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Friday, 16 December 2011

Dictionary Corner

I don’t know when it is that the list comes out detailing the words that have been added to the dictionary this year. It must be around now. After all we get bombarded with all other kinds of cack, Sports Personality of the Year, greatest moments of 2011 (good luck, it’s hardly been a cheerful year news wise – they’ll have to keep showing that clip of the Panda’s arriving at Edinburgh zoo to try and balance out the economy) and the reviews of the year, where you sit around going ‘Thora Hird is dead? When did that happen and why wasn’t I informed’. I have my own traditions, I go to my Mum and Dad’s house and read all the Christmas letters they have been sent and frantically try and piece together the lives of families I have never really met. I then set the freeview + to record everything I want to watch over Christmas and then delete it all come January. This all gives me an enormous sense of joy to counteract the usual force of my natural ennui.

Yes do note the use of ennui for it cunningly links back to the first sentence of this beautifully crafted piece. I find ennui sums up the trials of life neatly and there is not really the equivalent in English. Roughly translated (you’ll have to excuse me, my French is a little rough, my google skills however are second to none) it means “Listlessness and dissatisfaction resulting from lack of interest”. Now consider it used in a sentence: “listening to Bernard talk about the traffic on the north circular gave me an enormous sense of ennui”. Sounds slightly more poetic than ‘Bernie bored the tits off me” doesn’t it?

In the same way ‘Bunga Bunga’ parties conjure up just the kind of ‘What the...’ image that is required to imagine Silvio Burlesconi’s party habits. Do we have anything that could quite vividly paint such a word picture? I think not. This is why we are so often reduced to exclaiming ‘They’re just so ..UGHHHHAGHDHGHHHHHHHHHHH”. I did fashion a word that totally summed up the vilest person I have ever met but sadly it’s so foul I can not use it in public, let alone write it down. I sometimes say it when I am alone just for the sheer pleasure it gives me as it trips off the tongue. It sounds a bit like ‘Benedict Cumberbatch’ and I am constantly amazed that people haven’t accidently called him Benedict ***********. Until I remember the filth only exists in my own head.

I remember a friend of mine once winning a game of Balderdash by claiming that a certain word (I forget what) was ‘A Dutch word meaning a kind of empty sadness’. The beauty of that phrase has stayed with me despite the fact I have forgotten both the word and it’s actual meaning.

However my favourite new word is Kummerspeck. A German word meaning excess weight gained by emotional over eating. It literally translates as ‘grief bacon’. This could be the finest word in existence. There is nothing that compares in the English language. I am thinking of creating a word that sums up the feeling you have as an adult that you really should like olives but still think they are vile. Answers on a postcard

Monday, 5 December 2011

Power of a Woman

Kelly Rowland performed her new single on the X Factor last night. As is traditional in these cases she was stripped backstage and then forced to perform a strenuous aerobics routine whilst huffing and puffing about how she wants to have sex on the floor. I think the exact words are ‘I’m Down for Whatever, down for whatever, baby for you I’d make love on the floor’. Which as we all know is how you judge your life partner. She experimented with the lyrics, ‘I think I can see a long term future with you, you treat me like an equal and I could perhaps imagine a joint bank account’ but it didn’t scan so she went with the humping on the lino. This is hot on the heels of Nicole Scherzinger performing her latest single ‘Be my Baby’ which was basically her making sex noises and then occasionally whooping ‘C’mon UK’. She too had had 90% of her clothes removed and been sprayed with some kind of glitter hose.

Oh course it’s not just the women, when Justin Beiber performed he had his lad out and sung about how he’d like to be taken over a kitchen bar stool. And Olly Murs, he leapt around lunging and bending in just a jock strap like he was having an internal cavity search and sung a song which seemed to be entirely comprised of pre-ejaculation sounds. Oh did you miss that episode? That’s because it never happened. Boys are allowed to sing normal songs (even if they are crap – Beiber I’m looking at you), wear clothes and even shock horror, play instruments. Girls can’t. Girls must be naked and sing about what they want boys to do with them. And why is this?

Why it’s because we’re so empowered. Think about it. Some days you think ‘Wow it would be nice to have equal pay with men, to see an equal number of women in the cabinet, perhaps see a woman on a comedy panel show. To not have to pay VAT on tampax.” And then you think again, how could I bemoan these things. I have equal rights, I am empowered, I have the right to dance around like a page 3 girl on acid singing the sound track to a porn film – because I am empowered! I am not appealing to a male tabloid readers idea of a what a woman should be because some how, some how, it has become the norm that women WANT to do this. Female celebrities give interviews about their sex lives, pose in their pants, if they are incredibly empowered they’ll go fully nude. Truly we are equal. Except you don’t see Take That completely naked, on all fours, biting their finger and looking back over their shoulder. The Kaiser Chiefs don’t have to give interviews about what they like in bed. We are treated like second class sexual objects and some how we’ve been convinced it’s a great idea!

Women: grow up. Put your clothes on, get some self respect. Talking graphically about your sex lives doesn’t make you liberated it makes you a whore. And I’m not talking about a sexual whore (do what you like away from the cameras, I really don’t care) it makes you are a media whore. Your records and talent aren’t good enough to make the papers on their own merits so you strip. Perhaps up your game and make it on your own terms (like the boys).

You’re making us go backwards. Girls these days want to be pop stars. Kids of 6 and 7 dance in a way which would make a lap dancer blush because they are copying what they see on TV. The X factor is so called family viewing. Well come on little girl, dance for the boys. After all it’s all you’re good for. Famous women, You have an opportunity. Make it OK to be a woman, a funny, opinionated, intelligent woman. Who is able to compete equally with men. With our trousers on.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Who's left?

I try and be sophisticated. I try and make it sound like I lead an interesting life and then it comes to this and all I can really form an opinion about is X Factor. Is it some form of defence to say that I watched it at midnight after actually being out and socialising with people? I’ve got it down to a fine art. I can watch an episode in about twenty minutes. Fast forward all the pre-performance VTs. You know the ones...Little Mix went to a film premiere this week, coincidently so did Marcus, if you are truly hanging on the edge of your seat, wondering what Misha has been up to this week then I can only assume you are the type of person who is genuinely frightened by a Jack in the Box. Next fast forward most of the judge’s comments, it’s worth having a brief look at Louis to see if he loses the plot again and calls someone ‘A little Lenny Henry’ or ‘the next Su Pollard’ but the rest you can whizz through. Gary won’t like it, Kelly will burble incomprehensibly with her caps lock on and Tulisa will try and be serious about the music, which when someone has performed a mash up of Justin Beiber and the Supremes is a bit like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube.

Oh and Janet went, she went. Sure she’s a lovely girl but she was slightly squashed in a competition where she was forced to yelp everything in exactly the same way. If forced to sing something which had a vaguely faster tempo she would forget the words. Or in the case of MmmBop dry heave all the way through it. She shouldn’t have held back, the sound of her retching and vomit splattering across the stage would have been nicer than what actually was broadcast. You don’t need the X Factor Janet, stick to your style and if anyone forces you to dance or sing the Jackson 5, heave on them.

So there are four left and they now have to sing two songs each week. Which is great news for the dancers of Britain as it seems that Marcus requires at least 40 people to do a bouncy walk behind him as he struts diagonally across the stage leading to a slight knee bend in front of the waiting camera. I presume he has it written in to his contract that he must be allowed to recreate the dances from West Side story regardless of theme.

Misha, I am would like to tell you about Misha but I was distracted by her one freaky fingernail. What is it for? It must be a nightmare for her to put moisturiser on. It must all get caught under there and she has to spend hours scooping it out. The costume budget must have gone down as well. The first week she had a crown and a throne and an Alice in Wonderland costume made out of newspapers. This week she was in a pair of Primark leggings. Next week she’ll be in her pyjamas and carry the props on stage herself.

Little Mix were dressed as diner waitresses this week because.... well just because. One day I hope these girls will be allowed to have some production money to buy some new shoes rather than being forced to wear trainers every week regardless of the rest of the outfit. It reminds me of a party I went to at junior school. What I was wearing didn’t go with my school shoes, my trainers were caked in mud and so my mum and me had a very serious conversation about whether slippers or wellies would be more appropriate. Slippers won. So I went to a party in a lovely outfit and bunny slippers.

Who’s the fourth? Oh Amelia. Not a good sign that I forgot her. She is unique as she is allowed a second name. She is Amelia Lily and the candy floss hair is slowly fading. She had to sing right in to someone’s face on Saturday. Which was as awkward as it sounds. Amelia can sing and she has a journey – she was in, then she was out, then she was back. Perhaps she should sing the hokey cokey whilst biting back tears to sum up her journey.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Lights, camera, action

I need to unpack. My suitcase from Norway is sprawled open on my bedroom floor with only the necessities taken out of it. I keep meaning to deal with the rest but I spent most of my time in thermals and horrible jumpers and so if they are not immediately washed then it doesn’t really affect me (although it was jolly cold this morning). I then followed up my jaunt to the fjords with a hen night and so have just loaded another unpacked bag on top of the other. It’s getting to the stage where it might be easier to move...at least I’m already packed.

But... I saw the lights, I saw the lights, I saw the lights. As experiences go, standing on a beach well inside the Arctic circle at 2am, drinking coffee and warmed by a campfire whilst the sky goes mental ranks up there with the best of memories. There are no words to describe it. I am going to attempt to add a photo to this post (first photo of the blog) but even that doesn’t truly represent how amazing it was. I’ve been hankering after seeing the lights for years now and been on several trips and if anything this has only fuelled the fire. I am thinking Canada next.

I would also like to go back to Norway although I would possibly plan my trip a little better. This trip was booked on a whim during an incredibly stressful day at work when I gave in to ‘let’s just run away and leave this town behind’ feelings and abused the credit card. I possibly didn’t do my research properly and work out that the only thing to do where I was staying was see the lights. Even the woman in the tourist information looked at me aghast when I said I was there for four days and said ‘What are you going to do?’ Well the answer to that is walk a lot, become incredibly confused by there only being three hours of daylight (which was more twilight) and on one strange day walk an hour to go to a museum which was all about... well I’m not too sure what it was about, it didn’t really seem themed. Luckily it was free. Unluckily I was the only person in there and was watched the whole time by the five members of staff who were drinking coffee. Therefore rather than walking straight back out again I spent an hour reading about Russian ship workers and (my favourite) ‘The Amazing Story of Ivan Ibalokvik’s Suitcase’. I read all about Ivan’s sisters life. All about his brother’s lives. I learnt nothing about Ivan and his suitcase was never mentioned again.

But it was all about the lights. They didn’t disappoint. Now where can I go next...

Monday, 7 November 2011

Native tongue

I am going to Norway on Wednesday. As always with my holidaying I have placed the fact that I am going to have to go on a plane to the back of my mind. In actual fact I am going to have to go on two planes, as I have to change at Oslo airport. I am already dreading it and eating kalms like they are smarties. Which they might as well be, I’m still crapping myself. But when I get there it should be super and I’ll have a good few days before I have to start dreading the flight home. I’m going straight from work tomorrow which means I need to pack tonight. I have no idea what is clean but the upside of travelling on your own is that you really don’t care what you look like. So horrible hooded tops and jeans a go go. In fact the fewer choices of clothes the better, then I can stuff the suitcase full of books. I’ve been to the library especially. In order to make all case space available I went to the website of the place I am staying to see if they provide towels. It was then I remembered my deep and quite useful skill.

I am spontaneously fluent in all Scandinavian languages.

This skill first presented itself when I went to Amsterdam. There I stunned and amazed my travelling companion by effortlessly understanding train announcements and reading signposts. What was really good was that the train announcements were followed by an identical announcement in English so I could check I was right. All trace of bi-linguality was instantly lost the second I returned home. Until, that is, today. Sadly the website of my hotel is only in Norweigan. I was hoping that something would leap out at me and low and behold. I spied the phrase Klikk her for mer info. Something inside me whispered ‘click here for more info’. It was like a bolt out of the blue. My gift had returned.

I am willing to admit that it helps that all the languages I am fluent in are just bizarrely spelled English. But what’s wrong with that? Hasn’t held the Americans back.

Part of the joy of going away is not having a clue what is going on. I went to Iceland in February and spent 2 hours in an art gallery watching an Icelandic film. My gifting must have failed me as I didn’t have a clue what was going on (I’d guess at a film about camping) but I watched the lot and thoroughly enjoyed it. I want to go to shops and have no idea what is inside packets. I want to walk past newsagents and have no idea what any of the magazines are about. It also helps that when people walk past me and say ‘What the hell is that girl wearing? I bet she didn’t pack enough clothes to make room in her suitcase for books.’ I have no idea what they are saying. Unless of course they say ‘Wot tha hel is that gul waring? I bit shhe didddnt pak enuf cloves to mayk rume in her sootcas for boks’ In which case I’ll understand instantly.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

It's time...to face... the music

So we are only two weeks in and we have already lost five contestants from X factor. Now let’s be honest. The ones that went last week weren’t shocking. They were merely the ones who were put through so they could be culled in a “shocking twist” and then the competition could begin properly the following week. If you genuinely thought John-Joe was in with a chance then you don’t deserve to have ears. As for the others. Two Shoes were a lot of fun and could sing but clearly the production budget didn’t stretch to the sheer volume of bisto it would take to keep those two oven fresh. They also didn’t seem to be able to count how many shoes they need to cover all of their feet so things could have got confusing later in the competition. Amelia. Fine until you realise that she’s only 16 and then she becomes terrifying. I can’t even remember who the boy was… he sang a Beatles song in an incredibly boring way….. nope. He has no name. Bernie? He wore a hat.
There doesn’t seem to be anyone of Wagner proportions this year, which is a shame as I love a bit of bongos . Louis tried when he put Goldie through but it prompted a twist no one ever saw coming – ‘X Factor contestant in self awareness shocker’. So now we have no one who is going to come on and dance like a bear on hot coals and upset the voting when people who can hold a tune go out over someone who sings without a second thought for tune or scanning. Let’s have a look at who’s left (if you could imagine all the catergories and names being bellowed in a Peter Dickinson style voice then you’ll find you enjoy this a lot more).
Being headed up by Kelly Rowland, which is fairly impressive, even though Kelly’s main aim is to keep mentioning her single title ‘Put it down’ at every available opportunity. Even to the point of correcting herself ‘You shut that down, no you PUT IT DOWN’. It’s never an idea to have a catch phrase that sounds like you’re scolding a troublesome dog.
Sophie Habibas
Can be summed up in one word. Nice. Nice voice, nice looking, nice girl. Yeah, she’s alright. She’s nice. Don’t bother getting too attached though. As yet she hasn’t PUT IT DOWN
Micha B
Why she is called Micha B is beyond me as there isn’t another Micha and they need to differentiate but there you are. I like this girl as I remember her audition and not just for the fact that she PUT IT DOWN (please) but because there was a whole VT about who going to the audition on the bus (while dressed in a very short skirt) and how she dreamed of a better life only to get to the audition and her whole family was there. But they hadn’t been on the bus. Why did they drive and leave her to make her own way? Either way she’s very talented. Her performances are the ones you don’t fast forward through and anyone who remasters Charles and Eddie is someone I want to see more of.
Janet Devlin
I don’t like her. Obviously I don’t mean ‘her’. I’m sure she’s fine. She’s sixteen she’s never met another human before as she was raised by horses in Ireland ( I think that’s what her VT said, I drifted) and she’s now being branded as ‘incredibly different and new’. Or she sings like the woman from the Cranberries and sings every song really, flipping slowly and occasionally her voice cracks. Just in case we’re not sure how Irish she is, her hair has been dyed orange. Nice girl but I don’t want to listen to her. I want her to PUT IT DOWN

Being mentored by Gary (hot) Barlow. According to the VTs they are at a slight disadvantage as Gary waits until the Saturday rehearsal before saying ‘I don’t like it, it’s the wrong song’ and then changing it. As all they seem to sing is Snow Patrol/The Feeling/Daniel Merryweather interchangeable dirge this shouldn’t really effect their performance at all. Apart from Craig. Craig does his own thing. And points.
Frankie Cocozza
I mention him first because he’ll be gone first. He needs a wash. He is alledegedly a cheeky chappy. This is slang for ‘knob’. He has all the names of a load of girls he slept with tattooed on his arse, he has hair that has been knitted out of a tramps pubes and wears trousers that he has vacuumed formed on to his own legs. He’s already been in the bottom two because he sings like a breathy, tuneless halfwit. He also screws his face up like he’s feeling the emotional torment of every word of the song…or his trousers are giving him gip.

He should be everything I hate, yet I only hate that I love him. He is Mary the bellower from last year made in to chunky man. He snarls at the camera, he points at the camera, he’s sassy, he treats the camera like the naughty girl it is and he does it all with Bob Carolgees haircut. He’s bravely attempting skinny jeans. He’s a hero for our time.

Marcus can sing. He can dance, he seems really nice. He can sing- he really can. And yet he was cast as the underdog before he even started. Why? I genuinely don’t have an answer. Gary, sort it out. Give the boy something to do.

Mentored by Tulisa who is allowed not to have a surname. She has some tattoo on her arm that she waves at the camera. I don’t know what it says. She should be annoying but she’s actually very sensible.
The Risk
Put together at Boot Camp and are surprisingly good and don’t hate each other. Slightly disturbing taste in Waistcoats but that’s probably not their fault.

A girl group who are actually good shocker. Utterly disturbing taste in clothes though. It’s a bit like they’ve covered themselves in glue then ran through a market stall in 1988. However all this is overshadowed as there is a girl in the group who looks astonishingly like Carol Voderman and I am constantly distracted by her.
Louis just doesn’t learn. His idea of heaven is a Spanish disco in 1982, ideally with party games and people being “wacky”. You can imagine him watching Timmy Mallet and wetting himself, slapping his thigh and saying to his carer ‘those glasses are just too big Ian. Too big HAHAHAHAHA”. Sadly for his contestants it’s game over. You don’t have a hope.
Can sing albeit insanely high. Sadly now Louis has his hands on him he’s being turned in to some terrifying shiny disco robot who comes on as the ‘comedy act’. This could be down to Goldie leaving and Louis being deprived of his funny act. Poor Johnny.

Can’t spell her own name which is a bit of a shame. She is also this year’s bellower. She’ll stand still and shout a song out. Also thinks that wobbling her lips extends notes. She’s legally contracted not to be able to sing a song that was written post 1995. She is power ballad made flesh

Not well.

Thursday, 29 September 2011


When you essentially write about nothing and you don’t have a theme it can sometimes feel as though nothing is happening to you as you are unable to format it in to words. Or things occur that you don’t want to share with the three readers you have or events over take you and you don’t feel particularly amusing or want to paint things in an ironic way. The problem is then that the words remain unwritten and you feel that you have been doing nothing when in fact you have been doing too much and the pleasure that arises from small things in life (and fuels this blog) has been unable to happen.

In short; I have been busy. Not saving the world, not pioneering a mission to Mars but simply trying to get through the days without dropping the ball. It makes Jack a very dull boy. It also makes Jack (why I have changed genders remains a mystery) long to win the lottery.
Now besides the fact I haven’t bought a ticket in goodness knows how long and the last time I won something was nearly five years ago (which was £80, with which I was very chuffed) I still remain convinced that my time will come. On a very long coach trip in Greece I was daydreaming so much about winning a hundred and twenty-five million in the euro millions that I actually became quite overwhelmed by how much it was and whether I would be able to cope with the conditions it would inflict upon my life.

Of course I’d give most of it away. How could you not? No one needs a hundred and twenty five million. But then who would you give it to? Friends and family obviously then a few select charities chosen carefully to maximise good in the world. But then my idea of good in the world may not be the same as everyone else. I could inadvertently fund some very bad things indeed. Then if I give too much to friends and family they might lose a sense of drive and purpose and then end up with terrible and overwhelming ennui.

All in all I think it is best that I don’t win the lottery.

Monday, 15 August 2011

London's Burning

I thought long and hard about whether to write about the riots, not least because they were a week ago and it’s kind of late to be jumping on the bandwagon but also because I’m not sure what my opinion is. I’ve found it strange/amusing that over the last week every politician that’s been interviewed has said ‘Can I start by saying that I completely condemn these activities’ as if we were all sitting at home thinking: “Now I wonder what David Cameron thinks of these savage and unprecedented attacks on our country? I bet he’s all for it” .

There seems to be two views emerging. One that these are all little bastards who should be stamped on and beaten and have all their benefits and housing taken away and then set fire to; and the other view that these are poor delicate flowers who had no other option that to loot Curry’s as our society is so evil. I think like everyone else I am somewhere in between. Some of them are deprived, some are not: either way – setting fire to people’s homes is not the answer. The big question is where do we go from here. Here’s what I think:

Bring Back Grammar Schools
Brightness and intelligence is not related to class or wealth. However with school fees for public schools costing thousands of pounds a year their attendance is the preserve of the rich. Attendance of state schools is based on location so at the moment if you live in a deprived area then you’re going to go to a struggling school and not get the education you deserve. Grammar schools would enable those with academic abilities to be with others learning at the same rate and give them access to more qualifications. It would also encourage social mobility and mean that good jobs are not restricted to those that have had a private education. Which isn’t to say that those who are not academic would be abandoned, they would be able to learn in classes with others working at the same speed and not feel left behind or different. Which leads me to my next point.

Stop constant tests and the thought that everyone needs to go to university
We’re not all good at everything. How many of us have sat in a Maths class (or my personal nemesis– chemistry) not having a clue what is going on and knowing full well that we’re not going to use this in our real lives. Now let’s face it, most of us aren’t going to use these things in everyday life. Now I’m not saying abandon learning all together and there is a strong argument of learning for learnings sake but it’s not for everyone. So give everyone a solid grounding then let people specialise. Those that want to be academic can continue on that path, those that aren’t led to that area could have training in vocational subjects. Everyone needs a skill and a job and all should be equally valued and catered for. It’s not fair that we only concentrate on academia. We also need to limit the numbers that go to university. Not everyone needs to go. Many degrees are worthless. If we cut the numbers of those that need to attend then tuition fees could come down and then those who are academically gifted could attend and not be held back by their financial circumstances.

We need to glorifying people because of their status. We need to value everyone’s contribution to society and stop glorifying people based on their wealth. No more articles in magazines about WAGs, no more Jeremy Kyle. We need to stop viewing success as fame and fortune but instead value it on what contribution you make to the world.

Make it worth your while to work
There are people growing up in households where 3 generations haven’t worked. Yes, we need to help the vulnerable in society, yes we should be proud of our strong social security system but we need to make it worth peoples while to work. Raise the minimum wage, tax breaks for those on low salaries – it should not be easier to be on benefits.

Rights without responsibility
Respect needs to be earned not just given. If you want people to give you respect than behave in a way that earns it. And this is not reserved for children. Parents too. Too many children are bought up in homes where parents have absolved all responsibility for their children. If you’re a bad parent then yeah, I’ll judge you – man up and take responsibility.

Repopulate town and city centres and change our culture
If you walk around city centres in the continent then often you’ll see friends catching up over coffee until the early hours. Admittedly we don’t really have the climate for pavement dining but if coffee shops etc were open till the early hours then there would be more people on the streets and more importantly, more people on the streets not fuelled by alcohol. On the same note if there were more residential buildings in town and city centres then cities wouldn’t become no-go areas at nights and groups couldn’t congregate to the same extent.

All of the above is well and good but sometimes bad stuff happens. In that case the full force of the law should come down on you. We work together for the common good. Not for the promotion of the individual.

We have to accept that we are all in this together. We have to value everyone’s contribution to society, so many of these kids have been made to feel like they don’t matter and have responded accordingly. We need to react against the 80s – there is such a thing as society and it’s up to us to make it as good as it can be, no man left behind