Tuesday, December 23, 2008

the calm before christmas

Back from a festive trip up north to visit MC's family. Fortunately they are a fab clan - although manoeuvring the car in/out of the carefully landscaped driveway under the watchful eye of Mr MC is still scarier than any of my driving tests ever were.

MC and I spent what little time we had alone engaged in some hardcore heart-to-hearts, discussing that rather tedious yet hardy perennial of a bugbear: money. As with the rest of the world right now, it's a concern to say the least... And throwing a medium-sized wedding into the mix for 2009 hasn't helped our fragile peace deal when it comes to the M-word.

We have rather different financial priorities, and I have been spectacularly scathing about his, without realising how hurtful it was. It's a nasty family trait, this poisoned bluntness that seems to come all too naturally to me in recent years, generally after a drink. I have resolved to try to conquer it with immediate effect. The art of thinking before speaking urgently needs to be re-acquired chez zuzula.

As for our finances... Well, we'll see. I am going to bite my tongue and respect the decisions of MC just as he is tolerating my ever expanding wedding guest list (ahem).

One thing I will not be doing is wasting any money on thrift books. I have been charged with reading India Knight's latest offering - and by page 29 I'd lost the will to continue. Not only does 'the thrift book - live well and spend less' bear the unthrifty (thriftless?) pricetag of 15 quid, for which one gets such pearls of wisdom as 'go to a farmers market' and 'use freecycle' (well, duh) but the endless plugs for other equally expensive books and shopping websites, some openly run by friends of the author, are eye-wateringly anti-thrift (?) imho.

Further more I question the medical science behind shoving a load of ground aspirin pills on your face to kill spots: and what on earth putting cider vinegar in your hair has to do with saving money is beyond me.

It is beyond annoying that stuff like this is being peddled as people face fuel poverty in the UK. Surely the satisfaction achieved by saving a few pennies from sewing the odd button back on a designer blouse is not the sort of thing one should be crowing about in public at times like this.

I have yet to check the best-sellers lists but I sincerely hope this pile of expensively recycled advice hasn't found its way there. If you really want/need to save some cash, don't buy it!

Rant over :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Late again

Apologies for yet another blog hiatus: I am working my little socks off at the moment. I can honestly say I have never worked so hard in my life and, while it seems to be paying off, it's also one big slog. I can't remember the last time I had a lunchbreak and my much coveted 9-5 shift is inevitably slipping more and more into 8-7 territory.

I am now off for two weeks over Christmas so should be able to resume normal service here at last. I can't wait to spend some quality time with my blog again - I miss it, and you, so much.

Before I ramble on any further I must also mention a rather pesky bit of housekeeping. Where I work is clamping down on all things said in the name of The Firm. So it's more important than ever that all of you lovely readers in-the-know keep quiet here about my esteemed paymasters, because if it gets out on this blog, I'll be branded, edited and airbrushed faster than you can say 'goodbye zuzula'. Seriously. So please don't out me, okay?

For those who don't know - just sit back and enjoy the ride. It's honestly a lot easier that way.

Don't have a go at me for being lazy but I am going to break my 3 week silence with a meme. It's a very good one though - Geofftech tagged me a while back and I've been busy mulling it over ever since. You know the rules... if you want to have a go please do, and let me know here so I can check you out!

The meme is: 16 random things about me

1. I'm actually having to re-write this because I forgot to save the sodding word document I was doing it on. rather hilarious given that I'm supposed to be the office techie.

2. I can swim 140 lengths an hour without stopping but I can't run for toffee.

3. Losing my dad last year changed me forever. Not a day goes by when I don't ache for him. When I was younger we talked randomly about life after death once and he said if he could, he'd give me a sign. We were both utterly sceptical about it but he's given me so many. I'm really not sure what to make of it all.

4. I am a closet hypochondriac. I am secretly terrified that there's something seriously wrong with me and always fear the worst.

5. I love hearts of palm - I very rarely buy them because they're expensive and an eco-disaster. But they're so delicious.

6. My career is taking me into all sorts of uncharted waters at the moment. I am loving the tv thing but really what I want to do is retire to the seaside to grow veg and write novels.

7. I'd do anything to be 2 dress sizes smaller (except eat/drink less, obviously). Sometimes when something doesn't work out I blame my weight, even if it is utterly unrelated.

8. Wuthering Heights is my favourite novel of all time. When I was younger I yearned for the torrid destructive passion of Heathcliff and Cathy and when I got it, it nearly killed me...

9. ... But finally I've got it right. I have never been as deeply but calmly besotted as I am with MC. He's my lover and my best friend. I never believed I would find love like this.

10. I quit smoking 6 years ago but I still think a coffee and a marlboro light is the perfect start to the day... And a glass of chilled sauvignon and a fag is the best way to wind down after work. Sob.

11. I'm naturally left-handed but when I was small my parents and school made me use my right hand instead. I am now right-handed but think this is why I can't draw and why I also have a legendarily useless sense of direction... My brain is knotted!

12. I love speech radio and sudoku... And I'm only 31.

13. I have a birthmark on my bum - it's a perfect circle of dark skin about the size of an old half penny. I love it.

14. I have no double joints or interesting party tricks. But I do have a very husky voice that I'm told is quite pornstar (prob due to the aforementioned smoking).

15. I get as excited about christmas and birthdays now as I did when I was a child. I love celebrations!

16. I have 3 tiffany necklaces. The most recent was a romantic gift from MC. The second was a birthday present from a very old friend. But the first was a present to myself: after splitting up with my first big love I fled to New York and bought it as a symbol of self-esteem. I still wear it whenever I need a confidence boost.

Merry christmas folks...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Free drinks are a bad idea

We had a bomb drill at work this morning. It involved a tiny flashing blue light which nobody saw, a tannoy announcement which nobody heard and then five minutes of standing in a drafty corridor outside the office. It didn't fill me with confidence.

Have the mother of all hangovers after the work Christmas party last night. We were only supposed to have a certain number of free drinks but then somebody figured out that by fluttering one's eyelids at the barman, one could get more (feminism eh?). I teetered home in the wee hours and have been desperately trying to remember what we all talked about ever since.

So the perfect moment to have to give a one hour presentation about the day job, then. I have no idea how I got through it. At least it wasn't on camera, I suppose. I really am my own worst enemy sometimes.

It's only 4.30pm. Sob.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

camden sundays

The wedding was wonderful. Flaky friend actually did put in an appearance, and was utterly charming and humble in a way that made me feel terrible for ever having questioned his friendship. He's a PR guru, that one. I reckon he could talk the world out of recession if somebody would let him.

Minor crisis of the evening was MC having his cash card swallowed by the local ATM. He was partied out before me, so without thinking I dispatched him home in a taxi with the rest of my cash and my card - only to realise at 5am when the rest of us finally called it a night that I had no way of a)contributing to our rather enormous bar bill and b) obtaining a cab fare. I am eternally grateful to my best friend for coming to the rescue on both counts - otherwise I would still be sitting in a strange south london bar wondering forlornly how to pay for the lashings of pear cider (why?) We had merrily guzzled.

Today I had arranged to meet the fabulous Peabody for a general mooch around Camden. In the depths of a rather horrific hangover the sensible option seemed to be to drive over there.


I soon descended into a whole new layer of hell as my satnav sent me in the same circle around primrose hill 4 times before proudly announcing that I had reached my destination when I blatantly hadn't.

I was by this point half an hour late, and Peabody, having randomly arrived half an hour early from considerably further away, was esconced in a chalk farm pub all alone. I was texting her to explain my predicament when the police pulled me over to tell me off for using the phone. It was the final straw. The hangover, the lostness and my brush with the law overwhelmed me and I grovelled tearfully.

They let me off and even gave me directions to the pub so all was okay in the end. After a couple of hours of aimless pottering around the market buying random tat, we popped to Amy Winehouse's local, the Hawley Arms, for refreshment. It wasn't too bad in there - lots of police outside (I instinctively put my phone out of sight, even though there are clearly no rules about walking and texting) - inside was fairly small and cheerful, full of expensively scruffy-looking media types drinking red wine and guinness.

Didn't spot the Wino, although just as we were leaving some pissed up woman screeched 'you stupid c**t' across the bar so maybe she was on her way.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

fickle friends

How do you tell an old friend that they are behaving like an arse? One of my friends is driving me mad. I've known him since I was 18. We've been through a fair bit together and he's always been a bit flakey but now it's starting to feel like an insult.

I haven't actually seen him at all this year. He gets in touch fairly often and says he'd like to meet up. But as soon as I suggest a date, he'll ignore it completely, only to text again 3 weeks later to say we really must get together... And so it goes on. I don't get it - if he doesn't want to meet me, why does he keep asking? It's never me who makes the first move, as it were.

Anyway he is part of a group of 4 friends (including me) who are all very close. This year he missed all of our birthday drinks by saying he would be there then mysteriously having to work late. On saturday night. In a shop. He's also blown out my engagement drinks and our friend's stag do, despite only being up the road at the time.

Today is said friend's wedding day and just this morning flakey friend texted (he never, ever makes or takes phone calls) the happy couple to say he'll be late - which probably means he won't turn up at all.

I'm not a stickler for etiquette but surely this is bang out of order. It's definitely not the behaviour of a good friend, is it?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fancy schmancy

Last weekend I went to an 18th birthday party. I cannot tell you how old it made me feel. It was officially fancy dress (although of course, we left that to the yoot) - and there really is nothing more entertaining than the site of nubile 18 year old girls dressed as bumblebees and Britney Spears (pre-breakdown) attempting to inconspicuously sneak out for cigarettes. When you're wearing big wings and/or carrying a giant plastic python it's kinda hard to sneak anywhere.

Still, overall the results were impressive. The boys were in heaven (MC was very constrained until he saw Catwoman in skintight PVC. To be fair even I could barely control myself).

Interestingly quite a few of the, um, larger contingent went as cats too - they must have been gutted. 'It's so they can wear black,' observed a very wise Astarael. And as for the size 14 Amy Winehouse - that was pure genius. Especially a few hours later once all the eyeliner had made a bid for freedom.

Oh - and dilemma of the day: what's worse, finding out that your boyfriend is in prison or thinking that you've been dumped because you haven't heard from them? This does not relate to MC who is a wonderfully law abiding citizen, of course. But it is, in all seriousness, a dilemma for someone I know. Sometimes I think I must lead a very sheltered life.

Friday, November 7, 2008


I think I went a bit nutty last week. Various on-going irritations and other hormonal imbalances moulded themselves into one huge scary giant wine-fuelled Angry Zuzula at the weekend. Like a human hurricane I lashed out at the world and was surprised by how much it took before the world hit back. It’s not fair to test those limits. I don’t know why I do it. Well – maybe I do. Sometimes it feels like the only option. But it’s no excuse.

Anyway, I haven’t had a drink since. I think it might be wise to let the dust settle for a bit. But oh my – not drinking! What a revelation. I feel so much more alert, more active, more energetic. I’m eating less, my skin is better… it’s amazing. As I said to my lovely blogger friend Confuddled today, I am concerned that this new healthy lifestyle might just stick. How utterly ridiculous.

In other news – tomorrow morning I am having breakfast with Peas on Toast! I have no idea why she’s here, but she is… so it is my duty as a Brit to treat her to a good old fashioned English fry up in the best greasy spoon cafe in London. Mmmm. Bacon…

Thursday, October 30, 2008

ladies who...

Last night I rather spontaneously went to a gathering of chicks I've never met, who work in technology. A big step for me - I hate going to social things by myself. Once I get started, I'm fine, but the thought of walking into a room full of people I don't know and then starting a random conversation with them scares the life out of me. My usual style is to take a wingman/woman and spend the entire time with them, which I realise defeats the object of networking but is infinitely less scary.

Anyway I decided to give it a go and promised myself a swift exit if my courage deserted me. It's the initial bit - the 'hi, I'm Zuzula, who are you then?' bit that brings me out in a cold sweat. Especially when everyone else is already happily chatting and you're interrupting a conversation. I have hung around hopelessly on the sidelines before now, unable to enter the fray.

Pathetic, I know - which is exactly why I ended up in a Soho bar last night, clutching a glass of white wine while women around me chattered on about their latest technology start-up ventures. I was on the verge of giving up on the whole thing after just ten minutes (I really am that crap) when I was rather fortuitously rescued by one of the token three men in the room. I have long believed that I get on better with boys than girls - perhaps an unconscious rebellion against my single sex education - and this to me proved my point.

The Chap and I chatted away happily but, as is always the case, word was spreading about where I work, and before long I was mobbed by a couple of publicity hungry scavengers and torn away from my comfort zone once more. The Chap left shortly afterwards but not before pressing his personal business card into my hand, having already given me the company one. It was all very flattering - even if I am inevitably going to have to send him in your direction, Ms Confuddled ;)

After he left though, I met some other truly lovely people - some who are definitely going to be contacts and others who I hope may also become friends. I am determined to force myself to do these things more often - ultimately, it's good for the soul. Although hopefully next time I won't find myself chatting to a cheerful techie (her opening gambit was that she doesn't know how to make conversation, must remember that one) only to realise that a former fling is standing right behind her, taking photos. What the hell?

That was a shock to the system and a stretched my already exhausted bravado too far. I did what any sensible lady would have done at that point - I hid.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Some tyrant - I forget who, it could even have been a former boss for all I know - once said that people are best motivated by being cold and hungry. Well since our heating packed up and MC ate the last biscuit I can say with authority that I am both - but still not in the least bit inspired to leave the sofa.

Winter has officially landed in London. It's dark, cold and even wetter than usual. By the time I got home from work this evening I looked like I'd been swimming. My chic little mini umbrella was about as much use as a thumbnail of loo roll against the elements.

My jeans and jacket are drip-drying in the bath. This means, naturally, that I am approximately 24 hours away from my first cold of the season. Splendid. I must learn to fly south for the winter like every other sensible animal.

Oh - one piece of good news to emerge from the swamp today... The TV people loved my little feature so much, they've asked me to do another. I have to admit, I'm chuffed to bits. This time apparently, I am to 'green screen'. What on earth am I going to wear?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lingerie logic

I’ve just received an email from John Lewis department store cannily offering a pre-Christmas ‘gentleman’s lingerie academy’ in order to help hapless males find the perfect seasonal present for their beloveds. The store is basically offering beer and giftwrap to lure in the menfolk – which is pretty much what we ladies do all year round to reel in the boys ourselves.

Their press release, somewhat impressively considering the subject matter and the intended audience, is about 10,000 words long. I’ll spare you all that though - the two bits of most useful advice, IMHO, are these, and I present them as a service to all readers of this blog hoping to please the ladies (it might even get you an extra shag this Christmas, who knows?)

1. Buying lingerie for your partner can be a minefield of unintended suggestions, and sizing is the most important thing to get right – a thong three sizes too big could suggest that your lady’s bottom does look big in this. So, if you haven’t remembered to check the size she wears, bear in mind that it is probably better to buy a size too small than risk offending your partner. Silk nightwear such as negligees and kimono style wraps are an excellent get-out clause that will never disappoint.
(hear, hear)

2. While checking her size, it is also worth noting what sort of lingerie your partner likes to wear – is she a sporty type, glamour puss, everyday Miss Practical or perhaps she has an entire lingerie wardrobe! Our Lingerie Advisers can guide and help you to decipher the different styles of lingerie from full cup, padded, balconette to plunge, underwired to multiway.
(as the recipient of a few teeny weeny bits of flimsy see-thru fluffy things in my time, I support this too. That said, there is a time and a place for everything, and a bumper pack of black cotton briefs simply ain’t gonna cut it at Christmas)

It’s that simple. MC, are you reading this…? ;)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

15 seconds of fame...

Well, 1 minute and 50 seconds to be precise. Today I made my debut on national TV - presenting my first ever little section of the show. It was of course about webbery. It was also pre-recorded (scandal!), and naturally I have put it up online (there must be some perks to being the only person in the office who knows how to update the website, right?) I can't link to it here for obvious reasons but if you're that desperate to see it, drop me an email and I'll send you the link.

Making it was surprisingly scary. I thought I was so used to being out of my comfort zone in this new job that nothing would phase me anymore, but there was a lot to think about and the person who should have been supervising my virgin TV effort was... well, largely absent, to say the least. Fortunately the rest of the team took pity on me as I grew increasingly vocal about all the things I didn't know how to do and it eventually came together just in time.

I have to admit that watching it go out was as exciting as it was cringeworthy.

I hope they ask me to do it again.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

guys, what's up?

I've just been out for a drink with my landlady who has inadvertently confirmed for me a baffling pattern. She is, as far as I can see, the archetypal eligible bachelorette. She's cute, slim, blond, wealthy (and no, she doesn't read this blog) and everybody she dates will not commit to her. I have heard the same story from 5 equally dateable women this weekend.One split with a long term partner because after 7 years he refused to move in with her. What's going on? I don't get why there seems to be such laissez faire around at the moment. If the financial crisis is as bad as it looks, we're all going to need bed buddies for warmth if nothing else this winter. Time to cosy up, I would have thought...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Walls have ears...

In TV land it I have learned that everyone who's on screen - actors, presenters, performers, etc - are referred to as 'The Talent'. Hateful term but I suppose you can't really call them the eye candy. (Blonde Blogshell - you are of course the exception to all this darling!)

Anyway it's an unwritten rule that if you are not a member of The Talent yourself then You Must Not Upset The Talent. This means being nice and polite and friendly at all times - even if said showboater is unspeakably vile in return.

Yesterday, after a particularly unpleasant exchange with one of our 'talent' - who seems to have been rude to everybody else at some point so I suppose it was my turn - a sympathetic colleague sent me a commiseratory email in which she was less than flattering about said Ego-On-Legs. Only somehow, somehow, this email ended up in the team inbox. I have absolutely no idea how that happened. As she said to me afterwards... MSN from now on. Or is that under someone's watchful eye too?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

waste of time

So far today has been an absolute waste of time. The whole event is fit only to be filed under 'pointless-hours-of-my-life-i-will-never-get-back'. It's quite a big folder, as I suspect is the case with everyone who has a full time job. What's galling about today though is that it's not even office hours. I am wasting my own time. Ggrrr.

Firstly, the microwave caught fire.

Mother's reaction: 'what did you do to it?'
Z: 'I torched it.'

Honestly what the fuck does she think I did with it? All I was trying to do was heat some food, which I believe is the entire point of the thing. Anyway. The microwave was a gift from my 83 year old grandmother, who I am sure told me she bought it from Argos. Rather than upset her by telling her she'd given me an inferno as a housewarming gift, I decided to tactfully take it back and hope that, on account of the fact that it was still smoking, they wouldn't be overly fussy about whether or not I had the receipt. So I packed it up and carried the heavy box for miles, in the rain, back to the shop. Only to find she'd clearly got confused: the microwave isn't from Argos after all, and I have no idea where she bought it. Cue me lugging said heavy box back to the car again, still in the rain.

Then three cars - three! - in a row cut me up on the road, leaving me beeping and swearing and generally making every rude gesture possible, feeling like a raging bull. I saw red, I really did. I don't think I've ever had hardcore roadrage before but my God, was I incensed. My heart was pounding and it was all I could do not to just drive straight into the dimwitted wankers.

Decided to calm down by engaging in a spot of retail therapy, but of course, I couldn't find anything remotely attractive. Oh - and I've just got to the gym to use the spa (what could be more calming than that?) only to find the bloody thing is out of order. At least I can use the internet here which is more than i can say for home - yup, the Blackberry is on strike too.

I want to go back to bed.

Speaking of which last night I was flicking through the free channels, half pissed, when I found this random 'adult' show called Party Girls on Smile TV (not exactly a saucy name but there you go). It was quite possibly the least arousing bit of soft porn I have ever seen. Some heavily tattooed, orange Glaswegian lass wearing a very cheap wig and fake eyelashes writhing around on a sofa in Primark underwear pretending to talk into a phone which very clearly wasn't ringing despite her attempts to generate callers by licking the handset with pierced tongue. Still it did remind me to put out the recycling. I guess you get what you pay for.

Friday, October 3, 2008

time flies

It's been so long since I last blogged - I am ashamed of myself. It sounds so tedious to bleat that it's because I've been excruciatingly busy but sadly that is the boring truth. I have no more elaborate excuse to offer and I'm too tired to think of one.

I've spent the last couple of days locked away in a stuffy training room learning how to make stuff for the telly. The first day was very technical, both dull and difficult - a lethal combination. Today has been better but I feel like I have fried half my brain, and still I'm not quite sure what an oov is.

Having worked my little socks off on the website, the response from the team has been well, underwhelming to say the least. Maybe they hate it, who knows, but I wish they would say something - anything - about it. Sigh. They say that no news is good news I suppose.

Having a bit of a wobble this week actually. Everything is so new and my life is changing so fast. I feel like I need some time out to catch my breath. But you can talk yourself out of anything if you spend long enough thinking about it, and that, I think, is what I used to spend a lot of time doing. Maybe I need a holiday. Anyone fancy having a visitor? :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Stuff n nonsense

Lots of people have been asking me what exactly I’m doing in the new job. Well – in the absence of either a job description or, thus far, a contract (hmm) – it’s a bit difficult to say. Officially I am running a tv show website – which I am slowly getting to grips with. However in the last 2 weeks, in the name of work, I have also…

- Spent an entire morning in the studio pretending to be Jane Asher (don’t ask)

- Given up my shoes for three hours so that a presenter could look more fancy (does this mean I can claim them back on expenses?)

- Commissioned and produced a film and been asked to help produce a regular slot (I have never worked in tv before. I can’t stress this enough but it is falling on increasingly deaf ears)

- Traded jaffa cakes in exchange for technical wizardry from… well, just about everybody

- Upset traditional viewers with my (intentional) US spelling

- Drank red wine with the most stressed person I have ever worked with… who told me the team didn’t really get on with the previous web person. Aha. This explains a lot.

- Upset said former web person by getting rid of some VERY old links. She thinks they should remain. I think they are so very a) old and b) obscure that they are a waste of cyberspace. So far I have received one single complaint. Out of 1m viewers. Not bad eh?

- Discovered that everything I want/need to do seems to require a new training course. At this rate I will spend most of my time here in the classroom.

- Left work on time every day. Seriously. This is a complete revelation to me. People here work very hard but they do *not* work late. I actually have a life outside of the office (and it’s crucifying my bank account).

So, that’s me. How’s you?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

red tape

So, tomorrow I am going to make my first film. It's for the web and if I have my way it will only be 2 minutes long. I want to film this thing in the same place where we film the tv show - ie in the tv studio. Easy, non?

Non indeed. First, I need a film permit. A film permit to film inside a tv studio. Pardon me, but what else would I possibly want to do in there except film stuff? Isn't that kind of the entire point of a studio in the first place? But fine, I grit my teeth and fill in the form.

Next, the risk assessment. What could possibly go wrong during this 2 minute studio shoot and what am I going to do about it? There's a tick list. Is there a possibility that there will be a lack of oxygen? Venomous bites? Or, perhaps my favourite, bad communication from management? (Par for the course surely). Wtf. I find myself writing something about promising to ensure there aren't any cables lying around and wishing I'd never decided to do the stupid film in the first place.

Then, there's the cameraman. Are his lamps safety tested? I really am losing the will to live. I think I might just write something instead of filming it. At least I wouldn't have to risk assess my biro and notebook... Yet.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

tick tock

It's 6am and I'm annoyingly wide awake. There's a theme emerging here isn't there? I really must learn to wind down.

I'm on a big high though because I've found a fairy godfather at work who has taught me all sorts of new tricks and ways around a system I was beginning to think was unbeatable.I gave him jaffa cakes to say thank you. I learned long ago that biscuits open doors (not literally, cool as that would be). My predecessor, who sent me a note today complaining about a couple of missed fullstops (I shit you not) is going to go *mental* about what I'm going to do next. I can't wait! I make my first film on friday. I am absolutely terrified.

In other news (boys you might not want to read this) I'm in quite a lot of pain. I used a tampon yesterday with a plastic disposable applicator (environmental disaster I know) without noticing that the stupid plastic thing was broken. Ladies, I tell you this as a warning - if you're using those things take a good look at them first. I can hardly sit down at the moment. Ouch :(

Sunday, September 14, 2008

long lazy sunday

I've just come back from the local park fete. It was full of identikit yummy mummies cooing over organic lavender water and the like while their offspring clamoured to have their faces painted. Maybe I'm more of a city chick than I like to believe but these kind of events leave me cold. I don't want to join the residents association. I don't want to sign up to the local church and I really don't want to add my name to a petition for speed cameras every 3 metres along the road. I just want to, well, live here. I realise how mean-spirited that sounds, but I can't help it. I'm just not ready to join the local stitch n bitch club yet.

Anyway now I'm at a loose end and feeling even more petulant. I'm very bad at just chilling out - watching tv or reading a book for an hour. I'm so used to having a million things to do, and I always think I crave time out, but then, when I get it, I just don't know what to do with myself.

Sigh. What do you do to relax?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

my first week in telly land

I don't think I've ever worked so hard in my life. It's like learning to walk all over again - doing something familiar (writing stuff) in a completely unfamiliar way (for the web). I have learned that being around live tv is uber stressful. I have learned that politeness goes out of the window when you've got 2 minutes before you go to air and things aren't working. I've also learned that my predecessor pissed a lot of people off, which is either going to make my job harder (if they expect more of the same) or easier (if I can impress them).

Yesterday I went to a leaving drink and one of the producers told me he thought I was only 25. I nearly kissed him :) another said she is fairly sure that the bosses want me to produce a section of the show. Omg. My comfort zone is a long-haul flight away right now. But I'm thriving on it.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Life on Mars

It may as well be. The new job is exciting, stimulating and completely alien to me. Spent a predictable half a day persuading IT to give me access to everything I need to have access to (this battle is ongoing).

First interaction with programme producer: hello. Are you literate?

Z: am I... Literate?

Producer: yes. Literate. Can you spell? Do you know where apostrophes go?

Z: um. Yes.

Producer: well have a look at this then. Have I got it right? It's about to go on air.

I think this is going to be a tough team to crack.

I didn't even have time to speak to my new boss. I have another 24 hours of induction before I am let loose and I'm still terrified. And the emails! I have an email lake. I am swimming in a sea of virtual notes about running orders, interview opportunities, breaking news. Fuck knows what I am supposed to do with them all. With a bit of luck I'll find out shortly.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

birthday girl

MC is preparing birthday breakfast in bed while I'm lying here decoratively blogging in fluffy pajamas (shit, has it got cold in London lately. Cold and wet. Bed is the only place worth being).

We're off to soho this evening for a spot of celebratory caterwauling in Karaoke Box. Seven friends and I will sabbotage various party classics and hope our booth is as soundproofed as promised.I might attempt a spot of live blogging/twittering if I'm not too pissed to remember.

Yesterday was my last day on the paper. Weird. I spent most of it packing and destroying evidence... It's amazing how much you can accumulate in six years. My colleagues gave me a marvellous send off including a spoof front cover with a fabulous charicature of me, in sky high heels, clutching a giant bottle of wine, a blackberry and a photo of MC. They have so got the measure of me...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

one year on

Yesterday was the first anniversary of dad's death. I didn't handle it particularly well. I was an emotional ferrari all day - dry eyes to floods of tears in a couple of seconds.it was like super PMT. Anything set me off - driving over to mum's, a journey I have done so many times I could do it blindfolded (I even know where all the speed cameras are) I suddenly completely forgot which turning I needed to take. So I cried.

MC spent the day with us and even mumbled the Kaddish over dad's grave, bless him. He had to work in the evening and stayed behind for a couple of drinks afterwards. And yes, I lost it again. I felt so hurt that he didn't come straight home and I can't even explain why really. It's something he won't understand, hopefully for a very long time, I guess. I don't fully understand it myself and I've had a year to get used to it.

I guess grief brings out your inner child - fragile, vulnerable and in need of constant support. Unfortunately in the adult world this also amounts to the girlfriend from hell.

Friday, August 29, 2008

train musings

I seem to have spent most of this week on a train to something work-related, clutching a succession of tepid cups of coffee that are more closely related to soup in consistency (starbucks, have a word. Please. A nation of commuters is begging you).

And here I am again, on my way to an event that is so completely over my head it's almost funny. I've been invited down to leafiest surrey for a demonstration of various technical wizardry. The guest list is like a who's who of british broadcasters... And moi. Hilarious. Ah well. It's a day out of the office. Only one week until I start the scary tv job (yup, the fear has kicked in now. Am terrified).

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Down with the kids

I’ve been asked to write some online stuff for teenagers. Scanning the list I see the boxes this place wants to tick on its advice site include ‘ugly feet’,’stretch marks’ and ‘exes – how to move on’. I am trying not to dwell on the fact that the person who has asked me to write for him is also someone I happened to date briefly many moons ago…

Anyway I don’t know anything about teenagers. I am ashamed to say I have become one of those 30somethings whose acquaintances are either of a similar age to me or are still in nappies. So I thought I might just point the troubled youth of Britain in the direction of this. Because from what I remember the concept of how to avoid not getting laid (double negative but do you follow?) occupied most of the time, energy and conversation of my friends and I. Still does, for that matter.

Thanks to Almost Witty for sending it through. It has sucked hours out of my life today and been a very welcome distraction from the Powerpoint presentation I am supposed to be preparing for my boss. El Editor, it transpires, is not very familiar with preparing slides. I am also having to translate what he wants to say into communications jargon for the Big Cheeses he is presenting to. Thus the contents page is now ‘navigational signposting’ and our justification for doing something new because we think it’s cool is officially the result of ‘an audience-based editorial decision following in-depth consumer analysis’. I am rather enjoying myself.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Diamonds are a girls best friend...

And I now have three of them on the ring finger of my left hand. Today MC and I celebrated the end of the gruelling TV conference with a very successful hunt for the perfect engagement ring. Ladies, let me tell you that wearing a succession of diamond rings (at one stage I had them on three different fingers - in the interests of comparing/contrasting, naturally) is undoubtedly the most fun I have ever had shopping. Ever. It's shallow and materialistic and Kanye West would go mad but nonetheless it made me feel incredibly special.

It's not as easy as it sounds though - buying a ring you intend to wear for the rest of your life is seriously difficult. You don't want something that's going to look shit next season. In the end (after I had milked the trying-on session for as long as was feasibly possible) we went for a simple platinum band with three small diamonds set in - I tried on a few traditional big rocks but in the end, they just weren't really for me. Bizarrely I actually have quite small hands and they were completely dwarfed by the bling. Perhaps that's exactly what's supposed to happen but it didn't feel right. MC bought a plain titanium band to wear too - a very metrosexual gesture but I love that about him. So yes. We are officially getting married! It is still sinking in, to be honest. But it is very exciting indeed.

(Oh - I also want to give a little plug as a thank you to the lovely, crazy jeweller who took us under his wing and found the perfect rings for us. He doesn't seem to have a website but if you're ever in Edinburgh check out Argentium at 106 Rose Street. That is all)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

tv industry day 2

Okay, today has been a lot more encouraging. Perhaps the hangover brought on by last night's mediumweight drinking has made me more placid but I am actually starting to warm towards the tv crowd a little.

I also finally understand the fuss about Clay Shirky (sorry gang, can't do links on blackberry but his name is oft bandied around these parts in the context of him being some kind of web guru. I thought he was all smoke and mirrors but actually the guy really does know his stuff. Clay, I apologise for not believing your hype).

Unfortunately this epiphany coincided with the realisation that my move into tv could be a very short lived one as according to him there's not going to be a tv industry as we know it for much longer. Marvellous.

Speaking of the big move, the industry grapevine must be working overtime because practically everyone I've spoken to, at the point of hearing my name, has said they have heard about my job. And believe me, I am small fry. They must really be scraping the gossip barrel this summer.

Friday, August 22, 2008

the tv industry love in (day 1)

(Written on a blackberry as I refuse to pay 15 quid for the hotel wifi. Wtf?)

So I am up in Edinburgh, ordinarily one of my favourite places, for an annual meeting of tv industry execs (this probably means nothing to anyone except The Divine Miss M).Naturally, I am a mere scribe for the event, hence I suspect my desire to kill half the delegates already (and there is still a day and a half of this tripe to go).

On friday afternoon I attended a session about how to attract new people ('talent' is the lingo... Feel the pretentiousness) to the industry. It quite frankly made me feel like making a national tour of all of the UK universities informing bright young things not to bother.

First up: a production king who 'slummed it' away from his country mansion (I shit you not) to work 'undercover' (with a film crew naturally) in a hackney caff for 48 hours and find 'talent' that wasn't already sending him begging letters. His resulting appointment was, he said, 'raw' and had 'energy'. Yes but she is being hired as a researcher. can she use finalcut pro? Of course not. This is box ticking at it's very worst.

And then there was Smug Exec No 2, who is proud of the fact that she fished a media studies student out of Teeside and gave him a job as a runner on a bitchy london-placed production (probably on a salary designed to keep him 'hungry', quite literally). Has she really done this kid a favour? She's probably ruined his life.

The point is that it all comes down to who you know and they weren't even denying that. In the words of Smug Exec No 3: when you get a cv it's great to see what someone new has done, but it's also great to check them out with someone you trust in the industry, to whom you can ask the 'real' questions.

And don't get me started on Smug Exec No 4 (the least smug to be fair) who told the anecdote about someone who came to see her - this person had been on unpaid work experience for SIX months.

In my own little way I always, always look after our work placements and I also ensure that at the very least we pay their travel expenses (not meaning to sound smug but in my place this is no mean feat). It's no big deal... I don't go around giving speeches about it. It's just something that I quietly get on with.

jesus. It's going to be a long weekend.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Saturday was completely, unashamedly given over to drinking. My best friend and I had planned a summer party and with the added excuse of the engagement, we were seriously thirsty. It was originally intended to be an outdoor party in the park, with champagne and scrabble and the like. But British weather being what it is (shitty) we decided to compromise and re-diverted our party to a riverside bar in Tower Bridge.

As a rule I'm not a fan of chain bars, especially the more pretentious ones. But if you're ever in need of a good bar in the centre of town, you could do a lot worse than head to All Bar One in Shad Thames. It's right on the river, and right behind Tower Bridge itself; the trick is to walk past the bridge and then shimmy up a tiny little alleyway evocatively called Maggie Blake's causeway. You will find yourself suddenly off the tourist trail and on the river, with a selection of bars and (overpriced) restaurants at your disposal.

It was at the point when the sambuca shots arrived that the end was nigh. Three rounds later, each more imaginative than the last (who on earth downs double measures of Martini Rossi? Us, apparently) and it was definitely time to call it a night, despite the pleas of three boy mates determined to find a karaoke bar and party on. Perhaps at another time I would have joined them and who knows what would have happened. But I'm glad I didn't. Even though MC had to drag me away from the Veuve Cliquot we had diligently carried home (a lovely gift from Confuddled) when we got in....

Thursday, August 14, 2008

cloud nine

Okay, no announcement this time! The last few days have been lost in a vat of champagne and cake and congratulations and more champagne and more cake... you get the picture. Am slowly realising that while getting engaged may be lucrative on the free drinks front, it is going to be a nightmare on the actual wedding fund front. Fortunately for me I have met someone recently who seems to think I could make my millions as a voiceover artist. It is fair to say that a lifetime of whisky and cigarettes (well probably about 10 years in adult life) have given me sufficient vocal chord damage to leave me on the Madge Bishop end of the audio spectrum. 'The great thing about your voice is that, without looking at you, you could be either in your 20s or mid 40s' chirped my new fan. Talk about a back handed compliment.

Anyhow next week I have a session in a studio with a lovely radio producer chum and I have lined up a talent scout from *big talent agency* to have a listen. It does help when said vocal admirer is a senior TV exec I suppose. But still. Paid for reading aloud? I'm not sure...

Monday, August 11, 2008

An Even Bigger Announcement

Okay guys, something really very weird is happening to me. My life has leapt from relative stasis to complete whirlwind. First the new job, after five years stagnating in my comfort zone.

And now this.

My friends.

I am getting married.

I never thought I would write those words. It is absolutely true - even though I am half cut after a lovely, celebratory, impromptu wine/cake moment in the office (and we're on deadline which actually makes it all the more endearing) so please humour the nostalgia. My oldest blogging mates - Peas on Toast, Fake Adult, Confuddled, Almost Witty, Peabody, The Leak, Mrs Pop and all you others (including you lurkers - Google Stats, my dears!) - will understand how much of a fucking miracle this is. The Old Blog was a quagmire of hilarious emotional fuckwittage in which I genuinely believed I would marinate for life.

MC and I went away this weekend to celebrate our anniversary (it was exactly a year ago on Sunday that we first met, consumed a vat of wine and ended up snogging like mad in a west london wine bar). On Saturday we realised that we hadn't done anything remotely practical like exchange gifts/cards. But we were away so rather than spend a whole day shopping on our own we decided to limit ourselves to one hour of intense gift buying. I went conventional... clothes, aftershave etc. He emerged with a giant bag of something, and despite my irratingly persistent curiosity, we both agreed to wait until the anniversary day itself.

That night we went out for a gut-busting curry. I awoke on Sunday morning after a bad night's sleep feeling grumpy, full and generally annoyed with myself for having scoffed so many bloody onion bhajis (and let's not even mention the naan). We were about to exchange presents when he ordered me into the bathroom while he 'prepared'. I thought he was going to go down to the breakfast bar to get breakfast in bed and was wondering how on earth I would manage to eat any more.

Finally he re-emerged and led me back into the room. Our bed - a beautiful four poster dressed in white cotton linen and chiffron curtains - was strewn with roses. So romantic, I thought. 'Can you read what they say?' he asked... at which point I panicked. 'I *think* so,' I said slowly, thinking, shit, if I get this wrong, and actually it says 'cup of tea?', I am so screwed. But no - it really did say 'marry me'.

Cue ten minutes of 'are you sure? Are you really sure?' and ten minutes of crying. Which was nothing compared with my family, who shrieked and sobbed and wailed their congratulations through the resulting phone calls (am still half deaf); at about midnight I resorted to text because the average conversation was lasting 45 minutes and I still had at least 15 other calls to make before the B List found out on Facebook.

We have no time, no date, no budget and no idea where to begin. But there is a hell of a lot of champagne to be drunk while we figure it all out.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

And for my next trick…

Finally I can share my news. I still can’t quite believe it myself but, in potentially the biggest blag of my career so far, I have managed to get myself a job in TV. Not only in it – but potentially on it! I may have to issue a blanket ban on widescreen when that day comes.

The fact that I have absolutely no experience in either TV production or presenting is apparently not a problem (I was brutally honest about that; there’s artful blagging and then there’s downright career suicide). I start in early September. I was petrified of telling my boss but he seems to have accepted the fact, although he did send a note round the team today saying that someone else would be taking on my current role ‘with immediate effect’ so I guess it kind of sounds like he’s fired me. Still. No more print deadlines! Hurray!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


I have a very exciting secret. I'm absolutely bursting to share it with you but I don't want to jinx it. And no, I am NOT pregnant!

Hopefully I will be able to reveal all tomorrow :)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

He says, she says

I actually wrote this in a notebook last night because the internet had died at zuzula/mc towers. I originally intended to scan the paper and post that here instead of typing… but sadly the illegibility of my writing outweighs the authenticity of the post itself. So, this is what I wrote….

MC has ‘the boys’ round tonight (well, two of them. One very charming, who arrived bearing rose wine, the other a little more aloof. He hasn’t once made eye contact with me. Hmm). They have retired to the lounge, which has now become a den of kronenberg, leftover pizza, male guffawing and Rambo on DVD.

I, on the other hand, am reclining on the closest thing we have to a chaise longue, in the kitchen. I’m listening to Edith Piaf, leafing through Grazia magazine (which I generally find to be a mildly pointless read but it makes me feel stylish), enjoying a large glass of rose (see? charming) and having a very pleasant conversation on the phone with my grandmother about the delights of English honey.

So, the gender divide is alive and well… and actually I wouldn’t have it any other way. I really am getting old.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Man, it's hard having two jobs. Apologies to you all for neglecting you for over a week - you have been in my thoughts but I just haven't had a second to put virtual pen to paper and check in. However, as I sit here on a balmy Monday evening, approaching a 13 hour shift, working flat out on a publication which I swear would go to print more quickly if we were engraving it onto rocks (I'll leave you to guess which job I'm talking about), I have decided to take a mental cigarette break out here on my little internet fire escape.

I have learned a great deal this week. Firstly, you would not believe the motivational powers of a washboard-stomached, Parisian ex-streetdancing personal trainer called Thierry. How on earth else did I manage to sprint on the treadmill for half an hour and emerge with a smile at the end? Alas, this was a one-off free trial, and as he is usually £50 an hour I shall never again gaze into those big brown eyes and hear him say, in his husky French twang: 'Zuzula, you can do more than you think you can. Never forget that'. I won't, Thierry, I won't.

With this in mind I have decided to say 'yes' to everything this week. So when an academic I have been chatting to about techy work stuff emailed me today with an 'open invitation' to give a guest lecture at his very prestigious London university, I forced myself to respond with 'I'd love to' before turning my brain to the petty detail of what the fuck I am going to talk about. Who knows? Jack Kerouac wrote On The Road as a stream of consciousness from deep inside a haze of benzadrine. Perhaps I can attempt something similar. I won't, of course. But it's a nice thought.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

looking up

I’m loving the new blog job. After a busy day my blog boss thanked me for my hard work and told me I was ‘brilliant’. I floated out of work into the rain feeling fantastic. I can’t remember the last time my other boss said anything remotely complimentary to me. I think he once told me I was a strange mixture of brilliance and pathos (whatever that means), which didn’t have quite the same impact.

I decided to share this blog with the blog boss in the interests of openness (and also, let’s be honest, in the interests of not getting caught out, he is a blogger after all); I think he wishes I hadn’t. He said he ‘started to read it…’ and then trailed off at which point I realised that all the Angry Cervix talk probably wasn’t his ideal choice of lunchtime relaxation. If you are reading this, Blog Boss, apologies. I should have warned you that you might end up knowing more about me than is strictly necessary.

Anyway this week is turning out to be a corker. I am officially healthy and MC is finally getting the recognition he deserves at work. We are off to the seaside again this weekend (we may sound like minibreak maniacs but I have to make the most of it: MC only has free weekends for a few weeks at a time so it’s essential for me to drive him mad by booking them all up while I have the chance) and all is well with the world. If only I could create a hatrick of good news by winning the national lottery on Saturday night. Fingers crossed…

Monday, July 14, 2008


I have been having an internalised strop of epic proportions all day. It started badly, when despite my best attempts to get into work early, I found myself spending half an hour wildly trying on outfits and then discarding them again, wondering who had replaced my carefully coordinated capsule wardrobe with a random heap of rags.

Once I finally got into the office, I tried and failed to explain a particular intricacy of Web 2.0 to a colleague of mine, who's further up the food chain than me, only for her to tell me proudly that she didn't know what I was talking about and why should she; because after all she's never even watched a DVD before. Yes, my jaw hit the floor too.... and so did my carefully crafted feature.

I also want to book a holiday but I can't take any time off because everybody has snaffled up the summer months; we are only ever supposed to have two people off the rota at any one time which would be fair enough if it were to actually work that way in practice. Interestingly the person who organizes the thing doesn't seem that bothered about how many staff are off at the same time as her. I notice there is one day when I am in charge of exactly half the office with a full deadline to manage. I am tempted to take us all down to the pub and see what emerges at the end of it.

And finally... I'm out of cash. Fortunately payday is looming large but I spent my slush fund on getting the Angry Cervix calmed down. A necessary evil I'm afraid. It is now three weeks since the NHS promised to send me details of an appointment supposed to take place within the next 28 days. For all they know I could be dead by now.

Tomorrow will be a better day I'm sure.

Friday, July 11, 2008

sex and music

Are Arctic Monkeys successfully trying to become the new Pulp? Shooting up the ‘most played’ chart on my iPod at the moment is Fluorescent Adolescent . For some reason I never really appreciated it when it was being played to death on Radio 1 – actually that’s probably exactly why I didn’t pay it much attention. But the other day a work friend and I got very excited about a supplement in The Guardian about the lyrics of Alex Turner (yes, we are that sad) and it inspired me to pop along to iTunes and part with 79p for it (I wonder why they decided on that exact amount, by the way?)

I have a tendency to be rather snobbishly dismissive of young singer/songwriters. Especially, for some reason, the male ones. The sort who sing of love and loss when it’s blatantly obvious that the worst thing that’s ever happened to them was that time they forgot to hand in their maths homework (says this worldly-wide thirtysomething, cough). I imagine that, at the tender age of 22, young Alex is very much in the ‘fishnets’ stages of his sex life, or whatever the male equivalent is. Aussie Bum perhaps?

And yet somehow he does sound like he knows what he’s talking about. Every time I listen to the song though - and I racked up six repeats on the way to work this morning - I can’t help but think of Pulp’s track Live Bed Show.

You used to get it in your fishnets/
now you only get it in your nightdress (FA)

This bed has seen it all from the first time to the last/
The silences of now and the good times of the past (LBS)

See what I mean? Wonderful – but ultimately completely depressing, I know. Pulp of course is bleaker (well, we’re dealing with Jarvis Cocker here) but that whole idea of just not bothering anymore… I’m not looking forward to that. It’s hard to cohabit and still maintain that little air of sexy mystique (not that I ever had much of that) but it’s songs like these that make me determined to carry on trying (although MC did catch me waxing the other day – sexy? I think not).

What a load of drivel that was. Must be the eye-watering hangover that I am writing this through. Yesterday was my best friend’s birthday, and thus also the first night in a very long time that I didn’t catch the last Tube home at midnight on a school night. It’s going to be a long day.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Culture Shock

I like to think of myself as a broadminded, liberal media type. But even I sometimes find myself so stunned by human nature that I barely know how to react to it.

Case Study 1: An old friend of my dad’s, The German, was over from Europe for a few days, and invited my mother to meet him for dinner. She promptly instructed me to attend too. I don’t really remember The German much; when I was about four years old he bought me a giant cuddly frog, all wrapped in shiny pink wrapping paper, and I thought it was the best present ever. Dad always spoke of him as a wealthy, chain smoking business man with a penchant for fine wine and fast cars (and, as it turned out, my food. I think he helped himself to pretty much everything on my plate, tsk). I vaguely remember him being at dad’s funeral and thinking that he reminded me of Mr Burns from The Simpsons.

Anyway, we arranged to meet for a curry. Mum told me that day that he would be bringing his partner, who I assumed would be some glamorous fraulein dripping in diamonds. The German and dad were vaguely contemporaries in years – he must be around 60.

True to form, he was exactly as dad described (with just a hint of Mr Burnsage about him). I was however completely bowled over by the current Mrs German who, it turns out, is a twentysomething glamour model from Eastern Europe. She arrived wearing a teeny tiny denim miniskirt and a vest top cleverly angled to display maximum cleavage. She’s a non drinking, non smoking vegan with long blonde hair who speaks very little English. This is how I found out about her um, profession:

Z: So, Mrs German, do you work?
MG: oh… yes…
The German: yes, she does. You know newspapers like the Sunday Times?
Z: yes….. ah, you’re a journalist!
TG: not quite, you know they have supplements? And some of them have pictures?
Z: yes…. You’re a photographer?
TG: no… Mrs German is kind of more in front of the camera
Z: (loud crash of dropping penny): ahhhhhhhh. You’re a model
MG (huge beatific smile): oh, yes! (this is clearly the extent of her English vocabulary)

I was temporarily gobsmacked. It was all I could do to avoid asking what she saw in the aging millionaire who quite demonstrably had his hand between her modelesque thighs at that point. Mum and I laughed long and hard once we got home. And downed an extra bottle of medicinal rose to get over it all.

Case Study 2: I went to the toilet at lunchtime today for a fairly routine evacuation. Only to be followed in by an infuriating Canadian temp we seem to have acquired, who proceeded to stand by the mirror plucking out grey hairs and rather loudly making a dinner reservation while I aurally accompanied her from the stalls. Why the fuck did she have to go to the toilets to do that? At the same time as me? If I’d been her I would at least have had the decency to leave before I’d emerged to wash my hands. Ah well. I hope I put her off whatever she was planning to order.

Case Study 3: this weekend MC and I found ourselves at a fete in the Midlands village of Goadsby Marwood – a name which is surely more reminiscent of a gin-soaked member of the Victorian aristocracy than somewhere to buy homemade jam. We were alarmed to pass, on the way there, a little church in which lifesized superhero figures were tied to headstones. For no apparent reason,

The ‘fete’ itself consisted of walking into people’s random garage sales in the pouring rain. Perhaps the highlight was watching my friend’s dog resolutely refuse to wag his tail, thus losing out on the prestigious accolade ‘Dog With The Waggiest Tail’ in the village dog competition, the contestants of which appeared to be almost entirely plucked from judge’s own harem of pets. I found myself getting sharp pangs of longing for my London home in the comfortingly anonymous smog infested concrete jungle. That was a rural retreat too far.

Friday, July 4, 2008

the cat sat on the mat

I have spent the last 24 hours basically conducting an online writing-for-beginners class with one of our reporters. I am sure people pay dearly for these things in the real world. Perhaps I should investigate…

Anyway, this particular person has many talents. It seems though, that writing ain’t one of them which is rather unfortunate in my neck of the woods. Even more unfortunate because I am the person who usually ends up crafting her work into something less likely to give the editor a heart attack.

Sadly, she is all too aware of this. So she now has a new trick: putting absolutely everything into quotes. Perhaps she was a secretary from the 1950s in a former life; looking over her work is more like reading a dictation than an authored piece. I have mentioned this a few times but the point is not really sinking in. So yesterday I went for the Screamingly Obvious approach.

‘If I told you that the sky is blue,’ I said, ‘and you were doing a story about it, then you wouldn’t need to quote me as saying that. The sky is blue – it doesn’t matter who thinks so. If you wanted to use a quote from me I would need to say something that added some kind of background or colour or opinion, such as: ‘it’s because it isn’t raining,’ explains zuzula. Or somesuch.’

I feel like a primary school teacher. For this I spent three years studying literature. Sigh.

Ooh, in other news, I have been invited to edit a professional blog for six weeks! Predictably my boss won’t let me take a secondment so for the time being I shall effectively have two jobs, hurrah. But money for blogging… fancy that. I never thought people would want to pay me for my online witterings.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Hotels from hell

When MC and I set about planning our little Welsh mini break, we found a B&B that looked perfect online. Near the town, near the sea and very reasonably priced. It was also extraordinarily difficult to book, which in my mind just made it all the more exclusive and therefore desirable. Nobody replied to our emails. The phone would ring through to a mobile which didn't have voicemail. After about 11 days of persistence (you can see where this is leading) I finally managed to speak to the manager and reserve a room. He told me that he's often 'working' in the pub and that's why he'd missed my calls. I remember thinking it was strange that he didn't seem interested in taking any contact details or, for that matter, a deposit. MC and I put it all down to rural charm and old fashioned trust.

We arrived to find ourselves in the smallest double room known to man. Turning on the sink tap in the microscopic bathroom resulted in some rather putrid smelling water coming up out of the plug hole in the shower. The door handle - which looked as if it had been attached by chewing gum - was falling off. There was also something suspiciously pube-like on one of the pillows - and on our way out that evening we noticed water flooding through the ceiling into the breakfast room from the bedroom above.
We lasted one night, on the promise of an 'upgrade' the next day. We got back to find that our suitcases lying in our uncleaned room, with the door wide open. Our new room had stained sheets. It was 11.30pm. MC and I were drunk and tired. I thought I would just close my eyes and think of The Dorchester.

But MC sprung into action and somehow secured us an amazingly swanky new room in the most gorgeous B&B ever, right across the street. The Hellhole manager saw us leaving and didn't even ask for any money. It's not usually a policy of mine to name and shame, but if you ever find yourself in the gorgeous fishing town of Tenby, play mini golf, visit the Caldey Island monks , sunbathe on the beach, drink wine in small bottles (lots of), have dinner in the Plantagenet and try not to get shat on by seagulls (unlike us) - but don't stay at The Lynmaure Hotel. Apparently one of the owners died at Christmas and the other hasn't been seen since. You have been warned...

Friday, June 27, 2008


MC and I are off to the seaside for a few days. We're going to drink cider, eat candy floss and generally act like tourists without shame. I can't wait. This week has been utterly exhausting and I will be glad to see the back of it. Have a fab weekend y'all.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

what would Zuzula do?

Unbelievably, this was what my boss told a colleague who is being rocket-propelled out of her professional comfort zone, by him, right now, to think about. In all honesty it's not a bad thing - if she were in a rut that was any deeper she'd probably find oil down there. I'm not sure I'm the best role model right now though (this coming from the same boss who, approximately two weeks ago, told me I was 'off the rails').

And what indeed would Zuzula do? Well. Zuzula would quaff a large glass of sauvignon blanc before attempting to bluff her way through the challenge ahead with a heady combination of bullish charm and mild peril. It hasn't failed me yet.

In other news, this morning I saw the doctor. Turns out that, in a virtual homage to the vagina dentata (anyone seen Teeth yet?) I have an 'angry' cervix. Gggrrr. I am being referred to a specialist to find out exactly what it is that's pissing it off so much. The doctor said it's more likely to be 'a nuisance' than 'anything sinister'. Let's hope so. It's quite special to know that even my cervix is annoyed with me.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Too much information

(disclaimer: not for the squeamish)

Thankfully I am overall in fairly good health (touch wood). As a result I rarely come into contact with the UK's famously, um, underfunded, National Health Service, although each time I do it's routinely excruciating. At university, every single complaint was diagnosed as potential pregnancy. Laryngitis? Are you using condoms? Twisted ankle? Have you considered the contraceptive pill? Seriously.

And let’s not forget the horrendous embarrassment of the male doctor forced to give me a rather intimate examination earlier this year. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone quite so mortified at the prospect of me getting my kit off.

So it is with great trepidation that I find myself once more on the road to certain humiliation. Following a light spot of adult entertainment at the weekend I discovered that I was bleeding. As it’s not *that* time of the month something has clearly gone awry. For various tedious reasons (namely the number of times I have moved from place to place in recent years), my GP is miles away from my current abode, and getting an appointment there is more difficult than getting a table at The Ivy on BAFTA night. They only take appointment bookings at 8am. And with over 10,000 patients on the books, it is absolutely impossible to get through on the phone. Your only other window is 2pm when you may/may not get an emergency appointment some time that afternoon. But as I can’t exactly get there in my teabreak this is not really an option either.

So I did the next best thing. We have a national helpline staffed by NHS nurses, called (unimaginatively) NHS Direct. After giving four different people my address about six different times (apparently in case I passed out during the call and they needed to send an ambulance. Safety first! Jeeez), I finally got to explain what the problem was. The nurse, to be fair, was fabulous. Kind, reassuring, and the purveyor of some very weird questions. Is the skin peeling from my hands and feet? (is she running a manicure/pedicure salon as a sideline? I know our nurses are appallingly paid, I suppose I should applaud the ingenuity). Have I had any ‘internal investigations’ lately? (she KNOWS about the trouble at work!) and my ultimate favourite, was I having ‘natural sex’ at the time? I was tempted to make some wisecrack about that being a matter of opinion but managed to resist.

But yeah, there’s no escape, I need to see a doctor. My wonderful mother, of all people, has managed to burrow through the endless bureaucracy and get me an appointment on Thursday. I can’t wait.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Back in the room

Just returned from a blissful, broadband-free break on the Isle of Wight with my best friend, Ms Handbag. The primary reason for our visit was the festival - definite highlights were The Zutons, James and The Police; the less said about Iggy Pop and the Sex Pistols, the better. Overall it was great fun, but Ms H and I are clearly getting a bit crabby in our old age because, boy, did we find plenty to complain about.

The festival itself has got a bit big for its boots. What started out as a fairly small, cool homage to the 70s has inevitably sold out. there were some 80,000 people there this year, meaning that even the simplest trip to the fetid portaloos took at least 30 minutes. At one point we queued for over an hour to get drinks and were quaintly horrified by the amount of rubbish strewn as far as the eye could see. I'm sure this sort of thing didn't used to bother me.

One of our friends who was camping had £200 lifted from the pocket of his jeans as he slept, which is definitely not in the spirit of things. We couldn't even be too smug about our hotel accommodation as on the first night we ended up on the nightbus from hell. It took 90 minutes to go 10 miles up the road, looping interminably around a deceptively small town called Sandown. I honestly don't know how the driver managed to make a short journey so long without driving into the sea. The entire island is only 71 miles (metric folk, go figure) in circumference.

Anyway being the shamelessly fairweather festival goers that we are, Ms H and I had gorgeous rooms in a lovely little B&B on the clifftops of Shanklin, where I inexplicably managed to blow £210 in 20 minutes in the town's one and only decent clothing boutique (oops). We had cooked breakfasts every morning, then retired to the poolside for a couple of hours sunbathing and general hangover recovery time before inevitably heading off and beginning all over again.

On our last night (we stayed on after the festival had ended), even we couldn't face any more alcohol so we stayed vino-free in a lovely old country pub, then returned to the hotel bar to drink decaf coffee and play cards. Good clean family fun, for a change.

We really are getting old.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

MC bites back

MC has joined the blogosphere! I am afraid...

Monday, June 9, 2008

Hovis Presley

Yesterday I spent a good four hours sitting in traffic. Fucking south circular. The journey to my grandma's house is only 20 miles across London but if I manage it in two hours I feel like Lewis Hamilton. I might as well walk.
Anyway I soon tired of all the music stations (note to London radio stations. Can you please stop playing Timbaland’s stupid track Apologise every ten seconds. Enough already) and turned to the more cerebral Radio 4.
I got there just in time to catch the tail end of a wonderful little documentary about a northern British comedian I had never heard of. Annoyingly I only caught his first name – Hovis. However, I am a journalist, so, determined not to be beaten by the 8000 pages of Google containing mentions of the bread brand, I tracked him down.
And so, dear readers, I present to you, the late, great Hovis Presley. And courtesy of him the most lovely poem I’ve read in a long time:

I rely on you

I rely on you
like a Skoda needs suspension
like the aged need a pension
like a trampoline needs tension
like a bungee jump needs apprehension
I rely on you
like a camera needs a shutter
like a gambler needs a flutter
like a golfer needs a putter
like a buttered scone involves some butter
I rely on you
like an acrobat needs ice cool nerve
like a hairpin needs a drastic curve
like an HGV needs endless derv
like an outside left needs a body swerve
I rely on you
like a handyman needs pliers
like an auctioneer needs buyers
like a laundromat needs driers
like The Good Life needed Richard Briers
I rely on you
like a water vole needs water
like a brick outhouse needs mortar
like a lemming to the slaughter
Ryan's just Ryan without his daughter
I rely on you

© H Presley 1994

Of course after about five minutes of this charmingly obscure little cultural interlude the show ended and Gardeners’ Question Time started. I’m relieved to report that I’m not THAT old. Yet.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

musings in a short skirt

I am accidentally wearing an indecently short skirt in the office today. I'm sure it wasn't quite this small when I put it on this morning. Ah well. It's having a funny effect on my male colleagues. They have all had a good look - some furtively, others less so - and then been completely flustered upon making eye contact and realising that, yes, I did just catch them checking out my legs.

I'm writing a feature about different online identities and I'm almost tempted to 'out' the blog. It annoys me sometimes that I can't own up to it. I tell people that I blog and then go all coy about the blog address. It's been my guilty little pleasure for a long time and I'm not really sure why - after all, I'm a writer, and this is writing, right? But it just feels more open somehow, more candid, this way. I've blogged before about how Zuzula has taken on a life of her own and it would be a shame to take that away now. Besides, I wouldn't be able to brag about my bedroom skills in front of my peers, would I? And I certainly wouldn't be able to slag off my boss. Which wouldn't leave me with a great deal of material.

Anyway I'm not completely hiding my light under the proverbial bushell it seems (whatever a bushell is). According to google stats my little blog had 1500 visitors last month. That is just insane. Rather hilariously, one visitor found me by typing 'being a dissapointment' (sic) into Google. Thanks guys! I mean. Give me some credit. At least I can spell.

If I'd known you were all coming I'd have put the kettle on... I guess you'll have to make do with the short skirt instead.

Monday, June 2, 2008

domestic bliss

MC and I are now officially living in sin. The big move involved seven car journeys between our respective abodes and the new pad (round of applause to my little Peugeot 206 for being positively tardis-like with the backseats folded down).

The flat is currently in a state of carnage. The only possible explanation is that The Packing Monster shamelessly broke into my old place and replaced all my treasured, beautiful belongings with a pile of useless old tat. Do I really need fairy-shaped biscuit cutters? And why did I bring that old throw which I know has never been the same since my best friend, bless her, accidentally dropped her dinner on it five years ago?

Unfortunately for all concerned the real icing on the cake about the upheaval was that it coincided with the worst bout of PMT I have ever had. I rarely get it, if at all. But Sunday afternoon was a real tantrums and tiaras affair – especially when MC tentatively reminded me that I’d promised we would go to the cinema that evening to see the new Indiana Jones film (hint: don’t bother). Poor MC must have wondered what on earth he’d let himself in for. So I made amends at bedtime by, and I quote, giving him the ‘best’ bj he’s ever had.

Friday, May 30, 2008

london life

Last night, I had a second interview with a very strange little east london outfit who seem really keen to employ me but have yet to tell me what it is they want me to do. Progress of sorts: they have actually committed to emailing me a job description (which naturally hasn't arrived yet) ahead of our third meeting. I am not holding my breath.

Anyway far more excitingly I then met up with the delectable Peas on Toast for the first time after avidly reading her blog for years. I felt like I'd known her forever and within minutes, we were gossiping away like a pair of fishwives, indignantly waving around large glasses of vino. It was wonderful - and suddenly it was 3am.

Poor Peas exchanged her swanky hotel for my sofa and about 3 hours later headed off for the long journey to work.

I, on the other hand, decided I couldn't face it, and am still here, languishing on Peas' sofa, wondering how long it might feasibly take for, ahem, the boiler to be mended. Perhaps it'll be an all day job....

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

standing in the way of control

I have written something that I feel strongly about and I have a nasty feeling it may end up costing me my job. The people I wrote in support of love me; the people I wrote about are extremely pissed off. I can and will back up every single word but unfortunately for me the pissed off people are the ones who hold the paystrings. Isn't that just typical? We shall see. I can't really say much more right now, other than it is something I felt could not remain unmentioned. I do not have the support of my editor this time. The moral high ground is proving to be a rather lonely place.

Monday, May 19, 2008


I have just had to give a radio interview about the joys of HDTV. I tried to get out of it, on the grounds that I could write on the tip of an eyelash what I know about the damned thing. But for the purposes of this particular show they didn't mind, and so for one day only I am their official expert. Isn't it funny how these things work behind the scenes? Perhaps I should listen a little less carefully to what i hear on the wireless in future. Shamelessly though, I rather enjoyed the experience - so if anybody wants an interview on anything at all, get in touch. I am officially a media whore. Next thing I know, I'll be applying to go on Big Brother... possibly around the same time that Hell freezes over. I can't believe that's coming round again. Is there seriously anybody left in the country that actually wants to go on that show?

In other news, MC and I moved our first carload of stuff into our new home on Saturday. Books, candles and pot pourri (me) - cult action figures, comics and movie posters (him). It really is going to be an apartment of two halves...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

My night with Neil Diamond

Stricken with a summer cold, half way through a gruelling week at work and exhausted after a two hour appraisal, there was just one appointment in my diary that I was absolutely determined not to cancel.

Neil Diamond was coming to the BBC and I had somehow managed to guestlist my way to the hottest ticket in town. He may be old enough to be my grandfather (‘my vanity is greater than my accuracy,’ he said modestly when it came to discussing his age) but I grew up listening to the legendary crooner (with worldwide album sales of 125m I can’t possibly be alone in that) and I was not about to miss the opportunity of hearing him perform live.

He received a standing ovation when he walked out on stage. ‘You can remain standing,’ he rasped in that husky Brooklyn twang, at which the female half of the audience forgot about their hot flushes and swooned. Admittedly his dance moves these days are limited to a bit of well timed finger pointing and the occasional knee bend but somehow it all still works – and it’s electric to watch. Even us, the usually cynical hack pack, were up and dancing by the time Neil got to Forever in Blue Jeans – which he enjoyed so much, he did twice. ‘I used to like that song a lot… I’d like to keep it that way,’ he wheezed at the prospect of singing it one more time for the delighted crowd.

I have interviewed many a precocious one-hit-wonder who has recoiled in horror at the thought of being in actual contact with a ‘fan’. They should all take a leaf out of Neil Diamond’s book – a legendary songwriter with 40 top ten hits under his belt who managed walked around the radio theatre, dancing with the audience, shaking their hands and serenading them. Yes, by the end of the second rendition of the energetic Blue Jeans we were as exhausted as he was and it was a relief all round when he launched into a long introduction to the title tune of his new album, Home before Dark, as everybody caught their breath back. We didn’t even mind the mild evangelising that went along with it (he attributes his talents and success to God).

The thing with Neil Diamond is that you probably know more of his tunes than you realise. Even if you can only think of Sweet Caroline right now. He finished his BBC set with I’m a Believer, a hit he penned for The Monkees in 1966 which has been much covered since. And then he was gone. No encore – to be honest I don’t think any of those present, including him, could have coped with the excitement.

The middle-aged audience glided out onto Regent Street feeling like teenagers and vowing never to wash the hands that Neil Diamond had touched again. I did something that any self respecting thirty-something should do after seeing such an icon live in concert. I phoned my Mum.

Monday, May 12, 2008

past, meet present

This morning I was happily walking to work with MC when I saw a familiar figure ahead of me. It was the significant ex, and he was literally about ten paces away from meeting the current beau. I was completely freaked out about it. I'm not really sure why - the ex is part of another life, and not one I'm particularly keen to revisit. But the thought of two people meeting with one thing in common - me - makes my toes curl. So I slowed down, and took an early turning into work, and watched gratefully as he receded into the distance. I didn't tell MC because I couldn't even explain it myself. I've met the ex's girlfriend and been fine with it so really, there shouldn't be an issue. But somehow, there just is.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

not for all the tea in china...

There aren't many things that you simply couldn't pay me enough to do. Pretending to be a cowboy in order to present the results of the London elections, however, is one of them.

PS this is my first ever Youtube/blog post. Hurray for multimedia!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

isn't it ironic

Yesterday I met up with a friend who told me she recently spent an evening absolutely out of her little tree, courtesy of some prescription drugs given to her by Alanis Morrissette, chanteuse behind the oh-so-appropriately named jagged little pill album.

She even went on a facebook rampage, leaving incoherent little messages on the walls of people she shouldn't have. She remembers none of the above. She doesn't know what she took but she was totally battered by whatever it was.

It got me thinking. I can imagine a rummage through the medicine cupboard of Britney or Amy Winehouse proving quite fruitful. But Alanis Morrissette? I probably wouldn't smoke anything she offered me if I had to get up for work the next day but, prior to this, I wouldn't have thought twice about accepting a painkiller. Goes to show - it's the quiet ones you have to watch.

(Yes, I'm awake at 6am. I have no idea why either. I'm blaming Alanis).

tit for tat

I'm slowly learning how to compromise.

Case study one: The Boy watches Atonement (beautifully shot, multi-layered narrative about love and loss and misunderstandings) with me - and I in turn watch Iron Man (chap in metallic suit blows shit up).

Case study two: I buy a big pub lunch for The Boy's parents - and two weeks later he attends the Essex branch of the Zuzula clan's family party (which was a bit like the Ritz, only with a lot more booze thank God).

Case study three: We have found a flat. Oh yes. I am actually on the verge of living in sin. It may not be for the first time but I have every hope that it will be for the last. This boy is for keeps, all being well. Anyway. We're moving at the end of the month and the compromising is going to be endless. Should the spare room be a bedroom or a geek room? Should the posters in the hallway be Marilyn Monroe and Rothko or 30 Days of NIght and V for Vendetta?

But... and here's something weird, especially for a shamelessly material girl like me. I don't really mind. I would live with MC in a cardboard box surrounded by cheese (my food nemesis) if it came to it. Only don't tell him that. Because the Monroe portrait really does deserve pride of place...

Friday, May 2, 2008

So last night I donned a posh frock and took tea at the Ritz. Which would have been lovely had I a) not got soaked in a torrential downpour on the way there and b) watched in horror while the worst kind of Essex girl (yes, one of our party, joy) attempted to smuggle out a tea strainer in her cleavage before lighting up an Embassy No 1 outside and trying to seduce the concierge.

I always feel out of place around these brassy women, with their GHD hair and lipstick and French manicures and Tiffany hearts and minor coke habits. They spend so much time and money preening themselves to perfection - only to let themselves down the second they open their loud, crass mouths and screech "alwight, darlin'?". And yet they make me feel so inferior, so small, so... straight. I just go to wallpaper in their company, and try not to let them see my unkempt fingernails. It's like being back at school when you haven't got the 'right' accessory of the moment. Pathetic at my age, really.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


My flatmate returned from a trip to Germany last week and handed me a little souvenir. 'You must have loads of these already,' she beamed, 'but here's another one anyway.' With that she handed me a little wooden square with a Hebrew letter painted in gold on each side. I had absolutely no idea what it was.

'wow... thanks,' I managed to reply, painting on the world's largest showbiz smile. 'I don't have any actually... wow.'

After much searching of pictures on allthingsjewish.com I've finally managed to figure it out. It's a dreidel. I need to upgrade my genetic Jewishness and fast. Fortunately there's a great big family Jew-do going on this weekend so I can brush up on all things Yiddish. Shalom!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

more flat horror

Last night I swear I saw a mouse run underneath the fridge at home. I live on the top floor. How on earth did he get up there? The stairs practically kill me and my legs must be at least 50 times the size of his.

Argh. The sooner MC and I get our acts together and start proactively flathunting, the better.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Happy Mondays

I woke up this morning to discover that my bathroom had flooded. Typically, this has to happen while I am on a tight work deadline and my flatmate is in Berlin. Just to make things even more fun, my landlord doesn't have a key to the property at the moment, because last weekend the front door lock died so we had it replaced and I hadn't got round to sending him the new key.

He promised to come over asap - with the caveat that he'd just had his eyes lasered so strictly speaking wasn't supposed to drive. The man is a nutcase... but also a saviour because, true to his word, he did turn up and claims to have solved the problem (frankly I think the whole apartment needs replumbing but what do I know).

I also made my deadline because I managed to negotiate with the lady downstairs (a mum of two and the only person in the block who doesn't work), somehow persuading her that it would be a Really Good Thing for her to stay home so that she could let the lasered landlord in. Sometimes I think I should be working for the UN.

Then I got to work and discovered that my computer has died. I logged on at 10am and the spare computer is still rewriting my profile, email by painful email (there are 15,000 in my sent box alone). Poor thing.

Anyway the lovely news is that MC bought me peppermint tea and chocolate cake to cheer me up, and the blogger known as She of the Handbag informs me that she has purchased a pair of pajamas for me with 'ooh la la' written all over the legs. Every black cloud....

PS I removed my last post about the fantastically named HR lady because I realised that googling her bought this blog up first! And even I think it would be a bit unkind to self indulgently google yourself only to discover that an anonymous blogger was deeply disappointed by you.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

when branding goes bad

I have been meaning to write this post for ages but haven't been able to illustrate it until now. So thanks to foundshit - click here to see a complete monstrosity of advertising in its full glory.

Everyday on the way to work I see this van. And everyday it notches up my blood pressure a little. It is simply wrong on so many levels. Primarily though, I just can't get my head around the concept of using a stoned-looking Eastern European model with big tits to sell cooking oil. It's COOKING OIL people! It's that shit that you use in a frying pan that gives you high cholesterol. It is not a beauty product - and even if it was, I am hardly inspired to aspire to look like her, or even worse, to fuck her, are you?

It's taking the whole 'sex sells' cliche way out of its comfort zone. And it's driving me mad. I'm no marketeer (thank God) but surely this is not the done thing?

Friday, April 11, 2008

my life in six words (meme)

'Worth waiting for, but usually late'

Quoted from Smith Magazine:
"Six-Word Memoirs: The Legend" - Legend has it that Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in only six words. His response?
“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
Last year, SMITH Magazine re-ignited the recountre by asking our readers for their own six-word memoirs. They sent in short life stories in droves, from the bittersweet (“Cursed with cancer, blessed with friends”) and poignant (“I still make coffee for two”) to the inspirational (“Business school? Bah! Pop music? Hurrah”) and hilarious (“I like big butts, can’t lie”).

Here are the rules:

1. Write your own six word story.

2. Post it on your blog [and include a visual illustration if you'd like].

3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post, and to the original post if possible [so we can track it as it travels].

4. Tag at least five others with links.

5. Don't forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play.

6. Have fun!

Okay so I tag... well whoever wants to have a go at it really. Fake Adult, I reckon you'd be good at this. And Almost Witty, you too!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

the curse of white wine

Last night it happened again. I had a few glasses of white wine and ended up having a go at MC, who was doing nothing more harmful than trying to persuade me to take a taxi home when we left the bar. My lovely friend V thinks there's something in the proverbial 'jesus juice' that sends women a bit mad and I have to say I think she's right. So why am I still drinking it? I know it brings out the worst in me. It's really not fair on MC either - if the situation were reversed, and he was the one who got aggressive after a few particular drinks I would be devastated that he kept on doing it. It would probably end up being a dealbreaker, and that in itself would break my heart.

The problem is... I like wine. I like the taste, the texture, the cultural ritual of having a glass of it. Fuck, that looks so selfish and frankly lame written down - I have to attempt some willpower at some point soon.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

weird work

On Monday I spent the day out rambling with a group of radio presenters (I had to practically boil my jeans to get the mud out aftewards but I got a great article out of it - the walk not the jeans). Tomorrow I am attending a dance class in south east London, also in the name of work. I am terrified. Apparently a group of deprived children have devised a performance piece based around gun crime - and they want to teach it to me. Oh - and there's going to be a photographer capturing the whole mortifying experience. Eek.

Isn't it amazing what a big impact the smallest things can have? Today I am wearing a crisp white shirt and an amazing new foundation that I discovered yesterday during a lazy afternoon off, out shopping with MC (which of course was not work related). As a result I have been feeling uber chipper and groomed and professional all day - a shadow of my usual shabbier self.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

conforming to stereotype

I am as guilty as the next person of making snap judgements about people - usually not particularly flattering ones - and hoping to be proved wrong. When I first heard about a 9 year old schoolgirl called Shannon Matthews who went missing from her home in Yorkshire, at first I just thought the usual things about how awful these situations are, and waited for what I thought would be the sadly usual police report down the wires about finding a body.

Then I saw her mother. At 32 Karen Matthews is only two years older than me, and yet somehow she has managed to give birth to seven children with five different fathers (apparently the two who do share the same dad are known by the family as 'the twins' - despite not being anywhere near the same age). She was living with a 22 year old boyfriend who had been hit so hard with the proverbial ugly stick that it had clearly also knocked out any brains he might have started out with. They live on a run down looking housing estate and I have to admit, I thought, chavtastic.

So did the rest of the British press and there was much comment about whether Shannon Matthews was getting less publicity than Madeleine McCann (seriously. I thought the playground was bad enough. i didn't realise there was an A-list of missing children as well) because she was from a less affluent background. And wasn't as cute looking. It's possible, as horrible as that sounds.

Then they found Shannon, hidden in the bottom of a divan bed in her step uncle's house less than a mile from home. Wonderful. And then it got weirder... they wouldn't let her see her mum. Then the stupid stepdad was arrested for possessing child porn (not of the family). Then his mum and sister were arrested for assisting an offender, Shannon did see her mum and told her she didn't want to go home... and now her own mum has been arrested for perverting the course of justice.

Current thinking is that it may have been a money making scam - the McCanns say somebody had contacted them twice to ask, aggressively, for money for Shannon's family. Apparently there had been a similar storyline in an episode of an observant, funny British drama called Shameless, which is essentially about a chav family. Shannon's mum has confessed to knowing all along where her daughter was.

Who in their right minds could seriously contemplate staging the kidnap of their own child to make a bit of quick cash because they saw it on a tv show? It's so sordid and desperate and shallow and moneygrabbing that just writing about it makes me want to take a shower. The awful thing is that this mentality, education, situation is endemic in the UK. The teenage mums have spawned more teenage mums who in turn have spawned more... and there's not an ounce of intelligence between them. It's just terrifying. I suppose I must have had a lucky escape somehow.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

a fart in a hurricane

I would like to congratulate whoever it is who has organized today's procession of the Olympic torch through London. It can only be described as a fete of comic genius. Watching a succession of happless British 'personalities' attempting to half jog through a snowstorm while carrying a burning flame which inevitably kept extinguishing itself is so entertaining that I have just run further than ever before on the treadmill in the gym because I was so engrossed I forgot the time.

Special mention also to the billions of police runnning about brandishing their truncheons in what is surely some kind of bizarre tribute to Benny Hill. I have lived in London for most of my life and now I understand why it's becoming a more dangerous place. The police are too busy camping it up for the Olympics to care about the less showbiz side of crime - you know, the boring old rapes and murders and muggings.

This flame-in-a-snowstorm fiasco is almost as hilarious a concept as believing that people will happily gloss over years and years of the worst form of human rights abuse in order to watch sporty people run around a field and pat each other on the back when they receive a medal for doing the above. I am proud that the people of London aren't prepared to let this go without kicking up a fuss.

Friday, April 4, 2008

being a disappointment

Sometimes you just feel you've let somebody down - and there's nothing you can do about it. I managed to disappoint a complete stranger yesterday, when I received a text from an unknown number which said: 'were you being serious when you asked me out?' Being a person who immediately gets a guilty conscience, I wondered who on earth I had been talking to - when clearly inebriated - who had so badly got the wrong end of the stick. Then I realised that I haven't spoken to any strangers lately and breathed a huge sigh of relief. So I returned the text, telling the mystery person that they had the wrong number. And then - this is the heartbreaking bit - I got a reply. 'Aren't you Robbie?' it asked tentatively. No. No, I'm not Robbie. I don't know who Robbie is but I'm very cross with him for leaving me to sort out his commitmentphobia. Bastard.