Thursday, May 30, 2002

Knock on wood, I've never been burgled. But based on someone at work's recent experiences, you might want to reconsider if you think your insurance will be a piece of cake.

Someone here got broken into in the middle of the night, and as the thieves only got as far as the living room, they helped themselves to mainly cds, stereo equipment, etc.

The snag came when she was asked to produce a title-by-title list of cds. She couldn't get past a few off the top of her head, so they offered her a list of "cds commonly stolen from students" which included crap like U2's back catalogue and Now That's What I Call Music to choose from.

For those of you who, like me, have a living room packed to the rafters with vinyl - let me encourage you to be the nerd you've always dreamed of and start compiling a full list of your collection, complete with approximate replacement costs. Then file it with your insurance company. Now! Or else it will be compilation and Joshua Tree hell...

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Mmmms! Someone has left a packet of Peta Zetas, "caramelo con chasquidos, sabor a fresa" on my desk, a gift from their holidays in Menorca. Menorca, eww. Popping candy, nice.

Anyhow, only two days left's all very strange. People from the other sections have started excluding me because in their minds, you're already gone. I don't really mind but at the same time, I keep thinking excuse me, I've worked my butt off for you for a year - a little gratitude wouldn't kill you! Then I hear them all start to sing "Just a little" by Liberty X and remember why I'm going.

However, I felt mildly guilty because the adrenalin-junkie producer I've moaned about dropped a card and a box of Panda licorice (my favourite) on my desk, thanking me for all my hard work. Sigh. To be fair, she's been quite tolerable since things calmed down. My actual team isn't so bad, when you take away the stress and the long hours and the lack of organisation...

I guess I'll whip up a batch of Ghiradelli brownies for everyone on Friday. (That's a big concession from me, as they come from my precious imported supply!)

We finally watched the Osbournes last night. Was anyone else vaguely disappointed? It's not Ozzy's fault - he's clearly hilarious. I blame the hyperactive editors at MTV who package everything to death in 90 second snippets. Followed by SEVEN minutes of adverts between each bit. Ugh.

Monday, May 27, 2002

Hmm! Even though Eurovision wasn't nearly as good this year, it still pulled in loads more viewers than last year - a peak of 10.9 million versus 4.7 million the year before. Was a certain Jessica Garlick the reason?

We're going to Devon for a wedding over the Jubilee weekend, and on the way back I had hoped to check out the Robert Opie collection at the Museum of Advertising and Packaging in Gloucester. The collection spans the 20th century, from advertising to crockery to appliances to cars - really amazing stuff.

Sadly, I've just found out that the museum closed in October 2001. However, you can still see some of the collection at the Wigan Pier Experience. I guess this gives me an actual reason to go to Wigan sometime soon...

Parts of his collection have been made into books, my favourite of which is The 1950s Scrapbook. They've got it stocked at the new Magma bookstore in Manchester - well worth a visit just to browse. You can also order it (and other Robert Opie goodies) direct from the Robert Opie website. Shop shop shop!

Sunday, May 26, 2002

Note to self. Tequila followed by beer followed by tequila-champagne slammers is.... rather nice actually! Wahahaha - no hangover. How did I manage to avoid that?

My digital camera is a piece of crud (£35 off eBay - what did I expect?) but here's a few shots from last night.

Ms. Tequila and Ms. Champagne

The hard man from Piccadilly Records and the bf

Nil Points from Rhyl

Ms. Champagne and the Firswood Kidz

None of me as I was the photographer, but if the one of me and my Moomin cakes turns out well from the other camera...

Anyhow, back to Eurovision. In the cold light of day, it wasn't exactly vintage stuff. And was it my imagination, or was Wogan not up to his usual sarcastic self? The winning song from Latvia was completely unmemorable but at least ol' Garlick came 4th in the end (I think?). Slovenia's air hostess drag queens were a class act - they could sing and the backing singers dressed as pilots was a nice touch. Sadly I don't think Europe was ready for them - but at least they scored more points than Lithuania. Possibly the most embarrassing song EVER. My ancestors are rolling in their graves.

Ah, Eurovision. I'm a bit pissed and happy - does the result really matter? As usual the song I loved (and voted for) did badly (Slovenia) Anyhow I took some pics with my crap digi camera which I might upload later... just working off the tequila right now though. More later...

Thursday, May 23, 2002

Why? Why was I programmed to feel pain? After two 11 hour days straight, I'm too tired to do anything useful today (and can't help feeling that with 6 days left here, I can start to relax - a little.)

So, Popbitch thinks that the Ms. Dynamite single is crap: "Dull, amateur-sounding production blunts impact of potential UK R&B star." I have to say that although I normally acquiesce to PB's well-informed opinions, they're a few sandwiches short of a picnic on this one. Are they hearing the same song as me? Her dubious So Solid Crew association aside, this is bright, sparkling r&b pop that stands out because of an unusual french cafe-style organ sample. I loved it so much I scored a promo! Even the bf who normally screams when I make him watch The Box for more than 5 seconds loves it. Deal and what is, anyone?

And while I'm in a complaining mood - yo, Kitty Yo! Where is my Maximilian Hecker cd? It's been over a week. European Union my arse. *grumble*

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

This page was down all day due to a blogger problem that I didn't catch as I was in studio all day, sweetie dahling - so very sorry.

So. Just been to see Dot Allison at the Hop & Grape. Her set, which was a short but sweet 45 minutes, was mainly stuff from "We Are Science" (fine by me!) but with the addition of a fuzzed out version of "Mo Pop" and even an old One Dove song at the end. It was, of course, gorgeous. I love her funny little dance moves that are just awkward enough to be endearing rather than sexy. And for once I was actually appreciative of the early finish since I've been on my feet all day.

But at the back of my mind, I keep thinking about a little boy I met today who came in to tell his story about a near-miss electrocution. Thousands of volts charged through his body when he was shimmying a bridge in the rain - in via his leg and out via his abdomen. He showed me his scars. They're healed, but will leave a great deal of his body severely disfigured for life. I won't descend into fromage land by going on about what a little trooper he was...but damn it, he *was*!

Still away tomorrow and it's a late finish, so there might be no a'bloggin until Thursday.

Monday, May 20, 2002

Saturday. DJ Shadow - The Academy, Manchester.

In a way, I was kind of dreading this show. It was bound to be packed with chin-stroking wankers, right?

Wrong. Possibly due to spliffs being the preferred recreational substance instead of lager, the crowd was one of the mellowest I'd seen in some time - quite something given the size of the venue. People actually turned round to ask me if I could see!

Shadow's schtick is a little bit cheesy ("Yo Manchester, I've got some crazy shit for y'all") but when it comes to the music, it was magic. I found myself getting happily tipsy-hypnotised. The new stuff sounds really quite lovely, and I wouldn't hesitate to suggest that you buy it if you loved "...Endtroducing".

As for today, I'm off to a job interview in a couple of hours. I won't jinx myself by saying too much beforehand, but I can reveal that it is a) not a telly job; b) in the city centre and c) with what appears to be quite a cool company, so let's hope for the best and see what happens. More later!

Thursday, May 16, 2002

At the moment, my new musical obsession is Maximilian Hecker. Although I've only heard one song, "Infinite Love Song", I keep playing it over. And over. Gentle piano-driven electronica with Max's choirboy vocals floating over top. It makes me feel...romantic. Sappy. I have a feeling that it's going to be The Album Of The Summer. He's super cute, too - yum!

I mentioned the other week that some friends of ours went to Japan for 2 weeks. They took loads of photos of course. Cherry blossoms, ahhh nice. Temples, lovely. But this one was my favourite:

(Thanks to R CJ for scanning it for me!)

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Saturday. Day Three in Stockholm.

Thankfully free of a hangover, we meet Anna before lunch and head out to "the hood" as she calls it. We're headed for a weekly flea market in one of Stockholm's southern suburbs. Swedish suburbia is odd - everything looks like pre-fab wartime houses. It's so different from the city itself - a bit lifeless. We arrive after a long tube journey and stumble out into a precinct mall that could be... Swindon. Anywhere. The market is in the basement of the mall, and it looks promising. As I have Anna there to haggle for me in Swedish, I score some 70s retro headphones in cherry red and a Swedish white enamel breadbin for about £10 in total. Anna buys a gorgeous Eames-style serving tray that I would have wanted myself if I could get it home safely.

It strikes me that I'm going to need an extra suitcase to lug all my bounty back to the UK, so we head to meet Lars at a nearby second hand shop. 30 kroner later (about £2), I have a dusty but cool red hardshell case that was formerly used for skiing holidays. The girl ahead of me in the queue is buying two mugs from the tv show Fame - in Swedish! I love this country.

By now we're starving, so we head back to the hotel to drop off our gear and set out to Kanel (cinnamon), a cafe in a quiet part of Kungsholmen. My traditional Swedish sandwich arrives on a massive piece of fresh rye bread, topped with brie, olives, salami, pickled jalapenos, red onions, cucumber slices and tomato. The cappucino is gorgeous. Why can't food in the UK be the same? Sigh.

Afterwards, we walk off our lunch by strolling to the city hall where we lounge on the lawn and take in the stunning view across the water.

Time for a quick dollying up and we're off to Cafe Piatowska for some *real* Polish food. The interior is gothic and cavernous - all dark wood and polish folk songs on the stereo. I'm happy to see that the service is traditionally Polish (indifferent and slow) and we even have a table of bona fide macho-men Poles next to us who eye the waitress up like a pack of starving wolves. I could be in Toronto! The borscht is gorgeous, swimming with dill and sour cream. We all have the schnitzel, suitably dripping with butter and crisp sauerkraut. My stomach tries to reject all the richness, but I drink away the rumbles with Czech beer. Mmmm.

And then it was time for a traditional...Swedish house party. This involves a long-ish bus ride from Slussen out into the Middle of Nowhere - but once inside, it's a rather nice small terrace with friendly faces.

Which reminds me, can I say what I like about Swedes?

1. They listen to you very seriously and exclaim "ok!" every so often.

2. They all seem to speak English, ranging from conversational to put-me-to-shame fluent.

Anyhow, it was only then that the evening hit a slight blip. I was getting tired but was persuaded to carry on to another house party in another area we didn't know. As we walked up a hill towards the apartment building, I could hear Mano Negra blaring out the windows. Oh. So it's *that* kind of party. I must confess I pulled a bit of a sulk at this stage and insisted I wanted to go back to the hotel. We went inside the flat. Bob Marley now (eeeeek!) and drunken blokes everywhere so I ask Anna to call us a cab, assuring her I'm just really tired and it's not my kind of party (still feel guilty now!). Swedish taxis are cool - they have navigational systems built in and are sparkling clean. Our lovely taxi driver even opens the door for the bf - now when would you get that in Manchester?

Sunday. Day Four in Stockholm.

Somehow, I manage to pack all my stuff. And somehow, Anna manages to meet us by 11:30 despite a blinding hangover. We've got just enough time for breakfast, so she takes us to Sirap, the only place in Stockholm if you want real diner-style pancakes. Unfortunately it suffers slightly from overpopularity (an American who trods on my toes apologizes in Swedish, which makes me laugh) but we find a table eventually. Heaven. Cinnamon-apple pancakes, cooked on a griddle as they should be to ensure crispy edges.

On the way back to the hotel to get our luggage and head for Arlanda, Anna mentions there's a store on the way that I might like. It's called "American Food Store". Why didn't she mention this sooner??? I run around inside with no dignity, drooling over all the terrible junk food. Eventually I settle for some Jell-O pistachio instant pudding and some Miracle Whip. Once again, Stockholm manages to surprise me.

It's quite sad to say good-bye to Anna at the station - I could have happily stayed another week. Turns out we needn't have rushed either - our plane is delayed and we have nothing to do but wait in the ghost town that is the new wing where Skyways departure lounge is.

When we finally get back to Manchester, it's cloudy, grey and chilly. Home sweet home.

Monday, May 13, 2002

Thursday. Day One in Stockholm.

We fly with Skyways (budget division of SAS) direct from Manchester to Stockholm Arlanda. A smooth journey with surprisingly decent food for a low-cost airline! Unfortunately we find out upon arrival that the bf's bag has been left behind in Manchester and won't arrive until the middle of the night via Copenhagen. Bah. Anyhow it's Manchester Airport's fault, not SAS. Oh well. Our hotel, the Rica City Stockholm, is at least right by the train station and tube T-Centralen. On the way there I can't help but notice it's completely deadsville. We needn't have worried - it's a bank holiday!

We freshen up and head over to our friend Anna's flat in Karlaplan. Although we expected to see a fair amount of her, we're really touched to find out she's made plans for our entire stay.

On to Södermalm. First stop is dinner. She takes us to a retro cafe that serves Italian food. It's fantastic and I'm desperately envious of all their collectable decorative touches. We then head to a bar (apparently run by socialists!) where the bf once DJd. Next stop Chutney, a vegetarian/vegan cafe where her friend works. More wine. It's no smoking there until the chef calls it a night and lights up himself. Oh what the hell, I'm on vacation! Uh oh. Last stop of the evening is a hopping pub where we have to fight for a table. A man grabs my shoulder and starts nattering at me in Swedish. Anna tells me afterwards that he thought I looked like someone from his hometown of Gävle (I discover that I'm taken for Swedish for the whole trip, actually...) Oh heaven, are we pissed. Anna sneaks us onto the tube with her pass, something I would never do when sober. We stumble back to the hotel and crash out...

Friday. Day Two in Stockholm.

I wake up with a walloping hangover and swear never to drink again. The bf thinks it's hilarious as I barely manage to keep some breakfast down. Luckily Swedish sunshine is the new hangover cure and I'm feeling much better by the time we head out. This is Shopping Day. After a quick tourist visit to Gamla Stan for some Moomin goodies, my first stop is 10 Swedish Designers in Götgatan. They've been selling items made up from their fantastic prints since 1970. I may have too many bags already, but I just can't say no and snap up a few more for "presents". Nearby is a dusty shop called Curiositat, I think, where I find a 70s gingerbread tin adorned with Swedish ski stars and a cool 50s print for my kitchen.

We head back to T-Centralen to meet Anna and her friend for lunch. They take us to the top of the Centre for Culture, which has a little-publicised terrassen where you can eat on the rooftop. What a view!

After lunch Anna takes us to Marimekko where I splurge on a new duvet set. Their eye catching 60s style designs are just impossible to resist.

We drop off our finds and head back to Anna's flat, where we meet her bro Lars before walking to the amusement park Gröna Lund in Djurgården to see the Hives. New bit: While Anna is getting ready, we watch a Norwegian programme about dog shows. Our jaws hit the floor in disbelief as a woman w@nks her dog to keep him calm before the show. They show *everything*. In another scene, we're treated to a graphic footage of a vet performing a caesarian birth on a giant bulldog. Lars is a bit embarrassed, but eventually he just shrugs and says "That's Norwegians for you."

Anyhow, onto the Hives. You may remember I've seen them before and was less than impressed, but tonight is unique and much much better. Surrounded by gaudy rides and eating my Fisk Meny (chips and fishfingers smothered in curried mayo), I'm quite blissfully happy. Afterwards, we take the ferry back to Slussen and have a drink in a mad Czech bar where gorgeous, unflustered nordic barmen pull dozens of pints. Although we find a seat in another bar shortly afterwards, last night's escapades are catching up with me and we make our excuses after midnight.

More tomorrow...

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Very quick, boring post I'm afraid. I'm off to Stockholm in the morning and running around like a silly thing packing! Our flight is much earlier than I remembered so no lie-in, sigh...

Anyhow I'm thinking about doing a spot of blogging while I'm there - depends on how many internet cafes I find and how much time I have...but we'll see! It would be a cool way to document my trip.

Back on Sunday - have a great weekend!

Monday, May 06, 2002

You know that scene in Spaced where Tim is jubilantly walking down the street because Sara has dumped Dwayne Benzies? Fantastic Plastic Machine in the background, Tim does a cartwheel and bops a football off his head? (later, Brian replays the same scene when Twist accepts a date - but the football knocks him out.) Anyhow, that pretty much sums up how I've been feeling since Thursday. Why, you ask? Because...

I. Handed. In. My. NOTICE!!!

Yes, that's right. On Thursday something snapped. I'd gone beyond being able to put up with everything and marched into HR.

I'm kind of lucky, really. Despite a somewhat argumentative meeting with my boss on Friday, things smoothed out in the end (you could call it Tongue Biting) so I'll have a good reference.

And what a buzz! I have more energy today than I did for six months. Even the evil producer doesn't bother me as much because I know I have exactly 17 working days left. Ner ner ner ner ner.

Of course no one at the office can believe that I'm actually leaving with No Job To Go To. But I've always been this way - once I've made my mind up, there's no turning back, for better or for worse. When I was younger, this often meant 'for worse'. But I'm quietly optimistic - 3 jobs applied for, all of which I more than qualify for - so there's no reason why I shouldn't at least get an interview or two. I've got more in the bank account than I did when I moved here, so even a couple of weeks off won't tighten the belt much.

But for now, I'm going to:

a) enjoy Royksopp tonight at the Hop & Grape, and

b) enjoy our trip to Stockholm as of Thursday.

p.s. Go and see Italian for Beginners. Feel-good Dogme, we like!

Wednesday, May 01, 2002

From my fellow telly working friend today:

Folks. I have an atrocious request.

I am looking for a couple or a single person prepared to apply stinging nettles to their testicles / special parts for an item about the pain and pleasure aspects of nettles. The person can be anonymous if they like with a hood or such like.

Well, I'm not sure her circle of friends is the best place to start, but if anyone out there in the North West fancies showing off their bits on TV...(cue ghost town sound effects...)

And hey, is it my imagination or are No Doubt climbing on the electroclash bandwagon? Judge for yourself...

I'd also like to say how much I love the C*nt ads in the TV Go Home book, a fake show about the escapades of 20 something noomeejahoor Nathan Barley. It makes very good before bed reading and I was in fits of giggles. Excerpt:
Nathan sculpts his hair into a messy peak, dons some pedal pushers, and visits a loud, overpriced South London bar to share woodfired pizza and smug conversation with an equally vile companion.

TV Go Home's website appears to be down at the moment, so if you fancy reading some more go here.