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Reasons to be Cheerful #63: Pancake Day

4 Mar

simpsons moving

Shrove Tuesday, much like Easter and Christmas is one of the predominant reasons that I am glad to live in a Christian (kind of) country. Much as the ideas of forgiveness and loving thy neighbour (obvs depending on fitness) appeal to me, neither of them really go with a lemon and sugar topping. So on today, holiest of days (well, in the top five anyway), I would like to share my reasons to be cheerful.

1. Pudding For Dinner

As someone who likes to prioritise stomach space by eating sweet before savoury, the one day of a year that elevates the best bit of dinner (aka the pudding) to the top of the pile is one that chimes well with me. And anyway, eggs and flour are pretty savoury so actually, a pancake covered in nutella, banana and ice-cream is just like dinner and dessert in one.

A well-rounded meal

A well-rounded meal

2. Let’s You be Quasi-Religious

For all the spiritually-curious who can’t or won’t commit, events like pancake day and the subsequent month of Lent are the perfect opportunity to broach the religious path with a non-too distant endpoint in sight. Stuff yourself silly, give up chocolate/bread/fags for a month and then when you decide that God’s not for you, noone will judge (or care). So much easier than reading the bible. And you don’t have to get up early on a Sunday.

For the love of Jesus?

For the love of Jesus?

3. It’s a Great Excuse For a Diet

Personally, I don’t go for the fad style of diet, but I think it’s fair to say that that statement either makes me a liar or a member of another minority. What I do know, is that wanting to be a size 10/8/zero isn’t enough motivation for most non-pro-ana people and this is why Mondays, new years, imminent meetings with exes and Lent are all popular diet starting points. I’m pretty sure that the original aim of Lent wasn’t to achieve a flat stomach through the self-denial of carbs, but whatever. If it works, it works.

4. Pancake Making is So Much Easier than Proper Baking

Before people start griping, I am aware that frying a pancake is not baking, but I’m going to go ahead and conflate cakes with pancakes anyway. They both include the word ‘cake’ and they both include flour and eggs. What more do you want? Anyway, the point is that baking a cake is hard. Even though Mary Berry is a great inspiration, her haloed and snazzy-jacketed image alone does not negate the bloody complicatedness of doing a cake from scratch. Pancakes though, are easy. They don’t even need to look nice. Rustic works as well as the next. Just drizzle a bit of chocolate a la Jamie Oliver and you’re basically a pro.

God in a Zara jacket

God in a Zara jacket

(REASONS TO BE PISSED OFF: Lent)

Reasons To Be Cheerful #62: Moving House

15 Jan

Scream-Painting

A regular high achiever on top 10 lists of most stressful things to do, moving house does not have the best of reputations. I would like to redress the balance because in amongst the arguments, broken valuables and unreliable packing tape that are so readily associated with a change of residence, there are some silver linings. Whether it’s the man that comes with your van, or the sturdy (if bottomless) banana boxes kindly donated to you by your local cornershop, there are always some reasons to be cheerful. Here are mine:

1. Lost Treasure

When sifting through the material signs of your life, you will inevitably come across some forgotten, but intrinsically valuable possessions. Naturally, when I say ‘valuable’ I don’t mean it in the cold, hard monetary sense, but in the sense that is measured by smiles and rainbows. I’m talking about that ripped tshirt from that amazing night in second year and other ‘hilarious’ mementoes such as stolen hats, Christmas elf costumes and significant shoelaces. ‘Invaluable’ if you will..

ggg

Buried treasure

2. Packing

The organiser’s dream, packing is a chance for you to test your mettle in the world of practicality and sensibleness. Marker pens and sticky labels may be at the ready. You may ‘pre-pack’ by organising things into bundles before they even reach the boxes. Alternatively you may get drunk the night before moving and pack in a hungover haze of blurry vision and sentimentality expressed at items that were yesterday too trivial to be considered.

This is (not) me

This was (not) me

3. Shredding

A surprising entry perhaps, but in my most recent move I discovered the joys of paper-shredding. Two drawers full of unopened bank statements ignored for the past three years finally made it onto my must-do list (a step up from the to-do list). You might think that the publishing company I was interning at would be in possession of a shredder, but you would be woefully wrong. Fortunately a hand-operated shredder did make its way into my possession. Queue an hour’s worth of joyful manual labour in a pre-industry fashion that gave one the same simple pleasure as would knitting a pair of striped toe socks.

Shredding: the new yoga

Shredding: the new yoga

4. Bubble Wrap

Show me a person who does not appreciate the joys of bubblewrap and I’ll show you Donald Trump.

POP!

Living the dream

(REASONS TO BE PISSED OFF: The two pairs of never-opened goggles that were packed because ‘otherwise you might have to buy them again’)

Reasons To Be Cheerful #57: Halloween

31 Oct

main

All Hallow’s Eve. Derided as ‘American’ by my mum, but appreciated by everyone else who likes to get dressed up and drunk at the same time. The origins of this October tradition are either lost are never known to most, but what do we care? There are sweets, bats, scary films and flashing red horns to think about. Not to mention the barage of dressed-up dogs, pumpkin foodstuffs and egg-throwing possibilities (that one’s for the teenagers, obviously). Here’s a spooky selection for you:

1. The Dressing Up

It’s a sad fact that since the early noughties, trends like the wonderbra and corsets have been relocated to the fashion wilderness. How are we meant to show off our womanly curves, our ‘assets’ if you will; now that it’s just not cool to be able to stick a pencil between your tits? Thankfully, there’s still Halloween. What other time of year can you put the word ‘sexy’ in front of any animal or supernatural creature and call it a ‘costume’?

Next year: sexy skunk

Next year: sexy skunk

2. The Food

I love pumpkins. I like to carve them and to eat them. I’d like to say I enjoy cooking with them, but that one’s still on the to-do list. And if pumpkins aren’t your thing, you’re hardly missing out. Halloween after all, is all about the SWEETS. (Trick or) treats covered with fake blood, mushy eyeballs and – if you go to fancy pop-up dos like me – extraordinary cakes that resemble rotting fingers, faeces and mouths of krakens. It’s definitely an appropriate time to stuff yourself; unless you’re pulling yourself into a sexy catsuit.

RIP... in my stomach?

RIP… in my stomach?

3. The Taking it Too Far

This year in Oklahoma, one funny guy decorated his drive with fairly realistic (from a distance) dead bodies. Some people thought that the creative Mr Mullins was taking it a step too far and called 911. But what’s life if you can’t cross a few boundaries? That’s probably what Jimmy Saville thought, and there’s another bone of contention. The hordes of shell suited, silver haired revellers roaming the streets this time last year caused a few people to call out bad taste, but I think most people just laughed. Then there’s the blackface. When is this ok? Is it ever? I have it from a good source that as long as you get a picture (whilst in blackface) of a real-life black person standing with their arm around you, you’re good to go.

L'il Wayne + Wayne's World = this

Next best thing is a picture of a real-life black person

Doing it for the kids

Doing it for the kids

4. Facepaint

The nostalgia of childhood; fairs where your face was painted like a tiger or a butterfly, the gentle rash that came after.. Ah it’s nice to  hark back. But alas, there’s another great bonus to facepaint and that is its sheer anonymity. If you go far enough even people that know you well won’t recognise you, and let’s be honest, sometimes that’s a good thing. Avoid all the annoying people that you’re forced to hang out with by turning your face into an elaborate Joker (Heath Ledger style) and enjoy your night.

(REASONS TO BE PISSED OFF: So many sexy devils)

Classy. Of course

Classy. Of course

 

Reasons To Be Cheerful #44: Job Hunting

20 Aug

These are hard times and where ten years ago job hunting might have seemed a tiresome task, these days it’s more akin to waterboarding.

Monster.co.uk

Monster.co.uk

What with being told that it’s perfectly acceptable to engage in internships at the age of 35 and finding that even a basic job will likely include at least three recruitment stages, it can be hard to maintain a coolly imperturbable attitude towards the procedure. So this post is written with an eye to putting a more positive spin on the task at hand. Here goes nothing.

1. You Are Not Alone

When you get that email that says ‘We had over 5,000 applicants and unfortunately there were candidates that we felt more closely matched our requirements’ you can at least feel more reasonably rejected. After all, you’re probably not in possession of credentials superior to 4,999 other jobseekers.

That personal touch makes all the difference

That personal touch makes all the difference…

2. No News is Good News

You might open up your email everyday with fresh new hopes, but if that is your attitude, I would suggest you change it. For while all publicity is good publicity, no news is good news. React to each inbox filled with emptiness and/or spam, as a sign that you may yet get an interview for that dream job. You know, the one you applied for three months ago.

3. Improved Productivity

If there is one thing – beyond the achievement of actually getting a job – that job hunting is good for, it is an increase in getting stuff done. I am of course, referring to tasks like dusting the shelves, getting up to date on Breaking Bad and powering through Tolstoy’s War and Peace. All important tasks that, while not specifically job-related, are at least quite likely to enhance your employability.

One application = one episode?

One application = one episode?

4. Widened Horizons

You may never have considered that going into the jungle to work with the hill tribes was your calling before you read an article about it whilst googling ‘career change’. But now you have, it all seems so clear. Just sort things with your spouse, obtain the flight money, let your room/house/flat, have the necessary injections, plan a going-away party and do a bit of research; and you’re there. Easy.

This could be you

This could be you

(REASONS TO BE PISSED OFF: It turns out that watching Breaking Bad and applying for jobs are actually pretty incompatible)

Reasons To Be Cheerful #43: The Fashion Pack

8 Aug

cara alone

For every generation there’s at least one fash pack that rules the roost. At present, it just so happens to be that of gurning party girl Cara Delevingne. But Caz is not the first and nor will she be the last. She’s one member of an ongoing succession of Balenciaga-clad cliques that louche and lounge about in lives that eschew 9-5 dulldom for mild eating disorders and fabulous footwear. Not that I’m jealous or anything. Here’s a divvying up of types and a few reasons to be cheerful:

1. The Young + Hot Pack

When in Zoolander, Mugatu proclaimed ‘Hansel, so hot right now’ he knew what he was talking about. But Hansel is so 2001. 2013 is for Cara Delevigne, Georgia Jagger, Pixie Geldof, Rihanna, Olivia Palermo, Alexa Chung and co. Sorry, Rita Ora, you’re not on the list. The young, hot things are the 21st century equivalent of the 1920s bright, young things. Just without the literature. But, hey, what’s a girl to do? When life is one long party, there’s not much for it but to look good in a shorts suit and this lot have got it down pat.

Oh, and Suki Waterhouse. Obvs they're all VERY different

Oh, and Suki Waterhouse. Obvs they’re all VERY different

2. Old School Cool Pack

To growing old cocaine free??

To growing old cocaine free??

This one’s for the post-teen generation and it’s led by none other than La Moss -obviously. Apart from the fact that she looks better than 99% of the population in ballet flats and skinny jeans while sporting lank hair (admit it), she continues to march ahead of her younger imitators through sheer aloofness. You won’t catch Kate gurning it up in an online cooking show. Unlike Jourdan Dunn and CDV, Kate knows better than to pretend that she eats actual meals.

Other members include Sadie Frost, Pearl Lowe, Liberty Ross, Stella McCartney 

3. The Play It Safe Pack

Gwy goes for edge with a bit of side boob

Gwyn goes for edge with a bit of side boob

This one’s for your Gwynnies, Anistons Kate Winslets and Selena Gomezs/Gomezezes (?). Yes, you might always look lovely: preened, groomed, perfectly blow-dried and exhibiting a healthy glow that is probably part-bottle and part real sun; but you’re so….. safe. These ladies would never dream of branching out unless it’s a case of going a little too sheer in the pursuit of ‘edge’. You can expect repeats of the outfit that ‘works’ – the silhouette dress, the skinny jeans and silk top with nude stilettos, the delicately-placed and highly inoffensive necklace. It all just makes you want to vomit from boredom, doesn’t it?

4. The Avant Garde Pack

Yes Tilda!

Yes Tilda!

This pack’s a little smaller than the previous three. In fact, I can only think of three truly worth a mention, so I guess it’s a trio. There’s Lady Gaga – she wore a steak. Then there’s Nicki Minaj, who while essentially being a t+a* show (of which I don’t approve), is undeniably kooky, and in possession of more wigs than your average ethnic hair shop. And last, but certainly not least, is Tilda Swinton. She accomplishes the fait accompli of pulling off avant garde with her classiness intact: all androgyny and sexiness and sharp tailoring. She’s also never subjected us to duos with Chris Brown or naked selfies where she pretends not to be wearing make-up.

*c’maaaan, it’s tits and arse!

Naomi, all is forgiven (maybe not by your assistant doe)

Naomi, all is forgiven (although I can’t speak for your assistant)

(REASONS TO BE PISSED OFF: The 90s supermodels are no longer a unified pack)

 

Reasons To Be Cheerful #42: Beauty Trends

6 Aug

When it comes to make-up I normally take a laissez-faire/can’t be fucked approach which involves blindly applying bronzer until I can actually feel the healthy glow. This has not stopped me from lusting after more high maintenance girls’ flawless looks, it’s just that I can’t quite see my purse stretching to £30+ for a decent brand of foundation. Just think of the pub losses. The point is, today I was informed that the dewy skin favoured by the Made in Chelsea crew has been replaced by matte (you know, like Boots photos) and it was this crushing blow that got me to pondering the nature of trends in beauty.

1. There’s Something For Everyone

Not all of us possess the requisite skills or base (face) for this season’s contoured cheekbones and neon pink eyeliner, but if you’re talking bushy eyebrows or going ‘au naturel’, well then, a few of us might be in with a chance. Slight problems though: 1. not everyone’s bushy brows look like Queen Cara Delevingne’s – many are more redolent of Sandy Cohen’s from the OC (I know it’s an old reference, but it works). And 2. au naturel does not indeed do what it says on the tin. But we’ll come to that in the next point.

On second viewing, Sandy's brows are actually pretty good.

On second viewing, Sandy’s brows are actually pretty good. I’ll take back the last part.

2. The Au Natch Look

Going barefaced, possessing a fresh look, having ‘just got out of bed hair’, being ‘au naturel’; all the above are just ways of saying use make-up to make it look like you don’t have any make-up on. Personally, I’m all for this look. Everyone thinks you are a glowing natural beauty, when in fact you are just an adept applier of touche eclat. Unfortunately, I do not own a touche eclat. And I’m not sure how au naturel I look when the bronzer hastily applied at 8am turns into weird blocks of bronze that occupy random parts of my face at 8pm. Still, the potential is there.

Faux naturel

Faux naturel.

3. The Repeat Effect

As with fashion and Eastenders storylines, everything comes BACK AROUND. If you were a pessimist you could see this as a sad lack of originality or a cynical ploy to keep revenues high by only introducing tried-and-tested methods – you know, like how they keep bringing out remakes and prequels of superhero films. I choose to see the good. It means time to PRACTICE. Maybe you didn’t quite get nude lips last time, your hair was all wrong. Or you didn’t hit up metallic nails ’til it was sooo last season. Well, this season you can try again. You can get it right.

4. The Sky’s The Limit

Beauty sections in Glamour and Cosmopolitan never tell you how to not look like you’ve had two hours’ sleep or to make your hair just about passable for work, or how to create a look where your eyes have almost equal amounts of eyeliner on them. They aim high. It’s all about FLAWLESS looks, and doing the PERFECT this and that. Basically, it’s empowerment. Through beauty.

Photoshop not included

Photoshop not included

(REASONS TO BE PISSED OFF: Red lips are STILL being passed off as a seasonal trend. I mean really)

 

 

 

Reasons To Be Cheerful #39: The Great British Takeaway

25 Jul

Before the spurt in culinary activity initiated by Jamie Oliver and co., Britain was seen as a nation that was almost without a mainstream food culture. I say ‘almost’ because the ever-present exception has to be the takeaway. Granted, most of the nation’s favourites – including those loved by skinheads – are confirmedly foreign, but as with Kylie Minogue, we have adopted them and made them our own. Reasons to be cheerful then…

Rice, spice and all things nice

Rice, spice and all things nice

1. Variety

is the spice of life, yes, but what of those of milder tongue? Well, not to worry because as well as the leader of the bunch (Indian, obvs) there are fish and chips, Chinese, pizza and Turkish; and that’s just the start. To live in a country where on a mere whim, you can opt between at least five types of international takeaway; well, that’s when you realise that maybe Iraq and Afghanistan weren’t such big mistakes. It’s when you feel good to live in a democracy.

2. Meal Flexibility

If you’ve never woken up with half a pizza, the best part of a saag aloo or even just naan bread and a bit of dipping masala in your fridge, then you’re either a liar or really really fat. The great news is, these leftovers are ideal breakfast or lunch fare (depending on what time you get up). Yes, you might feel a bit of self loathing as you wolf down last night’s pizza with congealed bits of pineapple flaking all over the place, but be honest. You bladdy loved it.

Brekkie

Brekkie

3. Community Links

If, like me, you have a favourite local curry house/chippie/whatever, then you will know what it is to be part of the local community. You may never have seen your neighbours, or you might be avoiding them because they have a brood of offensive children, but you do know Paz who takes your orders at the local Indian. You might even have a special relationship because of that time you called Paz every 10 minutes after an hour’s waiting to enquire on the progress of your delivery; and then when it finally arrived he let you pay just a fiver for £20’s worth of food because he’s a bit scared of hysterical, hungry women. A friend to for life.

4. Widening Horizons

Who says you have to own a Le Creuset set to be an experimental eater? Down at the kebab shop you can choose between around 30-50 options on any given night. Whether its doner kebab or shish kebab; chapati or Peshwari naan; thin crust or thick crust. THE WORLD IS YOUR OYSTER. TO EAT.

Forget Ottolenghis

A la carte. Right here

(REASONS TO BE PISSED OFF: Delhi belly)

Reasons To Be Cheerful #44: The End of Hols

9 Jul

back to school

God it feels great to come back from holiday. The sun on your skin, the fresh air on your face, the cool breeze at your back… Oh wait, no, that’s going on holiday. Well, whatever, haters can hate, but I’m adamant that there are reasons to be cheerful for stepping off the plane Brit-side and here they are:

1. Catching Up on Real Life

A break from home generally means a break from the excitement of day-to-day life, so good as it is to get away, it’s also nice to come back. The fabulous gossip that you’ve missed (yet another person is escaping your dreaded workplace), the emails (productivity targets) and the internet that has failed to miraculously fix itself. Welcome home.

2. Sharing Your Holiday Good Times

It’s nice, after you’ve been on holiday, being asked by friends and colleagues about the great time you’ve had. It’s also fantastic that they don’t mind hearing about your best night (Tuesday) three weeks after your return. Or how much you wish you miss the really great, new friends you made whilst away.

Holiday friends

Holiday friends

Home friends

Home friends

 

3. Getting Tan Recognition

‘Been away? Anywhere nice?’ That phrase plus the standard once-over tells you all you need to know in the tan stakes. It’s there and it’s noticeable. People are asking if you’ve been away because they’ve seen, appreciated and (hopefully) envied your golden brown skin. For some reason, however, swathes of the population are scared to comment on the tans of already-brown people. Real example: ‘Have you got a tan? Is that bad? Am I now a racist?’. No you are not a racist, and yes, I do want tan recognition.

The timeless 'tan or black' question

The timeless ‘tan or black?’ question

4. Looking Forward To Your Next Holiday

It’s always important to have something to look forward to, and with the end of one summer holiday, you can start looking forward to another. Just 12 months away.

(REASONS TO BE PISSED OFF: Lack of tan recognition)

Reasons To Be Cheerful #42: Being an Annoying Person That Went to Glastonbury

3 Jul

main

Festival haters and Radio One (who I’m pretty sure are bang on it) are trying unsuccessfully to make #giveitarestival trend. Well, I’m with the smug crew and I don’t care. A disclaimer right now: this post may be unbearably self-satisfied for those of you who wish people like me would giveitarestival. But all you need to do is get yourself a ticket and join the club for 2014. Here are a cherry-picked selection of reasons to be cheerful:

1. Facebook Nostalgia

After the initial misery of having returned to real life subsides, you can once again make room in your heart for that bit of welly-shaped festival cheer. This is thanks, by and large, to the proliferation of photos turning up on facebook to remind you of the good times. Remember that fish fritter joke? Lols for days. For you and your friends anyway. Not for everyone else. Everyone else hates you.

2. The Pretence That You Could Live Like a Hippy Forever

For a little while, even the most ardent of city folk slumming it at Glastonbury awaken to the dawning realisation that they have truly chosen the wrong path. After all, with the right yurt, a good solar shower and a relaxed attitude towards things like washing your hair, there’s no reason that you couldn’t live in teepee village forever.

3. You Can Complain About Everything

Of course it’s natural to complain about things like work. Only weird people and liars actually like their jobs. But, usually – in polite society at least – complaining about stuff like other people’s birthday parties and Wimbledon is seen as a little rude. However, in the week following Glasto, it is to be fully accepted that everything – short of being invited to spend time on a luxury yacht with Elton John – is a bit shit.

4. The Realisation That You Couldn’t Live Like a Hippy Forever

Gad, it’s great when you start to remember how good it is to be clean and how shit you feel after two hours of sleep waking up in a hot tent. This is the point when real life becomes bearable again and you stop being quite so annoying.

(REASONS TO BE PISSED OFF: A. whole. nother. year.)

Reasons To Be Cheerful #40: The Returned Ep 2

18 Jun

cast

The Returned returned this week and got pleasingly creepier. Victor’s ramping it up, there’s been talk of cannibalism and we had an animal attack. All in all, the action is thoroughly on it’s way. Here are my favourite parts:

1. Simon

Thankyou

Thankyou

Simon brings up a much-needed attractiveness factor for the show’s males who are otherwise represented by polo-necked over-Frenchness  in the form of the twins’ dad and middling men elsewhere. I think it’s only fair that we get our ogle time, seeing as Lena, Julie, that police woman and Lena’s mum are all confirmed fitties.

2. Serial Killer and Serial Zombie Intrigue

Pierre: I do not trust this man

Pierre: I do not trust this man

‘It’s happened before’ – this is what Pierre – creepy doctor and stepdad to the living twin, Lena – tells Camille and her mum in a strangely nonchalant manner. What does he meeeann exactly? We also learn that ‘he’s back’ in regards to the attacker of Lucy the waitress, who is somehow still alive after last week’s frenzied stabbing. It’s all a bit confused, but from what I can gather, our attacker and probable serial killer of past years is another returnee and brother of bar manager, Toni. He also utilised a spade for a classico whacking-over-the-head moment, which I enjoyed.

3. More Siblings Crossing the Living/Dead Line

Last week I talked about the extra dimension that having a twin returnee adds to the show’s potential. This week, we’ve got a returnee with a brother, and this one looks to be a serial killer! Did Toni kill his brother having found out about his dastardly deeds? If not, how did he die? And is he responsible for stabbing and attempting to eat the liver of last week’s unfortunate waitress? I think not. It feels too obvious.

4. Julie’s Story

Troubled waters

Troubled waters

As Julie perseveres in her care of Victor, surely the most patently evil of the returnees (yes, worse than the serial killer), we are given a little insight into her weird behaviour. Having seen Victor jump from a high window unharmed, magic himself through glass and be generally creepier than a poltergeist, she promises to look after him. What? But then, she cries in the loo and looks at a maze of scars across her stomach. Remnants from the serial killer? Did he try to eat her liver too? Or is there a dead child connection here? Something to explain her desire to keep the devil child? SO MANY QUESTIONS.

(REASONS TO BE PISSED OFF: Confusion, confusion, confusion)