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Speed Awareness

Posted on: Sunday, 31 October 2010

I have been on a speed awareness course. Said course took place on Saturday at Wakefield Holiday Inn from 8:00am until 12:15pm. Ugh.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm no speed demon. I was caught by a static camera doing 36mph in a 30 zone. But those 6 mph matters, it seems. Oh yes they do. 

My lasting impression of the whole sorry affair, though, was the disparate group of people it brought together. We literally had nothing in common except car ownership - or access - and an occasional tendency to drive a little too fast. Complete randomers. Definite short story material. 

And the best comment of the day? From Kevin, the course leader, whilst eyeing up a man who'd just introduced himself as Rikesh (with a broad Yorkshire accent, I might add). 

"And if English int yer first language, dint worry." 



Posted on: Thursday, 28 October 2010

This is the picture of the bike I tried to post in 'The Boy Done Good'.

Hark at me! Mobile blogging, eh? Whatever next? I'll be making podcasts or somesuch.

The Boy Done Good

Posted on: Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Well, it’s certainly not my birthday. And it’s not quite Christmas, despite Leeds City Centre getting its Santa Claus lights up and ready for the 1st October.  

But it IS half-term – reason enough for a mystery trip, yeah?

So off we pootled on Sunday afternoon, headed for the Midland Hotel in Morecambe. Now, I love Morecambe. It has good fish and chips, one of the best second-hand bookshops I’ve ever been to and is just the right side of slightly-tatty seaside chic.

And the Midland Hotel is a gem. A white-and-turquiose art deco fa├žade, complete with sea horse sculptures, swirly spiral staircase and view over Morecambe Bay. And to think in the 90s they were going to paint it pink and turn it into Mr Blobby’s Fun Castle. Or summat. Jesus.

Their afternoon tea is second to none. And now I just happen to know that their bedrooms and breakfasts are pretty damn snazzy, too.

My favourite bit?  The wooden panel that disguised the loo. Wicked. And the 1920s sink plug. How can a plug be 1920s, I hear you cry? Stay in the Midland and find out.

All in all, a perfect weekend. The boy done good.

But actually, he did better than good.

Good God. Is that a 1940s bicycle? Rescued from Uncle Bern’s loft in Porthmadog? Once rusty and knackered and now utterly refurbished by the Bike Doctor in Leeds, complete with authentic 1940s lights sourced from ebay?

Now THIS is why I love him.

From Larkin to wedding suits

Posted on: Wednesday, 13 October 2010

I like Larkin. Here he is, in the picture which graces my laptop wallpaper:
I have pictures of him on the wall in my classroom. Year 11 fondly call him 'that Egghead'. I like this shot. He almost looks like he could be an Oxford don - the awkward hands, the obvious aversion to being photographed - but then the you spot the concrete pillar, the glass-fronted, probably 60s new-University build behind him and realise he's in Hull.

I promised Larkin quotes when I started this thing, so here's one for you. He loved Hull – and by ‘loved’, I mean that when Auden asked him if he liked being there he replied “I don’t suppose I’m unhappier there than I should be anywhere else” which, from Larkin, was positively gushing. He explained his refusal to move to a more known intellectual hot-spot by saying “I don’t want to go around pretending to be me.”
I love that: “I don’t want to go around pretending to be me.” Can I relate that to weddings? Probably. Should I? Well I’m going to, so there.

Here's the issue. You see, I have a thing about traditional wedding suits. By saying I have a 'thing', I don't mean it in the same way as I had a 'thing' for John Leslie in his Blue Peter days (yes, Ulrika, I know) or a 'thing' for River Phoenix circa 1992. I have a thing about wedding suits. Oh, the subtle nuances of the English language!
And the thing is this: I can't bloody bear them.
I don't like tails - too fussy. And I know they're uber-popular and some people may hate me for this sweeping condemnation, but I don't like cravats. Waistcoats? Well, they're passable as long as they're made in the same material as the suit and not some cream-and-red swirly-patterned monstrosity. They match the colour scheme? Hmm. But they're vile. They look like something you'd use to upholster a sofa.
Wikipedia says that morning dress is now "rarely worn, used generally only for weddings, some official government or Royal functions, races such as Ascot, and as uniform at some of Britain's most traditional schools such as Eton."
Royal functions? Ascot? Eton? Hang on a minute. These occasions don’t, for me, qualify as real life. Fair enough, so arguably a wedding isn’t ‘real life’, either. Granted, in real life I don’t ordinarily swan about in a white dress or carry a bouquet around with me. Hell, some days I forget to wear mascara. But what I want to know is this: what is it about a wedding that makes us frightened to be ourselves – all be it a slightly more polished version of ourselves? Why do we end up relying on a fairly narrow range of wedding conventions which have been deemed by God-know’s-who as appropriate but stray from them AT YOUR DOOM. YOU HEAR ME? DOOM. DOOOOOOOOM.
Renounce these conventions and there’s a cacophony of suppliers and caterers and magazine articles howling in incredulity. Really. Strain your ears. If you’re having unconventional wedding thoughts, you can probably hear them.
“Don’t want seat covers? Is there something wrong with you?”
“What? Mismatched bridesmaid accessories? They’re supposed to look identikit, fool!”
“A three-course meal is the standard. That’s what we do. Moron.”
But I don’t want stupid bows on the back of chairs, and I certainly don’t want them at £3.70 a seat excluding VAT. Plus, my sister really liked that bloody necklace, alright? And, if it’s OK with you, I’d rather saw off my own arms than eat a three course dinner with a roast main. Ta very much.  
Back to the suits. Here's Prince Charles, looking a bit like a pillock. In a morning suit. Coincidence?

OK, so I chose a picture of him wearing a top hat and walking with an umbrella. He was bound to look ridiculous. But it's fine for him, and you know why? He's royalty. He's supposed to look like that. This is Prince Charles being himself. I’m cool with that.
What I’m not cool with, though, is that I’m finding there’s an omnipresent struggle in organising a wedding. I want to be true to myself. I don’t want to feel like a fraud. I don’t want to feel uncomfortable and I want to look like me. Albeit a groomed and pretty version of me in a special dress and killer shoes.  
So I’m afraid it’s “no pretending to be me” on 30th July next year. It’s just going to be me. Thanks, Larkin.

Oooeee technologeeee

Posted on: Tuesday, 12 October 2010

I have ordered meself a new phone. T'is a crackberry to replace old, battered, much-beloved crackberry which went to its electronic grave some months ago. I took it into the O2 shop on Briggate at the end of July to complain about the error message that had appeared on the screen.

"Oo, yes, it's a very common error, this is. We'll send it off and get it repaired for you, no problem."

"Really? A common error?"

"Very common. Leave it with us."

So I did. I neglected to mention the fact that said error message ("XRF200MASSIVECOCK-UP**XX" or something of that nature) had only appeared after I did an emergency stop in the car and a bottle of wine flew off the passenger seat and landed on it with an almighty crack.


I decided against the iPhone. I can't even type it correctly first time - I had to correct it there. It's like PhD - the capitalisation confuses me. Although that wasn't the only reason. I hear the camera doesn't have a flash, and from what I've seen of the quality of the photos, they're not as good as the crackberry. Of course, this could all be rubbish I've heard on the grapevine. I don't know. I don't have time to research such things. I barely have time to put up a bathroom mirror, never mind teach myself how to use a new phone and faff about with bloody apps.


The real reason? If I'm totally honest? I like buttons. That touch-screen nonsense would drive me bonkers. So a Blackberry 3G summat-or-other is winging its way to me soon.  

And, yes, I know I sound like a granny.

Never mind. Pictures of, err, stuff coming soon!

Dress Dilemmas

Posted on: Monday, 11 October 2010

Some people go crazy for cake. Some brides-to-be are bothered about bands. Some girls are fussy about photography and some fellas are finickity about food.
But there’s one wedding day detail that unquestionably tops all others. The Mac Daddy, you might say, of details. Or perhaps the Big Kahuna Burger of wedding planning.
Yes, that’s right. I’m talking about…THE DRESS.
Did you detect my hushed, near-reverential tone? Good. It was deliberate.
I think my first Rock My Wedding blog will  be about this very issue. Best not do it here, mind. T’would be improper.
But here’s a taster. My ideal dress?
· Not long
· Not white
· Not really all that conventional

Oh, and the purchase of it shouldn’t really involve getting near-naked in close proximity to a woman you’ve only just met, for cripe’s sake. Who calls you ‘hon’. Repeatedly.
Thoughts on dresses and experience of dress shopping coming soon…
And on a final point, I googled 'fairytale princess wedding dress' as an example of everything je deteste about nuptial frocks and this was search result numero uno. C'est tres jolie, non?

I had a blog planned but...

...then I went and bought my bridesmaid dresses this weekend. And they have usurped everything I was going to write in my brain. In fact, they've usurped EVERYTHING in my brain aside from how to breathe and walk. I'm low-level functioning right now. Honestly. Oh God. Here they are...

This picture, however, does them NO justice. In reality they are the most beautiful shade of oyster - all pinky creamy lusciousness - and the fabric is so deliciously vintage I might just wee myself with excitement. They're just the right side of sexy, super-elegant and will look unbelievable with coral shoes, pink hair accessories, bouquets with white, pink and lemon roses, beaucoup de greenery and the girls' dark hair. Ohmigod. Beauty incarnate!

And from Coast, no less! Alex and I trekked in there prepared for the 'obligatory posh frock Coast session' (all about anticipation and ends in disappointment that everything's a bit grannified) and we were pleasantly surprised to say the least. Hurrah!

OK. Gush over. Will attempt to collect thoughts later for a proper post. Yup.

Wedding rings

Posted on: Wednesday, 6 October 2010

I went shopping at the weekend. It was a bit of an impromptu, ever-so-slightly hungover trip to Leeds city centre, and began in an unassuming fashion: there was the obligatory scout around the O’Neill store, a quick dive into M&S and a fairly depressing visit to Topshop where I banged straight into one of my 6th form students and subsequently realised I’m now officially too old to shop there. Gah. There’s nothing like a lithe 17-year-old to make you feel , well, past it.
Adam, probably desperate to get out of the aforementioned Topshop, suggested we go and look at some rings. Wedding rings. It was pissing it down, and although I’d bought a hoody and a pair of shoes, just about everything I’d tried on so far was – well – not quite right. You have those days, don’t you? They don’t have it in your size, or they have it in navy but not red.  Nothing suited.    
So we tripped off to Yorkshire Jewellery – an independent jewellery shop in the Victoria Quarter in Leeds – in a not-entirely-hopeful fashion. The VQ, if you’ve never been before, is late-Victorian design at its best – all glass and polish and fine frippery. Vivienne Westwood has a little boutique there, and even the ‘high street’ stores are at the top end of scale – Reiss, LK Bennett, Whistles (be still, my beating heart). In short, it’s a little bit posh.
Saying that, though, Yorkshire Jewellery is actually a bit of an anomaly amongst all of those other ‘fancy’ retail units. I’d long-admired the second-hand and vintage jewellery in the window, but it doesn’t really have a ‘wow’ factor. No burly security guards with earpieces, unlike the big high street jeweller around the corner, and certainly no snotty sales assistant. The lady, in fact, was lovely. Bejewelled and lovely. She clearly liked her rings, and necklaces.
And so we pored over a couple of velvet trays and muckied up her shiny glass counter with our finger prints as we tried rings on. We looked at them in a mirror, turned them this way and that and considered the prospect of wearing one of those bands for a lifetime.
It’s an odd purchase, a wedding ring. “Do I like this enough to wear it…forever?”
And the good news is – well, I do.

Blogger Newbie

Posted on: Monday, 4 October 2010

I’ve won a competition. I’m not really a big competition winner – or even enterer, for that matter. I was narrowly beaten by my sister in a colouring-in competition one summer. I fought to the bitter end, but Clare’s ability to shade consistently in the same direction trounced my ‘creativity’, which was praised by the judges (Aunties Kathy and Eileen, and  a less interested Uncle John) and earned me my second place. Once I won a bottle of Gordon’s gin in a raffle. I was only nine and so the prize was claimed by my mother, but the glory was mine, all mine. I came top of my Year 6 class in our Cycling Proficiency test, but strictly speaking that wasn’t a competition. I was proud, though. Man, I could wave my arm and check for hazards like nobody’s business.
The competition was to be a real-life-bride-to-be blogger for a site called Rock My Wedding (www.rockmywedding.co.uk). Apparently, it’s a bit of a big deal. It got 270,000 hits last month. Crackerjack, no?  A little intimidating, yeah? Exciting, much? Eek.
I like writing. I do. Being an English teacher, I end up writing bits and pieces all the time – sample paragraphs, faux mark schemes, yadder yadder – but nothing that really sets me on fire with creative enthusiasm. Having a real life purpose and audience to my writing is pretty cool, though, and I’m a little – shucks, more than a little, a LOT! – excited about it all.
And, although I never anticipated it, I’m excited about the organisational aspect of the wedding. I’m not a girly-girl, no siree. Long dresses make me uncomfortable. I roll my eyes when people say ‘fiancee’, for fuck’s sake. I say ‘fuck’, for fuck’s sake. Three times now. I’m not cut out, really, for discussions about types of roses or favours. And don’t even get me started on chair covers. Can you think of a better way of wasting money - other than setting fire to it, maybe?
I’ve passed through the hippy ‘yeah, man, we’ll have a do in a church hall and have some bunting and home-made cakes. It’ll be rad!’ stage to the slightly manic ‘Christ, this is horrific, I’m naked in a changing room AGAIN!’ to the more rational. “Right. This is an event. For two hundred people. The majority of whom I know and care about and some of them I’d even go so far as saying I love. And I want to have a bloody good time with them. So let’s do it. Without going mad. Yeah?’ stage.
I submit my first entry in the next couple of weeks and I’m still a bit vague on topics (should I talk dress-hunting, or venue-hunting? Would it make sense to be chronological about it all, or start at where I am at the minute? Err, so that would be someone who has bought her wedding ring but doesn’t have a clue which florist she’s going to use. Priorities, McDonagh!) but I’m dying to get going. And I thought, well, maybe I should write a bit somewhere else. To keep it going, like. To generate a few ideas, maybe. To bash things out, so to speak.
So that’s what I aim to do. Watch this space.

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