Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Miss Musing's Guide to Dealing with the Events of 2010...and Surviving the Events of 2011

Am sat in post-Christmas slump, having post-Christmas mulled-wine-fuelled rants with Lovemenot and listening to post-Christmas thrash-indie, namely The Backhanded Compliments and old-school Incubus (When I’m not loving Take That’s new one – brilliant)!  Am considering the events of the past year, my my what a whirlwind.  And whilst I am much looking forward to the trials and tribulations of 2011 (if 2010 is anything to go by, who knows what we’re in store for), I am also sat on the precipice being all poetic and thinking that something has to change.  So far I have a list of 32 New Year ‘challenges’ (I’m not sure they can all go under resolutions – actions such as ‘see a ghost’ are not really in my control). 

So, after much careful consideration, and a series of discussion points and general ‘whittling’ down of the 32 original resolutions outlined by myself and Lovemenot; I have compiled a list of both things to give up and things to take up…followed by a list of ten ‘com-muse-ments’ to see me through 2011.  Have a read, have a laugh…let me know how long you think I’ll last.

Miss Musing’s List of Things to Give Up

1)      Things bad for my temple of a body (a little vague…but there’s too much to go into here)
2)      Drinking (for one month)
3)      Bad boys (unless heavily convinced otherwise/it’s a good idea at the time…have talked myself in and out of that one in a matter of seconds-willpower, zero)
4)      Toms (with one or two exceptions…ok just one)
5)      Battery-swapping the remotes – just buy more batteries, for God’s sake, lazy.
6)      Whinging (unless for entertainment blogging purposes)

Miss Musing’s List of Things to Take Up

1)      Positivity (apparently it’s life altering)
2)      Running (I mean it this time)
3)      Study of paganism or witchcraft (just to add to the spiritual mystique of it all)
4)      More tattoos…more more more
5)      Actually being more upfront and open about potential feelings – towards those the feelings actually involve (have tried the 8-month-fawning-period-only-to-find-twas-massive-waste-of-time method – sooo 2010.  Sadface).
6)      Evening class to further potential creative career opportunity
7)      Singing in public, again.  This may be good therapy…hopefully for those listening as well.
8)      Saving money (am conscious of the need to save in this financial climate and also in hope of owning cottage with Cath Kidston kitchen in future.  Am also nowhere near Topshop at time of writing)

Miss Musing’s 10 Com-muse-ments for 2011 and all it may behold

1)      Thou shall not stress when forced to wait a) more than 3 minutes for a tube or b) for flat lift to descend more than one floor.  London hath made thou severely impatient, must find tranquillity in the small stuff.
2)      Thou shall not pick out children’s names before thou has even told prospective love interest how thou feels.  Thou does not want Dream Boy Mk 2 in 2011.  Heart remains numb, but this will change.  Hopefully.
3)      Thou shall not call upon the mystical powers of the Angel cards to give answers on a near daily basis.  Surrender all fear and trust in the promising hand of fate.  Even the Angels are now refusing to answer thou, this should be telling thou something.
4)      Thou shall lose lots of jubbly weight and regain some sort of work/life balance in order to pursue career as international best-selling novelist/make-up artist extraordinaire.
5)      Thou shall read one newspaper per week in order to keep on top of world current affairs.  Perhaps indulge in Guardian (Media – on a Monday) or Times (Style – on a Saturday)
6)      Thou shall resist all temptation from TO and other such inappropriate friends as thou knows this certainly is NOT the way to go and will consequently end up hurting/regretting much.
7)      Thou shall spend more time indulging in one of favourite past-times, knitting.  Starting with thoughtful present from Lovemenot (Knit Your Own Perfect Boyfriend) and culminating with Christmas Fairisle scarves for all.
8)      Thou shall become a tourist in London for day.  Thou shall ride the open-top buses and visit such wondrous sights as the Houses of Parliament, The London Eye and other buildings that simply pale into insignificance, as a citizen.  Thou MUST also take Mum to Lion King this year.
9)      Thou shall not give up hopes and dreams of fairytale romance, one that Emily Bronte would have been proud to have written.  However, must stop mooning around a la Audrey Tautou in Chanel advert, imagining Muse’s Exogenesis Symphony as soundtrack to life; or dreaming of wanderings on moonlit, rain-sodden moors in quest for true love.  Life is not a perfume advert/Disney-inspired concoction.  It is not good for the soul.  So thou has been told.
10)   Thou shall be inspired to save money for planned Interrailing/cycling European trip/festival visiting with Miss Lovemenot in the Summer…thou shall purchase cheap fold-up bike to prepare for such an adventure.

So there we have it…and before I set off to peruse the offerings of my wardrobe ready for a New Year’s Eve to remember at Proud…may I wish you all the Happiest of New Years and hope it may bring all sorts of fun and fabulous adventures to you all.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

The Woes of 'Lukin NYC'...and Other Reasons I Have Lost All Hope

Sat here, with Lovemenot, scaring ourselves with Crimewatch’s tales of premeditated gang robberies and other such attacks, I wonder what I am putting myself through. Most of it is going on approximately 80 miles away from us, but one can never be too sure. You see, as it has transpired, I have had quite enough scares for one week…namely my worst fears realised in the form of a social Internet-dating experiment.

I admit to having ‘bespoke’ and ‘interesting’ taste in menfolk. From the ginger-bearded and gnome-like, to the skinny-jeaned and hairy. There are the tattooed, the pierced, the paunched, the Garfield-photofits, the strangely alluring, the increasingly-strangely alluring, the grumpy and the downright shy. All of whom are beautiful. Most of whom could quite happily reside, convincingly, in The Shire. I have become quite accustomed to the looks of bewilderment and shock on the faces of my nearest and dearest when I am drooling over my latest crushes/enamourments, whilst they are trying to work out whether I’m joking or not. I never am. People expect it of me…after all back in the day when everyone was fawning over Dec, I was all about Ant. And his massive forehead.

Though the one trait in yummy menfolk I have always disliked and yet seem to attract , in the midst of usually trying to get the attention of the shy, cute friend, is arrogance. No matter how fluttery-eyelashed and Bambi-like I try to be, it’s always the arrogant or the chancers who approach little old me. Quelle Surprise!

So I decided to test this theory of arrogance. Considering this notion of arrogant chancers approaching me in a social setting, I wanted to investigate the idea that the same would happen in a far less intimate, cyber setting. So, for one week only, I put aside my personal feelings about online dating (in short - fairy tale princesses rarely sign on to the Internet to find their happy-ever-afters – see http://skinnymochamusings.blogspot.com/2010/07/serpents-of-serendipity-rear-their_27.html for more of my drivel), and set up a free profile. All in the name of research you see.

I put together a rather witty profile highlighting a few of my favourite things, tattoos, writing, shopping, a few lesser-known bands to really get the thinking caps ticking and posted a recent photo of myself in The Rose Print Dress (it works). And, amongst playing the new Adele song on Youtube far too much and trying to assemble some Christmas present ideas for friends and family, I waited with baited breath to see what sort of response my little social experiment would bring.

The Pantera-reject was first, with a ‘hilarious’ tale of a Cure concert he went to round about the time I was learning to join my letters together in Reception class. His timeless tale, where he pretended to be blind in order to get to the front, included a wonderful anecdote of him being escorted to the bathroom by a steward. Yup some poor gigging bastard could have been kicked to death, unseen by ill-informed security, during ‘Friday I’m in Love’ just so some long-haired idiot, could fulfil his dream of trying to lick Rob Smith. I would have had to be blind, deaf and dumb to reply to him.

Next up…someone I’ll simply call ‘Mr Illiterate’. The sad truth is he turned out to be one of many. His simple one-line ice-breaker of ‘Hi Lukin NYC’, somewhat baffled me. Was his name Luke? Did he live in New York? Oh no, wait, he’s just thick. Even the Google language translator couldn’t save me this time, so I engaged Lovemenot in some detection. And, much like a Whistles-clad Sherlock and Watson, Lovemenot and I concluded that he was simply trying to type ‘hi, looking nice’. Not the hardest three words in the dictionary is it? It’s even worse than text speak, it’s no speak. So I’m afraid Mr Illiterate, unlike Cheryl Cole, three words will not change your life, unless you learn (and may I add hastily) how to spell. Then and only then can you consider conversing with women, or members of the general public, over the age of three.

Speaking of which, I very much appreciated the compliment from a certain ‘Specialist UK’, more like ‘Special UK’, who simply said I was ‘Beartfuli’. I resisted, but very much felt the urge to reply ‘I’m sorry I don’t understand you, it must be something to do with BEING BORN IN THE 90s?’ For the record Mr ‘damn your cute (apostrophe followed by R and E you retard), fancy a chat hunni’ would also get no response on principle. Since when did it become ok to chat women up like you’re singing a Will Smith song?

There were gig-goers and all that. Men who, I am thankful, had actually bothered to look past the first line of my profile, or the cut of my dress, to try and find some common ground on which to start conversation. Some liked The Black Keys, others were keen to know what the best gig I had ever been to was (Michael Jackson, Wembley Stadium 1996 – Ha). Sadly though, there wasn’t a ginger beard in sight, so the social experiment continued, though full marks to the curly-haired one who spotted the Jimi Hendrix poster in my photo background.

This one interested me, so I thought I would give it a go and reply. The responses were quick and painless. He seemed fairly normal and quite keen to take me out on a date. I threw caution to the wind and gave him my digits. One photo, a few emails and some text messages later, he was suggesting how much he might like to ‘curl up on the sofa with me’. Yup sure, being that you don’t know what I look like in person or what my voice sounds like, I really didn’t feel this is appropriate behaviour. I gave him the benefit of the doubt for a few more days before deciding to cut it off as his texting and neediness, quite frankly, scared me. Am strong, independent woman seeking strong, indie-pendent man, not wet mop.

Some of the responses were shocking. Some of them want to use you. Some of them want to get used by you and some of them just want to get to ‘no you’. Um ‘Know way’ I say (I told you Mr Illiterate was not alone). They were blocked quicker than you can say ‘resign resign resign’. Plus there were a couple of mobile numbers thrown in email numero uno…desperate? A tad!

All in all I felt more and more disheartened by the whole process. By the end of the week I had received something in the region of forty emails, all of them charmers, most of them chancers and more than half wanted nothing more than to strut their ‘manliness’ in a ‘safe, Internet environment’. I believe I proved myself right. Obviously I feel it’s important to add, once again, if the world of Internet dating works for you, then do go forth and prosper. Date to your heart’s content, scroll through the profiles of exciting potentials and enjoy every single minute. But it still left me cold, and devoid of all hope of a Prince Charming on my interests and intellectual level. I concluded the experiment dying for a long, hard talk with someone ambitious, capable of more than one line sentences and who can preferably spell. But maybe that’s asking too much? I prefer to think not, and hope not.

Well in amongst all that harsh talk, I have great festive news fellow musings…after much deliberation between the powers that be at that magical land of ‘Head Office’, my store WILL indeed be closed on Boxing Day, much to the excitement of yours truly who can now OFFICIALLY go home for Christmas! Yes it’s going to be Mince Pies and Crackers all round this year once again as I sit at my rightful place around the dinner table with Christmas Top of the Pops blaring in the background. I can’t wait…though fear my bad side may get the better of me when negotiating the train journey home.

Although my momentary elation of Christmas cheer has been somewhat shattered with the news that Dream Boy, yes the one I have dreamed of and fawned over for the past God-knows-how-long, actually has a girlfriend. And discovered, quite by chance, on a recent fun, Jagerbomb-downing, bar-crawling night out with him and his mates; when one had every intention of making one’s feelings known. It was like taking a bullet, the kind that even a secret hand-squeezing from Lovemenot couldn’t quite retract. I’m surprised I didn’t fall off my chair, instead I gracefully died inside and wore an ear to ear smile whilst shamelessly flirting with The Banned One (TO). Nobody was any the wiser. But, alas, that is life, and if it’s not meant to be then there is nowt can be done. And if you like someone, then you want the best for them, so if he is happy then that really is all that matters. We are friends and that’s nice (trying to muster up some sort of positive mental attitude here), I can’t keep living with my head in the clouds. So long Dream Boy…the dream is over.

Alas, not one to want to ruin anyone else’s festivities I shall simply take the opportunity to wish you all an incredibly Merry Christmas. May we see this year out in truly fabulous fashion with friends, family and frolicking in the snow.

Mwah x

Friday, 3 December 2010

I'm So Wrapped Up In Your Gaze...Hoping This Is Just A Phase

Once again the blogging is lagging but the last few months, suffice to say, have been tough. I am still the one, solitary mug-of-a-keyholder at my store which continues to frustrate and annoy both me and my new Assistant Manager, who is stuck over in her store for various reasons until some magical date I fear has about as much chance of materialising as the dream I had about Serge Pizzorno last night. I came back refreshed from a week off at home to find that absolutely nothing had changed at work and that I was still expected to slave night and day grabbing whatever days off I could. Not only that, but they are now considering opening my tiny shop on Boxing Day, which means no Christmas time at home for me. Which makes me impossibly sad and a bit crazy.

Ever since year nought Christmas has always been about me and my tiny family, hobbiting around together, having a laugh at the TV, opening presents, getting dressed up in our finest for no particular reason and eating far too much. There will usually be a film on in the background that I will spend the evening explaining to Nanny Musing, my cat will rummage through the wrapping paper and emerge looking wide-eyed and cute and we’ll probably try our hand at a game of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Pretty standard really…and bloody perfect. And now, looking more and more unlikely thanks to the greedy, grubby Gods of fashion retail, who have managed to convert this once Christmas Sprite (who can still sometimes be found searching for Narnia in her wardrobe) to Miss Scroogess 2010.

So today, you find me somewhat absent in mind and body and somewhat devoid of Christmas Spirit, which is unknown territory for me. Usually I’m all tinsel and angels and full of Christmas cheer, fellow musers, I can assure you. But the thought that I may not be able to be at home with Mummy Musing and the rest of my family fills me with dread, to the point that I may be forced to cancel all my December plans in the lead up to the festivities and wallow in Scrooge-inspired self pity. With no tinsel. And no tree.

So in true Musing fashion, I have tried my absolute best to pull together events of the last few months to make my ‘Reasons To Be Cheerful’ in the vain hope of providing some entertainment and to remind myself that perhaps things really aren’t so bad after all.

Well the first thing I have done recently is shed the dog-hair and am now sporting a new Karen-O/Coco Chanel inspired bob. Much better, less straggle, more chic, better cheekbones. Winner!

Speaking of all things hairy, I have come to the conclusion that there is but one must-have accessory for this cold winter season. Push aside those hiking heels and shearling jackets, the camel coats and the knee length socks. The one thing I want to be snuggling up to by a cosy fireside is a beautiful boy…complete with extensive ginger beard.

Reason To Be Cheerful Numero Uno…Let’s review…and rewind back to the unspoken desires for Simon Pegg in Hot Fuzz, the unfathomable crush on Guy Garvey (rugged rugged rugged). Not to mention the distant memories of my first serious boyfriend, Joe, who was an elfin Ginger vision…though consequently a sad wannabe rock star with a hefty weed addiction and a toasty Nine Inch Nails hoody. In the end it seems there really was ‘no love in Rock and Roll’, yes a line he actually once used in one of our sixteen-year-old ridiculous ‘deep’ conversations.

So it seems 2010 has re-established my love of all things ginger (Gingerbread included), and I am beginning to see a pattern emerging in these men who appear so sadly infrequently in my life. Early January brought the lovely Bob to my attention. The man who took my tattoo-virginity and, therefore, became a whole lot sexier under the bobble hat and massive ginger beard whilst penetrating my skin with his magic needle. Throw into the mix his lovely soothing tones to calm my general fear of pain and the cute picture he had of his child on the wall; and he’s transformed from something you’d find fishing at the bottom of your garden into bonafide dream boat and all round hottie. Does anyone else suffer from this?

I’ll skim over the Tattooed One, whose ginger face is always unbearably lovely to nuzzle (much out of view of Dream Boy), the dalliance with Twat Rep, eye-flirting with the Ginger Prince and we are brought right up to the present day where my new crush, Mr Dan Aerbach of The Black Keys wowed me recently at one of their astounding gigs at Brixton. Sexy, bluesy rock, with a hint of Jimi Hendrix and Des Barres-inspired tales of 70’s excess, I’m all over The Black Keys at the moment, so much so that their album needs surgical aid in removal from my player. I’m also all over Dan’s hugely impressive beard, one bushy little number I felt could have taken my eye out right at the back of the stalls where I was stood at Brixton. And take my eye out he most certainly could with all that bristly gorgeousness… ‘his Next Girl, will be nothing like his Ex-Girl’…with any luck she’ll be a British rock and roll vision of Snow White with a penchant for white mochas and an extensive footwear collection. Ah one can dream…

So I guess Reason To Be Cheerful Number 2 should be the wild night out with Miss Lloyd (my ‘one too many’ friend) which culminated in us stripping to our undies and swimming in an indoor swimming pool, within the confines of the Aquarium club in Shoreditch. Miss Lloyd claims this was all my idea, I think I may have had enough G and Ts not to remember. Either way, I strongly recommend experiencing this if you haven’t already, not least because a nice warm Jacuzzi really sobers you up and drowns out the banter you just can’t be arsed to listen to. There is also the fact that you get to experience what it must be like to be one of those domestic, Nemo-style, tropical fishes with everyone staring at you through the tiny windows on either side of the pool (As if we’re mad or something?). I was waiting for them to drop fish flakes through the windows, the fish flakes never came and the walk home was bitterly cold. There was a boy, his name was Andy. He gave me a neon bracelet as a reminder of him, I think I threw it away. Note to self though; be careful not to get water in face or hair during midnight impromptu swim sessions. You may have chosen to go swimming on a night out yes, but that does not give one licence to spend the rest of the evening resembling Frightening Crawling Girl from ‘Ring’.

Reason To Be Cheerful Number 3 – I should mention the hilarious notion of a certain young waiter at a certain chain of Expressive Pizzas; that it generally is A-OK to hit on customers in front of their Mums! There I was, relaxing on a week off from London chaos, revelling in Due South repeats and Mum’s cooking and severe bouts of Cat-Cuddling. Out we went for dinner one evening with Goldie and Mummy Goldie, tucking into some lovely calamari and catching up on everything, it was lovely. I had noticed the waiter hovering around and barely recognised him as the chubby faced boy who I was once in a show with about ten years ago. He remembered me though (but sadly not Mummy Musing, who slaved in the costume department for about 6 years – some people), and conversation was struck up in a friendly manner, only to go downhill as he asked about my plans for the week and hinted at taking me out for a coffee. I was put on the spot, trying to find polite answers that weren’t, ‘but my Mum is sat right opposite me’. Nice guy bless him, and I got a free dessert but ultimately was not so keen. And the number casually slipped into my hands along with the ‘give me a text sometime’ shouted as I left the restaurant only prompted more ‘but my Mum is RIGHT HERE’. Guys…chatting a girl up in front of her Mum is not cool. Ever. One for the Grandchildren though!

Reason to be Cheerful Number 4 – I heart Proud, Proud hearts me. That’s why their New Year’s Eve extravaganza looks to be the best in town with DJs, Live Bands and Burlesque galore. This looks to be a monumental eve on the horizon… or just a mental one.

Reason To Be Cheerful Number 5 has got to be an amalgamation of Lovemenot and Kitty; two fabulous friends who have really picked my spirits up of late. Twas wonderful to see Kitty after a hideous 3 month separation, much falafel was eaten and we randomly browsed a lot of second hand book shops but it was lovely and I would like to thank her for the short amount of time that she brought me back down to earth (let’s face it, it’s never going to be a permanent state is it).

And a big thank you to Miss Lovemenot, who always sees the positive in the most negative of situations. She who takes control of my life when I am so not in the mood/mental state of mind to do so. She who does not write people/situations off as quickly as I do (mostly because she has a brain a bit like a man) and always tries to turn things around with either words of wisdom or harsh words such as, ‘please just try and focus on something else, for my sake if not yours’. Plus I have finally witnessed L going a big gooey-eyed and entering the ‘phone-staring’ phase of dating over a boy called Sam she recently met out. So I feel I have one up on her at the moment! What would I do without her? Answers on a post card please, a pretty one. For the record, the elusive Sam has dropped off the face of the earth (and landed on the Twat Pile I strongly suspect). Nevermind Lovemenot, there’s better out there…and he’ll be back in London soon enough!!

But in all seriousness, thank you L for it all. I’m so glad we have each other when the rest of the world (or just work and silly boys really) goes wrong.

So next time you hear from me, I sincerely hope I have pulled myself out of this pre-Christmas slump and will be, once again, back to the spritely bringer of good tidings and exquisite mince pies I know I can be. Until then, I am preparing to make like a hedgehog and hibernate against both the freezing weather and the continued stream of bad things happening. I am also planning to consume my weight in tea and satsumas Maybe, just maybe, I’ll write an extremely unrealistic list to Father Christmas and hope for the best….Until next time, don’t slip, don’t eat the yellow snow and please boycott any kind of Boxing Day shopping plans.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Come Fly With Me...The James Syndrome Vs The Phe-Tom-enon

I’m in LOVE fellow musers…unconditional, irrevocable, Bella-and-Edward-eat-your-hearts-out love (or necks perhaps…do vampires have hearts)?

The first time I ever saw him, I knew he was the one. Strong, sturdy, timeless and bang on trend. He was just what I wanted, and needed. Something to cosy up to, to keep me warm on those chilly winter nights that are fast drawing in. Allow me to introduce you to the new love of my life…my new Anika Flying Jacket…Courtesy of both Whistles and the continued generosity of an early Christmas present from Mummy Musing.

As much as work is proving to be quite the bane of my fabulous life at the moment, one does have to admit that grinding away in the dizzying heights of fashion retail management has its benefits, namely the discount. It is true that I have been working like an impeccably-dressed donkey over the last few weeks and missing days off in the absence of my new Assistant Manager starting. We’re straight into mid-season sale, I have staff dropping their hours left, right and centre and am now found to be working with the world’s most unruly printer. Times are hard, musers, but the collection is covetable and whilst I am often to be found staring at my new jacket, I have got my eye on the rather gorgeous Freya dress, a new vampy number for the December season I think.

To be honest, one cannot blame me for my obsessive behaviour over my wardrobe when the boys in my life are still acting so stiflingly strange…Shoreditch Boy has disappeared off the planet again. Perhaps he’s still on Majorca time? Or, even worse perhaps he’s still on Shoreditch time which means I’m bound to get a frown-prompting barrage of text messages in about three weeks. I think this one is best left where it is left. Number deleted, cuteness forgotten, the world makes sense again.

But the swift departure of one, as usual, signals the return of another. Tattooed One is back on the scene and looking decidedly hot. He’s up to his usual sweet, cuddly trickery making all kinds of small promises I’m sure he doesn’t intend to keep. I am not fooled boy, not for one second, but have to admit the thought has crossed my mind more than once. Plus he is lovely to have a cuddle with. Please somebody stop me.

Plus, there was the rather unfortunate incident with yet another James, a bar manager, who seemed cute and friendly but after a failed attempt to befriend me in his office, he swiftly landed on the twat pile and I wasted a perfectly good drawing of a telephone on a serviette. Obviously some men have no taste when it comes to artistic qualities in their women. Another James eh? But in true Bradshaw style it has ‘got me thinking’ about what’s in a name…

On reflection, it appears I am quite the stickler for consistency when it comes to names of the men in my life. I worked out that I have had not one but FIVE near misses with Jameses this year. There was Gally (say no more), followed by the Hopeful Affair with Fate on Brick Lane. Not long after that came Shoreditch Boy in all his Elfin beauty and then the sad, much regrettable, lingering with Twat Rep in Greece and finally Mr Rymans and his obsession with his office. Will I ever learn? Should I be paying attention to these names and the all the mischief and confusion they seem to bring? Should I actively avoid these names at all costs in favour of a much happier relationship future?

In fact, the newly-coined James Syndrome has now surpassed my previous name obsession I shall simply call the Phe-Tom-enon. Four bad Toms, four of them in my life which I’ll highlight for you now, at the risk of sounding like I’m naming episodes of Friends…

1) The First One – I was sixteen and vulnerable. He charmed, he cheated, he looked a bit like that chubby singer from Papa Roach.

2) The One Who Got Away – I actually sent him away as I couldn’t stand the ups and downs any longer during my crucial Uni years. It was horrible, psychotic in parts and one cannot help but wonder ‘what if’ from time to time.

3) The One That Never Was – I’m not sure why it never was, but it wasn’t. He was nice, but his jacket was too big for him, so maybe it was no loss.

4) The Electric Ballroom One – The less said about this one the better I believe. Though I was so plastered I kept calling him and his mate ‘Tom and Serge’. I also fell into a bin.

The Phe-Tom-enon doesn’t seem to be letting up either what with endless temptation from such fine specimens as Mr Rowley a mere seventy miles away. So what’s a girl to do? ‘The heart wants what it wants’ as Lovemenot always says and if that is the case, it appears my heart is never more enamoured than in the presence of a James or a Tom. Well my heart and I do not seem to be reading from the same page. I have never really bought the whole idea of ‘coincidence’, so maybe it’s time to address names further afield than these two familiars and see what the wealth of Adams, Dans, Joes, Bens etc have in store?

You’ve got to laugh (trust me, it was either vent it out in a Blog, or be sectioned) in these circumstances. Alternatively I feel it is important to reflect on the ludicrous nature of my lovelife…and try to turn it into a money-making scheme. So have decided to create a sweepstake amongst my nearest and dearest, all of whom are placing bets on what the name of 2011 will be. I have mine all set, ready and ever hopeful and Lovemenot is sticking with the consistency of the Toms. Others, however, are picking total wild cards, many names of which I have yet to be acquainted with, which could prove quite exciting.

Anyway, the weather is turning brisker by the second, the nights are closing in and I’m off for a romantic stroll safe in the leathery arms of my new boyfriend. Place your bets people….

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Craziness Reigns at this Carnival Show...

Picture the scene if you will…You’re all trussed up in Breton stripe and red lips, exposing the décolleté to a slightly nippy September evening breeze, chillin’ with your nicotine famished friends. The man almost directly opposite you, the one you’ve really rather fancied for quite some time, the one whose been both subtly and not-so-subtly making eyes at you throughout the evening, is chillin’ with his friends. He’s having a good time looking hot in his tight jeans, the set went well, and he’s laughing away at some private joke. So you decide to seductively slide onto the Evening Standard unit you are casually leaning against to keep up that ‘playful’ image and re-establish the eye-sex…
This is the point you should stop. Or at least I should have…
So I’m back from my Grecian adventure, soaking up the last of September’s sun and slipping back to reality. And my most favourite part of reality is being shunted from pillar to post on an overheated, overcrowded train on my commute from Dalston Kingsland each morning. A train that appears to get more crowded by the day. I’m sorry, I must have missed the newsflash that Dalston was, in fact, the hub of instant human cloning experiments. I keep expecting to bump into none other than myself whilst slowly being asphyxiated between a rather beautiful handbag and a tramp in a hurry.
Now it’s no secret that I like my music much like my men, Northern. I’m also partial to a lead singer with next to no facial expression and a touch of ginger along with some dark songwriting material involving killing, maiming, guilty consciences and all that. Lucky for me, Dead Sons exist.
Dead Sons are the latest musical triumph of the rather gorgeous Thomas Rowley (a man who, it seems, has the sole mission in life of being a member of as many bands in the North East region as humanly possible). Expanded from the ashes of The Backhanded Compliments, Dead Sons are darker, more 70s inspired with a whole load of new equipment and two new members. Plus they were coming to London…So I dragged one of my work friends plus MMH on Tuesday night, the heels were ridiculously high, the skirt a little short and I was ready to rock.
A few stops on the sweat-inducing Victoria Line and a rather annoying wait around for the doors to open, we were there and I was anxious to get in the building and, more importantly, hunt out Rowley and his band of merry men. Anticipation ran high as I spotted drummer Greeny escape the doors of Buffalo for a cheeky cigarette, followed closely by another two. Before I knew it, my heart had skipped several beats and I tried my absolute hardest not to stare as I sat splayed across the pavement.
There they all were, strutting like five hairy highwaymen hell-bent on having their wicked way with you and leaving a trail of messy destruction in their wake (one can dream). If this were the early 1400s, this fair maiden would have ridden away to elope in a flash.  But wait, who was this quiet and unassuming young man with just the right amount of swagger in his skinny-jeaned step, hopping into Buffalo to check out the evening's events?  Sporting a tight black top to compliment the denim topped off with a gorgeous swept hairstyle, the type you immediately want to ruffle as soon as you see it. Or at least I do. Wait, was that a wide-eyed double-take I spotted? Choosing to ignore my work friend’s comparison to Garfield and Cogsworth from Beauty and the Beast, I believed him to be perhaps the most beautiful man on the planet, and that’s a huge statement, one I have previously only dished out for Serge Pizzorno and John Taylor (Mummy Musing is very much in agreement with the latter).  I needed to know who this man was.
It wasn’t until we were inside the bar that the fun really started, there was eye-catching left, right and centre. Deliberate turns in my direction mid-conversation from Mr Delicious, deliberate staring at his arse whilst my friend was finishing off a must-read edition of Glamour not to mention a very deliberate and strategic walk (well, strut) right past him to the Little Girls’ Room only to then miss him by about two seconds as he went to the Mens. Perhaps it was a ‘look but don’t touch night’, and I was informed on my return to my friends that the strut had, in fact, had the desired effect.
The gig was awesome, lots of people turned out to see Dead Sons, including the scary paedo who is forever on the tails of young musicians (I’m a 26 year old girl, I’m allowed). Plus I would like to take this opportunity to thank the demented, drugged up couple and their off-putting PDAs for near enough ruining both my view and enjoyment, there’s always one (or two in this case). Luckily I am far too nice a person and was able to stamp my feet and overlook these gross tongue-flicking acts emanating in front of my face whilst I was innocently trying to sing along with ‘Sun Song’. MMH had an awesome time too. Their music sounded amazing, especially considering how new the material was and the atmosphere of the place really suited them down to the ground. I was all rocked out and, frankly, a little lustful.
So afterwards, outside, we waited patiently for Mr Delicious to make his way out.  This was to no such avail as upon his exit, he was deeply engrossed in conversation with friends of theirs. I was merely a bystander. Something had to be done. So I took it upon myself to make like a diva and slide myself onto the Evening Standard Unit I had been leaning against to try and re-ignite the flames of burning desire between myself and Mr Delicious.
Well it’s safe to say gone are my dancing days of ease and flexibility in high heels. After a false start, rather than slipping onto the Unit like a cheeky, wanton elfin-seductress, I couldn’t get my heel placed high enough, needed a push to keep me steady and the whole event culminated in me doing nothing more than giving the innocent Unit a really poor lap-dance, whilst MMH crumbled in floods of hysterical tears whilst trying to shield me from view of anyone. I can only thank my lucky stars that Mr Delicious’ skinny-jeaned behind stayed permanently facing me throughout my ordeal and live in hope that, one day soon, I will get to rectify this horrible situation.
Back to the present day and you find me, once again, pondering the inner workings of the male mind. You may remember a fleeting mention of a young man I took a fancy to in a Shoreditch bar a few weeks ago? The one I swapped numbers with after a brief encounter only to never hear from him again? Well whilst on a shopping trip for upcoming Birthday treats who should I receive a text from? Yes that’s right, Shoreditch Boy, the world makes sense again! Not only have three weeks flown by since our lovely encounter but I had near enough forgotten what he looked like when he breezes in to tell me things have been a little hectic. It turns out he is currently on holiday in Majorca which adds to the conundrum somewhat. Obviously I am doing what any strong-willed, independent woman would do. I am staring at my phone every five minutes in the hope that we may finally be able to meet up for that drink. Don’t judge me!

Friday, 24 September 2010

Notes from a Greek Island

The rate at which this year is flying by is alarming me somewhat. Is it alarming you? I seem to have blinked and missed August and all its charming weather, now forever lost to me, much the same as my Internet for most of that month as Mr A-S-A-K had cancelled our Internet without telling me (hence the lack of musings) and took the TV. So here we are, September is almost at an end and there’s a distinct chill in the air. Before you know it our Supermarkets will be lined with all things Christmassy and I’ll be searching the Internet for New Year’s Eve happenings as am determined not to spend it in some Sutton dive this year.

August was something of a blur, as I spent much of it wrapped up in some wonderful happenings, mostly traipsing across London in search of dream home with housemate-to-be Lovemenot. As with most things, it turned out to be harder than we expected.

I believe finding a new flat can really correlate with taking those first tentative steps with a new boyfriend. First of all, you are always told that you will simply ‘know’ when you find the right one (doubtful, in both cases), you need to find somewhere you can ‘be yourself’ and feel ‘totally comfortable’. I guess mostly you want to find somewhere/someone you actually want to come home to each day. See the correlation? It’s really not easy! I have one tip for those house-hunting in the London region – I would hazard a statistic that about 98% of London-based landlords are bastards, so be aware, don’t play fair and, if you see something you love straightaway, for God’s sake don’t mull it over with a Yaki Soba and side order of Gyoza Dumplings! Get your deposit in and your Van Man booked. We made that mistake, more than once. Yes the pull of a local Wagamamas led us to query our hasty decision making and, consequently, lose many a perfectly lovely house (including one with an actual real life Pug)! Then, on one unsuspecting Wednesday evening, when we had all but given up hope, there it was, snuggled in between Hackney and Islington.

It had been a long day for us; Lovemenot had battled with the alarm system whilst covering another store whilst I had battled not drinking too much free bubbly at our company brand day. I wasn’t hopeful at first glimpse of future dream flat, but the first signs of clean laminate flooring and excellently sized rooms and we were sold. So fast forward a few weeks, plus a whole lot of boring, TV-less, packing evenings and here you find us, centrally located and sprawled out on my bed with laptop, Elle and ITunes. You can even see The Guerkin from the High Street, we have officially arrived!

August was the also the month Dream Boy came back and blew my mind away. They were brilliant, they stole the show and so on and so forth with all the gushing. Only this time things were different. There was more Becks on his part and more double G and T’s on mine, which culminated in some stage waving, a bit of sexy machismo, loss of inhibition and beckoning him over like some sort of abandoned puppy. This was followed by lovely conversation and cuddles and kisses on cheeks (or on hair as it were, the damn thing’s going to take someone’s eye out one day there’s so much of it). Not to mention the promise of a future evening out all together on their next visit to London (I may add this was suggested by him and not me)! All in all the stuff my dreams are made of plus a photo to remember the moment too. And to think he spent the last two occasions seemingly avoiding my gaze at all costs. Am of course now even more smitten than before having all but written his surname with a ‘Mrs’ all over my diary…until next time Dream Boy.

The aforementioned ‘Serendipity’ trick I resolutely stated I would be implicating isn’t really working either. Not because I’m trying though, but because I’m not trying at all and have, once again, given my number out to a lovely young man with the promise of an evening out after a short conversation in a Shoreditch bar. Have never heard from him since, when will I learn? Have benchmarked this implication as a top priority upon my return from Greece, where I will no doubt give my number out to a lovely Englishman after a short conversation in a Greek bar!

My most poignant memory of August though, will be the day I played Bridesmaid for one of my closest friends, Chappers. It’s always the happiest and saddest of times when someone gets married. Happy because it’s all lovely and we’re there to celebrate the love and a bright and wonderful future for two perfect people. But sad also, sad because it’s another step forwards for us all and another acceptance of things changing. Never one to pine for the old times, it’s still sometimes shocking to think how things change in such a short time. Nevertheless, I wish my beautiful Chappers, the one who always wanted the white wedding, all the very best. May your marriage to lovely Mr C be filled with more happiness and joy than you could have ever wish for. And I’ll probably still call you Chappers, even though that’s not your name anymore.

So all in all, I was more than ready for a holiday. Work was getting busier and more demanding and my head didn’t quite feel like it fitted on my body after the whirlwind of the previous month. I was reluctant to say good bye to the dream shoes I had just purchased as a wardrobe staple for the upcoming season, but they were to sit obediently in their box for a whole week awaiting my return. Cue Goldie, Soltan’s 2 for 1 offer and a bloody long night travelling to Gatwick to begin our week in the sun, our Grecian adventure.

We all know queues at airports can be tedious at the best of times, so it should come as no surprise to you that, after severe lack of sleep, I had several musings/gripes during my hideous wait to both check in and then board. Namely why can’t check-in queues be straight as opposed to snake-like and confusion-inducing? Why is there no Starbucks when you desperately need one and why should I be expected to submit to a Costa latte? And why (and I thank my lucky stars that I can count on Goldie to back me up in this) does Tie-Rack still exist? It nearly put us off our pancakes, the very thought that such a shop that encourages tassles on horrendous pashmina designs amongst other, cheap, fabric goods would feel the need to open at 5 am at Gatwick not to mention the sad people who would choose to shop there at that time.

As we’re polishing off the almost-regurgitated pancakes I spot one of the most painful and familiar sights airports have to offer; one woman trying to inconspicuously tow a suitcase in massive espadrille wedges.

Now I’m one for personal grooming at the best of times. I don’t believe in being caught short, you never know who or what may occur on that quick trip to the newsagents for milk and Elle. I once managed to prove my darling Mummy Musing wrong during an impromptu visit to Wagamamas in my past life in Bath after she questioned my need to top up the face before a brisk walk down for dinner. Well within twenty-five minutes of High-Beaming the cheeks, who do we bump into? My senseless, beautiful crush of the time. If ever there was a defining moment in my life to forewarn me of the consequences of not ‘arriving stunning and impossibly fresh-looking’, it was this one. But, despite this, I cannot help but wonder why why why you would wear any kind of heeled or wedged footwear en route either to or from holiday? What is there to prove? That you can carry a suitcase that weighs the same as a pregnant horse and look sexy at the same time? I have news for you espadrilled-travellers out there, IT DOESN’T HAPPEN. And that airport scene in Sex and The City 2 is not akin to real life. The only people you are fooling are yourselves.

Even Jane Shepherdson, one of the most innately glamorous women of this day and age, wags the finger at heels during travel and suggests a decent cashmere scarf (for emergency pillow needs) and a pair of Converses. Admittedly I am biased; being an employee of the company Jane is CEO for, but the woman talks total sense. Yes arriving off the plane in a state of unchartered glamour is important; yes there is a slim chance that David Beckham may be arriving at Gatwick at the same time as you. But, to be frank, I would rather be seen casually rolling my suitcase along at a normal flat-heeled pace as opposed to falling on my arse whilst tottering along trying to negotiate both the slow-walking statuesque people on the travellators and the steps either up towards or down from the plane. Holiday musing number one, there is a time and a place for sexing it up and elongating the legs. The airport and all its inherent dangers is not one of them.

Rant over, my eyelids are getting heavy, I’m about to board the plane and attempt to make like a contortionist and fold myself into a plane seat where I am hoping to hear nothing but the sound of my own breath combined with Mumford and Sons for the next three hours. Plus am finding it increasingly both hilarious and ironic that the woman next to me in the departure lounge is reading Dawn French’s ‘Dear Fatty’ whilst munching on a grab bag size of Sensations. Once aboard the Ipod goes on and we are encouraged to watch the video depicting in-flight emergencies etc. I can’t help but find it slightly disturbing that I now have a bunch of cute kids explaining emergency procedures to me via the mode of video, what are the airline staff paid for these days? Not the entertaining choreography routines to demonstrate the emergency exits, that’s for sure.

I think I sleep, there was some definite dreaming involving cigarettes and The Clash and, as far as I am aware, neither of these is on the plane. The weather feels warmer and any British-based troubles and strife are several thousand miles away suffering under damp skies. We had arrived at Zakinthos.

I’ll skim over the baggage reclaim procedure, nobody likes baggage reclaim at the best of times but especially not after nearly 24 hours with no sleep. Our bags managed to be some of the last I’m sure so, after yet more hanging around plus a rickety five minute coach ride to the hotel, the prospect of a bed in a room with a beautiful view was perhaps the most attractive thought I had had in a long time.

Cut to a week of sun, sea and spirituality (strangely enough). Goldie and I managed to do both a lot of drinking and soul searching that holiday. There were beach trips to the crystal-lined Old Kalymaki, poolside reading times and a wealth of restaurants complete with free drinks from swarming waiters. You know the types, they come inclusive of all holidays involving small groups of girls. There were nights out, lie-ins, Antonio the gammy dog, tarot readings and crystal therapies, not to mention a LOT of talking. It was truly unforgettable, my holiday with Goldie. Well there was one night I’d rather forget…

Laganas…the stuff dreams are made of apparently…a small ocean side town just along from Kalymakis, where we are staying, which boasts God knows how many 18-30s holidays a year. If you breathe deeply, you can smell the petrol fumes they try to pass off as shots for miles, there’s usually a group of gypsy children ready to steal from the drunk and sell to the passed out and you can’t move for the amount of ‘tramp stamp’ tattoos on display. My idea of hell in fact. So imagine my excitement when we were invited out on a bar crawl with our hotel rep (twat) and a few of the other guests (unfriendly). That’s right, wild horses couldn’t have kept me away. We went, we saw, we got dragged into games and we near enough ran away from each bar before downing too many of the free ‘shots’ that were on offer.

Bored of the evening already, Goldie and I try to hammer up our enthusiasm levels by creating new ‘Chav’ personas with suitable names, occupations (usually none, unless on parole) and ‘boyfrund’ troubles (this never gets old); whilst I am starting to notice that, from some angles one of the party (unfortunately attached by the hip to GF) does resemble a cleaner cut version of my Tattooed crush. Later as we head towards the bright lights of the Venue karaoke bar, it becomes evident that he is also just as easy to flirt with, I make a mental note to steer clear as this could get problematic.

The Venue bar, I should add, became our second home during our holiday. We came, we sung, we couldn’t care less. We made some lovely friends there on holiday from Birmingham, Luke and Dave. Many a night was spent tearing up the microphone (Back to Black was a classic of mine though I did manage to pull off ‘Feeling Good’ the Muse version) and trying to fend off the Salsa-obsessed druggie despite all his efforts to intervene our cosy little group.

Anyway, I digress. The Rep was there, falling over himself trying to sing an extremely poor version of The Zephyr Song, dressed in some sort of appalling homage to the 70s (not in a good way, he was more Jim Robinson than Jim Morrison). He had spent the evening trying to work out who I was texting, asking if I was ‘missing him’ so when I told him there was no ‘him’, he did what all drunk, ginger tosspieces do and assumed I was backhanding his advances due to being a lesbian. I was actually texting my Mum and I would assume that anyone who has either been in my company or read my blog is probably aware of my blatant preference for the opposite sex and all their intricacies. So another G and T and a burst of ‘Mercy’ by Duffy I was starting to feel a more than a little tipsy. I have a confession to make fellow musers, I snogged Twat Rep. I snogged him and felt repulsed afterwards. I don’t know what made me do it, he was Northern, that’s the only justification I can use in this horrible scenario. All I can be thankful for is that he is now thousands of miles away and I never have to speak to him again. We left, only to return the following evening (plus lovely Birmingham lads, minus Twat Rep who I had spent most of the day avoiding like a Primark sale) for our farewell performances before our flight home the next day. I felt at ease on holiday and nervous about what to expect on my return to Blighty (the tarot reading had messed with the head a bit I suppose), which left us unable to sleep so, delirious from both that and what seemed like endless intoxication of cheap cocktails, we found ourselves wide awake at 3am trying to ignore the sound of an over-zealous cockerel crowing by drawing our favourite musicians in animal form;

Goldie: ‘Why am I drawing a pig in a vest?’
FM: (erupts into hysterical laughter) ‘That cockerspaniel is uncanny’.

So it was with a heavy heart that I waved goodbye to the calmness of Greece, but with the pace of a cheetah that I nabbed my suitcase and boarded the coach to avoid ever looking into the eyes of Twat Rep again. For the record, offering to carry my suitcase down a few steps does not make up for being the world’s worst kisser, I would frankly rather eat my own pancreas than ever have to go through that again. At least it gave me some clarification, unless you really like a man there really is no point or reason to kiss him, so save it for someone who you have dreamt of kissing and who wants to kiss you.

Back in Blighty you now find me somewhat snowed under with work whilst Goldie was enamoured to be reunited with her lovely beau, the one she may well move up country for, which works for me! Lovemenot, well done her, has been promoted so we won’t be working at the same store anymore which leaves me with staffing issues and a potential 16 days in a row coming up. According to my tarot reading October will be an exciting time for me, specifically the 2nd. Will keep you posted…am off for well needed rest and moisturisation, plus my new Book Club EP arrived in the post this morning so am off to hammer that one to death, oh I do hope our two new housemates love a bit of Northern Indie Rock….

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Summer Lovin'

As July is drawing to a close I find myself sick of our Summer sale and, I must admit, sick of our customer’s adamant demands for a gift wrapping service. It must be a retail thing, but I find myself excited at the publications of Vogue and Elle’s catwalk collections and fantasising about my upcoming Winter Wardrobe. Oh to wear layers again. I’m dreaming in black and white and designing in tartan.

As it stands money is becoming something of a worry and I am no longer able to guzzle the skinny white mochas in abundance. It’s a shame really, because Builder’s Tea from Cath Kidston Floral/Duran Duran Tour Mug Musings just doesn’t have the same ring.

So here I am, slightly overworked and slightly worried about finding dream flat with Lovemenot. I’m also still slightly shaken after spending a weekend swinging through trees and alighting zip wires to celebrate Rachel’s hen weekend…whose idea was that? Oh yes of course, mine and Cat’s, bridesmaids/event planner extraordinaires. I did it though, not bad for a girl who is afraid of both heights and sudden movements she has little control over, I have the certificate to prove it too. But a lovely Hen Weekend it was in the end, champagne, cream teas and tears, just as we knew our Rachel would want it.

Alarmingly, one July trend I won’t be sad to see the back of is the break-up trend. I always thought Summer was the time to hook up, relax with a Corona and enjoy holding hands strolling joyfully on a hot day. Apparently not, as many of my close friends have broken up with their prospective other halves/are considering breaking up with their other halves or are in self-imposed emotional turmoil over their other halves.

Not long after my Birthday I found myself counselling MMH over Pimms in Soho, as his first relationship had left him high and dry. He, of course, asked the question ‘how do you deal with this?’ I wasn’t sure what to say, because I knew I had come far since the Great Unmentionable, but I didn’t know what had done it. I suspected it was everything from my family and friends, to my psychic, to my job and my Blog, not to mention a slight obsession with Milburn TV (that was the first week; it was the only thing I could laugh at). It’s a sad thing though when something comes to an end, I can’t remember who said this to me but I say the same to him…you’ll be fine darling man, you just need to feel it.

Another close friend has been somewhat concerned about Facebook antics that, it must be stated, took place long before she and her current beau got together. I must say, leading on from a previous rant about the Internet (which I understand is highly hypocritical as I type this little musing…soon to be posted…on the Internet), that it has a lot to answer for. Earlier on she and I were emailing and discussing the minefield topic of whether or not we looked through Facebook photo albums of boys we liked. She said yes, and was absolutely certain that boys who liked us looked through our photos (you saw nothing tattooed one, NOTHING). I, on the other hand, tend to banish the neurotic side of my brain and try to imagine a potential as a blank canvas, someone I can learn about as we go along without drawing my own conclusions from photos and wall posts. It’s easier said than done and that’s the trouble, everyone’s history is blueprinted now, the Ex-Files are plastered across your man’s home page and there is no escape from off-the-cuff comments or posts they made have made in jest. After all, I wonder what my future boyfriend would think of my musings should he come across my tales of love, lust and longing? Still, she realised she was wrong and I am hopeful she may wean herself off the great Facebook photo race and relax a little into a relationship that sounds all fun and frolics to me.

And so, in between the break-ups and the househunting and the turning 26 it’s been quite an eventful and hot month. I guess you only have to look around you to see that nothing endures but change, sad as it seems. But I, for one, am looking forward to August, lots to do and see and even closer to being able to wear a duffle coat with a cute tartan skirt! I’m off to join a library and learn how to screen print…

On The Brink of the Mid Twenties...

I woke up on Thursday July 1st both incredibly anxious and excited. Excited because Dead Sons were uploading their first four songs since the name change and the addition of two new members that day. Excited because I only had two sleeps to wait before an epic amount of friends from my home town, my formative Uni and work friends plus my London buddies would all be visiting for a big party. Anxious because I only had two more sleeps as a 25 year old. I was on the brink of mid and late 20s, staring over the metaphorical cliff and I was running scared.

So what did turning 26 mean? I guess for some people it might mean an evaluation of your job, looking at a mortgage, considering taking a relationship to the next level and getting a pet? For me, it meant I probably had to make it to Glastonbury in the next two years, as I had promised myself I would do despite my hatred of camping. Also, having overcome my fears of sushi and Indian curries, I should probably attempt my Mount Everest of fears next and get back in the driving seat. I don’t know though, is there a right and wrong in this day and age?

I didn’t know what I was afraid of, apart from having to start ticking the ‘Over 25s’ box in surveys. Is that a crows foot I see next to my left eye? Did I start my rigorous moisturising routine too late? Will I wake up one morning with a new-found penchant for successful bankers and below-the-knee hemlines? Thankfully this last one has not yet occurred and, much to the dismay of those more sensible types around me, I still find video footage of cute, plastered, band boys wrapped in gaffer tape and throwing themselves out of moving vehicles both hilarious and strangely alluring.

This visibly pains and confuses some of my closest friends, the normal ones we shall collectively name ‘The Marrieds’ simply because some of them are married and some are pretty damn close/making future plans/not drinking as much gin and falling in love with £3-a-gig musos as I am. I love ‘The Marrieds’ as I do all my friends, more than life, and they love me, but they don’t understand me. Plus it would take a lifetime for me to explain myself to them, especially as I have no answers myself. So we all co-exist in a lovely world of forever friendship, and I gloss over some things/leave out vital bits of information so that they don’t think I’m either mental or about to elope somewhere with a 22 year old guitarist at the drop of a hat (which, I should point out, my Mum is fully prepared for).

Thankfully I have my Sismance (see what I did there) with the delectable, no-gloss-necessary Miss Lovemenot, who needs no explanations, just daily rants/plans/wise ideas/very unwise ideas in amongst managing our lovely store in St Johns Wood. And because we can’t get enough of each other, both at work and in social hours, we have decided to be up sticks from our current housing situations and become flatmates! Happy Birthday to me! A new flat on the cards and Dead Sons have not ceased to amaze me…..perhaps it’s going to be a good one after all.

The Birthday, as ever, was epic. I make it my duty each year to get as many people together under one roof as I can for celebrations and a chance to catch up. Lovely Katy and Mim had spent the Friday night with me catching up over Chinese and trying to right the same wrongs we spent many an afternoon in the Duo stockrooms of Bath trying to do. They also had the pleasure of waking up to the shrieks of ‘It’s My Birthday’ the following Saturday morning followed by a tearful moment collecting my parcels from the sorting office when the man at the desk wished me a Happy Birthday…I don’t care, I’m full of love. I’m special around this time of year, special as in should potentially be institutionalised. Jodie arrived, dressed as a pirate and still drunk from the night before at 10am (one literally can’t wait for her impending move to London in September) and we all chilled with an afternoon picnic in the park before my darling sisters of mercy Cat and Rachel arrived for the evening. Bless Lovemenot for speeding her way to mine after work and taking a mere 20 minutes to beautify herself before we hit Brick Lane for an Indian and I finally got to meet MMH’s new love interest.

Brick Lane was a good choice, many a night had already been spent in its fabulous bars and restaurants plus I had recently experienced what I would consider a brush with fate as I bumped into an old Bathonian crush of mine not once but twice. As it happens things went no further…but we are still hopeful. I had chosen 93 Feet East as my club of choice for the evening partly due to the tales I had heard of the vast amounts of skinny rockers that frequented there and partly due to the musical promises of Motown, Indie and Disco mash ups. In truth it was slightly overcrowded and overheated but fun nonetheless. We drank, we danced, we had an epic journey home barefoot, followed by tea and cake at 4.30am. And I’ll probably never forget the glint in the eye of the beautiful, trilby-adorned stranger who removed said hat and gave me a flirty ‘evenin’ as he walked by.

It hit me, as we sat around the table at the Indian just how time moves us forward, and yet, I felt as if I had seen everyone yesterday as they all sat catching up on work, men and Rachel’s impending wedding. I often talk about fate and soulmates and sometimes I long for things that I’m without. But it’s bloody humbling and earth-shatteringly brilliant to know you have these people around you who will not let you fall when you have every intention of jumping, who will accept all parts of you and who all, in their own way, make up the fabric of your life and who you are. Like Cat and Rachel who first met me in the post-Goth phase and struggled through university and the first glimpses of adult responsibilities. Or Jodie who showed me around on my first day at my beloved job at Duo and, upon asking her if she was with anyone special, confidently replied ‘until there’s a ring on it, I’m a free woman,’ Beyonce eat your heart out. And then there’s Shantel who helped me get out of the Hell-Hole and has become an unlikely alliance and fabulous ‘one too many’ drinking partner. My partner in crime Lovemenot and MMH, the best fellow gig-fiend and gay husband a girly could ever ask for. At that moment, I felt like the luckiest woman in the world to have these people and other sadly absent friends and family, around me.

So I realised…if the last 5 years are anything to go by, bring on the late twenties, as long as I have each and every one of these lovely people around me, or at least on the end of a phone, it’s going to be another big adventure.

The Serpents of Serendipity Rear Their Hopeful Heads

Earlier this month I had a sudden thought…to online date or not to online date? That is the question. To throw yourself back into the realms of online obscurity and anonymity or to keep the fatalistic, romantic part of you alive and kicking as you frequent social events with an agenda (albeit a hidden or subconscious one) of meeting a single, lovely boy?

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife…not so these days I’m afraid Miss Austen. It is a truth universally acknowledged in this day and age that thanks to such brilliant discoveries as The Internet and other ‘forward thinking’movements in our society; a single man in possession of a fortune (good or otherwise) must be in want of a date/phone number/potential friend with benefits or, for some unknown reason, someone to ‘Poke’ occasionally on Facebook.

As I write this my ‘Old Soul’ head takes over and I’m totally with our Jane. A huge part of me (the overwhelming part that also believes I have lived many lives) yearns for a more simpler time when it comes to the rules and regulations of dating and relationships and all that malarkey.

Sometimes when I’m scattily wandering the more upper class areas of London after a delightful afternoon getting lost in the flagship Waterstones; I imagine myself all trussed up in corset and camisole, sewing a pointless picture and gazing out of a window, awaiting the arrival of a man who will ask my Father’s permission to court me. Instead I find myself hounded down Ballard’s Lane early one evening, whilst innocently walking home from work, by an inebriated, strange little man known only as ‘Anthony’ who, in his own words was ‘hoping to take me on a date’. Now putting aside both the fact that he was clearly old enough to be my Father and a drunken chav, who the HELL does he think he is? Hoping to take me on a date? You’ve got more chance of Megan Fox turning up naked on your doorstep matey let me tell you (and that’s only because I have a sneaking suspicion she may be easy). And as for asking my Father’s permission? Good luck finding him, try ringing the Daily Mail.

I won’t go into any kind of remote detail about a gin-fuelled evening at one of my favourite haunts ending in a bitter argument between two young best friends (one was cute and the other had the mysterious intrigue mastered), but it was one of those 5 am crashing back to earth moments when I had to stop and ask myself ‘what the f**k was I doing?’ I don’t know if those two made up, I never saw them again.

And then there are the countless occasions when we head out for an evening of dancing and merriment only to encounter nice young men who you might hang out with for a while, have a drink, have a dance, discuss current affairs (or belief in fate – I have a bracelet, it attracts that kind of attention) and then complete the evening with a hasty exchange of phone numbers as the bouncers are throwing you out and maybe a cheeky kiss. Only to never hear from said nice young man again. Ever. A very good friend of mine had yet another encounter with one of these creatures recently, we’ll call him Parklife. And much as it pains us to say it, the sudden break off of contact has led to many an afternoon at work discussing the possible reasons why someone, who seemed very keen and followed up the evening’s events would change their mind. We’re strong women, we pick ourselves up and move on, but this behaviour continues to baffle us and destroy our faith. So what to do?

Well with these continual delights the men-folk of North London have offered to me so far, one cannot help but be intrigued, once again, by the idea of internet dating, and the entire stigma attached to it!

I’m going to tell you a story, a familiar one.

Once upon a time, on a crowded street in Soho, two people hopeful of the evening’s potential events, battled against the howling winter wind and snow to meet for a drink. They had spoken, using the magic of the Internet and connected somewhat over a shared love of Kasabian. He was successful in his job in Advertising for a very well known red-top paper; she was new to London and keen to meet like-minded people.

And it was on those cold stone steps that they first caught each other’s eyes. He had lovely blue eyes, a touch of Ricky Wilson with Tom Meighan’s Irish heritage thrown in. But where was his neck? She was sure he had had a neck hidden under the Larne and Scott shirt he was wearing in his photos. He couldn’t make out her hair colour in the light, she was something of a chameleon in her photos (no tongue jokes please), but he had to admit he was impressed. Nevertheless, into the pub they ventured for drinks and small talk. And they talked…for five more dates.

They had lots in common, music and fashion mostly. He introduced her to the wonders of sushi and interactive table ordering, she introduced him to ‘Send In The Boys’ and The Backhanded Compliments. He listened intently to her stories of wrong-doings in her previous job and they both talked long into the nights over fine dining and sickly-sweet apple and cinnamon cocktails. Things were going well. Then came the third date kiss…

She was enjoying the kiss, it had been a while coming but she was enjoying it with this lovely, tall, elfin, slightly ginger….oh wait, she was pretty sure you weren’t supposed to imagine kissing someone else during a first kiss were you? Something was wrong. Was it the cocktails repeating on her? The lack of neck still? She tried to put it to the back of her mind, but it haunted her, was this whole seemingly sweet scenario of dating a set up for a rather huge fall?

Still, on they struggled for two more dates, including a mood-killer film trip to see ‘Precious’ and an awkward trip out with his work. But it wasn’t the same. The light brushing of hands wasn’t exciting it was weird, the conversation became stilted once they had decided which Kasabian album was the best and he had repeated his ‘I met Hugh Jackman’ story a few more times. Until one day, the conversations stopped completely and the love affair that could have been, faded away to oblivion.

I know this story only too well, because, if you hadn’t guessed already the young lady in question was me. Yes, both cajoled into, and intrigued by the world of Internet dating I decided to give myself a heads up in London City and help Mr All-Seeing and All-Knowing along on his then-miserable way in the process. Plus I was massively impressed by Goldie’s recent Internet find in Sheffield Sam (he turned out to be a twat too).

I don’t think I was looking for anything, nothing more than friendship maybe, plus I was developing a huge crush on my then Commercial Director at the Hell-Hole and this needed to be stopped in its tracks as quickly as one can say ‘Staff Christmas Party’.

So on I went, creating a profile and writing facts and figures about myself and anything that I felt people might want to know about me. And this is exactly the reason I decided not to venture into the world of online dating again.

It’s not that I am against the idea. I know several couples (Mr A-S A-K included) who have met and wooed electronically and have gone on to sustain very meaningful relationships. I also don’t believe the same stigma of yesteryear is attached the idea these days either. It seems as if busy people are taking control of their lives and making it easier to network in the short free time that they may have. But writing this alone, I die inside a little bit. It all seems very clinical, as if we are vetting someone on a flat screen for potential chemistry and picking out the likes and the dislikes and then making an informed decision. My experience mentioned before, forced me to question why we met and what compelled us to keep meeting? Something kept us going but, in hindsight, I doubted that the chemistry had ever been there as it should have been. I kind of hate the idea that someone would choose not to date me because of my taste in music or the fact that I like knitting, more so than the relentless knock-backs and disappointments I have faced on nights out. It feels exactly as it is, virtual reality. It’s not real life, it doesn’t compare to real feelings and my thoughts and ideas are further encouraged by the news that a very dear friend of mine recently found her Father emailing another woman. I wondered if that’s where we’re all headed. A virtual world where emailing someone who is not your wife is only virtual cheating and, therefore, not akin to real life. So that equates to virtual dating too for me in that case, ‘you tick certain boxes but the fact that you hate ‘Two Door Cinema Club’ means we’ll never meet or get on’. It’s to the point and stark and, for me, incomparable to the chemistry and fireworks that I have both experienced and dreamed of for so long, be it unrealistic or otherwise.

Call me old fashioned, or delusional may be closer to it, but I have always loved the excitement of sparks flying across the room or butterflies in your stomach as you realise the man you have been talking to for the last fifteen minutes (because you really fancy his friend) actually has lovely eyes and a sexy smile. There is no vetting prior to those moments, no informed decision making on a character without having said so much as three words to each other, there's just that moment when you either decide to pursue or walk away, to put yourself out there or forget it entirely.

What I really want is a dumbed-down ‘fishtank’ moment from Romeo and Juliet or a re-enactment of the end of ‘Sense and Sensibility’ and I just don’t feel ready to give that up yet, not for a flat profile and ten words to sum up my character. It may be a relentless task meeting and dating out there but it’s the real world, with real people and real moments and that feels better and more hopeful to me right now.

* * *

Lovemenot and I ponder this over a morning cuppa at work, the whole meeting/dating thing. She too is not interested in the online dating world. We’re discussing past evenings out and deciding to put an end to analysing acquaintances we made/half made both weeks and months ago to no avail whatsoever. Wondering why ‘insert name here’ didn’t call, why ‘insert name here’ ever bothered to take our numbers in the first place if they had no intention of ever using it and why we should ever bother giving out our numbers again.

She hasn’t heard from the last man she met and really rather liked, with no good reason of course, and I’m further fuelling my inexplicable, enamoured admiration for the French with my new literary revelation, ‘What French Women Know About Love, Sex and Other Matters of the Heart and Mind’. This Bible of a book teaches us to be more ‘in the moment’, more flirtatious, less analytical, not really give as much of a f**k as English people normally do about sexual politics and to learn to be comfortable in our own skin. Simple then. Be French. I can see this is the sort of person I want to be, but I can also see the long, painstaking process it may take to get there. After all it’s been 26 years and I’m none the wiser. But we’ll start as we mean to go on. So…devouring the last of our chocolate croissants (you have to start somewhere), Lovemenot and I hatched a forward-thinking plan and it starts with a little word called Serendipity.

Lovemenot and Belle’s Two Simple Steps to Dating Contentment

1) We will now be capping all excited spouting about potential men-folk interest at a strict three month ‘trial period’ where we shall be telling nobody ANYTHING for fear of having to let them all down again. This will be difficult but we feel we may near enough need to be traipsing down the aisle before admitting to our friends and family that we are, in fact, ‘seeing’ someone.

2) The phone numbers thing is getting downright irritating so, to avoid future disappointment in this field, Lovemenot and I will be making like Kate Beckinsale and employing some ‘Serendipity’ fairy tale notions into our nights out. If a boy wants our phone number we will literally tell them our full name, where we work and that if he really wants to see us again, he can find us at that way. Serendipity is employed, no phone-staring will be allowed (except for wallpaper settings) and the world will make sense again.

So is it working? I’ll have to get back to you on that one…..