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Such Fun

  
Dear points of view,

Why oh why oh why has it become popular, nay, expected, to have a fun fair at a bonfire? 

Why? 

Do fun fairs have some kind of relevance to the gun powder plot? Was Guy Fawkes, in fact, on his way to a fun fair when he took a detour to blow up the Houses of Parliament with a sparkler he’d saved for later?

Fun fairs have gained a reputation for being synonymous with fun. Their reputation is unwarranted in my humble opinion. 

I reject anything where ‘fun’ has been organised, commercialised, repackaged and sold back to me at a ridiculously inflated price. 

‘Fun’. A commodity. 

How dare they?!

The very notion. 

That I should find something fun because it has been marketed as so. 

Fuck off Disney. 

Although I will say that, when dragged to Disneyland against my wishes, I bloody enjoyed every second of it. Bastards. 

But fun fairs are NOT fun. 

Fireworks are not improved against a backdrop of bright, flashy lights and cotton eyed joe turned up to eleven. 

Except the fun house. Which I managed to restrain myself from going on in fear of scattering small children in my wake, screaming down the helter skelter and inhaling a lungful of the ‘fun foam’ which was lulling otherwise filthy, shower avoidant children into having a wash. Clever. 

So why have I attended? 

Because I love a fire. 

Is there anyone that doesn’t? 

Especially when it has build me up buttercup as the soundtrack. 

  

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Vertigo

  

I set off for Manchester, a mere hour and a half drive away, at a suitably early time to miss the traffic and enjoy a leisurely dinner before my first gig in over twelve months. 

Three and a half hours later, I arrive having driven past the hotel three times and circumnavigating the one way system one time too many. 

I erupt into mal maison, infamous for leading celebrities into coke fuelled orgies with hookers (apparently), throw all of my belongings onto the floor and collapse into the seat next to Bridget. 

Let it not be said that I don’t know how to make an entrance. 

I devour a cosmopolitan, for good measure, before retiring to change for the evening. 

Johnny Vegas strolls in and sits in the bar for a drink. Posh place this. I suggest to my comrades that we offer him the fourth, redundant ticket to the gig. Unfortunately, he is gone by the time we come to leave and so misses the gig. His loss. 

Another cosmo later and we jump into a taxi and head for the academy 2. 

My fellow gig goers, Bridget and the Manc, are Reel Big Fish virgins, as I imagine most of the population are. They are surely missing out. 

The eclectic mix of ska with punky, bouncy rock is, admittedly, not for everyone. But I love it. The atmosphere is appropriately light hearted and friendly and we begin as we mean to go on with rounds of doubles in plastic cups and lots of laughing and bouncing around to the music. 

Being a lady, I am naturally unequipped for drinking, and neither practice it often enough or drink very much when I do. It has therefore not escaped my attention that I have been drunk since the first cosmo downing and have drunk rather a lot more since then. 

But I am thoroughly enjoying myself and the company of my fellow gig goers and consider that I have become a master of drink. 

We leave the gig on a delirious, euphoric high and the Manc guides us to another bar. There is a catch though. It is a smart, sophisticated bar for smart, sophisticated people. Not sweat soaked pissheads like myself who, by now, cannot see straight. 

Buoyed by the alcohol, however, I am invincible and the master of disguise and illusion. I take pole position of being smart and sophisticated and, adopting my most charming smile, breeze past the security team and straight into the lift bound for the high rise bar. 

Being equally charming to the bar staff, we find ourselves ushered to a table with an immense view of the city through floor to ceiling windows. 

I am not good with heights. 

I sit down and stare at the cocktail menu, turning the pages believably while barely being able to see them, let alone read them. 

I order another cosmo, can’t go wrong with that can you, and realise, all of a sudden, that I am utterly hammered beyond my wildest dreams and that my body has pretty much had enough of having half the vodka in Russia in it. 

I retire to the ladies room. 

I find that I am unable to raise my head above my heart without getting severe vertigo. 

What feels like three hours later, I am able to hold my head up long enough to evacuate the smart, sophisticated bar, my disguise rumbled and, somehow, to get down the lift and to the fresh air outside. 

I eventually pass out back at the hotel and dream of coke fuelled orgies with hookers. 

I awake surprisingly chipper the next morning, the beauty of drinking vodka all night apparent, and Bridget and I head off out of Manchester. 

We are immediately lost in the one way system and head into a dead end before I lose the will to live and hop through a bus and taxi only lane. A police car drives by but doesn’t stop. Thank god. 

I vow never to drive to Manchester again. 

Or drink. 

  

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A night to remember

  
I decide to take my new car on a test run to the Admiral’s house. 

I arrive at my destination and look at the Admiral forlornly. “I’m not sure I like my new car” I say quietly. He is walking up the stairs and stops, turning sharply to look at me, his face full of concern. “I love it!” I exclaim, far too loud. 

He laughs all the way up the stairs. 

“Why don’t we go for a curry?” I suggest to The Admiral and Queen Vic once she arrives. 

We pop along to one of The Admiral’s new haunts. Queen Vic is unimpressed at the change in our usual currying habits, but goes along with it. Grudgingly. 

Having been chained to my desk for what feels like an eternity, I am simply delighted to be out. Anywhere. Anywhere is fine by me. 

The Admiral tries to guide us towards either popadoms or starters. I remind him that I am out and will be having both. 

We order drinks and, on requesting a G&T, I am offered a ‘special’ version of the classic. I accept with such enthusiasm as to startle the waiter slightly. He clearly did not realise how pleased I am to be out. He does now. 

Talk turns to the Admiral’s ‘pet’ magpies, of which he now has seven. Such have their numbers grown that he is now ‘forced’ to buy lidl museli for them, as he cannot keep up enough leftovers for so many. 

Apparently, it is a delicate balance though. If he puts too much food out for the magpies, it attracts seagulls from miles around to descend upon the garden, frightening away his beloved magpies. 

Queen Vic helpfully chips in, “Seagulls are like the gyppos of the bird world aren’t they? It’s like when you put a fridge out, they come from miles around.”

I laugh hysterically. 

We finish our meal and the waiter offers us coffees. Again I am tangibly delighted by the suggestion, being out and all, and happily order my staple: a decaf cappuccino. 

The waiter returns only minutes later to advise that they have no decaf. 

It fails to dampen my spirits and I try for a dessert menu, which he is similarly unable to provide. Unperturbed, I cheerfully sip my water and await the bill. 

And what a bill it is!

£99 for a curry for four!

Might I take this moment to advise my southern readers that this is not an acceptable curry bill. Less than five miles outside of Birmingham as we are, one would expect a curry to cost around £40. 

That said, one would not usually expect to have two large glasses of Malbec with a curry, as the Admiral had managed. He was clearly also very pleased to be out, but hiding it a little better than I. 

After a cup of tea at the Admiral’s house, I swagger towards my new car and jump in. 

I notice that there is something spattered down the passenger side windows. I wonder if it is a new kind of foaming screen wash that I had not noticed the foam from. 

The Admiral and I take s closer look. It is not just on the windows. It is spattered down the whole passenger side of my brand-new-to-me-just-waxed car. Despite my CSI inclinations, I manage to stop myself short of tasting the offending spatter. However, a sniff test reveals that it is Chinese curry sauce. 

‘Well I never’ I think, politely. 

I pull my curry coated car onto the Admiral’s drive and spend a delightful 15 minutes washing it, before heading on my way, glad that I will soon no longer be out, and that the trials and tribulations of my day will be over. 

Being a lady, it could be expected that I might be prone to girlish behaviour. Taking fright at snakes and spiders and calling the AA to change tyres for me and the suchlike. Those who know me, however, will know that this is not the case. That I am the girl that catches spiders and releases them. And that once changed a tyre in the pouring rain for a hapless taxi driver. 

However, those that know me well also know that I do have one particular phobia. One thing that makes me react with such unreasonable and excessive hysteria and terror as to give the impression of a genuinely life threatening situation. 

As I drive down the dual carriageway, only five minutes from the Admiral’s house, I become aware that, upon washing my car on the Admiral’s drive, I neglected to shut the driver’s door and I am not alone. 

The daddy long legs flits along the windscreen and across my line of vision, attracted by the headlights. 

I perform an extremely safe and routinely executed emergency stop, throwing the car into the nearest space available to pull off the dual carriageway and exiting almost as the car comes screeching to a halt. 

I am in luck, there are some youths walking down the road and I commandeer them to assist me in my hour of need. They try to help me but, despite having all of the doors open and pacing the car frantically, trying not to put any part of my body in it, I cannot find the offending tipula paludosa and I release them from my aid. 

I spend a jittery five minutes trying to locate my enemy and consider calling the Admiral for assistance, or even English, maybe he could arrange an airstrike?

I eventually accept my reality. I cannot find DLL, it is not emergency worthy enough for an airstrike and I do need to get back in the car in order to get home. I drive home with the constant feeling that it is on me, itching all over and comforted only by singing along loudly to smooth fm. 

I arrive home, shave my head, burn my clothes and scrub myself all over with a wire brush, or ‘the catholic treatment’ as I like to call it, and vow never to leave the house again. 

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Hedonism

  

“Just because you feel good, doesn’t make it right.”

Skunk Anansie, on uttering those immortal lyrics, had obviously never shared time or space with a cat. 

For what are they, if not nature’s archetypal hedonists?

They simply don’t bother themselves with anything that doesn’t give them pleasure. And they manage to find pleasure in the simplest of things. 

A dead fly on the floor, for example, will provide literally minutes of scrabbling, jumping, weaving, tail twitching enjoyment before being abandoned for a full stand up bath and a snooze in the sun, preferably on the thing you have most recently washed. 

I once read that cats sleep up to seventeen hours a day. What could be better than that? 

Is there anything more comforting than bed? 

I simply delight at it being time to go to bed. To slip between the covers and snuggle into your own personal utopia. 

Exuding all of the old Hollywood, ladylike glamour and charm of Marilyn Monroe, I wear nothing but full make up and Chanel no. 5 when I slip into bed. 

However, I am nothing if not a modern woman and, with a nod to fusion, I add my own British twist: a pair of socks. 

Perfection. 

We modern Brits like nothing more than freedom. And warm feet. 

Assuming that you’re not snuggled up in exactly the same attire right at this very moment, I strongly urge you to try it. 

If for some inexplicable reason you’re not partial to a nice pair of socks to keep your feet warm in bed, you could always substitute them for a cat. 

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Nostalgic nineties

  
I love keeping things.

I love hoarding them, hiding them away. And most of all, I love finding them.

I love reliving a memory of lost and found things from the past.

Fishing through my old things, in a vain attempt to organise and declutter; to rationalize my life, physically and metaphorically, I stumble upon the most pointless and inept item that anyone of my generation can ever keep: tapes.

Cassette tapes. Those things that played music to us before the rise and overnight takeover of the CD. Those joyful rectangles of plastic. How on earth did they work? And who didn’t enjoy twirling the tape along by the little circular nodules?
Less enjoyable, of course, was the deterioration of the sound on your favourite tapes, those ones that you played over an over again. In the same order. 

Remember that? Listening to music in the order in which it was intended to be heard? No shuffle then kids! We’d listen, lovingly, to the same songs, over and over again, in the same order, with the music gradually becoming elongated and strangled, not noticing, and cheerfully singing along whilst playing air guitar

I was a little cooler and more avant garde, I played air tambourine. Me and Davy Jones: separated at birth. 

In their time, I was a master of the mixed tape. Revered. The messiah. 

My tapes were famous amongst those who knew that I made them. Yes, all five people lived in a constant state of desperate longing for the next LJH mixed tape.

Because they knew that, not only would the mix be existentially mind blowing, but also that the attention to detail would be second to none, clinical, perfect. No long gaps. No half songs. No filler. All killer. And with a painstakingly handwritten insert of the compilation along with choreography suggestions for each track.

I did not do mixed tapes by half.

I saw it more as a fine art. Carefully planning the content before sourcing the individual songs, either on tape or, preferably, CD as the sound quality is much better to record from.

As luck would have it, my kitchen contains a nod to the nostalgic nineties: a ghetto blaster. Complete with tape player. (and recorder should I ever wish to reinvent myself as the mixed tape messiah of the twenty tens).

I pop the first tape in. Nothing. I fast forward it. Nothing. I turn it over. NOTHING. I swap to a different tape. And then another. Nothing. I switch the ghetto blaster back to the radio setting to which I had been listening and retreat, defeated.

For today, the reverence and existentialism will remain in the nineties.

And, in my head and that of those five others, I remain the air tambourine playing, mixed tape messiah.

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Health & Safety with Bridget 

“Well at least I’m still alive” stated the rather over dramatic Colonel Zoolander.

A perplexed Bridget cocked her head slightly at the odd statement and looked quizzically at Zoolander.

“Let me explain my journey to the men’s room this morning” continued Zoolander, “I bounded down the stairs and was forced to perform an emergency hurdle manoeuvre over a certain person’s handbag which had been placed, devil may care, on the stairs”.

Bridget managed literally moments of what she no doubt thought was a suitably apologetic look cast lovingly in Zoolander’s direction before breaking down in hysterics.

Squinting his displeasure, Zoolander moved his attention to the reams of paper that were pouring out of the printer.

Bridget retrieved them before casting them aside as unsuitable and repeating the process.

“We do also rather care about the environment” interjected Zoolander, “and you seem to have worked your way through six trees this morning”.

Another apologetic look and Bridget continued on with her tree slaughter and Darwinesque employee cull.

The Monday Club menu included wonderful and well named wine, supplied along with a beautiful bouquet of sunflowers by the perfect houseguest: Bridget; and Cajun salmon with cous cous.

We don our jumpers and pop outside to enjoy the lovely, if somewhat chilly, evening.

Red sky at night, Turkish delight.

Enthused by the the wine and the possibility of a sit in a cold garden, Bridget veritably whips her jumper around, lassoing the kilner jar of sunflowers and sending them cascading across the kitchen in a flurry of water, leaves and jar pieces.

Darwin, it appears, has caught up with her.

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The Princess and the ski

  
What, pray tell, is in sugarless syrup? 

I find myself in an unnecessarily long queue in Starbucks and, gazing around to quell my boredom, I find my eyes drawn to the syrup selection. 

Which, apparently, includes syrup which contains no actual syrup. 

Fascinating. 

Further research reveals that the syrup element of the ‘syrup’ is maltodextrin and sucralose, otherwise known as E955, a non-nutritive (whatever that means) sweetener that is somewhere between 320 and 1000 times sweeter than sucrose, otherwise known as sugar. 

Sweet things aside but sticking with fake things, I spend a lovely afternoon at the snowdome watching Princess Scarlett learn to ski. 

It is, quite surprisingly, like an arctic winter in the snowdome, swiftly weeding the pushy, pageant parents from the undedicated, underachiever breeders and pushing them back into the warm bar where they belong. 

Being of naturally limber and fine, ski worthy breeding, the Princess takes to the snow like a girl to a diamond, falling over only fifteen times. 

I plot my return in the coming weeks to impose my own training on her, my minds eye filled with eighties montages of us doing the little teapot down the mountain, her hanging on my every instruction, us laughing and playing in the snow, all in slow motion, of course. 

After realising one requires a small mortgage to be able to afford skiing at the snowdome however, I symbolically cast the price list aside in disgust and potter off to read the syrups again. 

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