Sunday, April 29, 2007

Where I Am (Reasonably) Shallow

Where I Am (Reasonably) Shallow

I could blog about cheap bottles of wine and melted ice cream and my resolve that lasted until approximately 1.00pm on Saturday.

But I will not.

I will instead take an opportunity to say how much I enjoyed seeing one of my actor crushes, Andrew Garfield, popping up for an extended period in Doctor Who.

What's That Coming Over The Hill?

Remember I saw him first(when he was eating canteen food and wearing converses no less).

Wub Part 1892

Obviously I did not see him first. But I'm still staking my claim.

Friday, April 27, 2007

"Just Get The World Off Your Shoulders"

"Just Get The World Off Your Shoulders"

My phone vibrates as it sits across from me.

"I've soo made your patchwork front for ur cushion! :-) i'll have to line and fill it when I'm home. I decided it's a 'cheer up corinne' cushion".

I am overwhelmingly touched. And because I am emotionally fraught already and have compounded this by writing [my novel in a month will not write itself], something which tends to leave me rather vulnerable anyway, there may even be a bit of a tear. A happy tear.

"Ah, bless you! That does cheer me up, I shall hold off ordering a deckchair ;-)"

Dean saw them yesterday and I, of course, have set my heart on the Ginny one. Even though I blatantly do not need a deckchair.

"It's not that great. Deckchair def needed!! :-)".

It is amusing (if not for my bank balance) that my tendency to buy lovely, pretty, sometimes sparkly but always kind of unnecessary, things when life pokes me in the eye is resolutely matched by Dean's tendency to encourage me to do so.

"It's one thing buying a £15 umbrella because of a boy you saw naked, it's another thing entirely to spend £59.99 on a deckchair because of a boy who hasn't even properly asked you out!"

This is, I feel, a very good point. Proportionally it's all wrong. He's not even an actor. I go back to the novel, a little more confident of myself.

My phone vibrates again.

"Exactly! You actually love the [-]. HUGE difference!! and dnt deny it :-)"

Its insistence catches me. I feel the words wash over me in all their black and white ridiculousness. It is closer to the truth than I would like.

Before I have collected my thoughts to reply my phone vibrates again.

"Ergo, deckchair bloody needed!"

I can do only one thing.

I laugh.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

"And the feeling that it's all a lot of oysters, but no pearls"

"And the feeling that it's all a lot of oysters, but no pearls"

Today I found myself crying at Doctors.

Today is also the day that I realised that this has got to stop.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Last Requests

Last Requests

"Grant my last request and just let me hold you, don't shrug your shoulders, lay down beside me".

As one the voices in the Winter Gardens soar, I stand sweaty, arms raised, singing so loudly I am vaguely aware of how off key my voice is.

But I do not care.

A little way behind me I can hear Gayle singing. To my right Dean is doing Paolo Does Broadway because that is the only way that Dean will sing.

You can just about hear PYFB above all of us, leading this disparate choir of ours. And I think of all the times that I have heard this song. In a pub in Balham (almost). In a venue opposite an old man pub. In a park in Marylebone. In the huge circus tent in Dundee, the first act of the day, and one of my highlights of One Big Weekend. Coventry the day These Streets went to number three and PYFB got spectacularly drunk and took his top off. The Universities and the strange club venues where the girls wore clothes not too dissimilar to mine and knew the words.

And I think how These Streets has, inadvertently, become something of a soundtrack to my life. From the opening bars of 'Jenny...' it makes me smile. It makes me bounce around. It makes me laugh, overflowing as it is with memories. Once, sitting upstairs on a bus on the way into Leeds, it made me cry. It does all the things that music should and PYFB raw, with an accent where, when you're lucky, you catch every other word he says has become one of my favourite live performers.

As PYFB stops singing, leaving the words to the voices, there is nothing outside of the moment.

I turn to face the stage and close my eyes.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Things I Learnt In Blackpool

Things I Learnt In Blackpool

1. In late April it would seem that most of Blackpool is still closed. This includes large swathes of the front and all three of the piers.

2. Maybe related to the above there is not an awful lot to do in Blackpool. An hour into our stay - when we had wandered the entire not-so-golden mile - my biggest excitement had been seeing the arcade that was used in the tv series Blackpool. And maybe the Doctor Who exhibit (I didn't go in, not just because Dean wouldn't let me, but because I've been to the one in Cardiff and you are not telling me that Blackpool can rival the place where the show is actually filmed. They would never be able to beat David Tennant's pjs for starters).

3. The sun may shine but, heck, there is wind. And just when you think there could not possibly be any more - there it goes, leaving you clinging to a lamp post and your beret swimming in the sea.

4. Blackpool makes out it is all walker friendly - it is not. There are literally hundreds of roads and I would say that where I to put a percentage on the number that have any type of proper non-safely-dangerously crossing then it would linger around o.1%. I often think I am going to die when crossing roads anyway, I do not need the added pressure.

5. There is a lot of sea. What there does not seem to be much of is beach. Until, of course, the morning we were to leave and then there was beach ahoy. I respect that this may not entirely be Blackpool's fault, with tides and whatnot, but it does leave me somewhat unimpressed when I would quite happily have made a sandcastle or seven.

6. Most coastal, tourist (dare I say it) resorts sell things like rock and postcards and random pieces of tack in their shops. You can find wonderful, wonderful things you never knew you didn't need, often for the price of the change in the bottom of your bag. Blackpool managed to pass the rock test but got stuck with the rest of this category. Because, for reasons I can guess but wouldn't really like to elaborate on, these shops - frequented by lots of children in the summer I would imagine - find it perfectly acceptable to be Ann Summers without the subtlety. Yes, we found the naked man playing cards rather funny. No, the shocking pink sex aids didn't have quite so high comedy value. And when Dean holds up some plastic contraption and utters the sentence "What do you do with this?" you know that you are in a very dodgy area indeed. Dean found it amusing to suggest that I buy History Boy something from this section. I refused and bought him the possibly equally Freudian gift of rock with his name* on it instead.

7. Related to the above it is gratifying to know that all those women who fought (and indeed still fight) for equal rights did so just so that groups of girls could buy hats and sashes with the phrase "Slappers on Tour" on them. Not. Impressed.

8. Conversely I do rather like having a B&B to myself. Especially when it has a bar with a bell.

9. I do not like venues who take your entire ticket because they cannot be bothered to go through the process of ripping them. Everyone likes a ticket. Those of us with obsessive compulsive hoarding tendencies more so than others.

10. Neither do I like the fact that the only open fish and chip shop in Blackpool after 6.00pm turned out to be a Harry Ramsdens. I come from Leeds, damn it. If I wanted Harry Ramsdens I could go to the original Harry Ramsdens. If I want seaside fish and chips I don't want a chain with Burger King style orders. This curious lack of anything being open also led to the fact that I didn't get hot doughnuts whilst I was in Blackpool. Because, obviously, Harry Ramsdens don't do those.

*Sadly not 'History Boy' - though they really, really should start doing rock with that on because I'd have bought more than one stick - but his proper, actual name. Because, though I sometimes forget, he does have one.

Monday, April 23, 2007

You Can't Buy Publicity Like This

You Can't Buy Publicity Like This

Nik and I are attempting to work out when (or if) I'm going to be able to come and see my friend* Paddy Marber's Closer this week.

"I'm supposed to being going to the opera on Thursday night. I know people in it".

"I don't like Opera. Don't go".

I consider this for a second. My silence probably speaks volumes.

"Who are you going with? History Boy?".


"Well, you're not going to come are you? History Boy's got a huge iPod!"

[There's a pause as I start to laugh]

"With Ginny Woolf on it!"

"You know I'm blogging this, right?"

*So maybe this is a bit of an overstatement. But he came to see my play. And I had coffee and played desert island Shakespeare with him. It's a bonding experience.

So Take The Photographs and Still Frames In Your Mind

So Take The Photographs and Still Frames In Your Mind

Some time after 3.00pm I'd rushed out of the WYP - on the back of a week of the Storytelling Festival that, with its 12 hour days, had almost killed me - and jumped on a train just as the doors were about to close. Four hours (and a detour to Manchester) later my train pulled into Oxford station. I rushed up to the New Theatre where the ushers did their very best to win an award in the DA FoH Awards by storing my reasonbly large overnight bag without questioning why I'd come to a McFly concert with it. And since this was a theatre and everything they served ice cream in between the support act and McFly. I consider this a rather wonderful idea and think more venues should adopt such a policy, however messy it might ultimately turn out to be.

After McFly there was a stop at Ali's Kebab Van (though it seemed to be minus Ali), from where I could see the house and the room where I started this blog. Only now, devoid of people living there, it was rather strange to look across at it. My house. My room.

The next day we awoke to discover that the sun had (unexpectedly) decided to put in a prolonged appearance. It was off down to Christ Church and to the Old Sheep Shop (where I'd, somehow, never taken Nik) where we searched for Alice presents for Dean. Then, with hardly concealed excitement, it was onwards to Blackwells where I spent an obscene amount of time in the second hand department (coming back with some Mansfield and an out of print book on Byron) and pondered on buying a first edition of the RSC's version of the complete works (I didn't, on grounds of how heavy it would be given my other purchases and the large Gatsby poster I'd picked up across the road).

Lunch was at the Eagle and Child (or the Bird and Baby for those in the know), under the ever watchful eyes of Tolkein and C S Lewis.

Then, legs aching and the heat starting to make me wonder if the hard backed Byron had really been a good idea, we made our way to the University Parks and my duck pond. And there we lay and I was utterly content just sitting. Maybe more content than I used to be when this was part of my revision ritual and I had at least to keep up some of the pretence that I was reading or making notes instead of listening to my music and people watching. Now I don't have to pretend.

It was laying here that it hit me that this is the part of Oxford I miss hopelessly. Oxford in the early summer. Oxford with its ducks and unknown areas. Oxford with its easy familiarity.

But soon I was back at the station and starting my four hour return journey, on a train where the only room was possibly a small gap to the right of the toilet near carriage D. And Oxford, my Oxford, is once again just a memory.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Where I Suggest I May Have Seen McFly. Again.

Where I Suggest I May Have Seen McFly. Again.

"I want you to show me your banners"

The house lights go up and girls start waving their banners around. This is the first time in a long, long time I have heard this at a gig. So much so that I was half expecting Harry McFly's sentence to end with a very different word altogether. Fill in the blank yourself.

Harry McFly reads: "I love Danny".

There's a pause.

"That's not very original is it?"

I do rather heart him.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I think the massage chair sponsorship deal may be off

I think the massage chair sponsorship deal may be off

"They're free!"

Dean shrieks this as we approach the top of the escalators in House of Fraser.

I look in the direction in which Dean is now running to see what can have provoked such a reaction. There is a list in my head of things that could be responsible. This list, which is admittedly not exhaustive is still fairly comprehensive, goes something along the lines of: Mulberry Bags, things that will make me go 'euurrgghh', dresses, Vogue and Mulberry Bags (yes, they get in the list twice).

It is safe to say I did not expect to see a pair of chairs.

Or, let me be more accurate here, a pair of massage chairs.

By the time I reach the chairs Dean is already in place, pressing buttons and generally demonstrating far too much enthusiasm.

"Sit down!"

Even though I know this cannot - on any level - be described as a good thing I do as I have been told. I suspect I need to stop doing this where Dean is concerned.

Tentatively I push the button which proclaims itself to be a 'demo'.

Immediately my back is assaulted with what feels like a ball being pushed into it.

"I'm not sure I like this".

This is something of an understatement. But I am in public so I am polite.

"It's brilliant!"

Brilliant is, I am convinced, the wrong adjective. The chair now seems to be drilling a hole into my spine. I doubt I will be able to walk when I get up.

"No, no it's not".

"You're such a girl".

I am not going to argue about this. I am a girl. Metaphorically and literally. There is nothing I can do about it. And I haven't even started going on about how easily I bruise.

But for reasons I can't quantify I stay sitting in my chair. And when Dean tells me to swap seats with him I do. I would say that after this my debt for (accidentally) booking tickets to see McFly on his 21st birthday is paid. With interest.

An hour or so later we're walking around our fifth home section of the day. My back is now hurting so much that I'm struggling to concentrate on anything else.

"My back!" I moan.

Dean rolls his eyes. We both know that this moment has 'Drama Queen' written above it in neon flashing letters.

And then it comes.

"I think the massage chair has given me sciatica".

Despite the fact that I am aware that sciatica is lower back pain and my pain is residing somewhere around my shoulder I stick to the point.

"You've given me sciatica!"

Dean looks at me, pulling my best wounded Drama Queen pose. It's a good pose. I use it a lot.

"So, do you want to go to Ikea then?"

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Dedicated Follower of Fashion

Dedicated Follower of Fashion

I have been calm and professional and helpful for well over an hour. I've even managed to provide answers to questions, which stunned me a little too.

"So you get the small radios, leaving me with the big one". It's probably too much information but my sensible head is starting to hurt so I continue "And I'm not happy about this because the big ones pull my trousers down".

I am not lying about this. We have been here before. Everyone laughs. Which is good because, let me be clear, I am expending rather a lot of energy on making sure that everyone still likes me now that I have the power to make them do stuff like empty the bins* and walk around with programmes and work.

"You should get a belt" someone suggests.

"I have a belt. It doesn't work!". Again this is true. Maybe this would suggest that I do not know how to use a belt. There may be far reaching implications here.

"Get another one!" is the reply that flies back at me.

"Get a pair of braces!".

It lingers in the air long enough for everyone to catch it.

"That would be great".

"Definitely braces".

I pause for a second. Caught between braces and showing my knickers if you will.

"I'll go buy some tomorrow".

Worst of all? I kind of mean it.

*I did use this threat in an out-of-work context. Unfortunately I received a text back that said "only a middle manager would think of bins". Harsh but fair.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Where I Demonstrate I Am Sorely Lacking In Common Sense

Where I Demonstrate I Am Sorely Lacking In Common Sense

Every so often I have a 'good idea' that - like writing a play in ten days or working those 39 hours in 3 days for the Shakespeare Schools Festival or revising two years work in 12 weeks - eventually winds up almost killing me. You would think I would learn. But, like the actor thing, I don't.

Yesterday I discovered this. And I thought, hey that's quite a good prize. And then I thought, well I've been wondering what I should work on next. Why shouldn't I work on that novel I've had in my head for a while now? Not the one I pitched to Dean and then promised to write for his birthday and then failed miserably beyond buying a book about writing a novel. But the one I had in my head before then, the one that I am beginning to think that DA is becoming a bit of a practice ground for.

And even if I don't get something I'm happy enough to submit for the competition, it's a nice incentive isn't it? And a deadline of the 2nd of July? That gives me plenty of time. Especially when you consider that Shakespeare probably wrote Hamlet in less than three weeks. Not that I am Shakespeare or my book will be Hamlet (obviously) but the point still stands.

And then, in a great flash of inspiration that seems to ignore the fact that I have a job (not to mention a life which involves Oxford and Blackpool and London and Sela Bar in the next few weeks), I thought: why don't I try and write a novel in a month? And then my insanity did say: yes, that would be a great idea.

So you read it here. One Month. 80,000 words (minimum).

It's not going to be pretty.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Dreaming Spires

The Dreaming Spires

"I heard you put the ice creams on to a chair"

"Yes. I'm too tall to balance them on the railing, so a chair..."

"Good thinking". I only let it pass because of the sheer cheek if I'm honest.

"This is what happens when you have a degree from Oxford". It's said lightly and I clock that this is the first time I've heard History Boy, always more aware of sounding arrogant than I am, evoke this.

"You can work out it's easier to put ice creams on a chair?"


There's a pause, I can tell that something is coming.

"There's one thing that an Oxford degree doesn't teach you though".

"What?" I ask with only minor trepidation.

"It doesn't teach you how to fold the chair back down".

It's unprofessional but I can't help it, I start to laugh. Hard.

"I did try, but it wouldn't seem to fold down".

I stop laughing long enough to manage a sentence "So it's still up, inside the theatre?"

"Yes" comes the mildly embarrassed reply.

"I'd better go see". I turn round and make my way into the Courtyard Theatre, History Boy on my heels.

It's only when I see the chair that I remember that I can't put these chairs down either. I can't collapse a deck chair so what hope do I have with a flash metal one?

"Erm, I've never actually put one of these down" I say, rather apologetically. There goes my employee of the year award. "I have seen other people do it though". Not that this means much, I've seen people drive too, it doesn't mean you'd put me in charge of your new car.

I make a feeble attempt to collapse it. The chair stays resolute in its defiance.

"It looks like it should -" History Boy demonstrates with the seat section which moves tantalisingly before refusing to go any further.

We struggle on, somewhat bewildered, for what must be sixty seconds but which feels like at least seven hours. Eventually - though not without getting History Boy's foot caught - the chair concedes the battle and folds down.

We look at each other.

"We never speak of this again, ok".

Singing The Blues

Singing The Blues

"Cambridge fucking won".

It comes as the last in a line of twenty plus text updates from Nik, updates which had started so well - a winning toss, the Surrey station, an early lead.

There are people around in the way that - until the early hours of the morning - there are always people around at the WYP. But I know that none of them quite understand. And, let's be clear, I'm longing for a bit of understanding. This is not world ending stuff, or even weekend ending stuff, but it is something about me, something which I suspect I will never quite lose.

I hand my radio over, fold up the bright red Oxford t-shirt that I'd been wearing prior to the matinees and make my way out into Playhouse Square. The grass opposite the WYP, littered with semi-clad twenty somethings, makes me wonder if I've walked out into a Festival. But one I've not been invited to. And I can see how I would have painted this moment if the outcome had been different.

But it isn't.

And if the unknowing indifference of my surroundings holds up how distinctly odd my emotional involvement in the Boat Race is, then it also makes me smile. Because this is something special. Something that makes little sense given my own pre-disposition to playing sport, especially sport that involved getting up at 4am. Something that I know others point at as being elitist and class ridden, a remnant of another country and one which we don't want to remind ourselves of, thank you very much. Nothing more than a hiccough in the sporting calendar. But for me it is none of that.

It is shorthand. It is belonging and identification. It is memory. It is the past. It is the unstoppable future.

It is unconditional belief - orginating from some unknown place at some unknown time - raw and hard.

And next year? We'll do it all again.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Sixpenny Book

The Sixpenny Book

There are some books I've read in the last year that I will hold up as some of my all time favourite reads. Zadie Smith's On Beauty which with its scope and depth seemed to me to be as close to a 21st century version of that great friend of mine the 19th century novel that we may ever get. Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go which was haunting, and beautiful, and confusing and ultimately I may never quite get over reading. John Banville's The Sea which I - finally - got round to reading some time after its Booker win which reminded me painfully and profoundly of Woolf and which was the novel more than any that had me reaching for my notebook to copy out snatches of the almost poetry of its pages. And then there was Ian McEwan's Saturday which I devoured in a couple of sittings - overwhelmed by its narrative, by its urgency, by the thought that how we live now may finally be getting its deserved attention.

But I honestly can't quite remember the last time I inhabited a book in the manner I inhabited the one I finished on Wednesday night. This was not marvelling at its language, at its beauty, at its theme, or its urgency. It was living the novel, speaking to the people within it, having them in your head after the book had been put down. It was being 8 and reading Little Women. Being 11 and reading Jane Eyre. Being 14 and reading Pride and Prejudice. Being 18 and reading Vanity Fair.

It was not wanting to breathe in case the magic broke.

100 pages in we'd spoken about the book, half shouting over the bar table.

"I'm beginning to wish I'd read this book when I was 12 or 13".

"At 12 or 13 you wouldn't have understood. You'll understand now".

It made me wonder what was looming in the narrative. What part of the magic that was swimming in my head that I wouldn't have understood.

50 pages from the end I knew what the conversation had been about. And when the final sentences came, utterly right and perfect and heartbreakingly beautiful I recognised them in a way I wouldn't ten years ago. There would have been only the unmediated despair then. Now I saw them as the only way the book could possibly end, the only true way.

"Your book made me cry" I say, perched against the reception desk.

"I really didn't expect the ending" comes the response.

"No I didn't either; you should have warned me that it would make me cry" I mock berate.

"But if I'd told you you wouldn't have loved it as much".

"True" And I know I should say more, as befits the situation when someone has let you peek into a little of who they are by telling you to read one of their favourite books. Especially when their affection for the novel is prefaced by the fact that they're mildly embarrassed at loving it given that they are "not a fifteen year old girl". But how am I to articulate all that I saw in those pages? How am I to comment on how much of myself I saw within them? The bit that every little girl who has kept a diary, peered at the world through Austen and Bronte and been hopelessly, uselessly, in love will recognise.

"I adored it. Every single word". This will have to do. It is as much as can be said. At least for now.

As I'm sure Cassandra Mortmain would have come to realise herself.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

You Know You've Hit The Big Time When...

You Know You've Hit The Big Time When...

You find yourself at number one on google for the phrase: David Tennant Stalker. And to think that I haven't even met the man (yet).

Given his relatively unknown status I reckon I would score quite highly in the google ranking for My Richard Stalker too, only no one is ever going to google that* because there is only me in the entire world who refers to him by such a moniker. Suffice to say he is (for two short weeks) working in the same building as me (again), striding around the stage in Byron clothes as Ferdinand in The Tempest. And - oh it's a big and - he plays the drums. This is all kinds of exciting, even though he didn't break a drum stick. I suspect it's going to be a good fortnight.

*So I was curious and tried. I'm 10th for "My Richard" Stalker. Must do better.

Monday, April 02, 2007

And this is without mentioning that I bumped into someone I really didn't need to bump in to

And this is without mentioning that I bumped into someone I really didn't need to bump in to.

"You make a word!"

I turn round to the boys sitting at the next table and despite the fact that it is now past midnight and we are sitting in a bar they do indeed have a scrabble board with letters spread across it.

I pause for a moment, weighing up my choices. I have been drinking for almost five hours now and as such may not be in the best state of mind for such intellectual pursuits as scrabble. A glance to their game in progress also reveals that they might not be up to it either; I doubt a good 80% of the 'words' on the board are in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Against this is the fact that it has not escaped either mine or Dean's notice that one of the boys in the group is quite cute in a messy haired BwG* way.

And against this in turn is the fact that whilst everyone else has decamped to HiFi History Boy has chosen to stay with Dean and I and is currently sitting opposite me whilst I dangle my leg against his. The decision to stay may have been because he would be made to dance at Hi Fi but I rather like to pretend that it is for other reasons. At the very least it means he is happy to put up with the gossip which such a choice will inevitably have spun from our well-meaning but loud volumed friends. In such circumstances it would be rude of me to play scrabble with a not-quite BwG. It was for this reason that I turned down an earlier invitation to join in the game.

But there has been more vodka now and this is a lot of thoughts for me to juggle in my head. I look to the pile of letters that BwG's friend has given me and start to move them.

"C'mon if you have an English degree" BwG says. This much had already been established when they asked me to officiate on a disputed word ten minutes earlier.

I move the letters in no particular manner, but I know what is going to come out of my mouth, even though it really, really shouldn't.

"An English degree from Oxford".

And there it goes. I mentally wince at my own arrogance.

"Oxford?" It goes round the table, a high pitched murmur.

"You have a degree from Oxford and all you can come up with " - BwG leans round to look - " is FFA".

"I haven't finished!" I cry, knowing that there is no way to get myself out of this situation.

"Where are you from?" BwG's Friend asks.

This is obviously down to the accent. He will think I am arrogant and posh. This wasn't quite how tonight was supposed to pan out.

"Leeds" I respond with as straight a face as I can muster.

"Leeds?!" It's incredulous, just as I suspected. It will not be the first time that I have been told I am making my birthplace up. "But no one from Leeds goes to Oxford!"

Obviously it is 1845 again. And I know I shouldn't, but I can't help it, it's a knee jerk reaction.

"He did too!" I say emphatically whilst pointing at History Boy.

At this History Boy looks like he would very much like to be somewhere else, maybe even dancing in Hi Fi.

"Did you?" BwG asks.

History Boy nods whilst trying to fold himself up to be as small as possible something which, given his height, he is managing quite impressively.

"Sorry" I hiss as BwG and friends start putting the scrabble pieces away, already over the crazy lady on the next table.

"Thank you" comes the reply, pint in hand.

The scrabble table leave. The lights are put back on. We debate where we can get food in the early hours of a Monday morning, bemoaning the lack of a Little Griffin van.

And then the next thing I know we're in the taxi queue and I'm re-enacting so many nights of the past few weeks, nights which will blur until I can no longer distinguish them from one another.

I know the drill.

*Boy with Guitar, natch.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

It's a screwdriver and it's sonic!

It's a screwdriver and it's sonic!

Because I couldn't not comment.

Smith and Jones

You would, wouldn't you?

As for the new companion - she's not me. Otherwise not bad. We will see.*

*Translates as: I enjoyed 'Smith and Jones' muchly.

Dancing on the kitchen tiles

Dancing on the kitchen tiles

Last Saturday I stood in the middle of what amounted to a conference hall and sang along to '(I've Had) The Time of My Life' with a thousand under 12's. This freaked me out a little bit. How do they know this song? They were not born when the film came out. C'mon, I was only just born when the film came out [ok, I was four]. It certainly wasn't until my mid-teens that I watched Dirty Dancing and even then you wouldn't have found me dancing along to its most famous number on a freezing cold night in Harrogate when what I was really wanting was to see my latest boy-band crush. So, 11 year olds, stop it. It's just weird.

What is not at all weird is the fact that I was in the conference hall with the under 12's (and their parents) was to see McFly. I have had some very funny reactions to the information that I was going to see McFly. This ranged from over-head hand clapping (appropriate) to looks of something resembling absolute horror (inappropriate). In some quarters, because of stuff like my seeing The Holloways and The Fratellis and waxing lyrical about 'Nightswimming' and Urban Hymns and talking about pubs in Balham where I saw Posh Young Farmer Boy when he was third on the bill to someone with a fidgety leg and a guy who came second in a reality tv show*, it is taken that I have some musical discernment. I would argue that I do. But I am also obsessed with Steps. I love pop music. I do not entirely trust anyone who doesn't.

McFly are a combination of all that is great about pop and 'serious' music. They play their own instruments. They write their own songs. They are pretty. They are quite willing to take their clothes off. They even starred in a middle of the road teen rom-com that I enjoyed so much it made me giggle for a week after I saw it. There is no other album (other than maybe one by Busted, another perennial favourite of mine) in which you could get songs which reference jellybeans, Anne Boleyn and bubblewrap but still manages to speak loudly about the people who wrote it and where they are in life. Because, let's be realistic here, if I were to equate DA to an album it's heading to McFly territory rather than Automatic For The People. And, y'know what, I'm happy with that. I love Motion in the Ocean for some of the same reasons that I love PYFB's These Streets and The Holloway's So This Is Great Britain - they stand as wonderful albums about idiosyncratic events that strike me as being overwhelmingly honest. Because what is life like when you are in your late teens? It's a flipping McFly album, that's what it is. Final Straw, Urban Hymns and Hot Fuss must wait.

All in all I heart McFly rather a lot. Particularly Harry McFly for reasons - if I'm honest - which aren't primarily musical. If I were 12 years old I suspect it would have been his face plastered on my bedroom wall. I'm not quite sure who was the most popular with the tweenies in the conference hall, plus finding out might have meant encountering the possibility that some of them were aware there was more in life than getting to hold McFly boy's hand. And I was disturbed enough about the Dirty Dancing thing (and indeed about having seen Lil' Chris. I am choosing not to blog about this in the hope that I can one day convince myself that it didn't happen). I didn't need any more.

What struck me about the gig itself - other than how wildly inappropriate large parts of McFly's back catalogue are for ten year olds - was just how underrated McFly are as a live act. Because, damnit, they rock. They're funny [especially Harry McFly it must be said given that he broke his drum stick and everything]. They have really cool lighting and fancy guitars. And they can sing. If there was little that could match getting to sing "oooh, oooh, oooh, oooh so wouldn't you like to come with me?"** then I was honestly - and unexpectedly - moved by 'Bubblewrap'. A little piece of magic. Which is all I ever ask for. I did, however, get very very girly and start making heart signs at Harry and informing everyone around me (primarily six year old boys with gelled hair) that I loved him. This is allowed though. I've yelled 'I love you' in much more embarrassing venues if the truth be told***.

If more proof of my McFly love were needed I parted with a whole eighteen pounds for a t-shirt. And then wore it round Bloomsbury on Monday morning. Some things, after all, don't change.

*I love you really, Griffin.

**And before anyone gets snobby about the 'ooohs' it was only when I saw The Fratellis live that I realised that two thirds of their album is made up of 'ooohs'. And they won a Brit and everything.

***York Barbican seems to spring to mind.