Sunday, February 19, 2006

sunday sunday.

I really shouldn't be posting, you know. I should be lying on my bed with a moist towelette covering my bloodshot eyes and whimpering softly. I've just come back from a weekend in Oxford, where I was sucked into that peculiarly Oxbridge phenomenon: the bop.

For those of you not lucky enough to have spent three years musing about the meaning of life amidst the dreaming spires while never, ever getting laid, let me enlighten you. A bop is like a house party, only it's in a bar. It's like going to a club, only everyone is wearing school uniform, or in drag. I think the closest approximation in terms of price of drinks, quality of music and ridiculousness of clothes must be a wedding disco or perhaps some kind of yokel town hall jolly.

I digress. Of course now that I have left university and become a sushi-eating metropole, with an actual job to boot, I thought such joys were closed to me forever. Not so. In the company of W (identifying quote: "When I started at university, we didn't have the internet. We didn't even have email.") I dared to venture to the "Old School" bop. I have to say I feel they missed a trick by not spelling that with a "k", and indeed by not basing it on the film of the same name, but you can't have everything.

Anyway, suffice it to say that I am far too old, really, for such capers - and certainly too old for: dancing to Britney Spears with any degree of credibility, sleeping on the floor, and talking about "the system" to 19 year olds, all of which I attempted.

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Please let it be noted that the crapness of this post can be explained with reference to my new theory: February is a pointless month, in which nothing good or memorable has ever happen. here's the proof.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I'm a loser baby, so why don't you kill me... or, pass the vodka

This Valentine's Day saw a dinner party chez Galatea for all my most
single friends - 17 in all. Quite an impressive number, considering
that I always feel like everyone is coupled-up. Although I am
beginning to be worried that I am, as I have long suspected, some sort
of Typhoid Mary of singledom. At university, I lived with one
relationship long-termer, but mysteriously my other two housemates
remained resolutely single, with only a few near-misses to their name,
all year. Only when I got a boyfriend in the penultimate week of the
year did they both, as if by magic, find girlfriends.

I fear the same has happened this year. Housemate A is settled in for
the duration with her fella, but the other two would themselves
confess they have the roughly the same chance of getting laid as a
eunuch in a nunnery. I wouldn't particularly rate my chances of
getting a boyfriend much higher. I don't know why this is- they're
both personable, intelligent and far from hideous to look at... in
fact, as I looked round the assembled singletons on Tuesday
(intermingled with a few loved-up interlopers, such as Housemate A) I
asked the same question: "Why are these eligible people single?"

Immediately, I realised I had become a budget version of Carrie
Bradshaw, and slapped myself quite hard before I started saying things
like, "had Charlotte finally found her zsa zsa Jew?" (yes, an actual
SATC quote). However, I think I know the answer to the question (the
single one, not the one about the Jew) . It's partly because our
unofficial motto is "don't shit on your own doorstep", as we've pretty
much all had our fingers burnt by starting something within our group
of friends and it going horribly wrong.

Months of recriminations, guilt, and careful party planning to include
only one of the affected parties inevitably ensue. I, for one, am
getting tired of this (particularly the party-planning apartheid) and
if anyone else wants to embark on an ill-advised relationship with one
of their friends, well, frankly, on their own head be it.

The second part of the problem is that we are all enmeshed in a dating
etiquette system so complex and pitfall-ridden that it would have
baffled Jane Austen. For example: you can't just see someone in a bar
you like the look of and go up and talk to them. Ha, we scoff, and
chortle ruefully. If *only* it were that easy! no, no, that kind of
approach is for sex addicts and people from Essex who don't know
better. Oh yes, we're far too metropolitan and cool to ever let
on that we find anyone attractive.

Similarly, should anyone else tentatively venture the opinion that we
are attractive, we also scoff. The fools! Do they not know the biggest
mistake in any budding relationship is to look keen? No one, but no
one, likes a keen-o.

So you see the dilemma. The only possible way that two people who
think like this can get together is by some sort of synchronised
mutual declaration (probably impossible, due to laws of space/time).

Or by getting really wasted and forgetting all the above principles.

Monday, February 13, 2006

not the post i meant to write.

What a great weekend. The sum total of my activity can be mathematically expressed thus: bugger all.

On Friday, I watched Batman Begins - a big sledgehammer of a film, with no space for nuance, character development, or indeed any characterisation outside hoary blockbuster stereotypes. Oh look, it's an inaccessible martial arts monastery thing. Cue the plinky plonky music and lots of impressive fights in the snow! What's this now? He was frightened of bats as a child? Ah, in finest Oprah fashion he's 'confronting his demons' by dressing up as a bat. (I realised, on this rationale, I would be the much-less-impressive superhero RecorderGirl, or possibly PE Lesson Woman.) What's that, Skippy? He's in love with a girl, but to know his true identity would put her in danger?

Actually, to be fair to the film, they dispatched that one pretty quickly, as poor old Bruce couldn't bear the thought that Katie Holmes thought he was just a shallow playboy, a lifestyle which He Did Not Enjoy At All. You could tell this, because Christian Bale's single facial expression, surely learnt at the Keanu Reeves School of Acting, was a mixture of ANGER and REGRET. Look, it seemed to say, you might think that driving a big nitrous-injected tank over rooftops is fun, but I am VERY SERIOUS.

I personally felt this was a real shame - I like a bit of breathless exuberance in my blockbusters. But it seems that ever since the disastrous cheesy Batman efforts of the 90s (Stand up, Arnold "The Iceman Cometh" Schwarzenegger, I'm talking to you) the only way to achieve credibility is to deny fun. As a result, cool fighty stunts which would make the average 10-year urinate with glee are tackled in the most irritatingly po-faced manner.

Strangely enough, po-facedness was quite lacking from the other film I saw this weekend, despite there being far more occasion for it. Cry Freedom is, like Gandhi, a sweeping Dickie Attenborough human rights epic. It tells the story of anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, and a white journalist's attempt to publish his life story after Biko's extremely suspicious death from a 'hunger strike' in police custody. My companion, and indeed the instigator of watching the film (after I had waxed lyrical about my previous viewing of it, aged 15) was my housemate, who for the purposes of this blog shall be known as Max. I found him on the sofa on Saturday morning, clad in his distinctive weekend apparel of electric blue bathrobe and houmous, and the main character already dead. This being a Richard Attenborough film, that meant there was about two hours left to go.

Anyway, Cry Freedom is too good (and important, and worthy) a film to be flippant about. The music is fantastic, the scenery beautiful, and the story almost unbearably sad. It's handled with skill and sensitivity and the largest number of extras I've ever seen, and it resists the temptation to overplay the tragedy for cheap tear-jerking effect, recognising that the story itself is strong enough to be deeply affecting.

Well, look at that - a proper post. Imagine my excitement. That means I had better save Parte The Seconde for a bit later, as it's about Valentine's day. Don't worry, I shan't be writing about how I'm the First Person Ever to realise it's all a commercial enterprise, where makers of cards, chocolate and disgusting oversized stuffed toys cynically manipulate our collective paranoia (In other news, Christmas isn't just about the birth of Jesus). It'll be about laughter, and the good times, and playing Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now and Jeff Buckley's version of Hallelujah over and over at my dinner guests until they cry.

PS. Props to Dr Feelgood for realising, as I have, that Richard Hammond is taking over television. The pint-sized sexpot has been an obsession of this blog for some time - ever since topping Heat's Weird Crush Poll - and I too saw him on Petrolheads, the lamest panel show of all time (apart from that mental arithmetic one with Marcus du Sautoy on BBC4) and I felt a little piece of his soul die.

The man's a TV whore! He'll do anything - dog shows, pop-science programmes, health scare shows. I can't shake off this feeling he's having Alan Partridge's career in reverse. I note from his wikipedia entry that his next live gig is presenting... oh, no, you'll be glad I made you wait for this... here it comes... The British Parking Awards. At the Dorchester. And that noise you hear, as Bill Hicks would say, is the sound of him sucking Satan's cock.

Thankfully, it was obvious from last night's Top Gear that James May and Jeremy Clarkson are willing to stand up to him, referring to him as "TV's Richard Hammond" and keeping up the teeth-whitening gags for the fourth successive month. On that note, I should add that the Top Gear Winter Olympics special is one of the best pieces of TV I've seen recently, featuring as it did both James and Jeremy eating pissed-on snow. TV bigwigs take note - that's prime time entertainment.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

fire alarms, fluffy thongs and divers alarums.

as seems to be par for the course these days, i must begin by apologising for my lack of my posting. fear not, unlike artegall i have not renounced blogging for higher things (like making celebrities wait to use the loo) but have been working on Macs. Yes, they don't like blogger - and because I work on computers eight hours a day, I refuse point blank to use them in my free time unless absolutely necessary.

Another thing is that I've been working evenings, effectively killing my social life and depriving me of tasty morsels of gossip and discussion to toss into the bear pit of this blog. The one night I did try to go out - last Saturday - I rather unwisely over-indulged and ended up in the alleged VIP area of an electronica club in Shoreditch. It was, I may say, exactly what I expected an electronica club in Shoreditch to be like. The management had eschewed interior decoration and gender division of the toilets - neither of them wise decisions. Still I had a good night, right up until I was manhandled into a taxi at 4am. Then karma came and bit my in the ass at work the next day. Oh yes, Sunday is Fire Alarm Testing Day. As the sixth 15-second burst rang out across the office, I could have sworn I was going to be sick.

On Friday I went to see A Cock And Bull Story, Michael 'High Class Porn' Winterbottom's retelling of Tristram Shandy. I'm very glad I've seen it; as previously discussed, my crippling attention deficit disorder means I will never read the original book. It was very funny - laugh out loud stuff - but, as with so many other clever-clever postmodern things, it seemed to lack soul. I suppose that's the point, though: we've got so used to neat little narratives in film and books, that anything which attempts to portray the randomness and untidiness of real life (as both Tristram Shandy and the film do) seems bizarrely artificial. I'm a bit disturbed by my clear unconscious need for everything to have 'resolution': in fact I think it's a force for bad in my real life as well. It means I assume that if there is a denouement, and everybody knows everything, it will all work out in the end. Of course, it doesn't, and I look like the interfering gossip I am, rather than the winsome Puck-like figure I imagine myself to be.

Tomorrow hopefully brings the long-delayed trip to the British Library, where I intend to do some... wait for it... homework! Yes, I have given up my search for copies of BS Johnson's The Unfortunates and Travelling People, and am forced to seek them out in the library. Somehow, I knew that Rotherhithe and Peckham libraries, while possessing a Jack Clancy selection which cannot be faulted, were not the place for forgotten modernist authors.

Then it's off to the cinema to see Michael Haneke's thriller Hidden, about which I have heard great things. Unfortunately, as well as having no attention span, I am half-blind and in denial (and penury, hence no glasses) so I'm not sure how I'm going to get on with a fast-paced subtitled film. Oh well, I'm always saying I need to improve my French.

And on that note, I shall leave you with my plans for Valentine's Day: a piss up. Yes, I have forsworn the tempting options of a suicide pact or shotgun rampage, and plan to sit at home with my friends, muttering darkly about how it's all commercial bollocks anyway, and who wants a 'romantic' pink furry thong or similar branded wank, before sobbing quietly into my White Russian about how I'm going to die alone.

To be fair, Valentine's has not been kind to me of late. I usually wouldn't kiss and tell, but last year I received a book on the Rwandan genocide, and the year before that I was given some tea. From China. When a friend confronted the unfortunate gift-giver with his obvious tightarsedness, his only reply was: "It cost £3! That's a week's wages for a Chinese!" Although that's better than my first boyfriend, who turned up with two red roses, claimed he got two because they were on sale. When I murmured something appreciative, he turned on me and went, "Don't be stupid - red roses on sale on Valentine's Day? You must have been born yesterday!" Which took the shine off the evening somewhat, as did the fact he was too cheap to take me out so I cooked him dinner at my parents' house.

Still, he did make up for it by sending me a love letter (one of only two received by Galatea to date) with a thoughtfully attached picture of Carol Vorderman and Jimmy Tarbuck, captioned: "They look happy together, and so do we..." Don't believe me? I'll show it to you. Although I would like to point out that when he mentions me picking my nose and eating it, that was just a disgusting teenage habit which I don't do any more.

And on that mucus-based bombshell, I shall leave you.