April 22, 2006

Lizzie and Layla's Knot Normal Day Out

Today marked Shakespeare's birthday weeked and also the beginning of the RSC's Complete Works Festival. And being so dedicated to their subject (ahem), what could two Lit students do but stop working and hightail it straight to Stratford?

The day was completely unplanned. So unplanned that they looked at the grey sky that morning and almost didn't go. However, when Lizzie worked out there was a Stratford bus in ten minutes, the two of them gained enough momentum to propel themselves out to the bus stop, in the company of two crazy men and their dog.

12.14pm: Bus pulls up.

12.15pm: Lizzie and Layla get on bus. Layla asks if bus goes to Stratford. Bus driver ascertains that yes, bus does go to Stratford. Lizzie and Layla find seat.

12.16pm: Two crazy men unleash dog on bus whilst they argue with the driver about how many dogs are actually on said bus.

12.17pm: Said dog scampers wildly about whilst old people mutter. Crazy Man no. 1 tries to pay whilst Crazy Man no.2 complicates issue by ranting on about how he has six dogs.

12.18pm: Compromise reached. Crazy men and dog and tickets are stowed away at the back of bus and bus pulls away.

12.27pm: Bus drives through housing estate where all the street names are Shakespearean. Othello Way, Petruchio Place, and Banquo Approach etc. Obviously good way for Layla and Lizzie to refresh their Shakespeare knowledge. Crazy men refresh their knowledge of swear words whilst cursing at the driver for going over speed bumps.

12.34pm: Countryside. Layla and Lizzie have no idea where they are and have lost all sense of direction.

12.35pm: Countryside. It transpires that bus driver has no idea where he is and has lost all sense of direction.

12.36pm: Bus passengers try to help driver. Elderly woman pipes up with the wrong directions and needs to be corrected loudly by elderly man. Middle-aged woman knows where they should be going but nobody is listening to her. Crazy men complicate situation by yelling abuse at the driver.

12.38pm: Bus en route again. Lizzie and Layla wonder if bus actually Stratford-bound as obviously driver, in light of recent events, is not exactly reliable in matters of local geography.

12.46pm: Crazy men and dog get off. Crazy 30ish woman with tamagotchi gets on with small child. Gets more excited about activities of her tamagotchi than the activities of her small child in a very loud voice, and describes an old man on the bus as 'arrrrty-farrrrrty.'

1.10pm: Bus reaches Stratford, much to Lizzie and Layla's relief. They get off, and the adventure can safely say it has been begun.

After fish and chips by the river, and a rather strange encounter in the RSC gardens with groups of people dressed for a garden party in big pastel hats, they discover the Stratford Brass Rubbing Centre. Due to their meagre student funds it is regretfully decided that they cannot stump up the £1.95 to partake of the brass-rubbing fun currently ensuing there. Their two more hard-working housemates will not be getting the gift of a brass rubbing that evening. Maybe next year, when they're earning, they can aspire towards brass-rubbings to bestow upon their friends, but for now it is but a dream.

To get over the disappointment, they wend their way to The Dirty Duck, where an accordion player and his troop have obviously decided to spend the afternoon on the pub balcony in the sunshine, playing away to themselves. Lizzie and Layla decide to have half a pint and listen to them.

This is pleasant enough, until Layla hears an impending jingle, and a troop of Morris men walk down the street. Lured by the English folk music, they fail to go away, and instead stand looking up at the accordionist with adoring eyes. One dancer is moved enough to perform an impromptu dance with his bells and white hankerchieves in the middle of the road. Lorry driver slows and drives round him without so much as a flicker of an eye. Obviously mid-dance Morris men are common hazards in Stratford. Layla and Lizzie get another drink.

After the Morris men have jingled on, a couple of men in Shakespearean costume waver up. Cannot decide if they are very drunk or just 'acting.' They come on to the pub balcony and do a little sketch between Shakespeare and his barber, attracting a crowd of large American tourists and one woman who doesn't understand and tries to sit down on the stool they have purloined for their set. Layla and Lizzie are ringside for the performance and make sure they don't catch the barber's eye. Layla is asked if she wants her hair cut. Afterwards she wishes she'd said yes because that would really have messed their sketch up, but alas, the moment is passed. Layla and Lizzie get another drink.

After that, it is time for the pilgrimage to the RSC tat shop, to marvel at such wonders as the 'half-timbered rubik cube' and 'traditional' Shakespeare jewellery, get excited about all the productions, encounter the Morris men again in full flow, and to buy a 99.

Whilst eating, they spy a narrowboat called Knot Normal, which they agree perfectly sums up their day, and is an appropriate point at which to end it. They make it home in time for tea and Doctor Who.

And Doctor Who strikes them as surprisingly normal after the truly bizarre day that can best be described like this:


The Hard Life of My Hard Drive

So, I finally downloaded Winamp. This was after Windows Media Player took a full total of three minutes to find a song on shuffle, and by the time it had found the song I could have already heard it and be pretty much on to the next one, whereupon I decided that I'd really rather like a music player that didn't make my hard drive curl up and die quite so much with every shuffle. So Winamp was welcomed with open arms on to my desktop, and now sits in pride of place somewhere on the crest of a wave on the Pacific Ocean, with my mother floating gaily about in the foreground.

Which is, of course, all well and good. However, with the introduction of Winamp and the novelty of a program that can handle all of my accumulated music, my hard drive has been forced to reveal some of its dark and distressing secrets.

Apparently, for most of the three years of its careworn life, my laptop has been struggling with a music folder containing the one and only (and alas now deceased) Busted. I'm not quite sure how long it thought to hide this from me, but it did pretty well to conceal an entire album so completely for so long. The thing is, I really don't know how it got there in the first place. I have no memory of ever going 'oooh, I fancy a bit of Busted.' (In fact, I have no memory of ever saying 'oooh I fancy a bit of' anything, but if I had, I doubt it would have been to do with Busted.) Therefore, my hard drive must be the culprit… unless it was forced into submission by Busted themselves in order to increase their pop longevity by ensuring their music lives on in the depths of unsuspecting laptops. Ah yes, that'll be it.

It's still a little traumatised. I can tell this by the fact the shuffle keeps coming up with Placebo. I have this feeling it may need some time to recover from this one.

I'll know it's cured when it starts voluntarily selecting The Divine Comedy.


April 09, 2006

I have not blogged because I have…

  1. been in several different time zones, and despite all my efforts with sunglasses,coffee, alcohol, slippers, and other methods designed to deceive my body clock, I lack commitment to any one sleep pattern, and hence my body clock is still confused. I think it's currently flirting with the idea of daylight saving time in Western Australia, but I can't be sure.

  2. spent inordinate amounts of time doing 'home' things, such as making chicken stock and accompanying my mother to garden centres to be seduced by patio furniture and tea cosies with flowers and cats on.

  3. watched inordinate amounts of television and now feel like the dark-haired woman floating around and laughing gaily and having her 100% pure pleasure with Appletiser and Friends and I have developed a very special friendship that ought not to be neglected.

  4. seen lots of people, whom I only managed to see briefly at Christmas when I was a little drunk. This has now been remedied so that I see them more often and drink more. This is possibly not the best solution, but this can be dealt with later.

  5. Facebook. Even now, the 'create entry' page comforts me because the design reminds me of those hallowed blue profile screens.

  6. too much work. I am currently writing something for my pracfic portfolio about late night Radio 4 and mangoes. It has all the signs of desperation such as a 'quirky' title and lots of stuff about fruit and snow and other, you know, meaningful symbolic stuff, but in a really vague manner so that it's obviously deeply subtle and well thought out. Obviously. Am trying to comfort myself with fact that may not even be marked due to strike, and might get a predicted grade that would be better than the mark I'm going to get for this obviously deeply subtle and well thought out portfolio. Bollocks, bollocks, bollocks.

  7. a cat who has discovered that switched-on laptops are flat, warm and cat-sized, and also an effective way of getting more attention. (She also managed to accidentally email somebody I haven't spoken to for years with the message 'awssssssssssssaaaaac' which I'm sure was gratefully received.)

  8. lots more excuses, that I am not going to include because I must now go and devote my time to those listed above. The cat is waiting for her seat.


March 07, 2006

I'm Great, Employ Me…

… is something that is very hard to convey after you have been walking around in London in the pouring rain for three hours, getting lost in Soho, smiling back at dodgy men in fedoras and sunglasses, avoiding Scientologists who want to drag you into a back room for 'a little chat,' spending far too much time in close proximity to the Middle-Aged Potential-Adulterer Business Man type (ugh), spending far too much time in knee high boots that are retaining more rain-water than the London streets, and with scary mile high frizz hair.

Nevertheless, I feel I may have made my mark, if only in soggy wet patches on their lovely thick pile carpets.

And as reward, I am not going to attempt any Shakespeare whatsoever tonight. I am not even going to open the optimistically-named word document wherein it doth not lie. He is going to stay in the corner until tomorrow. Instead, I am going to ponder three of the world's great mysteries, prompted by today's adventures:

  1. Why, at the only point in your day when you actually do want a Starbucks, one is nowhere to be found. Yet as soon as you've given up and have settled for a dodgy paper cup of something brown coloured in the corner of a tube station, an outlet miraculously appears, warm and dry and cosy looking and smelling of actual coffee, whilst you stand outside in the rain, pressing your nose wistfully to the window like orphans do with toyshops in Dickens television adaptations.

  2. Why I only ever get chatted up by drunk guys and middle-aged married men. I mean, really. Do I have some sort of sign on my chest saying Get Your Adultery Here? Which, for the record, I categorically don't. And yes, talking about your wife is a great turn-on, as is the business card. I'll stick to my original game plan with the cats, thanks.

  3. Why on every train, it is prerequisite that there must always be one elderly lady with a suitcase that is larger than her, and also one bolshy man in a business suit and horrible pink tie, probably called something like 'Stu' or 'Phil,' who insists on talking very loudly and agitatedly into his mobile about something very very dull like the price of paperclips per 100g as if it's a war council, and then persists in sounding annoyed and surprised when the signal cuts out as if it's some unexpected crisis, and carries on barking 'Hello! Hello!' down the receiver til everybody around him wants to ram his stupid shiny black all-singing all-dancing phone-organiser-and-sex-toy-in-one gadget down his ugly pink tie throttled throat. Come on Stu/Phil, you must have got used to this whole flickery signal on a train sort of malarkey by now. Surely at least you saw Trigger Happy TV at some point in your paperclip filled existence?

Ah, that feels a lot better.

I knew Shakespeare wasn't a good idea tonight.


March 01, 2006

The Doctor Quinn Way

Every young girl with access to daytime television* has at one point in her tender years aspired to be the Medicine Woman herself. Doctor Mike is such a positive role model for the ladies, isn't she? Look at her with her gutsy ways and Strong Moral Fiber (yes, yes, I am allowing the Americanism here, seeing as it's Dr Quinn) triumphing in a gloriously politically correct manner over all adversity, rewriting history itself. What a woman.

However, I am a little troubled that her morally enriching adventures appear to be consigned now to sporadic appearances on regional television and the occasional feature length dramas on Channel Five, condemning today's youth to a Medicine Woman free zone. What hope have they of finding another such role model in our callous, ceramically straightened hair'd 21st century society? So I have provided here a fully comprehensive guide to living the Doctor Mike way of life, for the sake of the children.

  1. Be a woman. This helps a lot. If your gender happens to be against you on this one, find another reason why you can feel oppressed and victimized, e.g. your race, your political views, your irrational love of the colour yellow (which is, apparently, the colour of oppression, as well as coming in some nasty shades) etc. etc. Whatever you like. What's important is you have an angle. You'll need it for the impassioned speeches (see no.9).

  2. As a woman, exercise your right to go completely alone into an extremely male dominated chauvinistic environment, where the men don't get much female company. Think of it as the 19th century version of a woman on her own in a very very sleazy club. However, fear not, because solely based on your truly exemplary moral and freethinking ideals you will not get hassled/raped/otherwise bothered, and you will, of course, end up being a pillar of the community.

  3. Find some orphan children to adopt, preferably outcasts from society. It doesn't matter how ugly/stupid they are, under your benign and liberal care they will flourish and grow up to become fine upstanding young men and women. However it is important to note that only the girls may become doctors. If you're a male Quinnette, you can only become a decent farmer or journalist.

  4. Fake hair is good. Especially if it has lots of curls. Men with fake flowing perms are also good, especially if they have a leather jacket with tassels on to go with it. Mmm, sexy. The exception to this is no.8.

  5. Wear more make-up than anybody else, even the town whore. If at all possible, it should also be a style of make-up that is completely anachronistic. Yes, waterproof mascara is available to you out on the prairie in the 19th century, because, well, you're already defying so many aspects of history that a few more can't really hurt, as long as they make you look good.

  6. As far as clothing goes, this should stay true to the period, apart from the fact that you have a wardrobe that has an entire claim shanty to itself. I know you're bringing up three orphan children, saving the Indians and running a surgery on very little money, but it is important that you have a different dress every day. These clothes will only get torn and dirty if you are in the pursuit of the Greater Good.

  7. Pivotal moments in your life should come in slow motion, preferably with some heart rending orchestral music. These bits are easy to spot because there will probably be a deathbed nearby, or you will have just rushed in gasping 'what is it?' or there will be a small child, or in fact all three of the above.

  8. Beware of men with Fake Handlebar Moustaches. The FHM is a symbol of Conservatism and Oppression and Bad Things. Men who have FHM must be conquered by the Impassioned Speech (see no.9).

  9. The Impassioned Speech. This is one of the most important parts of the Doctor Quinn Way of Life. Obviously, the aim of the speech will change every time it is used, but the most important point to get across is that you are Morally Correct In Every 20th Century Way, and everyone must bow to your anachronistic views and fashion sense, despite living in an entirely different period of history. For the longer speeches, pointing out that you are a woman also helps. And looking earnest is very important, especially in your close-ups.

  10. Finally, the Tear In Eye is the jewel in the Doctor Quinn crown, especially if your eyes are two different colours. This means that not only can you vary the level of moisture depending on the nature of the situation, but you can also introduce variety in the colour symbolism. For example, if you find out you are pregnant, it might be a misty green-eyed moment, symbolising the joy and springtime renewal of life, but small innocent child dying of disease is definitely a compassionate blue eye swimming with tears sort of occasion. (Some completely anachronistic contact lenses are of course available to you if you need some help with this one.)

——————————-

*As well as some of the boys, but they probably won't admit to it.


February 27, 2006

How Stephen Poliakoff saved my sleep patterns

Today was one of those days when I woke up, lay around in bed for a while and then decided that my sheets really needed washing. I would like to point out this was not because they were actually incredibly dirty, or that I'd just got jam and coffee all over them, but because somehow, in the last ten minutes, they'd just crept over that boundary of being fresh and crisp and a little bit bouncy to being, well, just a bit dull and apathetic about life. You know how sheets can be.

Unfortunately, what I didn't know at this point was that today was also the day our boiler had been seized with a fit of dullness and apathy, and had decided, in its infinite wisdom, to go on strike. So there was no hot water, and more importantly for our heroes the sheets no nice hot radiators for them to bask on whilst drying out.

Which does explain why I ended up in our conservatory/living room/shack-tacked-on-back-of-house this evening wearing a ratty cardigan and three skirts and standing on a chair with a damp double duvet cover and a hair dryer.

However, thanks to the BBC and Stephen Poliakoff I managed to cover the event in some false glamour by imagining some nice winsome music and lush scenery in the background. The sheets weren't flopping, they were billowing, probably complementing my ruddy gipsy appearance in this world of order. Oh, and I was actually the young frowny-but-pretty assistant to some aging millionaire with bizarre and innocent whims, and that everything was going to end very contentedly in some big function where everyone feels heartglad to have each other despite the fact that their relationships have fallen through/their family disintegrated/they slept with their sister. There's something very comforting about Poliakoff dramas*, even when you have a fully functioning boiler. You know you're definitely guaranteed a lavish party or three, and probably a nice stylish mushy moment sandwiched somewhere between the fireworks and slow orchestral panning over the landscape. It's like the televisual equivalent of champagne – luxurious, indulgent and you know exactly what you're getting, even if the flute it comes in is a slightly different shape every time.

Thank goodness for Poliakoff, I say. Without him, at this point I'd probably still be mooching round the house staring moodily at my damp sheets and kicking holes in the boiler, and we all know what happened last time it was allowed to get to that point.

_

*Especially Friends and Crocodiles in which Damien Lewis just keeps saying my name over and over again in fond tones, although that is completely irrelevant, of course. Of course.


February 17, 2006

The Mercedes Mystery

And the prophets foretold that in the far distant future a Shining Silver Machine would appear, overnight, a gleaming thing of Joy and Wonder among the murky coloured micras and the grubby white vans, and the Street would truly be transformed by its glorious Presence, and all would look upon the Miracle with thankful eyes…

…apart from the person whose parking space it had taken as it fell from the heavens.

All right, strictly, I suppose, it's not actually my parking space, apart from the fact that it is the spot that is directly outside my house. And also I consider it my right, as a driver without power steering, to have priority to this particular space, as it's directly next to a driveway so I don't have to wrench my arms out of their sockets and attempt a parallel park with an interested audience twitching their curtains. I can also gaze upon this hallowed spot from the spare room window, and give Coco a little wink every so often so she doesn't get too lonely out there. It's nice for a little car to feel appreciated, after all. The poor girl hasn't really got that much going for her otherwise.

And for a while, this worked. Coco sat happily outside the window, for the most part. Occasionally, she and I would find somebody else had coasted into our spot, and there were a few times when she ended up nose to nose with an entirely undesirable van, but these are after all, formative life experiences, and she doesn't seem to have suffered unduly from them.

But that was all back in the halcyon days of Before Merc. Literally overnight, this silver beast dropped from the skies, and we woke one morn about five weeks ago to find it twinkling outside our house. And it has not moved since.

At first, it was a bit of local interest. It added a bit of glamour and speculation to our humdrum lives. I mean, it's not everyone who has a whacking great Mercedes Benz appear outside their house now, is it? However, gradually, the charm wore off. Every morning now, we wake to feel its presence looming outside our closed curtains, and have to look away from its scrutiny as we lock the door every night. It is immovable, unchanging in wind and weather, and we are powerless against it. Coco and I even have to respectfully change down a gear as we pass its presence in case we graze its silver sheen, and the two of us remain in perpetual fear of overstepping the boundaries of courtesy as we try to parallel park near its large shiny body.

What we are desperate to know, but do not dare to ask, is when will it leave? When can we return to our cheerful pursuit of carelessly dodging round little two door metros and fiestas without its eternally threatening presence? When, in fact, can we cease to live in fear? It's been sitting there for over a bloody month now, and hasn't moved once. It doesn't appear to belong to anybody. More importantly, it's hogging my parking space, in the way a car with no claim to the house it sits beside and probably power power power steering has no right to do. Besides, it makes Coco feel inadequate. Look, I tell her, it's got nothing on you. You are beloved of an honest woman, and although you may have only a teeny engine and battered white paintwork, you are so valued that all that ceases to be important.

So, you see, having a nice shiny mystery vehicle brightening up the street is all very well, but now it's just plain annoying, for many reasons. I'm just waiting for the second Miracle to occur – the one where it disappears as mysteriously as it came. (And although we never hear of it, it's found by the police three nights later, burnt out and dumped at the bottom of the Sydenham Industrial Estate.)

But all that Coco and I care about is that it never flashes its glossy chasse in our parking spot again.


February 16, 2006

One True Real Love Affair To Remember In Desperate Lands From Afar etc.

I thought it was an isolated incident at first, truly I did. You see, it seemed so harmless. All I did was press one teeny tiny little button. A teeny tiny oh-so-miniscule button. What's the harm in that? you say. And I shake my head from the sofa, and reply with sssh, keep it down. I'm watching the Channel Five Afternoon Movie.

Yes. You did hear that right. For all those unfamiliar with the glory of daytime television, Channel Five, or '5ive' (correctly pronounced 'fiveive') as they prefer to be known, as obviously they are cool and hip and in tune with the youth of today and therefore obviously not at all a waste of bandwidth at all, every afternoon put on two films for your viewing pleasure.

They're not the sort of films you're likely to have seen at the cinema. They're not the sort of films you're likely to have read reviews of in some esoteric magazine but never got round to seeing because they were only shown once, at midnight, in an art house cinema in an attic the other side of Liverpool. They're not even the sort of films you may have picked up in a Woolworths bargain bucket for 50p marked 'straight to video.' Oh no, these are a whole new beast. These are the American 'made-for-tv' movies. Which, I suppose, is exactly what you come up with when you invent a zillion cable channels and need something to fill them. One day, when the viewing public finally becomes tired of seeing fifty Friends and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps episodes a day, I predict Channel 4 and the BBC will end up with exactly the same concept. But with fewer white picket fences and 'wise woman' parts for Whoopi Goldberg.

So yes, anyway, it was entering the post-lunch-Neighbours period, and I felt nothing more than a fleeting, idle curiosity to see what else was on. So, ever ever so whimsically, I gaily flipped the remote. Little did I know what I had let myself in for. I was confronted with a small orphan boy riding his bicycle between the white picket fences, quickly replaced with a car smash where a tousled, bloody and yet beautiful woman was being hauled tenderly from the wreckage by David Hasselhoff in a fireman's helmet and his trusty pet dalmation. Cute orphan children, David Hasselhoff, and a faithful dalmatian? How could I resist?

This turned out to be the masterpiece known as One True Love. Somehow, despite the advert breaks for hearing aids, post 50s insurance and denture sterilising equipment, I remained on that sofa until the beautiful woman, not longer bloodied but still in her wedding dress (from the wedding she ran out of to be with David Hasselhoff) had ended up with her Baywatch fire fighter, driving off in his T-bird with dalmatian and cute orphan kid sitting in the the back.

And I thought that would be the end of that. But today, all that changed. I arrived home to find a housemate, who shall remain nameless, engrossed in a touching tale of a man who fell down a sinkhole during mardi gras and was being chased through a cave by wet cement whilst his girlfriend ran about anxiously and yet attractively trying to save him.

It appears the addiction is catching. But even worse, I have started to apply the Rules Of The C5AM to my own life. For example, the small cute girl in the pink dress who almost ran into me in the Arts Centre today I expected to have a young, widowed and incredibly sexy father (who would of course have a great classic car) instead of a normal jeans and oversized jumper mother. I laboured under the delusion that the spring wind was sweeping my hair into an attractive tousled look rather than the usual haystack. And when I fell backwards going down the bus steps today (I know I'm clumsy, but in my defence,I hadn't eaten for seven hours and the driver did brake rather sharply) instead of collapsing back in an undignified manner and smiling shamefacedly at the old lady looking up at me from the lower deck in concern, I was supposed to have been caught by a muscle-bound firefighter or similar, who would have miraculously appeared behind me, and would, of course have proposed within a fortnight.

I think the C5AM may have ruined my life. If I start beginning sentences with 'when I was nothing but the littlest of little girls,' or 'I had the most beautiful dream last night…' or even 'I'm sorry [insert name here] but I just can't marry you. Don't ask me to explain… I just can't' then please, please, put me out of my misery.

Just don't let it get to the stage where I start thinking rainstorms are romantic, I'm begging you.


February 08, 2006

She left the web, she left the loom…

5.38pm today, Heswall beach.

This photograph shows exactly why I need to go home. The Midlands is too flat, too landlocked, and there's nowhere near enough marsh. Home is grey sand, tufts of reeds, and salt on the lips, and without it I don't feel quite complete. That and Derek Brockway doing his jolly weather report for Wales Today. (Yes, that is Wales in the background. No, I don't live in Wales, but my television aerial claims I do. It's a contentious issue between us. Occasionally it picks up Midlands Today, where I categorically don't live either. Is it any wonder I spend so much of my life looking so confused?)

It makes everything suddenly easier to be able to open the door and just run out into that, and keep on running. But not too far, or else you'll sink into the marsh, and get your mudsplattered figure on the front page of the local paper, as people getting stuck in the mud is pretty much the most exciting piece of news in any given week. And your fame will follow you right up Telegraph road and down again, and probably even into Tesco, and you really don't want that sort of recognition around here.

Don't say I didn't warn you.


January 31, 2006

Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch, who watches over you?

Hmm. It appears it has taken me all of January to find a cure for the Januaryness of the month. I could have merely waited for it to come to the end of its annual life, which you would think would be the simple solution, but being me, I had to make it difficult.

However, after 30 days of searching, I am proud to report that I have managed to reclaim a day of my life from January. Without these hallowed 24 hours, I would not be the person I am now. Well, at least I probably wouldn't be singing the songs I am now. This may be a good thing or a bad thing. I haven't quite figured out the full moral and ethical implications of January, but it gives me something to work towards in 2007, at any rate.

So yes. I have, as you may have gathered, beaten January by the power of music. And not any old music. Well, that's sort of a lie. Semi -old music (if old is defined as circa 1970, but don't tell my mother I said that). January was banished from my room and my life by the songs of my long-lost youth. The Smashing Pumpkins, No Doubt, Republica, Garbage, Dodgy, All Saints, Smashmouth and the Fun Lovin' Criminals all played their part, and the final kick was administered by none other than the fantastic and neglected They Might Be Giants. I did, truly, build a birdhouse in my soul, and somehow in the middle of this January realised it wasn't getting any attention, sulked for a bit, and then waddled off for good.

As a footnote, I also made soup, flapjack, steamed chocolate pudding and a casserole, which may or may not be connected, but they were all tasty, so I don't really care either way.


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