Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Happy New Year

I still can't believe that we're getting so near to the end of the noughties decade! I know that I'll continue writing 2008 accidentally until at least Spring 09. What will they even call the next decades? The teenies?

Anyway, so there's something I sort of hate about the pressure to have a fabulous time on New Years Eve, and with 7 hours to go I'm still not sure exactly where I'll be... but I believe that the New Year is so much more about how we will fill the year to come. So here's to filling 2009 with as much happiness as possible!

To finish off 2008, I discovered this beautiful video which is a montage of images taken in exactly the same spot throughout the year. Isn't it amazing how calm and peaceful it is there? If only our own yearly evolutions were so ... unbumpy. Read more about it here.

One year in 40 seconds from Eirik Solheim on Vimeo.


Tuesday, 30 December 2008


Even when I quite like something, I seem to develop an immediate aversion to it as soon as it becomes a 'trend'. Maybe this would be different if I didn't live in London, but as it is, anything which is a 'trend' immediately gains ubiquity. Hell, I've even started to go off the idea of a leopard print coat since every third person started sporting one in recent weeks.

It's been a difficult dilemma to manouvre in a world where the contents of the shops become so almost monotonous every season. A few summers ago, in one year which has become burnt in my memory forever, it became impossible to buy an item of clothing which wasn't polka-dotted. The previously cute print became the bane of my wardrobe for a good few seasons. That following winter, I think it was the stars which took over following a few sightings of Kate Moss in starry attire. Previously, there had been the stripes, the poncho....

I suppose it could be up to us to interpret these trends in different ways, but I still can't bring myself to try. Maybe it's something to do with my hatred of uniforms in any shape or form; I am certainly not a beacon of individuality (today's outfit: grey cords, plain blue long-sleeved t-shirt, pink cardigan with no embellishments) but I cannot stand uniforms. Still, as I said, trendy items can still look lovely and I've seen plenty of people pull them off in unique ways. And what if you just simply like polka-dots? Should you stop wearing them when they become ubiqitious?

If this season had a pattern ascribed to it, it probably wouldn't be leopard print, which is always around to some extent, even if on perma-tanned Robert Cavalli lovers. It would be the lumberjack print.

Enter any high street fashion shop on Oxford Street, and within visible view (unless you're in the lingerie section, or shoes...) you will be easily able to spot at least one lumberjack shirt. If not five. In the Lee store you might even be able to count 15. But I have to confess, I like them. Lumberjack/checked/tartan, whatever you may call it .... I actually think it looks quite cool. So over the past few months, I have been trying to find a way of incorporating it into my wardrobw without jumping onto the bandwagon all too much. Maybe sort of stepping right into the back of the bandwagon, you know, in the corner with all the other reluctant kids...

And today, deciding it might finally be time to brave the sales, I found my teensy concession to trendiness.

I was first attracted to the red option, which was nice but it fit too much like on the model - which is too small if you ask me. I preferred it fitting on the hips rather than awkwardly someway between hips and waist, which is how most of my too-small skirts fit. But the bigger size was only stocked in the blue colourway; I audibly groaned when I saw this because my wardrobe is slowly being crushed by the forces of blue, grey and black. But it's lovely, and swishy, and it fits nicely and it also looks a little less like the traditional bandwagonny red/black print. So I bought it.

And then I bought my bright pink cardigan later to make up for it.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Slumming in style

I am acutely aware of the fact that I have been a rather non-committed blogger over the past few days, and to be honest I don't have an excuse. I have not been incredibly busy, I have not been working hard, I have not been tied up with family business during the festive season...

Although I have stayed inside for about 80% of the past few days, this also doesn't mean that I've been slumming in my PJs. Oh no, any opportunity to get all dressed up for a trip to the library this morning or ... I can't even remember what I did yesterday!

So here's my revision tidbit for today. Even when just lazing around, attempting to feel like you might actually be doing some work (writing out a Physics formula sheet in this case, I think) you may find it fabulously helpful to do so in style. That includes simply getting out your purplest, fluffiest, sparkliest pen to write with!

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Fun Revision Tip

I've been putting off sales shopping in favour of revising, or sitting at home and waiting for the revision mood to come upon me. That is to say, watching a lot of television...

Anyway, french is one subject which is difficult to revise, I mean, how do you revise a language? But recently I've rediscovered a little book which I bought in France about a year ago. It's unbearably adorable! It's about a little girl called Lili who is in love with a little boy called Hugo (depuis la maternelle - for her whole life!) but she is led to believe that he prefers a tall leggy blonde girl called Valentine - don't they all? It's in a cartoon strip format (all dialogue) aimed at children which means I can actually understand it, apart from when words are used in a colloquial context which is just bizarre for a foreigner: 't'es vraiment un coeur d'artichaut... une feuille, un amoureux, une feuille, un amoureux..' translates to something along the lines of 'you are truly a heart of an artichoke... a leaf, a lover, a leaf, a lover...'

But apart from that, Lili and her heartbroken adventures are so much fun to follow and a great way to revise a language, don't you think?

Friday, 26 December 2008

Reading list

I currently have an extremely long reading list, but it mainly comprises of history textbooks, science textbooks, Ancient Greek epic poems and infuriatingly allegorical novels which require a whole set of highlighters at the ready to disect, analyse and really butcher.
Apart from that, I also have quite a few classics which I ought to read, including the Bible. I'm getting a bit fed up with all the religious references in books, art and films going completely over my head due to a lack of religious upbringing.

But I'd quite like something a little more entertaining to follow up my latest read, the puzzling Special Topics In Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl (which I'm planning on posting about in the next few days). I have a little list of books currently at disposal, but unlike normally, none are jumping out at me. Here is my potential reading list:

My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk
In 16th-century Istanbul, master miniaturist and illuminator of books Enishte Effendi is commissioned to illustrate a book celebrating the sultan. Soon he lies dead at the bottom of a well, and how he got there is the crux of this novel. A number of narrators give testimony to what they know about the circumstances surrounding the murder. The stories accumulate and become more detailed as the novel progresses, giving the reader not only a nontraditional murder mystery but insight into the mores and customs of the time. In addition, this is both an examination of the way figurative art is viewed within Islam and a love story that demonstrates the tricky mechanics of marriage laws. Award-winning Turkish author Pamuk (The White Castle) creatively casts the novel with colorful characters (including such entities as a tree and a gold coin) and provides a palpable sense of atmosphere of the Ottoman Empire that history and literary fans will appreciate.
I got this out from the library a while ago and started it, but I was reading it really slowly so stopped and decided to go back to the beginning at a later date. It's now shamefully overdue but the multiple narrator identities and Turkish background mean that I'm determined to read it.

Père Goriot by Honoré de Balzac
An an 1835 novel by French Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850). Set in Paris in 1819, it follows the intertwined lives of three characters: the elderly doting Goriot; a mysterious criminal-in-hiding named Vautrin; and a naive law student named Eugène de Rastignac. Originally published in serial form during the winter of 1834–35, Le Père Goriot is widely considered as Balzac's most important novel. It marks the first serious use by the author of characters who had appeared in other books. The novel is also noted as an example of his realist style, using minute details to create character and subtext. The novel takes place during the Bourbon Restoration, which brought about profound changes in French society; the struggle of individuals to secure upper-class status is ubiquitous in the book. The city of Paris also impresses itself on the characters – especially young Rastignac, who grew up in the provinces of southern France. Balzac analyzes, through Goriot and others, the nature of family and marriage, providing a pessimistic view of these institutions.
I got this as a gift a few months ago, and delayed it because I'd just finished an old European classic and wanted a break. My list of French classics which I have read shamefully clocks in at exactly 1/2 a novel but I am always left wondering if I should wait until I am fluent enough to read them in the original language... yeah right.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
The second historical novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. It depicts the plight of the French proletariat under the brutal oppression of the French aristocracy in the years leading up to the revolution, and the corresponding savage brutality demonstrated by the revolutionaries toward the former aristocrats in the early years of the revolution. It follows the lives of several protagonists through these events, most notably Charles Darnay, a French once-aristocrat who falls victim to the indiscriminate wrath of the revolution despite his virtuous nature, and Sydney Carton, a dissipated English barrister who endeavours to redeem his ill-spent life out of love for Darnay's wife, Lucie Manette.
A long while ago I received a pretty set of English classics from an English teacher who had bought them for her son, who preferred JK Rowling to Dickens; she assumed I might appreciate them more. I still haven't read a single one (Wuthering Heights also features) but when I decided that it was time for some Dickens a few weeks ago, I couldn't get past page 5. But I should probably try harder.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
A psychological thriller and satirical novel. The story is told in the first person by fictitious serial killer and Manhattan businessman Patrick Bateman. The graphic violence and sexual content generated much commentary at the novel's release
I read Bret Easton Ellis' Less Than Zero and the Rules of Attraction a few years ago, and I was probably a few years to young (I must have been about 13). They scarred/scared me a little but now I'm sort of intrigued by this one sitting on the bookshelf. Plus Christian Bale is sexy and I don't want to watch the film before reading the book.

Which one would you choose, and what are you reading right now?

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Joli Rouge Christmas

Christmas holds no religious significance to me, but I still love it as a celebration (any chance for one of those right?) when you can spend time with family and generally have a relaxing time. So I don't hesitate in saying

Merry Christmas

to everyone!

I am taking the opportunity of this lovely lazy day to catch up on some revision which seems to have fallen by the wayside. But in keeping with the glamour of celebration, I'm going to accompany it with a lashing of my brand-new red lipstick - Joli Rouge by Clarins. I absolutely adore it - it's red, long-lasting and moisturising - almost as much as the fabulous person who gifted it to me.
So here's hoping that this next year (I know it's not New Year quite yet, but we're practically there...) will be as glamorous as my new red lipstick, as well organised as my new Moleskine diary and generally wonderful for everyone.

UPDATE: yeah, so my lippy ain't looking so pretty any more, I sort of forgot to wind it down all the way before closing it... it's still perfectly useable but I no longer have any qualms about um, marring its perfection. So I went all out on the red factor!

Kisses xxx

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

My way in the holiday

Holiday breaks, especially ones around the festive period of Christmas, have always been notorious for allowing one to pile on the pounds. For me, it's not so much the temptation of mince pies, mulled wine or Celebrations (I'm not a big fan of festive food and I don't eat chocolate) but the fact that you're staying inside all day, lazing around and not exercising.

My regular school routine features a lot of the exercise which I'd normally do. Every morning brings a speedy 40 minute walk and the rest of the day includes a heavy regime of stair-climbing - yes, I'm serious. Plus there's the complementary use of the gym... whilst during the holidays, you actually have to make an effort to get off your bum.

But there is an upside to all this. Normally, my exercise is mainly functional: getting places, as fast as possible. However this Christmas break I have decided that I am exercising of my own free will and it is a completely different type of exercise. It incorporates all my favourite elements of more 'conventional' techniques. Most of the time, I am speed-walking, a pace which comes naturally to me and which I find uplifting and relaxing. But there are also long interludes of jogging, until the December wind gets too strong or I get bored. And occasionally, when I feel my energy bubbling up inside me, comes the sprint. There is no set speed, distance or gradient like on a treadmill. If I fancy something hike-like I can determine my route accordingly. Sometimes I just go for the most picturesque path possible.

There is something so wonderful about doing it your way. I am (sort of) capable of a hardcore run or a 300000 mile hike with a 300000 tonne backpack, but it comes with so much more pain. Running/walking/jogging... my way my head is completely cleared of any thoughts other than a song stuck in my head or if I'm about to go left or right. My way I get to keep up the exercise whilst enjoying my holiday break.

Maybe I look a little bit like Rachel from Friends, but who cares???
Have a very happy holiday!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Arty Farty

My friend and I had planned to go and take a look at the very well-received Francis Bacon exhibition at the Tate Britain. I looked up the bus routes, figuring out a route which would take me via a place where I could exchange some nail polish.

Then we got off the bus at the wrong place. Then we got lost. Then we asked a very nice policeman for directions, but he was so nice that we didn't really hear the directions properly. We got on a bus and decided it was going on the wrong way. We took the same bus in the opposite direction but this didn't seem to be the right way either. We carried on walking for another 30 minutes before realising that we'd gone in a complete circle and that the last admissions were in 15 minutes.

We gave up and headed for Topshop for some dressing up and photo-taking in the changing rooms. When I uploaded the photos from my mobile onto my PC, I found more photos from yesterday, taken with my sister in some different Topshop changing rooms. I felt a little ashamed at the amount of time I seem to be spending dressing up, but then I remembered the even wilder methods of procrastination I have used in the past.

All Over Sequin Dress (the most unflattering dress EVER alone, but I love the sparkle) and my dream Mongolian Jacket (which is hideously overpriced and also bordering on plain hideous)

The only pair of leggings I have worn since I was a toddler. Velvet, lace and floral... yum!

So yeah, today's cultural pursuits haven't quite worked out. But on the other hand, it was fun trying on lots of pretty clothes! Now I know what to look out for in the sales... does anyone else do this, sometimes?

Monday, 22 December 2008

Inherited Characteristics

Update: done! Finding the right colour was an ordeal, but I managed it (read comments for more details if you're really interested)

So today was the day of almost-last-minute present shopping and Biology revision.

Today I learnt about inherited characteristics, and their reasons: deoxyribose nucleic acid, otherwise known as DNA.

Today I bought my mother some nail varnish I thought she'd been wanting.

Today I realised that I'd bought the wrong colour, Damsel in a Dress instead of Sole Mate.

Today I remembered that my intense fussiness when it comes to gifts is shared with dearest mother through my inherited picky allele.

What do I do??? Yes, they are incredibly similar colours... but DiaD is much more purpleish than the red-tinted SM. I might g a chance to purchase the right colour tomorrow, but it's out of my way and not certain. What woud you do?

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Did you know...

Did you know...

-that every Christmas, enough wrapping paper to cover 20,000 football pitches is thrown into rubbish bins in the UK alone?

-that all this paper CAN be recycled?

-that I am an avid fan of being green in my living habits although it's my least favourite colour to wear on clothes?

-that I love giving presents and also being a little bit crafty?

-that re-used wrapping paper can look this great?

If you are giving or receiving presents this Christmas or Chanukah, or you know what, on any other present-giving occasion - make sure to reuse and recycle.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Play Nicely

Today, in a much deserved break from revision (yes, I am fully aware that I haven't properly started yet, but it's a good idea to start calmly and fully relaxed, right?) I decided to pop to a shopping centre to return a scarf I was recently gifted. It wasn't too bad, but it was also decidedly not something I'd wear and was also beginning to unravel.

I waited for the bus, armed with a book and then got on and continued to read. After a while, the voice of an old-ish man interrupted me: 'is that a good book?'. I politely replied in the affirmative, but he then attempted to begin a conversation about reading; he hasn't read a book for years, although his wife is an avid reader. All the while, a chorus of deafening alarm bells was ringing, embedded in my brain through years of extensive drilling: don't talk to strangers/especially not old-ish men. I not-so-politely-now ignored him and again continued to read.

The old-ish man got off on the next bus stop, and now I was beginning to feel mildly bad. Maybe he was just a lonely old man who likes reading... now I was feeling really guilty. But sometimes you just can't take the risk of being nice.

When I got to the shop which I knew the scarf was from, I now started to wonder if returning gifts is a little morally dubious. But I also knew that it was better than allowing the gift to languish unwanted and unravelled in a dark corner of my wardrobe. So I went to the tills and asked to return it, in my nicest voice . At first the lady said I couldn't have a refund because I didn't have a receipt, but after asking her if she is sure in the same super-friendly voice, I was granted my refund.

The money was burning a hole in my pocket. After a little while browsing the fashiony shops and admiring a pair of velvet and lace leggings on a mannequin (out of stock) I remembered that I was in need of a clear plastic pencil case. I headed to the nearest stationers. There, when asking a shop assistant where said clear plastic pencils cases might be, another shop assistant interrupted, repeating those three words: out of stock. But the first friendly SA pointed me in the direction of the pencil cases, in case there were some left. When I got there, there was row upon row of clear plastic pencil cases in green, pink and regular transparent!

So again, I went to the till. I paid for my pencil case (99p! What luxury!) and headed back home. On the bus, I gave my seat to an older than old-ish man. Now I am home and left on the nature of niceness, and how nice it is when people are nice. And how nice the effect of being nice is, and how sometimes it's just too risky to be nice.

One note to remember: don't use adjectives such as 'nice' in English exam papers. Tend towards more impressive synonyms such as genial, affable, agreeable, dulcet or courteous.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Returning full circle.

I have previously mentioned that when I started this blog, it was as a method of avoiding revision. Now, just over half a year later I am back, attempting to find a way of remembering hundreds of days worth of knowledge spanning all different subjects all at once. Yes, that's my definition of revision.

Anyway, I thought of a way which might reduce the guilt involved in blogging during a period of what is supposed to be intense work. Last time, I mused on the presence of Ancient Civilisation in fashion. This time I am going to try to make observations which are a little more, um, scholarly on the content I have revised.

To start off this series of posts, let's go back full circle to Ancient Greece circa 700 B.C. I've been re-reading the Odyssey and it's starting to dawn (fresh and rosy-fingered) on me that Odysseus is a complete and utter 'douchebag', in the words of Perez Hilton. Full of hubris, he finds it necessary to announce his name to the Cyclops thus causing his return to Ithaca to be delayed by many years. Not quite so cunning now, are we Odysseus?

I also take issue with the pride with which Odysseus likes to tell his tales of sacking cities and murdering women and children.

Doesn't this famous, brave and intelligent hero just make you swoooooon?

Thursday, 18 December 2008


A while ago, I read about something which English critic GH Lewes said to Charlotte Brontë about her writing; his original letter has not remained but this is what she replied:
To G. H. Lewes, Esq.

"Nov. 6th, 1847.

"Dear Sir, - Your letter reached me yesterday; I beg to assure you, that I appreciate fully the intention with which it was written, and I thank you sincerely both for its cheering commendation and valuable advice.

"You warn me to beware of melodrama, and you exhort me to adhere to the real. When I first began to write, so impressed was I with the truth of the principles you advocate, that I determined to take Nature and Truth as my sole guides, and to follow in their very footprints; I restrained imagination, eschewed romance, repressed excitement; over-bright colouring, too, I avoided, and sought to produce something which should be soft, grave, and true.

"My work (a tale in one volume) being completed, I offered it to a publisher. He said it was original, faithful to nature, but he did not feel warranted in accepting it; such a work would not sell. I tried six publishers in succession; they all told me it was deficient in 'startling incident' and 'thrilling excitement,' that it would never suit the circulating libraries, and, as it was on those libraries the success of works of fiction mainly depended, they could not undertake to publish what would be overlooked there.

"Jane Eyre was rather objected to at first, on the same grounds, but finally found acceptance.

"I mention this to you, not with a view of pleading exemption from censure, but in order to direct your attention to the root of certain literary evils. If, in your forthcoming article in Frazer, you would bestow a few words of enlightenment on the public who support the circulating libraries, you might, with your powers, do some good.

"You advise me, too, not to stray far from the ground of experience, as I become weak when I enter the region of fiction; and you say, 'real experience is perennially interesting, and to all men.'

"I feel that this also is true; but, dear Sir, is not the real experience of each individual very limited? And, if a writer dwells upon that solely or principally, is he not in danger of repeating himself, and also of becoming an egotist? Then, too, imagination is a strong, restless faculty, which claims to be heard and exercised: are we to be quite deaf to her cry, and insensate to her struggles ? When she shows us bright pictures, are we never to look at them, and try to reproduce them ? And when she is eloquent, and speaks rapidly and urgently in our ear, are we not to write to her dictation?

"I shall anxiously search the next number of Fraser for your opinions on these points. - Believe me, dear Sir, yours gratefully,

"C. Bell."

I strongly agree with Ms. Brontë and the power of imagination. Yet at the same time, we see how great masterpieces are nearly always created after years of lifetime experience. We hear of the great detail which goes into a genius' research before he is ready to begin the creative process. I have so often felt stymied by my own lack of experience when I want to write something.

Recently, I have been unable to write anything other than that relating to myself. Everything I seem to produce is centred around me, my world and my emotions. I try to base a story in a single experience, one which could almost be universal and completely incontrollably it pours out into rapidly typed words all about me, me, me. Even I am almost bored of reading about me!

Something I have thought is that you don't need the real, physical experience to create something. All you need is the emotion, that feeling of joy, anger, grief, whatever and the rest can come from there. But still that does not seem to be working because all I can do is reflect on my own emotions. How do you find out how someone entirely different to yourself would react to that same emotion.

As Brontë says, of course it is the imagination. But what happens when our imagination, our muse, does not come? When she does not whisper in our ears a fantastical story of a whole new world to explore? Or can writing, even if it is autobiographical, use the imagination in its choice of words, and how it flows?

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

femme mystérieuse

I mentioned the other day in a reply to a comment that I highly value myself on being extremely enigmatic. The truth is that in my voice, my behaviour and even the way I look, I am anything but enigmatic. I hate lying and am pretty open in most respects. Maybe it's part of the grass is always greener syndrome that I've always wanted to be some femme mystérieuse: thin, dark sillhouette, huge sunglasses, husky voice and inexplicable allure.

But in less obvious ways I do leave a lot unsaid, in the sort of way that no-one notices. Maybe it's because I myself am not sure that I fully understand what I am thinking? But I don't like keeping anything back, and if I don't say it out loud, I write it down. So in that way, what I write down is much more telling about the actual me because it's all those parts which haven't been broadcasted to the world. At the same time, aren't both aspects, the spoken and unspoken vital in forming who we are? I am not entirely an 'anony-blogger' - I post photos - albeit in fragments - and if a regular commenter really wanted to know my name for some reason, I'd be happy to e-mail them.

But I am also not comfortable putting everything about me on here, and I've always thought that's because I don't want to be google-able. But now I'm wondering, is it maybe more to do with the fact that even when my posts aren't typically 'dear diary', I almost always inevitably put a piece of my soul into whatever I write. Could adding the superficial layer, for want of a better term, closer to full picture of me than I want to see?

Today I had to leave a cryptic clue behind in the card for a secret santa gift I am giving. I was not feeling very witty at the time, so I made this image:

It's ginger like me. It's an angel, like my name. And it bears gifts, as I do. Maybe this silly image is as telling about the real me as any other picture at all.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008


With books, films and TV I don't really bother watching the trash. Some people find it relaxing, but for me reality TV programmes such as Big Brother or easy reads such as Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic series seem like such a waste of time, when there is such a wealth of stuff out there which I haven't yet discovered. But that doesn't mean that my 'cultural' roster is completely devoid of trash; I am partial to Desperate Housewives and celebrity gossip websites.

Although there is a lot of gold out there, most of it is pretty hard-going. It is true that I am always itching to read this book, or watch that film, but I often find it too draining to fully commit to. If I have just finished a really good book, I find that I cannot start the next one straight away. There must be at least a brief interlude; maybe a detective story or two.

One territory into which I have rarely entered is the documentary. Of course, I have watched the predictable few at school; An Inconvenient Truth, Super Size Me, The Yes Men and every time I am again surprised by how enjoyable they actually are. I had never before watched a documentary out of choice.

I also find that I have to be in a certain mood to watch a subtitled film. Yes, there are prejudices about subtitled films and there's always something a little daunting about watching one. Oddly, it automatically becomes an intellectual task. There are a couple of DVDs I have which I could easily watch whenever I'm feeling bored, but they're French and do I really want to watch a French movie right now? Why not an episode of Friends? And despite this, I can immediately think of several films which I absolutely loved, all in foreign languages.

That was quite a long introduction; longer than I intended. Perhaps there's more than I initially thought to the concept of 'good-quality culture'. Certainly today, watching two separate films which are both highly regarded was a bit of a culture shock. It feels different - my mind feels far more occupied and buzzy - to those lazy days when you watch three back to back episodes of House in the afternoon and then a romcom in the evening.

The first film I watched was subtitled - Das Leben der Anderen (in English: The Lives of Others). This is the first foreign language film I have ever watched twice. The first time I watched it was in a cinema and I was transfixed, following the suspenseful storyline every step of the way. This time, I knew what was coming but again was transfixed, this time by the actors, the clues about their character which flashed and then were gone in every frown, every smile. Yes, of course a film about life in 1980s East Berlin is going to be harrowing but I also finished with the sense of pleasure which comes from watching a film that good. If you haven't watched it already, I urge you to!

Look how the eyes of this secret police agent manage to betray that he is 'ein guter Mensch'!

The next - and I know you've guess it already - was a documentary. I found it on the 4oD free programmes homepage and for some inexplicable reason it caught my eye, because as I have already mentioned, I had never before voluntarily watched a documentary. Chosen is the story of sexual abuse in private boys' school, and is recounted by three victims from one school in particular who were abused over 30 years ago. It was told so simply, with these three men talking directly to the camera and a handful of photos to illustrate their stories. Again, even though everything they said is sadly true, I was so moved by the nuances of detail on their faces as they spoke, the unscripted eloquency with which they spoke. In fact, instead of rambling on about this truly superlative documentary, I am again going to urge you to watch it. You can view it for free online here, I think you can view it in the USA as well as the UK.

How do you feel about top quality 'entertainment'? Does it defeat the purpose of entertainment if it's painful to experience, or do you get the sense of pleasure from something which is so good? There's a little bit of both for me, which is why I have to be careful not to overdose.

Monday, 15 December 2008

an open mind

Describing myself in two words, I might choose the phrase 'open-minded'. This phrase does have positive connotations, but it can also be seen as a nice way of putting less attractive qualities which I possess For example: as an open-minded individual, I like to do everything. I may recognise that I am better in some things than others, but I really want to be able to do everything - perfectly. No, I'm not obsessedly ambitious, or a perfectionist. I'm open-minded.

However this quality of 'open-mindedness' means that there are some things which I am inherently bad at (something which I find hard to accept). One thing in particular which has struck me is that I am terrible at arguing. Give me a speech to write, a comparative essay, anything where I can discuss many different points and I'm fine. Make me read out said speech in front of 1000000 people and I'm fine. My conclusions are also fine, even though they're invariably filled with a thousand question marks. But sit me opposite someone and ask me to have a debate, and my heart starts beating way too fast and my voice gets shaky and I'll come out with the stupidest, perhaps even insulting responses you ever did hear.

I think it's something to do with being able to understand the other person's perspective. That's a nice way of putting it. Really, I just can't make my mind up. I could say that I'm just a good listener, but maybe I'm just not very good at pushing my own case and accepting someone else's is an easier option.

The truth is that it's always more pleasant to find a flattering synonym to any particular description. Instead of fat, we have voluptuous. An outfit isn't boring, it's classic. We don't call people short, they're petite. I can see this because I have an open mind and can see both sides of a word. Please don't argue with me.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

I would like to thank [...] for making this post possible

Today's post is also indirectly inspired by other blog posts on a few fabulous blogs. You might call that stealing, but I call it inspo and after all, I do give credit where credit's due. What you are reading today was sparked off by this post by I Hate Generic, although I'd had something along those lines in mind for a while. Then I read about La Belette Rouge being mad at Paris (the city). Actually, I may also be distantly inspired by Susie Bubble writing about the Angel's Vintage Sale, although I'd have probably heard about it anyway. And last but not least, the mind-blowingly generous enc's December giveaway on her blog Observation Mode.

On the surface, these four posts are all entirely different. But in my warped mind at least, they all link perfectly together within my wardrobe.

We'll start off with enc's hilarious video, in which featured some lovely shoes. I mentioned that I had a similar pair and she requested to see them. Here they are:

In buying these, about a year ago now, I was shamelessly copying my cousin when I saw her pair. But I see her a handful of times a year anyway and I do love them lots. They satisfy my inner cool person. More photos here.

You see, I have a deep love for shoes. And, a la La Belette Rouge, I also have a deep love for France. In fact, a long long time ago I dedicated a little collage to the wonderful capital city Paris. When I last went, I was determined to keep a memento, a non-souvenir type thing which I would actually use and not keep in a stack of old postcards or ticket stubs or junk. I came back with four fashiony things: a navy beret (I soon came to the conclusion that I simply do not suit beret), an electric blue corsetty style top from Bershka (which I quickly realised was ill-fitting as well as wholly inappropriate to my body shape) and a stunning grey and yellow scarf from Galeries LaFayette (which is also very fragile and I have barely worn for fear of snagging). Wait, I hear you cry - that's three! I was saving the best 'til last. On the second last day of the trip, on a night out with my lovely hostess (moules et frites, what else???) we wandered into a shoe shop, where there was a sale. Lo and behold, my favouritest shoes from my favouritest place in the world! How can I stay mad at Paris for any length of time wearing such lovely shoes?

And they're patent. Until last weekend, these shoes were the only patent thing in my wardrobe. I mentioned this to the writer of I Hate Generic, who wanted to see a photo. I'm so glad other people appreciate my love for shoe photos!

Yes, you can see where this is going, can't you? Cue:

Why are you smiling, bag? There's nothing to be so happy about!

Ugly, I know. But picture the scene: I've been standing in the freezing cold for ... wait, I've already talked about this. But anyway you pay to get in and then you might as well pick something up or the 3 hours in the freezing cold is effectively a waste. So the bag's a little dusty but we'll find a way to make it work. Maybe I'll even wear it with the beige blazer!

Saturday, 13 December 2008

yay...nay...wahey - REAL LIFE VERSION

So, following on from last week's dream jacket post, I present you with two jackets which I actually own:

This first one was a last-minute pick up at the Vintage sale last week. But it was less than 10 pounds! Still, it's too big. But it's also cashmere! Still, it's beige.

Obviously I can't return it, but I do have a male friend (I think it's actually a man's jacket...) who wants it. So I could give it to him. Or I could let it wallow in my wardrobe on the off-chance that I will wear it. What say you?

This second one I purchased today; it's £25 down from £45! But it could go down more. Still, it's pretty! But I own similar stuff which is warmer and not made of linen mix. Still, it's checked without looking ubiquitious! But I'm not 100% sure that it's flattering.

This one I can return, but I'd have to go to the shops this weekend or maybe next. And I'm hving more troule deciding because I could get £25 back. I'll definitely wear it but I'm not sure how long it will last and if it will be warm enough. What say you?

Friday, 12 December 2008

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Wonders on my winter wanders

Admiring observation mode's gorgeous sunset photographs a few days ago reminded me that I can't remember last seeing a pretty sunset in London.

But on my daily walk to school a couple of days ago, I was struck by the most beautiful sunrise. It was already 8:00AM but it seems that in these winter days the sun hasn't come out even by then. Painful and cold and dark when you wake up before 7:00AM but also conducive to lovely sunrises which actual human beings can witness. But I started wondering why I had never seen them before on winter mornings, and I came to the conclusion that I hadn't been looking hard enough. The beauty of the sunrise that morning was so overwhelming that I had to stop (unusual for me), take out my phone, turn it on, and take photos.

I'm still undecided about leaving my school at the end of this year for my last two years of free education (before university). A primary reason for staying right now is these magical morning walks. From now on, I'm going to make the most of them.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008


Obviously, our senses are vital and save our lives many thousands of times a day. Sight, taste, touch, sound and smell are all integral to our everyday experiences, but they also play a key role in our memories.

Smell is the sense most commonly associated with memory, and it’s true that there’s nothing like Chanel perfume to remind me of my grandmother. But yesterday when I was falling asleep, listening to my i-Pod, a song came on which I hadn’t heard in a while. In the black silence there were little other thoughts or senses to interfere with the memory this song was evoking.

In strangely vivid detail, I recalled the day when I heard the song performed last summer. It wasn’t a particularly important day to me, merrily insignificant more than anything else. And I don't particularly love the song eitehr; in fact at times I find it a little bit irritating in its poppiness. But hearing the song I was there and my feet were freezing and wet and my legs were splattered with mud and I was wearing my favourite dress. I was feeling relieved, having just rediscovered the friends I had lost in the huge crowds. I was feeling excited and exhilarated in the music. I was a little bit in love with the whole world.

After the song had finished, I turned off my i-Pod and whilst drifting to sleep, ideas drifted in and out of my head. Surprising clarity one moment faded and blurred as I lost wakefulness and this morning all I could remember is that I had a fantastic. I had contemplated writing it down, but I didn’t and now all I know is that I simply can’t remember it. Maybe it’s something about the lack of sensory aid when you are falling asleep that your night-time thoughts are so hard to remember?

The Magic Position by Patrick Wolf. Which songs evoke memories for you?

Tuesday, 9 December 2008


Today one of my friends told me I'd be a shit psychologist, counseller or any type of caring person. She said that I'd be a good diva-ish actress, or evil journalist but nobody she'd want caring for her.

How does this make you feel?

Note: maybe I shouldn't blog (or comment on other blogs...) when I'm tired. Anyway, this is a photo I took just over a year ago at an art event in Turkey. The theme was 'war'. I thought it was quite apt but I'm not entirely sure why.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Living on stilts

I have to say, I'm not the best with heels. I only own one proper pair, a bright blue pair of heels which you may have noticed in one or two dress posts - but which I've only worn outside twice, both times tottering. But this week, I'm performing a small play with my friends and I have to wear heels. For a completely amateur performance, we're taking costumes very seriously...

So, every day this week I am having to spend a couple of hours on my feet, living on (what feel to me like) stilts. Of course I'll also be trying to remember what I'm supposed to be doing, and possibly act. But it all feels very hectic right now as well as painful. For weeks I have been - quite literally - rushed off my feet and I don't think I've had any proper (!) retail therapy for months. After all, Saturday didn't quite work out.

But I'm going to try to relax, rest my lovely feet and allow the world to zoom right past many feet below, for a couple more weeks. Then the holidays arrive and I have to take off the heels and knuckle down for some serious work. Who said holidays were time to relax?

So yeah: that's my excuse if posting isn't quite up to par this week. I'm just no Victoria Beckham.

Saturday, 6 December 2008


I don't want to fall into the trap of posting too many links in the form of posts, but this is a really interesting article about generating traffic on websites.

The Guardian - the most popular story in the world

Actually, thinking about it, Blogger is part of Google so it might have a different system. So typing 'Obama decides to quit tomorrow' might not actually work.

The more I thought about it, the more I realised how little I know about how much my blog actually works. As time has progressed, I've picked up things like the gadgets on the side, the organised labels, the RSS feeds (I recently accidentally removed these and my readership plummeted), systems for storing images. But there's still plenty that baffles me: how do I widen the body of texts, being completely computer code illiterate? And another thing: how on earth do I get that thingy to work which tells me about the traffic my site is generating and all those stats? Mine is just so stubborn.

I'm supposed to have an A grade qualification in ICT, which I passed less than 6 months ago. Yet I still only use blogger on the most rudimentary level. Once or twice I've wondered what would happen if the site crashed? One of the first things they teach you in ICT is that you don't own data unless you have it saved twice. In two different places. But does this blog have a back-up? No - I don't even know how to make one.

So I'm asking you: do you know anything about how your blog works? Or have you, like me, grasped some of the consequences, but are left completely in the dark about the rest? And do you have a back-up?

Note: when writing this post, at one point the page froze and I spent a moment or two thinking why, why, why didn't I SAVE?


It's a scientific truth that when you're cold, your body's nervous system reacts by making you shiver. The movement creates heat energy which warms you up. I've always thought this was a load of rubbish... until today.

When I told my mother about the vintage sale, she told me it would be a disaster. 'You never find anything in vintage shops'. Sage words. But I took everyone else's advice (can you feel my evil glare in your direction, people?) and headed out to Wembley, nice and shockingly early only to wait in a queue in the freezing cold for 3 hours. Yes, you read right that's 3 hours. Considering we left 2 hours before the sale started... I was not impressed. When we arrived, I saw the many kms long queue and decided I wanted to leave. But I'd just paid for a train fare (it's an overground station!). After 40 minutes I said I wanted to leave. But - 'come on, we've travelled all this way'. After an hour, we were all pondering our madness for going but still we didn't 'want to waste an hour. After two hours, another friend arrived, trying to tempt me into a warm shopping centre. But still, to wait all this time and leave empty-handed would be unacceptable. At around 2 and a half hours, my friend and I almost left. We were going to be late. Everyone coming out was saying most of the stuff had gone. But there was only about 15 minutes left!

So we waited it out, and went inside and yes, everything good was gone. And my toes were numb (actually at one point, I resorted to running a few laps up and down our queue in an attempt to regain some feeling). Then afterwards, I didn't go home but onto a rehearsal. In a freezing theatre. Now I'm home, with my beige cashmere blazer and my plastic patent bag. And I've got pins and needles.

When will I learn, that my mum is always right?!??

Note: I might post pictures when I have fully regained sensation in toes, fingers and brain.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

In the name of fashion

This Saturday, a momentous fashion event is occuring in London. It has been blogged about on grand blogger Susie Bubble's blog, so there is no need for me to repeat it; any one of you living in London and reading this blog right now will doubtless already know. But if you're living in a hole somewhere in the UK's capital, with internet access only to my teeny tiny blog (plausible, right?), here's the link: Angels Big Vintage Sale.

To reiterate this event's amazingness:
  • It's cheap
  • It's on a weekend
  • It's high-quality vintage
  • It's in London
  • It's costumes from famous costumiers
  • It's amazing!
Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But it's also in Wembley (i.e. not local). You can't take bags or mobile phones. It's from 9-5 and I have commitments from 10:30 to 11:30 and 2-6. I can shift the morning commitment an hour earlier meaning that I have from 10:30 to 2 to get there, shop and get back. It's tight. Then there's the fact that my times don't co-ordinate with my friends, so it would probably mean travelling and shopping alone. Plus I'm never the best vintage finder and chances are I'll either spend £20 in a fit of generosity and end up with a medium sized bag of junk I'll never wear again, or spend £10 on a small bag and then see the most beautiful pouffy vintage dress without which my life will never be complete. So I'll go home with a pile of beautiful and useless damaged jewellery. And did I mention that the whole of London will be there? No, I am not exaggerating.

But... but... but...

How AMAZING does it sound?

After a while, I started realising that it all comes down to: how far will I go in the name of fashion? How far would YOU go?

Winter rose

I've posted in the past about my seasonal cycles of dressing. This is something I don't particularly like, because I enjoy being able to wear my whole wardrobe, all the time. Something I simply couldn't get my head around, was florals in winter. Flowers are simply the epitome of all things spring and summer and blooming and sunny. But I do love my flowers and lately I've been finding ways to winterise florals.

Another thing I don't tend to do very much is recycle outfits; creating outfits is simply so much fun, and having to wear a hideous uniform 75% of the time (not long now, not long) I like to combine my clothes in different ways. But lately I've also begun to find one particular combination repeating itself.

And guess what? It's floral!

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Scarier Dolly

I hadn't realised until I wrote this post about a 'fug' £100+ doll quite how many scary dolls I have taken photographs of over the years.

Here's one, taken about a year ago on a camera phone even worse than the one I have right now. The barbie looks a little angry.

This doll was meant to look like me. Something about the glazed eyes, unfortunate haircut and zombie-like arms makes that notion sort of offensive.

OK, maybe this one is more funny than scary. But funny in a nervous laughter kind of way, as in how unfortunate a pose for a couple of preteens to create. And you can't deny that the lopsided mouth and coming-apart stitching wouldn't look out of place in a slasher film.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

yay... nay... wahey...

You may remember that for a long, long time I've been longing for a leopard print faux fur coat. Well, originally it was a mac but now I'm thinking faux fur...

Anyway, this sort of thing isn't particularly cheap but I saved up enough money to buy one. I was planning to last weekend, but ran out of time. Venting my frustration, I began extolling the virtues of leopard print to anybody who would listen.

I was greeted with an all-resounding 'NO'. Apparently, it will clash with my hair, look so 2007 and basically be hideously fugly. Now I'm not one to be swayed by another's opinion, so I started looking at the sort of pricepoints (I considered vintage, but I was repelled by the fact that the last vintage bag I bought, I ended up giving away because I don't like the 'old' smell). I found this beautiful coat on the Topshop website:

Beautiful? As I gazed longingly at it, I began to wonder - would everybody else see it as quite as beautiful as I do?? In fact, I can see how others might find it intensely repulsive. I still love the leopard print, but it seems that the leopard insists on evading me. Plus, I began to fall in love with some alternatives...

Isn't this Lumberjack Check Jacket just the cutest??? I would be buying it right now, this second if a)I had a credit card b)I had any need for it c)I wasn't put off my the complete ubiquity of lumberjack amongst Londoners d)it was leopard print.

And this £150 Mongolian jacket is insanely amazing. But it's also £150. And fluffy.

How fickle am I???

Monday, 1 December 2008

The vital ingredient of childhood

I cannot imagine my childhood without Roald Dahl. Without hoping that one night I would catch the BFG blowing a good dream into my room, or fearing that one day I would meet a witch (I never liked squared toe shoes, either...). Without trips to the Roald Dahl Museum or rewatching (for the 10000th time) Matilda on a rainy afternoon. I even had a Roald Dahl birthday party when I was about 8, and I took all my friends on a trip around the local wood as we looked for clues in a grand Roald Dahl book quiz.

I read every single children's book he ever wrote. And when I grew older, I bought the Collected Short Stories and read all of those too (actually, I may have skipped a few of the boring war-related ones but I read all the others thrice to make up for it). I devoured his fascinating biography by Jeremy Treglown and wasn't in the least put off by the often unflattering descriptions. Sexist, racist, terrible father - who cares, he still writes the most wonderfully revolting rhymes.

So imagine my shock when, double-checking wikipedia for the name of the sequel to his Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book (it's the Great Glass Elevator, if you're interested) I discovered that there was a missing chapter to the story! How could I, devoted reader of all things Roald Dahl, have missed this?!? The chapter is called The secret ordeal of Miranda Piker. If you also loved Charlie and Willy Wonka when you were a child, have you read the missing chapter? If not, click here.

That is why I love newspapers! Continuing in that spirit, here are a couple of articles I read in the Guardian over the weekend. Whilst they have a tendency to publish irritatingly pretentious and 'controversial' articles, they are always thought-provoking.

Stealth shoppers shun stores and splash out on luxuries online

Discover your inner fairy godmother

What dost thou maketh of that??