My everyday Grinch

I am usually underwhelmed by the entire charade that is Christmas, in all it’s soul sucking, pop culture regurgitating, fatty over-indulging distraction from how crap the weather is, offensively unashamed commercial enterprising on some baby that was born that did some good stuff (that’s if you’re not Jewish & he wasn’t actually born on that day anyway but who cares because hardly any of us believe in God), OhShitI’veSuddenlyComeOverAllSpiritualBecauseLookAtAllThesePrettyLightsRoundLutonShoppingCentre.

That is, until now.

I have a new found excitement for Christmas this year. It may be partly to do with it being the first Christmas in a while that I will actually have a decent period of time off work and I am anxiously anticipating a week of being mildly intoxicated for the sake of quality family time.

Also, I have recently discovered that I really like the colour red and have re-introduced it into my day to day wardrobe choices. Coincidentally, Father Christmas also wears red (and yes, I am aware that is the world according to Coca-Cola).

I watched ‘Home Alone’ a few days ago and as much as I try to resist it makes me feel all warm inside.

More importantly, in this little home, I feel like I need to stick up for Christmas because, like I thought I was, my boyfriend is a Scrooge/Grinch, depending on your capacity for literature.

If it is even possible, I think he may be a Grinch about a lot of other things that aren’t Christmas but are Christmas-like. Basically, anything to do with dressing up silly and having fun or people singing in the streets (he hates buskers, which is stupid because some of his favourite bands were discovered performing on the side of a street. I love buskers, especially the bad ones like this guy on the underground who I think just whistles through his nose.) I think in some situations the term is party-pooper. But that always makes me think of some weird guy that goes round parties doing poos in unusual places.

Last year, he wasn’t even planning on wrapping the presents to give to his family. Where’s the magic in that? I ended up doing it for him.

So to really piss my boyfriend off, we have had a pink plastic fir tree, decorated with gold baubles, in centre stage of the flat for a week (I put it up partly due to the fact that the TV is broken and it looked good in the space where the TV used to be). I have already started planning the style in which I am going to wrap my presents (I’m going for minimalist but with a silver ribbon), and I have planned an outfit which I am going to eat Christmas dinner in (stretchy – essential for mass eating sessions, but also smart, cosy and vibrant).

Perhaps controversially, the things I like about Christmas are the least Christian things about it. And that’s what I think I used to feel guilty for. Since I don’t believe in the good book I used to think that I should dislike Christmas as not to be a hypocrite. But screw that.

I love it when I see the house of some enthusiastic rebel on a terraced street with flashing neon “ho ho ho’s” precariously assembled on the walls along with a blazing string of LEDs and inflatable snowmen. It’s even better when no one else on the street has even attempted to out do them because then you know it’s the kind of street where most residents see it as distasteful but they can’t say anything about it – because it’s Christmas and Love Thy Neighbour and all that jazz.

I just want to make clear that ‘Love Actually’ still makes me want to vomit.


Globe Tripping

I’m happy that I’ve travelled about a fair bit in my life so far (and successfully managed to dwindle away any money I have ever saved). I’ve seen a lot of Europe and some of India – on a stretched budget – but I’ve still got the itch.

Some of those closest to me are sort of under the impression that I am ‘settling down’, especially since my boyfriend and I adopted our mad little feline friend. I love cats and they make my life complete. (Yeah, I can deal with that.) It doesn’t mean I’m ready to pop one out and start learning to bake. No offense to those who like baking.

So, I still have some radical expeditions in mind for the future…

Extreme Camping. I’m an experienced camper, when it revolves around music festivals (including the mud bath which was Bestival 2008 when I think my actual bones gone wet), but I have yet to take the concept to a new high, as in, TREETOP camping, rather than being high in the usual, festival sense. High Ropes Forest in Germany looks like a pretty unreal place to try this…

High Ropes Forest, Germany

I am slightly concerned about how the whole going to the toilet thing works, but look at the view.

Take the Trans-Siberian Railway. There’s something fascinating about Russia and the far East, and also something scary and alien to a westerner like me. People from these parts of the world don’t seem to smile much. I only guess this from when I worked at a heritage site & museum in London, where I noticed that certain cultures only pose for photographs with dead pan looks on their face. Anyway, I quite like being scared and I love travelling by train.

You can see landscapes that you could never normally encounter on foot or on road. This is the most famous train journey in the world, spanning 12 regions and 87 cities. The mountains, forests and the architecture to be seen on this trip are awesome, and I’d like to see for real the stuff of inspiration for that old literary genius, Tolstoy.

The classic American road trip. From San Francisco to San Diego you can drive along the Pacific coastline, stopping along the way when you feel like it and eating a shed load of Mexican food.

San Fran seems like a chill place with a lot of festivity. Personally, I’d like to go see Spike & Mike’s Festival of Animation and Noise Pop, an indie music and arts festival.

HELLO, Los Angeles. Obviously there’s Beverly Hills, Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard. A good area to stay in looks like Silver Lake, which is supposedly the more diverse and hipster part of LA, with a big music scene. El Coyote is meant to be the best Mexican Cafe in LA, and I intend to go…

The plan would then be to drive cross-country to eventually fly home from NYC. There are some incredible natural wonders in the Arizona desert, aside from the Grand Canyon. Visiting the wave formation in the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument looks like it would be a truly psychedelic experience…

Visit Rio Tinto, Spain. So far, the closest I’ve come to Spain is a week long party in Ibiza. I have already planned to go to Spain again, as my boyfriend has a friend living in Seville, in the south, which is not too far from Rio Tinto (Red River). The place looks out of this world, lunar in fact…

The 62 mile long river runs red, partly thought to be due to pollution from 1000s of years of mining of gold, copper and silver there.

And lastly…

Get wasted in Dublin. I know this one is pretty crude but I once met some Irish blokes whilst travelling in Eastern Europe and was fascinated at their sheer, irresponsible dedication to drinking. They had some stupid techniques for getting hammered, like downing copious numbers of alco-pops with a straw in the side (I hate alco-pops). I’m assuming it was ’cause they were Irish, but in retrospect I think they were just chavs.

I’m in to the idea of being in a pub where local drinkers spontaneously break into old folk songs as I sit by the fire and wipe off my Guinness froth moustache. (Google ‘Guinness moustache’ images it’s quite funny.)

Ideally, it’d be around Christmas time and I’d be dragged up to sit on the bar to sing a duet with this handsome fella…

And then there’s the whiskey.

Now all I need is some dollar and a cat sitter.

Do share the wisdom if you’ve done any of the above…

Top Trumps

The etiquette of breaking wind is a disputed topic. It’s never pleasant when someone in close proximity decides to let off, but it’s understandable that sometimes it just happens when it happens. However, there are certain rules that, if broken, kind of disgust me. (I would just like to note that the mere mention of the words ‘let off’ has sent my boyfriend into ecstatic fits of giggles – well, guess what, there’s plenty more metaphors to come)

For me, the no go scenarios where holding it in is essential are: if we’re eating dinner, in the car, in an intimate situation, or if you can make an educated guess that it’s going to smell really bad.

It sort of baffles me that my boyfriend seems to find flatulence the absolute pinnacle of hilarity. I am not totally immune to toilet humour but I draw the line at categorising the sounds, smells or ‘flavours’ (as he puts it) of passing gas. I was once lured into an embrace just for him to let rip most horrifically.  Terrified, I tried to escape his clutches in case of intoxication but I was assured, ‘Don’t worry, it’s Ready Salted’. That’s romance for you.

I suppose the reason he and his mates find these bodily functions so amusing is the gross factor. They are just boys that like boy stuff like worms and mud and squishing ants and picking their nose and kicking each other. Except, they’re in their mid 20s.

I eavesdropped on a conversation on the subject of breaking wind (I swear they literally talked about it for 10 minutes), he was  recalling a specific fart related incident from the day before that was apparently so notable that it was a strong competitor for their personalised version of ‘Top Trumps’. Yes, I liked the pun so much I titled this post thus, but seriously, is that appropriate conversation for full grown adults?

I wonder if it’s a British thing to find passing wind embarrassing yet funny.

I did a bit of a google for different cultural attitudes on the subject. Apparently, fart humour in Britain has been documented as far back as the late 1300s. There seems to be a connection with things being funny and things being taboo or naughty. So, like, sex being a great British taboo gave way to ridiculous comedies like the Carry On films…

I read that in the Punjab, farting is dismissed as though it were the same as a sneeze or hiccup. But it looks like most cultures have a similar view point to us Brits.

Koreans must have a sense of humour about it since this years must-have toy over there was a farting baby doll named Kong Suni. She’s cute.

In Japan there are public toilets that have a button to press which plays a sound to cover up any embarrassing bodily noises, including the sound of peeing. I do admire this nation of innovators. In fact, after a little research I’ve realised that a whole blog could be dedicated to Japanese public loos.

There is a popular Japanese fable, roughly translated into English as “The Farting Wife” that tells the tale of a man who marries the ideal woman, but it turns out her farts so powerful they can blow people away and even knock fruit out of trees. That’s pretty out there and pretty explicit. That’s like superhero abilities. Stan Lee should have capitalised on this.

I found an article from a US website saying that some Marines in Afghanistan were banned from audible farting because it offended the Afghans. I think that’s a little unfair. Surely it’s the smell not the sound which determines the offensiveness?

I think I’ve exhausted this topic to my personal limit.

But here’s some trivia for you on the origins of the Whoopee Cushion:

The Roman Emperor Elagabulus was known to employ a prototype of whoopee cushions at dinner parties, although the modern version was re-invented in the 1920s by the JEM Rubber Co. in Canada by employees who were experimenting with scrap sheets of rubber.

Weird Crush

I have never been able to define my ‘type’ if someone asks me what I find attractive in the opposite sex. It always seemed to me the men I have liked look completely different from each other until I realised – I fancy pretty boys – but only when they have gone slightly off the rails:  either by aging considerably, growing ridiculous facial hair, having generally stupid hair or actually going a bit nuts.

I’m not saying Justin Bieber with an eye patch would suddenly do it for me, but here’s a few examples…

Tom Hardy (who had his first glimpse of fame as a model in 1998 and more recently starred in the blockbuster Inception in 2010) had not really caught my attention until he portrayed Britain’s most violent convict in the surreal biopic Bronson (2008) – sporting a circus entertainer style moustache and a cleanly shaven head… (I do not find violence glamorous BTW I just think Tom is great)


A few days ago I fell in love with him as Forrest Bondurant in Lawless (2012) as the grizzly, unshaven, slack jawed 1920’s hillbilly dressed like someone’s grandad except with a trilby and a knuckle duster in his pocket = some sort of Heaven.

The thing about Tom is those psychotic eyes he’s managed to perfect – it’s like, is he undressing me with his eyes? or does he want to boil my brains for supper? (Plus he’s got lips like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley so what man or woman could resist?)


Jeff bridges was never really pretty but did become strangely hot as the dude in The Big Lebowski (1998). In fact, his younger self would have repulsed me…

As a (much) older man he has become a slight infactuation of mine. His voice is so gravelly I actually think someone switched his porridge for cement mix a while back and it did wonders for him. I think I would melt if I heard that voice in real life.

Who wouldn’t want to cosy up in to that big old beard and baggy old man cardigan whilst sipping on a white russian?

For Keanu Reeves, it’s the reverse effect of Jeff. I think he was one of my first major crushes (along with Jon Bon Jovi – who ruined it for me after chopping off his hair and getting his teeth done) when I saw him in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I thought he was truly excellent. Note the stupid hair (He’s on the right)

Fast forward to present day and although still pretty he looks a bit like a tired IT worker. Hmm, not my cup of tea.

Let’s get physical

I sometimes get the idea that people whose day job involves heavy physical labour see themselves as more hard working than those whose job roles are either more computer based, creative, or involve public relations (mine involving all three). In my relationship I feel like it’s often hinted at that I am the one who doesn’t know what real hard work is. The truth is, having had a taste of both worlds, I’d say each side has it’s equal pros and cons.

I have been to work with my boyfriend a number of nights now to help pull lobsters and oysters out of tanks and pack them up in boxes to go to restaurants the next morning. It’s a cold, wet and smelly working environment and the lobsters have these nasty, spiky little faces that cut your hands from time to time which bloody hurts, especially when it gets under a fingernail.

I also had a go at jet washing the freshly dredged oysters and the water reflected back up, landing me a face covered in mud. The job involves lugging heavy boxes about and all in all is not the most glamorous line of work to be in. However, being used to jobs where I have to be constantly verbal and interactive whilst dealing with the public or other colleagues, I find something extremely calming about toiling away in a noisy tank room with only the dregs of the sea for company. And a bit of mud on the face kind of takes you back to nature and all that.

I need to use my brain a bit to count up the lobsters I’m packing, but it’s regular and doesn’t need me to make decisions or make any explanations. Don’t get me wrong, I love my day job (and I’m sure I’m better at it than I am shifting all these crates about and whining like a baby about having to put my hand in ice cold water to catch a straying lobster), but I think some people really underestimate the intensity of having to communicate with people all day, dismissing it as not real hard work.

When I think back to some of the unusual folk I’ve been confronted with in various front of house employment (mainly in bar work), I realise there’s nothing quite as tricky as trying to quickly diffuse an unwanted conversation with a nutter whilst remaining calm, friendly, polite and helpful. You never quite know what might happen when the public are involved, but you pretty much always know where you stand with a lobster.

Some days, if I’ve been resigned to my desk for most of the time, I come home feeling tired yet still fidgety – my head has been doing all the work and my eyes are strained from looking at a screen all day, but I haven’t really had any exercise.

Manual workers may boast of the physical demands their bodies endure, but to me, when I reach that level of pain from physical exertion I feel a sense of satisfaction that can only be replicated after a torturous session at the gym – where it’s much too easy to give up as there’s no tangible task at hand. And, once you finish the task at hand you’re done thinking about it and you go home, full of endorphins (and a fair few cuts and bruises – which is partly why I definitely will stick to the day job).

Here is a picture of a lobster…

You, Me and Alan

“Ruddy Hell – it’s Soft Cell”

For about two years now I have often woken up in the middle of the night to the nasal cries of Alan Partridge resonating from a laptop at the end of the bed.

The reason for this is that my boyfriend claims to be unable to sleep without the distraction. Having had problems sleeping in the past I am understanding, but I’m always the one who ends up jolting out of bed to the words “In to me!” and the sound of a Lexus airbag inflating (except Alan’s airbag doesn’t work) whilst he (my boyfriend, not Alan) remains fast asleep.

There are many television programmes out there, and occasionally we drift off to the odd episode of Father Ted, but somehow he always reverts back to Partridge, like a kid with an attachment to a manky old blanket.

I usually manage to switch the damn thing off just as Alan is yelling at Lynn to calm down – at least her airbag deployed – she’s only suffering from “minor women’s whiplash”. It’s a funny moment

but I can’t help worrying that having every episode of I’m Alan Partridge (Series 1 & 2) playing on continuous loop in my sleep might be having some sort of negative effect on my health.

I have read a few resources that suggest sleeping with TV does affect your REM sleep. The mind is constantly transferring signals even in sleep. So, if something on the TV signals a happy or scary memory, your body will react accordingly and may cause nightmares.

Similar to this, perhaps?       

More seriously, even the dimmest light exposure whilst you sleep can apparently prompt changes in the brain that lead to mood disorders or depression (something to do with the hippocampus). I should note that the study which backs this up was only carried out on hamsters, but a few experts seem pretty convinced. There is also the heavily debated issue of wireless electronics – such as a laptop – being bad for your health as the signals may interfere with our body’s natural electronic pulses. Sounds a bit sketchy to me but I will suggest that we should probably try not to sleep with the laptop on all night just in case.

It amuses me the kind of things that searching the internet throws up. I managed to find a support group for television addicts but they are all from the US. A good pointer if ever feeling self doubt – there’s always someone in America who is feeling it ten times worse, i.e. they’re ten times heavier, ten times stupider, ten times more addicted to television (or ten times more shot in the head due to that crazy gun law that still hasn’t been modified – what the hell, Obama!?)

I have already noticed that Partridge has become deeply rooted in my subconscious. If I watch an episode whilst fully awake I find myself miming along to entire scenes, word for word. I find it hard to genuinely say “I love you” without following with “…in a way, ahh”. This is an odd characteristic that I first picked up on in my boyfriend’s behaviour when we were first seeing each other (he was already addicted at this point). I once asked if I looked alright before going for a night out and he responded, “You look nice, John.” One minute I’ll be thinking we’re having a real conversation, then I realise it has turned into direct Partridge quotation. Sometimes I don’t know where he ends and Alan begins.

I think it’s time to ween the boy off his blanky, well it would be – except I went and bought him the audio book of I, Partridge for his birthday and I have no argument to make about the impact of constant light exposure. Also, a curious google search for ‘Addiction to Alan Partridge’ brought to my attention the IMDB page for the Alan Partridge movie coming to our screens in 2013.

I can now see that Alan will always be a part of my life.

Hmmm, I think I fancy a toblerone…

“Do you have soul?” :| “That all depends.”

High Fidelity is, like, the BEST film about relationships ever made. I think. (Directed by Steven Frears but I have to mention that the original book was written by Nick Hornby even though I never read it.) It’s also about music, which is good, but it’s not the greatest film ever made about music.

When Laura (Iben Hjejle) and Rob (John Cusack) get back together on such strangely honest terms it reinforces my opinion that it’s OK not to be a wet blanket with hopelessly high maintenance ideas of romance. It definitely makes me happier to cut the bullshit and be real.

“I’m too tired not to be with you.”

“What, so if you had a bit more energy we’d stay split up, but things being as they are, with you being wiped out and all, you want to get back together? Is that it?”


Does this no bullshit approach make everyone happier? I pick up on faults when I see them and point out when someone is being a dick because then I can get over it. Perhaps this is insensitive. But then being told every day that you’re amazing, perfect etc. and then suddenly being barraged with a million put downs in one blazing argument is kind of a slap in the face.

So, anyway, at the end of the film it’s the smart, independent woman that he ends up with – not the slutty one or the mysterious one or the one that is constantly in awe of him. This I find comforting. (Let’s assume that the smart one is to whom I relate the most, no slutty comments please)

After much over-analytical woe-is-me faffing about I think Rob is finally right when he realises – it’s not what you are like, it’s what you like that makes a relationship work. I still think he’s a bit of a dick though because he cheated in the first place.

I can deal with not understanding some aspects of my boyfriends’ behaviour, even deal with the sometimes teeth grindingly irritating aspects of his behaviour, BUT, if he didn’t like The Stooges, The Stones, Beastie Boys, The Beatles, Nick Cave, The Maytals, Bob Dylan, Jimi, The Fugees, Leonard Cohen, Smashing Pumpkins, De La Soul… OK I know this is kind of a weird list, and I’m not sure where we stand on Pearl Jam and I KNOW we will never agree on Amy Winehouse, (I have actually broken into tears whilst drunk trying to convince him how important she is as a female artist – cringe) but, if he simply didn’t like MUSIC then that would totally dissolve the glue that binds us together.

I do believe all can be resolved when you stick on some good vinyl and crack open a few cans.

“I agreed that what really matters is what you like, not what you are like… Books, records, films — these things matter. Call me shallow but it’s the fuckin’ truth, and by this measure I was having one of the best dates of my life.”

Here is another good bit from the film…

“Listen, Rob, would you have sex with me? Because I want to feel something else than this. It’s either that, or I go home and put my hand in the fire. Unless you want to stub cigarettes out on my arm.”

“No. I only have a few left, I’ve been saving them for later.”

“Right. It’ll have to be sex, then.”

“Right. Right.”