Friday Fun for Saturday

Yesterday I promised you some bonus Easter fun – let me first make clear that this in not going to be fluffy bunny, cute chicks themed fun – in fact Easter has nothing to do with it. It’s simply that I had too much fun to share this week and felt that some of it wasn’t appropriate for Good Friday. [Clearly I have no issues with it on ‘Holy Saturday’…]

First up are a couple of niche blogs that take things from history and bring them into the 21st century, with edge. We have Bangable Dudes in History and Gay Captions

The former is a genius idea. It takes photos of people from history and ranks their hotness. Come on, who hasn’t looked at the pictures in a history text book and thought “Wow, Lenin was hot!” or “I wouldn’t say no to Woodrow Wilson!” or even “I wouldn’t kick Napoleon out of bed”? Yes, some of the content is a trifle dodgy, but it does use pie charts and historical documents, so that wins for me.

The latter could also be a bit on the dodgy side, but it’s also flipping hilarious, so I’ll forgive it. The concept is a simple one – take an old drawing/picture/cartoon and give it a caption that in today’s world changes its meaning entirely. Superb. For example:

My final bit shouldn’t actually be seen as dodgy – it’s a serious issue that most of us will have to face at some point. How do you explain sex to your children? Even more importantly, what do you do if the question comes up in a situation where things are out of your control – like in a Thai restaurant. This is exactly the problem Julia Sweeney faced when her 8 year old asked where tadpoles came from, over Thai Green Curry – that was the start of a slippery slope which is now the subject of a very funny monologue available on YouTube. To give you a flavour of what is a brilliant watch, at one point she is hit by the realisation that she had taken her daughter “by the hand and led her into the world of internet porn” – not that she showed her porn, you understand, her conduct as a mother is never inappropriate, you just have to watch the video to hear how they got from tadpoles, to humans, to dogs, to cats, to YouTube and beyond…

I’m fairly sure that I never asked such difficult questions of my parents. In fact, the closest I think we got to such a cringeworthy conversation took place in the Ikea cafe on the day I was bought a double bed – aged 14. (My room was massive and a double bed was thought logical as I could be turned out of my bedroom when guests visited – they’d get the added bonus of my carefully constructed constellations of glow-stars on the ceiling, stuck up with reference to a star map.) My parents thought this would be an opportune moment to explain that having a double bed did not mean I had license to bring boys home. You’d almost think that, you know, aged 14 I might actually have a boyfriend and such an activity might be a possibility – I didn’t and it wasn’t – but I’m glad they felt the need to have the conversation.

While writing, I’ve realised that all three of these gems have been garnered from The Hairpin, but thankfully only Annabelle reads it religiously enough  to know, and hopefully she might have missed one or two of them. Next week I’ll try to be far more original.

The Swan and things that are left unsaid

My new year’s decision (that’s subtly different to a ‘resolution’) to see more films, sooner after their release, isn’t going particularly well so far – I’ve still not seen The King’s Speech [though have begun a campaign to get people to correctly use the apostrophe within its title] and now it looks like everyone I know saw it the weekend I was having to work in Doncaster. Hmph.

It’s therefore unsurprising that when my Dad asked me last night if I’d seen Black Swan, my response was in the negative. However, I was able to respond that I’d read an article in the Guardian, heard about it on Wittertainment and spoken with friends (ok, a friend) who had seen it. When I mentioned our national newspaper of choice, he said, “Oh yes, I read the article in the Guardian that Hadley Freeman wrote…”

[Incidentally, my Dad is quite the Hadley Freeman fan – writing style, obviously. He makes a point of reading the weekly ‘Ask Hadley’ column and is therefore remarkably knowledgeable about women’s fashion. Well, kind of.]

Those three dots say a lot. We had both read the article in question, but left its subject matter unspoken. I’m not sure how best to describe it without writing words that will get me picked up by totally the wrong people on Google. Basically, Hadley was suggesting that because a certain, rather intimate act featured in three key films of the year – Black Swan, The Kids are Alright & Blue Valentine – it made them Oscar contenders. It was this suggestion that aroused my suspicions that Black Swan really wasn’t the innocent ballet movie some might think it would be, a suspicion that was confirmed by subsequent reviews.

Anyway, this conversation established that both me and Dad knew what the film was about and who should and should not watch it – and he proceeded to regale me of the tale of when one of his colleagues watched it last week. Let’s put it this way, it’s not really the right film to make into a family night out in honour of your mother’s birthday, taking with you siblings and two sets of teenage sons. There are films you don’t want to watch with your parents and then there’s films you don’t want to watch with your parents and your offspring!

Black Swan really has caused controversy in my little world. I’ve now heard one friend rant on three separate occassions about why it should be an 18 not a 15. (Though, in her defence once was on the phone, once in person and another at dinner with friends.) In fact, despite my warnings the afternoon before she saw it, I still had a midnight voicemail from her, detailing what a traumatising experience it was! Thus, I feel I need to see it soon – any takers?

Sick bed reflections

Today marked a turning point. For the first time in three weeks I woke up to an alarm, got out of bed (on three occasions in the last week there have been alarms, but simply to make multiple calls in an attempt to get a Doctor’s appointment) and went to work. Shock to the system to say the very least. I think this is the longest I’ve worn actual clothing (as opposed to PJs) since the day I travelled back from Belfast.

Over the last few weeks I’ve learned a lot. I’ve discovered that you are never too old for daily motherly calls to check on your health and that it is always reassuring to have their back-up that you shouldn’t be at work. (In our home, sick days were so rare that parental approval to stay off school really meant something.) I’ve realised that one needs a lot of patience to get anywhere with the NHS – especially during holidays – and that it’s kind of fun being the person in the Doctor’s waiting room with the awful cough that everyone wants to avoid. Most of all, I’ve come to the opinion that while a couple of sick days can be something of a novelty, several weeks of feeling extraordinarily rubbish truly suck – especially when they coincide with Christmas, New Year and the only time in the year when you get quality time with your whole family.

But enough whimpering and moping. I’m on the road to recovery and 2011 will get better, soon. In the mean time, I have a few sick day tips for you…

1. Do not underestimate the power of multiple pairs of PJs. By this I mean that it’s great to have more than one pair to wear during a day – one to sleep in and then a clean pair to change into after a shower to wear during the day (with underwear) and then change out of at bedtime. This means that you have the illusion of getting dressed and an idea of wearing actual clothes, but are still comfy enough to just crash out on the sofa or in bed. Plus, you don’t spend the day dwelling in sweaty night-time PJs – gross. It’s even better when your ‘daytime’ PJs are brand new Christmas PJs from Fat Face. Of course, this only works if you’re not in a fit state to leave the house as one doesn’t pop to the shops in one’s PJs…

2. However desperate you get, do not fall into the trap of watching Wedding House. I love a good bit of daytime TV, preferably of a house buying/DIY variety, but this show truly takes the biscuit. It’s basically a company that will arrange your entire wedding for you, down to the last detail and each show features three or four couples getting hitched. The fact that all the planning is taken out of your hands severely disturbed me, and some of the company’s idea were quite frankly bizarre. Channel 4 has been forgiven for this piece of scheduling though, being as it followed a daily dose of Glee – meaning that on Friday I saw the last episode of season 1 prior to season 2 starting tonight.

3. Delve into nostalgic DVDs. Last time I had a sick day back in the summer, I ended up ordering Party of Five (and buying Ally McBeal a couple of days later). This time, I was lucky enough to have been given hours of classic entertainment at Christmas, so was able to spend an afternoon in front of The Worst Witch (the 1980’s original film, not the TV series) and an entire day absorbed in the BBC’s Chronicles of Narnia (currently halfway through The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and loving it in all its retro glory). What you need while languishing is comfort food and comfort viewing, thus old favourites are the best.

4. Make good use of the internet. When you have a nocturnal flatmate, daytime human company can be difficult to come by, it’s therefore something of a sanity saver to be able to chat with humans across the country/world via online means. Thank goodness for Facebook, Gmail, Twitter and sympathetic friends. (The not so sympathetic friends can occasionally be amusing too.)

My final tip for you? Take your vitamins and don’t get your feet wet – getting sick really isn’t worth it.

Fortunately, my mother knows nothing about drugs

This evening I had dinner with my mother (in fact, we had lunch on Sunday too, it’s been a very mother-daughter kind of week). On our way back to the tube station, we had a slightly random conversation about getting ID’d in totally ridiculous scenarios.

[To give you some context: I was talking about playing the lottery when I imminently become an official Anglican (long story…) just like my sister did when she abandoned our anti-gambling Methodist upbringing. She recently got ID’d attempting to buy a scratch-card in her corner shop, aged 26 – quite ridiculous.]

Even more ridiculous was the story of a friend of mine recently getting ID’d buying spoons in John Lewis. The following conversation ensued:

Mother: “Well, I suppose they could have wanted to use them to snort cocaine.”

Me:
 “You don’t use spoons to snort cocaine!”

Mother:
“Yes you do. You put it in the spoon and then put a lighter under it and inject it…”

Me:
“No, that’s heroin and that’s not snorting”

Mother:
“Well, they’re all the same kind of thing aren’t they?” [Short pause.] “This is going to go on the blog, isn’t it?” 

Me:
“Yep.”

It’s not profound, but…

…today I made a discovery:

Kellogg’s Raisin Wheats are vastly superior to the Sainsbury’s own brand version.

For quite some time Raisin Wheats have been quite categorically my favourite cereal option, but I only allow myself to buy them when do a Sainsbury’s shop (because they’re virtually the only supermarket to produce their own, cheaper version), or when the Kellogg’s version’s on offer somewhere. This hasn’t happened for a while, so all I’ve had recently is what I now know to be the inferior brand.

Why inferior? The own brand version gets soggier quicker and the raisin taste is rather overpowering, while the Kellogg’s version retains some crunch, tastes rather toasty and the raisins are just raisins. Is that a ridiculous review? Perhaps.

My second realisation, while writing this, is that I’ve clearly been strongly influenced by my parent’s shopping rules, if after over 10 years of buying my own food I won’t allow myself to buy my favourite cereal unless a generic brand is available or it’s cheaper than usual. At home, generic brands ruled the roost – unless it was Cornflakes, in which case only Kellogg’s was(is) acceptable. The things our parents do to us, without us even realising…

I should perhaps explain that I’m exhausted having spent the evening being grilled for two hours – so stressful that I absolutely had to go shopping afterwards. My only meal this evening was a bowl of the aforementioned cereal and my tiredness no doubt helped me form today’s realisations. Just in case you thought I was going a little nuts thinking so much about a breakfast cereal!

Postscript: Another morning, another ‘why did I write that??’ moment. Perhaps I should have a ‘no blogging when tired’ rule as well as my Sabbath one?