Thursday, 27 January 2011

Young and sweet

I don't like Abba.

There. I said it. Goodbye last two readers ...

It seems like heresy to say that Abba are bad. Feels a bit like saying that puppies are bastards or that Dr Who is shit (which I might yet come back to ...) but there you have it. I don't like Abba.

Let me ask you something. If they were not the phenomenon that is Abba, and you just heard one song at random, would you think it was any good, or would you switch off? I would be prepared to bet that you would switch off. And maybe swear at the DJ. Essentially it is just any other bit of low calibre Euro-pop, and if it weren't for Benny and Bjorn's marketing team, we wouldn't be interested.

It's not just the faintly oom-pah melodies that vex me. The lyrics are essentially shit too. I'm reminded endlessly of those Chinese instruction manuals that are ineptly translated into English.

You don't feel the beat of a tambourine, however young you are. "Last show" and "Glasgow" don't technically rhyme. And "the loser's standing small" means nothing. The lyrics of Take A Chance essentially say that, if you've tried EVERYTHING else and NOTHING has worked, then I'll be sitting here waiting for you. Like a loser. Or, in fact, like someone who describes themselves as being nothing special, "in fact I'm a bit of a bore."

What a load of rubbish.

I'd always kept this Abba-hate to myself until a couple of years ago. I was having a small crisis one weekend and had spent some time on the phone to my bestest pal, being counselled and talked from the brink. Later that same morning she called back. "Quick, quick! Turn the radio on! They're doing an Abba special! That's SURE to cheer you up." WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS?! It all spilled out, and that was it. My dirty little Abba-hating secret was out, and was met with a stunned silence.

Scroll forward, if you will, to yesterday morning. The afore mentioned friend's daughter is now almost seven. For Christmas she got a portable CD player, and music is her new best hobby. On Wednesday morning her father found her an Abba CD, and, some time during the getting-ready-for-school process, she appeared at her mother's elbow listening to the "Greatest" Hits at top volume, declaring that she would play it for me next time I went to stay.

"Why don't you call her now?" her mother (my former friend) suggested.

And so it was that yesterday morning, before I'd had my first coffee of the day, I answered the phone to a small voice declaring, with glee, "I've got a surprise for you!" Really? What? "Wait a second ..." Long pause. Pause. Pause.

The introduction of Dancing Queen bellowed down the 'phone.

AAAAGGGGHHHHHH!!! Get off my phone!!!

"Hang on," she said, "what about this one?"

Voulez Vous.


"Or this one?" she snorted, between giggles.


She could hardly speak for laughing.

"Daddy gave me the CD and Mummy told me to call you!" she hooted.

I had to laugh. I LOVE that she teases me. But I'll need to buy her some ear 'phone's for her birthday, or she and I will fall out.

Feel the beat on THAT tambourine, sweetheart!

Monday, 10 January 2011

This Weekend (20) ...

It's the return of This Weekend!

Thing is, the weekend after This Weekend 19 sucked, and there weren't ten things to say about it that weren't 1) shitty, 2) pissy, 3) wanky, 4) ... You get the drift. Then the weekend after that was a bit crappy too, and then I sort of got out of the This Weekend groove.

But this weekend was fricking ORSUM so I've decided to resurrect the old fave!

And it went like this...

1) Thursday evening. A sneaky drink after work to celebrate a colleague's 25th birthday. 25. TWENTY FIVE! I can remember being 25. Just. If he wasn't such a nice young man, I'd dislike him a little for the sheer cheek of being 25 years old in MY workplace.

2) And on Friday I had the typical list of six hundred things to do, but I started by going to my new favourite shop, Quirky Dovetail, which is what I want my house to be like. I wanted something to put the telly on that isn't the £19, eleven year old Ikea table that it's currently on. There wasn't anything in the shop that was quite right, but the lovely lady nipped into the back and came out with a FAB-U-LOUS table that she's going to paint a FAB-U-LOUS colour, and inset with FAB-U-LOUS fabric and will be more perfect than the thing that I thought I was going to get. So that was nice.

3) Then I went to see the lovely Gillian of Fabric Nation so that we could make some Lucky Love Bags. I'll tell you why later. But WHAT JOY! to sit in Gillian's back bedroom. Her fabric studio. It's heaven! Every time I cast my eye around I saw something else fabulous to lay my eyes on. It was all I could do not to steal little bits of loveliness and take them home.

4) Friday night was Making Night. I must have told you about this before, I'm sure? It's fast becoming a favourite night in my calendar. Every other week a gang of us girls get together at someone's house, take something crafty and something to eat or drink, and we all sit 'round doing our thing and gassing. On Friday we were at Emma's house. Gillian knitted a sock, Emma knitted a scarf, Amelia embroidered some instructions, Kate made a felt carrot, Concetta drew, Silvia cut out paper butterflies and Lynn read a book (I bloody love Lynn's style!) I, in a feat of extreme jewelling, made FOURTEEN pairs of earrings and a bead flower. Oh ... and we set fire to Emma's kitchen a little bit ...

5) Saturday was marvellous. I'm going to divide it into two bits. Firstly we lunched to celebrate the 40th birthday (can you believe?) of the most lovely Concetta. She booked a table at a favourite pub in Tooting for twelve of us to have a nice ladies lunch together. All very chilled out. We talked about loads of stuff, all of which was lovely, and almost none of which I can recall. I suspect that's the sign of a good conversation. What a lovely lot of ladies we met too!

6) Then Gillian and I hoofed along to the sister pub along the road to set up for Part II of the party ... a crafty workshop for everyone. Everyone got a Lucky Love Bag (see point 3 above) which contained their starter kits, and some lovely goodies. And then everyone made a fabric flower brooch with the guidance of Gillian and a charm bracelet under my watchful eye. It was just fab! The pub were fabulous hosts and the table we were given couldn't have been more perfect and our party guests were gorgeously crafty and the results of their hard work were ace! And, on balance, we thought we might do it more often ...

7) But I opted to leave the girls to it pretty early on because I knew I had a big Sunday too. I'll say that again, in case you didn't catch it. I left the pub early. I. Left. The. Pub. (I emphasise it because it's so remarkable).

8) On Sunday morning I was up at sparrow's fart for a trip. I had to go to Harrogate for work, so I went a day early to catch up with some friends. A train journey is a lovely thing, don't you think? I settled myself in at my window seat, with a large latte and a new book. I would love to tell you that it was a bit of classic literature, or some quality contemporary fiction, but I can't. It's the last of the Twilight books. It's SO trashy, it's not true, but I do seem to be lapping it up. I can only apologise to the Furzedown Bookclub. I'll be tendering my resignation henceforth.

9) Lovely Laura met me off the train and took me to Betty's Tea Room for lunch, where we caught up on lots of news. Laura and I are the daughters of parents who holiday in a particular Devon village every year for the same fortnight, so we've sort of grown up together, but only for a long weekend every year. This is the first time that we've seen one another away from Devon. And also the first time, now I come to think of it, that we've seen one another wearing more than a swimsuit and flip-flops. Lots of firsts.

10) And whilst we were channel hopping before bedtime, we found a documentary about hairy women. I don't know what to tell you, apart from the fact that I now feel smooth and beautiful.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

One week down ...

... 51 to go.

I've done it. I've got to the end of the first working week of 2011. Three WHOLE days done. Well done me. Pat on the back. Thank you very much.

I know it's not much, but MY WORD this has been a hard week. I'm more shattered than a really shattered thing, and never have I been more glad of my four day working week (not that I don't have the usual six million things to do this weekend, of course).

So, what has 2011 offered thus far?

Well, my diet hasn't been going as well as it could have, but it's not been a disaster either. Especially not if you gloss over the jaffa cake incident of last night. Tuesday morning is weigh-in morning, so I suppose time will tell.

And, after MONTHS of nagging (yes! Nagging!) from 'er over at Perpetual Motion, I've started my regime of walking to and from the station to the office, instead of getting on the oh-so-convenient bus. In order to make this a viable option time-wise, I need to speed walk (like those people on the telly who waddle with their bottoms out) so my leg musceles ache a bit now. I suppose that's a good sign.

The other resolution is going great guns though. I am not procrastinating. I'm really not. I think of the next thing I ought to do and I do it. I don't think it'll last, but it's not a bad start. I've even arranged for a man to come tomorrow and give me a quote to fix my wobbly garden fence.

What else happened this week? A man came to bring some post of mine that had been incorrectly delivered by the idiot postman, and was followed from his house to mine by his cat, which, he told me, is called Fido because he tails people like a dog.

Umm... I took down all my Christmas cards and cut them up to make next year's gift tags, realising the second I finished that I'd turned into my mother.

I went to the Other Pub Quiz with Soph and Steve; a quiz at which we always come fourth, and came EIGHTH! Oh, the shame! We were DREADFUL!

And our new graduate surveyor celebrated his birthday today. He's 25. Twenty five. He was born in 1986, for crying out loud.

And I think that's about it for this week. Not much at all. Just a gentle run into the year. But I don't think I could have coped with a great deal more, so that's just fine! Another 51 slow weeks like this would make for a dull, but realxing year. Bring it on!

Monday, 3 January 2011


I get teased by my colleagues.

There are nights that they go to the opening party for a new designer boutique and drink champagne and eat canapes whilst I go to book club.

There are weekends that they spend going to parties and clubs whilst I paint my dining furniture.

There are Fridays which they spend in bars drinking and smoking whilst I hang blinds in my bathroom.

But never have I been so aware of my being a middle aged lady in a thirty-somethings clothing as when doing the crossword this weekend with friends. Having poured over the downs and the acrosses for some time, and got to the point of having only the really hard clues left, she read out a clue she knew I couldn't possibly know the answer to.

"Glass for drinking a large measure of sherry."

I missed not a beat. "Schooner."

She looked at me in a whithering way and, with some scepticism, checked the dictionary. And I sat with my head down, realising that somehow, in 2010, I became my own grandmother.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Being resolutionary

New year's resolutions are more than a little pointless, don't you think? Why wait until January 1st to start something new? Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today? Why think to yourself, "I must start going to the gym more often ... but not yet!" "I'd really like to spend more time with my family ... but I'll give it a couple of weeks before I start." "I'm going to take up the violin ... and second now."

But I realise that I'm a bit anti-establishment about these things. I'm a bit inclined to not tow the line just because there's a line that ought to be towed. And I'm trying to be more open minded. Really I am.

I gave myself the New Year that I wanted this year - a night in with the telly, some crafting, and bottle of Merlot (bliss!), but I decided that I would make an effort, and make some resolutions this year. Two resolutions, in fact.

Firstly, I will lose weight. Properly, I mean. Not just a namby pamby effort to shed two pounds before I give in and start eating mars bars for breakfast, but an ACTUAL regime of dieting. I will weigh myself every week and write it down and eat only the good things and almost none of the bad things, and I won't enjoy it, but I'll do it. That's my first resolution. And now I've told all of you, I will have to do it, if only to save face.

Secondly, I will stop procrastinating. I will stop reading emails and then closing them, but will answer them immediately. I will stop dodging voicemails, or carrying around letters that need answering for weeks. I will stop putting off visits, or delaying tasks. I will do what needs doing when it needs doing. And I think that it's just possible that, if I get into good habits, I will be able to actually do everything that I commit myself to in 2011.

Others might imply that other resolutions would me more apt. That I should be better at holding my tongue, be more patient, kinder, or more tolerant. Or that I could do with acting my age, and not the age of someone twenty years older than I am. Or maybe that I should take more of an interest in current affairs, and politics.

But this girl knows her limits. Less food, and more organisation are the orders of the day in this house. Starting from ... well, maybe tomorrow ...