Monday, November 24, 2008

Waffley versatile

Laughs, courtesy Charlie Brooker. Worth reading the comments that follow, if only for the person who admits to getting the potato waffle jingle stuck in her head. That particular tune haunts me, too.

[Did anyone catch him doing the dance routine on last week's Screenwipe? It left me unable to breathe.]

I've been experiencing this type of problem again just recently (the insomnia, not the wearing a pair of knickers as an eye mask thing).

Last night, a tiny (but deep) cut on my right index finger conspired to give me a restless night's sleep, in partnership with a repeated line of one of Joanna Newsom's rather more mannered vocals. The passage in particular sticks in my mind because she sings the word "meteorite" in exactly the same way that Dick Van Dyke might. Or moight, as the case may be. You can imagine how pleased I was to hear that looping about in my brain in the early hours. Put it this way, in comparison, I would have killed for the 'hope it's chips' jingle.

Anyway, my tiredness had a slightly unwelcome side-effect this morning when I went for a routine blood test. I had fasted for twelve hours, on instruction - so I'd had no breakfast. After an unsuccessful attempt at getting blood out of my left arm, the nurse tried the right, whereupon the top of my nose began to throb, my vision went blurry and everything sounded underwater.

Here's a short list of things that I generally go out of my way to avoid doing (in order):

Passing out
Failing to have breakfast

So, two out of three ticked off the list this morning. It's been about ten years since I last fainted. I was pretty embarrassed at flaking in front of nurses, for some reason...yet who better than healthcare professionals to have an episode like that with? I tried to persuade them I was fine when I clearly wasn't - luckily they aren't easily fooled (by that point I think I may have been cross-eyed, a dead giveaway if ever there was one).

Enough of that.

Rewinding a bit, I was also cheered on Friday evening by a new series of the mighty IT Crowd, in particular the bizarre vocal inflections of Matt Berry. I loved Roy's t-shirt, too.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Why the long face?

Soundtrack: Ys by Joanna Newsom

It's cold outside, I've had some comfort food and Joanna Newsom is playing, it's properly Wintertime, if you'll pardon the pun.

A dusting of snow this morning, leaves collecting in mushy piles in the gutter, clear grey skies. I always figured that I liked this time of year because it was when I was born. Not sure if that works, exactly, but there may be something in it.

I spent today wandering Kingston with Mrs Hall. From here, the year gets properly busy. A good thing, I think.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

You've got more rabbit than Sainsburys

An exchange in in a high street mobile phone store this lunchtime:

Salesman: Do you want insurance with this mobile?
Me: No
Do you want a memory card, I can do you a deal?
You should change providers, it's cheaper
Hands-free kit?
Are you sure you don't want insurance?
Put it this way, I won't be leaving my phone in my pocket again so it falls out into the toilet, so there is no need
We could change your BT deal for broadband and home phone to our deal, it's cheaper.
Just give me the mobile

I suppose it could be worse. My network provider's shop had an atrocious selection of phones, the nearest one to my old model being a shiny candy-pink monstrosity (alternative cover: white with butterflies on it). Even the sales assistant mocked this particular product, which probably went against all the training he'd ever received.

So, yes, I dropped my phone down the toilet in while I was in Derby, like an absolute twat. I'm afraid to say that this took the shine off an otherwise very pleasant weekend.

Nobody wants to get attached to a material object like their mobile phone, but it happens over time, just as you might one day find yourself inexplicably addicted to Holby City, or having an inappropriate crush on someone awful (I know a woman who once admitted to fancying this man - jeez).

I'm kidding myself that this is a 21st century malaise, etc, but what it really means is that I got way too upset over what can only be described as a small oblong box with circuitry inside it. As usual I've disgraced myself and gone off on a poorly-argued tangent. Plus ca change!

The aforementioned weekend, by the way, was super and featured (in no particular order) long chats with Mrs West, playing snap with children, drinking vodkas (some of them long) and dancing to indie hits of yesteryear. Great stuff.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

There's no business

In a previous life, I was a followspot operator.

That doesn't mean much to people until the word "spotlight" is used, at which point they usually sing, "…like super trouper, lights are gonna find me".

This was the job I started three months or so after leaving university, having moved to London with no particular plan for what I was going to do with my life. I look back on this time with some amazement now. It shows that a control freak like me is capable of stupid/brave decisions. This was the stop-gap job that I stumbled into, that became a five-year stint.

[Actually, I should qualify: I spent six months in 1999 living the dream as a family history/probate researcher (!), during which time I barely earned enough to pay my rent or eat, and got myself into horrific debt, the remains of which haunted me until the middle of last year.]

I worked in a landmark-type building, the type you arrange to meet your friends outside. As for the show, well, it put me off theatre for life. Honestly - I'll do anything to avoid going. It's the worst kind of mawkish, lowest common denominator tripe and it amazes me that it's still running, albeit in a different theatre now.

The work was excruciatingly dull. We had to watch the show and light the turns (we never used the word actors. The male lead was always "top turn"). I watched eight shows a week. It was like being driven slowly mad by the same thing, day in day out, like groundhog day, only no Bill Murray in sight. We used to sleep-walk our way through it every night: it was the only way to cope. Luckily, the distractions were plentiful.

There were four spot ops, and we were on a radio channel on cans, talking shit for three hours a night. My colleagues were, on the whole, the best I've had in any job. Funny, quick-witted, talented, sparky – just goddamn fun to be around.

I saw some of these people for the first time in years this weekend at a celebration for Miss MW's 50th birthday party. It was an absolute pleasure. So many faces, but it's the timbre of the voices that take me back - those voices that I'd hear over cans every evening, cracking jokes, impersonating horses or relating the latest relationship breakdown.

I'm not going to lie - while I was in this job, I had some dark times. But with the benefit of some distance, I look back on my time at the Palace warmly. It was a ridiculous and pointless profession. But perhaps it was also the best type of job: there was no end product, no resolution, no deadline to be met, nobody to manage, nothing to worry about (aside from the odd technical hitch): if you didn't switch on your light, it wasn't the end of the world; if you happened to show up to work drunk, you could still make a passable fist of it.

When I consider my five years at the theatre, I couldn't put it any better than one of my old colleagues did on Sunday:

"Amazing really - for 24 hours a week, we showed up to work and spent the time laughing, and chatting, having the best time with your mates. Occasionally, we'd remember to light the show."


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Witch hazel

I've returned. And I feel...good, actually. Relaxed. Don't get me wrong, being able to look at the internet, watch a week's worth of Dead Set and stretch out in my own bed will be fantastic, but I am going to miss my Mum, and Bella, and the kids.

I spent Halloween dressed in a long white nylon wig and pointy hat, but we only saw two batches of trick or treaters (one group were my niece's kids and their friends). I was looking forward to scaring some children, but it wasn't to be. However, I can't blame the children for not coming out. Two days previously, about 12 miles away as the crow flies, there was a freak weather event.

November, then. Where on earth is the time going?