She is…

She is a vintage ballgown bought in the sale in a charity shop
She is the cold National Express coach leaving Leeds at 8am
She is the long, lean standard lamp lighting the room
She is blue WKD and cider and shots until three
She is the dancefloor
She is exploding, fizzing lavender bath bombs
She is emerging from her room at four in the afternoon
She is the belting karaoke rendition of Dancing Queen

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Oops, I did it again

britney oops I did it againAnother day, another Britney-ism. She really does just sum up “life” through the medium of song. We should never forget that.

Anyway, what I have gone and done is re-entered the world of the tax-paying, employed masses. Yes, sometime in the near future I will be oiling the wheels of the corporate machine once more. What all this means is that certain things will have to be put on hold, namely:

    • My career as the nation’s next Nigella. Just as my lemon drizzle muffins were set to take the world by storm.

      My “relaxed” daytime attire.
      Goodbye to going to the shops at lunchtime in an “I heart Guam” T-shirt and Robinson Crusoe-style cut-off trousers. (Sainsbury’s checkout man: “What is Goo-am?”)

      My rise to (near) the top of the Celebdaq charts. Does anyone still play this? I must have missed the boat first time round but have become a bit addicted recently. Also provides a very sound reason for buying trashy magazines and reading gossip sites.

  • The clock’s ticking…I’m off to get some Diamond White.

    Recruitment consultant to stand as US presidential candidate

    help wanted recruitmentHave you ever seen a more unlikely headline?

    OK, perhaps I am being unfair, but like Britney said, that’s my prerogative. Over the last month or so I have had the dubious pleasure of taking a peek into the wonderful world of the recruitment consultant (“RCs” – actually quite a fitting acronym).

    Now, to put things into perspective for a second, what these people are dealing in – day in, day out – is a person’s livelihood, their career and the source of their fulfillment, motivation and moolah. So you would expect a certain level of diplomacy, tact and general care. Not always.

    Here are two small examples by way of illustration:

    • An RC sends an email including a link to a map of an office where I’m due to go for an interview the next day. Ah, helpful. I click on the link. A map pops up of the place I used to work, six months ago which is on the other side of town to where the interview is, with an entirely unrelated company. Hmm.
    • An RC asks me to send through contact details for my referees. He notes in brackets that should the company decide to contact my referees, they will “respect the senility this situation demands.” Eh?

    Anyway, judge not lest ye be judged and all that. I have dealt with some recruiters who have been very professional and helpful people. And my best friend is one. And I live with one who is very lovely. So they can’t all be bad, right?

    Mean Murmurings

    wicked whispersHave you seen the “Wicked Whispers” section from the Daily Mirror’s 3am girls?

    They, apparently, give us the latest outrageous scandals from the kuh-ray-zee business that is show. Here’s today’s example:

    WHICH crooner was stunned when a blonde he picked up asked him for £1500 after she slept over?

    Answer: I don’t know. The mind boggles.

    Anyway, this is all a long pre-amble to my revelation that I have had not one but two encounters with actual real-life celebrities recently. And I don’t just mean in the pages of Take-a-Break in my Sainsbury’s Local. I mean actual interaction in the tangible world people.

    So, here are my very own Wicked Whispers – er, let’s call them Mean Murmurings

    MM #1: Which well-known musical star revealed, over drinks at a recent family event, that while performing on stage he glanced at the autocue only to find that the lyrics had been replaced by a very graphic image of an extreme sexual act?

    MM #2: Which pop singer blubbed all the way through the vows at a friend’s wedding last weekend? If you need a clue, here is a photo (not taken by me I might add) of aforementioned star attending said wedding.

    mystery celebrity bum
    Hazard a guess at the celebrity seat? Any correct entries win a dolly peg lady.

    How a good book found me

    Strangers in ParadiseThe graphic novel adoration continues.

    I just read the first volume of Strangers in Paradise. It’s really very good and you should get it. Or borrow mine.

    Warning: extremely geeky sidenote follows.

    How I came by this book is a little example of Long Tail economics at work.

    A friend I know from years back now lives in Denmark. She found this blog via a link from my MySpace page. Reading my posting about graphic novels, she made a recommendation and I bought the book from Amazon – there’s no way it would be in my local Waterstone’s. Now I’m blogging about it and maybe someone I know will read the book too because they (maybe) trust my opinion.

    Let’s face it, how else would someone who doesn’t resemble The Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons ever end up coming across something like this?

    And hey presto, via the magic of the information superhighway, filters and aggregators, a niche product finds its customer.

    Geek-talk over.

    Taking the Reiss

    Suits you sirAs party of my dalliance with “getting a job” I bought a new suit at the weekend. This turned out to be quite an ordeal, mainly because it was sunny and I was hungover and desperate to get to the park, but also because I encountered a total sleaze of a salesman. What follows may sound a bit “Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells” but really…

    After enduring some of his “patter” including interrogation-style questions on what I needed the suit for and then what kind of job I was looking for etc etc I emerged from the changing rooms (why can there not be a mirror inside the room?) to find that the suit I’d picked looked fine except you could see the lining of the pockets through the trousers. Not so good. Mr Sleaze then tried to convince me that he could get the pockets removed that afternoon and attempted all kind of sales chat. I wasn’t convinced and headed back in to get changed.

    Out of my earshot, my shopping companion (who had also endured much of his chat) then said something to him like, “If you’re going to spend £100 on a pair of trousers you really want them to look right straight off.” To which he replied “Yeah, especially if you’re out of work.” The cheek! I wish I’d heard this at the time as low blood sugar levels might have caused me to mention that I’m not out of work and add something about how shop assistants slogging it out on a Saturday afternoon in a branch of Reiss don’t really have grounds to comment. But I didn’t. So I’m venting here instead.

    Suffice to say, I got a very nice suit elsewhere.

    A world of two halves

    goose.jpgWhat’s the difference between Zurich and Havana? Zurich doesn’t rhyme with Copacabana of course!

    Well, the mammoth travel escapade is complete. The second phase of the gastronomic world tour started with a forgotten passport halfway to Heathrow and ended with a near-fainting episode in Havana airport. But…there was lots of good stuff in between. I will be recounting some snippets here, but first, the Switzerland to Cuba transition…

    One minute you’re guzzling cheese fondue like some kind of foie gras goose on skis and the next you’re staying in someone’s house for $25 that doubles their monthly income. It was a bit odd. I could say something about the roulette wheel of birth etc etc, but I won’t. Instead I will mostly be sharing some fascinating insights into cigar factories and jellyfish.

    Moonwalk this way

    Although I had a busy time of it in the US of A, I did find a few spare seconds to impress the locals with my moonwalking skills during an ice fishing (yes, ice fishing) trip. Behold the wonder:

    And here are a couple of ice fishing pictures.

    A frozen canal is a cold place to hang out. (The sign says “Do not drill holes in the ice.” Note large ice drill on the left of the shot.)
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    We used goldfish as bait. Poor Nemo:
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    A productive ailment

    cough.jpgIn pharmacy-speak, I have what is known as a productive cough. Back in the day, when I worked as a lowly pharmacy assistant, there were a series of questions we had to ask spluttery, wheezing customers including “Are you taking any other medication?” and “Is your cough productive?” Oddly, nobody ever answered, “Yes, it is actually. So far today it’s painted the bathroom, rearranged my sock drawer and filled in my tax return.” It seems the general public know that a productive cough means that your cough, er, produces something. Best not to dwell on such things.

    Yes, those pharmacy days were good times. I used to especially enjoy laughing and pointing out to my co-workers any customers who purchased something called Stud 1000 (and that happened more often than you’d think). Can’t think why I never made it as a pharmacist.

    Note: I was just looking for a picture to go with this post and came across this: the cough muffler. This ingenious item is designed for hunters who don’t want their “spontaneous morning cough” to startle the deer they’ve got their air rifle trained on. You wear it round your neck, cough into it and it muffles the sound to an almost inaudible level. What’s best is that its “matt black finish blends with all of today’s modern camo patterns.” Thank goodness! Don’t you just hate it when your cough muffler clashes with your camo gear?

    The truth about hens

    Some people say hen nights are just an opportunity for girls to get together, drink lots, dress up and behave irresponsibly. The naysayers call them another symptom of “boozed-up Britain,” “ladette culture” and general idiocy.

    What do they know. I was at a hen weekend last year that brought together some brilliant, talented people and gave us all an opportunity to not only debate topical issues but also to gel in a more creative, freeform sense. Thank goodness I had the presence of mind to grab a video camera and capture the moment: