The etiquette of getting into a car, as a lady…

Living in London, one doesn’t spend a lot of time in cars. I spend a lot of time at bus stops, on buses, in tube trains and pounding the pavements, but in cars? Not so much.

Apparently, travelling in a car is such a novelty in my life that I no longer know how to use them properly. (As a passenger, obviously. I still have no clue as to how a car is driven.) Let me demonstrate this, by sharing an utterly mortifying story from today…

My friend Shannon has use of a hire car this week, which is jolly exciting and meant that I was transported from a Sunday lunch gathering to a Matryroshka Haus communications meeting without the need of public transport. The car was parked in Canary Wharf and I was left to get into the car by myself while Shannon and Andy went to sort out paying for the parking.

The lift to the car park provided an excellent opportunity for a continuation of my reflective photography obsession.

I opened the front passenger door, pulled the lever to move the seat out of the way and attempted to climb into the backseat. I put the lack of space in which to do this down to my own ineptitude at dealing with car seats, and struggled on, thanking the heavens that no one was witnessing my acrobatics. Once launched into the car, my bottom didn’t quite make the seat and I ended up briefly wedged in the gap between the front and back seats. Thankfully I managed to right myself and by the time my friends returned, I was buckled in and happily munching Minstrels.

As they got into the car, I started to share my exploits – but hadn’t got very far when Shannon opened a door at the back of the driver’s side and I realised that her hire car wasn’t a 3 door as I’d presumed but a 5 door with incredibly accessible backseats. I burst out laughing and told my sorry tale. I was laughed at and then informed that at least those watching the security cameras would have got a laugh.

This is indeed true and reminded me of a video I spotted this morning which is a feelgood little something with which to kick off the new week:

I’m not sure why this video is named ‘Shocking’ – it isn’t shocking at all, simply a glimpse of the nicer things in life that security cameras pick up. Big Brother isn’t always bad…

Call me Klutzerbuck…

I seem to go through phases of ridiculous klutziness. Weeks, if not months, can pass with only minor walking into furniture incidents (it’s normal to regularly have unexplained bruises, isn’t it?), then all of a sudden I’ll have a run of utterly idiotic accidents. The last week has been one such season…

Last Wednesday, I was walking from the gym to the office – a journey that takes under 10 minutes – and managed to bump into three fellow pedestrians. Yes, it was a busy road; yes, I was carrying not one but three bags; but still, it’s somewhat excessive. One would be unfortunate, two is unusual and three is downright idiotic. 
That evening I suffered an even worse knock to my body (and my dignity). After a marvellous gig at Cadogan Hall, I paused in Sloane Square to admire the Christmas lights and check my messages. I went to sit down on a nearby bench and…missed. My bottom made contact with the ground rather than the comfort of a wooden bench. Fortunately, no one seemed to notice and I seemed to be fairly unscathed – able to go on a little stroll along the King’s Road for frozen yoghurt subsequently. It prompted me to found a new #LizFail hashtag on Twitter, little expecting that I’d have cause to use it just four days later…
See, pretty Sloane Square! 
It turns out that my delightful MacBook can injure when provoked. Those of you on Twitter may have heard the explanation of my MacBook mishap, but I didn’t divulge it on Facebook – merely mentioning that it was its fault that I had a fat lip on Sunday night. 
Picture the scene: It’s 9.30pm on a Sunday night and I’m in bed, catching up with the weekend’s Graham Norton show. [Yes, I was in bed by 9.30pm – Sundays are busy and Mondays are even busier, don’t judge me. I do realise that only 3 months ago I would only be arriving at the pub at that time on a Sunday evening, how times change!] Because it was a tad chilly, I had my arms under the duvet – one doesn’t usually need their fingers when one is watching TV online. At some point, I moved my legs, disturbing my MacBook and sending on a trajectory towards my face. My arms couldn’t emerge in time and I could do nothing to stop in from hitting me – which it did, right in the centre of my top lip.
For a good few minutes I lay in the dark with tears streaming down my face, tentatively checking that my front teeth were still present. (Praise the Lord they were!) Then I noticed the blood – I had managed to inflict actual bodily harm upon myself thanks to my favourite Apple product. Utterly ridiculous. 
It’s at this point I have to thank the Tweeter who responded to my sheepish “My Macbook has just given me a fat (& cut) lip – don’t even ask how that happened… #LizFail with “did u insult it & ask it if it could run windows 7?” [sic]. Tres amusant. 
Thing is, do you what’s not good with a cut lip (especially in that particularly position)? Laughing, or even a wide grin. Monday morning saw me regularly holding my lip in an effort to prevent it splitting when ever amusement overtook me. Quite ridiculous. You know what else isn’t good? Vinegar. What on earth was I thinking by eating bread dipped in vinegar when I had a hole in my mouth?! Ouch doesn’t even begin to describe the agony. Fortunately, the mouth heals quickly and three days later there is definite improvement – I just still can’t afford a sudden burst of hysterical laughter. 
What have I learned? That MacBooks should be handled with much care and that I definitely shouldn’t consider getting my klutz trousers out of my wardrobe any time soon. Oh, and perhaps I should change my surname to Klutzerbuck…

Further pronunciation discoveries

The recently discovered research on pronunciation continues to impact my life. Not only can I now settle ‘scone’ debates with actual statistics on the two forms, but I can test its findings with countless friends. I’m sure this is proving amusing, isn’t everyone interested in linguistics?

Last Saturday I was engaging in my second afternoon tea in three days, this time in Bristol and with a couple of old school friends. While eating scones we inevitably had that conversation (they had read the research too, so it was a well informed chat) and moved on to some of the other words included in the research – like garage.

The thing is, I couldn’t tell you how I say garage because usually, whenever I start thinking about it, I get confused. So I can’t say for sure if I’m a weak vowel, strong vowel, or final syllable stress [I figured that was an easier way of explaining than using phonetics, check the article – paragraph 3.1.2 – if you’re not sure]. However, later in the meal, the truth was to be revealed…

I was talking about a forthcoming wedding at which the bride’s brother is DJing – she’s apparently warned him not to play too much dubstep as not all the guests will be as into it as he is. Now, I’m by no means a massive dubstep fan and love weddings for the amount of cheese that gets played, but I do like the odd bit of dubstep, as do my tea companions. [Incidentally, if you’re looking for some interesting, accessible dubstep listen to Monday night’s Dubstep Symphony with the BBC Philharmonic orchestra.] But my comment “really, garage music does nothing for me” drew hoots of laughter.

Apparently, if one uses the ‘weak vowel’ pronunciation (garaaaaage) when referring to the music genre, one comes across as a bit of a posh twit.

So I now know what my natural pronunciation is and I also know how to avoid looking like an idiot when talking about popular music. My life is certainly richer for it.

Two videos and two valuable lessons

Last week, when I reviewed Happy Birthday Jesus, I mentioned the St Chad’s Nativity video and said that if it appeared on YouTube, I’d share. Voilà:

Very kindly, Dave Walker linked to my review on both Twitter and his blog, resulting in lots and lots of visitors – making me feel rather warm and fuzzy. (Actually, when I made the latter discovery I was in the pub celebrating the end of work and commiserating with a departing colleague, so some of the fuzziness may have been wine related.) I probably should make my ‘real’ life a little more fulfilling given that gaining validation from blog visits/comments is rather pathetic.

However, there is one rather humbling/cringeworthy aspect of this attention. After some internal debate, I decided to mention in passing an online dating adventure within that review. I guess I shouldn’t be embarrassed by this, but the realisation that it was a component of my second most popular post of all time was somewhat mortifying. Then I realised the individual concerned had without question read the post and I inwardly cringed. Ho hum.

Internet lesson #1: Do not blog about things that you don’t want people to know about. Simple really.

Internet lesson #2: Do not befriend people on Twitter about whom you have said things that you may not want them to know about – or friends of people about whom you have made comment.

This second lesson leads me nicely to the second part of of this post. Last week was our Carol Service – an event of epic proportions and quite easily the highlight of my Christmas (if not the year). It’s always fabulous and singing in the choir is an awesome experience. This year was especially exciting owing to the guest appearance of the legendary a cappella ensemble The Swingle Singers (mentioned multiple times on this blog, not least because of their role in Glee’s incidental music). Showing up at church to sing at 9.15am on a cold Sunday morning is not pleasant, but they stunned us with their beautiful melodies at such an early hour, I think encouraging us to do our best to impress them with our performances.

One highlight was their rendition of O Holy Night (always one of my favourites), which I was delighted to find on YouTube last night – this version being from the morning’s Christingle Service (hence small children wandering around in tea towels):

This relates to lesson #2 because I found it owing to the fact that I follow both the group and one of its altos on Twitter. On the evening of the carol service I may have made some comment regarding the attractiveness of a bearded tenor (who happens to sing the solo above), which was spotted by one of the Swingles when I added them the following day and elicited a rather amusing tweet back. Oops. To quote the lovely Annabelle, I am a nit.

Thinking before posting is always valuable…

Warning: this clothing may cause injury

Who’d have thought that a humble piece of clothing could be dangerous?
High heeled shoes, sure – have you ever tried walking in heels on cobbles?
But trousers? Surely they’re fairly safe?

A few years back I developed a penchant for very wide legged trousers, the sort that’s made out of floaty fabric and are perfect on hot summer days with flip-flops. Problem was, it was a lethal combination…

Countless times I’d trip on the hems, or catch my toes in the opposite leg, then came a near catastrophe:
One day, while performing the simple task of crossing a friend’s living room floor to fetch cutlery, I caught one toe in the hem of the opposite leg and went flying. I’d gathered enough momentum to send me skidding along the carpet a good long way – resulting in hugely attractive carpet burns on my arms and grazes on my legs. As I lay on the floor holding back my sobs, my friend stood over me and evaluated the situation with one comment: “if you’d gone a couple more inches, you’d have landed on top of the TV – and I’d have made you pay for any damage”. Such sympathy.

I think that was the point at which I realised that perhaps this style of clothing was to be avoided. I tried blaming my ineptitude upon inherited mild dyspraxia, but really, it was simply a case of clumsiness and big feet.

Over time, I forgot this particularly stupid episode in my life, until yesterday. Last week a miracle occurred – while on a spontaneous shopping trip, I found a pair of black trousers that fitted perfectly (always a rare occurrence, I find trousers hugely tricky to buy), plus, they were high waisted and wide legged -what I most look for in a trouser. In fact, they are very wide legged, practically culottes and rather 1930’s esque.

Wearing them yesterday was joyous, until I reached the tube station. There, I had to dodge round a gaggle of teenage school pupils (for some reason, they always intimidate me, even though my school days are long behind me). Having politely said “excuse me” and made eye contact with their teacher, I negotiated my way round them. As I did, my foot caught in the fabric on my opposite leg and it was all I could do to stop myself landing flat on the platform floor. Actually, I didn’t stop my fall – the seats along the platform edge did – ouch.

I regained my poise rather red faced and shuffled along the platform sheepishly, all the while cursing my choice of trouser. I’m now rather paranoid about them, especially on my office’s marble spiral staircase – I’m sure one day either my trousers or my shoes (or a combination of both) will send me flying to an almost certain death. [Or at least a major injury, which could be fairly useful, depending upon when it occurred…]

It seems I really have learnt nothing from life’s lessons.