Monday, October 23, 2006

Be Glad You Didn't Witness Us Trying To Get A Photo Together

Be Glad You Didn't Witness Us Trying To Get A Photo Together

After I'd managed to guess Nik's house number (not mentioning being unable to locate the doorbell) Nik had proudly announced:

"Guess where we're going to eat"

As anyone who knows me will be aware - I don't guess. When there's a guess involved there's a chance you might be wrong. And I don't like to be wrong.

"I don't know - where?"

Nik grins.

"The Golden Arches"

We both do the universal hand signal for the Golden Arches and laugh. I suspect there's something entirely childish in our delight in making trips to a fast food outlet that is frowned upon in certain quarters. And by certain quarters you should know I mean Cat. And, whilst we're at it, my Mum.

Cut to an hour and a half later and Nik, Ali and I are seated in the Golden Arches. It must be said we're a little hyper even before we've started ingesting the processed chemicals in our not-so-big macs because we've realised that it's the first time that all three of us have been in a room together since November 2004. And if we can't be a bit giddy for that reason then there will never be a reason to be giddy. It's probably also for this reason that Nik and I have held off teasing Ali about wearing a pair of (new) high heeled boots to a gig, settling instead for glancing at our flat footwear and smirking in the knowledge of what is to come.

Having almost caused chaos by not knowing what to order Ali has settled on a Kid's Meal and is now assembling the free toy, a bright red car. Actually assembling is probably the wrong word since the only thing that needs doing is its go-faster stripes attaching but it's providing entertainment for all of us. Stripes attached Ali starts to push the car across the table and Nik and I take turns to catch it before pushing it back.

We continue to talk and push the car for the next few minutes.

"It's just like we've never been apart!"

At this Ali gets a bit over enthusiastic with the car. In a blur it heads across the table. Neither Nik or I manage to process this quickly enough to make a grab for it as it goes flying between us, above our heads, across the two tables nearest to us before crashing - in slow motion - at the other end of the room.

There's a silence. The kind of silence you normally only get in disaster movies. Everyone in the Golden Arches is looking at us. Looking at us and undoubtedly wondering what three twenty somethings are doing with a red toy car with go faster stripes. It's a fair question.

Having checked that we've not concussed an old lady or poked a small child in the eye Nik and I turn to look at Ali.

"I don't want the car any more"

At this there's nothing I can do, I have to laugh. Nik - valiantly - retrieves the car from its landing place and returns it to the table where it sits in disgrace for the rest of the meal.

Ali's right. It's just like we've never been apart.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

"I got the movie script but don't know what it meant"

"I got the movie script but don't know what it meant"

D and I are sat in the Long Bar at the Sheffield Crucible, dressed in our best 'Press Night' outfits and brandishing free drinks. After wondering if L - the show's ASM* - has run off in fear of how we might behave after the free wine she finally emerges. Once we'e dispensed with the hugs and the well dones the inevitable question comes.

"So, what did you think?"

It's ok, D and I have prepared for this. I jump straight in.

"The acting was absolutely fantastic - all three of them, there wasn't a weak link"

Great this is just how it's supposed to go. D's turn now.

"And the set was brilliant -"

"Really intricate"

"It must have taken you ages to find all of that"

Yes, we're getting through this well. But it might need something else.

"And you never told us about Nigel Harman's bottom! It's incredibly pert"

D and I both swoon at the memory of the Harman's almost gravity defying bottom.

But the swooning means we're off guard.

"You didn't like the play did you?"

So much for our brilliant strategy, less than two minutes in and we've been busted. D and I exchange looks. We could lie or we could tell the truth. And L's our friend.

"Couldn't stand it"

Well done Corinne, that should do it.

"I hate Pinter"

On the much bigger level I'm rather pleased that D has uttered this sentence without my having unduly prejudiced him. On the smaller level though, it's Press Night for Pinter's The Caretaker, part of an unashamed Pinter fest** that the lovely Sam West**** is having between now and Christmas. But we can let that slide. We're not in ear shot of the Press. Or the lovely Sam West.

"I'm almost tempted to come the night that Pinter is going to be here and then throw things at his head for all the trauma that he's caused me"

There's a pause and I realise that I've said this outloud. I think this might be the last time I get invited to a Press Night. There's only one thing for it.

"Did we mention Nigel Harman's bottom?"

* Assistant Stage Manager. Hey, that's a proper footnote.

**The reason for the fest? That Pinter has decided not to write any more plays. And you know I'm celebrating this as much as the next person about this (providing that the next person had their head explode during a production of Old Times***) but a festival? Perverse is what I call it.

***It's a supreme irony that of all the Pinter plays I've seen (either on stage or on film) - and there have been a lot - I have singularly failed to see either The Dumb Waiter which I concede has a fantastic twist or Betrayal which I rather love (because it makes sense!). A cocktail to the first DA reader who spots a production of either of these that I can get to.

****He is lovely. I spoke to him on the phone once and generally saved his ass a (little) bit, something I was more than willing to do because of the fact he called me babe. If you hadn't realised, I'm easily pleased when it comes to actors.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A Tale of Two PYFB Gigs: The Sanctuary, Birmingham

A Tale of Two PYFB Gigs: The Sanctuary, Birmingham

Smell of Venue: Bands and bottles of pepsi that cost two pounds fifty. Personally, I'd take the cheap beer smell any day. Clearly a cuter venue comes at a price.

Weirdness of Support Act: The concept was still there but in an attempt to not judge a book by its cover I actually listened this time and, wow, there may have been a couple of good songs in there. Not good enough for me to have remembered their name though.

Lighting: Still loving the album cover mimic look and in a slightly bigger venue it looked even better.

Audience Demographic: Not as many girls this time. Still the majority but what was that? Men. Why are they here?

Vocal Talents of Audience: Not quite as impressive as the Leeds Met cohort - clearly the hardcore lyric learning fans were more heavily concentrated in the North. Or all the men are not quite as willing to sing along with little regard for tune or key. Still an impressive 'Last Request' though.

Bouncing Talents of the Audience: And this is where Birmingham managed to trump Leeds. Because there were lots of pockets of bouncing, and not just when PYFB was three songs from the end of his set. I particularly liked the pointing action of a group of girls in the middle and it all made for a rather fab rendition of 'New Shoes'.

Most Annoying Audience Member: The four man mountains in slightly in front of Nik and I. I'm already spouting my gig theory that everyone should be measured on their way in and arranged accordingly so that short people get to see at least an arm, a drum stick or the top of the singer's head every so often. But I will forgive you being very very tall and standing in front of me if you actually look like you're enjoying yourself. But to stand there and not even sing 'Last Request'? Get thee to a nunnery. Or at least away from a PYFB gig.

PYFB Banter: I'm not sure what had happened in the space of three days but for some reason I could understand a good 90% of what came out of PYFB's mouth. And he was rather on top form. The highlights? "This is a new song so it doesn't have a title. We'll call it Johnny Cash. [beat] Johnny Cash doesn't have anything to do with it". "I'm on water as I've had to stop drinking on stage because I get drunk and then do stuff that I can't remember" [Nik and I both interject "Like take your clothes off"].

PYFB Song Titles: Maybe I was aided by kind of knowing the order but it all made a lot more sense this time.

PYFB's Vocal Talents: Maybe the water's paying off. Not even a little crack on 'Million Faces' though Nik and I pre-empt it every time.

Best Song: 'Rainbows' because it conveys something live that I don't think I'll ever get on a recording, 'New Shoes' because of all the bounce, 'Autumn' because it was utterly heart rending and I thought both PYFB and I might cry and 'Last Request' because you can't fight it.

Other Comments: Nik's face at the bar prices was only bettered by her face when she realised that the mystery encore song was 'Crazy'. I wish I could have taken a photo. We also managed to work out that PYFB's t-shirt prices have gone up since we bought one at the start of the summer. Ooo, get him.

A Tale of Two PYFB Gigs: Leeds Met

A Tale of Two PYFB Gigs: Leeds Met

Smell of Venue: Fresher's Flu and cheap beer. Don't you just love student unions?

Weirdness of support act: Quite high. Because being a concept band, with fuzzy tvs and brown coats when you clear your stage scares me.

Lighting: Very, very exciting. Because I'm a girl who likes a theme and when you open with lighting that mimics your album cover I'm going to love it.

Audience Demographic: Girls, girls and more girls. Oh and students. I obviously find this strange given that PYFB is young and attractive with a penchant for taking his clothes off on stage and we are in a student union.

Vocal Talents of Audience: Not quite up to my X Factor standards but nevertheless Leeds Met was in fine voice. So good were they that they could have made the PYFB Choir, if ever he chose to have one.

Bouncing Talents of Audience: Now, you PYFB fans of Leeds you excelled yourself vocally but bouncily? As someone once said - not so much. But you did start to pull it back after 'Rainbows' and 'Loving You' was rather fab. But don't be afraid of the bounce.

Most Annoying Audience Member: Normally the student journalist who thought it ok to write copious notes would have won this (the phrase writing about music is like dancing about architecture springs to mind) but she had her prize stolen by the light brown haired second year in a spotty top who thought it suitable to mock one of my boys. When he was feeling it. This is not amusing, this is brilliant. Next time love, save the money and STAY AT HOME.

PYFB Banter: Er, there might have been some but I'd have needed a translator to say what it was...

PYFB Song Titles: I got his intro to 'Jenny' and, erm, that was it. But it made the intro game much more fun.

PYFB's Vocal Talents: Rather wonderful. I could listen to him all day. Almost.

Best Song: 'Loving You' because I love it, 'Jenny Don't Be Hasty' - because we finally got the bounce, the opening of 'These Streets' because we all got the intro wrong and, most of all, 'Last Request' if only for PYFB's face when everyone sang it back at him.

Other Comments: The lack of apostrophes in an 'academic' institution was made up for the fact that we stumbled on PYFB's tour bus as we were on our way back to the car. And it wasn't just a mouldy old van or even a blacked out people carrier but a proper, full size tour bus, undoubtedly with beds and a kitchen and a special groupie room (or maybe not). We couldn't see PYFB in it when the door opened (yes, we did try and see) but it did mean we could wave to him as the tour bus passed us. And if the singles and the album weren't enough to prove it then the tour bus rather shouted it - PYFB might just have made it.

NB: PYFB is, of course, Paolo Nutini

Monday, October 09, 2006

Bridget Jones Has Nothing On Me

Bridget Jones Has Nothing On Me

Val, D and I are comfortably seated in bed at the Evil Eye and for the first time since Evil Eye started serving food we've all managed to get chips. And lest you think that this is not something unsual let me tell you that it is nothing short of a miracle. Despite the fact that the only thing that any normal person wants to eat after injesting their body weight in white russians is a bowl of chips the Evil Eye seems to remain tellingly oblivious, wanting to ply us with spicy noodles having run out of chips somewhere around 5.00pm. And I'm sure you like noodles. Hey, I like noodles. But I like chips more. Today though they may have run out of beef but chips - oh no. Three bowls thank you very much.

Aided by the chips, the alcohol and my snorting coke we've covered why I think D and Val have weird priorities in the cats vs children debate and have moved on to what is distinctly women's magazine territory.

"If you're going to say things like that then I won't marry you"

Val laughs and lest it looks like I'm going insane I need to explain this.

"It was his idea - D suggested it. I think we were even sober at the time"

"Well, we do need an ND wedding"

Obviously now is not the time to question the fact that our mutual desire for big dresses and even bigger hats is manifesting itself in the marriage of me to a gay man.

"I'd be a great husband - I'd encourage you to chase after cute boys"

"You did set out the rule that there would be no children -"

"Absolutely no children - and I'd know if you got pregnant that it wouldn't be mine"

"But you do want to marry me"

"I didn't quite say that"

"Yes you did!"

"I said we should get married"

"Exactly!"

"'We should get married' is the same as when Trisha says 'you should get counselling', you know exactly where it's going to end up!"

Not, I think it's safe to say, in a bridal gown at Newstead Abbey.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

And yet I don't seem to have qualms about sharing this with the internet

And yet I don't seem to have qualms about sharing this with the internet

I've watched half of How Many Miles to Basra?, served coffee, been on a teacup run for one of the conference groups and perspired a significant amount of my body weight in the ice cream room. The remaining attendants have gone on an expedition to the Green Room in search of pre-packaged food with lots of e-numbers and I've settled down with The Time Traveller's Wife*. Which, in case I don't get round to noting at some other point, I adore. Even if I suspect that it will make me cry.

The next thing I hear is my name being called. I look up and poking their heads over the banister are D and J.

I do a quick assessment of the situation. I left D on his way to meet J at 5:30. That's four hours ago. And I know that cocktail happy hour at the Slug ends at 8.00. This could be a good or a bad thing.

"We've just worked out how many cocktails D's had"

D smiles and holds up both hands.

"Ten?"

D nods, smirking like he's 8 years old and has just put a slug down my back. At this I don't know whether to be gripped by amusement or terror. To avoid having to come down on either side of the fence I move so we can go sit in the bar. Because drunken people belong there. They do not belong on plush red sofas in the midst of a coffee shop.

D's giggly and talking with his hands. Lots. But I need to get something sorted first.

"Are you going to lie on the floor?"

D looks at me like I've asked if he's going to go drown puppies.

"Noooo".

"Just the last time I saw you this drunk - I was talking to you and then the next minute you were unconcious on the sofa" I do not add "and you told C that I'd loved him from the moment I first saw him".

J laughs and D giggles at the flash of recognition. Someone in the bar has decided to switch the music on.

"Is this the Beatles?"

"No - it's The Kinks"

"Ah, they're all dead"

"Who are?"

"The Beatles" D asserts with a face saying that he's stating the blindingly obvious.

"No they're not"

"And this isn't the Beatles"

"How many of them are dead?"

"Of The Beatles? Two"

"And this is?"

J and I look at each other.

"The Kinks"

"But they're a new band"

There's a brief second before the penny drops. One of our favourite (blood) sports whilst in the Slug is to get D to name the band playing. At its best this involves him flinging out name after name of bands who don't quite exist. And I know it's mocking the afflicted but I can't help it.

"No, that's The Zooks, friends of The Kutons, this is The Zinks".

We all laugh.

"It's just too easy to make fun of you when you're drunk"

We carry on in this manner for a few minutes, D elaborating on why 'Vitamin C' would be a good name for a band, something which J and I don't really buy into, until the talk turns to fame.

"You know the wrap party where - if I hadn't been drunk - I could have slept with [Famous Actor's Son]"

It's mean but I can't help it. "As opposed to all those other wrap parties where you couldn't?"

"Well yes, that's my claim to fame"

J looks at him. "Your claim to fame is that you could have slept with [FAS]?"

"Yes"

J and I exchange looks. "Good claim to fame"

"As opposed to Corinne's claim to fame being that she slept with one of his friends and [FAS] asked her if she wanted a threesome"**

In one sentence it's as if the world's stopped. There's no longer any music. It's totally silent. And there is nothing but D's voice which seems to be breaking all volume records.

"Thank you"

"Ah, we already knew"

"Yes but I think it might come as a surprise to the bar staff, not to mention everyone in the Duty Manager's office oh, and the 720 people in the theatre to see Mockingbird"

D starts to giggle and I wonder what Outer Mongolia's like at this time of year.

* Bought in a 3-for-2 extravaganza after reading how much Billygean loved it.

** This is obviously hugely out of context but is I guess how the story would be sold to the News of the World.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Does my bum look big in this?

Does my bum look big in this?
Not wanting to waste a glorious Sunday after our indie rock and roll evening Cat, Val and I went to Belton Hall. It's where they filmed some of the new BBC Jane Eyre*, y'know. It's also a National Trust property which meant I got to flash my NT card properly rather than having it in my purse and pulling it out to surprise people in the middle of Leeds Slug and Lettuce. Because - and I'm sure you'll be equally as bemused as I am - it seems that people don't expect me to be a member of National Trust. It may have something to do with the fact I own pink wellies.

To get back on track and away from my wellies, the afternoon was beautiful, the house itself was gorgeous, all light and airy with what seemed like hundreds of windows and it had a rather impressive fountain in the grounds. And I'm sure it was all very educational. Yes, I know you're going blah, blah, blah get to the chase. Well, the thing about Belton? There was a dressing up room.

Yes, let me say that again in case you didn't get the full impact the first time. Dressing up. With big dresses. Giving you even bigger bottoms.

Does my bum look big in this?


I suspect I could have done with a slightly smaller size - because I do have a waist - but in case you think that I managed to achieve that look without any help I have to inform you - there was padding.

The One With The Padding

J-Lo eat your heart out.

*Just how much am I loving Mr Rochester? Answer, a lot.

"I need something else, to get me through this semi charmed kind of life"

"I need something else, to get me through this semi charmed kind of life"
You might have realised that along with dead writers, Sienna Boho Princess and Boys with Guitars my list of favourite things would also include parties. Not that I need an excuse to dress up and drink alcohol but it's always nice to have one, if only to justify my current alcohol intake. And it's probably only fair to say that Becky's birthday parties are the stuff of legend. In 2004 it revolved around a crazy hat competition - which, because I'm scarily competitive and found it acceptable to devote seven hours to creating my crazy hat, I won. I believe there was also dancing and Jumpin' Jaks but I don't know for sure because I spent the evening becoming intimately aquainted with Becky's bathroom and my stomach lining. In 2005 there was another competition, this time with dares - which, because I am scarily competitive and found it acceptable to take a stolen didgeredoo to the Parliament Street Fountain, I helped Team Griffin to win. This year the competitive element had been removed - let's face it my ego's big enough without adding an inevitable third victory - but there was still a theme: Glamourous Indie Rock and Roll. Even putting aside my prediliction for stalking all those BwG's, the fact that the last few months have included regular three hour cocktail lunches, watching almost-famous people take illegal substances* and more pairs of footless tights than you can shake a stick at points to the fact that I am under the delusion that my life is (almost) one giant song by The Killers. Needless to say I was enjoying Becky's chosen theme rather too much. So much so that I almost bought a tambourine.

On An Actual Deck. Of An Actual Boat.

Thankfully I held in the urge, because a tambourine was always going to be slightly out of place in such a beautiful setting. Because even if you can get past the fairy lights and the fact that we were seated in our own VIP area the fact remains we were on an actual deck of an actual boat. And along with being the only acceptable place you can wear deck shoes it's just a little bit glamourous isn't it?

The Return of the Girl Band

I did, however, firmly believe that I was in a girl band. And that was not just the alcohol talking, sitting here now, having not had alcohol in my veins since Friday night I still believe I'm in a girl band. I'm not sure that I still believe that posing with large wine glasses is totally flattering, though.

Glasses


But, in the list of rock and roll excesses, I'm sure it's one I can live with. Whether I can live with Gayle and my potentially X-Factor winning performance of Semi Charmed Life (aided by Griffin) being committed to film forever is something entirely different.

Away from the embarrassing photos, video footage and jugs of woo woo in the middle of the afternoon it was the kind of evening with its random flights of imagination, old jokes, new jokes, party pieces and Busted singalongs that was almost a little bit magic. And what strikes me as I flick through the photos I am to steal for this blog** is not only how many adventures we've had together but how many I hope we have in the future.

"The Northern Division - it's not geographical, it's a state of mind!"
*Oh yes I drop this in now. You'll just have to wait for the memoirs I'm afraid. Or buy me a cocktail or two.
**Rightful owner, Val.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

There are times when my life is too surreal even for me

There are times when my life is too surreal even for me

"How does the Star Wars theme go?"

After about two seconds G provides the required 'do doos'

"How about Superman?"

"That's a different do -do"

In unison M and I launch into the Superman theme, complete with mock flying motion.

"What about Indiana Jones?"

Blank looks all round. G starts do-dooing.

"That's Superman!"

"This is going to drive us mad"

Two minutes later.

"There's definitely a doo-doo"

Later still.

"One of us must know it"

And into infinity.

"Do- do -dooh - hang on, that's still Superman"

J has the bad fortune to walk past us and, in desperation, the three of us pounce.

"What's the theme to Indiana Jones?"

"I'll have a think"

"No one corrupt his mind with the Superman theme!"

J leaves us. There are more do doos that aren't right.

We're just about to give up and accept the fact that the day is ruined by our inability to remember when J pops his head round the wall.

In a moment of sheer brilliance we hear the "doos".

Such is the unadulterated joy should I have been informed that I'd been granted a trolley dash in Harvey Nichols it would have failed to make an impact. We celebrate. Pause.

"How does the theme to Star Wars go?"

There are blank looks all around. Then, in a moment that probably sums up my life and its somewhat tenuous grasp on normality at the moment, two life size Storm Troopers choose this moment to walk past us.

"Maybe we should ask them".