Sunday, June 28, 2009

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson is dead.
He was only 50.
He was arguably the worlds most famous man and he changed the face of popular culture and music. His death was sudden, unexpected and only a fortnight away from starting the first of 50
( count them ) gigs at the O2 arena.
A few weeks ago, I predicted that Michael wouldn't fulfil his obligations to the O2. The most recent sightings revealed a frail man; alabaster skin, sunken eyes, destroyed nose. But more importantly was the empty, expressionless face, partly created by surgery, partly by unknown psychological hurts created a lifetime ago when a sweet faced little boy from Indiana was already being primed for superstardom whether he wanted it or not. Any chance of a normal childhood was dashed against the wall.
He was never found guilty of any of the claims levelled against him. But ever since he opted to pay Jordan Chandler 18 million dollars instead of stand up in a courtroom and defend himself, the way he was forced to do later with Gavin Arvizo, his career was over. And with it, the weight of public opinion pointed towards his guilt. It's a cliche, but also an eternal truth. Mud sticks.
And on Thursday evening, when the news broke on SKY, I remembered the Michael I loved in the 1980's. He was a very precitable idol. The most famous man in pop ! But I happily jumped on the Jackson bandwagon and listened to his music for hours and hours, day after happy day.
I saved for weeks so I could go out and buy everything Jackson related ( all on cassette not CD !) and can vividly remember walking into Woolworths ( another dead icon ) on Victoria Road West in Cleveleys with a stash of coins ready to hand over in exchange for BAD, Michael's newest record at the time when my adulation was at its height. I thought he was utterly gorgeous back then, despite the fact that the beautiful black man from the Thriller era had transformed into a much paler version with stretched caucasion features. My Mum, sisters and friends mocked my teenaged crush asking how I could fancy 'that weirdo', but I did. I loved his eccentricity, his damned untouchable starriness and those sexy as hell dance moves.
I adored Michael and spent hours on the phone to my friend Gavin
( who later became my husband !) boring him with the ever more flowery details of my irrepressible fixation.
A fortnight ago, I spent a couple of hours organising a memory box from my teens, which was crammed full of MJ memorabilia, including the huge BAD poster which adorned my bedroom wall for many months. These items had sat untouched in a box for years.
I cried when Michael died. I don't care if this is insincere, silly, misplaced or another example of so-called 'misery porn' a term the media uses to describe collective grief on an inordinately grand scale. I know my feelings were authentic, heartfelt and sincere. What makes me the saddest is that this man, who brightened my teenage years beyond measure, seemed so utterly heartbreakingly miserable. He lived in a sealed world, a lonely world, a judgmental world.
He never seemed easy with the global adulation which was the inevitable byproduct of his immense talent. He always had a haunted expression, a distant air about him. He was a wreck, in the end. I can't believe he died so young. I can't believe I never saw him in concert. I can't believe that his children will grow up without a Dad.
And I am angry at some sections of the popular press, who have decided that it's macabre and inappropriate to express sadness at the death of someone we have never met.
They can kiss my ass.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The sun is shining

I have a really good book and a really warm back garden and can't think of a better way to 'waste' an hour or two, later. We have a gardener coming tomorrow to prune the ceanothus and other large items I can't reach. And we refuse pointblank to purchase a chain saw. A power tool in my hands would be too great a risk. I'm accident prone. I managed to cut my hand last year whilst trying to open a can of wood stain, so I could treat the decking area. I regularly bump, cut, scrape or burn myself, so shudder to imagine what mayhem I could create with a chainsaw. And the puppy might circle into view at a crucial moment in the pruning process and find herself minus a tail, or worse.
Kate is the lovely and highly knowledgeable woman who does our garden twice a year. She is very reasonable, knows what she's talking about, and leaves the garden looking beautiful. I would upload a photo, if I wasn't the sort of low rent blogger who isn't quite sure how to. What is the use of a blog without pictures ? (to partially quote Lewis Carroll)
Speaking of Lewis Carroll, have you seen photos of the new Alice in Wonderland movie directed by Tim Burton ? Predictably enough, it stars Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter (if I was his wifey, I'd insist on a starring role too ) and the makeup is incredible. I love Tim Burton movies. He's eccentric bordering on crazy, but always pulls back from the brink of unfettered madness to produce classic movies which stand the test of time. Charlotte watched Edward Scissorhands for the first time last week and adored it. It's a good antidote to the formulaic drivel usually thrust upon kids, in the hope they wont notice, which is stupid because a) kids are clever; many kids are cleverer than many grown ups and b ) kids love to be scared

Thursday, June 18, 2009

the self indulgent post you can skip

I told a friend about my blog yesterday.
She was quite shocked at my enthusiasm to share private feelings and thoughts with all of Blogville. She is also shocked at social networking sites in general, finding them quite menacing and unnecessary. The thing is, we give as much as we are willing to share. Most bloggers leave out deeply personal reflections. Those are best saved for a handwritten tome stashed under the mattress. I'm just glad I didn't write a diary or a blog in my teens and early twenties. Oh, the self indulgent angst ridden twaddle that would have been !
At 36, I still ( on occasion ) have a propensity towards thin-skinned vulnerability.
I disguise it cleverly with lashings of strategically placed optimism and jovial good humour, the sort guaranteed to grate heavily on the nerves of those around me, from time to time. But like most people, I fall somewhere in the middle of lifes emotional barometer. I am neither Miss.Sunshine nor Miss.Grumpy. I know what's required of me and badger on in a mostly satisfied ( if not ecstatic) state of mind. I would love to be one of those naturally effervescent women, the kind who fizz even when the world around them has gone flat. But, I think I will always have the distant noise of self doubt in my ear. I can link it all the way back to childhood, when my Dad died. I realized then what a volatile world we live in, how circumstances can change dramatically and often in the most random way imaginable. The days of cast iron certainties were truly behind me and the future was a much more forbidding prospect.
I realized that I'd been living in a safe bubble. I envy the untroubled simplicity of children, and hope my girls can look back at a carefree youth, a golden childhood. It's what we all deserve.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Car Bills

Why do unexpectedly huge car bills always always arrive 24 hours after booking a holiday ?
It's been an expensive month. The fridge freezer died. We had to replace it. The ensuite saniflo is making weird noises so we have Mr.Saniflo coming tomorrow to `clean through the pipes thoroughly`
( rather him than me ) and we just booked a holiday to Spain. Holidays are optional I know, but we booked it before hearing Gavin's car needed a new clutch and starter motor. I knew it was going to be grim when man-at-garage asked me if I was sitting down. I was; in my car, which will never need a clutch because it's an automatic. I have a manual driving license but prefer to live in a world without gear changes, hill starts and handbrakes. I spent the afternoon boring my neighbour with all this, over several cups of coffee.
I am optimistic. July will be a month of sunshine and frugality.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

crying in unison

Charlotte was unhappy today.
She was given the part of a Celtic woman in the grand graduation production at school and she desperately wanted to be Boudica. Well actually, she just wanted the starring role, so if that meant playing Elvis/Mary/Dorothy/LukeSkywalker, she would have been chomping at the bit for it. (I don't even want to imagine what she would be like at stage school. The word Diva springs to mind.)
She doesn't want to be a `stupid celtic woman who says about three stupid words, humph `
and she cried hot tears all the long walk from home, distressing the chihuahua who kept veering dangerously away from the kerb. And then Rebecca fell over. When Rebecca falls over, even it's only a minor scrape which leaves no discernible mark, she wails as if someone has poked her in the eye with a blunt stick. She screamed so loudly a car actually pulled over and asked if we were OK.
I looked at the spot she was gesturing towards, expecting a six inch wound in urgent need of some surgical clips, but nothing. She wanted a `special squishy Mummy huggy` which she got, complete with an ice lolly from local shop. Ever feel emotionally manipulated ?

Friday, June 5, 2009


Charlotte has a friend over for a hastily- last- minute- arranged-sleepover
and as I type the girls ( Charlotte, Rebecca and Charlotte's friend Kathryn)
are lying on Charlotte's bed watching The Simpsons movie.
( which Charlotte has seen about 78 times but still roars with laughter every time)
And after a pretty grey, sludgy start to a dismal day, I feel OK.
More than OK. All is well in the world today.
The girls are happy and we ( the husband and myself ) are settling down to a delightfully vacuous evening of reality TV trash interjected with a cold beer or glass of something cold and 13%proof. I've been looking again at holiday options in Southern Spain.
I bloody love Spain.
I adore the food, the people, the climate, the wine, the beaches, the football and the passion.
I would live there, if I spoke fluent Espanol. ( I don't. I can speak pretty good French and conversational German but my Spanish is utter utter rubbish, something I intend to rectify and soon )

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wasting Time On the Interweb

It's a favourite hobby, shallow though that may be.
Yesterday I filled a virtual basket at net-a-porter with about 10k's worth of designer dresses I couldn't afford and had no intention of actually buying. ( you might be right, I might be weird )
It's very therapeutic. I ordered one of these :
A snip at £1400, don't you think ?
And these ( not to go with the same outfit, I hasten to add )
And obviously, handbags a plenty :
Then I emptied my virtual basket and drove to Matalan where I bought a black papaya t-shirt for £4. Stella McArtney wouldn't sell a black tee for less than a fiver, would she ? !

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Apprentice

The interviews tonight.
Job interviews which resemble no interview I've ever had....even the most capable candidates were royally shafted and publically humiliated by Sralan and Co. It was such a giant farce; clearly all of Sralan's hotshot buddies had been prepped with enough raw ammo to bring each candidate crumbling to their knees, for the sake of good telly. Behold the multimillionare business magnates who make shitloads of money by apparently being rude and scary and as appealing as a cup of cold sick, all at the same time. Oh please, give me a passport to the world of high powered global business. Not.
What the hell was James thinking with that comment on his CV about `spunking up the wall ?`
What the hell was Yasmina thinking with her half truths about her company turnover ?
Why was Kate wearing so much brown eye shadow ?
Why doesn't someone give Lorraine a tub of Pantene and a hairbrush ? ( actually, she looked lovely on You've been Fired; incredible what water, shampoo and professional makeup can do )
I am guiltily entertained by the Apprentice, whilst at the same time depressed by the possibility that being a highflyer in business might entail ruthless bitchery, backstabbing and unprofessionalism.
Kate was wrong about women in business. I've had various female bosses over the years and my best bosses were always female. I can't remember a female boss I didn't enjoy working with.
I worked for two wonderful female managers in Oxford. They were supportive, caring, diplomatic and extremely capable. Men are capable of partaking in salacious gossip. I hate gender stereotyping.

Who do I vote for ?

I always vote.
I don't think anyone has the right to criticise the government if they choose not to vote.
I vote because women died for that right.
Tomorrow, I still don't know who to vote for.
Labour are woeful, but the Tories are new Labour circa 1997.
I know it's not a general election, but it feels the same.
I was reading an article which stated that social networking and online blogging is silly, irrelevant and a waste of time. I hate intellectual snobbery. A well known British TV presenter ( oh, the irony!) declared yesterday that we are a nation of couch potatoes and that we need to spend our weekends in art galleries instead of watching TV, ( presumably he still wants us to watch his programme )
If I suggested the Saatchi gallery over a Hannah Montana double bill, I know what my girls would say.

working girl

So, I'm working in an office and loving it. It's really really good ( if a somewhat alien experience ) working in a non toxic atmosphere.
Everyone is really really nice and helpful and friendly.
Most of the time !
The phone rings, but people are encouraged to deal with each call properly.
Quality not Quantity.
It's nice to work in a place where I'm not being pressured every 5 minutes with deadlines or busily preparing an important presentation with 24 hours notice or dealing with an atmosphere of passive agressiveness or 12 hour days!
I've done plenty of work from home over the years, but it's fairly antisocial.
Which I don't mind mostly cos I like my own company, but when I start talking to myself, that's worrying ! Gavin keeps reassuring me that, actually, working in an office is extremely overrated.
But it feels important to have some structure and routine back to my daily life again.
So, welcome back routine. Welcome back chats around the coffee machine.
Welcome back conversations which don't exist around parenting subjects.
Welcome back feeling-like-useful-member-of-society once again,
I'm back !
Gavin's probably right. It is overrated. But I need to do it anyway.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Here Comes Summer

Summer, I love you.
I love the long hot perfumed days. On long hot holidays, the pool and/or beach offers some reprieve from the gasping heat, but at home there is only a vacuum of humidity punctuated by the twice daily shower.
I love summer,
but will be doing a rain dance if we don't get a downpour soon.