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May 17, 2006

For the sake of art…

I have had a revelation. A blinding flash of inspiration, that came to me this morning as I lay in bed looking at the pile of books looming on my desk, and thought I'd really rather not, thanks. And then, my gaze stretched to the wall beyond, and the picture on the wall. I could do that, I thought. That, there, is my vocation. I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner.

Yes, that's right. I don't need my degree. Not at all. For I am going to give it all up and become a Preraphaelite model.

And here, should you still doubt the wisdom of my decision, are five good reasons why.

  1. I will get to lie about all day in bed, probably somewhere nice. And even if there is no bed, there will be many many cushions.
  2. I will never ever need to use hair straighteners ever again. I can let my hair free to curl and wave and go crazy in the way it loves to do, all the time, and I don't need to feel ashamed next to all the other eng lit girls with their perfectly straight and shiny hair in manner of Pantene advert.
  3. I can spend all my time in flowing skirts and dresses in pretty colours. No more jeans.
  4. There will probably be a a few lithe young men in strategically draped grecian robes hanging about the place. This can never be accounted a bad thing.
  5. My big hips will be attractive and desirable and will be magically transformed into things of beauty by the artist's brush, befitting goddesses and heroines of literature.

However, there are also, as with any career choice, a few downsides to consider.

  1. Loss of feeling in arms from prolonged lying around in ravishing poses.
  2. Possible pneumonia from floating about in little clothing in rivers emulating Ophelia and the Lady of Shalott etc.
  3. Problems with maintaining a vacuously attractive and wistful gaze, as as proved in my exam yesterday ('Mathematicians are reminded they may NOT take string into this exam'), I have difficulty keeping a straight face for long periods.
  4. Men staring at me for any length of time borders on being a little creepy, especially whilst I'm asleep.
  5. Wearing trailing skirts continually, whilst tempting, may pose a bit of an issue in rainy English weather. May become so waterlogged whilst, for example, buying groceries, that I can't physically move.

Hmm… Maybe I'll stick with the revision a little while longer. After all, the main thing is that I have options, I suppose.


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.


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 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.


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.


January 18, 2006

Down and Out in South Leam

I love the fact that on any post-pub walk back to my house, every possible take-out delight is available en-route. Fish and chips, curry, chinese, and pizza (twice). What more could anyone need? It's also helpful as a Virtuous-ometer – I know my willpower's feeling good about itself if I manage to make it all the way home without cracking, especially if I make it past the '10% DISCOUNT ON ALL FOODS' sign in the Royal. I always succumb to the Royal mainly because most of the menu is spelt right, and this pleases me more than I should probably admit.

And the guy behind the counter is friendly, unlike a certain lady in another place not a million miles away, which we shall merely allude to as Sonacsut. She always gives me this glance of 'I'm far too cool and attractive and my hair is just too damn flicky to take your order' and then glares balefully from behind the desk until my azzip is ready. If it wasn't buy-one-get-one-free from the shop, I swear I'd have it delivered just so I didn't have to face her. Maybe that's why they do that offer. It's bad enough just walking past the shop window, especially times like tonight when my hair's a bit crazy and I was sure I still had wax on my face (which I discovered later that I still did).

Yes, wax on my face. I somehow managed to splatter a candle completely over myself in the grand tradition of things, which meant I spent half an hour on the floor with a hot iron and old newspapers, trying to get the stuff out of my clothes, and another half hour picking wax out of my hair/teeth/cleavage, at which point I decided this was not the way I wanted to spend my evening. So I ended up in the Jug instead, where I got disturbed for the first time by the fact that they have the same chairs and clock as my mother has in the kitchen, and had to keep running to the toilet to check that I didn't look like I'd got some weird waxy form of leprosy.

In other news: I won back my parking spot on the street, Costcutters appear to have stopped stocking plain noodles, and my Shakespeare essay appears to have become all about hats, which will be interesting, I'm sure.


January 06, 2006

Back in the Pink of Things

If I was still at home about now I would have been enlisted in the grand debacle of the Taking Down Of The Decorations, with all the traditional little ceremonies of Not That Box, You're Packing Them All Wrong, Who Ate The Last Tree Chocolate? and Somebody Take The Lametta Away From The Cat, Now, Please, Before She Chews It Up And Dies.

However, I am not, due to the university's bizarre notion of what actually constitutes a 'week,' so this ritual will have to take place in my absence. The cat must take her chances with the lametta alone, and I must return to speedwriting essays, staying up far too late for no good reason, and also, more importantly, bring an end to Tales Of Festivity. Alack.

So I thought that as a lovely way to sum up my Festivities, and also provide both my conscience and my reading not-that-public with the illusion that I really blogged more than I did this holiday, I would do an edited highlights list. Sort of like Davina does for the crap Big Brother contestant of the week, but there's less nudity, less swearing and less sex in this one. The U version, if you like, though some bits of this may be disturbing for children under eight or those of a highly sensitive nature so we better make it a PG, just to be sure.

Further Tales of Festivity

  1. Drove the M6 and didn't die.
  2. Converted everybody I'd ever met and everybody my friends had ever met to the joy and wonder of putting cream cheese in a mince pie.
  3. Made 1243057272435782059 of said mince pies, and didn't poison anybody.
  4. Didn't, in the week I was on my own, either (a) perish from loneliness, or (b) develop an imaginary stalker who was almost definitely watching me from a secret peephole in the inexplicable hole in my ceiling. (I'm not imagining the hole. The hole is most definitely there, and it is, most definitely, inexplicable.)
  5. Got given purple wellies. And fingerless gloves. And an Austenesque hat. Now I can wander over campus in the most extreme climes looking like 'a high-class tramp,' as one of my illustrious acquaintances has it.
  6. Didn't let the guilt of having done no constructive work get in the way of Christmas.
  7. Danced with my grandmother. It was fantastic.
  8. Homemade sushi!
  9. Drove the M6 again and didn't die.
  10. Avoided Christmas television entirely. Apart from Doctor Who, which doesn't count because it would obviously have been great any day of the year and was obviously completely arbitrarily assigned to Christmas day, obviously. I may also have seen the end of Mary Poppins with all the kites and singing and all that jazz, and about ten minutes of Liz Taylor being Cleopatra in lots of gold chinky chains but that was only because I was waiting for Neighbours to start.
  11. Haven't bought a single unnecessary bargain sale item. Yet.
  12. Got paid, which made the huge bellowing monster that is my overdraft into a slightly smaller bellowing monster who is almost kind of cute.
  13. Walked on the beach New Year's Day, because it was such a beautiful blue-sky day, it was that or be hungover, and it's been too long since the two of us last did that.
  14. Watched an entire costume drama serial (Bleak House) without knowing what was going to happen, and my goodness, it was tense.
  15. Did a snow dance. It didn't work. I maintain it would have worked if it had been done on the beach. Or maybe we did a rain dance by accident instead, which would explain a lot.

So there you have the highlights of the Tales, each of which is probably a tale in its own right. And I've also managed to think up a fairly plausible reason for there being fifteen, in that I was at home for fifteen days in total. You see, there was a plan. And if I had more time and fewer essays, I'd probably have expanded on a few of them. But rest assured, they would have been fairly dull in their complete niceness.

Though not as dull as my half written essay. Hmmm. The somewhat sickly smell of procrastination is in the air once again.


November 08, 2005

The Talented Mr Rippy

Um, I think my essay has stolen my life.

And what is more, is living it up in Bermuda with sun and cocktails and things, whilst I'm still sat here, not knowing where my day went.

I mean, it's really not on. I gave that essay everything. I'm the sole reason he got as far as he did. He wouldn't be half the man he is today if I hadn't been there to coax him into finding a reason to live. And how does he repay me?

I'll tell you how. By pissing off to a sunnier climate and using the hours of my day in which to do it. It's the only explanation for why it's now midnight and I still don't have a written essay. The day didn't happen to me, it happened to the glorious and beyootiful creation that is my essay who is, even now as I speak, lying on a beach with a glass containing far too many different coloured alcohols and fruits, and probably an attractive novel or two hanging adoringly off each of his paragraphs.

He has stolen my life, and given me no reward but his empty page, flashing open in Microsoft Word to taunt me with his absence. His title is there, but he himself is not. No normal essay would do this. Mind you, geniuses are always troubled creatures, so maybe it's a good sign and he's an exceptionally intelligent being.

I know he's out there somewhere. One day, I will find him, and will be able to rehabilitate him by handing him in to be savagely marked and maybe even… filed.

I just hope he's not with Gwyneth Paltrow. Now that really would mean he was a lost cause. I'll know to give up all hope if he breezes in with a panama hat and asks me to call him 'Dickieeeee.'


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