Thursday, March 31, 2005

'I Haven't Even Been Drinking'

'I Haven't Even Been Drinking'

Today I got out my brand new, utterly bargainous, edition of assorted Middle English texts*. And opening it felt as good as opening a new book always does, even when this particular book contains Piers Plowman. Given that reading Piers would be beyond even my new-found dedication to the cause I quickly skipped straight to Gawain and The Green Knight. Which proclaimed itself to be translated by JR Tolkien. I think that it's one of the supreme ironies of my life that I have read thousands of words worth of Tolkien but none of them are from Lord of the Rings. It's probably some kind of intellectual snobbery at its best. Having chuckled to myself*** about the Tolkien I started to hunt out my essay and notes that accompanied the week of Gawain in Michaelmas 2002. And whilst I was looking for them I noticed that I had, filed nicely away, a partial photocopy of Gawain. This in itself didn't strike me as particularly odd, whilst I'm not a photocopying freak, I know many people who are and since it had my name on the top I'm assuming that someone else donated it to Corinne's Great Middle English File. Which, if I'm honest, isn't actually that great considering it consists of lots of essays on the Canterbury Tales, a few photocopies and a ten line translation of 'The Owl and The Nightingale'. 'Corinne' 'great' and 'Middle English' really don't belong in the same sentence.

But I'm digressing; anyway I'd found the photocopy of Gawain. And having found it I glanced at it. And then it hit me, rather in the manner that the playground hit me when I was seven and tripped over my skipping rope and ended up with gravel embedded in my forehead. The phtocopy of Gawain was not in instantly recognisable English. Even greater, I only needed to glance to see that dreaded 'thorn' letter appear again****. Oh my God, surely ofermodes and roods were only a footstep away. And all the smugness which had risen in me when I'd discovered that Gawain in my brand new edition was less than 90 pages long sudddenly evapourated. What use, after all, was my 90 page edition when it was in translation? I know that I'd read that it was Tolkien who'd written the translation, but somehow my brain had gotten stuck on the Tolkien bit of that sentence and never progressed to the translation part. And I know that I'm doing an English degree and therefore supposed to be able to read, but clearly my brain was effected when I broke my leg in the fountain last year*****.

On the list of things which Oxford doesn't do, very high up along with sensible work rates and let people take books out of the Bod, is translations of works we're supposed to have read. It's why a myriad of important authors aren't studied - things are read in their original language or not at all. Of course we all use those translations - I wouldn't have survived without Heaney's Beowulf - but we can't quote them in exams. For middle english this isn't generally a problem, with Chaucer if something looks odd, saying it aloud usually solves the problem. But Gawain is different even though it's slightly later than Chaucer. The tiny problem here is that it's written in a Northern dialect that was abandoned when Chaucer's estuary English became the standard. So it has letters in it which Chaucer probably wouldn't have come into contact with. And if he had, he probably wouldn't have understood them.

In short, it's just me and the green knight's "gomen". I don't think that it's going to be pretty.

*A mere two pounds from Blackwells. And it's hardbacked.How cool is that?**

**So, not very cool. What can I say? I'm a book geek.

***I really did chuckle. I'm not getting out much at the moment.

****Old English has a slightly different alphabet to modern English, including three letters which we don't have. One of these is called 'thorn', looks like what would happen if you put b and p together and is pronounced as 'th'. That'll be the last language lesson of the day.

*****I broke my leg in the same world that Griffin broke his back in the same fountain******. For anyone who doesn't know either of us, this means that I didn't actually break anything. But it hurt. A lot.

******Though not at the same time. That would have been odd. And embarrassing.
Human Beans

If there's one thing that never fails to amuse me, it's the fact that even the most seemingly boring of Oxford pamphlets are never entirely serious*. You should see the Examiner's Reports, at the times when they're not truly terrifying they're absolutely hilarious for the sheer acidity of whoever wrote them. Reading the Schools** Edition of the English Undergraduate Handbook I found yet another case in point:

"Remember that examiners are human beings: your answers should be relevant, legible, and, if humanly possible, interesting.

Who says sarcasm is the lowest form of wit?

*And as someone who was banned from writing the minutes of the Oxford University Drama Society because of asides, this is saying something.

**Not Schools as in high, but Schools as in examination.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Y'Know What I Said About The Romans...

Y'Know What I Said About The Romans...

So I was just finishing the Roman post, dotting the 'i's and crossing the 't's and then, without any form of warning there was a POP! Not just a kind of 'snap, crackle and pop' pop. But an Oh-My-God-Will-I-Still-Have-My-Fringe-After-This pop. And with the pop came a flash of light. And for a second I did wonder if this was God coming down to avenge the easter card to Jesus thing. Indeed the tingle that went up my right arm seemed to indicate that His lightning bolt had come straight at me. Just as I was about to kneel down and beg forgiveness it struck me that the moment of the POP had co-incided with my computer monitor going blank. And though the computer itself was still buzzing merrily, I was looking at the blank screen of serves-you-right-for-not-saving-your-blog-in-word. Well, 21st century means and all that.

Having had all of these thoughts I only at this point considered that it might be wise to SWITCH OFF THE ELECTRIC. Once I'd done that, glad in the knowledge that I'm not - at least for now - going to be appearing on an episode of 999, it hit me that the popping, and the electricity surge, and the blue light probably meant that the monitor had broken. Well, at least it hadn't been more serious. Like my right hand. And then I reconsidered this. OH MY GOD THE MONITOR HAD BROKEN. And I truly began wondering what time our local library opens. I can survive without lots of things, but, please Noooo, not the internet. I'm a girl in the midst of marathon training. How am I supposed to fulfil my measily breaks when I can't leave the house because of the aches and the fact that I can talk about nothing other than Chaucer?

Just as I was about to get back down on my knees and pray, it hit me that my own-non-internet-when-at-home-computer had, as all good desktops should, a fully-working monitor. Which could be swapped with ease. Well, given the tangle of wires at both ends of the equation, not so much ease as hugely befundled scrambling. But still. Hope was in sight. Once I'd gotten through the tangle of wires, stubbed my toe twice on the dining room chairs and nearly dropped the stupid-broken-monitor, I was back on course. Unfortunately not even near electricution could stop me blogging the 'future' thing the moment that I got back online. You win some, you lose some.

The only problem now is: I'm a little bit scared. Not about the popping, or the flashing lights, but about the fact that my lovely flat screen monitor is connected to a computer which Noah thought was a little too outdated to go on the Ark. I do not want my monitor doing anything that involves popping. Least of all doing something that involves popping and sending electricity into my body. Now I know that the popping monitor had long since passed its retirement age. I'd sat and wrote my first ever Six Form essay on it. It was its time to go. And being a member of the Furness household, it wasn't going to go quietly. But I still worry. Thus I utter an involuntary shudder at every rountinely odd noise that the computer makes. And it's an old computer, it considers its odd noises to be part of its character. So I'm giving furtive worried looks at rather too regular intervals.

But, my need to blog is ultimately bigger than my need not to have a popping monitor.

Let's Do It In High Roman Style

Let's Do It In High Roman Style

The word 'future' appears for only the second time in English in Troilus and Criseyde.*


Me: Oh, yes. How exciting is that? Chaucer gave English a future. Literally.

You: Er, what?

I think this may well be blog suicide.

*It appears for the first in Chaucer's Boece.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

No One Expects The Spanish Inquisition

No One Expects The Spanish Inquisition

So I'm six days into my revision schedule. At this point I should, like those rowers with the nice thighs, just be settling down in the groove. Ready to thrash any Tabs who come my way*.

And I could claim that. But it would be a downright lie. I'm more like a very unfit fifty something just starting marathon training. An unfit marathon trainee with cowboy boots and wedges, admitedly, but still an unfit marathon trainee. It's not a pretty sight. I've never realised just how mcuh revision makes you ache. Maybe I've blanked this from my memory of the months of revision prior to my A Levels. Maybe I was actually in some sort of shape to do exams then and I didn't notice. Whatever the case, I'm aching now. My arms ache. My hands ache. Randomly even my left ankle seems to have developed an ache. I don't know how on earth my revision should have effected my left ankle and I haven't even fallen off of my wedges yet this year, but ache it does. I suspect that all of my previously broken bones are coming back to haunt me, so out of practice am I. They're probably all pointing and laughing as I huff and puff through the start of my marathon practice. Ah-ha, you sucker.

As if this wasn't bad enough I only seem to managed coherent conversation when it involves one of three subjects:
1) My aches. Well, you've had that.
2)Neighbours. Or more specifically that Neighbours are killing off my second favourite character. And didn't feel the need to send me special warning prior to screening the episode in Australia. Give me some warning people, it took me months to get over Drew.
3) Troilus and Criseyde. And I thought that I didn't particularly like Chaucer. Turns out that I do.
I'm sure that we can all agree that none of these subjects are fitting for polite conversation.


*I may get over the Boat Race some time in August.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Mini-Wave In Celebration Of Us

Mini-Wave In Celebration Of Us

Even in the midst of glory I stopped to offer my own particular brand of compassion to those unfortunate Tabs:

"Aww, look at their faces"

"They look devastated"

"You have to feel sorry for them"

"I do. For a second. And then I remember that they're from Cambridge so I get over it".

A career with the UN clearly beckons...

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

I should probably establish a few things:

1. I do not row.
2. I have never rowed.
3. I have no intention of rowing in the future, distant or otherwise.
4. My only normal interest in rowers is in the top which Griffin used to wear which I christened his 'rowing top'.

And against those things I should balance one great hulking factor:

1. Today is the boat race.

There is no number two here. There doesn't need to be.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

A Girl Can Never Have Too Many...

A Girl Can Never Have Too Many...

Copies of Ben Jonson's plays.

I don't even particularly like Jonson*. I definitely didn't read much of his work the week that I was writing an essay on him**. But somehow, in the great scheme of things, I've acquired multiple copies of his plays. I don't know whether to be pleased at my second hand book buying or to despair when there's at least ten pounds spent on Ben which I didn't have the foresight in 2002 to realise I'd need in 2005 for my NYF.

So today I read comedies. Despaired at how many classical references I had to check. Used some more purple pen. And, most importantly, became amused by the title of Volpone - or the Fox. Never have so many years of scholarship dissapeared in a haze of purple pen and Fox giggles.

*He writes comedies. I don't find them funny. I think it's a barrier.

**In my defence I was producing a play the week that I had to write on Jonson. I came in after being in the pub with my actors, read one of his plays. Slept for four hours. Got up and wrote a two thousand word essay and took it to my 10 o'clock tutorial. And now I very much wonder how on earth I ever managed to do that.

Just One More

Just One More

Thankfully the lightning bolt never materialised and we were free to enjoy the various delights of Jesus Christ Superstar without the accompanying singed hair.

And even if I lay to one side all of the kitsch value of JCS on Good Friday it really was the best performance that I'd seen. I love Fox and think, as someone untrained in musical theatre, he did an outstanding job. But seeing the new Judas - who never, not for even a second, stopped acting - it really did strike a different chord entirely. Which was not a little aided by the new Jesus. The last six times I've seen this production Glenn Carter has been at the helm. And Carter is - for the 99% of you who don't follow the inner workings of JCS - the gold standard Jesus. West End, Broadway, Film - he's done it. In musical theatre terms his is Jesus. And I don't know if he's always played Jesus this way, or if he's simply been doing the rounds for too long and become complacent or whether he started to believe the buzz that he is the son of God, but whatever the reason it remains that he isn't terribly good. Don't get me wrong, he hits the notes* and does the anguished Jesus thing. But there remains the fact that throughout he is an unbearably smug Jesus. The type of Jesus that you'd rather slap than follow, so that you're willing Judas to grass him up and take the money and run. Which even I, as someone who goes to see JCS on Good Friday, can't see as being a good thing. And from a theatrical viewpoint it destroys the balance of the musical. It remains in JCS that Judas is sympathetically written but this doesn't negate Jesus's role. In 'Gethsemane' he gets the out and out most moving song of the show - there has to be something to back this up.

Craig Price's Jesus last night had absolutely nothing smug about him. He was painfully, vividly human. Flawed, maybe caught up in his own hype, but still sympathetic, pummelled by the seemingly unstoppable momentum of his fate. Immediately you could see why the undoubtedly idealistic Judas had been friends with him; their whole relationship seemed to play out in numerous tiny moments which saturated the show. And in these moments, where every single opportunity to change history was missed, the inevitable conclusion became more and more painful. When their relationship broke down for the final time during 'The Last Supper' I thought that I was going to cry. This wasn't an angry Judas any more than it was a smug Jesus. These were two individuals, both of whom are betrayed and betrayer, both of whom are struggling with the pressure of something which they - but none of those around them - understand, both of whom falter under something which is bigger than either them. Something which is ultimately bigger than their friendship. And that hurt.

The only negative on Friday's performance was that if the balance of the show has been righted between Jesus and Judas, then it's lost the balance provided by Mary. From the first time I saw this production I adored Emma Dears's Mary. She had the amazing quality of making you think that she'd just thought up the words as she sung them. And she had a wonderful vulnerbility about her. In contrast the new Mary is rather too harsh for my liking. She clearly felt what she was acting - she was crying her eyes out during the curtain call - but she never made me feel it.

All in all, however, this ensemble, apparently 'nameless', production captured something which I'd never seen before. Maybe, on Good Friday, this was more fitting than I could ever have imagined.

*Boy does he hit those high notes. There are times when I'd have preferred it if he'd missed them.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Good Friday: The Musical

Good Friday: The Musical

So it's Good Friday. And I probably need to apologise to the religious amongst you for what I'm going to admit to next. I'd say that I've some shame about this but I'd be lying. Indeed I'm revelling in the whole idea. I'm spending tonight the only way that such a night should be spent.

Yep, that's right, I'm going to see Jesus Christ Superstar.

And I know that lightning bolt's headed straight at me but how kitsch is that? Religious contemplation through the medium of song and dance. Genius.

So if this blog stops tomorrow you'll know that God decreed that sending Jesus 'Happy Easter' cards* was a step too far.

*Though I'm hopeful of survival as we got through the whole 'sending jesus a birthday card' at Christmas debacle.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

A Woman Dipped In Blood And All That

A Woman Dipped In Blood And All That

After yesterday's coloured pens and planning fun*, today it was back to the coal face. Or something like that since there wasn't any coal involved, my excavation duties being limited to attempting to find my complete works of Marlowe. Which was more than enough to traumatise me for life given that I absolutely know that somewhere amongst my books I have a penguin edition with a picture of Marlowe on the front. But can I find it? Johnson? Middleton? Yes. Marlowe? No. And I'm sulking over this one because I know it's my fault. Up until Christmas all of my books were arranged alphabetically in various sub-divisions which correspondended to my various papers. This was i)for ease of location and ii)because I like all of my penguin books to be together. When I came back home at Christmas I got the most virulent strain of flu which Whitby** had to offer and hence never managed to put back correctly the books which I'd taken to Oxford. Now - and please hear the panic in my voice here - there is no system. Some sections remain in pristine condition but the majority have lost all semblance of order. There is chaos. And whilst I can deal with chaos in most areas of my life I cannot deal with book chaos. Book chaos means that in a book emergency you can't locate that essential, life saving, edition. And why I'm now wracking my brain as to where Kit has dissapeared to. It's not like I actually need Kit - Marlowe's a bad move in exams because he's so damned cool*** that everyone wants to talk about him - but it's now bugging me that I can't find this edition when I know that I have it. And I'm going to keep being obsessional about this book until I find it. Or until someone suffocates me because they've had enough of me going on about it. Either would, frankly, be a blessed relief.

As much as that ever wily Kit tried to steal the show, today actually belonged to Thomas Middleton. And I love Tom. How could I not when in two of his plays**** he uses the chess metaphor even less subtly than I did in SSoB? He really is a man after my own heart. Just one little question that I'd like to pose to him and his dramatic ilk - what's with all the incest, violence, murder and adultery? And people think that 'in-yer-face' theatre was a thing of the nineties. And for Tom himself I'd like to ask - what's with the name Isabella? Do you know how confusing it is for two of the main characters in your two most famous plays to share the same name? You really don't give us students any slack.

*I use this word loosely.

**This is marginally unfair on Whitby since I was already ill prior to Griffin pulling one of his least weather friendly stunts of all in the middle of December and my chosing not to wear a coat thinking that the venue would open their doors at some point. But the flu will go down forever more as stupid-freezing-Whitby flu.

***C'mon Marlowe is fantastically cool. Everyone knows that.

****A proper footnote! At last! Women Beware Women and A Game At Chess

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Gonna Go Out And Read Chaucer Tonight

Gonna Go Out And Read Chaucer Tonight

My Rhodri prescribed week of freedom over*, it was time to settle down to sorting out my revision. Which meant getting those coloured pens at the ready and ploughing through all my work folders, picking out the authors who are hopefully going to lead me by the hand to, if not a free bottle of champange and a college prize***, then at least to a respectable 2:1. And when I'd finished plotting my time for the next month I discovered that I really have a lot of ground to cover. Indeed it almost makes me wish that when I was at the start of my second year, spending my weeks thesping and generally blagging my way through my course that I'd actually done some of the stuff that I was supposed to. Like have finished at least one of my Middle English texts. Chaucer, Baby! doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

Whilst I was being organised and printing out old exam papers, I came across a question on the 2001 Paper 6 (1760-1832) which made me squeal:
27. "And what were thou, and earth, and stars and sea,
If to the human mind's imagings
Silence and solitude were vacancy?"
(Percy Bysshe Shelley)
Discuss silence and solitude in the work of Shelley or any other writer or writers of the period.
And the reason for my squealing was that this is the section of 'Mont Blanc' that Harry quotes in SSoB. I've had that bit of the poem in my head for so long, I've had to explain its meaning to so many people that it feels like it belongs to me. And if it were to pop up in an exam I may have a convulsion in the midst of examination schools.

*Which involved me being slightly merry, being very windswept and stealing a beer towel from a pub**. But, unfortunately, not the getting laid element of Rhodri's recommendation.

**Apologies to the pub in question. Please know that it went to a very good and appreciative home. And when I'm jailed for my kleptomania I hope people will come and visit me.

***Though it has hit me that a first means money, and money means New York Fund [NYF]

And The Elle Style Award Goes To...

And The Elle Style Award Goes To...

Image hosted by*

Proof, as if it were needed, that co-ordinated tops are the key to pop success. And proof why Fox and I are destined to be best friends - you're not telling me that the matching top and tie is a coincidence!

*Photo stolen without shame from Val.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

You Can Always Sell Any Dream To Me

You Can Always Sell Any Dream To Me

If I could give you one tip for the future this would be it: when Cardiff Central Travelodge say that they have power showers, they really mean that they have power showers. Showers so powerful that they are capable of creating something that can challenge for the biggest lake in Wales in less than five minutes. I'm not sure whether this is exactly a selling point - or indeed whether it is a good thing to have a shower which is capable of removing your head from your neck with the force exerted - but regardless of this it left me stood in about four inches of water and my trousers over the towel rail for the next 12 hours. As if this wasn't cause enough for celebration, the moment that I'd finished mopping up Great Lake Power Shower I promptly forgot that it's never a good idea to squeeze bottles of cream when they're upside down and I'd covered the floor in a very attractive burst of the Body Shop's winter sparkle. Just to finish the parade of my general inept-ness, I managed to get over-enthusiastic with my 'James' stamp that Nik had bought for my birthday and cover myself and various travelodge surfaces with blue ink. I think the packaging said something about adult supervision - maybe I should have taken the advice.

I managed to get all the way to the other side of the road to the travelodge before discovering that my yellow shoes were hurting me. Aside from my prancing around in my room in these shoes, this is only the second time that I've worn them out. The reasons for this are two fold. One - they're yellow and there is a limit to the amount of yellow a girl who is somewhere near translucent on the sliding scale of whiteness can wear. The second reason - they hurt. I wore them to see Griffin at the Bedford last summer and ended up walking down the street - with an accidentally stolen glass in my hand - without any shoes because my feet were refusing to continue wearing them. It being some time since this last incident I'd forgotten about the extent of the hurting aspect of these shoes and it came as something of a minor shock when my feet started protesting ten seconds into the two minute walk to the hotel where Fox's performance was taking place. Thus I discarded my shoes at the first possible moment, only to have to recover them when I discovered I had a piece of glass stuck to the bottom of my foot*.

When we reached Jury's the location of the function room became apparent largely due to the presence of its doorman in a flat cap. And given that this doorman happened to be Fox, I took it as something of a suggestion that we might be in the right place. As we'd arrived fashionably late, the room was already packed and it took something of a daring move to propell us through the crowds and to the bar. There it became apparent that i)you're not meant to get drunk at hotel prices and ii)getting served is something of a challenge. This whole episode was made somewhat more bearable by the fact that Fox was reasonably near to us - cue my demonstrating just how close I could get to his back without him calling security - and, to not put too fine a point on it, he doesn't exactly maake for an unattractive view. And was looking rather swish in black jacket, shirt, tie and hat. Where clothing's concerned, I'm shallow.

Cat, Val and myself having finally been served and moved where it was no longer possible for me to attempt to stick my handbag into Fox's back it wasn't long before Fox spotted us and, with admirable skill, extricated himself to come and talk to us. And I loved him all over again for doing this. I've come to think that all the numerous fans I've met in the past 18 months all strive for one thing - a tiny bit of recognition. And from Fox this also amounts to the fact that he knows enough not to consider us as being Griffin fans clinging on to him for contact via the back door. So recognition on two levels and a really nice outfit. I don't think a better start was possible. Though clearly Fox was racking up those all important brownie points at an incredible rate, helped greatly by his commending us on our choice of outfits. He was also suitably impressed and interested in my 'Little Fox' tableau present. Even if he was a little worried about the possibility of one existing where him and Griffin shared a bedroom.

The only thing going against Fox is his timing. Thus we were in the midst of talking to him and ignored entirely the fact that we were allowed to go and sit down for the meal. Indeed we ignored it to such an extent that when we went into the room everyone else had arranged themselves and given that there was six of us there was no where left that we could sit as a group. Cue my moaning about the fact that I'd been given the impression that we were in a wedding type situation and that someone somewhere would have spent several days creating seating plans. I also managed not to be hugely impressed that Cat, Val and I ended up on the table that got to go and get their food last. I believe that I may even have uttered 'Don't they know - future famous person sitting here!'. Thankfully Fox chose this moment to re-enter the room and given that the room wouldn't have been able to fit both him and my head in, I resisted all such future urges to pander to my ego.

When we'd all finally eaten - and managed to have an impromptu dance to Busted and McFly** - it was time for Fox's set and Q&A session. Both were funny, occasionally wistful and rather magical. Head stuffed with Billy Joel songs for Movin' Out, we were treated to what I labelled 'The Reduced Billy Joel Company' and we became even more convinced that New York may be calling. I also became somewhat awed by Fox's piano skills. When I was growing up, in the days when my musical skills extended beyond Griffin medleys on the recorder and my weeks were marked by Orchestra, music groups and clarinet lessons, I always wanted to learn to play the piano. It's still on my to-do list, though I suspect that I might have a bash at the guitar next. I've got huge respect for just how talented a pianist Fox is. If that weren't enough he finished with a combo of 'Jessie' and 'Hold On To Our Love', both intensely moving for how the point back to the-tortuous-reality-television-show and Eurovision respectively. It's odd just how much songs can mark a particular time, how they instantly conjure numerous memories, how they can touch something that you can't quite grasp and articulate something that even with thousands of words I never quite could.

But, as ever, the evening wasn't all about the music. After Oxford I'd been entirely smitten with Fox - but in an entirely asexual way. My reasoning was a notion that Fox had let me twist him rather too much, that he'd let me have my own way. I consider one of my defining moments with Griffin to be when he tried to outwit me on Shakespeare and we then ended up shouting at each other over whether I knew the meaning fo the word 'laconic'. ***I've since discovered that whilst I may have won the first battle with Fox I look like being defeated in the war. Fox gave me just enough rope to hang myself and now is triumphing in the most unlikely of places. And, being odd like that, I'm now entirely smitten with no reservations. So, in the midst of a speil on the 'unknown chord' in 'Bring It On', there was another reference directed at me about the second verse. Cue our corner finding this hilarious and everyone else not having a clue what we were laughing at. And it felt wonderfully special, as any in-joke always does.

When Fox had finished and a queue had developed to get items signed and pictures taken it fell to us to amuse ourselves untila suitable moment to speak to him. Thus we once again discovered that it's incredibly difficult to sing at a reasonable volume and still remain in tune. It did give Gayle and myself the opportunity to perform our much lauded**** version of 'Semi Charmed Life'. Whetehr anyone who wasn't tone deaf enjoyed it is debateable.

As it was getting progressively later and the queue for Fox was dwindling but never seeming to finish we decided to go and join it. Fox had said that he'd come and speak to us when he'd finshed but it kind of felt like we'd be putting an extra demand on his time if we did that and so joined the queue. When we got to Fox - after Julie had once again employed her incredible power to make him show his hair ["the lesson - don't shave your head"] - it was my turn for more ribbing before the question as to why Nik had 'James' stamped on her forehead arose. Cue the explanation of the origins of my stamp and Fox retorting "I've got one that says Corinne - we'll have to swap!". How much I loved him at that moment. After demonstrating with Nik - whilst Mummy Fox looked on - that he doesn't really sign breasts that often [maybe Griffin needs to give him 'the talk'] there followed a protracted discussion on the chickens that we'd bought him for Christmas. Obviously we hadn't just sent a chicken to his house but had bought them for a family in Africa in his and Griffin's names. But, even given this explanation, I can kind of see why Fox was struggling with the whole concept - especially since Griffin had clearly neglected to pass on the chicken story. Once we'd finally negotiated the minefield that is this present, with Fox deciding that he was probably entitled to go and claim the chickens should he so desire, it was time for another photshoot. And then there were the mandatory hugs and good lucks. It felt rather sad to leave him given what lies in front of him.

As if all that excitement weren't enough at 4.30 that morning I ended up in the travelodge reception, in my pjs and bare feet, complaining about the fact that the bed and Nik and my room only had two legs and had therefore collapsed. I'm starting to think that Cardiff was trying to tell me something.

*And I thought that I'd gotten past this when we stopped going to Jumpin' Jaks nightclubs.

**Though we weren't given the greatest hits in either case.

***Were I to psychoanalyse myself and this attitude here I could probably give the reasoning, but I'll save that story when I get the urge to blog about significant people of my past. But, needless to say, I'm only just starting to realise just how much I've been shaped by events when I was in my final years at school.

***By 'much lauded' I mean two possible slightly drunken men in a bar at the NIA at Birmingham told us we should have gone on the X-Factor.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Wales, Baby!

Wales, Baby!

I'm sure that there are lots of sensible things which I could blog about. Issues that have been cluttering up the newspapers. What I think about the forthcoming royal wedding*. Even what I think about the fact that wearing a hat immediately makes random people talk to you**. But no. The only thing which I can bring myself to blog about today is that fact that this time tommorrow I will be in Cardiff.

Leeks, sheep, Welsh flags and Fox. What more could anyone want from a Sunday in March?

*I would, though, rather jab myself in the eye with a pencil than spend any of my time formulating an opinion on this subject.

**Today's count - two very odd men, one of whom had strange facial hair. Do we think that Sienna has to put up with this?

Friday, March 18, 2005

This Goddam Big Suitcase

This Goddam Big Suitcase

I am, somewhat unashamedly, something of a hoarder. You name it, I've probably got it saved in a drawer somewhere. Napkins? Check. Giant 'Central Park-lands' sign*? Check. Tickets, programmes, posters? Check. Hundreds of boxes of free matches even though I don't smoke and don't spend my free time starting fires? Check. And because I perceive some sort of emotional attachment to them all, they're all destined to remain in drawers, boxes and bags for eternity. Except the sign which is clearly far too large to go in a box and lives behind my desk along with a Griffin placard, my college Matriculation photo and the complete set of Bloomingdales's brown bags. And usually all these bits and pieces stay there, not to be looked at until I have to move them somewhere else because they're taking over the room and my father is convinced that the floor will give way if I don't move them.

Today, spurred on by my current notion that I'm going to go to New York again at some point this year** I got out the box of assorted momentoes from the last time that I went. And I realised at once why I'm someone who needs to keep all of this stuff. That a napkin from the Jeckell and Hyde restaurant immediately brought back memories of the most inept, but hilarious, waiter I've ever had. A packaged cylinder of destroyed $20 notes from the federal reserve had me remembering the feeling of complete and utter boredom that set in about ten minutes into the talk at the bank. And more pleasantly of all the gold I saw there. Numerous receipts reminded me of clothes that I've long since relegated to charity bags or dusty spaces in the back of cupboards. Most potently, however, was the diary I found. I can vividly remember buying it ftrom a somewhat fancy stationary shop, immediately seduced by its gorgeous gold cover, with new york streets written across it. And in the days after returning from New York I wrote the story of my trip in it in black and silver pen. This wasn't the sum total of the book - there are photos, postcards, ticket stubs, metro cards and quotes from my favourite New York set books. I'd even named it, in deference to two of my great NY obsessions, Breakfast at Bloomingdales***. And as I read it, I loved that my 18 year old self had thought to write it. Just because it swept me back, filled me with the wonder that New York filled me with at the time. And because of subsequent events, one section - "The One With The Almost Vertigo" - particularly moved me: was hard not to notice the view. New York looked tiny.
While it would be easy to be cynical about the "concrete capital of the North" I have to say that it was somewhat humbling. A little reminder perhaps of our
insignificance, the bigger picture and of course the fact that I'm a city girl
who is moved by giant grey slabs.

I wrote that paragraph some time in Feburary 2001. Of course the view now is utterly different, and the particular giant grey slab that I was standing on when these thoughts hit me is no longer there. But in that diary the memory is still strong, and suddenly those feelings of surveying the city, of the wind hitting me and it being so cold that it was difficult to breathe were back. And I remembered.

And I think that this notion is something which I'll keep coming back to as a writer. I want to capture these moments, put them down and express some incredible feeling I had at the time. In SSoB Kate got what is still the most potent memory of my early teens - of standing, at midnight, opposite the Effiel Tower. If I think about it I can still smell the moment, the memory is so vivid. Harry got some of my memories of Scotland from two years ago, me attempting to pin down in writing what it felt like to be awed by a very different sort of landscape to the one that moved me in Paris. And, I suspect, someone somewhere in the future will get the feeling I get every time I step out of Kings Cross station and into London, the utter contentedness of sitting opposite the Rad Cam at night, the chill of walking through the Jewish Ghetto in Budapest, the overwhelming happiness of sitting with my feet in the fountain at the bottom of the Spanish steps in Rome. Because I suspect that these moments may be the reason that I write. And in turn these moments are the reason that I'm itching to travel again.

*This is not quite as odd as it sounds. I attended a school named Parklands and for the Christmas sketch show I wrote a Friends spoof - hence the sign and my holding on to it as the memory of when I realised that I did rather love hearing people speak my words.

**This is based on nothing more than the fact that I've got it in my head that I'm going to New York.

***Which of course is fiction since you can't have breakfast at Bloomingdales.****

****Though as all fact fans will know, you can't - and you never could - have breakfast at Tiffanys.

Thursday, March 17, 2005



I'm very aware that talking to yourself denotes some kind of loss of sanity, be it impending or otherwise. But I'm not sure on what the official, gov't endorsed, position on talking to CDs, radio and the television is. Perfectly acceptable? A quirk that, rather like gettng excited about naked Colin Murray, shouldn't be mentioned in polite society? Or a sign that you're only two pencils, a pair of pants and a 'wibble' away from taking residence in secure accomodation? My reason for this sudden interest? I've become incapable of listening to anything without feeling the need to talk back to it.

Exhibit A:
Comedy Dave's Tedious Link on Tuesday's breakfast show.
Dave - And it's Five!
Me - Genius, Comedy Dave! Absolute Genius!*

I'm not sure what I was expecting here. For Comedy Dave to agree with his genius? For Chris Moyles to dispute it? Regardless, I was talking to the radio, before attempting to do the correct dance to the song.

Exhibit B:
CD of Griffin's Whitby Gig.
Griffin - Another song I pioneered in Germany...
Me - [with some insistance] No you didn't! You were playing the accoustic version of that song outside an empty santa display a year earlier. And stop it with the pioneer.

Again did I expect Griffin to argue the point? For him to drop the whole 'I pioneered this song' spiel? Or to stop mid-song on the recording of a gig which happened three months ago, and make everyone aware of the mistake?

Exhibit C:
Today's episode of Neighbours.
-Paul Robinson, back from the great Neighbours resting place in the sky, asks lots of questions.
Me - Don't trust Paul! He made bad records in the eighties. And he's still got the same haircut he had them.

-Steff is arrested.
Me - What are you doing? Surely the medical reports would have shown he was suffocated? And they've burried the body now. How's that going to provide the vital piece of evidence?

Possibly the more worrying aspect of this exhibit is that I clearly have forgotten that Neighbours has no grasp on reality whatsoever. Normal rules do not apply. Of course there wasn't any medical evidence, why let that get in the way of a good cliff-hanger and the opportunity to demonstrate that once again they only have one female police officer [when the storyline does not concern Stu] who is allowed to speak.

So, in the final summing up, pending insanity or perfectly ok? I suspect that the Jury may still be out.

* Yep, my genuine reaction to hearing the song of a mediocre late nineties boyband on the radio was utter elation. I suspect I should get out more often.

Sponsored By The Whitby Gazette

Sponsored By The Whitby Gazette


1. One set of pink plastic cups purchased for less than a pound in Tesco near the Hemel Hampstead roundabout from hell. Previously used to drink alcohol in and provide my toothbrush with somewhere nice to sit. Obviously not at the same time.

2. One clothes airer. Suitable for putting sheets over and pretending that you're in a tent. Or a palace. Or indeed anywhere your imagination may take you.

3. A new bottom to replace the one that is currently very bruised, my having slipped on the path near my room again. *

4. A pair of nicely tanned legs that don't have bruises on from walking into my desk chair. Repeatedly.***


1. One Pinter essay, slightly tatty from having been under my bed for no clear reason.

2. More SSoB fliers than even I could ever need.****

3. A term's worth of Whitby Gazettes. Minus Griffin pages.

Today's subtext? I spent last night and this morning packing to come home. And now I'm home and I have to unpack. Which makes the idea of being a snail suddenly overwhelmingly appealing.

*I accept that someone may be telling me to get my cowboy boots reheeled.**

**My mother's reponse was more direct - 'throw them in the bin'.

***You'd think that I'd learn - it's not like the chair jumped out and attacked me. But no. I did say that I'm not good with the literal thinking thing.

****You'd think that you could never have too many SSoB fliers, but after finding the one millionth flier that had managed to creep into my wardrobe, I beg to differ.

NB: For some reason blogger wouldn't let me publish this last night. So you're getting it now. Lucky you.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Run Away and Chase The Moon

Run Away and Chase The Moon

Dear Griffin,

So it's been a year today since the release of 'You and Me (tonight)'*. A year since you did exactly what Nik and I had predicted that you were going to do and jumped into the pool - is that the right word? Expanse of water? Death trap? Accident waiting to happen? It's hard to tell what you should call something that exists inside a fake cruise liner in the midst of a shopping centre. But the water, anyway. A year since those seemingly endless signing queues. And though I mock you for it, we were worried about your right hand. And indeed how you'd managed to do, aherm, things after all the wear and tear. You can't say that we don't think about your welfare.

Things have, of course, changed since then. We've both got more grey hair for starters**. And those bloody deck shoes of yours have appeared. There have been other changes that I don't find it as easy to joke about. For me, the 15th March marks both a beginning and an end. And whenever there's an end there's bound to be some feeling of sadness. In our case it's usually got nothing to do with the record contract and more to do with the absence of Steeeve. We do have a soft spot for Steeeve - how could we not when he genuinely thought that we were going to try and kidnap you in Falkirk***. It's nice to see that he appreciated the scale of our power.

Anyway, to get back to what I was saying. Or since I'm not quite sure exactly what I'm saying, back to dancing around it. After Y&M everything got subtly altered - for us as well as you. And I know that it's never going to go back to how it was, that it won't ever quite be the same as it was that day in Boro in the midst of the Thistle hotel and that we mean something entirely different to you now than we did then. We've become associated with things and actions that whilst out of our control, we maybe inadvertently put in motion. And for that I want to say sorry. But, even if I were given the chance to go back to that moment, to have that again, I don't think that I would. Obviously I'd have the sitting in the bar bit, you still owe me a drink*****, but I think that I'm prouder of you than I ever was. Yep, I think you need to get off your arse some times, and being nicer to those Riccardi boys wouldn't go amiss. And indeed pull another stunt like Scarborough, Mr, and I'll be having words. But I'm still intensely proud of you. And wouldn't have it any other way.

If this week's giving me a bit of an emotional pang, then I can't imagine what it must feel like for you. But then it's always been the nature of the game that we should look forward rather than back. Indeed there are times when if I'd have looked backwards I'd never have been able to face you again. I do have some scruples y'know. Obviously I've got no idea where the next year is going, what kind of blog letter I'll be writing you then******. But, even though circumstances have changed and even we're a little more jaded, I still enjoy every minute of it. And you've still got the ability to make me cry when you sing like no other singer I've ever heard. I should scold you for that really, with 'Fields of Gold' you opened up the floodgates; I've never been the same since.

I don't think you'll ever realise just how much you've inadvertently created and for that I owe you a bigger thank you than for anything else. Who'd have thought it from a guy with three - very tatty - blue jumpers and a guitar. But these things happen. And I'm really glad they did.


PS. You'll never beat Al Griffin.

*Don't forget the brackets.

**Seriously I'm starting to get alarmed on my part. It's probably my karmic reward for announcing the existence of your grey hairs on a website.

***Of course we weren't. We hadn't concocted a plan at all. Should you ever see any evidence of this, it wasn't us.****

****Before anyone calls the police, this is of course a joke. Honestly.

*****Alternatively you can claim the one Fox bought me, so you owe Fox a drink.

******That is, of course, if I haven't abandoned you in favour of a younger model.

How Many Undergraduates Does It Take To Use A Stapler?

How Many Undergraduates Does It Take To Use A Stapler?

If anyone ever asks me what the hardest part of the English course here at Oxford is my answer is fairly straight forward. Old English, 4,000 words worth of essay every week, stepping into tutorials with the person who not only wrote the book on the subject but who made and marketed the t-shirt too, all as difficult as they are don't quite make the grade. Nope, the most difficult bit of the course was stapling my bloody extended essay together.* Seriously, that little bugger took me about thirty minutes to achieve. And all because the exam regulations state that we're not allowed to bind our essays or put them in folders. Which would be a sensible thing to do. Normal, 2.99 from Woolworths, staplers are not made to fasten thirty sheets of A4 together. It's not in their job description. Mine balks at stapling any more than ten sheets. The sight of all that paper spewing forth from the printer almost caused it to spontaneously combust. So, having felt somewhat smug that my essay was all finished prior to midnight, I subsequently felt a lot less smug when I was bent over my chair trying to hold the essay at such an angle that the stapler would work. Suddenly my musings on the National Theatre production of Stuff Happens seemed entirely unimportant. No, my whole degree hung on whether I could get that bloody staple in. Four years work, one tiny staple. They don't tell you about that in the prospectus.

Unlike with my Woolf essay, when I went to hand this one in at Examination Schools I wasn't offered a mumps vaccination at the same time. I admit to being somewhat sad - I rather liked the whole ethos of 'give in the piece of work that makes up one ninth of your degree and then have a wacking great needle stuck into your arm to celebrate'. It's a winning idea.

*Obviously I haven't yet done the seven-exams-in-two weeks thing, but I'm suspecting even these will have a problem defeating the stapling.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Recommended by Sports Nutritionists

Recommended by Sports Nutritionists

Jaffa Cakes - cake or biscuit? It's an interesting one. Regardless of which food group they go into, I think it's safe to say that they have the most hilarious packaging of any highly-addictive snack. You don't get "Kit-Kataholics" advice on their packaging. But Jaffa Cakes. Oh yes. Those people at MCVities don't miss a step. And only 1.0g of fat per jaffa cake.

Which would, of course, be fine were there not only three of them left in the packet. And leaving three would be an insult to Mr McVitie. I'll be saving that Jaffaholics number then.

The subtext here is that, introduction, bibliography and a couple of critical inserts aside, my extended essay is finished. Unfortunately my capacity to sit and eat chocolate isn't.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

An Ode To Blogging

An Ode To Blogging

Given that I'm officially obsessed with my blog I seem to find it perfectly normal and interesting to read people talking about blogging. Indeed it's thoroughly entertaining. And since I've been blogging here for a relatively short time, I'm always open to tips from wisened and not-necessarily wrinkled elders. So today I read 'How to Blog' by Tony Pierce, and I felt I should see how far I'm meeting Tony's directions. Obviously I'm not pasting them in full, you'll have to go read the article itself for that [it's very useful if you're blogging, or even if you're not it's rather amusing, even if it could do with an apostrophe or two hundred]. So, this is how Distant Aggravation stands up.

1. Write every day.
Well, I'm almost there on that one.

2. If you think you're a good writer write twice a day.
I seem to have managed to be a two-times a day girl recently. As for the good writer bit, I can't promise that. Will keep working on it.

3. Don't be afraid.
There are a number of things that I'm afraid of. Rats. Mice. Gigantic spiders. Climbing tall ladders. Mr Tickle. Rhetoric. Blogging certainly isn't on that list.

4. Cuss like a sailor.
Right, I think this may be where I'm falling down. Not that I've ever met a sailor but I'm imagining that they cuss more than I do. After all with all that being at sea they've got a lot to cuss about. Sea sickness to start with. But I don't cuss in real life that much. And if I were to cuss on here I'd put an asterisk in. I'm afraid that the word 'arse' is about as strong as you're getting here.

5.Don't tell people you know.
Well, I've failed on this one already. Whoops. But, conversely, in some ways it's safer to be upfront - people find out anyway. My ex-biology teacher found my old blog and subsequently confessed to printing out a bit of it and passing it round other teachers. At the time I was mildly horrified, possibly more so that he thought my writing was "sub-standard Bridget Jones", but subsequently it doesn't bother me. And it gave me enough bile to write an entry.

6.Have comments.
Yep, they're there now, all present and correct. That would be a hint.

7. Have an email address displayed.
Clearly needs to be on my to-do list.

8. Don't worry about design.
Good job, Marilyn's dress aside, that I don't.

9. Use blogger.
I do now!

10. Use spellcheck.
So I'm slightly lazy about this one. Love me, love my spelling mistakes.

11. Say exactly what you want to say.
Well at this moment I want to say that my left ear is on fire having been on the phone for the last hour twenty minutes where, amongst other things, Nik and I discussed naked Colin Murray. See, there are some things you don't need to know.

12. Link like crazy.
Well I don't think I'm linking like crazy yet. More like linking like a public school boy who has loosened his tie slightly.

13. Write about sex, religion or politics once a week.
Ok, I'll pencil in my Ann Summers story and my thoughts on whether Moses did move a mountain or whether it was just PR for the coming weeks.

14. No-one needs to know which member of N*Sync you are.
That is very, very true [and indeed why would anyone do that question, they were the only boyband in history to all require paper bags]. I'll keep the results of which rock chick I am to myself.

15. Don't be afraid of saying what's been said before.
I'm someone who wants to be a playwright. I study English. Everything has been said before and I knowingly steal it and use it for my own ends. I've no morals about that. Indeed look at me now using this blogging guide for an entry. Shameless.

16. Get a site meter.
Right. To enable visitors to point and laugh at my popularity or lack thereof .

17. Use pictures.
Well this week I've given you drunken me and a nice Griffin shot. I can see why this may not be covering all my bases. Maybe I need to expand my photobucket.

18. Copy your masterpiece before clicking that button.
Yep, I wish I'd learnt this about a week ago before I lost not just one but two entries. And yes, I did it twice before I thought that it might be an idea to cut and paste. I may be at Oxford but I don't do the literal thinking lark.

19. Push the envelope.
As opposed to pulling the envelope? Closing the envelope? Sticking a stamp on? Don't worry, I'll keep pushing that envelope.

20. Change your style.
I've rather too many writing idenities without changing my style on here too. But, for everyone's future reference, I do a great '27-year-old-male-singer-from-North-Yorkshire' persona. Really. It's a talent. Not one that's going to get me very far, but a talent nonetheless.

21. Write open letters/do lists etc.
Now I love that idea. Dear Pretty Jude Law...

22. Review.
Another cracking idea. Of course you won't all think that when you've had my two-hundredth review of peasant skirts.

23. Write about the town you live in.
Ok - Oxford, got lots of cobble stones, old buildings and a really cool bookshop. And Harry Potter is filmed here. See, a thousand years worth of academic history but nothing competes with the boy Potter.

24. Tell your secrets.
Erm, I ate four penguin chocolate bars today.

25. Don't use your real name.

26. Be an asswipe.
I'm not sure that I want to be an asswipe on any level. Not even if it meant that I'd have the best blog in the world. If it meant that I'd have a Sienna Boho-Princess style wardrobe then I might be willing to make the sacrifice. But I'm not selling my integrity for anything less than the entire Matthew Williamson collection.

27. Nobody likes poems.
Please could you tell that to my tutors.

28. Tell us about your friends
Are you sure? If you're reading this you're probably one of my friends anyway, in which case you know they're an odd bunch [not you of course, you're perfectly normal. It's the others I'm talking about]

29. Don't apologise for not blogging.
Say pardon instead.

30. Read lots of blogs and leave comments.
'Tis the future. And indeed why I'll probably get a third.

The Curtain Goes Up

The Curtain Goes Up

Yesterday I spoke to my dad for the first time since the day he came to see SSoB. And he said something about the play which is one of the nicest things that anyone has said about it. He said that "it was true". That it had made him think back to his group of friends when he was in his twenties. And I was genuinely touched. Because he wasn't saying it as a requirement of being my father, but because he felt it.

Lots of people have commented on SSoB, from varying perspectives, and it's the language of the play that usually crops up*. And I'm pleased, if a little shocked, that people find my writing "poetic". But I've loved it even more when people have said that they nearly cried. Because, ultimately, that's what you remember. I can still recall sobbing my heart out in the middle of a theatre watching Bent or the pounding and overwhelming feeling I get when I read the ending of Amy's View. I doubt I could recall immediately anything about the language. But the emotion. Yes. Which is why I responded to my dad's comments. I guess, unlike Pinter's famous declaration that it doesn't matter what is true and what is false, for me it emphatically does.

*Vikings cropped up once, but I'm not entirely sure why.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

How To: Make Me Blush

How To: Make Me Blush

Today I spent my time using lots of red ink on the first draft of my extended essay.

A year ago today I spent my time in a nightclub in Birmingham getting marker pen on myself.

When Griffin was still under contract to UMTV and fresh from his involvement in reality television, he ended up doing quite a few PA's at nightclubs. It was, I think I can safely say now, one of the major areas where the record company really didn't get who he was or what he was about. And the majority of the nightclubs were exactly as you'd imagine them to be, most often filled with the type of audience who weren't about to welcome such a pop-upstart on a Friday or Saturday night out*. They were there for the BOGOF** offers, to wear skirts that were wider than they were long and generally to get off with each other. Griffin, and whether he was bringing it on or not, didn't come into the equation.

But he did these PA's, always singing live, usually thrusting his crotch about a bit, bantering where he could and generally coping admirably. Indeed he did more than cope, there were times when he rocked. Which is hard to do when you're singing to a backing track and on a stage which looks like it's been created on an episode of Blue Peter. And a particularly shoddy Blue Peter at that, when they've been running low on everything but toilet rolls and sticky backed plastic. And a year ago today Griffin did a PA at the now defunct Birmingham Zanzibars, which, as a venue, was as tacky as it sounds. But, as ever, Griffin was rather wonderful, and had particularly nice hair that night.

Image hosted by

Not that that photo really illustrates the good hair day, but it's worth not having the hair for the other benefits of the photo. And indeed the fact that it demonstrates a time when Griffin managed to take on Double-Denim and come out as victor. The demise of the UMTV-Griffin relationship may have yeilded a lot of good things, but improvement in clothing it definitely hasn't.

But if the nightclub gigs were shoddy venues, then they also yeilded, at least at that time, the huge signing queue. Britain may be a nation of people who queue, but nothing, and I mean nothing, comes close to a signing queue. By this stage, when I'd been on the Griffin wagon for four months, I was seasoned at them. And had even come up with coping strategy. This night the coping strategy was aided somewhat by the fact that I'd consumed: cava, wine, Baileys and aftershock. In rather worrying quantities. So we ended up in the queue singing 'This Old Heart of Mine' and, in the case of Nik and I, working through the 'to-do' list we'd created for the evening. By the time we got round to it being our turn to speak to Griffin, we'd gotten past the feeling-slightly-sick-stage and had moved on to the absolutely-no-fear-whatsoever-stage.

So I ended up with 'It's the pull of the Griffin' written across me. And if that weren't bad enough in the cold, hard light of day, I managed to correct Griffin's grammar whilst I was at it. It probably says something about me that I still care about apostrophes even when I've had enough alcohol to make me think that it's socially acceptable to have almost-Popstars write on me. After the writing, and the general quizzing on various matters which at the time seemed hilarious and now, well still seem quite amusing given that it's always handy to know that someone's afraid of rats, there had to be the comedy photo shoot which would provide the basis for every comedy photo shoot since:

Image hosted by

If you're wondering about the lei's, they were part of a rather elaborate joke that had started from a particularly hilarious - and quite clearly fake*** - answer Griffin had given to a slightly x-rated interview in Boyz magazine. If you're wondering why I'm as close to Griffin as I am, it's because I was sat on his knee at the time. And it was at this point that I think my brain should have told me to stop. To not sit on his knee. Mainly because even when I'm sober I've never been remarked upon for my grace and poise. When I've got enough alcohol in my blood stream to end up with marker pen on me then a neon flashing sign really should have appeared.

Predictably, I did struggle somewhat to get off of Griffin's knee. In what is perhaps my supreme moment of the year, I managed to stick my arse in his face as I was moving away from him. And not just a little bit. Oh no. So much so that he actually had to move his head away. And pull a somewhat bemused face. Obviously I can't comment on the face, I didn't see it, but it took everyone about ten seconds to tell me about it. So I'm thinking that it wasn't a good thing. And I can't blame him. Had I to chose which part of my body came into such close proximity to Griffin's face it certainly wouldn't have been my arse. And I can safely assume that he felt the same way.

I saw Griffin again three days later, amazingly without a paper bag on my head, and apologised for the arse incident. At first he was incredibly sweet, telling me not to be sorry. As soon as he'd said this, however, he clearly sensed that some points could be scored****, changed tack and announced "I'm traumatised - keep having flashbacks". The git.

*Such is the lot of the reality tv orignated popstar, 'credible' venues get sniffy and venues where I've seen toilets which are nicer looking get equally sniffy, though usually with the word w**ker involved somewhere along the line.

**For the uninitiated to this odd world, Buy One Get One Free.

***I don't think Griffin has ever truly confessed to making up the answers to that interview. But he's a boy. So of course he lied.

****And, given the Oxford thing, he likes scoring points off of me. Which is fair enough.

There's Something About Hilary

There's Something About Hilary

St Anne's has just about freed itself from the nightmare which is 300 plus students leaving on the same day. Even before we started the-longest-building-project-in-the-world the end of term free-for-all was something straight out of a B-Horror Movie, but with a marginally more annoying soundtrack. Now, when the only parking space in college is either i)right in front of my house which is no use for anyone but me and my housemates because it's too far away from anywhere or ii) approx two metres square next to the bicycle racks, it has turned into something which even Mr Stephen King would be fearful of writing about. Today was only made more enjoyable by the fact that there was the second year parents garden party. So we had the normal free for all and a giant tent across the grass. Which is always an interesting combination.

But today marks the end of Hilary term. So by rights we should be in the midst of spring, with lambs leaping, the smell of dew hanging in the air and the sight of rowers happily plodding home from the Cherwell. But there's a noticeable lack of any of that. Instead, to put not too fine a point on it, it's bloody freezing. Freezing. Did you hear that at the back? FREEZING. If it gets any colder I may have to defrost my fingers. To combat the fact that I'm absolutely bloody freezing I've been given the tiniest heater in the world. Seriously, my hairdryer is bigger. And indeed would probably have a greater effect. And because my room only has one plug socket, using the heater requires me to make huge choices as to what electrical item loses its place in the large adaptor-that-is-probably-going-to-over-heat-and-kill-us-all. So I can use my computer but not my printer, or I can use my printer but not listen to any music, or, and I'm leaning towards this, I can have a rant about being freezing cold and having a heater that came from the pound shop bargain bin. Aherm.

If today is the last day of Hilary then I have to acknowledge it as being the first Hilary term that I've fully completed without ending up in hospital either because of a collision with a desk or because my bone marrow decided that it wanted to cut-loose from social constraints and do what the hell it liked. So I must toast this Hilary for not giving me either a black eye or a corkscrew wound in my hip bone. Thank you my final ever Hilary. I can't say you've ever been my favourite term, but you've done a lot to turn it round this year. I'll remember you fondly.

Friday, March 11, 2005

All Those Little Things

All Those Little Things

I was intending to leave posting about Fox's 'Leaving Right Now' until a moment when I either i) was searching round for something to blog about* or ii)hadn't already inflicted you with a song blog recently. Yesterday, however, Nik blogged about the song and given that I love any excuse for intertextuality, I decided that I'd have to blog about it too. So if you want to complain, send them addressed to Nik, it's her fault that I'm writing this now. Of course you could simply view the situation as simply being like the ripping off of a plaster - quick and painless - since I was going to write it anyway. Or something like that.

'Leaving Right Now' got its debut at The Bedford last week. Which was momentous largely because it's the first, or at least one of the few, song[s] that Fox has written by himself. Usually he's a self-confessed co-writing freak. Well, he didn't confess to the freak bit. I added that**. But you get the picture. So it was a bit of a miny occasion. And I was genuinely impressed. Indeed impressed enough to comment to Fox afterwards that I "really liked the one you wrote on your own". Yes, I'm aware that it clearly didn't make enough of an impression on my for my to remember the title, but you try remembering the title when you're i)in the Bedford ii)attempting to bop in your seat iii)starting to be terrorised by the smell of leek pervading from the seat next to you****. Anyway, to return to the song rather than the leeks, I was immediately captivated by the lines:
But it won't have to be forever
It doesn't need to be right now
Now maybe this speaks volumes about my own attitude, but I find those lines utterly beautiful. Because they're about the very nature of hope. They embrace a notion which may well prove to be transitory. But it doesn't matter. The hope is enough. The possibilty, rather than certainty. And I can definitely relate to that notion. Which is why the "never" in the song is so loaded. It stands, rather starkly, as the destruction of belief.

Having listened to the song consequently there's another section that makes me smile every time I listen to it:
I wonder if he ever puts you down
In a funny way like I did
It seemed to work somehow
And it makes me smile because, and this is my greatest compliment, it's true. It's true, as Nik noted in general of the song, to Fox but it's also true to me. It takes something idiosyncratic, something seemingly small, but because it's true it radiates. And I smile.

Now to the second verse. And I can see the irony already here given the fact that at one particularly unguarded moment I happened to let slip to Fox that if I think Griffin has a flaw in his songwriting it's with his second verses. And Fox, ever the gentleman, didn't miss an opportunity to bring up my comment at the Bedford. Even though I made it several months ago, right at the end of a very long conversation. But Fox remembered. And I blushed rather substantially. But to the second verse. I don't think I'm quite as down on it as Nik is, I find the 'you're kind of like my favourite film' line a bit odd but nothing that causes me to run screaming for the hills. What does, however, is the line 'Thought the grass was always greener'. Can you hear that noise? That's me dying inside. And there's another irony here. After my mouth had run away with me with the Griffin second verse syndrome comment and I almost got down on my hands and knees in the Cock and Camel***** to beg Fox not to repeat it, Fox responded with 'I've said much worse than that to him - could he shove another cliche in there?'. Clearly should Griffin ever be stuck for one, Fox knows how to shove one in with the best of them******. But the second verse doesn't end in disaster, because Fox pulls it back:
Could say I've changed or maybe lost
Everything good I had and paid the cost
Simple yet effective, and suddenly I'm not running for the hills anymore. Because Fox isn't singing cliche here, he's singing truth. And I love the song again.

As a footnote to this********, I should comment that I'm not entirely sure about the samba beat. I love the music. Green Grass aside I love the lyrics. And I think that together they're very nice. It's just, and this is more a feeling than as a product of anything more substantial given that my musical expertise in my post-school orchestra days is based around playing Griffin melodies on the recorder*********, it strikes me that the lyrics need more. They're huge. They need supporting. Or at the least they need something that works with them. Given that I'm probably not going to be called upon any day soon to administer recorder aid to Fox's songs, I'll stick to the word bit.

*It's a mark of how obsessed I am with this blog that I much more often than is probably healthy think 'oh I could write about this' or 'I could write about that'. I'll step up the medication.

**C'mon co-writing is freakish***. How on earth do you stop yourself jabbing your co-writer in the eye with a pencil when they don't like your woo-woos on the end of a line?

***Obviously when I co-write my musical this is not freakish. This is sensible.

****And let me tell you, leeks pong.

*****Possibly I shouldn't blog about getting down on my knees in front of Fox in a bar with such a name.

******That sentence isn't going to help the rumours.*******

*******Of course there aren't any rumours. And indeed if there are, I probably started them with my parade of dubious witticisms on the subject.

********Ok, I'm aware that there's about a million footnotes to this entry. Consider this one in the main body.Well not this one exactly, but you know what I mean.

*********Which is why it's a sensible move to co-write the musical.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

I've Loved These Days

I've Loved These Days

It was announced earlier tonight that Fox got the part in Movin' Out; he'll make his debut on Broadway on his birthday, the 6th of April.

Good luck, Fox. I'm intensely proud of you.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

But Most Of All...

But Most Of All...

I'm sitting in a distinctly cold computer room*, writing about the ending of Closer and the importance of its setting for Marber's themes**, listening to a Griffin gig which he did last August. And possibly because of writing about Closer this afternoon, a play which I find incredibly moving, something about 'I've Lived'*** seems to have bled into me.

For a long time I didn't think that 'I've Lived' was anything particularly special; it didn't click because it is the one song of Griffin's that is written in a different persona to the usual, identifibly 'Griffin voice'. It struck me as being nicely worded but fake. Whilst I may bop my head to fake writing, I'll never love it. And then one night last April, sitting on my bathroom floor, listening to Griffin's gig at the Bedford down my mobile, it clicked. Somehow it was no longer fake, his voice made it true. It wasn't about what I'd always taken the song to be about. Instead it was about something at once much smaller and at once much bigger. Its heart lay not in its origins but in the line "I gave it all to I had to give". And as I realised that I loved the song. And it wasn't because anything had changed, it was simply that Griffin's voice had, in that performance, transformed it, made it look different in a different light. And I saw a new picture.

And today, in equally unusual surroundings, listening to the song I got the same feeling. The feeling that pushes into you and refuses to let go. The feeling that at his best means that Griffin literally makes you hold your breath as every part of your being is pummelled by his voice. That makes you stomach tilt. Today it happened again.
*Something which concerns the word 'firewall' has occurred which means that none of the student accomodation here currently has internet access. And because 'internet treats' are an integral part of my essay writing plan, I've had to come and work where I can get internet access. Yes, I realise that raises a number of issues, but we'll put them to one side for now.

**I've been typing so much recently that my arms are beginning to hurt from having been in the typing position for far too long. I wonder if there's a suitably swanky name for that.

***If you're one of the non-Griffined readers I'd suggest you go here and download 'I've Lived'. Then close your eyes and listen.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Dotty Dress Blues [the two part harmony]

Dotty Dress Blues [the two part harmony]

My room currently looks like a small nuclear explosion has occurred within it. Which certainly isn't a pretty sight. Rather than deal with the fallout from the nuclear explosion, however, I instead used my precious non-typing hours to go to the supermarket. And I hate the supermarket. Which probably speaks volumes about how little I want to do anything that comes even remotely close to tidying up the nuclear explosion when I'd rather go into the wilds of Oxford and chance losing a shin to one of the over-seventy-trolley dash brigade. As it was the supermarket was relatively painless. Or at least the experience didn't mean that I lost a limb or came out with the pressing urge to jab something sharp into my eye. I did, however, spend rather too long in the this-really-isn't-very-good-for-you-despite-what-we-claim-on-the-packaging aisle. Should anyone be interested the biscuit supplier to the Oxford Sainsbury's has suffered flooding and hence there is currently a shortage of rich-tea buscuits on the shelf. But Sainsbury's apologises for any inconvenience caused. Obviously the fact that one brand of rich-tea biscuits is missing from the shelves of Sainsbury's is enough to cause major inconvenience to the biscuit dunkers of Oxford. If Mr Sainsbury is in the mood for offering apologies for inconvenience caused then I would rather like a written apology for him having built a very expensive 'local Sainsbury's' near to me, causing me the inconvenience of having to walk past it on my way to the other side of central Oxford in order to go to the still-over-priced-but-marginally-less-so version. And indeed I'd like an apology for the fact that there hasn't been any of the value bread in the store for the last fortnight. I'm paying double what I normally do. Now that's inconvenience.

When I was out I did something naughty. I bought a pair of shoes. If I'm going to mount my defence here I will say that they were in the sale and are lovely and brown and pointy*. Indeed had I not bought them they'd have stayed, folornly, in the middle of the shop longing to come and join my ten other pairs of slip on shoes. And I'd have pined and I'd have been walking round accompanied by violins for the next week. So it was in everyone's best interests that I bought the shoes. Plus I need to save the violins for the dress that I saw in Mr Next's Clearance Store. I am rather obsessed with dresses, mainly because they are such a force of terror in my life. There is a general rule of thumb which says that you shouldn't wear a dress that slips over your head and doesn't have any kind of fastening device [such as zips, clasps, saftey pins or extra-strength superglue] unless your body is in proportion. It doesn't matter whether you are 7 stone or 16, you simply have to be in proportion. And I, rather emphatically, am not. Even my feet cannot seem to co-ordinate their sizing, what with one being an entire half size bigger than the other. Given this there is little chance that my waist, thighs, breasts and back could come to some sort of an agreement as to the rough sizing of the person they occupy. Instead they co-exist rather unharmoniously, bickering amongst themselves as to what dress size I should be.

In the January sales, I chanced upon, in the realms of another Mr Next store, what was possibly the most beautiful dress I have ever seen. Utter perfection radiated from every milimetre, it literally glowed in the knowledge of just how wonderful it was. And I ran to the changing room, thinking that this dress, this miracle life giving dress, would be the one to change everything. This would be the dress that would destroy the rule of thumb. When I put it on, however, it became clear that whilst it was a magical dress, it was fighting something of a battle with the top half of my body. Indeed it resembled something of a potato sack until it reached my waist, where from here downwards it once again was the dress of utter wonderment. Sadly, heart over-flowing with the knowledge that the dress of wonder, could never be mine, I returned it to its place in the store. Where it was undoubtedly bought my someone who is bigger than me but who is blessed by a body that has managed to co-ordinate itself. I still have sleepless nights about that dress.

Today's dress was not quite the level of the dress of wonder, but it was still pretty high up the scale. And, what made it succeed where the the dress of wonder had failed, was that it had a very fancy tie style thing at its waist. Now wrap style dresses I can do. But by this point I'd already bought the shoes, and I wasn't in possession of the Next gift vouchers I've been trying to use for last year [I suspect they may be one of the casulties of the nuclear explosion] and I had to leave it, knowing in my heart how nice it would look with my cowboy boots**. I didn't even try it on, knowing that the moment that I did I would succumb to its power. Indeed I feel I still might.

If there is a lesson amongst all of this it is clearly that when faced with nuclear fallout, tidy up, and do not go and procrastinate in stores owned by Mr Next.

In other news, I've - per Reina's request - fixed the comments on here. So now you can leave me them. You know you want to. C'mon, I've an oddly shaped body, I need the light relief.

NB: This is the second version of this post. The first one which was even wittier, was forever lost to cyberspace. We can but mourn its passing.

*The only other acceptable alternative being that they are green and pointy.

**Which is the way that all items of clothing are now judged.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Why PJ Should Have Kept Those Goggles On And Grabbed A Copy Of Beowulf

Why PJ Should Have Kept Those Goggles On And Grabbed A Copy Of Beowulf

This morning I woke up to the strains of 'Let's Get Ready To Rhumble' and thought something had gone majorly wrong overnight; that I'd slipped back a decade and that I'd open my eyes to find I was in a room with posters on the ceiling, my hair in a ridiculously long plait and with the knowledge that I had to go to school for Double PE. When I did open my eyes I was somewhat relieved that the time-space-continum was exactly as it should be and the only demand being placed upon my time was a pressing engagement with the English Faculty photocopier. It took me slightly longer to work out why Radio One was playing PJ and Duncan AKA, given that they didn't really play them the first time round, until it dawned on me that it was in fact Comedy Dave's tedious link track as they were in Newcastle as part of the Red Nose Rally. Comedy Dave and Chris Moyles proceded to mock some of the lyrics and I mentally composed a biting email in response - there are many, many things which I will allow you to mock, but PJ and Duncan AKA is certainly not one of them. Anyone who can compose such lyrics as 'watch us wreck the mike, watch us wreck the mike, psyche!' deserves defending to the death.

After such an opening there really was nowhere that today could go but downwards. And, anyway, today officially marks the day when I have to stop having fun and actually have to work. That would be properly work and not just get 8 books out of the library as I did last Monday, spend time looking up lots and lots of theatre reviews as I did on Friday or write nicely colour co-ordinated plans as I did at various times in the last week. I now have to adhere to the plans and actually write the extended essay that makes up one ninth of my final degree. There is nothing on the horizon until D-Day [Deadline Day] except endless essay writing and re-writing. Actually I lie, there is one thing on the horizon - Friday's "library day" where I'm going to spend the time hoovering up critics whom I can argue with whilst in the salubrious surroundings of the Bod, hopefully with a first draft in my hand. But, somewhat understandably I feel, that doesn't have me running around my house, screaming, as say an impending gig might or an upcoming theatre trip would. Or even, on a lesser scale, how a pub quiz or a lazy afternoon in the University Parks might. There shalt not be any enjoyment of oneself that does not involve a computer and the complete works of Pinter. And yet, distinctly worryingly, I did rather enjoy sitting in front of a computer writing about Pinter this afternoon. And I don't, Betrayal aside, particularly like Pinter, he writes the same play rather too many times for my liking. But I still enjoyed it. It's times like this when I realise that there will always be a part of me that would like to forever remain in this environment, surrounded by books and ponitificating on drama, taking breath only to pontificate about Woolf, or Fitzgerald, or Byron or indeed one of the numerous other authors or texts which cause me to get thoroughly over-excited. Because, and I can finally say this now that I'm at the end of a course which has been both painfully difficult and incredibly annoying at various points - and indeed will be again when in three weeks time I've to start my Middle English revision, I genuinely love authors, books, words and everything that goes with them. I've even picked up a respectable hardcore of poets whom I love, and I'll never forget, for all the crap that Old English caused me in my first year, just how joyous being able to read Beowulf in its original language was. Admittedly I could quite easily have done without Byrhtnoth's "ofermode"* or the Wyatt and Surrey fiasco of Michaelmas Term 2002, but as I sit here, pumped up with the works of Hare, Marber, Stoppard et al***, I can say that I have rather loved it basically getting to read lots and lots over the last three and a half years. And I love literature more than I ever have. Just don't ask me about The Cloud of the Unknowing as I can't tell you anything as I was doing a play that week and wrote the 2000 word essay having only read the editor's introduction. Just don't try that one at home.

*For those non-Old English speaker amongst us, Byrhtnoth fought, and died, at the Battle of Maldon, and in a particularly long-winded example of the genre of Old English war poetry** his failure boils down to his "ofermode", translated as his "pride". Literally thousands of words of criticism have been written about that single "ofermode". It really is mind boggling.

**And this is a language which has approximately 17 different words for spear but no future tense.

***If I'm being honest I'm also pumped up on Bucks Fizz and Kit Kats. But I maintain that a good play is worth more than any kind of drug.

That bright, tight forever drum

That bright, tight forever drum

REM's 'Nightswimming' [or in SSoB terms 'Harry's song']- the most beautiful song ever written?

Nightswimming deserves a quiet night.
The photograph on the dashboard,
taken years ago,
turned around backwards so the windshield shows.
Every streetlight reveals the picture in reverse.
Still, it's so much clearer.
I forgot my shirt at the water's edge.
The moon is low tonight.

deserves a quiet night.
I'm not sure all these people understand.
It's not like years ago,
The fear of getting caught,
of recklessness and water.
They cannot see me naked.
These things, they go away,
replaced by everyday.

remembering that night.
September's coming soon.
I'm pining for the moon.
And what if there were two
Side by side in orbit
Around the fairest sun?
That bright, tight forever drum
could not describe

You, I thought I knew you.
You I cannot judge.
You, I thought you knew me,
this one laughing quietly
underneath my breath.

The photograph reflects,
every streetlight a reminder.
Nightswimming deserves a quiet
night, deserves a quiet night.
I can't express just how beautiful I think those lyrics are, and the piano on the track is absolutely heartbreaking. When I grow up, I want to write like that.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Life Through A Lens

Life Through A Lens

For once the Oxford Tube managed to meet its claim of getting me to London in 1 hour forty minutes. The actual tube in London, however, proved to be utterly incapable of getting me anywhere. The circle line was suspended for planned technical work, large chunks of the met line were out, Tottenham Court Road station was closed due to flooding, the central line was experiencing severe delays both times that I had to use it, and we let a tube go at Covent Garden rather than running only for it to emerge that the one behind had broken down and the next one didn't arrive in the station for another ten minutes. And then it was too full to get on. When I did manage to get on a the tube I ended up wedged next to a man reading the bible out loud. And Jesus did not die for his own sins, but for the sins of mankind. All very well but at that moment unless Jesus had something to say about the transport system then I wasn't particularly interested. How we're claiming that we'd be able to manage the flow of transport for the Olympics when we can't even get one tiny cowboy boot wearing woman around London on a Sunday in March I'm not sure.

When I wasn't spending a large chunk of my time at a tube station or pouring over a tube map to work out what alternative route I should take, I ended up eating with Katherine, Sam and Mark in a reasonably priced but rather swanky looking pub in Covent Garden that possessed what is possibly the most manic waitress I've ever had. Everything was done at a speed of approximately 120mph, it was literally a case of hold out your hands and hope that you catch your food. Having managed not to end up with anything on my lap we ended up pottering over to the National Portrait Gallery and marveling over the Tudor paintings. It's rather a thrill to see the paintings which grace all of the history textbooks in reality. Though in my head Shakespeare didn't have an earring. And maybe looked a bit more like Joseph Fiennes. Ok, I know that was a film, but if it's any consolation Marlowe also looks like Rupert Everett too. I also managed to destroy all previous giftshop statistics by being the last of us in there. With any kind of shopping I'm something of a guided missile. I do a lot of it, but I do it quickly. And in giftshops this tendency of mine seems to be compounded. Does the shop have any comedy items? Do they have pens and/or keyrings? Usually that's the extent of my enquiries. However, given that the National Portrait Gallery has lots of interesting postcards, and a buy five get the sixth one free thing going on, I got sucked in to debating who was going to come and grace my room. After much deliberation, I settled on the complete Virginia Woolf set of three postcards one of which I do already have but since it has a little rip in it I felt I was justified in replacing it and one of which is a Vanessa Bell portrait and thus isn't vaguely recognisable as being Woolf. I also got a postcard of the young Byron to go with my postcard of slightly older Byron that lives on my desk. I'm rather glad to have gotten this as in my head - that'll be where Shakespeare is Fiennes and Marlowe is Everett - Byron is resolutely and permanently as in the 1813 picture of him. Clearly he didn't age. In addition I ended up with postcards of Oscar Wilde and Charlotte Bronte, a slightly unusual combination if ever there was one. Though if Algernon and Jane can co-exist in an Oxford exam paper I'm sure that Oscar and Charlie won't mind taking up residence together.

It's odd though to be in a building with all of those faces, who for some reason or another have left their mark, who have become iconic enough for postcards of their likeness to be peddled to tourists. Odd and slightly humbling.