Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Just Waiting For February

I am very relieved that the world will soon cease this idiotic practice of being in January. Frankly I have had enough of it and am pleased that my strongly-worded letters to the government have been read and taken seriously and someone is going to put a stop the whole silly thing in just a few days time.

So far this year has been very uppy-downy (with emphasis on the latter) (I don't mean like the feathers of adorable baby birds) and I am inclined to blame the month. This January nonsense has been one debacle after another and I for one shan't be sad to see the back of it.

February isn't the most joyous of months either, but at least it has a naughty little extra letter in it, which makes it cheekier than the pronounceitlikeitsspelt boredom of January.

To celebrate the end of January tomorrow I'm going to a comedy sketch show in Soho (I would link but the link button has disappeared - and don't tell me how to fix it because you know I won't) with my friend. My friend has promised me that it will be "really fun" and "good" so I am going to put nice clothes on and go. Maybe not nice clothes, as such, but certainly clothes. I have unfortunately double-booked myself about seventy-eight times this week already so I sense many apologetic text messages having to be written. Which will no doubt be received with a mixture of relief and apathy.

On Thursday I might have a date. By which time it will be February, so my general outlook will have improved considerably. I will also wear clothes for that.

Actually, although I joke about January having sucked, it really has. Today I searched out all my notes from my months in therapy so I could attempt to clear my head of all the anxiety that has slithered in recently. It isn't depression, though. It's justifiable worry about real things that are happening (or not, as the case may be). It's frustration at my living arrangements, my money or lack thereof, my music. There are only two things that make me chill out: exercise and alcohol. I have not yet attempted to combine the two (but that is why I am going on the date, see?).

I wish I had more exciting anecdotes to recount. Maybe about hilarious times and wacky adventures, about shoes and boys and lipgloss, but alas all I seem to be doing at the moment is writing songs, drinking, or exercising, which gets a dull after a while. Sure, some of the songs are about shoes and boys and lipgloss ('Hello, You're A Boy, Please Buy Me Shoes And Lipgloss' is a surefire hit for summer 2007, with the follow up single 'I Know You Bought Them But It Does Not Mean You Get To Wear Them' for an autumnal smash) but I have nothing entertaining to write along those lines.

To buoy myself up I shall put up a little picture of me and the Impish Little Sister, drunk on champagne in the toilets of The Clapham North pub last year. I know if she was here we would be having smashing fun eating cheese and mocking the dog.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Just Hanging Out Online

My best friend Jenny is coming to pick me up in about half an hour. We are going to go to a quite pub and drink soft drinks because we are both poor and my liver has threatened to leave me if I continue this regime of systematic abuse.

I had a few hours to kill, so I did the following:

1. Watched some Charmed.

2. Had a bath.

3. Dicked about on the Internet.

4. Ate some cheese.

1. The Charmed was a good one. Phoebe has to tell her boyfriend that she's a witch. He freaks out. She then is infused with the soul of a French spy who was evil and so Phoebe herself turns evil. As Evil Phoebe she tries to kill the boyfriend, but luckily is turned back into Good Phoebe before she succeeds. Then I assume they had sex but they didn't show that bit.

2. I ran my bath much too hot. I couldn't really bothered to mess around dealing with complicated things like temperature so I just got in anyway. I then tried to ignore the fact that I was slowly and voluntarily boiling to death for a bit, but was inevitably forced to run the cold water because I had begun to look like a giant red person. Well, not giant, just kind of normal-sized, but a giant red person sounds scarier than just a normal person who is red because they ran the bath too hot.

As I was getting out of the bath my mobile rang, so I answered. It was Euan! To ask whether I could come out. (I could not) He asked what I was doing and I told him I had just stepped out of the bath. There was a pause, then he warily asked: "Does that mean you're naked?" "Yep", I said. "But you should put clothes on before answering your phone!" he said, primly. "It's rude!" Then he told me that he had a camera and could see and in fact everyone in the pub could see and they were laughing. "Do I look thin?" I quickly checked. Another pause. "No." Bastard.

3. A while and some clothing later, I decided to do a spot of dicking around on the Internet.

One of my favourite pastimes when I am not cooking myself in boiling water is looking on YouTube for music, gigs and music videos.

I watched two goodies today. Firstly Amy Winehouse completely outshining Paul Weller on Jools Holland this New Year's Eve:


(My linky think is gone, so cut and paste. It's worth it. Turn it up.)

Also the video for Mika - Grace Kelly.


He is amazingly sexy. Probably gay, I reckon, but still. I definitely would.

4. The cheese was nice.

I hope you are having a tip top weekend.

UPDATE: My friend Mark just emailed me a joke, which I shall now share with you.

Q. What do you call a nun sitting on a clown's face?
A. Virgin on the ridiculous.

Inappropriate and brilliant! My favourite combination.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

If I Were

to say I was sorry for not posting I would not be quite sure to whom I would be saying sorry.

So I shall promptly avoid that and simply go straight on to some Exciting Things! That are Not Exciting At All!

- Cardiff was ace. We stayed at Dan's parents' house, I ate some of their cheese, we watched Grease 2. Great. Also we went for a walk along the sea front in the dark and whipping rain, managed about five minutes of this-isn't-the-city bracingness before ducking into the nearest pub to talk alternately about racism in Celebrity Big Brother ("I hate this conversation" mumbled Dan, eyes fixed on an episode of Top Gear that was rumbling from ill-placed televisions) and the imminent Chinese New Year ("It's the year of the bull!" declared Amy. Some expensive texting to AQA later: "Year of the... boar, they say" asserted someone. "That's what I said! Bull. Boar. Wait, are they different?") Later on we taxied in to the centre of Cardiff, where we all drunk our bodyweight in wine, cocktails and shots and met with Mr Curly, who did not help me stay sober one little bit. It was a fantastic night, and my last memories are of telling a bouncer he looked "about twelve". I think (reassure me on this, Curly) I stopped short of telling him I could "totally take him in a fight". Which I totally could have done.

- I am shortly going to be holding auditions for my band. Anyone who wants to audition please let me know and I shall let you know which costume I desire you to wear. Musical ability is less important than the ability to look good in lycra. It is key to understand that I have my very own special definition of the word 'good'.

- Due to some unexpected emotional upheaval in the last few weeks I have been running too much and too far. Everyday I have been stapping on the (four) (I am not joking) sports bras and heading off to run to open spaces and scream 'fuck' as loudly as I can. My whole body is aching, but unless I keep running my head explodes, so I have little choice. Would I rather a) walk like a malformed crab or b) have no head? What a choice. On the upside, though, all the mud around recently makes running a very, very satisfying experience. The more mud I get spattered as far up my legs as possible, the more points I get. And points, as we all know, mean absolutely nothing at all.

I have nothing else to say, so I leave you with a joke I read the other day:

"I was in bed with my girlfriend the other day, and she turned to me and said "You're such a pervert."
I said "That's a big word for a nine year old." "

I know. But it made me laugh, and not even guiltily, so there.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Home Again

And so happy about it.

The gig went well, better than I had expected. I did nearly three hours of singing to a quite small audience. Not only is this a lot of songs to remember words to, it is also a long time to be standing up, not drinking wine. I am, however, an artist, and therefore must suffer for my art. If only drinking wine between songs is what is called for, then that is what I must do. I am very brave, indeed.

I did my own songs, many of which I have not uploaded onto the MySpace Of Annoyingness because although they are ready in acoustic versions they have not been suitably dicked about with in a studio to go public. I did plenty of jazz standards, some Paul Simon (America; Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover; 59th Bridge Street Song) some Leonard Cohen (Famous Blue Raincoat; Hallelujah) and some random ones that I just happened to feel like singing (Downtown; Son of a Preacher Man; Moondance).

All in all it was fun for me and the audience seemed to enjoy it as well. I feel so relaxed and comfortable singing songs I haven't written, but when it comes to my own songs my ability to sing cabaret-style seems to dry up and the nerves flood in. I imagine that this is, of course, only natural. Not only do I have a lot more invested in my own work, but I have much less experience of presenting it as such, so it is inevitable that it is much harder to relax with. I also understand that practice will make if not perfect then a lot better. If I'm standing on stage singing Summertime or Ain't No Sunshine I can ramble on for bloody hours, experimenting and playing, and I sometimes genuinely forget the audience is even there. With my own work, on the other hand, I inspect the sea (or small puddle) of faces for signs of approval or otherwise, and I have to consciously tell myself to relax. Physically I relax my shoulders, search out eye contact, smile, all to prove that I am comfortable on stage. Because if I'm not then nobody watching me can possibly be. It is bloody scary and I never know whether I am fooling anybody, but I suppose that's part of the game.

At one point on Sunday there was a small child of about four dancing along to the music. The parents and others were standing around laughing at his antics, everyone encouraging him and suggesting dance moves. I sort of knew at the time that I should somehow use that situation to my advantage, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out how. If I had taken the mic over to him and danced along I might have scared him, or worse I might have stolen his limelight and alienated myself from the crowd. After the gig at least three people told me that I should have made something of the situation, but nobody told me how and I am still wondering. What would be appropriate? Would it really have been anything other than painfully obvious that I was trying to use the innocent enjoyment of a small child for my own ends? I'm still not sure. Any imput would be gratefully received.

So, I am home now. I have been scouting around to get a bit of temping work as I have some holidays to save for (last year: Biarritz and New Zealand, this year: Portugal and Malaysia! I kid you not) and bills to pay. I also have some heavy and scary re-evalutaing to do, about which I cannot really speak at the moment.

I feel like I never stop thinking about my career. If half an hour goes by during which I haven't schemed or planned I am very, very surprised. I know this has to be a positive thing because I am the only one who can make anything happen for myself, but I admit it is a little draining. What this realisation does confirm, however, is the fact that it is an extremely good thing that I have nobody else to be thinking about. I have been on a few dates, which is fun, but nothing to be taken seriously, and I plan on keeping it that way. So sorry, hoardes of beautiful men, you are just going to have to bugger off home (although I suppose you can take me for dinner and dancing first if you like.)

This weekend I am off to Cardiff. My friend Dan's parents live there and they are away at the moment so a few of us are going across to brave the Welsh and chill out for the weekend. (Maybe I will see Curly for beers?) Before that I am going to Warwickshire to do some babysitting, and then going to see the beautiful tassel-twirler herself, Miss Lily Dumont. An eventful few days leading up to some Wales-based fun, but I am certainly going to take some time to make some pretty major decisions and get my head together. Let's just say that 2007 has been rather eventful so far. I suspect it is the magic freckle doing its work (it does not always work for good).

Speaking of things that are magic, has everyone seen this: www.sparkle.the-magic-pony.youaremighty.com?

Can this be coincidence? Amazing. I am in awe, and so is Sparkle.

I have yet to speak to Impish Little Sister Sophie about it, but I think she is far too busy being Parisian and wearing cool clothes to have time to do something like that.

I am going to go and ponder it further for a little while then go to bed and try to silence the whizzing sound of my confused brain.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Well. Would You Believe It?

I have been double-tagged! By both Katy* and Leigh**. I was hoping that they might be the same memes, but they are slightly different. I think in the interests of time I might try and combine the two. Katy's is: Five Things Most People Don't Know About Me, and Leigh's Five Facts About Me But One Of Them Isn't True And You Must Guess Which. (I paraphrased.)

So I shall write six Things About Me Of Which One Is Not True.

(Whilst trying to think of things people don't know about I have realized the extent to which most people know everything about me. This makes this challenge quite tricky, and the facts I have come up with not that interesting. Sorry.)

1. I have a triangular freckle on the bridge of my nose. At the moment it is barely visible because we are in the murky depths of winter and my skin is an interesting shade of pale, but in summer my freckles emerge and there it is: a perfect triangle. I wholeheartedly believe that this means I have magical powers, which is why I watch Charmed so much. For tips.

2. Despite all my Big Talk about ponies, I am actually quite scared of horses. I was never a pony sort of a girl when I was growing up. Once I went to stay with my cousin in the country and we had to get up at some ungodly hour to go and do something horse-based. I was unimpressed at the hour, unimpressed at having to endure the cold, and highly unimpressed at having to get on the fucking thing and jump over poles on it (metal ones, not a whole load of cowering immigrants). I remember fearing for my life and then cracking ice on the trough with my boots, and speculating idly that there were probably more fun hobbies to be had. The next time I was on a horse was in New Zealand about five years ago on some kind of trek, which would have been alright apart from the fact that my horse didn't seem to have a 'forward' function and insisted upon climbing every small hillock it could spot.
I do, however, love Sparkle the Pony, given that she is a) magcal and b) not hugely real.

3. I love a murder mystery. Book, film, TV show. CSI, Morse, Diagnosis Murder. I have read every Patricia Cornwell novel about sixty-eight billion times, somehow it never seems to matter that I know what's going to happen at the end.
Anything that starts with a mystery that is solved by the end I am a complete sucker for. All the better if it involves a single-minded maverick detective who takes the law into his/her own hands and some intricate descriptions of the blood and gore. I love the bits in CSI where they do the whooshing camera bit and you can see the bullet go in/poison set in/dagger pierce the heart. I also love the way they invent fictional technology to solve cases. I am also a big fan of Angela Lansbury.

4. I sometimes make lists of thinigs I like. Sometimes I write it down, but mostly in my head to cheer myself up.
The list usually is comprised of things like: being on the top deck of the bus at the front when the bus passes another bus, and seeing the two drivers wave at each other; train drivers announcing amusing things down the PA system; getting take-away coffee; buying any sort of new lip product; hearing a good joke for the first time; hearing a really good fact; accidentally watching a really good film. Those sorts of things. I know it's a bit raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, but establishing that I like those things heightens the enjoyment I feel when they actually happen.

5. I am ultra-shit at cards. For some reason I can just never remember how to play any game. I have been taught how to play any number of games any number of times, but as soon as I leave the room, turn my head, sneeze or whatever, it's gone. Even when travelling I preferred to sit around staring at walls than enter into a roller-coaster game of whist. I am, depending on how you look at it, really terrible or really good at strip poker. Strip snap is much more my scene, and I even lost at that a few weeks ago. Although I can't help but feel that might have been the idea.

6. I am a vampire. I drink blood. Sometimes with worcestershire sauce and a stick of celery, sometimes not.

There you go! Which of those statements isn't true?

I can practically hear your heads spinning from here.

I have a gig on Sunday in Eastbourne, which I have not rehearsed for. It promises to be interesting and not necessarily any good whatsoever.

Hope you all have a better weekend than I sense I am about to have.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Learning Curves

It's nearly one in the morning. I am sitting cross-legged on the floor of the studio, staring at the near-blinding glare of my IMac screen and listening to the hum of the various machines and desks that sit, dormant, nearby. I am exhausted, but somehow I feel like sending a little missive before I lay down on the narrow camp bed, squeeze shut my eyes and try to get the rhythms of the day to exit my head. Oustide the window I can hear the wind whipping off the sea and howling around Beachy Head. Not ever having lived near the sea it sometimes feels strange to me to exist so close to such an enormous body of water. To perhaps over-poeticize, I sometimes think about how much the great, vast, intimidating unknown of the sea somehow reflects the vast unknowability of where I am going. The analogy stops though, when I realize that I know where I would end up if I travelled across the water out there, whereas the end of this journey is, of course, a mystery. I just hope the cheese is as good when I get there.

You could say I am going through a bit of a odd patch. A couple of things that have happened in the last few days have slightly shaken my faith in things I had taken as certainties. These events have saddened me and increased my resolve to take everything with a pinch of salt from here on. These things are not huge, and they will not alter my life in any grand way, but they have made me resolve to think a third time before trusting anybody.

I am fundamentally uncomfortable with doing anything 'on spec', wthout assurance that it is the right thing to be doing. I am all for taking a risk or two, but every so often it hits me that I am gambling my whole furture on something that relies entirely on faith, on belief, and on tenacity. Blind faith is not something that rests very easily with me, so from time to time I catch a glimpse of the yawning void full of the possibility of failure and it makes me want to throw up and die.

I wonder if this all makes any sense. It's natural, people say, to be scared doing this. It's all so exciting, though! they usually follow with. What an adventure!

Most of the time, though, it doesn't feel like an adventure. It feels like I am broke and far away from home, pouring everything I have into something that most people fail at. Part of what makes it so hard is knowing that I will never walk away and give up, so I risk sitting on the floors of studios, with nothing but an empty bank account and a couple of half-wriiten songs, for the rest of my life.

An odd patch. I feel more isolated in this than I have for a long time. I am terrified. I know I cannot give myself the normality and routine that I am craving at the moment, and I know I cannot make the hard things go away. It's a learning curve, of course. It's just that it turns out that this learning curve might just be a bit of a shitter.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Some Kind Of Misguided Idea

Oh fuck.

Please. Stop telling me I can't do it. There are only so many times I can mentally tell you to fuck off.

That's all.

Friday, January 05, 2007

It's A Miracle!

I have been cured! I discovered that taking vitamins and eating cheese is the only real way to dispell a cold. I think it's the combination of the high fat intake of the cheese and plastic-y coating on the vitamins that does it. I knew that medical degree would come in handy one day.

I still don't feel one hundred percent, but it's more like the morning after three glasses of wine than yesterday's six bottles and ten shots of tequila nightmare.

My friend from up North is going to be in town today. I haven't seen him for about six months so I was planing to ignore any illness anyway, but now I don't have to. I have to have a little think about where to meet and what to do, but I think provided it doesn't involve standing outside having a bucket of cold water poured over my head I should be alright. Anyway I'll just keep some cheese handy.

I'm really pleased with the two songs I've written since I have come back from Bruges. I am even more pleased about the fact that neither one is entitled "Out Of My Face (Lots Of Snot Pouring)", because they really both should have been.

Happy weekend, and remember, cheese and vitamins will cure whatever ails you. Scurvy, broken leg, lactose intolerance, anything. Try it.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Despite Not Actually Being A Man

I appear to have come down with the most serious case of the man-colds. I am teary-nosed to the extreme and coughing like an over-dramatic lawnmower (in case of this simile not making sense, please consult: the fact that I am very ill) and feeling really rather sorry for myself. Nothing is working to make me feel better. Not whining, not watching Charmed, not eating cheese. Nothing, and now I am completely out of solutions.

I have taken to woefully contructing new (if somewhat beat-based) pieces of music on my Fancy Music Software, then throwing tantrums when they do not sound anything like the new Amy Winehouse album. My tantrums basically consist of me putting my head in my hands, sniffling energetically then shrugging and going to make myself a cup of tea. Because, if I'm honest, I know I'm being silly and irrational. Also because, if I'm being even more honest, there's nobody around to witness my tantrum and I'm not really sure it's worth the energy.

What I would really like to do is go running, because I feel all cabin-feverish, but I cannot. For fear of making the man-cold worse and my voice even less able to do useful things like talk on the phone, laugh out loud at my new book and sing fantastic (if somewhat beat-based) new songs. Also, unlike everyone else in the world, I actually lost five pounds (of the weight variety) over Christmas, and really want to avoid putting them back on again. Alas, I am confined to not running and eating medicinal cheese (which is like normal cheese, except there is more of it) so I might just have to.

In spite of all those things, I am enjoying working from my own little studio I have here. I am off to Eastbourne on Sunday to get back into the real studio, but I love being able to take time and construct new (if somewhat beat-based) songs at my own pace, so that I can take them to be recorded and mixed properly at a later date. I feel so much happier than I did just before Christmas. Somehow I think that going away over New Year in a big but still somehow close-knit group was exactly what I needed in order to be able to move on from certain things and gain perspective on others.

January, of course, is widely accepted as being an absolutely rubbish month, and I suspect this is largely due to the fact that pretty much the whole of it is comprised of people trying surreptitiously to wipe their noses on their sleeves because they are too broke after the whole Christmas/New Year debacle to afford tissues. However, I have decided that January shall be good. I want to have fun. I want to find one of the few men in London who still has some money (and isn't ugly/married/gay) and get him to take me out on a fancy date. I will, of course, have to get over my cold first. I don't want to drip snot into the Champagne.

I will write lots of songs, some of them beat-based, and give a big fuck you to those people who have told me I should have kept the office job. I will only think it, though, in case they say something mean back. I am not that cool.

First, though, I must stop being Dreadfully Sick, and I must also name the Pony.

The only thing I could think of by myself is Pepperoni the Pony, and that just seems a bit ominous, really. And while I so like the names suggested in the comments, I somehow felt there must be something more befitting.

So I had a think about what I love, apart from Magical Ponies, Charmed and singing songs.

Well, that would just be dirty.

Then I decided.

Welcome to my life, little Sparkle the Pony. You are indeed magical.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year, And A Pony

I feel that perhaps I should write something exciting, life-altering or maybe even interesting to hail in 2007, but that seems like too much of a challenge so I think I'll just have to stick to slightly boring and more than slightly self-obsessed.

I am sitting at home now, suffering still from some fairly enthusiastic New Year's celebrations which took place in Bruges, Belgium.

Much immense fun was had by all fourteen of us, despite some possibly ill-advised shot choices and high-energy dancing in bars full of unimpressed Belgians. Also attempting to dance on a rather melty ice-rink whilst holding cups of gluhwien, due to which all the girls managed to fall over one by one and spend the rest of the night with wet arses.

I am trying to make some resolutions but all I have come up with so far is "avoid sambuca", which doesn't seem desperately life-affirming. I have a feeling, though, that 2007 is going to be good, even despite the fact that so far I have been feeling quite ill for most of it.

So, Happy New Year! Oh, and here is the magical pony, trotting along merrily on the window sill. I love her jauntily raised front leg and swishy tail. She doesn't have a name yet, so all suggestions would be most welcome.