about girls with yellow hair; must press on and dance to filthy house whilst still have the use of my legs.
Track 4 How Does It Feel?
This song could be by anyone featured on “Shine Three”, to be honest. Again with the pleasant verse and dull choruses… I’m starting to wonder if this is just me. (Actually, there are loads of songs that I could chop the chorus out of. Lipgloss by Pulp, Cheapskate by Supergrass… Well, there’s two anyway.)
Ah, good key change. Like that. Oh, right, back to the original key. Reckon they missed an opportunity for a swirling crescendo there, like. Pity.
Track 5 Sweet Nymphette
In at five is the strongest contender for “shittest track name on the album”, and it starts like the default “ROCK” setting on a Casio keyboard. However, it definitely improves once it hits the band’s typical blend of pretendy teen angst vocals and tambourine jiggling. And it’s got whirly shoe-gazer guitars! Well, for about five seconds in the bridge, anyway. I quite like this. It seems like the sort of song I might have sat and picked apart in my bedroom so that I could practice the bassline. Simple, yet catchy. Not bad, but not great. (I sense a theme here.)
Track 6 New World Record
Featuring Kriss Akabusi on guest vocals and the late Roy Castle on plastic keyboard wind instrument toy.
This starts off quite moody, but then the chorus takes us off in cheerful territory again. I think it’s the almost complete lack of anything resembling a lead guitar on most of these tracks that’s really depressing me. It’s all just chord, chord, chord, chordchord, chord, chord…etc. Ooh! A Moog-type thing. Well, that earns it a bonus point.
Track 7 Dying For More
Oh, the irony!
Use of a “false start” always pleases me in a song. I don’t know why. I’m probably just a bit simple. I have a feeling that this was my favourite song on the album, and it does seem to be a rather downbeat affair. Fingers crossed the chorus isn’t too cheerful, because this is rather pleasant. Here it comes… Of course it’s very much in the louder chorus mode, but it’s still quite angsty. I’m impressed. This song is also notable for slightly darker lyrics and a cheeky reference to girls AND boys. Those sexy Swedes!
Because I’m not a musician, I can’t really be technical about this, but there does seem to be some actual notes being played on the guitar here and I like it. Also, silly singing at the end. A win.
Track 8 Soon You’re Dead
No, this was my favourite, I’m sure.
“Your faggy wig-like hair”?? Did I hear that right?? Ugh, this song is MINGING. But fun. But MINGING. It’s certainly catchy, and I can see how it appealed to my teenage sensibilities. Good use of boingy (technical term, obvs) guitars and woowoowoo Strike It Lucky style sound effects. And sweet girl overlay vocals on the chorus. I still like it. And I could have probably done with it when I got a bit older and started breaking up with inappropriate sex partners.Ooh! And hand claps! What’s not to like?
Track 9 Do It All The Time
Bit rockier, this one. They’re definitely picking things up for the latter half of the album. Same formula, but with a bit more oomf, as it were. “Ba ba ba” choruses are always a bit good as well. Still, I’m halfway through the song and I can’t help but feel as though I’m waiting for something. And whatever that something is, it’s sadly not “woo woo woo”. Which is a pity, because this is a perky little tune, make no mistake.
Track 10 Dreamy Wednesday
Ooh, this is a bit more like it; heavier riff, big bassline, sense of impending doom… Strings! Aw! Strings plus pretendy teen vocals are pretty lovely. The subject matter is obviously loss and yearning, which suits the more grown up tone. I like this a lot. It’s even got a bit of a Smashing Pumpkins vibe. I’m starting to feel as though the band are growing up as the album goes on. They start off in the playground (You And Me Song), move into teenage optimism (Might Be Stars, New World Record), experiences the first highs and subsequent lows of love (Soon You’re Dead) and end up in the pub as a bitter twenty-something reminiscing about the loss of their youth and more than likely feeding copious numbers of pound coins into the jukebox in order to keep The Smiths on.
It’s like I knew this album was going to be about me.
Track 11 Kid
So, what will the final track on the album tell us? Perhaps it’s about the decision to give up and become a teacher, buy a house and realise that you’re not as young as you used to be.
Oh God, IT IS! How did I not ever see this when I was 15?!
“I wanted to be everything”… It’s basically about everything you want but probably won’t ever get. And it’s a lovely, lovely song, with a big sad chorus and the continuation of those grinding guitars from the last track. One thing’s really apparent; we are now a long way from the initial plastic keyboard wind instrument toy cheeriness of the early part of the album. That’s pretty clever.
I was all prepared to say how bored I was listening to this album as an adult, and it definitely doesn’t hold the same appeal musically for me that it used to. It’s certainly not a masterpiece, but it does successfully capture the “Britpop” (ugh) spirit. Well, for a fifteen year-old it did. But as a narrative, I think it’s a bit special. I know I did English at university, and that this has resulted in an obsessive need to read too deeply into everything (Harry Potter is all about the adolescent’s realisation of the separation between ego, id and the public persona, you know. It so is.), but I reckon I’ve got a handle on Be A Girl. It’s made me feel quite thoughtful.
Next week: Further regression with a Marxist analysis of seminal 80s giveaway tape Learn Listen And Play With Ronald McDonald.
**I am under no illusions as to my audience. My hair; yes. I am under several illusions about my hair. But not my audience.
I just sat down and put Tame Impala on, and all the cats stopped eating/sleeping and looked up at me expectantly. It was like something out of an advert. Dog remains unaffected by Antipodean psyche-rock, though. Weird.
I know I said last time that I was going to go out and about Challenge Anneka-style and do some seriously interesting investigative reportage for you, but to be honest I haven’t been anywhere other than Town and rather reluctantly; The MetroCentre: Europe’s Biggest and Best Shopping Centre. Well, it might be the biggest, but it’s certainly not the best since they ditched the rollercoaster, I can tell you. I even spent some quality time in Gateshead’s very own town centre yesterday, which is always a bit like visiting Communist Russia with a hangover. I went to Peacocks and bought some slippers. The Dad took one look at them and said “planning on joining the Greek Presidential Guard, are we?” In fairness, they do have large pompoms on the top so I can only agree with his assessment. Oh, and I went to see Harry Potter. You know, I have been busy. Just not to the extent where I have anything interesting to say about any of it.
With this in mind, and with a burning egotistical need to write about myself, I have decided, after some deliberation, to set a blog challenge for anyone who’s up for it. I’ve noticed that the dark nights and constant, soul-raping drizzle have had an adverse effect on blogland; specifically in terms of motivation. Personally, I’ve been salving my soul with Twitter, Scrabble and television programmes that are far in advance of my ageing brain. In theory, this approach should be firing my neurons and causing an urge to bestride the world of intellectual pursuits, but it’s actually just making me curl up into a little ball and mutter about whatever the fuck the word “haj” means. But back to blog challenges. If you’re reading this and thinking “yes, my brain has also atrophied to the point that I require the consumption of eighteen mackerel and the omega3 they contain just to operate the microwave”, then you should take this as your starting point for a new entry: GUILTY PLEASURES.
Guilty pleasures come in many forms. Advertising companies would have it that they involve chocolate, reading, and/or a field full of mature corn. Newspapers include tits as a way of presumably providing today’s man with a cheeky tingle on the way to work. Hollywood has long mined the seam of “chickflicks” and “ballstothewallactionfests”, which is a good way of making films by snipping up scripts and rearranging the pieces a bit. Even my dog is fond of a spot of coprophilia of a morning. But the point is, guilty pleasures are personal. Just because my Dad will occasionally be found with his head in the fridge eating half a block of cheese, does not mean that I share that particular passion. (I do enjoy the odd mini Babybel, but don’t we all? No need to go silly…) The more I’ve thought about this, however, the more odd I seem to be to myself. When I am clearly meant to think that sticking a brown satin dress on and eating chocolate in a large rotating chair is a valid guilty pleasure, then why in the name of God am I actually watching the same panda video three times a day on Youtube whilst wearing a snorkel parka?
Anyway here’s the list:
I was going to say Neighbours. Because, you know, it’s shit. But I think we all know that I like Neighbours, and if I’m honest, I have to say that I’ve pretty much weaned myself off it now. No, nowadays I am far more likely to be watching the Food Channel, which in itself is a guilty pleasure… Hmm, what then? Well, sit tight, because I am about to reveal my current obsession.
Yes, that’s right. I am obsessed with this advert. Refer back to my previous assessment of “The Perfect Man”. Beards, check. Proper men, check. Dancing about, check. Specialist career, check. Now skip back a few entries (you don’t really have to you know, you can trust me) to the entry marked “One For The Ladies”. See that bit about Steve Martin? How I say that I love banjos best of all? OMFG THIS ADVERT IS AMAZING.
I might be from Gateshead, but I do enjoy the finer things in life. Yes yes, I am aware that the finer things in life to someone from Gateshead probably include “forrin lager” and “proper tabs not rollies”… but you don’t have to go and say it. You can be quite hurtful sometimes, you know. Anyway, I am from the posh end of Gateshead, so I do know my reductions of sea bass from my winter spelt coulis-es… and shit. But this is guilty pleasures, ladies and gentlemen: We are skating on the ices of pleasure- mere centimetres from the cold, dark waters of danger. And that’s why I have to say “fuck it” and go for Greggs’ cheese pasties like the proper Gateshead girl I am. Look, if it’s good enough for Milla, it’s good enough for me.
And Ikea hotdogs. Hell yeah.
This one is fraught with danger. To extend the skating metaphor a little, I’ve fallen and my arse has gone right through the ice. I know that everyone has little musical peccadilloes, and I know that it’s probably more acceptable to admit to liking, say, Take That than it ever has been before, and I know from my student days that there’s nothing cuter than a bit of irony here and there (see also: My university obsession with PJ and Duncan/Ant and Dec), but I do still like some awful shite that should probably be banned. Currently lurking in my oh-so 20th Century Spotify-iTunes interface are:
Barbra Streisand – Duck Sauce
Fireflies – Owl City
You Aint Seen Nothing Yet – Bachman Turner Overdrive
At least two Girls aloud albums. Yes, albums. Not songs; Albums.
A-few-too-many-to-be-justifiable-as-a-one-off Lightning Seeds tracks
“In the Mix ’96” and its less snappily-titled brother “In the Mix ’97”
The “Best of” Cast (I feel sick typing this)
Basically everything by Andrew Lloyd Webber…. Ever.
Plus many, many more.
Many… Many more.
Loads and loads…Twitter. Hollywood Gossip sites, like Perez Hilton and Crazy Days and Nights. Dancing in my bedroom to KC and the Sunshine Band (this morning it was I’m Your Boogie Man, which is another musical treat to myself). Watching Still Game DVDs for four hours in my Beavis and Butthead pyjamas. Wandering around Paperchase. Playing PS3 games like Bioshock and Fallout then looking over my shoulder and switching to something cute and fluffity. Driving aimlessly at night. Iphone Scrabble. Writing awful poetry. Sneaking up on the cat and shouting DAVID! then running off. Talking to pensioners on the bus. Pretending that I’m being filmed for the Food Channel when I’m making Marmite on toast. Designing anti-Marrowfat pea t-shirts in Photoshop. Planning novels I’ll never write. Convincing friends and loved ones to accompany me at midnight to look at the stars on the Waskerley Way (when I sort of know that it’s going to be cloudy, and just because I like being outside late at night).
I could go on.
But I won’t.
If you have been affected by any of the topics raised in today’s lengthy and pointless blog entry, the management would be delighted to hear your tales of guilty pleasure.
Go on, it’s quite cathartic.
Oh, and by the way, I’m a Catholic, so this could have been a hell of a lot worse.
PS: I did consider writing a list of the bloggers I was going to challenge to do this, but I started to visibly shake when I considered the possibility of them ignoring me. I will link back here to anyone who does it, though.