I’m not here to judge, but as I’m here, I may as well!

Just to get an awkward apology out of the way before I start, it has come to my attention after writing last week’s post that I used to have a gym related conscience (who I will refer to as Gym Bunny), and I fear that she may have been upset by my writing about Jiminy Cricket, and the implication that Jiminy is the first friend who has acted as my conscience.  She’s not, and when Gym Bunny was my fitness guru, I was actually in the best shape of my life.  She was amazing, and I’m sorry that I’ve sullied the memories of that time for her. 

Moving swiftly on from the uncomfortableness, I had a night out with my lovely chums this week.  Normally going out with friends probably wouldn’t count as a major event, but it was the first time that we’d been out together in about a year.  Not because we had a huge falling out (ok, not because we’d ALL had a huge falling out), but mainly because life has a habit of getting in the way of social lives.  Especially when life involves various children, jobs, and other halves.  Or people double booking themselves.  (You know who you are.)

 Usually, I spend a few hours looking for an outfit to wear, before spending a silly amount of money on, if I’m honest, a dress that looks pretty similar to the 642 that I already own (‘but this one has a sparkly bit on the left shoulder, the one that you’re thinking of has a sparkly bit on both shoulders.  I can’t believe you don’t pay attention to what I own’…etc., etc.) but this time I had to have a good root through my wardrobe.  At The Clothes Show back in December, I bought a lovely black dress with chiffon sleeves in a size 12 (I was being optimistic).  I tried it on earlier in the week and it looked nice, I took it into work and my lovely colleagues liked it (one liked it a little bit too much, and I was lucky to get it back  again – we nearly had to cut it in half and keep half each.  In the end I had to offer her a timeshare on it, and now live in hope that she forgets about it before her next night out), and it was agreed that I should wear it.  I’m not entirely sure what happened, as I haven’t eaten a freezer full of Magnums/16 KitKat Chunkies/my entire family, but when I put the dress on, it struggled slightly more to get over my chest, and ended up a bit shorter than it had been on Tuesday.  Swallowing my nerves, I asked my Darling Sister (who’s a bit of an authority on fashion), whether she thought it was too short.  Her eyes bulged a bit, and she suggested that I wore tights (when Darling Sister tells you that something’s a bit short, she means that you’d probably get arrested).  So I grabbed some purple tights, and hoped that the fact that I’d had a complete hair restyle earlier in the day would distract people from the fact that they could probably see my pants if they looked hard enough.  (It looked amazing when my hairdresser did it, because she’s brilliant, but I don’t have her patience or flair, and I’m a bit worried that I now look like a redheaded Tina Turner.)

Turns out that I shouldn’t have worried, because my skirt turned out to be one of the longer ones of the night.  And I don’t want to judge, I really don’t – I know that I’m no size 8 beauty myself,  (Funny side story – a couple of years ago, I got into a bit of an argument with a friend of a friend.  Because she’s evil.  The best insult that she could come up with was to call me a fat cow.  Apparently she wasn’t aware that I do look in the mirror, and could have come to that conclusion myself.  But I’m over it.  The horse-faced tramp.)  but if you’re a bigger girl, please, please, please, don’t assume that you can dress in the same way as your teeny tiny friends and  look gorgeous.  Body-con skirts are not kind to you.  Nor are tops 2 sizes too small – I see what you were trying to do, you thought that it would give a ‘spilling forth’ look to your breasts.  It doesn’t.  It gives you a ‘spilling forth’ look everywhere.  People are not looking at you with admiration in their eyes, that’s pity.  Or perhaps revulsion.  So perhaps that self-confident hip wiggle (sending peoples drinks flying) as you walk through the bar is misplaced.  Not that I’m thinking of anyone in particular…

I don’t want to name the place that we graced with our presence last night (mainly because if anyone reads this and recognises themselves, I will be kicked a lot- it’s that sort of place), so I’ll just say that it’s the largest town in the county.  And it’s horrible.  The next time that you watch Jeremy Kyle, you can probably go ahead and assume that they’ve cast the whole show with people from my town.  The boys fight, then the girlfriends of the boys fight, then the boyfriends of the girlfriends friends fight, then someone who was standing nearby gets a drink spilt on their foot, so their friends step in…it’s something very special.  Last night, there were 4 fights whilst I was out, (and, I’m reliably informed, a fifth and sixth pretty much as soon as I left) for no reason other than an accidental brushing past to get to the bar/toilet/quiz machine.  I can only blame the fact that there is 1 dance floor in the whole of the town, and everyone tends to congregate in the same pub at the end of the night to have a dance/grinding session.  Apparently the bouncers feel that the term ‘crowd control’ means ‘shove as many people in as possible.  It’ll be fine.’  It’s never fine.

As for the women in their mid-forties using their friends as poles?  Please stop.  I don’t want to see you grinding on each other.  I’m all for you going out and having a ruddy good time, but I don’t need to see your ‘flower’.  Ever.  Actually, never mind women in their mid-forties, please can all women take note – I don’t want to see any of you grinding on each other.  You are not auditioning for a lapdancing club, and you make me feel a bit sick and sad.  If you do happen to attract a man in this way (and why else would you dance like that, unless it’s for attention), I can say with near-certainty that he will not be Mr. Right.  Mr. Just For Tonight, yes, and if that’s what you want then fair play, but I just think that it looks a bit desperate and undignified. 

And a final thought, to those boys who just have to get involved when something’s kicking off – you’re my age.  Grow up.  (I know you’re an immature fool, you know that you’re an immature fool, my friends know that you’re an immature fool, but there’s always the chance that you might meet some people that aren’t aware of this fact.  Let’s not disillusion them straight away.)

On another note, I decided to buy some fake tan from Boots in order to jazz up my legs (before I was guided towards the purple tights), and I fell over, right in the middle of the haircare aisle.  My knees were scraped, and my pride battered.  I was wearing shoes with heels that clicked as I walked (you know, the sort that you really, really want when you’re about 5) and everyone must have heard me tap-tapping along, stopping suddenly, and starting again, in a much more sedate fashion.  I’m not saying that Jiminy was involved (unless she’d had a word with the Weather Fairy and asked it to rain heavily, but apparently they’re not as close as they used to be), but she did send me a text message along the lines of ‘serves you right’ when I told her.  Rude.

Are you my conscience?

This week I have discovered my conscience, in the shape of a very helpful work colleague, who I will christen Jiminy Cricket (I’ve run it past her and she has absolutely no problem with being associated with a top hat wearing insect).

It came to her attention some time ago that I was spending far too much money on clothes that I didn’t really need, so she was thrilled (no, really, she was) when Igave up buying them.  Then, sometime in January, I needed to buy a new soup bowl, for lunch-related activities (long story short, another of my lovely work colleagues lent me a plate once.  I dropped it on the concrete floor of the canteen, meaning that people at my place of work are now strangely reluctant to lend me crockery), so I popped along to Tesco (other supermarkets are available, it’s just that Tesco is 4 minutes from work).  They had their January Sale on, and I managed to find a lovely, non-chipped, mushroom coloured bowl for £3.50.  Except when I got to the till, it was £7.50.  Jiminy was surprisingly stern about the whole thing, and questioned my commitment to saving money, even when I explained the situation (she can be quite strict).  Anyhoo, we managed to move on from the whole thing, and get our friendship back on track – she asks nice questions about when myself and The Boy will be moving in together (the way my saving is currently going – sometime around the 12th of Never), what sort of house we want, etc.  She’s a very smart lady cricket, and knows that asking me questions like this will encourage me to save money, because it’s something that I really want – she tends to start asking when I start whimpering about the Zara dress, or a pair of lovely shoes that I’ve seen in Office.  Or Next.  Or New Look.

Through no fault of my own, I have recently run out of several beauty related products (toothpaste, deodrant, perfume…) and I’ve needed to replace them.  I repeat, this is through no fault of my own.  Boots have also been doing ill-thought out promotions on haircare products that I love (I don’t like to name drop, so I’ll just say that the packaging is pink.  And smells divine.  And has Lee Stafford written on.  Oops), so I’ve spent a bit more than I would usually.  Jiminy clocked me walking into work after lunch with my Boots bag, and questioned whether I really needed a new night cream, more leave-in conditioner, split ends serum, root booster or shine spray.  Or mascara, eyeliner, lipstick or moisturiser.  Despite my talking her through why each and every item was integral to my evening beautifying, she saw right through me and my nonsense (she does that a lot), and asked that I give her all of my receipts, where she will use a pretty pink highlighter to show me how much I spend on unnecessary toiletries (although she has agreed that toothpaste and deodrant are allowed).  I’d be annoyed, but she’s genuinely so nice – you know, one of those people that you can’t ever get annoyed with, because you KNOW that they’re only doing something for your own good.  For example, if you’re upset about something and I ask you what’s wrong, there’s a good chance that I’m mostly worried about your wellbeing, but I’m also being a bit nosy.  If Jiminy asks, it’s because she doesn’t like to see anyone sad and wants to help make you feel better – she’s great at the empathy, and it’s been known on occasion for her to cry even before the person that has recently lost a loved one/pet/set of keys.  Not that she’s a saint or anything, she’s just…Lovely.  Note the capitalisation – she’s that Lovely. 

Anyway, I now have a spending watchdog, and I have a feeling that she’ll take to following me around at weekends, popping up just at the point of purchase, to ask if I really need that purse hairspray, when I haven’t used one since 2003.  It’s going to go one of 2 ways – I’m either going to knuckle down, really start saving and stop spending on what is essentially a big pile of unnecessary crap, or I’m going to start acting like a teenager, sneaking things in under her nose and talking about it behind her back.  Oh, wait – I’ve just thought of a third way.  I could become a shoplifter (technically, this could come under the header of acting like a teenager.  Not that I ever shoplifted as a teenager, I just know some people who did.  I won’t name names, they know who they are…), everyone knows that it doesn’t count as shopping if you don’t spend any money.  No, Jiminy definitely wouldn’t like that.  Ooo, this having a conscience thing is already working out nicely!

Trains, Pains and Anniversary Meals…

Firstly, I feel that I should apologise, as this post is a whole day later than usual.  I blame the trains (this will be a recurring theme throughout this post, so I may as well start the train blame off nice and early).  I was also at a My Chemical Romance concert, or ‘gig’, for my and The Boy’s 1 year anniversary.  It took up most of the day.

The day started off quite well – I had a lie-in, read The Boy’s most recent copy of Empire, whilst half listening to him plan our journey to Wembley.  Turns out that I should have been fully listening to him – the journey was much trickier than either of us had first imagined.  The Boy thought we’d go to the train station, get on a train, get on another train and have a simply marvellous time, celebrating 1 whole year of loveliness and bickering.  I thought that we’d drive down to a tube station at the very end of the line (I’d tell you where it is, but if you all start doing that, I’ll never get a parking space), then just get the tube in – it’s much cheaper than getting the train (but then again, most things are cheaper than train journeys nowadays – private jet, chauffer-driven car, flying pony), and celebrate 1 whole year of loveliness and bickering.  Then the ‘planned engineering works’ buggered up our plans good and proper.  The Wembley Park station was closed (possibly forever, certainly for the weekend), so there was no way of doing my idea.  Curses.  Then we saw that there was a limited timetable between our station and King’s Cross.  Not to be deterred, I suggested that I drive (this was a Bad Idea.  I get very stressed whilst driving anywhere that I don’t know, and have previously offered to throw several treasured friends out of the window.  I’ve never followed though, but I am now cut from several Christmas card lists).  All of the car parks at Wembley were full.  It was probably for the best.  Then I had one of my better ideas – I called a nice man at National Rail Enquiries (after trying 3 times to get the number from The Boy, who was muttering moodily in the corner by this point, about the unlikeliness of celebrating 1 whole year of loveliness and bickering), who confirmed lots of train times, so we tentatively made plans to get the train. 

And that should have been that.  Except it wasn’t.  Our train stopped outside a station for 5 minutes, and the driver told us that we were in a queue.  That was fine, I checked the BBC News mobile website, The Boy checked the football results.  Five more minutes passed.  I checked Mirror Mobile celebrity news mobile website, The Boy checked the football results.  Seven more minutes passed, and I checked Facebook, The Boy pressed refresh and checked the football results again (by this point, conversation was fairly stilted, with no more talk of anniversaries or loveliness, but plenty of suggestions of bickering, and we’d taken to composing our letters of complaint out loud.  If I find out that one of the other carriage occupants has stolen the line ‘if I’ve had to re-mortgage my house for a seat on your precious train, it seems that the least you could do is to keep the blasted thing moving’, there will be trouble.) then, out of the blue, I saw a rainbow.  And it was a ruddy good one too, none of that watery, half hearted visionary trickery for this rainbow – oh no, this one was VIBRANT.  Loveliness back on track.  I pointed it out to The Boy as a sign of good things to come, and we spent a good 30 seconds admiring it.  Then, when it became clear that we still weren’t going to move, we spent another 432789432 seconds admiring it.  I saw cars whizzing past on the road running parallel with the train track, and cursed them.  I’m not proud of myself.

I don’t know how it took me so long to notice the man sitting directly in front of the window that we were staring out of (probably because I was trying to read his newspaper over his shoulder).  He was wearing mustard coloured cords.  With brown shoes.  And a khaki tanktop.  But possibly my favourite part of the outfit was the baby blue shirt, stylishly adorned with bright red and baby pink stripes.  It was certainly an outfit to get noticed in, but it made my eyes hurt whenever I glanced at it.  Perhaps I should consider a career change, and be like the female version of Gok Wan, showing men around the UK how to dress?  We could call it ‘How To Look Good With Your Clothes On.’  Anyhoo, I pointed it out to The Boy, in a whisper, but I’m still pretty sure that he heard me (the man, not The Boy – he has quite good hearing).  Finally, the train started moving, very, very slowly.  Then a bit quicker, then very, very slowly again.  In this throughly thrilling jerky fashion, we finally made it into King’s Cross, a mere 45 minutes after our scheduled arrival, fully prepared to forget the delay, and to celebrate 1 whole year of loveliness and bickering.  The Man in the Mustard Trousers pulled his coat from the luggage rack –  a gorgeous, reversible all-weather jacket, turquoise on one side, bright red on the other (I swear, if my idea does take off, I’m hunting him down and dedicating the whole of my first show to burning his entire wardrobe.  Some people cannot be trusted to do their own clothes shopping – I look at them in the same way that some people look at modern art – I think that I understand what they’re trying to get at, but it just doesn’t make work).

We were optimistic when our tube journey started – the Victoria line to Oxford Circus was a smooth journey and we even got seats.  Then we got onto the Bakerloo line to Wembley Central, and it all started to go wrong – again, we got stuck between 2 stations, seemingly just for the heck of it.  Anyhoo, cursing TFL along with First Capital Connect, we eventually got to Wembley Central, and decided to walk to the arena (I say decided, that was pretty much the only option available to us).  I should point out that The Boy is 6 ft tall.  I’m 5ft and 3/4 of an inch – a slow amble for him is like a route march for me.  As it was our anniversary (I know, I should have mentioned it before), The Boy had booked us a table at a very nice Chinese restaurant near the arena (he said it was nice, never having been there, I took his word for it) – we’d already had to ring twice from the train to push back our reservation, so we needed to rush.  Well, The Boy needed to rush, I needed to sprint – it’s lucky that myself and my Wii Fit are back on speaking terms, and I’ve been doing the Island Lap jogging.

I appear to have rambled on for quite some time, so suffice to say that the restaurant was amazing (they had a fish tank.  I may demand that all food establishments that I am taken to from now on come with fish tanks.  Even McDonalds.), and we still had plenty of time before we went and stood awkardly amongst the hordes of heavily eyelinered teenagers.  I say stood, we had seating tickets (The Boy is very considerate of my feelings, and thought that I might be uncomfortable standing, even though I’d told him to get the standing tickets.  I protested that I’d be fine, but was secretly relieved.  And worried, as he clearly knows when I’m lying.)

So, we got in, bought some ridiculously overpriced drinks, and that was that.  We happened to walk past a merchandise (or ‘merch’, if you will) stand, and I was visited by a horrible realisation – I couldn’t by anything (I was going to refer to this as a moral dilemma, but The Boy told me that it in no way related to a moral dilemma, or even an ethical one.  I’ve looked into it this morning, and he was right.  He usually is).  Chances are that I wouldn’t have bought anything anyway (after a minor hair dying catastrophe, I now have extremely dark hair, and walking around with MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE emblazoned about my person would probably suggest that I’m an emo.  Which I’m not – nothing against them, I’m sure that they’re lovely etc., etc…I’m just a bit too perky to be one), but it used to be nice to have the option.  Gah.

So, we sat.  The support acts came and went (The Blackout had their very own glow in the dark guitar), and I knew the words to a couple of their songs (God bless Fearne Cotton), but I had another horrible realisation last night – I am NOT cool.  It’s come as a terrible blow.  Then MCR (as those in the know call them), came on.  I’ve only really heard their singles (see – not cool), but I was singing along with the ones that I knew, and mumbling incoherently at the ones I didn’t, just in case those around us turned on me when they realised that I wasn’t a real fan.  They.  Were.  Awesome.  I could tell you about how I decided there and then to become a rock star, just so that I’d have that many people to come and chant my name in Wembley Arena, or how amazing it was to see everyone singing their hearts out, dancing along, getting crushed against the bar separating the crowd from the stage (or so the big screen suggested), but my rant about trains has meant that my blog post this week is a bit long. 

The Boy is going to make me an MCR CD.  I think that this is the equivalent of a mix-tape, and suggests quite a lot of commitment.  Which is nice.

The less said about the journey back, the better (mainly because it will involve another rant, and a possible unhealthy rise in blood pressure), but I got pushed out of the way by a chunky emo girl whilst trying to get on the tube at Oxford Circus.  So I elbowed her in the back.  Childish?  Yes.  Amusing?  Yes.  Then our train was cancelled.  And the next one was 40 minutes late.  And the chunky emo girl was at King’s Cross station, giving me evil looks whilst munching on a  supersized McDonalds (sorry, usually I wouldn’t be mean, but she does deserve it).  Finally, the train arrived, and people ran onto the platform (it was an actual stampede, and rather unpleasant.  Especially as my feet were in ribbons after the race back to Wembley Central station), but I think we all got seats, and the whole day was a rather lovely way to celebrate 1 whole year of loveliness and bickering, being such a perfect blend of the two.  At Welwyn Garden City, a group of teenagers who had also been at the gig (I’d hope so anyway, if not, they were all worryingly obsessed with the band, wearing hoodies and tops with MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE scrawled on them, and carrying around giant posters), boarded the train and proceeded to annoy everyone in the carriage.  Did you know that selective hearing is literally the best thing that has ever happened to the girl that chose to sit in front of myself and The Boy?  And did you know her boyfriend works the night shift at Asda in Biggleswade, where they play volleyball over the freezers?  And that 3 of the staff are permanently stoned?  It used to be 7, but some of them have left.  And did you also know that her boyfriend’s Dad won’t let them sit in the back of the car together?  Even though her boyfriend is 24?  They refer to his Dad as Mein Fuhrer, apparently.  (That doesn’t explain why her boyfriend can’t drive at the age of 24 – if he could, they could sit wherever the Hell they like, but I’m not judging.)

All together now – teenagers scare the living s&*t out of me……

Dirty Tricks!

Earlier this week, I was lucky enough to have the chance to watch some good, old-fashioned daytime TV.  By which, I mean Jeremy Kyle.  Obviously.  I used to watch it all the time whilst I was at Uni, and when I was at my last job (not that they encouraged it whilst I was working, you understand – I used to work shifts, which meant that I was often off during the week), and for a while, it was up there with my favourite TV shows (it never quite reached the dizzy heights of Scrubs or The Vicar of Dibley, but it was definitely higher up than Family Guy). 

This week was different though.  Jeremy hadn’t changed, his guests were just as…special as always, but the magic had gone.  I was gutted.  It’s a bit like when you see someone that you had a huge crush on (not that I’ve ever had a crush on Mr. Kyle – bear with me and you’ll see what I’m getting at), then they disappear for a while (maybe they’ve found themselves a girlfriend, last minute holiday or prison sentence), and the next time you see them, you wonder what it was you saw in the first place.  They might look a bit ropey, or be wearing a ridiculous hat, but whatever it is, you just don’t feel the same way anymore, and it’s sad. 

Moving swiftly on, the reason that I was watching families airing their (extremely) dirty laundry for the entertainment of others, is that my Darling Sister bought me tickets to see Dirty Dancing for Christmas (which was a bit special), and we’d decided to go down to London and make a day of it (which was a lot special).  Unfortunately, my Darling Sister is of the same opinion as me – if you’re going to make a day of something, you may as well do it whilst shopping.  It was always going to be a tricky day.

First stop was Topshop (everyone knows that you can’t go to London without visiting Topshop – it would be rude London, Topshop AND yourself), where I decided to treat it as a styling mission, and choose things for Darling Sister to try on, instead of me.  Was she appreciative?  Was she heck – everything I chose, she either wrinkled her nose at (a sure sign of disgust if I ever saw one), or she pointed out ‘That’s really more you than me’.  We left without buying anything, after 45 whole minutes of my ooo-ing and aah-ing in an interested fashion, whilst secretly thinking of anything except that top.  Ooo or that skirt.  Or that bag.  Or that dress.  Or that bag.

From there, Darling Sister wanted to go to New Look, followed by Primark.  We headed off, only to be confronted with Zara.  Yep, the place with the Pretty Dress.  I tried to walk straight past, I really did, but my feet refused to listen to my head, and in I walked (with Darling Sister rushing to keep up).  I looked everywhere, but I couldn’t see the dress – in hindsight, it was probably a good thing, as I may have fallen to my knees sobbing at its beauty (yep, I’m that embarrassing), but at the time I was pretty annoyed.  If you can call stomping out of the shop and muttering rude things about the ethical implications of advertising a dress on the internet and being unreasonable enough not to sell it in stores pretty annoyed.  Some would call it insanely angry (or just insane), but I’m not one of them…

Primark and New Look were no better.  It was the equivalent of taking someone on the Cambridge Diet into McDonalds.  Eventually, after 2 hours of my walking around with a face like thunder/angry pitbull/sulky child, Darling Sister decreed that belts did not technically count as clothes, they came under the banner of accessories, so I could always buy those.  I was torn between pointing out that if she’s forcing me to count shoes and bags as clothes, then surely belts should count too, or taking advantage of her unexpected lenience.  For some reason, I decided to point out the former.  I’m my own worst enemy. 

Eventually, after an emotionally draining afternoon, we made it to the theatre in one piece,  still friends (sort of), and sat down to enjoy the show.  It.  Was.  Awesome.  The audience’s reaction when Johnny said the immortal line ‘Nobody puts Baby in the corner’ was immense – I actually squeaked, like an excited mouse.  I immediately decided to stop forcing myself to the gym, and to take dance lessons instead.  I’m quite a fast learner, surely I’ll be on the stage myself within a couple of months.  And then I’d have to have a costume made especially for me, which would be a terrible shame…and would not even be a little bit like shopping.  At all.  Don’t look at me like that…