All entries for August 2005

August 24, 2005

Not now Bernard, but maybe later

Yesterday, in Edinburgh, I had an epiphany.

Oh, yes, I hear you laugh and say Edinburgh? In August? And this 'epiphany,' [insert your version of the knowing chuckle here], was it at the dead of night, by any chance? And were you outside the Gilded Balloon or round the back of the Pleasance? You'd just gone to see a film made by students about fifty shades of black, right? Or maybe a conceptual dance show where two naked women weighed down by plastic pearls span round in circles to Tori Amos songs? And I bet you were with one of your friends, someone else who claimed to know someone famous, a grungy hippie nodding quietly, and two Continental guys who weren't sure what was going on? And there was alcohol involved, wasn’t there? You sit back, fold your arms, and wait for my crushed response. There’s always alcohol involved.

But now it is my turn to laugh, in a high and trilling tone, and say, ‘well, rehallay, darling, what sort of girl do you think I am?’ Hmm. At this point I may also have developed curiously immobile flicky-out hair and a name like Cecily. (I should probably point out that the fact that I appear to belong in a 1950s farce was not my revelation. In fact, that’s probably nearer a nightmare.)

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. This was none of your usual half-baked midnight blinding light sort of experience, sitting with last drink in hand and making up names of constellations to make yourself sound knowledgeable. (Because it’s, like, profound and cool to know about the stars, you know?) This happened in the clear light of day. I was sober. There were even children present.

Yes, that’s right, children. Lots of them. And that is kind of key to the whole epiphany sort of thingygummy. Regular readers will already know about my attitude to the common or garden child in relation to me. I’m a little less than broody. My thinking up till now on the subject would be probably best summed up in an Oscar Wilde misquote – to be around one would be misfortune, to be with two would be just plain carelessness. (None of my friends actually have children yet. When they do the party line will change to incorporate the acceptability of known ones in small cheerful bursts.) So yes, deciding to see out our time in Edinburgh by going to a children’s show seemed a little crazy.

But what the hell. It was Edinburgh. You can do crazy there like nowhere else. So we went completely all out wild and bought tickets for a children’s show, crazy girls that we are. And ‘Not Now Bernard! and Other Monster Tales for Children’ was actually very very good. Well conceived, convincing and amusing, and really enjoyable, even for those of us who weren’t accompanied.

Yet here’s the thing. There were at least fifty children in that room, and not once did I feel irritation towards them. If anything, I actually loved seeing them all completely absorbed by an hour of theatre. They were all rapt. Nobody fidgeted, or cried or got bored. They had such amazing attention spans. If ‘Not Now Bernard’ had been a cartoon it would have been over in ten minutes, and they would have been on to the next thing. I really enjoyed watching them being so enthralled, and so my revelation is this: being around children can be rewarding. I'm still not enamoured of the hyperactive whining, screaming, thrashing three-foot monsters encountered in supermarkets and swimming pools, but I love the kid that sits open-mouthed in a theatre, completely riveted to his seat.

So yes, when I have my baby shower, don’t bother with the layette, the little booties, the hand-stitched blanket and the fifty plastic rattly toys that play tinny nursery rhymes. Give me tickets for the theatre, darling, the theatre. And now I feel my hair flicking up and out again and I’m starting to bat my eyelashes. Shit. Maybe becoming a character in a 1950s farce is a horrible side-effect of this sort of thing. Just don’t let me start persuading you to call me Cecily.


August 09, 2005

The Neighbours Way

So life is not treating you well. You have lost your way. You are miserable and ill and just can't see the point of it all. But here, my friend, there is hope. Here, you too can find a meaning in life, to bring you hope and joy and flowers and things and skippyedeee skipping through sunshine. Or something.

Yes, all this can be yours if you vow to live the Neighbours Way and follow these simple rules.

  1. Move. It is imperative you begin your new way of life living on the same street as all your close friends, your lover(s), your colleagues, your doctor, your lawyer, your teacher, your friendly neighbourhood bobby, most of your family and in short pretty much anyone you will exchange more than three words with in any given day. If you do happen to interact with anyone from outside this group, they must be a close friend or rebellious family member of somebody else in the street.

  2. Get a new wardrobe. Only wear bright colours that will give a crude representation of the keynote of your character, so that you can be easily identified within this idyllic world. Are you a whore? Red and low cut will do the job. Honest and earnest? Try a buttercup yellow blouse. Solid as a rock? Nice earthy greens will achieve the look you want. And if you're feeling a bit rebellious, but at the same time with a soft feminine heart buried deep inside, bright pink streaks in your hair are always a winner.

  3. Geography transcends age. You love socialising with your mum's friends, and your cousin, and your baby sister's crew. Girly night needed? Cool, let's invite the gang - your mum, your mum's friends, your old teacher, and the ten year old from down the road. Why do you need your own friends when you can have all this? You love them all.

  4. Amnesia is always an excuse. For anything. Even death. Except perhaps a sudden and disturbing interest in perving at women. Oh no… wait… it is.

  5. Don't go to the Nightclub unless you are planning to go Off The Rails. There are people there who Do Not Live On The Street, and are therefore a danger to the Way. (Anyway, they'd have to be complete losers to want to dance to eighties box-beats in a near empty room, whilst the Ramsey Street Rebel Of The Week… er… rebels.)

  6. Mourning etiquette requires two episodes of wearing black and looking mournful, followed by a bit of paid leave during which other residents will make a few sorrowful comments, and then mercifully, the matter will be dropped and life continues as normal. Warning, nobody is ever really dead until you see the body (see 4.).

  7. Don't be a 'cake-taker.' Don't even use the word unless you think you are cool/young enough to merit it. Clue: if you find yourself trying to analyse the origins of it you're probably too old to use it. Also applies to 'hufter.'

  8. Do, however, try and apply cheesy puns where and when possible. Hearing the familiar 'here comes the comedy storyline' music in the background is always a good sign. It means that today your trauma is not on display, and you get to merely ogle/interfere with everyone else's. However, you may end up wearing underpants on your head. I don't know why this happens with such frequency in Neighbours, but it does.

  9. Don't go to the forest. Or the abandoned shack in the woods. It's just asking for trouble. If you really have to get away just go to America. America is a big glossy place where you can be a STAR, or have a really cool successful job in New York. You never hear about Flick's drug problem, or how Michelle failed to make rent and got asthma from the city pollution. Because when you set foot in America, as a student of the Way, you are blessed. You will find your happy ending. And nobody will think the less of you because you never visit, or call, or write, even when your parents are going through a divorce or your sister's being tried for murder. Aren't families wonderful?

  10. You must worship Harold, and strive to be like him in every way (apart from the dodgy women's underwear episode, but we don't like to talk about that). He is your paragon of Neighboursdom. Emulate his wit and his chuckle (chins not necessary) and all round living in the Way of Neighbours. You cannot go wrong when following in his weighty footsteps.

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