Did things get really crap, or did I just get old?

June 3, 2013

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I had a rather epic gym session this morning. And I’m not talking about the usual brand of epic. In case you’re wondering what that is, it basically involves:

a) Making it through the door (doesn’t matter how little exercise I do once there, you definitely lose weight just from “going” to the gym, right?)

b) And staying for more than 20 minutes without:

i) falling off treadmill

ii) having internal meltdown at sight of lycra-clad 100 pound nymphettes

So far, so good. But this morning really was an occasion because just as I got to that stage where I’d been on the treadmill for 12 minutes and was slightly sweaty and bored and thinking about giving up as soon as I’d burned off my tenth calorie, I turned the little in-built TV screen over to a music channel to find a rundown of the 100 best selling pop tunes of the 90s.

Let me repeat that. The best 100 pop songs between 1990 and 1999.

Ladies and gentlemen, if this played in the gym all day every day, I can safely say I would now have the body of a pussycat doll.

Lured by the nostalgia and stupefied by the pure cheese, I pounded that treadmill for a good hour (disclaimer: about 15 minutes) more than I usually would, simply because I could not bear to part myself from Bryan Adams and Mel C’s bleached out faces and overly basic harmonies, posh spice’s purple lipstick, Elton John’s crooning and wearing of silly hats or Mick Hucknall riding about on a rollercoaster with girls way out of his league.

Weren’t the 90s just brilliant? For me they mean so much. Hitting puberty, experimenting with hair, makeup and clothes and fervently worshipping at the alter of Spice World.

In my job I get to meet quite a few celebrities, but never have I been more star struck than when I bumped into Emma Bunton. No longer a baby, with a baby of her own, all I could think of was how much I once wanted to be her, when she adorned those pigtails and platform wedges:

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And going even later into the 90s, it’s no wonder ITV2’s Big Reunion has done so well. Thousands of men and women in their mid-to-late 20s and early 30s turned up to see the likes of 5ive, B*witched, 911 and Atomic Kitten play their old hits looking way better than they did at the height of their fame – and I was there too, agreeing with everyone that it’s amazing how we knew the words to every single tune without even realising it.

Anyway, that little blast from the past in the gym got me thinking and I was still thinking about it when I was in the supermarket with my other half buying cleaning products (we save the extra fun stuff for Sundays). As we were queueing up, I told him my thoughts which basically slopped out of my mouth in a post-exercise high fuelled rant thusly:

“I really enjoyed hearing those songs and it made me think how the nineties really was the last time anything was good. I mean, you think of them and you have double denim and bad hair and amazing pop music and stuff, but what the hell did the noughties bring us? Really, what music and fashion really stands out as massively memorable? And as for the decade we’re in now, what do we even call it? We’re not in the noughties anymore, so what are we, the teenies? THIS DECADE IS SO SHIT THEY HAVEN’T EVEN THOUGHT OF A NAME FOR IT YET. And it’s no wonder too, because nowdays it’s all Justin Bieber and autotune and iphones and-”

And then I realised I was shouting about Justin Bieber and young people today while wildly gesticulating with a mop in the middle of Waitrose. And it occurred to me that the past 13 years probably have had some good parts – it’s just that I’m now getting too old to appreciate it.

Or do I have a point? When I seriously wrack my brains of things I really enjoyed past the year 2000 I can only think of Sienna Miller bringing back boho and Madonna doing the cowgirl thing (and that was only JUST the noughties…) Everything else was just a rehash of old trends (seriously, how many times can the 80s come back?)

Let’s have a little comparison party shall we?

What the nineties mean to me via the medium of pictures:

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I actually went through a stage of wearing my hair and lips like this. I thought I ruled.

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Double denim. ‘Nuff said.

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Girl Power!

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And I haven’t even mentioned the telly yet. No one could explain it all like Clarissa.

ImageNo one was cooler than Tia and Tamera (I actually did have a denim hat like that).

ImageCrimping. My hair style of choice for every school disco.

ImageNo explanation necessary.

In fact, I’m not even going to bother putting in a pictorial argument for the noughties. Just scroll back to the picture at the top of this post, which I should have captioned “my worst nightmare”.  Bieber and Minaj can basically look at Pat Sharp and WEEP.

Being a girl is hard

March 15, 2013

Call me Captain Obvious, but I really have only recently realised that being a girl is bloody hard work. I’m not even referring to anything to do with periods, childbirth, body image or wage inequality. Na. Forget all the bleeding and hormones and cushiony bits of our bodies and the fact that we still live in a world where a female CEO gives us an involuntary jab of the warm and fuzzies because one of our kind has been ‘given a chance’.

Actually, my issue with being a girl is trying to bloody look like one.

Don’t get me wrong, I am quite clearly female to the average beholder. I have a shapely figure with sticky out things on the chest and long hair trailing down my back. Unlike Lady Gaga, it wouldn’t take me having a drunken piss in front of an award-winning national newspaper journalist to prove that I do, in fact have a vagina.

It’s just that… the whole having to get dressed and look presentable thing is an issue for me at times.

I have, at some point, been baffled by every type of fashion and beauty factor that a woman can possibly face. Hemlines, heels, fake tan, jewellery, piercings, makeup, nail varnish, hair cuts, hosiery, you name it, I’ve cocked it up. And even now, as I reach the December of my 20s… I still don’t really have a clue. My nails still chip within 2 minutes of painting them and my hair is perpetually stuck to my lipgloss.

Of course, we all experiment and some are lucky enough to find their own style and look great with it. My problem is I am all too easily influenced. I see literally every woman I so much as glance at on the tube as style inspiration. You think I’m exaggerating? Yesterday I saw a middle-aged woman with short, spiky, bright purple hair and my thought process went from: “God, she looks like a dog’s dinner” to “I wonder if I could pull off that purple?” to “I’M TOTALLY DYING MY HAIR PURPLE”.

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I did actually dye my hair purple once, when I was at least ten years younger and a lot more stupid. I thought it would look raw and punky. It looked like I’d dipped my head in Tinky-Winky’s toilet.

Yes, I’m always tempted to try “something different” but luckily such extreme decisions are now usually batted away by good old reason… though a mere 4 months ago, I made a spontaneous decision that ended with regret in the form of a large lump of red on the back of my (usually blonde) head, a trip to every hairdresser within a mile’s radius and my bank account a hundred quid lighter. Fail.

My first real efforts of trying to be a girl were when I got my first office job and I noticed other girls wearing high heels, feminine skirts and nice makeup. I suddenly felt a bit tomboyish in my comfy shoes and grey trousers and decided to start making more of a conscious effort. The most memorable style mistake from around that time was spraying fake tan over my legs, only to later realise that it had drifted over the top of my feet, leaving me looking like a polar bear that had dipped its feet in a pool of molten wotsits.

Then I moved to London and got a job in television where pretty much everyone looks great (the women and gay men do, anyway). I have colleagues who could and have modelled. Who swan in in break-neck shoes and seemingly salon-perfect hair even when they have to get up at 4am. It’s just effortless for them.

So this is when I decided I should “experiment” with fashion more. In fact what better inspiration than a fashion department sale, like the one that recently took place at my work? Perfect, no? I came away with beautiful shoes that I’m too scared to wear because they will result in certain breakage of neck, skinny jeans so skinny I would have to forgo food for three days in the lead up to sewing them on and a huge ring – which I really actually quite liked until my Grandma saw it and asked if I was going to read her fortune.

And it’s not only Grandma doing the burning. My boyfriend (whom, by the way, is prettier and more fashionable than me) actually sat me down the other day to “have a talk”. I was relieved to find it wasn’t a stern telling-off about my cake habit but actually the admission that he no longer wants to assist me on shopping trips any more because: “It’s painful watching you stare at terrible shit for ten minutes at a time that I know you won’t end up buying because it looks awful on you”. And he’s absolutely right.

Whenever I decide to brave the changing rooms, I will try on between 10-15 garments and more often than not walk away empty-handed because it doesn’t suit my body shape, is too big or too small, the colour washes me out or the style just isn’t “me”. Ironic as I’m still trying to find a style. And what’s even more ironic is that most girls have boyfriends who hate shopping but my bloke’s brilliant at it. About 70% of my retail purchases over the past year have been from him casually strolling into a store, picking up something I would never look at in a million years, telling me to try it on and me loving it. The boy owns more pairs of shoes and coats than me and can work every pair. I have a pretty bulging wardrobe as well but will stick to the same four or five outfits in a cycle of boring.

Though, actually, I do have a particular top that I now regard my “lucky, celebrity-hunting stripy top”. Because whenever I wear it, I end up being pictured with someone way cooler than me. But in truth, I fling it on a lot because it’s fairly “safe”.

Regard: (and this is a bit of an occasion – I’ve had this blog for about five years and have never once posted a picture of myself… but as I think the only people who read it are my facebook and twitter friends who have nothing better to do, it’s hardly a big reveal)…

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Russell Brand with stripy top of glory (STOG). The other girl is Amy May, one of said fabulous-looking colleagues who could work a bin liner. Just look at her! She wears gold sparkly stuff to work!

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Brian May with STOG (and Amy May wearing leggings that would make me look like a pantomime villain but make her look fabulous). Although I’m really ramping it up in this one by throwing on a necklace that cost me a fiver.

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STOG and limp scarf getting completely outshined by The Saturdays.

You get my drift. I like to keep it safe. But deep down I want to try jumpsuits, I want to work the military look, I want to do embellishment and layering and all those other fashion-y words I’ve learned over the years through reading Glamour magazine. Yet I don’t because it always ends in disaster.

At least I can take some comfort in a video has been sweeping the net lately. Poor old Tori Locklear gives a tutorial on how to achieve pretty ringlets with the aid of curling tongs. At first she seems knowledgable about her subject, clamping sections of her buttery-blonde locks to get the desired effect… right up until she burns a full lock of her hair clean off, leaving only a singed tuft.

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Oh Tori, I feel you girl.

You can see the disaster unfold here if you haven’t already.

The thing is, Tori is only 13, so can be excused, especially as she’s so adorable in her mistake. At the same age I attended non-school-uniform day in a Spice Girls T-shirt and Adidas tracksuit bottoms, convinced I was channelling Sporty Spice and that this was a good thing.

I don’t think I’ve learned all that much since.

“It’s ok, I’m on holiday!”

October 31, 2012

This morning I woke up, padded to the kitchen and put the kettle on for my morning cup of tea.  Nothing very unusual there, compared to the average morning.

Except, I then ate a … I’m not quite sure what it was, actually. All I know it was made out of pastry, sugar, chocolate and deliciousness. A big yard of sickly, chocolatey deliciousness. And it was so good I promptly put another in the microwave and gobbled up its molten, toxic stickiness. Then an hour later I snarfed down a few handfuls of Cheetos. Then later I lunched on a large, rubbery hotdog in white French bread followed by more bread covered in pate. Then more Cheetos. And now I’m writing this, drinking a beer, feeling bloated and thinking about starting on some chocolate.

Now I promise, this is a bit unusual for me, because I do try (and there is a lot of emphasis on the word try) to eat healthily. I generally snack on fruit, eat salads for lunch and eat bread, pasta and other carbs as little as I can. I also usually like my food fresh and containing vegetables.

So why the sudden overdose of crap today? Well, I am on the third day of being on holiday. And, although I don’t usually look as fit as the girl on the left of the picture above,  I am starting to feel like I vaguely resemble the ladies on the right.

I am in a villa in Spain with four of my female friends. All of us, including me, like our food. And all of us, including me, have been heavier than we are now (well, apart from Sally who is one of those bitches who stuffs her face constantly and never goes over a size 10). So anyway, the point is that somewhere in all of us there is a big, fat lady trying to claw her way out. My one is called Beth and has a particular fondness for cake and Cheetos. She looks not unlike our friend to the right up there. And our fat ladies don’t claw any harder than when we’re on holiday.

It’s only on holiday you can justify eating a whole jar of Nutella. To have three courses during every meal of the day, including breakfast. To have a beer at midday. To stuff yourselves silly with paella at a nice restaurant, announce you couldn’t possibly eat another morsel and then come home and eat a family-sized box of Ferrero Rocher in front of the TV like we did last night (this is no ‘girls gone wild’ holiday).

From where I’m sitting now, I can see an empty box of chocolate biscuits, a box of Kinder Surprise eggs, beer bottles, the tell-tall box of the Ambassador’s favourite chocolates and a friend of mine laying horizontal on the couch opposite, slipping in and out of a junk food-induced coma. I might have to go over and check she’s breathing after I’ve posted this. My other holiday companions have gone for a walk in the pissing rain out of pure fear their arteries will clog up and their hearts give in if they continue to not move at all for the third day in a row.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why am I sitting here now, jeans digging in my waist, feeling sluggish and spotty and knowing full well that I am going to eat another few portions of lard and sugar during the rest of the holiday? It reminds me of the that period of time around December 18th to January 2nd when I exist solely on cheese and Quality Street. Overindulgence isn’t even that fun after the first day.  The problem is, the more crap I eat, the more crap I crave.

Ah well. I know that once I go home it’ll be salad and boiled eggs and veggies for a few days.

And to give you an update since I started writing this post, my catatonic sofa friend has since managed to move twice – first to get her duvet, secondly to get a magnum ice cream out the freezer.  The rest of our party have also come back from their walk, telling tales of a cafe that sells hot chocolate so thick they had to eat it with a spoon and one is now eating this as one of her square meals of the day:

Right, time for a coffee and a Milka ChocoBiscuit…

The shame of bringing in the cleaners

October 30, 2012

I have a confession to make. And it’s one I’ve been very reluctant to come right out and say. Because I feel people may judge me for it.

I haven’t been eating cupcakes on the toilet at night (recently, anyway) or having a pang in my knickers whenever I think about Boris Johnson. It’s much worse than that.

My confession is this. Every Thursday I pay some of my well-earned money for some complete strangers to enter my home and clean up mine and my boyfriend’s mess. Once a week I go to work in the morning, safe in the knowledge that when I come back, the carpets will be vacuumed, the toilet and bathroom cleaned and any residual dishes that have been left in the sink will be washed.

And now, after an unfortunate event with said cleaners of which I have wanted to publicly moan about, I realise how ashamed I am of of this. I’m a 21st century social network addict, moronically moaning about my first world problems via the mediums of facebook and twitter on a regular basis. However, this time I felt the need to hold myself back because I’d probably rather admit to bringing in the cleaners in the mafia sense than announce that I actually have to pay someone to  help keep my place habitable. And to publicly complain about the problems that arise from this would just be wanky to the highest sense.

I’m not a mother with 3 kids struggling to do all the housework, I’m not a rich housewife, nor am I missing a limb and therefore unable to pick up the hoover myself.

I’m just lazy. And busy. And tired all the time, goddammit. And …. not… very domesticated. And Boyfriend’s no Suzy homekeeper himself. Basically, when we both get home from work we’d rather cook dinner and then sit on the sofa vegetating in front of two screens (21st century social network addict, remember) than get the marigolds on and making sure we can see our reflection in the sink. And besides, getting cleaners was good for our relationship. We don’t argue over who does what and no one does the washing up on Wednesday night because we know someone else will do it for us the next day.

Anyway, so last Thursday after a long day at work , followed by a commute on the London Underground (of  which really merits its own blog post some time in the near future) I arrive home with that little glow that comes with knowing the skid marks your other half left down the loo the night before will no longer be there (just testing to see whether he really reads this).

I arrive at my front door to find it ajar and think: “Wow, they’re here really late today. Damn. Now I have to look them in the eye knowing they’ve probably seen what we keep in our secret drawer,” and I go inside and the place is beautifully clean and tidy and … empty. The fuckers left my front door open. THEY JUST LEFT THE FRONT DOOR OPEN ALL DAY. People could have stolen our things and trashed the place. Or worse, a madman could have wondered in, tried on all my dresses while doing one of those cheesy Hollywood montages in his head and stretched my Karen Millen from Paris. KAREN MILLEN. STRETCHED.

Obviously furious, I sit down, open my laptop (after quickly checking the wardrobe for any wild-eyed vagabonds looking slightly fabulous in a purple bodycon) and open my emails to Sack The Cleaners.

And I hesitate. Because I feel bad. I’ve never sacked someone before. Only people in suits or housewives who look like Joan Collins do that, don’t they?

And it’s not even like we have the same person who always comes in, say, a chatty old bat called Shirley with a smoker’s cough who regales us with tales of her grandchildren and Yorkshire terrier whenever we cross paths. No, it’s a pretty impersonal company, who send two random people from their books each time, people I have only awkwardly glimpsed once or twice. But I hesitate, because I know that once I complain about this incident to the company and tell them I no longer require their services, someone will almost certainly be sacked. And I don’t like the thought of someone losing their job because of me. But at the end of the day they left my front door open and I don’t want it to happen again, so I did end my business with them.

And then of course I wanted to moan about the whole thing on facebook and twitter. But couldn’t for the reasons I’ve just described. Because really, I’d be irritated if I saw someone posting about the inconveniences caused by their cleaners. I’d be like “tidy up yourself then, you lazy arse”. But the truth is, as I get older, I really am finding more and more first world problems to quietly complain about. The other day I actually said aloud: “I hope this salmon is better than the last salmon we got from M&S’. I might as well have ended my life there and then.

Anyway, the cleaning company have now offered me a “compensation package” and are doing an “internal investigation”. Meanwhile, I might buy some cleaning products and actually have a go at tidying the place myself this weekend. And can guarantee I’ll be complaining about the price of bleach and how dry my hands are and finding a new cleaning company to moan about within a week.

Jesus…

October 25, 2012

 

Considering Justin Timberlake has (reportedly) been about as enthusiastic about committing to Jessica Biel as a most of us are chewing a turd, I wonder if this is supposed to be ironic, or something.

It reminds me of Tom Cruise’s creepy sofa jumping on Oprah when he introduced his freshly rebooted fem-bot Katie Holmes to the world.

I like how Jessica looks like she’s clenching her teeth, thinking “shit, I’m stuck with this moron for life.”

Very strange.

Normal service might just resume…

October 23, 2012

So, it seems I’m really giving this writing more than every 18 months lark a try. The thing is, so much has changed in notontheguestlist world since I last wrote (encountering vile people in an industry I thought I’d love, getting a new, better job, then encountering some of the most awesome people ever *insert inspirational air-punching anthem here*) and now I’m not even sure what I want to write about anymore.

Do I still want to write snarky things about celebrities? Am I still really that person? Shouldn’t I write about art in purer forms than music videos and fashion; of philosophy, or politics, or of what it means to be a woman in 20th Century London?

Can I still really lower myself to sniggering at popular culture from behind my virtual, anonymous hand from the safety of cyberspace?

Why, yes. Yes I can.