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.
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.
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…
“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 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nA3qzPRyY9s
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.
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…
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.”
I asked my boyfriend to stop calling me his ‘bird’ when referring to me in conversation (mainly it makes me cringe because it makes him sound uneducated and maybe I’m a bit of a snob). He said he would stop, except a while later I heard him say it to his work colleague when he thought I was out of ear shot. We laughed when I caught him out, as it doesn’t really bother me, but should I really mind? I don’t really feel comfortable being likened to an animal, as if I’m his pet or something. One dictionary definition describes it as an offensive term for a young woman, but it didn’t give any further details.
It’s more the lack of individual identity that the word suggests that I find annoying. To call a woman in general a ‘bird’ is maybe not so offensive but since he does know my name it might be more polite to use it.
I tried to find out where this terminology for woman originates from. In the Second World War women who worked in the factories were nicknamed ‘canaries’ because of the yellow effect of the sulphur to their skin. But that’s not very affectionate, or relevant. Another interesting but largely irrelevant term I discovered was ‘grue’ which is an old slang term for prostitute in French, meaning ‘crane’ in English, and refers to the way the women would stand on one leg on street corners… (Not very affectionate either, and why did they only stand on one leg??)
So, looking in to the Old English language, it appears the modern word ‘bride’ comes from the old word ‘bryd’, which sounds a little more like ‘bird’. But I doubt there is any connection.
Another possibility is the Old English noun ‘byrd’, meaning “birth, lineage” and its adjective byrde, “well-born,” suggesting a well-born lady. I’d like this to be connected to the modern usage as it is the most flattering but I highly doubt this link.
Apparently the slang term ‘bird’ meaning young woman has been used since 1915. Guess I’ll just have to let it go. As long as I’m something grand like an ostrich and definitely not a pigeon.
My theory is that when blokes were going out to have a bit of a perv on the women passing by they used code and said they were going bird watching(?) and then it just stuck.
Anyway, I decided to take the power back by making it my blog name and I’ve threatened to publicly embarrass him by using the word ‘dude’ if I hear him say it again.