Saturday, March 31, 2007

Highs and lows

I didn't become a journalist because I thought it would be glam. In fact, what I most wanted to do when I decided to sign my life away to a barely above minimum wage existence, was go and risk my life reporting on wars and such like. I suspect that's unlikely to happen now, but you never know.

Anyway, in the course of my last job, I think there was only one slightly showbiz encounter, which was when I met and interviewed Atomic Kitten. I also interviewed various mid-league horse-racing celebrities, but seeing as I didn't know who most of them were, it doesn't really count.

My new job has much more showbiz potential. Without even talking about the whole super-cool gig reviewing stuff (note to self - must write that review before I go out tonight), I've already interviewed a Hollywood actor and a really rather famous children's author. And today, I'm waiting for a call from a rather well-known chef.

Thing is, I suspect he's only going to call me once. And I have been instructed to eek as much information out of him as possible - even though he's not actually from Oxford and the only reason I'm speaking to him is because his niece, who does live in Oxford, is running the marathon and he will be cheering her on and contributing to the Oxford charity she's running for. So I need to be on the ball. But I need to go and have a shower. And do various other things. And I was going to have another attempt at getting a wicked cool rock chick top. What if he calls then? Very difficult. Still not sure what I'm going to ask him. Maybe some advice on what I should cook for dinner tonight?

Anyway, that should be at least a bit cool. Less cool, having to be at work at 8am this morning and working like a blue-arsed fly because for some reason all the computer systems were going down at noon. And just to reassure you I'm not getting too big for my boots, I spent an hour hanging around outside a homeless shelter the other day. And this afternoon I went on a much-hyped protest - to which approximately 12 people turned up to. Thrilling stuff.

More on that story later.

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Monday, March 26, 2007


When you move to a new place and start a new job, to a certain extent you can be someone completely different, reinvent yourself. Provided, of course, that you don't go too far from the mark because that's impossible to keep up.

At the moment, I'm trying to recreate myself as a super-cool music journalist.

This wasn't my initial intention, oh no. It all started when I innocently asked Curtains, who has power in the world of our music section, if he might possibly be able to get me into a Just Jack concert, cos I quite fancied that song that was in the charts but it was all sold out. I was a little taken aback when afterwards he asked me to write a few words for the Guide, but we managed to forget about that one.

But less than a week later, there was another gig on I wanted to see, so I very nicely asked if it might be possible to do that one too. And Curtains happily obliged - only this time I had to write a bit about it.

Thing is, I've never done a music review before. Seeing as I own both a Lighthouse Family cd and a Celine Dion album, I feel singularly unqualified to pass off my opinions as worth listening to. Yes, I love music, and some of it might even be cool in some people's views, but would anyone really care what I thought?

Anyway, I managed to bash out a few words, but this has led to other things. Like I was supposed to go and review Travis last week but that fell through so I ended up reviewing John Cale of Velvet Underground fame. Tip - never go and see this man. I felt like a fraud, I had to look up all this stuff so I sounded like I knew what I was talking about.

Anyway, if I'm going to be doing all these gigs - and I have a sneaking feeling Curtains is going to continue quietly signing me up to blander, more commercial gigs that he's not really interested in doing - I feel I need to work on my rock chick, wicked-cool music hack image. So I went shopping and looked at some funky rock chick t-shirts.

Tried one on. But it was backless. Bit much. And remember, Curtains is the one who told me I looked like I was on the game. So no funky new look. And tonight, watching the amazing Tiny Dancers (find them on myspace, I guarantee they will make you smile), I was dithering about because I was too nervous to go and get the set list from the sound guy. I got it in the end, of course. Maybe I need to do what Curtains does and have lots of dutch courage first. But I'm not sure I would be able to remember anything - let alone write authoritatively, incisively and concisively about the gig.

Hmmm. This reinvention thing may be harder than initially thought. I've got to say though, I'm loving being on the guest-list for gigs and not having to queue. That I could get used to.

More on that story later.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

How to spend a lazy Sunday

There's this thing my work sponsors called the OX5 run. It involves lots of crazy people running five miles around Blenheim Palace while grinning inanely and raising money for charity. All very worthy, obviously. Anyway, because we sponsor it, lots of people from my work were running it - they even asked me, which shows how much they know about me. Obviously I politely declined. But seeing as many of my colleagues, and also my best friend who has an unfortunate tendency to throw up after extreme physical exertion, were going to be making fools of themselves on the course, and Jason Donovan was going to be there, I debated going along to laugh and point.

However, at the same time, there was a wedding fair (also, as it happens, sponsored by my work - where do they find all the money?) and it occurred to me that at some point I ought to make at least one plan for the wedding.

As it turned out, the decision ended up being made for me as I neglected to pay any attention to the fact that the clocks were going forward and got up far too late to do OX5. Probably best.

So, the wedding fair. I mostly went in the hope of getting some awesome freebies (one can hope) but I've got to say, I felt like a bit of a fraud. At every single stand, they asked me my wedding date, if I had a location, or numbers of guests. Hmmmm. I really need to make some decisions. I knew when I went to the fair that I had no intention of using any of the services (way out of my price range) but I thought it might give me some ideas (not to mention free sweeties). When the cheesy disco man was telling me about how we could present him with a list so we knew every song they played, I contemplated telling him my fiance was really into Norwegian death metal. Wish I had, really.

But despite this slightly depressing experience, I ended up with a couple of ideas. After the fair, my friend E, who had accompanied me, told me about this little RC church she had seen while jogging and we decided to go check it out. And it's really sweet, good location, Oxford but not too Oxford. And it has a garden. There is also a church hall I keep seeing that I really like the look of as a possible reception venue (I told you the £3.50 budget, right?) so we went to look at that as well, and it has definite potential along with a sign on the door saying it can be hired and has kitchens etc. Maybe now is the time to approach the parents and find out exactly what my budget is going to be....

More on that story later.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

An unexpected turn of events

I decided it was about time to get my hair sorted this week. So on Tuesday I bought me some lovely red hair dye and dyed the hair, all good. Although no-one at work noticed.

Then, on advice from a colleague, I booked in an appointment for this afternoon to get my hair cut. I went in, told the woman what I wanted done, got my hair shampooed, still all good. So Michelle sat me down and started combing through my hair. I'd been out last night, and was thinking how nice it was to get a bit of pampering. Michelle was fairly quiet, which I was reasonably pleased about as I've never been good at that hair salon small talk.

Then she asked me if I worked with children. I was intrigued - once a hairdresser ascertained that I did a lot of swimming because there was chlorine damage in my hair - what was it about me that suggested, incorrectly I worked with kids?

Unfortunately, there's only one hair-related thing that suggests children - nits.

She was silent for a while, then told me discreetly I had headlice.

What? How on earth did I get headlice? I just sat there, not quite sure how to take this news. Speculating how I caught the bloody things. I wasn't even itchy. Fortunately, it turned out I didn't have any actual lice, just dead eggs. Urrggh.

Michelle very politely told me that there were very strict rules which meant she couldn't blow dry my hair as she would have to use the brushes, and she shouldn't really cut it but she was going to anyway.

So now I've got a slightly tingly scalp after vigorously Full Marks-ing it - but no signs of any leftover eggs. It's just so unbelievably gross. It also means that I've ended up washing my hair a rather illogical three times today (it stank of fags from last night so I washed it quickly before I went to the hairdressers). On the plus side, the haircut looks quite nice.

I suspect I may have picked it up after borrowing someone's hat last week (someone with long hair and a girlfriend who has dreadlocks). I know it doesn't make me dirty or anything but it still kind of freaks me out.

Oh well. Have washed all my cushion covers and bedding now. And am reluctant to put on any of my many hats.

More on that story later.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

If you lie it will make your nose grow

So, hypothetically speaking. If you were a 12-year-old girl and you had told your parents a little white lie to cover up for something you shouldn't have been doing, at what point would you fess up?

At the point where you're fibbing to the doctors? When your parents decided to complain to the council about the accident they caused? When they contact the local newspaper because they are so concerned about this hazard you have uncovered? When the newspaper photographer comes to take a picture of your injuries "at the scene of the crime"? When you actually come on the phone and talk to a reporter about how much it hurt and how dangerous you think it is?

Or would you instead wait until your brother hears the truth through the grapevine, then admit you were telling porkies all along? An hour before the paper goes to print.


I hate liars. And, at the moment, 12-year-old girls.

Anyway, I have the broadband. Despite initial concerns from HF, ever the pessimist, it all seems to be going well - that said someone may have stolen all our bandwidth in a cunning wireless fashion, and also robbed our identities and committed crimes in our name. Well, probably not all of the above. So I am going to endeavour to BE A BETTER BLOGGER - starting with some catch-up, and maybe even some commenting.

In the meantime, I had an absolutely ridiculous weekend involving some kind of surreal party/club night in an old bingo hall which included bicycle jousting. Then I was supposed to go to a Travis gig and write a review but tickets didn't turn up so I ended up going to see John Cale play. I do not recommend that you do the same. As a result of the above, I seem to be developing a shocker of a sore throat.

More on that story later.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Shoe heaven

I went on a bit of a shoe blitz this weekend. There was a good reason. I needed some smart, but comfy black shoes which I could wear while cycling to work. And also, I like shoes.

I bought two pairs, one which was just impossible not to buy - we're talking ballet pump style flats, which sparkled alternatively ruby red, gold or purple depending where the light was coming from. I'm still asking myself how I managed without them before.

I tried on a number of flat back numbers before deciding which ones to go for. They are black, with lovely rounded toes, canvas upper with a funky black rubber bit at the front for protection. They also have a slightly weird bondage strap around the ankle, which is okay because you can't see them under my trousers and they are also quite handy for stopping my trouser legs getting caught up in my bike chain.

I was looking at them, admiring the rounded tip and thinking they looked almost familiar.

Then I remembered.

They are almost identical to the black plimsolls I was forced to wear for PE at school. They even have a sort of beige, non-marking sole.

Sometimes my fashion choices just astound me.

It's been a weird old week. I arrived late for the work for the first time (20 minutes) after deciding I couldn't be bothered to cycle so I would drive. It took me 50 minutes to travel about four miles. It's not fricking London, it shouldn't take that long! Also, the people who I have befriended are being shipped out to various places (one has the dubious pleasure of taking over a district office, another is leaving for a new job) and after starting to establish the principle of taking lunch breaks, I think I might be scared into just sitting there again.

And also the week started with one of my sort-of bosses telling me I looked like I was on the game - and then trying to make it all better by saying it was a compliment.

This wasn't at work or anything and there obviously is more of a story to it than that, but I think that's all you need to know for now. I wasn't wearing crotchless panties or white stilettos, in any case. I feel this sort of boss of mine (who mostly works in an office 15 miles away and is only in charge of me about twice a month) will definitely yield more material for the blog, let's call him Curtains for now.

More on that story later.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

List time

Okay, so it's another week since my last post. Poor form. But the good news is, I have now ordered broadband so hopefully when it gets set up I will be all about the blogging. We'll see.

Anyway, for a while I've been thinking about my new home Oxford, so I thought I would share with you a few thoughts.

Things I am loving about Oxford and my new job
*Cycling downhill
*Cycling past stationary traffic and buses
*Following cyclists carrying large musical instruments on their backs
*Getting into gigs for free
*Actually getting praise at work
*Dress down Fridays
*Owls in shopping centres
*The cool asian man in the shop round the corner from my house
*Vegetables on sale on the Cowley Road which I don't even know what they are
*However rough/peculiar I look, there's someone much, much weirder just round the corner.

Things I am not loving
*Cycling uphill
*Cycling into the wind
*Almost being squashed by buses when they pull out without checking for bikes
*Always looking just a touch dishevelled at work after half an hour's cycle ride to get there
*Receiving work calls on Sunday afternoons/half an hour before I get to work
*The River Thames towpath (don't even go there, I'm not talking about it ANYMORE)
*Being about five or more years older than the average age of people in gigs/clubs/shops/the street
*Large numbers of homeless people on the streets
*Bloody hell, it's not cheap here.

Right, signing off for today. I hope to be a bit more regular but we'll have to see. I now have to join the library, blow up my exercise ball (using a pump rather than explosive device), visit the bike shop round the corner to stop it squeaking all the time and probably, have a shower.

More on that story later.

Friday, March 02, 2007

I'm still here

Honest, I am.

Despite promising to be better at the blogging, I have been just as lax. HF and I moved into our new house last weekend and I have been working late shifts all this week. That's my main excuse for not blogging and I have actually had lots of thoughts about things I would like to blog about - just no time. Also, we are currently working with pay per minute dial-up which is proving to be VERY slow and to be honest, I don't really have the patience.

However, I have now I think sorted out all the various things I wanted to and am quite snugly ensconced in our new home and t'internet seems to be working, roughly speaking, so here I am.

I could post about an amazing acoustic gig I went to in an ancient concert hall in Oxford (look up Danny George Wilson and The Epstein on myspace). Or more amusing trivia about starting a new job. Or about being reunited with my little moggie after a month apart when she was looked after by my sister (during which time she apparently pooed on the carpet twice, and bit and scratched the children). Or about how a couple of seemingly innocuous encounters have really put me off drinking to excess.

But instead, I'm going to blow my own trumpet.

Back in October, I posted about how a short story I had written was going to be published in a book. Well, it's out now! I went out bookshopping with my mum yesterday and there it was, proudly displayed alongside the other World Book Day books in WHSmiths and Waterstones (couldn't find it in Borders, the uncultured yobs). HF keeps telling me I am not allowed to call it "my book" as I only wrote one of 16 of the stories therein. But I don't care, it's there for all to see with my name on the contents page and everything! And my mum bought a copy so I know there's been at least one sale...

HF also keeps telling me that it's all very well getting one story published, I have to write lots more. So this is what I'm going to do. I know I've said this many times before, but seeing the book on the shelf (it's not really as big a deal as it sounds, the story is only about five or six pages long and I only made the princely sum of £50 from its publication) has given me a real buzz. You might think that as I seem completely incapable of blogging on a regular basis, it's unlikely it will happen. So I think my challenge for this year has to be to set myself specific writing targets. I also picked up a leaflet for a creative writing course at the Oxford University. It will probably be prohibitively expensive, but if it's not, I think this would be a really good way of pushing me to write on a regular basis. It can be difficult if you sit in front of a computer and write all day at work to go home and start writing more. But when I get down to it, I absolutely love it.

Right, now I'm going to try and catch up with everyone. This could take some time...

More on that story later.

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