Monday, November 9, 2009

Music Monday

My cat, Puffin. Yes, you saw him at the weekend, looking all wistful about happiness and ting, but this is him rocking out on Music Monday.

Did I run out of time and inspiration on the picture front today, or am I always going to feature themed pictures of my cat? You decide. A big and well-deserved slap for the first Sid James wannabe who makes a joke about my pussy.

Thanks for all the Tweets about the last post (trumpets not included) to the brethren on Twitter - much obliged and thanks for the kudos.

And while we're on the subject and I'm thoroughly inspired by all things Cheep and Twittersome, Mondays are now officially Music Mondays here at The Daily. Well, I say that, this Monday is. You know how the moods take me.

And speaking of Twitter, one of my current clients (for jokes about being a hooker, see threat to Sid James wannabes, above) wants to kill me every time I mention it. It seems to have this effect on some people. This means I have to go to our early Wednesday morning meeting armed and dangerous, which means I'm going to have completely rethink my outfit. Anyhoo....

Back to the music.

Seeing as the world definitely does not need just another music blog (and if it does, it wouldn't be written by me - Doris Day and Dolly Parton need no introduction, in my opinion), I'm just going to give you the heads up on three great music sites/tools. These seem designed for people like me who love new music, but wouldn't know where to find it even if they took up permanent residence between the covers of the NME.

These sites are also the reason why you no longer find me in the kitchen at parties. I'm now firmly ensconced between the pot plant and the vomiting stranger no one remembers inviting.

Hype Machine - I thought EVERYONE but me had heard of Hype when I found it, until I started mentioning it to people I know, and they hadn't. It takes the best songs that the best music bloggers are raving over or to and puts them all in one place, with some handy little features that allow you to share the musical magic on a truly global scale. It's interactive from many social networking angles and will have new music coming out of every single one of your many orifices. You can quote me on that. Why do I get the feeling I might regret saying that......?

Track in the Box - this is the latest offering from those ALWAYS cool (no matter what they might say) people over at The Greenhouse Group in their continuing mission to make new music grow. It delivers a brand new track into your inbox every single day - hence the title. How we love the tin and doing exactly what it says on it. I have liked every track so far, which is either proof of my growing coolness or a terrible indictment of their musical preferences. I think the former, but why not try it for a week and make up your own mind. Bet you a slap with a haddock you won't unsubscribe.

The Music File - I found these guys entirely by accident through Twitter, bless its chirruping little wordcount and this site has it all. Song of the Day. Downloads. Mixes for the Moment. And Radio - what more could you possibly want? Ok, ok, from music I mean. Visit, follow them on Twitter, hell, you can stalk them if you like, but go there. No. Don't stalk them really. They might never forgive me and I'm trying to impress them.

Oh, and have I mentioned Twitter yet? Because you should really join. Otherwise, by about 11am on Wednesday morning I'll be sporting a black eye for nothing.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Reasons to be happy....1,2,3. Er, and 4.

Cat's are the all -time, rock-out experts at knowing how to Just Be.

Photo courtesy of James Cartwright over at our very fave Southsea Salon, The Peace Cafe

This post is for Paris, who - after last night's Caravan Gallery launch of their unflinchingly fantastic Is Britain Great 2 (I was still waxing lyrical about the first one) bemoaned the loss of The Daily AND complained I never write about him, so here I am, killing two birds with one stone.

[For info: if I was really to kill two birds with one stone, I'd go for Celine Dion, one hell of a knock-out, skull bounce ricochet, and then Jordan.]

Paris was right - it has been ages since I was here and excuses I have none. I've been devoting my attention to getting back into the swing of working for a living again following several months travelling in South East Asia (see Que Sera Sarah).

This has taken more of my time and energy than I had expected because the '9 to silly o'clock' of freelancing is much harder than I remember. This is, in part, because a lot has changed for me since I went/while I was there and in part because as a result of those changes, I'm gradually reassessing what I want from what I what I do. In fact, I'm trying to make what I do the same as what I want, and what I want the same as what makes me happy.

Still with me? Good, because happiness is a lot harder than I thought.

You see, it's easy to be happy when you're travelling (notwithstanding plane delays, incomprehensible systems of public transport and compulsory testing for swine flu). Travelling life is as The Parker once said, a medley of extemporanea. Rise in the morning, go and see new, beautiful, awe-inspiring things, eat great food, meet people and sleep with the peacefulness of the truly enlightened (Repeat for duration of trip). For three months, my daily life was intense and at the extremes, running from terror to euphoria with the speed of an Olympian athlete and I have never been so consistently happy in my life.

And from consistent happiness came an amazing sense of freedom. Not just freedom of movement in the travelling sense, but freedom to be myself - after all, who cares about making a fool of yourself, making mistakes or making a mess when you're on the other side of the world?

For one thing, you're really unlikely to see most of these people again, so you can wear the egg on your face like L'oreal. But for another, the investment I had made in the whole trip - not just financially, but professionally, in the risk of losing my clients while I was gone, and personally, in the potential for failure - made it imperative that I not miss opportunities to DO everything, SEE everything, BE THERE for every moment.

So suffice to say, I learnt a lot. And, while travelling, (this one's for you, Paris) I couldn't help but wonder why I couldn't be this person - this fearless, confident, outrageously happy, creative and peaceful-even-in-sadness, stress or terror-Me - back home.

And although I loved travelling, gradually the desire to test the theory, and the growing belief that I could BE this ME at home, was what brought me home.

So here I am, living the dream with a set of simpler rules for life:

  • Be here now,

  • Be Me,

  • Love

  • Be Loved.

If it ain't one of these Big 4, I'm not doing it.

It's not always easy and it's not always fun.

Very often it brings me face to face with the self-constraining habits that have led to so much unhappiness in the past, namely: living in the future or the past, pretending to be someone else, hating myself and judging - or worse, blaming - others, and not allowing others close to me).

But it is rewarding, it is flying by the seat of my lacy pants, and it is working.

I'm going out more, meeting new people. I'm spending more time with the people I love. I achieve more. And FINALLY I'm working on a novel, with the help of those amazing folks over at NaNoWriMo.

Because being responsible for your own happiness is the key to success, even when you fail. And asking that first question, What makes me happy? is the best starting point I've found yet.

But you can't do it alone. I haven't.

As well as friends and family, there are people living their dreams right now, all over the world. They'll tell you it's not easy, either, but if asked the question - Is it worth it? - all would give you a resounding Yes, if not a resounding, Well, Duh. Obviously.

If you need some inspiration, I'd recommend a trip to Cambodia, but if that's out of the question, try some WorldwideWonderWeb inspiration instead:

Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project is not only inspiring, but a vital source of practical tips and hints for all things Pursuit of Happiness.

The freshly discovered Ally Jade's 52 week project tells its own amazing story about the role of creativity in helping us to Just Be Ourselves.

Some of my current fave great indie mags and fresh new entrepreneurs show us the value of pursuing - at all costs, with great patience and endless dedication - That Big Idea. Check out: Noir et Blanc, Yeah, and Knock Back.

If your big idea needs some practical assistance, subscribe to Lateral Action for a weekly dose of kick-up-the-arse inspiration that never fails to inspire - both practically and creatively.....

....and don't forget to check out founder Mark McGuiness' site, the beautifully named, Wishful Thinking while you're at it. ESPECIALLY if 'finding the time' is one of your number one excuses for putting off the things that make you happy, or could. His free (yes, my brethren, I said FREE) e-book Time Management for Creative People will change your life, if you let it.

But if you like your inspiration a bit sharper around the edges, you have to, Have To, HAVE TO find any excuse to lose some unregrettable hours in the Gaping Void of Hugh MacLeod - where healthy, honest to Betsy, hard truths come in cubes.

I'll let you know how my own yellow brick road to happiness - both personal and professional - goes. And in the meantime, why not let me know what makes you happy, and what your rules for happiness might be?

You never know where it might lead. Or maybe you do...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Heard over and overheard

Ridiculous lyrics in the Top 40 - Heard over and over this week (I listen to the radio when I work)

Let'shave some fun, this beat is sick.

I wanna take a ride on your disco stick.

Special mention to Shakira for getting the word 'lycanthropy' into a song.

I'm starting to feel just a little abused like a coffee machine in the office.

This almost, but not quite, tops the lyrics of her first hit: Whenever, Wherever -

Lucky that my breasts are small and humble,

So you don't confuse them with mountains.

Sugababes - Hey Sexy

I hate this song. Not because it's worse than usual dribble the Sugababes have degenerated into lately, but because there's just no excuse for badly constructed English. It sets a bad example to our youth.

When I'm drivin' in my car

Or I'm standing at the bar

It's no matter where I are

They say, 'Hey Sexy.'

It hurts.

Conversational snippets overheard, not necessarily recently.

Two women talking while bored man looks on:

Woman: We thought my son was gay for a long time, you know. He's only really had two girlfriends.

Man: And one of those was a man.

Howard: Friends are like gifts, with baggage.

A couple:

She: Does anything bother you about our relationship?

He: (Long pause) The only thing that really bothers me is the towels.

She: (Bemused silence)

He: That you just fold them up and leave them when they're obviously damp or wet. I mean, they won't dry that way. They just smell of mould. There's no logic in it. It just doesn't make any sense. Don't you think about it? When you do that? When you leave them out and they're damp?

She: No. I don't think about the towels at all.

The table behind mine in a cafe:

Man: You can't be adventurous and have a threshold!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Que Sera Sarah

Quit hanging out here! I've left! This place is so retro!

Come find me on my travels instead on my new blog, Que Sera Sarah:

See you there.........x

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

You say goodbye and I say hello

Crikey, it's been a while, hasn't it? I can only assure you that things have been very busy here in sunny Sarsea, and that I have been frantically planning the experience of a lifetime (or the first of many such experiences) - my travels to South East Asia for three months - Huzzah!!

Of course, the downside to my trip is that my blog here will stop for a while (plus ca change, I hear you cry!). But never fear my ardent little readers - and my ardent big ones. No, that sounds wrong - I am starting a special NEW blog, just for my travels. Don't say I never do anything for you.

I'm still working on the template for the new blog. Well, I say template, but I mean name. All my other names came really easy, but if you have any ideas, let me know. I would say don't take the piss, but I know my readers well enough to know that's a complete waste of time.......

Peace out, ma bloggers.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

an army of me

I am in the process of losing weight. It's official.

It started with a conversation about self-esteem with a friend of mine, the wonderful Steve Hender, who is also one of the best motivational coaches I know. Ok, to be fair, he's one of the only motivational coaches I know, but I am minded that this does not detract from his inspirationability. Yes, I just made that up.

Steve himself lost about 5 stone over a period of some months (I'm a little sketchy on detail), and hanging out with him has led me to completely rethink my self-perceptions and capabilities - which has proved to be a good thing, both personally and professionally over the last few months. As a result, at our last meeting we got talking about losing weight.

"I'm struggling with the mirror thing," I told him as we sipped coffee - Steve's personal obsession after real ale - in my favourite writing haunt, the Greenhouse Kitchen.

"Hmmmm," he murmured, "Interesting."

He sent me an appraising look.

'The Mirror Thing' is an exercise in self-esteem where, every day, you have to stand in front of your mirror - completely naked - look at your body, and say, "Not bad." And you have to mean it. I've been doing the Mirror Thing every day since February and I really struggle to mean that Not Bad. Most often it comes out in an icy tone that positively drips sarcasm onto my bedroom carpet (where it sizzles nastily through my medium shag-pile - it's melted a small hole through to the floorboards).

I explain this to Steve.

"Why can't you mean it?" He asks.

"I don't know......" My eyes slide towards the window as my voice trails off into middle earth.

"But if you did know," he insists, "Why would it be?"

I laugh. I love it when he says this.

"I guess I've been wanting to lose some weight for ages, so every time I look in the mirror, I remember that I want to lose weight and I guess I feel dissatisfied."

(As I write this, a man walks past the Greenhouse Kitchen window in a tan suit and hat and brown and white spatz - he looks like Bugsy Malone with glasses. No word of a lie.)

"You've been wanting to lose weight for ages?" He repeats.


"So why don't you?" he asks.

I stare at him for a moment, "Erm......"

I start to smile.

"So, you want to?" Steve prompts.

"Yes!" I decide, feeling lighter already.

I haven't weighed myself since I was in my teens and I'm now 32 years old. Scales have not been my friend. But, following a prompt from Steve, the following Saturday, I set my internal GPS on a route to Knight and Lee and buy my first ever set of scales.

The following day I have a long bath in preparation for my first big weigh-in. As I step, shivering onto the scales (with cold, not anticipation - the Loft has no central heating) I'm nervous.

The silver dial sparkles as it informs me that I weigh 12 stone. According to the BMI charts on my kitchen noticeboard, this means I'm officially a porker (that's science speak, you might have to look it up).

So, here it is. The plan. Steve has reliably informed me that goals have to be SMART (I'm not going to jargonise you to death here, if you haven't heard of it look it up - or accept my word that it means you have to set very clear targets for yourself to maximise your chances of succeeding).

By 30th April, I want to weigh 10st 7lbs. There, I've said it. It's out there. It counts.

I want to lose a stone and a half, following which I will set another target, based on how well I did at achieving this one. I started to watch what I was eating following my first weigh-in, which was on the 15th March and am currently weighing in at 11st 7lbs.

My next step is serious exercise. It would be handy if I was dating as I always tend to exercise then, but as that kind of ride is out of the question, I'm looking for a cheap, second-hand bike. It's got be cheap because I'm still saving for Malaysia. First stop Freecycling - ptp.

So, wish me luck. Watch this space. Hopefully over the next few weeks, I'll be occupying less of it.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The hours are stretching like the sheets on the bed

William Blake, The Ancient of Days. 'Nuff said.

"We'll hunt for a third tiger now, but like the others this one too will be a form of what I dream, a structure of words, and not the flesh and bone tiger that beyond all myths paces the earth. I know these things quite well, yet nonetheless some force keeps driving me in this vague, unreasonable, and ancient quest, and I go on pursuing through the hours another tiger, the beast not found in verse." J.L. Borges, The Other Tiger, 1960.

There's something about this quote that captures my late night, wistful-at-the-edges state of mind.

I've taken Jimmy B's advice - just another on the list of things to thank him for, including for the oh-so-welcomed comments here - and invested in a bottle of Bells whisky (the sassenach takes note of her recent spelling lessons). If you've never dabbled in this sip of scottish heaven, do it now. It's the late night writer's best friend for a reason and my early hours cigarettes have been waiting on a glass of Bell's as company, I realise, since I first took nicotine to my lungs.

While on the subject of Jimmy - I've recommended him before and I'll do it again. Follow the link on the right and you'll understand why. His recent posts on his wife and father showcase perfectly what the blogosphere is for. Keep up the good work Jimmy. I'm sorry I don't have the chance to comment in your pages more often, but I continue to lurk silently in the shadows of your site, and besides, you have more than enough company on your comments page. In fact, if I wasn't so sweetly inebriated, I'd probably be jealous.

Now, back to my personal quest for the perfect punchbag, and I'm not talking about my ex's.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

How far have you been?

I have an article to write and a press release.

There's an email from my best friend in my inbox from over a week ago that I haven't even read yet, let alone answered.

I have a stack of work a mile high and about fifty books to read.

I am fighting a war of attrition with my housework.

I need to book a flight and sort out jabs, passports and who knows what else for a trip to Malaysia.

Yet I'm still writing my blog instead of dealing with my commitments.

A voice in my head says, "What are you doing, Dave?"

Building on an ever outwardly spiralling cycle of avoidance, I spend most of the evening at the cinema with my friend Stephen. We go to see The Watchmen.

I enjoy it immensely, apart from an absurd 15 minutes when it seems as though the Director popped out for a few cigarettes and left the janitor in charge to co-ordinate the most terrible sex scene I've ever seen in my life. In the main though, it's visually intriguing, compelling entertainment, with some great characters - albeit they were probably even greater in the graphic novel.

Equally, if not more enjoyable than the film is the brief dissection of it afterwards with Steve, who read the graphic novel as it came out in the mid-80's when he was 15.

"I remember being sat in the playground next to my friend, who was really into science, and asking him, 'Is it really possible to exist in more than one body at once?'"

He laughs.

"It was the perfect age to read them."

As we walk through Gunwharf to the taxi rank, I interrupt him as I stare at the scantily clad females walking past in various states of undress and several different neon colours.

"Is there an eighties re-union happening here, or is this really how people are dressing now?" I ask.

"This is really how they are dressing now," Steve replies, barely glancing at the jailbait striding past us clutching faux confidence, and if it's survived this far, the last moments of their virginity.

"Shit." I answer, "I feel like I just arrived from Mars."

By the time I reach home, I feel a sinking sense that the world has gone to hell in the proverbial basket of hand. We're all doooooooooooomed. I cheer myself vaguely by reminding myself it was ever thus.

My life has too much in it and I am still locked into the habit of accepting more. Along with Ben & Jerry's, it's one of my hardest habits to break. Well, that and a habit of falling for the wrong guy. Or maybe the right guy in the wrong universe (if you're a believer in the parallels alongside us, that is).

The problem is that so much of the work I'm offered is just so damn interesting. The other problem is that it that I'm rarely getting paid for the interesting stuff. Fortunately there's a way through this, to achieve, as the great Sally Jones always advises to make this chaos work for me.

Of course, the main issue is that in order to achieve that I'm going to have to, yep, you've guessed it. Do more work.

This is Sarah, reporting from the world at large, signing out to commit herself to her ever-expanding workload. It may be a late one. I need that whisky now.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

walk me through this one, don't leave me alone

I have a friend who when asked about her religious beliefs always answers with a rueful smile, "The Lord and I have not been on speaking terms for quite some time, and I do not expect that to change anytime soon."

When I broke up with a long ago ex partner - after finding he had been cheating on me for weeks - it felt as though my heart had been ripped out through my mouth by a long-nailed demon with severe DT's. I remember sitting in a confused and weeping heap on the kitchen floor of my old haunt, The Heights, and trying to find someone, something at which to aim my impotent pain and fury.

I blamed the ex: but he had acted in a completely predictable manner, doing to me what I knew he had done to so many other women before me. I understood why he behaved as he did and whilst I am not sure that to understand is to forgive, to understand certainly makes it harder to bloody judge.

I blamed myself: but I had made a series of choices in good - if foolishly placed - faith, leading with my heart and not my head. It had been very beautiful with him in moments, and the price of intense beauty? Intense pain.

So I turned to the Universe, to God It/Her/Him-self, and I blamed It/Her/Him: but it's hard to maintain a sense of great vengeance and furious anger with a concept you don't believe in. Or a lasting conversation. Try imagining a pink elephant in a bowler hat (yes the bowler is vital to this exercise) sat in the corner and ask it/her/him for counsel and advice - then follow the advice the elephant gives you - and you'll see what I mean.

Gradually, and with many more heartbreaks, large and small, in between, I have come to believe that the point of pain and anger is to experience it, to sit with the emotions and try to do no harm while under their spell, but ultimately to use these feelings to understand better both myself and those around me.

I haven't felt much in the way of heartbreak for a while; I'm still avoiding that line of questioning, and of fire. Yet, the splashbacks that spray so broadly when the shit hits the fan in the lives of those I love finds its way to me anyway, and late last night, it did exactly that - when a friend told me some bad news concerning her family.

This morning, I find myself angry again, shaking my metaphorical fists at the metaphorical heavens and finding not even metaphorical relief for my curses. I may have put barriers around my own heart that no man will penetrate for some time, but my heart holds an open door if pain enters the lives of those I love. And I find myself back at that point of trying to understand why these things happen, and what I am meant to do with this helplessness when they happen.

My NLP trainer - latest t-shirt will read 'Steve Hender Accentuated My Positive' - has lent me a truck load of material that talks about dealing with anger, disappointment and pain. Jack Canfield says that underneath any feeling of anger is fear and that in order to deal with the anger, you have to work through your emotions and find the fear.

So what's the fear beneath my anger?

Maybe my fear is that if the world is this randomly cruel sometimes, then we are never safe; everything we treasure - the very things that we believe define us - can be stripped from us at any time, can leave us shivering and alone in a new reality that we had never dreamed could exist in our deepest nightmares. And all we have as human beings to arm us against that fear is the love we feel in any given moment, the bonds that lie between our fragile hearts, and the responsibility to cherish those bonds, right now, where and when it matters, because right now is all there is. And everything else is just an illusion, fools' gold.

And whilst the poet in me catches a glimpse of the glory of this human existence, this very human condition - our only meaning found in our transience, our appreciation of joy only truly understood against the experience of sorrow, and the inherent loss within love that makes our greatest gift at once our greatest sacrifice - the human in me struggles at these moments when the plans of a God I do not believe in (but talk about a lot, nonetheless) become personal, when its/her/his fingers move the lives of those I love as if they were mere pawns on a board.

I know the Buddhists would say that attachment is 90% of the cause of suffering. One of the reasons I find it hard to be a good Buddhist is that I believe attachment is also 90% of the cause of true joy. The aspiration for me has always been not to reduce my attachment to the world, to people, to beauty or to love, but to increase it, equally, so that I might feel the same compassion and care towards anyone I meet as I do toward those I have come to love.

Today, I witness my own pain (I miss you, Kate, I miss you) at the suffering of just a small number of people I care about and I wonder how anyone's heart could stretch to love the whole world that way, and how anyone's mind could carry the weight of living with the sort of sorrow we experience when someone we love is hurt, multiplied by, well, just about everyone.

I'm nowhere near that kind of nirvana yet. I'll spend the day working myself into a frenzy to avoid my feelings and I don't doubt I'll spend tonight in a wine-induced coma to do the same. I've got a long way to go on my Buddhist journey.

And the good Lord and I? Well, we've never so much as occupied the same room. I doubt we'll start speaking now.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

You look like a photograph of yourself taken from far far away

Check out the attitude of Micheal Phelan here

First things first, as Steve Covey recommends. You have got to, got to, GOT TO and did I mention, you've got to - check out the interpipe phenomenon that is Jimmy Bastard. Seriously. Click on the link of the brooding rugged guy in my Followers list.

Hard men are good to find and good friends are indispensable. Last night G allowed me to howl like a rabid wolf in his room (oo-er) for ten minutes, while he giggled at me from the other side of the room, shouting occasional encouragement, such as 'Yeah! Get it out of your system!!'

Then he introduced me to this, allowing us to set aside my pseudo sorrows for the rest of night and laugh ourselves silly on Damson Gin while speculating on the who's and how's that we would sing Lily Allen's latest to. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did, but I doubt it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

if they were me and I was you

I had a ridiculous amount of fun tonight with the fizzlingly ( I know, I made it up, I'm particularly proud of it), talking interpersonal behaviour, best friends and the joys and perils of love and fake breasts.

I love that our conversations are wide-ranging and eclectic, moving easily and effortlessly from questions of practical philosophy to frivolous gossip and girlish speculation. One of my favourite conversations concerned one of the obscenely good looking young barmen at the Slug and Lettuce, toward whom I traditionally begin the evening with polite respect and end with somewhat salivating flirtation:

The young man in question was collecting glasses at an adjacent table towards the end of the night as I turned and glanced toward him, then double-took.

I turned swiftly to Sally with what, in hindsight, I hope was a hushed whisper.

"Would you look at his arse? How can it be so simultaneously plump and yet tight?"

Sally rolled her eyes, grinning, and checked him out. She frowned as she stared.

"Yes," she answered thoughtfully, "I see what you mean. It's lovely."

We gazed in the same direction for a moment in silence.

"I think he's on the other bus," she declared, with a soft smile to me.

"Hmmmm," I replied, not shifting my stare.

A minute or so passed in silence before I met Sally's eyes again and asked with intensity, "Do you think that means he would mind if I asked to touch his bum?"

Sally nodded, thinking it through.

"No," she answered finally, "Definitely not. I mean, it's a compliment, isn't it?"


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Back in the days when I made my home in the marrow of your bones

I found this picture by Naomi Skarsinski and urge you to spend some time with her work, at once...

I've had a beautiful friendship couple of days, the sweet touch of serendipity into my life. I spent the evening in the Kings Tavern last night, after bumping into Southsea's own charismatic Lothario, DC, whilst I was smoking in the street reading Barack Obama's 'The Audacity of Hope'. He was with his friend J and they invited me to the pub. I invited Lynda and James and James invited Vinnie. We just happened to bump into Gareth, then Steve and then a handful of other people in the pub. We smoked in the garden while I drank a little too much wine and talked a little too much politics, walked home with Lynda and fell onto the couch and into unconsciousness.

Lynda stayed at mine and we went for a long breakfast, the morning papers, some more politics and some serious munchies. We took a long walk along the seafront and had a gently flowing, rambling conversation about life, the Universe and everything (including a bit more politics). It turns out Paul was right, and the greatest of these is love.

I dropped Lynda off at the Peace Cafe, bumped into the infinitely knowledgable, almost qualifies as cheating if you have him on your team in a pub quiz, Steve Hyde, and left Lynda to book herself a slot with the sparklingly magical Pixie herself, Sue George (book your slot at the cafe on 9283 0544 for her next appearance in March), had a quick chat with her gorgeous starman of a husband, Dixie, and headed off to the office for a few hours work.

I spent the evening eating pizza with Pixie and Dixie and giggling in delight with the beautiful GJ, who's on a flying stop over from Spain. All in all, priceless. I sigh contentedly and leave you with this.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I'll be looking at the moon, but I'll be seeing you

I love this picture, check out Pucky Learns to Fly on Flickr

Had a couple of glasses of whiskey last night, after a few glasses of wine and ended up staying up til the early hours with my friend, talking about life, love and our fragile, thirsty hearts. It's been ages since I stayed up til 4am or later. I'm blaming the whiskey, but I liked it. I've decided that tomorrow I'm going to buy myself a bottle. Of course, I know nothing of whiskey, so know nothing of which breed to buy. I wonder if I can persuade Waitrose to do me a series of tasters.

In my afternoon of recovery, I managed to watch most of series 2 of The West Wing. Is it me, or is Sam unbearably cute and does every girl like me (make of that idea what you will) want to grow up to be CJ Craig?

In other news, my cat has a personality disorder, which makes us the most officially suited couple of cats in Southsea.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Start Wearing Purple

Image by Djuna Barnes, make sure you check out her art and poetry here

After the excitement of a friend's birthday last night and a three way textathon that went well into the early hours of this morning (the crucial word for avoiding misunderstanding in that sentence is textathon), I was somewhat relieved when, at 10.30 this morning my 11 o'clock apppointment was postponed til midday. Particularly as I had not long been awake.

To celebrate my surprise hour of free time, I head to the Greenhouse Kitchen, my new local haunt. I love this place. It's a good size, the upstairs is always flooded with light (and in the mornings often completely abandoned, but for me) and the food and staff are fab. In addition, for a girl who has just discovered that her portfolio career is based on a mobile office (I love the novelty of unfamiliar jargon), there is a free wifi connection that the owners are happy for you to use for hours on end, providing you allow them to refresh your coffee every so often. Bliss.

On arrival today, I pass the time of day with the co-owner, before heading upstairs.

"There's one table left up there," he says, smiling," Have you heard of the Red Hats?"

I stare at him, polite smile on my face, assuming I've misheard.

"Sorry? The what-hats?"

"The Red Hats?" I shake my head. "They're through the back," he grins, "Sneak through and have a look!"

So I do.

In the back room, approximately 20 women of middle age or more are sat in a circle, talking and laughing at full volume. The energy in the room immediately makes me smile. I have a theory that a group of women (do women have a collective noun? Do men?! Should we invent them if not, or even so?) who are well and positively bonded can achieve just about anything due to this magical energy they exude. Just a theory, but the Red Hats have this energy in full amounts.

And have I mentioned that they are wearing purple dresses or trouser suits, and all of them are crowned with a different flamboyant red hat? I kid you not.

A quick Google search reveals that the Red Hat Society was started in 1998 in the USA and was partly inspired by the poem by Jenny Joseph, '"When I am Old." The members are women aged over 50 who regularly meet for tea and frivolity, and wear, you've guessed it, purple outfits with red hats. I find myself urging the years to pass so that I can join them. In fact, I catch myself imagining a Junior Red Hats Society for younger women who also want to defy society's expectations in the interests of having fun. Women are great.

When I take my seat, they are trying to work our who in the group has paid their subscriptions twice. Everyone is cooing loudly with their neighbours or across the table. Purses are being checked and amounts being calculated.

"Ooooh! It's me!" Comes a voice, from a lady looking bashful. A loud hoot of collective joy ensues. It turns out the woman who has overpaid is the treasurer.

"Well, it's lucky we found out," says another, "She needs the money now she's retired!"

Another wave of laughter sweeps the room. I cannot help but start giggling myself, attracting a couple of winks and smiles.

Needless to say, I'm so taken with them, I don't get around to reading my paper.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The coldest story ever told

Well, apart from the story of my bedroom, obviously, and you can read that as you will...

It has been almost a week, how can this be. Worse still, I'm officially 'working' right now so can't spend any time here anyway, but thought it was particularly important to share what I consider to be the best casual use of a cartoon cigarette in a music video - To Date. You might think there's a lack of competition in this category (and the NME awards certainly did this year when I suggested it to them, along with my other suggested categories, Best Use of a Padded Bra by a Pre-Adolescent Popster in 2008 (Eoghan Quigg) and Best Smouldering Eyes on a Male Vocalist Ever (Caleb Followill)).

Anyhoo. Enjoy. Watch out for the smoke, dog.

Heartless - Kanye West

Thursday, February 5, 2009

If you don't watch it you'll miss the dancing Garfield

I took this on my phone yesterday morning, walking back from an 8.30AM!!! interview at Gunwharf.
The world felt, looked and smelled (no, not smelled, in this part of the city it smells like a brothel's laundry) like an inspiring, welcoming and beautiful place and I wanted to catch it on my phone.

Alright Anonymous, you smart arse bugger - who are you? The intrigue is killing me! Alternatively, it could be like a magic trick and finding out will ruin the art, in which case, stay in the shadows my friend.... I was delighted with your happy facts about Stranger in A Stranger Land, and yes, I was referring to the novel, of which yesterday's illustration was used for the cover in days of yore. I would also have been impressed with anyone pointing out that James Warhola is Andy Warhol's nephew.......

What with the snow and all it's been a funny old week. By tomorrow night I'll have done four interviews and written five articles in the space of three days, which is a record, even for me. But I have met some ace people, each with their own way of inspiring, and each with their own particular passion. I'd love to tell you more but obviously, you'll have to wait for the magazine to come out and read all about it yourself.

It suddenly occurred to me last night that I've got my first paid gig as a proper feature writer and I haven't even celebrated yet! So, I've decided to save it until they're published and then have a little party at mine to celebrate. And you're all invited. Terms and conditions apply*

*If you don't know where I live or where to find me at 3pm on a Wednesday, you can't come. You've got until publication date to find out one or the other.......

Monday, February 2, 2009

I get all stupid and happy

Stranger in a Strange Land - James Warhola
(big points to anyone who can give me some trivia on this one...)

The snow comes silently in the early hours and I, entranced, sit up until 3am just watching it fall. I open the windows to the flesh-ripping chill just to catch a snowflake on my tongue.

Today as I walk to lunch at Churchill's, I remember the last time I was writing here about snow in Toronto over a year ago. So much has changed in my life since the last time I felt the slip of snowdust on my cheek.

I don't know if the change is good or bad, but know that it is, all the same. Life apparently does not need my perceptions of it to be its true bad self (literally? or street? Maybe a bit from a, a bit from b). Which turns out to be just as well, seeing as my perceptions change all the time, seeing the same streets, faces and days here as sometimes liberating in moments of new found or rediscovered beauty, sometimes choking me in a stranglehold of over-familiarity, depending on my mood, the sunshine, the number of cups of coffee I have drunk.

I notice these shifts in my perceptions of the same things more and more. But their transience does not make me trust my feelings less, or give them fewer moments of my consideration to try to learn what they may mean, what they try to tell me when they come back, again and again.

Instead, I try to appreciate my feelings as I do the snow, revelling in the entirety, the novelty, the sheer discomfort of its beauty, knowing that as sure as the sun will return, every last trace will soon be gone.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

To give my gun away when it's loaded

I notice the details of life at the moment. The hesitant yet ever present capacity for happiness in the corner of my eyes. The unspoken potential of the conversations not yet spoken. The light of each day drifts ever, softly, slowly longer and I silently celebrate the returning of the sun as it stirs my heart awake again.

I feel better.

Now how the hell are you?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Do not mess with Mr In-Between

"Will you miss me?" she asked, gambling the question like a bad lawyer.

He paused for a moment but did not look up.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Can you guess what it is yet?

Once a day Pauline would open the cupboard and she would reach for the gonads of Jesus, said Harry Potter. He flew on his broomstick up to the crotch of Antioch where the pubic lice of Satan were waiting to take him to the French Riviera and teach him to paint. His idealistic mind opened up a whole new dimension. It was intriguing to see Madonna's nappy, filled to the brim with steaming shit, on the washing line of Gloria Hunniford.

Well, blow me, said Gloria, when she saw the pants there, This would never have happened if the car hadn't rolled helplessly from the cliff into the foam below the surface of Mars, which is actually made from the sperm of Satan. This turned out to be good news for God, as she had completely forgotten where she had hidden this, and had been worried for the last few thousand millennia that Satan would find a way to reproduce.

However, little did she know that the duvet was made from clouds and the pillows from faery dust. It truly had to be the best night's sleep ever, only disrupted by the sudden attack of a swarm of burning y-fronts. Don't worry, said Harry Potter, suddenly reappearing, It's a magical infestation of Fire Pants, and he whipped out his wand.

A Heather and Sarah Original Story. Not to be reproduced without permission of the authors.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Voir sur ton chemin

Nathaniel: You were brave to face him.

David: Not really. There was a guard.

Nathaniel: Doesn’t matter. I’m proud of you.

David: I thought it would set me free but it didn’t change anything except now I know he really is insane.

Nathaniel: You’re missing the point.

David: There is no point. That’s the point. Isn’t it.

Nathaniel: Don’t give me this phony existentialist bullshit. I expect better from you. The point is right in front of your face.

David: Well, I’m sorry but I don’t see it.

Nathaniel: You’re not even grateful, are you?

David: Grateful? For the worst fucking experience of my life?

Nathaniel: You hang onto your pain like it means something, like it’s worth something. Well, let me tell you, it’s not worth shit. Let it go. Infinite possibilities and all he can do is whine.

David: Well what am I supposed to do?

Nathaniel: What do you think? You can do anything you lucky bastard, you’re alive! What’s a little pain compared to that?

David: It can’t be so simple.

Nathaniel: But what if it is?

Excerpt from Six Feet Under, Season 4, 'Untitled.'