Cheesy Friday Fun

Classic fun, I believe, should include children and animals – after all, their behaviour is difficult to control and thus moments of comedy are usually spontaneous and utterly beautiful. So, despite it being hugely cheesy, here are three fabulous child/animal related moments to brighten up your day:

1. Kitten being hugged by a cat
Awwwwwwwwwwwwww! It’s a teeny-tiny kitten being hugged by its mummy! Awwwwwwwwwwwwww!

[Side-note: have just remembered that my friend Katie’s recently adopted cat gave birth to some teeny tiny kittens last week and I’m going to Bristol to visit her tomorrow. Maybe I’ll get to see the super cute kittens! Maybe they’ll be asleep and need hugging!]
Cat excitement now ends.

2. Small child catching their first fish (and naming it ‘Free’)
I adore this – I love the irony of his name for his first catch; the fact that he’s scared of touching it; and most of all, that he thinks the fish is beautiful.

3. Child Vs Otter race
This is pure, spontaneous genius. I love otters generally (it’s a niche joke, but I only have to hear the phrase “make me an Otter I can’t refuse” and the giggles are unstoppable…), but who knew that they could be so canny?

If children and animals really aren’t your idea of fun, what about actual cheese – and fonts? Why not waste a few hours of your Friday by playing Cheese or Font. Turns out I know neither my cheeses or my fonts well enough, clearly I need font top trumps in my life…

Marginally judgemental Friday Fun

One word I’d hate to be used to describe me is ‘snob’. While I can appear to be snobby about some things – good gin, genuine Heinz ketchup and Kellogg’s Cornflakes – it’s usually simply because they taste better and I’d rather spend slightly more on something I like, than spend less on something I won’t. My only qualms with shopping at Primark is their possible lack of ethics, but that’s often forgotten in the excitement of a £5 skirt or £2 t-shirt. It’s good not to be judgemental about stuff – isn’t it?

Then I stumbled upon what your e-mail address says about your computer skills and realised that many of my (judgemental) suspicions had been confirmed, in an extremely comedy way. Examples include:
Own domain: ‘Good chance of being skilled & able, maybe even a programmer or designer’. [Rings true to me.]
Gmail: ‘When the internet stops working, actually tries rebooting the router before calling a family member for help’. [Very true, not that I’m at all biased as a Gmail user myself…]

In other exciting e-mail news, this week has seen me lose 5 characters from my address. Yes, that sounds careless (and a little pointless) but when you struggle to fit it onto forms and can do nothing about the length of your surname, every little helps. A few weeks ago Gmail announced that it had sorted out its legal wranglings with a British company who used the same name for its internal mail system and thus, the Brits who’d previously been saddled with @googlemail.com could choose to switch to @gmail.com. I formally made the move at the start of this week and gosh, it feels good. [Simple things please simple people etc, etc.]

Continuing the judgy theme, yesterday a friend and I were discussing our mutual love of the Guardian over lunch. A characteristic we particularly love is its own brand of in-jokes. To unfamiliar Guardian readers, this might come across as intellectual snobbery, and perhaps in appreciating it we are ourselves intellectual snobs, but it’s what makes it a great paper. After all, this was the first national newspaper to have a regular ‘corrections and clarifications’ column which regularly mocks itself for its own stupid mistakes.

Anyway, one of my favourite articles this week was on synonyms. Now, as this is the Guardian, the humour within it is entirely derived from understanding what a synonym is – I’m not judging those who don’t, I’m just warning you that if you’re lacking this particular piece of knowledge you won’t find it funny. Oh, and it has a quiz at the end of it – have I ever mentioned how much I love quizzes?? [And that I’m still sore that my quiz team, despite being in the lead until the final round, were robbed of our rightful reward last week…]

The article’s title is also a gem: My Synonym Hell

Just in case you’ve found this week’s ‘fun’ way too mentally demanding, I’ve one final amusing gem for you:
As of July 1st, Subway are instructing their staff to tessellate the cheese in their sandwiches. Sounds dull and mundane, but the official statement on it is comedy – I never realised just how seriously one has to take the assembly of subs. Incidentally, I won’t judge you on eating their sandwiches, but I will judge the company on their awful taste in cheese.

Deli delights

The second day of the crafting extravaganza was spent visiting Webbs of Wychbold – a delightful combination of garden centre, Hobbycraft, shops selling pretty things, outdoors stuff, hot tubs (sale of not use of, sadly), pet care and a delicatessen. [Re-reading that sentence, I’m wondering if I’ve somehow turned 40 overnight…garden centres fun??]

I probably don’t need to go into detail about Hobbycraft. It’s in turns wonderful and utterly ridiculous. Where else can you buy not one, but two varieties of Very Hungry Caterpillar fabric? Or, a ‘knit a coat for your Yorkshire Terrier’ kit? A book of projects for making themed toilet roll covers? I could go on…

However, the highlight by a long stretch was the deli…

Oh. My. Goodness. This is not a place to bring someone 11 months into a healthy eating regime (especially after a breakfast of Weetabix that felt a very long time ago). There was chocolate in abundance, mostly particularly yummy European varieties; preserves aplenty; home-made cakes; crisps…

Here, Mrs WF made quite a discovery:

Yes, that would be Valentines themed crisps – strawberry, white wine & sweet chilli flavour. I imagine the conversation in their marketing department must have gone something like this:

“What we need to do is cash in on Valentines Day – have a special flavour that really resonates with what the general public think of when they’re loved up. What flavours do we associate with Valentines? Strawberries – yes. White Wine – yes. Sweet Chilli? Hmmm, I suppose that could work…”
[Incidentally, we had them for lunch – actually not as weird as you’d think!]

Then we got to the deli counter… Ahhh, cheese. I’m not a massive cheese fanatic, but this stuff was gooooood. And the fudge? Not since the discovery of Heavenly Chocolate in Scarborough have I been this excited by fudge! This little lot kept me on a sugar high all the way back to London:

Yummmmm.

Music: Questions & Lessons

This post started out last night entitled “Goosebumps”, but I didn’t quite like how it turned out, so I’m starting afresh. (An unusual bit of self-editing.)

Recently, I’ve been asking myself some questions:
1. Why am I so fond of repeating a piece of music over and over when I first discover it?
2. What is it that, for me, makes perfect music?
3. What happens when we team music with something else – like film?
4. Why (until 2 days ago) did I own no solo Michael Jackson music?
5. And why, oh why, is my iTunes top 25 most played dominated by the Mamma Mia soundtrack?
As well as thinking about the questions, I’ve been trying to establish some answerers. This is what I’ve got so far…
1. Repition.
This is probably just a saturation thing. When I discover a song/piece that I love, that overwhelms me, that makes me break out in goosebumps all over, I have to hear it again and again. I don’t think it’s uncommon, but I’ve recently (probably thanks to iTunes) noticed how often I do it. It’s also one of my earliest musical memories – trying to listen to Help over and over on my Dad’s old 8-reel (tricky). It was a wonderful moment when I acquired CDs back in the day and the ‘repeat song’ option became available. (Not sure my parents were as happy.)
The current song of the moment is Josh Groban’s Weeping. Yeah, it’s cheesy schmalz, but it’s schmalz with a political heart and its root are South African. I can listen to it over and over, which is exactly what I have been doing at work, thanks to this rather wonderful live version from last year’s Mandela concert:

2. Perfect Music.
Hmmmm, tricky. Critics of my music collection would say cheese, but I think it goes a little deeper than that. It’s about key changes, crescendos, beautiful voices, strings, cadenzas (you’ve got to love a good cadenza; the one in Rhapsody in Blue prompted my learning the clarinet!)….But I think the beauty is that you never know what is it that’s going to get you and pull at your heart strings.
3. Music and something else.
Ok, so the teaming of music with film is as old as well, film. But this last week I had my first experience of live music accompanying film and it produced one of the most powerful musical moments I’ve ever had.
Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace is written to be performed with a film. Like the work, the film covers the beginning of war through to peace: Picture men marching off to war; the building of arms; scenes of violence; dead bodies; nuclear bombs…then there’s a moment of sheer agony. As the famous images of 9/11 unfold before you, the Sopranos launch into hideous discordant sung screaming, then, just as the towers begin to crumble, everything goes silent.
Searching on YouTube there are a few clips – like this one of the Sanctus which includes some footage. But if you’re into that sort of thing, have a bit of a search. Maybe it was because I was sat in the middle of the percussion section, but it was an hour and a quarter of goosebump inducing music.
4. Michael Jackson.
I’m an 80’s baby. I wasn’t a music lover when his greatest solo work came out. Over the years, I’ve resisted the music thanks to the weirdness that went with the personality. (Plus, I was a indie chick Jarvis Cocker fan in 1996 when the Brit Awards controversy took place.) Whilst the Jackson 5 will always mark the true beginning of any party, I’d steered clear of actually owning any of the other stuff.
Then, last Friday morning, listening to the archive tracks being played in memorium I realised that it wasn’t about the man, it was about the music. I had goosebumps and a sudden urge to dance around like a woman possessed. So now, I admit to being one of the people who have contributed to Man in the Mirror being #1 on iTunes. (Though you know why that is? It’s practically the only decent track not on the Number Ones album.)
5. Mamma Mia.
Abba have a lot to answer for. This seems to have become the album I play when I can’t think of anything else to listen to, or just want something comforting. I was utterly dismayed to see that over half the album is now in my top 25 – there’s almost no space left for anything else! This is repitition on a large scale.
I’m never going to have a respectable top 25 again.
My life is no longer worth living.

Overheard on the 24 bus [x3]

“The funniest thing happened this morning. I was making my sandwiches and I keep my cheese in one of those plastic containers, like my lunch box. I get to college and realise I’ve brought a box of cheese instead of my box of sandwiches! So now I’ve got cheese – what am I meant to do with that?”

Ok, yes, a mildly amusing anecdote. But really, was it so amusing that it needed to be told in three separate phone conversations (within 15mins) on a semi-deserted bus in Camden? I think not.

(Apparantly she was going to use the aforementioned cheese to go with the pasta dish her friend was cooking for her that night. I usually prefer wine to gifts of cheese!)