I’d set out to write a damning post about Valentine’s Day today, poo pooing anything remotely heart shaped, made of chocolate or encased in red foil. I’ve changed my mind about that, having read a few lovely blog posts sharing intimate and heart warming stories of love and commitment. It’s given me the adjustment that I needed, and yes I really am that fickle.
You see, I love romance and love. I live for it. Nothing makes me happier than people falling in love and expressing that love in whichever way they see fit (within reason, obvs). Give me a grand, romantic gesture any day of the week.
I’m lucky to have a loved one of my own and to be part of a partnership that feels like it was meant to be. It’s no exaggeration to say that I feel like all my wishes came true the day I met Mr Bass.
Yet despite this, Valentine’s day just doesn’t do it for me. I always end up deflated as the 14th draws to a close and I know it’s because I’ve bought into the hype. I’ve got carried away in a frenzy of heart shaped paraphernalia; allowed it to turn my head and make me expect things I don’t even want or need.
I’m lucky in love every day so one set date to show and receive love is just not necessary, in my eyes. If I was single I’m sure I’d still be hopeful but I’d feel the same; it’s a Hallmark holiday designed purely to get the cash registers kerching-ing (BAH HUMBUG).
Still, every year as I watch the girls in the office be bombarded with bouquets and shiny things, or get whipped off on boutique hotel breaks in the country, I start to wish for those things myself. When I don’t get the same, I feel let down. Which is rude, ungrateful and frankly pathetic, especially when I’ve specifically said, “Don’t get me anything”.
But since I am going back and forth on this, I have to consider, is it really such a bad thing to encourage people to share their feelings ? I suppose not.
Anyway, in the spirit (and my original theme) of hating VD (the day, not the disease), I decided to stop myself being disappointed this year by spreading love, instead of expecting it. Inspired by my heroine, Leslie Knope of Parks & Rec and her Galentine’s concept, I sent all my best (UK) girls some love, reminding them of why I love them. Which I do, very much and all in different ways.
(Non-UK babes, I’m afraid I didn’t organise myself in time, but this is a new tradition so expect mail in February 2016).
So, today officially it’s Galentine’s Day and I’m all about the ladies.
All my beautiful ladies: I heart you long time. From the bottom of my grumpy heart.
When I mentioned at the weekend that I would be having a look back at some vintage classics, starting with a couple of Judy Blume‘s best known works, my news feed came alive with nostalgic comments.
A lot of my friends remembered the books fondly and it made me feel even more excited about hunkering down with some familiar characters over a cup of tea.
I wanted to read Forever first but in the end decided to save it until after I’d revisited Margaret. I’m glad I did that, for reasons I will come back to in the Forever review (spoiler alert: it’s still quite saucy!).
But to this book. I love it still and the thing that stood out most for me is the fact that the writing is really good. I have to confess that I half expected to be taking the piss out of the books that I was so into as a kid/teenager but there wasn’t a trace of that as soon as I picked them both up.
AYTGIMM follows 11 year old Margaret Simon as she navigates her way through a new school, new friends, a secret club, periods, boobs and boys. Written from her point of view, we learn some of the secrets that she doesn’t care to share with her friends, such as her true feelings for Moose, the boy who cuts the grass, and how much she really wants to get her period.
Margaret’s core group comprises Nancy Wheeler, Gretchen Potter and Janie Loomis. Together they form the Four PTSs (Pre-teen Sensations) who meet every Monday to pore over their boy books, talk about periods and do their boob enhancing exercises.
All my life it seems I have been semi-aware of the “I must, I must, I must increase my bust” mantra and it comes from this book. It may have been a thing way before it was set to paper but this is where I picked it up. Yes, I did do it myself (and look at me now!). It was very pleasing to get the warm and fuzzies whilst remembering it.
Despite her intimate circle, every night Margaret chats with the one person (or entity) who will listen to her no matter what. But when she starts to question religion on a deeper level and it brings up issues she doesn’t like, their relationship becomes strained. Will Margaret continue to turn to G-O-D or with they grow apart forever?
I thought that the religion thing was actually quite inspired. Margaret is brought up in a similar way to how my brother and I were; encouraged to choose her own faith when she feels ready. Margaret’s father is Jewish, while her mother is Christian so Margaret decides to give each a fair crack before she commits to one of religion, if at all.
I won’t go into it too much, but it’s quite refreshing to think that this topic was approached head on and then handled in such a sensitive way. I’m impressed with the diplomatic way it raises questions but doesn’t veer in any one direction.
Margaret also shares a close relationship with her grandmother, Sylvia. Keen to convert her granddaughter to Judaism, Sylvia nicknames her “Jewish Girl” which just adds pressure to Margaret as she tries to work out which way she should turn, biblically (or Torah-ly).
Blume also addresses the subject of slut shaming, although I am confident that this was not a phrase back when I was 11, even if it was definitely a thing.
Poor Laura Denker is labelled a bit of a goer (my words) because she is tall and well-developed for her age. She is the subject of much bitching (but mostly envy) within the secret club, who have heard rumours about her getting felt up behind the bike sheds (or the US equivalent, the bleachers?) by Nancy’s brother, Evan and the aforementioned, Moose.
But the main topic on all the girls’ minds is of course, puberty. The girls do focus a lot of attention on boys, mainly Phillip Leroy, the class fitty but that’s nothing compared to the massive amount of time they all spend fretting about growing up, finally getting their periods and proving that they are normal.
I remember so vividly how I used to feel before the Big P came along, how much I wanted to get it and kick start womanhood. It’s nice to be reminded of the girl I used to be, who still pops up her head every now and again, who sometimes has the same worries she used to about the way she looks.
Ah, the simpler days.
(Incidentally, on the day I finally got my period, I was running indoors and banged my head, cutting it open. That day I bled from both ends, proof you should be careful what you wish for. Although, as compensation, we did get fish and chips for supper).
All in all, I adored my trip down Memory Lane. Judy Blume did so well because she understood, and was able to convey what it’s like to be this age. In 2010, Margaret was placed on Time magazines Top 100 fiction books written in English since 1923 list: ″Blume turned millions of pre-teens into readers. She did it by asking the right questions—and avoiding pat, easy answers.″ (via Wikipedia).
Which sums it up better than anything. She just gets it.
The question to answer, I suppose, is does the book hold up? I think so. I mean, I’m 25 years older than the main protagonist so the things I worry about now are somewhat different to then. However, from a nostalgic point of view, I can remember those feelings of inadequacy and pressure like they were yesterday.
I like to be reminded of who I was and of being that age. I also wonder if there is that much difference between being (nearly) 12 years old back when I was 12, or indeed back when AYTGIMM was first published in 1970 (over 40 years ago), and being 12 now. I would imagine, at the centre of it they have the same worries with a lot more besides.
I think my generation are lucky they didn’t have to grow up in the digital age. Nobody had a phone of their own until the very early naughties (or I definitely didn’t) and MySpace was just about the most exciting thing happening on the web, which was still dial-up and patchy at best.
I can only imagine what this book would be like if it were rewritten in today’s setting. A hell of a lot more slut shaming, a bit of internet trolling and a lot of distracted tweeting, rather than two minutes in the closet, I’d bet.
This artist blows me away in general and I have seen a few of her piece pop up over the years, and always been impressed. But I have a very special place in my heart for the Painted Ladies. They are magnificent!
Since it is unlikely I would ever be able to afford one of the original figurines, I have been looking at the photographic prints instead. Still a little bit of a hefty price tag, but maybe one for a birthday wish list.
Yet another US TV show that has sucked me in and won’t spit me out until I’ve devoured all five seasons.
PLL is actually pretty good. It’s no Gossip Girl, of course, but nothing is. It’s very twisty and turny; and feels like a continual teen horror movie.
The gist: When pretty (and bitchy) Alison DiLaurentis goes missing, her clique are left to wonder what the eff went on and who would want to harm her. While the girls had been drifting apart before the disappearance, they’re thrown back together by a common enemy, the sinister A; who is threatening to tell all their secrets, and worse.
Honestly, it’s been quite gripping. Thanks as always, Netflix.
NB: I should say here that I’m trying hard to cut down on my television watching during the week. Left to my own devices, I will just sit dribbling in front of the box for four hours straight every night without gaining anything from it. I know it’s no good for me, so I’ve been coming home and reading, blogging and pottering instead. It feels good.
This is such a material thing to include, but never mind. It’s a total game changer! You know I love ASOS anyway and lust after a lot of items on the site (too much), but upgrading to the Premier account has just been amazing.
Basically: Unlimited next day delivery, courier pick up if you don’t like something; the ASOS magazine to your door and preview emails about upcoming sales, all for just £9.95 a year. £9.95! I know I’m no longer shopping, but when I am… this will change everything.
So happy that this show is back again. I love it, even though I dislike at least 75% of the main characters. The writing is fantastic, the characters are flawed and frustrating; and I’m very interested to see where it goes.
I like Lena Dunham and will always be into what she brings to the table, even if she doesn’t always present it a way I agree with. I read Not That Kind of Girl and enjoyed it. I might come back to that in a separate post soon.
Ah, other bloggers. Such a massive part of why I’m enjoying blogging so much right now.
Again, my current favourites will fill their own future post in the next few weeks but this week I have had some great interaction, when I really needed it, and I am starting to feel very excited about my blogging future.
I have some fun things coming up, including a collaboration with a fellow film lover that really peaks my creative interest!
So that’s what I’m about this month! What are you digging?
Over the next few weeks I’ll be taking a trip down memory lane with some of the books I loved as a child and teenager. I thought it would be interesting to revisit the themes of the day and relate them to life now.
Just holding these two books in my hands takes me back to the girl I used to be (and still am at heart), though I am slightly dismayed that the covers aren’t the same as the ones I had, and the ones advertised on eBay. Still, it’s the content that matters.
Watch this space as I review these two Judy Blume classics as an adult and ponder why they meant so much back then.
Before I even finished this book, I was thinking about how I would review it. Not all books deserve a review in my eyes (Bellman & Black, I’m looking at you) but this one is so multi-layered, so fantastic and dark that it really does deserve to be talked about. I’m just mad it took me so long to get my hands on a copy.
But where to start?
I feel I should preface this post with the statement that I love anything freak show themed. I know it’s human nature to be fascinated by the unusual and the macabre, but I really am attracted to the darkness. What can I say?
While reading Geek Love I was put in mind of American Horror Story Freak Show (which I have still yet to finish). I swear it must have been inspired in part by Katherine Dunn‘s novel. The Wikipedia page however, doesn’t mention the book at all so I guess I’m way off.
But anyway, I love this book. I knew I would even before I’d even cracked the spine. It’s got all the hallmarks of a book that will stick with me for life and has automatically clawed its way into my favourites list. It is that good.
To the book. The story of the travelling Binewski family is told to us by Olympia (or Oly) Binewski, the hunchbacked albino dwarf and daughter of Al and Crystal Lil, carnival owners.
Split between two-time periods, the book flits from current day right back to Oly’s childhood and covers most of the events that lead up to her living in a run down tenement in a room down the hall from her grown up daughter, Miranda, who doesn’t know that Oly is her mother.
Oly has several siblings: Arturo (or Aqua Boy), her older brother (who has flippers for hands and feet), the Siamese Twins, Electra (Elly) and Iphigenia (Iphy); and younger brother Fortunato (or The Chick), a ‘normal looking’ angel of a child, who just happens to have telekinetic powers.
You could say that the children were born special, and while that’s true, we soon learn that their unique idiosyncrasies were predestined. Geek Love isn’t Enid Blyton and is shocking in parts. Early on we learn the origins of the Binewski kids; and that Crystal Lil and Al deliberately engineered a family of freaks to fill up the show.
This band of geeks though, although loved, unfortunately did not come out in perfect succession. We meet the rest of the ‘children’, as introduced by Oly, the offspring that didn’t make it; fated to float for all eternity (or at least for the rest of the family’s days) in cloudy formaldehyde in their own creepy trailer.
This week was sent to test me I believe but I can only assume, since I am here at the tail end of Friday with a smile on my face, that I have passed that particular exam. If not with flying colours, then at least in one piece.
I’m still in hibernation mode, honestly so have made minimal plans to see anybody after work and at weekends and I really don’t mind. It’s cold and a good time to get other shit done. I’ve also been feeling very overwhelmed (at work only) and a bit sick so it’s nice to be feeling more myself today!
Pictures, left to right, top to bottom:
Some amazing new graffiti along Upper Lewes Road near work (and home). My colleague (more of below) and I took a short walk to Graffitiville at lunchtime and got these lovely shots
This week has mostly been sponsored by sugar
Hair and arse courtesy of Mother Nature, pose all mine (was posing for a look at my new bag post, coming soon. Maybe)
My beautiful and talented friend, Tatty of tattyfrankland.com, being all sexy and stuff in the graveyard. NBD
This is Tom. Tom’s all manly and things, carries a penknife and eats donuts like Bear Grylls eats beetles (or something)
Rabbit Rabbit (more graff)
I’m only a few chapters in but I’ve wanted to read this creepy bookforever. Finally I sourced a cheap copy and so far so good. It’s about a child serial killer. Review to follow #onewomanbookclub
Stranger danger (more graff)
So, that’s my week. Pretty standard stuff but good. Thank God for the two Ts I work with. They make even the shittest days much easier.
I have to share this also, that I returned home from after work drinks on Wednesday in an absolute state with a migraine and sickness (leftover from the bug), having had an absolute stinker of a day in the office, to a card from my lovely mother. I’m sure she won’t mind me sharing it (left).
Proof that mums (the good ones) have a sixth sense about these things, know when you’re having a crappy time even though you haven’t told them and will always have your back. I love you Mum, and I’m confident that you’ll read this, being my most loyal of all readers.
So, how have your weeks been, loves? Happy weekend!
A year ago today the world lost one of the most incredible actors of our generation.
Philip Seymour Hoffman was 46 when he passed away. When I found out I was numb for a little while (but managed to write this the day after, though I can’t remember doing it). I felt numb in that way that you can only really articulate by saying “I can’t believe it” over and over. It is an odd feeling to grieve for someone you’ve never met, only admired on a big screen, but it is still genuine emotion.
This loss is a massive one. There is nothing more I can add to that. It’s all been said already.
But I wanted to mark this horrible anniversary with a celebration of some kind, rather than dwell on melancholy. There were times in my life when I was blown away by this man. He made me laugh and cry; and sometimes he scared me. I felt like he spoke to me on a personal level and I think that’s the beauty of a greatly talented person.
I believed him always.
I’m hard pressed really to refine my favourite PSH moments. It would be very hard to narrow down my most loved performances to just a handful.
Well, sort of. I mean, of course he was exceptional as Truman Capote in Capote. He’s been great in nearly every film he put his name to (with a few exceptions), stealing scenes left right and centre.
But by far my favourite PSH turn is in Flawless. As Rusty, PSH took my admiration to a whole new level. This is how I choose to remember him, as the ballsy female impersonator with a whole lot of heart. (I reviewed the film a few years ago, here).
Rusty is the ultimate Groupie for the Underdog. Cheerleader for the brow beaten and the bullied. Fighting for the rights of the LGBT and being fucking fabulous while she does it. Reeling off one liners like rapid machine gun fire, she is exactly the kind of person you need in your life, and on your side.
Rusty is the person she is because of all the things she’s been/is going through and is the sum of all her own insecurities, all her flaws. And that’s what makes her beautiful and strong.
I used to watch this movie religiously, at least once a month. I watched it not long after PSH died and it was hard to do. I still miss him.
So this year I’ll be respectfully remembering the man I loved for over a decade, who made even the smallest character study a fascinating one, who ruled every scene he was in.