Monday, 25 February 2008

Dictionary corner

This afternoon, en route to Sainsbury's, I popped into one of my favourite local charity shops to browse the books. I found a very handsome hardback of The Line Of Beauty and off I went to the counter where I found one of my favourite local charity shop employees. I think I would be safe in saying he has 'never married', and rocks quite the emo wardrobe, despite my estimation that he is in his mid 60s. Had I read the book, he asked me. I said I had not. It is very good, he said. Had I seen the TV adaptation, he asked me. I said I had not. Again, he said, very good. Then, with a kind of comme-ci-comme-ca waggle of his hand, he said, 'It wasn't as... iffy-butty as they made out.' 

'Iffy-butty' – expression of mediocrity? Euphemism for some kind of sexual licentiousness? Anyone?

The living, breathing miracle of the English language.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Each day is Valentine's day...

I pride myself on having, at any one time, a suit of unconventional crush objects. Who could possibly be interested in Brad Pitt or David Beckham when there's Adrian Chiles or John C Reilly around? Gary McAllister, Frasier's dad, Simon Day… I have, at one point, loved them all. So of course I am thrilled to be adding another to the ranks. But this time, my funny valentine isn't barred from the mainstream on the grounds of age, weight or just being kinda funny-lookin'. This one doesn't wash his hair. 

Never mind his aversion to the hair-care aisle – just look at him! He's adorable! A goofy sunbeam who's keeping the sweet-smelling flame alive for the slacker generation. You would, perhaps, not entrust him to operate any heavy machinery, but I heart Jason Castro, and seeing as American Idol seems to be on any combination of ITV channels literally all the time, we can hang out, like, whenever.

You may feel there is something naggingly familiar about Jason. I've realised that he is, in fact, the felt-made-flesh lovechild of Clifford:

and Janice:

Look, Gepetto, he's a real boy!

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

He's wearing a special suit for Joey Lucas...

I am wildly excited about the line-up for the next series of Dancing With The Stars. Steve Guttenberg! Monica Seles! Joey Lucas from The West Wing! Lest we forget, Joey Lucus*, who has a real name - it is Marlee Matlin – is deaf IRL. As dancing impairments go, it knocks an artificial limb into a cocked hat. How will she know when to start and when to stop? The answer is, of course, Beethoven. But I would like the answer to involve Kenny, her signing hearer (maybe not strictly a word) from TWW. Nothing would give me more pleasure than to see him quickstepping alongside her and her partner, signalling when to step, and when to ball-change.

*Lest we forget, Joey Lucas was also, according to me, the real TLA of Josh Lyman. Amy was too high-maintenace. Donna was too Donna. Don't fight me on this. It is my unshakeable belief.

I do quite often feel like the Alan Whicker of the magazine freelancers' world. Not enough to make me wear a panama hat, but still. Every week I interact with the indigenous culture of a different office. Today, at my current workplace, it was Cheese Day. This is a festival that happens there several times a year and it is taken very seriously. Everyone brings in a challenging kind of cheese – woe betide anyone showing up with some Dairylea triangles – and assorted 'sundries'. There were grapes, homemade bread and chutneys, olives... It was like Borough Market rehoused on top of a filing cabinet. It was quite brilliant until a) the arrival of a medium-severe grape-induced stomach ache and b) the proximity of my desk to the cheese board (which is very proximity indeed) resulting in near asphyxiation from the fumes by about 4.45pm.

Yesterday, it was most definitely not totally dark for the first time this year, as I walked back to Charing Cross at 6. This means it is no longer 100% winter. The percentage of winter is in retreat from now on. I love the winter and even I felt slightly happy about this. Who could not be warmed by walking homewards under a sky the colour of apricots?

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Gutted, to be honest with you...

Tonight, to employ some lazy metaphoring, Steve Backley skated out of Dancing On Ice. And took my contribution to future ratings with him. I have been totally Team Backley since Week One and will mourn his departure. I think it's probably indicative of athletics' current status as a minority sport that someone as likeable, hot and not totally dreadful at ice skating like Steve Backley can be jettisoned when a lumbering goon like Greg Rusedski glides through to the next round, arms flailing, week after week (to elaborate, for DOI-phobic Strictly fans, let me merely say the words 'Kenny' and 'Logan').

I should explain that Steve Backley and I have history. We shared one heady summer night together in 1990. He broke the world javelin world record. I ate a picnic, clapped a lot, and was thrilled to my 16-year-old core. And took a series of disastrous photos. Look:

Please note The Backley's '90s hair shimmying in the breeze like the coat of a frisky golden retriever chasing a starling. 

Never mind that these days he's probably making a small fortune doing motivational speaking to the sales team at Shell, or whatever. In the unlikely event that athletics makes some kind of primetime comeback, nothing would please me more than seeing Steve in smart-casual attire in the pundit's chair, perhaps as a foil to the peerless and immaculately groomed Michael 'Suck it up' Johnson. I suspect Steve would over-rely on the cliches of competitive sport, but no one would mind because a) if Mark Lawrenson can make a career in broadcasting, then the viewing public can't be all that choosy, and b) everyone would just love him. Men would want to go for a drink with him. Women would want to have an affair with him while their husbands were out having a drink with a retired sportsman. From the DOI crowd shots, it is clear Steve is happily married with small children, and I respect that. But I know that if, say, he was one of my work colleagues, I would definitely be enjoying a harmless but deeply creative crush on him.

What I Think I Look Like In The Mirror When I'm Having My Hair Cut someone extremely short-sighted who has been temporarily deprived of their glasses

Gown on, hair newly washed. 
I mean, even with my glasses on, 
this really looks like me.

Hair strangely divided 
using hairdresser's geometry, 
in preparation for the 
layering process.

Mid blow-dry. Thrill! 
As the curls beginning to 
reclaim their power. 
Marvel! At the return 
of the frizz

'Thanks, I love it. 
So much better. 
Now where are my glasses?'

Saturday, 16 February 2008

'This single 30something needs Burneze – STAT!'

Apologies to readers of a sensitive disposition, but squeamishness cannot stand in the way of medical progress.

I have sustained what The Lancet are calling History's Most Spinsterly And Middle Class Injury. I burnt my decolletage with a cup of herbal tea. It has surpassed 'Really Bad Sunday Supplement Paper Cut', 'Extreme Allergic Reaction To Cat Hair' and 'Severe Bruising Sustained From Slipping In New Season Olive Oil' to become the archetypal example in its field. Science will remember this day.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Things I have genuinely heard a Virgin Radio DJ saying today:

'The chancellor... he loves a bit of tax.'

'Anyone who has the same surname as a British military hero is alright by me.'

One of the boons of my day job as a freelance drone is entering the many different, parallel worlds of daytime radio. The 80s Hour on Virgin is amazing. It's too bad The Hoosiers and Scouting For Girls are never far behind it. This was my favourite thing I heard today:

Bat Out Of Hell was very narrowly beaten into second place. Sorry, Meat. Had they played Dead Ringer For Love, my decision would have been reversed.

Some films you loved when you were 12 bear repeated watching in your 30s. St Elmo's Fire is absolutely not one of them. It's like being made to watch your own GCSE drama project.


Sunday, 10 February 2008

'Dancing On Ice goes grunge!'

My friend Alannah refuses to watch Dancing On Ice. She is an extremely big fan of Torvill & Dean and thinks it is beneath them. I basically agree. It's very much the winter Olympics to Strictly Come Dancing's days in the sun. It's more dangerous, more spectacular, but somehow everyone finds it that bit harder to care.

But one of the best things about it (or the worst, depending on your cringe threshold) is witnessing journeyman sports commentator Tony Gubba finding himself completely out of his depth in the arenas of dance, costume and modern music. If you've ever watched an Olympic opening ceremony, and I have watched a few, this is not a new phenomenon. But in that situation, those drowning in ill-judged metaphor and hopeful guesswork are often afforded the privacy of some kind of graveyard time slot, broadcasting as they are from Sydney, Seoul, Atlanta, etc. How mean of ITV to shunt them into primetime. 

Tonight, Chris Fountain, age-inappropriate crush object and clear DOI favourite, performed to Timberlake's Cry Me A River. The Fountain clearly spent quite a bit of his early youth breakdancing in shopping centres, and T&D were happy to exploit this. God bless Tony, then, for exclaiming at the end, 'Dancing On Ice goes grunge!' and then venturing something about raves. 

I am watching the BAFTAs. I now love Javier Bardem. And, while I don't agree with the whole principle of wishing you looked like someone else, I reckon it can't be bad to wear the face and body of Rosamund Pike. Also, Tilda Swinton may be one of the few women in the world who is paler than me.


'I do my moves, I do my dance moves'

I began the Jones blog without a fanfare. And by that I mean, like, 'Hi, this my blog and, like, OMG, here's my first post. So, a bit about me. I like bichon frises and walking in the rain.'

I don't, by the way. I am allergic to dogs.

This could be because, despite publishing all this nonsense to the technoverse, I don't like a fuss. But mostly it was just really, really tricky. Goodbyes are hard, this much we all know. But hellos, it would seem, aren't so very easy either. What I kept coming back to, when I was trying to start the starting was: Is there a reason to write one of these things that doesn't amount to it just being a big old work of ego? Like, 'And this, dear, dear readers, is what I think about the world, and everything in it, and you must all read it and chuckle and nod and agree and wonder why you'd never looked at life that way yourself.'  

I don't know, that's what it feels like anyway. But for whatever reason, here I am, a proper, official blogger – only about 5 years after the rest of the universe, which is out of character for me. I'm usually an Early Adopter. I had an ipod before anyone else I know, apart from perhaps Boyd Hilton, and he probably got his free. I was the first person in Norfolk to wear leggings. But it's a lonely business for me, blogging. When I look at the grown-up blogs, they all have a long, long list of their blogging pals down the side. I do not. Like the best assassins, I work alone. That is, apart from my friend Eva and her blog, which is about the adventures of the world's cutest toddler, Little Ivy Green. Perhaps Eva's lonely little link will go forth and multiply until one day I am like brothers in blogging, over the mist-covered mountains, with the rest of the world. As I'm typing this, I keep thinking of Geraldine McEwan in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit. 'Come in, Manchester, this is kindly light.'

Anyway, let's move on. In The Observer's woman's supplement today, there is an interview with the Flight Of The Conchords by Polly Vernon. I am very glad about this. But the best thing about it is there really seems to be no good reason for it. I thought it must be because they're showing the first series on terrestrial TV. But no. All they're plugging at the end of the feature is the DVD and an EP that were both out last year. I can only hope Polly Vernon thought, 'I really think we should do an interview with Flight Of The Conchords because... well, I just really want to meet them and find out what they smell like.' Because, after all, what is the point of going into journalism if not as a means to insidiously creep closer to famous people you fancy?

And because I  am still excited by learning how to post video clips:

Meanwhile, in a newspaper across town, I can't quite believe this headline.

This post was brought to you by my deep, abiding and unfashionable love of Paul McCartney.


Saturday, 9 February 2008

Juno, Tracy Barlow and the criminal element

So we went to see Juno last night. Of course we loved it. I'm almost annoyed by the predictability of me loving it. Let us count the factors they put in place to snare me. Smart-mouth, hyper-literate teen speak? Check. Alison Janney? Check. Acoustic, whispering soundtrack? Check. Jason Bateman, changing of the seasons, hand-hewn title sequence, Belle & Sebastian, for Christ's sake... 

I always find it grating in the extreme when people say to me, 'Ooh, you'll love this', or 'This will REALLY make you laugh.' In fact, it only inspires me to make a point of absolutely not loving it, or remaining steadfastly stony-faced. I am nothing if not stubborn. (What can I say? I'm a Capricorn, this is how we roll.) Of course I'm infinitely more multi-faceted and endlessly fascinating than anyone who thinks they know me and my love of whimsical Americana could possibly predict. Aren't I? Oh, apparently not. (By the way, I've just worked out where the italics button is. This novelty will wear off soon, I'm fairly certain.) 

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Juno was the way it featured fictional characters goofily picking up instruments, singing and strumming along, without making me cringe in any way at all. Lest we forget, this is never usually the case. Evidence for the prosecution?

Is it only me who can't watch this? Julie, Julie, Julie... Or is it actually Ethan Hawke who really brings the cringe here? I can't decide.

Afterwards, Eleanor make the excellent point that Juno made being 16 look a lot better than being thirtysomething. And someone else – probably me, actually – said it made being 16 look a lot better than being 16. Personally, I followed the Tracy Barlow model of adolescence –staying in my bedroom, shunning any form of natural light and listening to pop music I would later disown. 

In the real world, even one of us becoming a real-life crime statistic shortly before the film  began could barely dim our enjoyment. It's disquieting to have your narrow-mindedness affirmed. There I was in the restaurant, enjoying my black beans and meatballs (organic tapas, since you ask), looking at our neighbouring diners and thinking to myself, 'That's unusual. Two men out for dinner together, and they don't even look gay,' only for them to leave the restaurant without ordering, having liberated my friend's purse from her handbag. Anyway, if you went to the 9pm screening of Juno at the Greenwich Picture House and wondered why the police were interviewing that glamorous, pregnant woman, now you know. She had been Wronged. Although you probably knew that anyway, since the only people likely to be actually reading this were probably there at the time.