Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year

Thanks to Sarah for showing me Maru and the mask. Just look at this ridiculous animal.

Cats are just funny because unlike dogs, they have no sense of humour, so there's something Buster Keaton-like about them.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

On Hockney

I've posted on my neglected Cinderella blog, over here. (Warning - it's a long one.)

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Animals and Children

Because that was an odd post to end the year on, I leave you with this as a Merry Christmas instead, The Animals and Children Took To The Streets.

The Animals and the Children took the Streets, Trailer from Paul Barritt` on Vimeo.

It is a magical, breathtaking show that I've been trying to score tickets for since last year when it sold out at the Battersea Arts Centre. Now it's on at the National. It's absolutely beautiful, featuring live action and animation, references early cinema, expressionism, gorgeous music, brilliant writing, feral children running wild from their ghetto through the wealthy city, and some prescient references to the summer riots.

The play features something called Granny's Gumdrops which some moody, leopardskin clad usherettes handed out in old-fashioned stripey paper bags at the beginning. Everyone munched them before the show started, then realised later on they were a part of the plot - in the story the sweets are filled with drugs to pacify and control the feral children. I loved this interactive joke with the audience.

1927 (the theatre company) desperately make me want to run away to join the theatre. For my Berlin friends, , they are coming to do opera in Berlin next year, get tickets at any cost.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

New Year's Resolutions

Oh I know it's early to be thinking about this, I'm just trying to ignore the whole next few festive days with dignity and look ahead, because they're really just an irrelevance to me - you hear that, rest of the world? You are IRRELEVANT TO ME.

What are New Year's Resolutions meant to be for? Are they meant to be improving, or for pleasure? I don't know. Let's see.

1. Get a job. This is a bit boring actually. Get a job I like. Or at least I can stand?

2. Learn to drive. Really, it's getting a bit ridiculous. Well, I guess I need a job before I can do that, to pay for lessons. Unless I start going out with a driving instructor who'll teach me for free.

3. Go out with someone. Just, you know, dating. Because I'm losing the desire to ever go out with anyone again. Why do people do this again?

4. Travel somewhere I haven't been before.

5. Stop blogging like it's a personal diary. Blogs are so last season anyway, what am I still doing here?


Sunday, 11 December 2011

the end of books

Yesterday I met someone at a party that worked in the same bookshop in Holborn that I worked in 14 years ago - was a Books Etc, now a Waterstones. Apparently one of the guys I worked with is still there. It's quite amazing to think of it. I left for a job in the head office, trained as a TEFL teacher, moved to Spain, came back, did a PGCE, bought a flat, rented it out, left teaching...

... all the while for 14 years he's been commuting to the same place every day, cashing up, serving customers, seeing reps, reporting shop-lifters, directing tourists to the British Museum...For 14 years. The same place.

Maybe I should have stayed there too, I don't know why I thought I should always be somewhere else. I thought maybe I should be earning more money or being more ambitious after the amount of years I'd spent in education and getting qualifications. Though maybe there's nothing better really than working in a bookshop.

Only maybe the bookshops won't always be there. At the party I was talking to someone about my plan to get into library work, and he was asking if I thought physical libraries would exist anymore. Everything is being digitally archived. Eventually there'll be no need for a physical space to go to - they'll go the same way as Our Price and other record shops when CDs then mp3s replaced the need for vinyl. You won't go and browse bookshops for something to read because you'll just download texts onto your Kindle, and if you need something to read for fun or research you can go onto the library's website and it will be online.

It makes me feel desperately sad to see books becoming obsolete. I've no desire to read books on a little electronic device, I like holding them in my hands and turning the pages, flipping ahead to the end of a chapter to see how many pages to go, I like the art work on the covers and the way they look lined up on my shelves. I like reading them in the bath and in bed (usually I find the book on the floor in the morning, a kindle would not withstand this kind of treatment.)

And the thought of all that industry being lost, printers and bookshops and cover designers being gone, would be a tragedy of epic proportions.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Baaaaaaaaaaah, humbug

Everyone is talking about the Christmas dinner, what food they're going to make, what booze they're going to buy, what music they're going to rig up in the hall... But me, I've got to the point where I hate everyone and everything, and only great force of will is getting me up out of bed to work in the mornings.

I'm also avoiding the calls of the agency I signed up with. Jack keeps leaving plaintive messages asking me to call, he has a job lined up for January. I've had enough of schools, and kids, and interviews. I haven't called back in two days. Why won't everyone just leave me alone?

Might be just a little bit S.A.D.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Speaking truth to power

When I was little I have a distinct memory of arguing about something with my dad. I think I was about 7. He was being an insufferable know-it-all about something and I wasn't having it. He said something like
"I'm right because I know."
"You don't know!" I said furiously. "You're not right! You're not God, you know."
He roared with laughter. This phrase entered the family lexicon.

I don't know where this attitude came from, it clearly started early but it hasn't done me any favours over the years. Basically I can't bear arse-lickers, and I don't think being in a position of power automatically earns you my respect or complicity.

Today I had an argument with someone at work who was clearly acting from orders from the top, she asked me to do something which I thought was nonsense and disagreed with, I refused. She was pissed off and left.

When she'd gone my colleague next to me whispered that she'd been asked the same thing recently, the difference was that she'd said she would do it but then secretly she didn't. I was struck. "So you said you'd agree, but you did your own thing? So you avoided conflict and got your own way? Why don't I do that? Why don't I keep my mouth shut?"

She said she'd learned this from her family too. Her sister was like me, always arguing back with their dad, and getting into argie bargies. Whereas she just smiled and agreed for a quiet life, and then just did what she wanted.

Tactics. Which is better?

Saturday, 3 December 2011

In scents

In scents, get it? In sense... Incensed... incense... oh, please yourselves.

This is a niche post, of interest only to fellow 'fume addicts. It is a meme I found on one of the gazillion perfume blogs out there. I tag Basic Beauty though because she needs to post more often.

What are some of your strongest scent memories?

Leather seats in my dad’s car and Aramis aftershave. He used to pick us up at weekends. I liked visiting my dad but it also made me slightly nervous because I didn’t see him often and I felt like he didn’t know me as much as our mum did. He took us to fun places but there was also my stepmother to contend with and I had to be on my best behaviour . Also I used to get car sick very quickly. So, leather seats = excitement & nervousness. And carsickness.

Also the smell of fir trees which we had in our back garden which I used to climb.

Smoky bonfires, that smell of sparklers and gunpowder on bonfire nights.

What are some of your favourite smells (things in nature, cooking &/or your environment)?

Coffee. I wish it tasted as good as it smells. Basil, it’s from heaven. I like smoke in people’s clothes, when it’s faded a little bit. A good red wine. Brandy and whisky. This is just turning into a list of drinks, isn’t it?

Do you have any favorite smells that are considered strange?

Not really, though I am starting to like the perfumes (like some Serge Lutyens one, and one which is brilliantly named Fat Electrician) which have a kind of tarmac or diesel component to them.

I also like the smell of nitric acid, rosin, hard ground, white spirit and etching inks, because I associate them with my Happy Place (the print studio.)

Describe one or more of your favorite cooking smells.

I like the smell of the bagel bakery on Brick Lane. It’s pure warm goodness and has that childhood sensory association. I also like bacon frying shhh don’t tell anyone.

What smells do you most dislike?

Two Christmas’ ago, though the friend for whom I was house-sitting warned me that foxes liked to shit in her front garden, I stepped in some fox shit when leaving the house. Discovered that fox shit is the worst smell in the world. What must they eat? They’re absolute ANIMALS.

What smell did you first dislike, but learned to love?

Cigarette smoke. That was a bad thing.

More tomorrow, if you can bear it.

What mundane smells inspire you?

My Yorkshire tea and sometimes Earl Grey (contains the magic ingredient,bergamot, that I love in perfume too.) I didn’t know how important tea was til I ran out of tea the other day. Horrors.

What scent never fails to take you back in time and why?

Body shop apricot lipbalm (no longer in existence) takes me straight back to secondary school. Wellie boots and black plimsolls take me back to primary school.

What scents do you associate with memories of loved ones?

Aramis, Agnes B for men, vanilla pipe tobacco (yeuch.) Marijuana.

What fragrance(s) remind you of growing up?

My sister’s Chloe. Body Shop perfumes like Roma and Japanese Musk. PATCHOULI.

What fragrance(s) remind you of the places you visited on holiday?

My friend went travelling around the world, I went with her for the first two weeks and we went to Vietnam. I loved the smoky smell of fires in the streets and temples, mixing with incense burning in the little shrines. I took some incense home but it just wasn’t the same when it was in your house.

Describe a piece of sensory literature that is very magical for you.

It is in Wise Children, one of my favourite books by one of my favourite authors Angela Carter. It’s the story of identical twin girls, dancers who become stars of musical theatre. (Based on real life twins, the Dolly sisters.) They each wear Mitsouko and Shalimar as their signature scent. But Dora falls in love with Nora’s boyfriend, and persuades her sister to swap perfumes for the night so she can seduce him without him worrying about being unfaithful. It is a great love scene.

Now you.