Monday, June 30, 2008

There's An Analogy In Here Somewhere I Think.

There's An Analogy In Here Somewhere I Think

You know when you've waited a while for something?

Run Doctor, run!

And you think, just in that moment, when [The Mighty] Snow Patrol are playing in the jukebox in your head, and you're crying, proper, tears streaming down face crying, noises starting to escape because, you believe, that it is - finally - going to happen.

I can almost hear [The Mighty] Snow Patrol playing


Then, when it is almost within your grasp, a freakin' Dalek comes out and exterminates the hero.

[insert high pitched scream]


Well, maybe the Dalek isn't an every day occurence but I'm sure that you know what I mean. And, boy, did I dislike that Dalek.

Regeneration. Apparently.

RTD - Until the twist is revealed, I'm going to pretend that didn't happen, right?

Friday, June 27, 2008

How To: Charm Me

How To: Charm Me

Christmas Cava. In June.

Surprise me at work with a celebratory bottle of Cava. Covered in Christmas wrapping paper. With a purple ribbon. In June.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Even Though I Am Suffering Henman Withdrawal Symptoms

Even Though I Am Suffering Henman Withdrawal Symptoms

As, once again, I have found myself Wimbledon-ing at work* I have become enraptured with the BBC website coverage. Live Blogging! Clever Witticisms! Not quite blow by blow accounts! It's (almost) better than watching the actual matches**. And certainly Sue Barker never compared Andy Murray to Alexander Fleming.

How much would I love to be paid to make mildly sarcastic comments about tennis players for a worldwide audience? Quite a lot.

Mr & Mrs BBC - next year you know where I am.

*As opposed to the end of next week when I will be non-Wimbledon-ing whilst in Norway. Considering I booked the holiday my timing officially sucks.

**Let me kid myself, please.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

When we did arrive at the breakfast I made up for the trauma by eating my body weight in pain au chocolat

When we did arrive at the breakfast I made up for the trauma by eating my body weight in pain au chocolat.

"I heard you got lost" Bar Boy says, leaning on the desk.

I wonder if he means metaphorically or literally. Rather than saying this, however, I settle for repetition. "Lost?"

"That you wandered off and no one could find you".

I now know what he is talking about. Saturday morning, after a night spent sleeping in a tent inside a tent. When I was only slightly lost and certainly had not wandered off.

"I didn't wander off!" I hope the level of my indignation shows through.

"We were the last car in a convoy going back for breakfast, us and the car in front got detached and, temporarily" - I emphasise the word - "temporarily we couldn't find our destination".

I do not need to say this is hardly our fault, Olney may not exactly be the biggest place in England but it is big enough to misplace a convoy after four hours sleep. My downfall was possibly in the mobile phone battery dying/ lack of signal fandango which followed the failure of the convoy. Without going into too much detail the upshot was that Lovely Hostess had to phone up the WYP and ask for my mobile number. Doing this necessitated a brief rundown of what was going on in Olney because, obviously, we don't just give out phone numbers what with all the crazy non-stalkers out there (and, hey, I should know). Somehow the explanation and Chinese whisper system which has followed seems to have had it that I'd disappeared in a strange village for no clear reason. That it has been so readily believed does push me to question what kind of impression I am giving out.

Bar Boy raises his hands. Maybe I have been a little too emphatic.

"So, I wasn't really lost". I say it as evenly as I can manage, given that there were other people in the car and none of them are being subjected to such rumour.

"Right". I sense that this is one of those times where Bar Boy thinks it best simply to agree.

"But everyone here thinks I just wandered off?" I utter the words hoping to be contradicted.

It doesn't come, Bar Boy instead shrugging his shoulders.

"Brilliant".

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Should You Be Interested, The Itching Has Not Yet Abated

Should You Be Interested, The Itching Has Not Yet Abated
We are in the midst of an enforced tidy-up because otherwise all the files and papers will either fall down, suffocating us in the process or finish the job they have started and take over the world. The tidy-up is made somewhat more interesting by the fact I am in the midst of having a minor allergic reaction to an as yet unspecified substance. It may be some sort of mutant dust allergy or, more mundanely, something in the lasagna I ate a couple of hours earlier. Regardless, my arms are going red and blotchy and, oh my, do I want to itch.

I'm balancing a couple of files when -

"There's a mouse!"

I freeze for a second, before I lose all control and my head explodes over the back wall.

"A MOUSE?!"

It is as calm as I can muster and in that respect, the very antithesis of calm. It is the kind of over-reaction which would get me a guest spot on Big Brother.

"Yes, in the corner".

I do not understand why there is not more panic. There is a mouse. Probably a dead mouse. And I cannot work out if dead is better than alive. Because, great it's not moving and is therefore not going to climb on me, but, urrggh, it's dead and decaying and everything that involves. Either way - it's a mouse.

"You're joking, right?"

This has to be the reason. My mouse-freak out is now public knowledge. This is what happens when you have a blog and stop being indiscreet about actors and start being indiscreet about yourself. Public mockery.

"No, look -"

I do not want to look. This would not be a good idea if only for the fact that I am the first aider and would not be able to treat myself when my head exploded -

I see the mouse. It is a sort of off-white, average size, with a rather long tail.

It also has 'Evesham' branded on its front.

"Oh..." I say. "You meant a mouse..."

"What else did you think I meant?"

I decide not to elaborate.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The First Tent Blog Of The Year

The First Tent Blog Of The Year
It soon emerges that the instructions are not particularly instructive.

In front of us, in a state of partial construction, lies the (never before used) four-man tent which we are trying to erect in the middle of a marquee. A tent within a tent if you will. This may seem like something of an odd idea but the reasoning is threefold:

1. The marquee has no floor. Even with my Cath Kidston Self Inflating Mat sleeping directly on grass is not going to be pleasant.

2. The marquee is huge, with an open doorway. I do not deal well with being cold.

3. It appeals to my notions of comedy situations.

I have therefore declared the tent to have been a very good idea, even if I am helping to construct in whilst wearing a sparkly blue dress and high heels.

A good idea, that is, if we manage to get it past the current stage.

"Having trouble getting it up?" says Pint Guy wandering over to where I am stood, clearly keen to mine the situation for terrible double entendre.

"It would seem so".

"I'm going camping this week - to Camber Sands" Pint Guy helpfully informs.

"Right" I reply not exactly sure either where Camber Sands is or how this is going to magically erect the tent.

Five minutes pass. Pint Guy drinks more of his pint without offering any concrete advice. None of us seem able to work out what exactly we're supposed to connect the poles to. The tent remains, tantalisingly close to completion, on the floor.

Finally, the Carpark Guys* approach.

"Need some help?" Carpark Guy One asks.

I wonder if there has ever been a more beautiful sentence than that one. It is almost enough to make me declare undying love.

"Yes!"

Within seconds Carpark Guys have worked out where the poles are supposed to connect and have raised the tent. If it were not the early hours of the morning and the bar was still open I would buy them a pint. There are barrels of beer in the corner of the marquee for the party the following evening, they might prove a possible offering if I could actually lift one. Instead we settle for thanks as they return to construting a den out of hay bales at one side of the marquee.

Once we have finished hanging the inner tent and I have settled the Cath Kidston Self Inflating Mat to, erm, self inflate I go to brush my teeth. When I arrive back, I discover there is a plan:

"We're all going to go camping!"

Buoyed by the vodka and the dancing and the fact that we have a fully erected tent there is obviously only one answer I can give.

"Count me in!".

*So called not because they work in the carpark but because, twenty minutes or so earlier, this is where I had met them. As you do.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but round a pole.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but round a pole.

"You were thinking about dancing round the pole, weren't you?"

I cannot lie. Cat has clocked my half-intention.

"Well, I was thinking that I wanted to dance - and there seems to be the perfect place".

There is the raised area directly behind the booth in which we are seated which, along with a table and some chairs, also has its own pole. A couple of years ago when the venue went by the name of Too2Much we saw a six foot drag queen pole dance on there. It was a little mind boggling to say the least.

And now, fueled with euphoria and a couple of Bellinis, it would appear that it is our turn.

I hear the opening to the only song by The Rembrandts which anyone in Britain ever knows. It is more than enough encouragement.

"Come on!" I say as I begin to clamber up. Clamber would be the appropriate word as it is hardly delicate.

"It's okay, I've got big knickers on".

The hold-in-stop-you-digesting-you-food knickers in fact. I can't imagine that they are standard issue to pole dancers.

Cat and Val follow me up as I begin to push the chairs out of the way so we have both more room and easy access to the pole. Because, let's us face it, if there is a pole we might as well use it.

In a flash a boy dressed in black has appeared by the side of the stage. Rather than instructing us to get off and stop playing with the pole, however, he begins lifting the furniture out of the way.

We exchange looks.

"Now that is service!"

As PYFB begins to play we continue to dance. I do not think that Director Boy imagined this when he invited us to his party.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Because DA Still Adores Her

Because DA Still Adores Her

Because it would, obviously, be wrong to let it pass:


Just look at the shoes!

That would be from the photo call for The Edge of Reason the afternoon before the Premiere. It shows rather a lot of why I heart Sienna Boho-Princess. The ironic glasses! The dress that shouldn't work but does! Shoes that might break an ankle! The fact she looks like, hey, being up in a castle in Edinburgh and having a new film out may actually be quite fun! Also it's one of the few shots from the shoot which doesn't make it look like Keira Knightley is in danger of snapping in half at a sudden gust of wind. It's almost enough to make me want to parcel up meringues and send them to her.

Fast forward a few hours:

There is a lot to be said for a good hat.

The hat! The clutch! The dress/top/whatever! The fact that this is still fun and, I imagine, there will be champagne waiting to be downed!

Ah, Sienna Boho-Princess it is good to have you back on the red carpet.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Epilogue

Epilogue

I pick my way through the late Saturday afternoon shoppers crawling around the centre of Leeds, none of whom seem to sense that some - those of us who have just worked a full day and need to be home in time for Doctor Who - might want to get there quicker than at the pace of a tortoise. As I head towards Albion Street, twisting between a pushchair and a man carrying an unnecessary amount of bags, over the chatter I hear a solitary voice.

"Tell me your secrets and ask me your questions"

I wonder if it will be Cute Busker. Cute Busker appeared last year and fell into my favour whilst standing outside Harvey Nichols singing 'Good Riddance'. Whilst being cute. I actually put money in his guitar case. Twice. Suddenly, venturing into Leeds on a Saturday may not entirely have been a mistake.

I peek around the two girls in front of me and am immediately disappointed. It is not Cute Busker. It is Blonde Busker. And, as a rule, blondes have never been my thing.

"Nobody said it was easy - "

I realise as I get closer to Blonde Busker that there is a group of four teenage girls just to his left who seem to have their arms around each other. A second later I realise that they are swaying in time to the music.

"Take me back to the start".

They are younger than I first thought, their limbs displaying the kind of fragility that gets lost somewhere in your mid-teens. One of them seems to have made the rather odd style choice of wearing her black bra on top of her white t-shirt. I do not know whether to be horrified or bewildered. I settle for somewhere in between, wondering in the process if she is going to whip it off towards the end of the song and throw it at Blonde Busker. I would have to applaud her if only for the irony.

"Questions of science, science and progress".

Blonde Busker, undoubtedly surprised by the turn of events at 4.00pm on a Saturday, is playing to the girls, inclining his head in their direction, addressing his - or rather Chris Martin's - words to them.

The possibility that they are drunk occurs. I banish it, unwilling to tarnish the scene in front of me.

And then, I hear them, out of tune, voices raised, singing.

"So tell me you love me, come back and haunt me".

I pass directly behind the group, they are almost shouting, their vocal chords rasping for the notes. One thing is clear: it is an utterly terrible rendering of such a butterfly song.

Equally, it is also rather magical.

As my feet hit Albion Street their voices recede. Soon all I can hear is the vague noise of Blonde Busker's guitar, the song, unfinished to my ears, hangs in the air.

"I'm going back to the start".

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"And the four right chords can make you cry"

"And the four right chords can make you cry"

We sit round the table, one of many that have been colonised over the past three days, the empty glasses cluttering the available space.

There have been more arguments than normal amongst a group who do not know the backstory, effortlessly public sparring that at first amused its unintended audience but which is now causing the rolling of eyes and a slight discomfort, the rules not quite apparent to those watching.

"When I say contemporary music, I'm sure most of you have wider interests -"

"What he means -" I pause as the levels of amusement, intellectual indignation and alcohol fuelled frustration rise, "is that it is my taste in music which he is arguing against".

The head nods. "Yes". There's a pause. "For something to be sublime -"

I realise that I'm only half listening. Knowing this is not something that can be intellectually deconstructed, each of us subtly altering our position in some endless debate of ideas. I am arguing for something that goes beyond intellectual understanding, something rooted deeper than that in, I suspect, both of us. Maybe for once we are both arguing about something we properly believe in and not for who can score the most points with the tightest posturing.

Sublime is the word. It links me effortlessly back to my Romantic boys and their preoccupation with the sublime. The moment of transcendence which reveals something greater than you know.

For me sublime is 47 seconds into The Verve's 'Bittersweet Symphony'. It is the break in Gary Lightbody's voice in the final chorus of 'Chasing Cars'. It is the sheer effortless beauty of REM's 'Nightswimming'.

It was there in a kitchen in Oxford dancing to a recording of 'Mr Brightside', just as it was in the faceless lines of 'I've got soul but I'm not a soldier' chanted in the darkness of a mud splattered field. I saw it in a ballroom in Blackpool to the strains of 'Last Request', in a pub in York to 'I Have Lived' and a theatre in London to 'Cable Car [Over My Head]'.

Rufus Wainwright's voice has so much of it that he could sing a shopping list to me. David Gray owns it so completely that it makes him one of the greatest poets of the last twenty years. Adam Duritz aches with it so much that a throw away reference to a Counting Crows song can stop me in my tracks. Without it there would be no fuss about Amy Winehouse. It is because of it that I cannot get through a Damien Rice album without crying. And I do not even have to go that far, I could open up my mouth and simply say: Griffin.

'Elenor Rigby', 'Live Forever' and 'Like A Rolling Stone' have it as do, in their very different ways, 'Don't Dream It's Over', 'Fix You' and 'Sit Down'. 'Good Riddance' is an utterly perfect 2 minutes and 34 seconds of it.

And why should it not be elsewhere? In the sheer joy which is 'Dancing Queen' or 'Five Colours in her Hair' or 'Umbrella'? Should 'Buck Rogers' or 'Girl From Mars' or 'Best of You' not have it? If I cannot help but smile when I hear the opening bars of 'With or Without You' or 'Come Back To What You Know' or 'Common People' does it say more or less about me?

Without these songs, my music, memories wouldn't be quite as strong and I would be slightly less of a fully rounded human being.

Music is subjective, something that catches you on the hop, tangling you up when you least expect it. And whilst it is easy to criticise - the repetition, the unoriginality, the incessant drum beat - to dismiss everything, out of hand, is something else entirely.

But I cannot say all of this, any more than I can express tightly in language the reason why my music does this to me. The inarticulate reason why sometimes I need a voice and a guitar to guide me, to hold me or just to make me understand, as much as I need a poem or a novel or a play.

So this remains unsaid, impasse reached. We leave it at a draw.

"You're like an old married couple".

We both laugh, arguments put aside for some distant point in the future.

But, some hours later, unable to sleep, I write this. And then, months later after we have revisited the argument for at least the fourth time, I not only click publish I also open my email, ready for the very first time, to send the attachment.

Monday, June 16, 2008

When Coza Met: Petite

When Coza Met: Petite

[As I'm away in London Town for a few days - for Director Boy's Birthday Party, a little bit of theatre, dress hunting and, eek, an academic interview at Goldsmiths - and have now discovered that blogger will hold posts back until the time you want them published I'm using this opportunity to post some of the blogs that I've written but haven't gotten round to posting in the last few months. Clearly June is the month of the good blogger].

I am slightly early as I walk through the doors to the building I have walked past so many times but never really noticed before. This being a library, however, my normal tactic of ordering a vodka and diet coke would not be particularly effective. I'd probably better settle for browsing.

Gravitating towards the 'W' section, my eyes scan the multicoloured spines until I find the required name. For good or bad there are things I mark libraries by: the number of copies of Shakespeare they have, if they have any of the Romantic poets in their poetry section and, most importantly, their quota of Ginny Woolf. I do not expect anyone to actually be reading these copies of Woolf, there simply must be some there. It is the kind of attitude that I remember, during my work experience in a library over a decade ago, that the librarians hated. The people who would complain that the complete works of Dickens were not in the library. But, the librarians would utter, no one takes out the complete works of Dickens. The person making the complaint would frown like a particularly easy equation had been missed by a primary school pupil; that, they would say confidently, is not the point.

There's a fleeting moment of disappointment at York's offerings. Night and Day and The Years. The latter was the most commercially successful of Ginny's novels during her lifetime, the former one of the building blocks that led to Jacob's Room. Needless to say they are the most prosaic and least interesting of her novels by a good distance. There is little wonder that they are sitting on the shelf. I glance upwards, there is a moment of redemption, To the Lighthouse sits in the wrong place, nestled next to copies of Flush and Melymbrosia. If only for sheer obscurity York has passed the test.

As it is now somewhere near 6.00 o'clock and my confidence in the literary tastes of the inhabitants of York have been appeased I drift towards the room which is emblazoned on my small green ticket.

"Have a drink".

My hand lingers over the orange juice which reason tells me I should take. It is some time since lunch. After I have finished here I have two and a half hours of Chekhov to sit through. Excluding opera, which makes much more sense when you're moderately inebriated, tipsy is not a state I do at the theatre. As a rule, drunks should be kept to the stage.

My hand moves. I take a glass of white wine. It is times like this when I am forced to conclude that I have a willpower problem.

Away from glasses coloured with wine and the corresponding table with copies of the book which is the reason we are gathered in this room in the recesses of York library, there are rows of blue cushioned chairs. Glass in hand I settle in the second row, attempting to disentangle the various layers of clothing I have deemed vital to stepping out of the house. Around me there is a prolonged throng of chatter, two ladies in front of me are discussing when they used to be able to go to the theatre for a price not higher than a couple of shillings, a price that not even my discounted Chekhov ticket can match.

Eventually, when a lectern has been moved into place and the room has filled some more, it is time to begin. A woman in bright purple leggings comes to the front followed by a woman with the blonde hair and black framed spectacles that tell me that this is Petite.

It is decidedly odd seeing someone in the flesh whose life you have been reading vicariously for over three years. It is the knowing, and the not knowing. There are people I regularly drink with whose lives I know less about. Yet, until possibly six months ago, I didn't even know what Petite looked like, I didn't know her actual name and my acquaintance with her was purely from what she chose to construct within the lines of her blog. There's almost a disparity between the actual person and the words, a more developed version of what I felt sitting in a bar in Dundee surrounded by people who worked for Radio One.

Purple Leggings Lady details what is going to happen.

"And then we can have some wine" Petite breaks in with.

I laugh. I suspect I am going to like the real Petite.

After the reading, with its asides and gentle laughter and during which I'm pleased to discover that the book is not, as Petite succinctly puts, simply the blog between hardback covers, it is time for questions. Why France? Why blogging? What next?

It strikes me, as Petite utters the words "on my blog" how wonderful it is to hear someone say those words in such an environment and not half swallow or half apologise for them. I've caught myself backtracking, over explaining, a drunken conversation that culminated with the sentence "I've always thought that blogs were written by people who weren't good enough to be journalists". But that's not quite the truth. Because a blog is the reason that I am sitting in this room, the reason that the engaging woman at the front who writes so well and so honestly, who has on occasion made me stop and take a deep breath in, now has the book which sits on the table at the back. To borrow a word, democratic.

As Petite finishes a story about the loos at Kings Cross I place my book on the signing table. Given the last two book signings I've attended have resulted in Libby Purves giving me relationship advice and my outing Dean to John Barrowman I wonder what is to happen here.

"Corinne - that's almost a French name".

I beam. If anything can be said about the name I was given it is definitely that it is a talking point in these situations. "It is, just with English pronunciation".

After my copy is signed and I am about to go join Chekhov I feel the need to add something.

"I'm a long term blog reader - and, well, I'm really thrilled for you about all of this".

And I realise, in that instant, that I mean it entirely.

Friday, June 13, 2008

"But delirium passes"

"But delirium passes"
The message was to the point.

"I know this is short notice but Dublin in two weeks time?"

It quickly emerged that it wasn't just Dublin in two weeks time. It was Dublin for six hours in two weeks time. And, possibly the clincher, it was Dublin for free in two weeks time.

Now I like Dublin. The last time I went, in that particularly rock and roll New Year's eve in 2006, I mounted James Joyce. And got a balloon. Add to this the fact that I like free things and my answer was obvious.

"Well, I'm not working that day..."

***

12.55pm: Leeds Bradford Airport Security. "Does anyone have bottles in their hand luggage?" a man in uniform asks. I quickly realise I do. I also have an aerosol. The man rolls his eyes at me and I wonder what the probability is that I've inadvertently managed to leave at least one of every banned item in my handbag.

12.59pm: Surprisingly I pass through security without any more problems. Not everyone is so lucky. I stand and giggle. The giggling is not really appreciated.

1.03pm: We find the solitary pub in Departures. So does everyone else in the airport, including a hen party who have their names in cerise writing on their backs. I, not so silently, hope that we're on a different flight.

1.10pm: I have my second vodka of the day. It all seems very civilised.

1.25pm: It comes over the tannoy that our 1.50pm flight has been delayed and will not depart until 3.30pm. It is quickly calculated that, excluding transport to and from the airport, this will leave us with just over two hours in Dublin. It is decreed that another drink is necessary.

1.33pm: A copy of The Times is purchased and the crossword attempted.

1.35pm: One of the answers to the crossword is Mercutio! I find this rather exciting.

1.42pm: A man wearing a long yellow dress walks past our table. There is some confusion as to whether he is with the stag or hen party. Regardless, yellow is not his colour.

1.55pm: The novelty of the crossword and our inability to finish it is beginning to wear off. In a bid to work out "what happens when you break the law" the conversation turns to R Kelly's defence, though none of us are particularly sure if he actually has one.

2.00pm: Someone mentions Counting Crows. I go off into raptures. History Boy goes to the toilet in order to escape.

2.15pm: The possibility that we will arrive at Dublin airport and then have to leave immediately is raised. Another trip to the bar is agreed. It is all starting to feel less civilised.

2.30pm: We move on to one of the word puzzles in The Times instead.

2.45pm: Despite the fact that there are five of us contributing answers we only just scrape a 'good' score. This is mildly depressing.

2.55pm: There is an announcement about our flight. Sadly the airport has neglected to install an actual sound system, relying instead on a woman speaking through the inside of a cardboard toilet roll and thus we are none the wiser.

3.05pm: It's embarrassing passport photo time!

3.07pm: It's still embarrassing passport photo time! I'm still see-through in mine!

3.20pm: It is announced that our plane is boarding! There is something of an unseemly scramble from all concerned.

3.30pm: We're now walking to our plane. I sense there is the distinct possibility that we might have been better off just walking to Dublin.

3.34pm: Finally I am seated inside the plane. My degree of relief is quite high.

3.45pm: Still sitting in the plane.

3.50pm: Still sitting in the plane.

3.53pm: There is an announcement for a Mr Blah-Blah-Blah to contact one of the onboard crew. I have very bad thoughts indeed about Mr Blah-Blah-Blah.

4.00pm: The plane starts moving! The crew do their safety blurb and we discuss whether it would be more or less dangerous for HB to take his glasses off (thus making him almost blind) in the event of us having to evacuate using the slide.

4.05pm: I look to my left. "Are you counting the ten seconds we are most likely to die in?". There is a nod. I despair that it is too late to change seats.

4.12pm: Now that we're properly in the air this is all very pleasant. The crew come round with magazines for us.

4.15pm: The seat belt lights go off. There is a very unseemly rush for the toilets.

4.18pm: The seat belt lights go back on. Oh, how I love turbulence.

4.24pm: The turbulence is still, erm, turbuling. The trolley comes round, I decline alcohol.

4.34pm: There is a particularly strong stretch of turbulence. I give up all pretensions of trying to hold a civilised conversation about wanting to travel on the Trans Siberian Railway.

4.35pm: A crew member comes past asking if we have any rubbish. I ask instead for a sick bag.

4.39pm: "Does anyone else need a sickbag?" the crew member says loudly, waving around the offending items, and standing next to my seat. "No?" I sink slightly into my seat at the realisation that I have just been outed. This would not happen with BA.

4.40pm - 4.52pm: I'm not detailing this bit. Just assume that it wasn't pretty.

4.53pm: Crew member comes round offering scratch cards. I am slightly underwhelmed.

4.56pm: "Does it help if I do this?" Out of the periphery of my left eye I can see HB moving slightly from side to side. I swear.

5.00pm: We start our descent. I am rather pleased.

5.05pm: Finally we are in Dublin! We go through all the passport checks and I discover that being sick in a toilet with an automatic flush is not ideal.

5.10pm: There is almost-running involved as we surge to get a taxi. We get one and with much demonstration of arms and giddily high voices ask to be taken to Temple Bar.

5.11pm: "We've just over two hours and we want to experience Dublin properly - we want to get drunk!"

5.20pm: This is obviously a bad time to be attempting to get into the centre of Dublin. Clearly some people feel the need to leave work and cause traffic problems.

5.33pm: We get stuck in a narrow street as an articulated lorry attempts to turn round. I wonder if I have managed to stumble into a badly plotted farce.

5.37pm: We're still stuck.

5.42pm: Finally we achieve freedom.

5.44pm: "That pub doesn't look too bad!" I look in the direction indicated. There is an old man possibly about to be sick standing outside. We continue driving.

5.50pm: The driver is possibly beginning to sense our mounting panic. He suggests dropping us at the oldest pub in Dublin. This idea is immediately embraced - allowing us to believe at the very least we are going to get some history/ Dublin culture in this.

5.56pm: We arrive at Oldest Pub. Taxi Driver is unimpressed with how the door to his car is opened and quite possibly adds another five euros to the bill.

6.00pm: A pub! Which is not in an airport! The excitement is almost too much.

6.01pm: I order a soft drink and am roundly abused. I try and put all thoughts of the return journey out of my head and add a vodka to it.

6.03pm: "We've got to have the full Irish experience in less than two hours so there's no room for messing about. Are you two girls going to Irish dance?"

6.05pm: We find seats in the outdoor beer garden. I know it is in Dublin because there are shamrocks on the opposite wall.

6.06pm - 7.30pm: There is alcohol, there is much conversation that makes me laugh until I ache, there is nothing to suggest that we are in a country different to England other than the money we hand over at the bar and the ridiculous price of beer.

7.35pm: We're given instructions as to where to find a taxi which make it seem easy enough. No need to panic.

7.38pm: We cross a bridge over the River Liffey and, suddenly, standing over Joyce's Anna Livia Plurabelle, I properly feel that I'm in Dublin.

7.40pm: The directions seem a little optimistic as we end up at very busy road where all the taxis seem to have occupants.

7.44pm: We accidentally hail a bus. The driver looks bemused.

7.50pm: We find a taxi. And nearly die getting to it. But it does not matter as we pile in and say hello to "Mr Tony".

7.55pm: Mr Tony seems to be dealing well at having a group of drunken tourists in his taxi. He points out Bertie Ahern's pub and laughs at our jokes. Or at us. But at this stage it makes little difference.

8.15pm: We arrive at the airport and thank Mr Tony warmly. He doesn't add five euros to the bill, though he probably should have done.

8.16pm: (running to departures) "We've had a whole holiday in eight hours. All we need to do now is to fall out!"

8.20pm: Our flight is delayed indefinitely. We decide to find a bar.

8.21pm - 10.00pm: Repeat as 1.25pm to 3.20pm, only without a copy of the Times and with slightly worse co-ordination. Oh, and in Dublin airport instead of Leeds Bradford. Which is infinitely more glamorous if only for the fact that there are Oscar Wilde quotes on the wall.

10.05pm: We accidentally queue jump whilst boarding the plane but do nothing to rectify the situation. The only thing we're missing is those t-shirts with our names in cerise.

10.10pm: We may be bordering on hysteria as we take our seats. "This holiday has gone far too quickly, it seems like only hours ago we were on the plane coming here".

10.20pm: I look to my left. "Are you counting again?". There is a nod. At five the plane makes an odd noise. "Ah, this might be a quicker count than normal".

10.25pm: We discuss the fact that next time we might do something radical, like actually stay there for more than two hours.

10.35pm: HB and I have an argument about the fact that my motion sickness is not rational and thus fulfil the final part of the holiday requirement.

11.05pm: We arrive back in Leeds! I have not been sick! It is a moment of triumph.

12.00am: I arrive back home. I have been to Dublin and back. I have been sick and seen the Liffey and drunk not-so-cheap vodka. There is little else I could have asked from my day.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Postcript

Postscript

When I check my emails there is a message from Bourbon re: my flying a kite.

"Sadly as I just realised, we obviously didn't teach you very well, you pull right to go right, left to go left...get it right!".

It seems that the announcement of my prowess at kite flying may have been a bit premature. So should you have wound up here looking for instructions on flying a kite (maybe you too bought yours from the pound shop and are baffled with the lack of instructive material) please take heed. Otherwise your kite will end up in a broken heap on the sand as, nearby, small children laugh at you. And I wouldn't want you to blame me for that.

Trust me, I'm better on handbags.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Let's Go Fly A Kite

Let's Go Fly A Kite
It had been something of an offhand comment. "I should probably confess - I've never flown a kite", I had written. Along with 'I've never seen a James Bond film' it's one of my staples for 'I have never'.

The comment, however, was greeted withs some shock and soon my entire childhood was under scrutiny (what, exactly, had I done with my time when I wasn't flying kites? Creating stories about the fairies who lived at the bottom of my garden and making mud pies would probably have been the honest answer). It was decided that rather than being a case of serious child neglect (oh, how my parents would laugh) I am instead, simply and hopelessly, a child of a city. But, it was agreed, this needed to be fixed. I would fly a kite.

Which is kind of how I found myself, in a huddle around Bourbon’s pound shop kite, on Scarborough beach on the final bank holiday in May.

"Where are the instructions?" had been the somewhat naive question. It quickly became apparent that the pound shop is the pound shop for a very good reason and their ability to provide adequate and informative instructive material is not that reason.

Ten minutes later the kite was still in several pieces.

"How many WYP-ers does it take to fix a kite?" I pondered aloud as the current answer stood at six. Plus me, but I didn't really count as I was simply looking on and making comments about the pound shop at every available opportunity.

Eventually, after what almost amounted to a lot of blood, sweat and tears, the kite was fixed.

"What do I do?" I am, after all, resolutely rubbish at most things that require actual bodily co-ordination and, understandably, am not so keen to betray this to the group around me. They mock me enough about the McFly thing without adding anything else to the list.

"Have you ever ridden a horse?"

I am not sure that I understand entirely.

"Erm, no".

“Oh, well” Bourbon says “It's just a bit like riding a horse. If you want it to go left you pull on the right, if you want it to move right then pull on the left”.

"Ok". I try and sound more confident than I actually am, knowing as I do that such displays of agility are not exactly my strong point.

To aid the process Bourbon and Bar Boy demonstrate how a kite should be flown, largely through blaming the other person whenever it crashes to the ground. That bit at least appeals.

Eventually it is my turn.

"Ready?" Bourbon holds the kite.

I suppose I am as ready as I will ever be. "Yes".

There is a split second of nothing and then Bourbon launches the kite into the air. And, somehow, it stays there. I can barely cover my shock. I AM FLYING A KITE. On a beach. Aged 25 and a half.

Let's Go Fly A Kite

In that second, it is fair to say that life is good.

NB: The sand in underwear thing? Well, how else do you think that happened?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Volume

Volume

"Corinne, sweetheart..."

I turn my head round, aubergine still on fork, trying to gauge how much irony has been placed on the second word.

"Yes?"

There's a slight pause.

"I could hear you in the toilets".

My hands immediately cover my mouth, a futile and rather ineffective attempt to claim the words back. Words that have been heard in the gents toilet, a whole floor below where we are seated. Crikey, I need to adjust my volume.

I am, for once, shocked enough to not be able to grasp any more words from my brain. Now it seems I have decided to be quiet.

"But -" I eventually manage "I wasn't...I didn't...it was them".

The last recourse of the desperate. Shifting blame.

I gesture across the table where the real culprits sit, laughing at my predicament.

"Oh, I couldn't hear the words - just that it was your voice".

As relief washes over me I realise that I have almost betrayed myself. Almost.

"It has been noted before - " I begin as my mouth begins to function again. "I have a problem with volume control".

I smile, return to the aubergine and pretend that I haven't just revealed more than I ever intended to.

Monday, June 09, 2008

You're Not The Only One

You're Not The Only One
A little while ago I mentioned that a lovely lady called Peach was creating a book called 'You're Not The Only One' from submissions from British bloggers in aid of WarChild. And (beams a little with pride) it seems that my submission made the final cut! You see how excited I am about that - the sentence got an exclamation mark! And again! Undoubtedly this means that the rest of 2008 will be exclamation mark-less because I have used up my quota for the year in my last two blogs.

Obviously I didn't say at the time which entry I'd edited and submitted and I still won't (because that would be cheating) so you know that means you're going to have to buy the book to find out. Plus that way you'll get to read all the other undoubtedly wonderful submissions that will make me curse at how good their writing is.

You can buy the book for the sum of £12.99 through Lulu and, possibly more importantly than anything to do with my ego, six pounds will go to Warchild.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Ideas Above My Station

Ideas Above My Station

I was going to blog today about the sand in my underwear thing* but I haven't had the time to devote to such an important blog. So you're getting this instead.

In order for this blog to work you need to know two things. One: I like music (which you hopefully know), but more specifically I heart The Holloways. Two: (whispers) My surname, if you haven't gleaned from the days when I was a little less discrete about my identity on here, is also the name of a place in England (town? village? please don't push me on geography I'm generally quite sketchy).

So, given those two facts, imagine how thrilled I was when Nik sent me the following link.

My own festival! With The Holloways! Clearly I should have been sent a press release and free tickets and whatnot! Obviously I would attend if I could (for sheer comedy value) were it not for the fact that I have a pressing date with Latitude Festival and non-stalking Carol Ann Duffy and Martha Wainwright that weekend. Ah, well. Next year.

*See how I'm drawing this out; believe me it's worth it. Just let me say the day allowed me to cross off an 'I have never'. And possibly one you wouldn't expect. Unless you were there. In which case - don't spoil the fun.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Don't Even Get Me Started On The Deck Shoes

Don't Even Get Me Started On The Deck Shoes

Until last weekend there's been a wonderful not far from my office door organised by the lovely My I Like people. The concept is simple - one luggage tag, on one side you write something you like, on the other something you dislike. You don't even need a luggage tag to do it (though obviously that's part of the excitment)- you can submit online.

Clearly I spent some time thinking up what I should put on a tag (other than the obvious 'David Tennant' and 'David Cameron'. Hopefully you can guess on which side each of their names would go - if not it might be time that we had a talk). In the end I settled for something I thought up on the bus into work one afternoon last week.

Somehow I think it says quite a lot about me.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

"Well, I reply, I gave it all I had to give"

"Well, I reply, I gave it all I had to give"

It is almost midnight, but it is still curiously warm in the way that I always forget that Oxford is curiously warm. History Boy explained the reasoning behind it once - something about geographical positioning and possibly some kind of basin like situation - but I didn't attempt to understand.

I think I like midnight in Oxford more than I like midnight in any other place in the world. The city is more alive tonight that I would like - the calls of students, the regular sound of bicycles, voices distinct from their owners. If I had my way it would just be me, sat on a bench, looking down St Giles. But even with the interruptions this place is beautiful. So beautiful that it makes me ache a little.

Ever since I stepped off of the train this afternoon I have been re-tracing footsteps. It was Eliot who said it, scrawled in a first year essay:

"What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened”.

I sat for a while on Broad Street, washed by the late afternoon sun, wishing that I were a Poet so I might express exactly what it felt like.

"I'm feeling a little emotional" I had said at the end of the gig.

"Oh, I know" had been the reply "That's the tour over for us".

I nodded but that wasn't what I had meant at all.

This place has a lot to answer for. And not just my occasional arrogance and obsession with the boat race. It clouds my judgement this city.

There has been, I am aware, too much alcohol and travelling and too little sleep in the past five days for there to be rational thought.

I do not attempt to stop the tears as they arise. I am not even particularly sure what I am crying for. Some reason long since lost. Or a thousand different small ones, stitched together by my imagination.

Out of the corner of my eye I see a sudden movement. I turn to look and realise that there is a mouse sitting next to my foot.

Instantly my body propels itself from the bench, an involuntary noise emitting from my mouth.

The mouse, undoubtedly surprised by my undisguised horror, darts back into the darkness from where it came. The spell, I realise, has been broken.

By a mouse.

I cannot help it - I feel laughter, hot and sweet, gurgling in my throat. It is the kind of bathos of which Byron himself would have been proud.

As I start to move I feel this - whatever this is - dripping through my fingers. I am mining my experiences so they can appear as words scorching a blank screen, just as I have before and will again. Not compelling myself to feel exactly, but not stopping myself either, allowing the chain of association to continue - backwards, to this evening, to a casual moment days earlier, to a solitary email in the first bursts of spring, to last summer and this very street, to the days when I walked this route so much that I hardly noticed it, to a day where I noticed it so vividly that I thought my retina might burst, to the beginning when this was simply another unfamiliar street in an unfamiliar city.

By the time I reach George Street, there is nothing left within my grasp.

As I glance backwards, I feel oddly content.

I love this city.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Scenes From A Tour: "She told me she wants to be a scholar"

Scenes From A Tour: "We spent three hours straight, just talking, about Big Brother and the threat of war,
She told me she wants to be a scholar"


"It's lovely to be in Oxford"

There is a nano-second pause, I know what he is waiting for.

"Woooooooooooooo!" I shout, even though I am mere inches away and, at least this once, not even moderately drunken. What can I say? I am, by nature, a whooper. In my defence I went to a lot of boy band concerts in my youth.

"Oxford - one of the three great Universities".

My whoop now turns into an oooh. Obviously Oxford is not one of three. It is one of one.

"The other two being Cambridge -"

I boo. Again it is an immediate reaction, rather like an academic version of Pavlov's dogs.

"and Hull".

I laugh. Which probably speaks volumes about the truth in the sentence.

The banter turns into the first song, I find myself strangely un-selfconscious as I wave my arms in the air and sing with very little regard to pitch or tune.

Mid song, however, I make the mistake of glancing to my left. If there was ever something to sap the spirit out of me then this sight is it.

Technology. Any gig you attend there's a large chance that at some point you'll get a camera phone in your ear. I, on occasion, take (utterly terrible) photos. My friends take photos, occasionally record bits. I do not have a problem with that. Should you choose to record the whole thing - that is your choice (unless you are in my theatre in which case I will be confiscating your camera). But when the recording or the photo taking becomes the central preoccupation? And when you stand at the front of the crowd to do this so that this is all the performer sees?

Download with your fucking eyes and ears, I want to scream. Live this moment. It will never be like this again, you will never be able to capture it, however hard you try. This is the joy about live performance. Those moments between performer and audience that are simply experienced, not filtered through a lens. You might as well stay at home and watch YouTube if you want anything less. And, yes, you will forget and gigs will blur but the euphoria will never be entirely lost and you will never entirely forget what it was like in that second. This fractured, transitory magic will always remain my drug of choice.

I am angry. And sad. Intensely, painfully. The music seems to seep under my skin, feeding my emotions as I stand at the front, dancing, in the upstairs room of a pub in Jericho, my Jericho, in a City that is haunted, to the voice of a boy I have heard so many, many times before and which fires a thousand synapses into action.

I do the only thing I can. I close my eyes, dance harder and sing louder.

It is the only oblivion I can offer.

Scenes From A Tour: "This is the sound of innocence breaking"

Scenes From A Tour: "This is the sound of innocence breaking"

Cute Lead Singer makes his way over to where I am standing. I realise that we are hugging a second or so after he has reached me. He is a good hugger. I could get used to this.

"You were wonderful" he says in my ear.

I am shocked, a little off balance. For it remains I was simply doing what I would do at any other gig. What entire audiences do at any gig.

"No, you were wonderful" I say.

And I realise, because I have been here before, that if I have to look back and pick a moment then this will be it. I have begun to care.

Scenes From A Tour: "Life goes on and I can see the ground we're standing on"

Scenes From A Tour: "Life goes on and I can see the ground we're standing on"

I walk up the stairs, copy of Martin Crimp's The Country in one hand and a vodka and diet coke in the other (because, hey, I am in Oxford so faux-intellectual drunkenness is clearly the way to go). Just as I turn the corner, I almost collide with a boy wearing a t-shirt with dark stripes across it who is walking in the opposite direction.

"Hello" says Griffin.

"Hello" I say back, feeling only slightly sheepish about the fact that over the past few days he has not seen me once when I haven't been drinking vodka.

"So, you made it".

"Just about". For it was a just about, a decision that I wasn't even sure I was going to make as I got up this morning. After all, I was only going to one gig this tour. But the fact remains that I am susceptible to pressure from floppy haired boys who sing and offer me guestlist spaces.

"And" - a smirk plays on Griffin's mouth - "how are you feeling today?"

I wish I'd kept my sunglasses on indoors, if only for the fact that I could avoid looking at him directly at this point. Because, if my drunkenness in Manchester the night before wasn't enough of an embarrassment, then the fact that I am not remotely hungover probably is. I make a mental note to give my liver some respite.

"Okay, actually". I decide to take a different, though potentially as embarrassing, route. For it is a question which needs to be asked. "Was I horrendously annoying last night?".

"No". I'm surprised with the speed with which the answer comes. "It was - banter. And that's always good".

Later, when I have abandoned Crimp on a stool in a corner, I remember this moment and I am almost unable to conquer the sadness it arouses.

Scenes From A Tour: "Way up high or down low"

Scenes From A Tour: "Way up high or down low"
The pub, being a venue with flocked wallpaper and low hung chandeliers and without the smell of urine, is already busy when I enter. Eventually I manage to grab the only available seat round a small table tucked in a corner. I clock a couple of faces in the group next to me, clocked in that vague way of faint recognition from other gigs in other places but without the comforting certainty of names.

A few minutes later Band Member enters the pub. As he catches my eye he starts to move over to where I am sitting.

"Hello" says a man who is part of the group next to me.

"Hi" says Band Member "You all ok?"

The table nod as he moves to where I am sitting, giving me a hug in the process.

We talk for a couple of minutes before he leaves to drag in equipment. As he leaves the man who is sitting with his back opposite me moves his chair. I wonder at first if it is for comfort reasons before I realise that I have just been included in the circle. The timing causes a flicker of suspicion. It used to be something that amused me, until that is, the one night when we were followed down a street. It is odd how quickly non-stalking by-proxy does that to you. Though, I remind myself, that was another world away.

"Are you here to see [Griffin]?" the man asks.

There is a novelty to the question. I have become used to a sort of contemptuous notoriety.

"Yes". It probably sounds a bald reply, I am aware, but there is little else I can add to it.

"Do you go to lots of things?" the man continues.

"Some things". There are not so many things to go to after all and I drift in and out, usually dependent on whether or not I have to pay.

I let my words drift: "Once upon a time..."

Because he doesn't know, these people do not know. I want to tell him. About meeting Griffin for the first time in Boro when he was scared he hadn't lived up to our expectations. Of him telling us his video was at number one on the Box outside of Metro radio station in Newcastle. Of using the phrase "it's the whole package" on York radio. Of that incredible couple of weeks between the release of Bring It On and the album when, genuinely, it felt like anything might be possible. Of those horrid nightclubs where I laughed so much it hurt. Of nine radio stations in three days. I want him to know of Steve and Gav and what it felt like when Fox became the UK's Eurovision entry. I want him to know of Swindon, of seeing it reported in the press that morning that Griffin had been dropped by his record company, and then us coming together, dancing in a metal cage and knowing that whilst it wasn't our dream we had been privileged enough to come along for the ride.

Whilst I do not understand how anyone could possibly maintain the intensity that we had then - how unhealthy it might be to still occupy that spot - then it still feels that those who walk in our footsteps should know. Should maybe know why I felt compelled to be here and why, later that night, when I bump into someone who was there she says she had already discussed the fact that "Corinne has to be here" I know exactly what she was talking about, just as I did when Griffin assumed I'd be here.

I am, I realise, deeply proud of all we did. Crazy maybe. But then we always knew we were crazy.

Instead of saying this I simply smile at the man.

"So, do you know Oxford?" he asks.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Scene From A Tour: "It's Closing Time"

Scenes From A Tour: "It's closing time"

Val puts her hand into her bag.

"Glasses!" I exclaim. Though we were on a train to Manchester and I have sand in my shoes and, more worryingly, in my underwear*, I am prepared enough to have Pimms in a can with me.

"And I thought that I'd better bring these" Val pulls out two packets of crisps. She had made me promise that I wouldn't get too drunk before coming to Manchester. I have, I fear, failed entirely.

"Crisps!". It would appear that every sentence I utter has an exclamation mark at the end. It does not bode well.

When we arrive in Manchester it is to a pub which smells vaguely of urine and has graffiti covered toilets. It is safe to say that I do not look exactly part of the furniture. Other than for the fact that I am drunk, in which respect I am entirely at home.

The room for the gig, in the basement, is dark and atmospheric. It does not hide, however, that there are about twenty people here. I could hazard at least a guess at the identity of seventeen of them. I would also guess at the fact that everyone else is around the sober state of consciousness. All it serves is to make me feel more drunk.

When it is Griffin's turn to play we've formed something of a semi-circle around the stage. There being a distinct possibility that I might have someone's eye out with my flailing arm dancing it is somewhat lucky for all concerned that I am on the outer edge of one side.

A couple of songs in there has been very little in way of between song banter. As much as I am all about the music (and the slightly deranged dancing) I am a big fan of the between song banter.

"Are you not talking to us tonight?" I shout.

Griffin rolls his eyes. "I've used it all up".

A song later there is some talk of Griffin signing a poster.

"Surely they're worth more unsigned" explodes from my mouth.

Griffin catches my eye. "One minute she's dancing, the next she's heckling".

Gayle turns to me "You know the random drunk woman at the gig in York?"

I nod, suspecting that I know where this is going.

"Well, tonight that's you!".

Griffin starts singing about chips. It is all too bizarre.

"Now she's going!" Griffin says.

The truth is much more damning. I hold up the glass I have just rescued.

"Vodka".

It probably explains a lot.
*This is not as odd as it sounds. I had been on a beach for several hours. Of which I shall return to presently.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Scenes From A Tour: "We'll dance, dance like we did when water was wine"

Scenes From A Tour: "We'll dance, dance like we did when water was wine"

"I want to go to the front and dance" I say.

It is not so much that I am drunk (though I am a little bit) but more the fact that I am hyper. It is some time since there has been a Griffin gig attended by more than a couple of us and it would be a fair conclusion that we have all become a bit giddy. Not so giddy that I have been unable to first-aid Gayle's foot I would add, but giddy enough that I found Ox crisps, a pringle machine and an unreadable stamp on my hand utterly hilarious.

There is the general consensus that dancing is, quite literally, the way forward. We begin to snake our way to the front, it is not as difficult as such a mission, this late in the evening, normally is. But, I mentally correct myself, this is not a normal gig.

I find myself in the gap between the stage and the watching crowd. I turn round to see where everyone else is.

Clearly the band on stage have clocked what I am doing.

"Come and dance" urges Cute Lead Singer.

It is all the persuasion that we need. I begin to dance, dance how I would at any other gig, maybe how I would in the comfort of my own room.

"Come on up!" says Cute Lead Singer during the next song.

I clock immediately that Becky has had exactly the same thought as me. Cute Lead Singer had better watch his turn of phrase if he doesn't want us to storm the stage. Instead we rush up to the barrier where he is now standing, our limbs flailing in time to the music.

After we have danced and whooped some more the set comes to an end and Cute Lead Singer comes to talk to us.

"It was brilliant to see people dancing" he says, the enthusiasm radiating from his eyes. I adore him instantly. I sense that none of us are impervious to the love.

It is only later that we think to introduce ourselves.

"We're the Northern Division" Becky says. "That's all you need to remember".