In which I ponder prettiness

Publishing, it’s a tough game. And consultants help in this game. While they’re useful and stuff it also helps if they’re decent to look at, a girl cannot live by red pens alone. So I’ve taken to pondering who the prettiest publishing consultant is.

Disclaimer: Yes, this seems random but will all make sense in time.


In which I relive a Christmassy trauma…

It’s December 8, you all know what to do (or, possibly, just the Irish folk). This is traditionally the day where Irish country people (of which I am one) beat a path to Dublin to get all provisions for Christmas. In our house today is Christmas tree putting up day. Always fake—so I don’t know what I’m missing by not having a real tree—and always a mish mash of ancient, beloved and sparkly new ornaments; not for us the carefully themed and colour coordinated tree…although if that’s what you like, go for it. Each to their own. Mam did go through a phase of trying to classy us up by buying porcelain ornaments, dainty bells and demure figurines. Somehow they always made their way to the back of the tree…by the way, I still don’t see why one should decorate the back, no one sees it! (Years of bitterness in that last one, every year my sib and I would get up at the crack, slam on the Christmas tunes (the realisation that George Michael is a man came as quite the shock, I never really got that from “Last Christmas”) and decorate hell for leather…only for mam to come in, shuggle the tree around and give out to us for forgetting the back (“just because it won’t be seen doesn’t mean it shouldn’t look as good as the rest”—some pre-pubescent grooming brainwashing there from Mother D).

My favourite ornaments were a felted (although obviously now balding), cute-faced Rudolph and a flat Santa slipper that adorned my mam’s Christmas tree when she was a kid. The jewel on the crown, the best thing about the sodding tree, was One Eyed Mary. I really wish I had a photo of her*, but I don’t because Mother D THREW HER AWAY. Like a thief in the night, a sneaking, conniving wench who takes her daughter’s favourite things and stomps on them. SECRETLY.

One Eyed Mary was the angel placed on top of the tree (every second year, my bro preferred the star. Meh). She had a silver, shiny dress, black hair, a wonky halo and, obviously, one eye (she did have two, but crappy bits of felt do have a tendency to fall off). I loved her without reason or reservation. Her inelegant demise was enacted after I returned to uni in January (shut it, am not ashamed) and the treachery not discovered until the following December. I don’t care who knows it, I howled. And, obviously, have not forgiven her. Nor shall I. Ever.

Anyway, where was I? Yeah, the last few Christmases have been different, with both of us living away from Ireland we always arrive home just before to a fully decorated house, which is nice in its own way. This year will be the most different of all, it’s been a strange year, stuff went down, there won’t be much decoration…but the tree will be up. So it can’t be too bad, right?

*See, however, the extremely accurate and also excellent drawing.

TBR pile round up…

So at the start of the year I counted the number of books in my TBR pile. They numbered (not including miscellaneous at work) 57. It’s coming up on December and I have the day off (the pathetic by-product of not going on a holiday this year and needing to use up holiday days, meh) so I decided to revisit the pile and see how many I’d gotten through.

Total number of books (physical, I’ll get back to this in a minute) is 50. A reduction! I won! I won!

Yeah. Anyway, sod it. I love books; you can’t stop me buying them, the very real and present danger of poverty can’t stop me buying them. It’s in the blood. I read everything I could lay my hands on as a kid—which leads to another thing I was thinking about this morning. I missed out, due to an unfortunate coincidence of age and possibly market forces, on the Lemony Snicket books as a kid. I was 15 when the first of the Unfortunate Events series was published and 15 was the age when I was allowed choose and read any book I wanted…until then books (not all, that would have been impossible given the sheer volume) had to be okayed by a parent for content. Purely for age appropriate reasons and I don’t begrudge it (although possibly the fight that resulted from my illicit purchase of Sleepers I could have done without). They would absolutely have approved of Lemony Snicket, but when the floodgates opened I went straight for Stephen King and John Grisham and oh, so many others. So yes, reading my first Lemony Snicket book at the tender age of 27, after a recommendation on Twitter last night.

See what I mean though (from the original blog post), someone recommends a book and I drop everything to check it out and, as often as not, buy it. So my TBR pile is destined to be massive forever. The thing that has affected the pile most, has, interestingly, or perhaps typically, been the entry of an iPad into my life. The number of books waiting to be read on that totals three. And there’s plenty of already reads on it. I’ve found that I like reading books on screen and the fact that where my iPad goes, I go means I always have a book on me. I say that though, but I always had a book in my bag anyway. So I’m not actually sure there’s a valid point there. It’s certainly easier to carry, so maybe that’s it. (Lets not go into my recent handbag downsizing trauma here, I haven’t quite adapted yet.)

So yes, there you go. In a year I’ve managed to reduce my TBR pile by seven. Which is in no way indicative of the amount of books I’ve read. Am doomed to poverty and possibly breaking my back carrying boxes of books the next time I move.

In which Tweet Treats invades…

We all know there’s just one word that describes me accurately. Yes, just one. And that word is philanthropic. I am (according to the OED), “friendly towards humanity”. Yup. Love me a bit of humanity. Not so fond of people, they get right on my wick, but humanity’s great…

Anywhoozle, where was I? So, I was casting about one day last April, bored with life, thwarted in love (almost unbelievable, I know) when I noticed an insistent little hashtag pushing its way into my Twitter world: #Tweettreats

Tweet Treats is (now) a recipe book composed of many, many 140 character recipes. 140 of those recipes were submitted by celebrities—sensing a theme? Yup, it’s a recipe book inspired by, created from Twitter people (tweeps, not twerps, no matter what your iPhone or private moments of irritation tell you…).

One such twerp (letting that one slide), actually, the ORIGINAL twerp, is Jane Travers. It’s her fault, she started all this because she let chicken thighs see her fear. Jane tweeted her chickeny dilemma, was overwhelmed with delicious, snappily written recipes (having only 140 characters to work with it a boon, at times) and she was off. A long, dedicated, pestering (I say that with love) campaign began to see how many recipes could be gathered, and who could benefit from their deliciousness.

Tweet Treats swiftly became a storming online campaign of tweeters—this is where I come in. When (yes, WHEN, go, do it now!) you purchase Tweet Treats you will see not only recipes from me (woot—try the chocolate biscuit cake (named Fridge Bars), it ROCKS) but also, also one from Sarah Brown, wife of Gordon and maker of a very yummy sounding vegetable soup. Yes, that’s right readers, I snagged that fish. *takes a bow*

So it’s obvious Jane couldn’t have done this whole thing without me. She’s massively grateful, she just doesn’t show it. Ever.

To summarise:

  • Tweet Treats, good eatin’ from snappy, hassle-free recipes.
  • Contains me.
  • Is readily available for purchase online or in stores.

And just ignore the fact that all the money raised from book sales goes to the excellent Medecins San Frontieres, I’m sure we can all agree that they don’t need the money or the support…oh…

Pre-Fringe calm…

So festival season is upon us. Edinburgh’s population has exploded, it’s raining, muggy, you can’t get on a bus for tourists and, generally, insane. Woot!

The Fringe kicks off on with half price previews on Thursday and Friday…canny (read “utterly stupid”) money-saving booking has resulted me going to six shows in two days. The timing for this couldn’t be better, I mean it’s not as if work isn’t horrifically busy, or anything like that…oh.

Anyway, first up is “What Remains” with the Traverse, it’s run by Grid Iron who are experts at site-specific production. This one is on in Edinburgh Uni’s medical school so is bound to be eerie. Then a break for food, drinks, chat and Jason Byrne who is always knicker-wettingly funny.

Friday has been renamed “Four Show Friday”, or, “The Day Ciara Dies”. Kicking off with a picnic (although this will inevitably turn into a sandwich under rain-cover), then Simon Callow dragging up at Assembly Hall (best/most impressive venue of the Fringe, I think), then Ruby Wax, David O’Doherty and Late Night Gimp Fight (a sketch show, but they promise gimps).

If I survive, I’ll review over the weekend. Yay for August in Edinburgh!

In which I burlesque up…

Recently (yesterday), I went corset shopping. Not the sort of lingerie I normally buy, tbh (because you all wanted to know this), but it was becoming increasingly clear that a corset was a necessity.

I attend burlesque classes. It’s fun and feminine and yes, technically it is stripping, but a classier type of stripping, yes? We do a whole dance routine around it. During our first few classes (way back in September) our instructor impressed upon us the importance of taking on a character, a persona, a name (no, I’m not telling*) and that the removal of clothes within the story has “contextual relevance”. So, for example, when we danced to the Pink Panther music, the story was that we were women masquerading as a male detective…as the clothes came off it was revealed (fnarr) that we were, in fact, women…not just any women but jewel thieves! (Guess where the jewels came from? Ha!) See, it’s cheeky, not slutty, seductive, not aggressive. Anyway, all of this led to the corset.

Soon we are doing an old fashioned “glamour” burlesque routine. With a chair. (I’m 100% going to fall off/over/trip/get caught in it, but that’s beside the point.) Our instructor suggested the corset as part of the outfit. So I dondered through to Glasgow. It was a bit of a revelation.

Did you know you’re meant to hydrate before wearing a corset? You have to hydrate and eat. You should be calm and relaxed. When being laced into it you’re meant to chat away as normal. This should ensure that while the corset is tight, it’s not so restrictive as to make you faint. You chose the corset size by taking a waist measurement, minus four inches. (All of this information from a very fierce Glaswegian lady who has been wearing corsets for 30 years…) There were mortifying bits; including being felt up by the fierce Glaswegian, “ooh, squidgy” was the highlight…hm. And, man, was I nervous when I called my friend (amazing moral support) over to see the end result…I should have videoed her reaction, it was both hilarious (an actual leap backwards and a blur of words) and so good for my ego (“your BOOBS!”).

I’m still not sure what I think about the fact that I now own a corset, I felt very aware, beforehand, of the negative connotations of a garment so restrictive by its very nature, that literally tugs you into the shape meant to be most alluring to men, that women have worn so tight that they faint, for vanity…but honest to miscellaneous deity, I loved it. I couldn’t have predicted the change in my attitude. In the space of two hours I went from hiding in the dressing room to flootering around the shop, perusing the other merchandise (there was a rubber and section…boggled) and generally feeling pretty damn good about myself. I was fairly surprised to find that it wasn’t as restrictive (both physically or mentally) as I thought, although taking off shoes in a corset…not the easiest thing I’ve ever done. So yes, that was my day yesterday. We immediately went for dinner and a truly excellent pudding, this was possibly my subconscious way of rebelling against the restriction I’d just placed myself under? I think yes.

Buying the corset was the first step, dancing in it is going to be a whole new mission…

* Actually, if anyone wants to suggest a burlesque name for me, feel free in the comments.

Seven things…

It’s surprisingly difficult to think of seven things people don’t know about me that I don’t want them to know. I could list seven obvious things, like how I have a touch of the drama queen from time to time. Or that I like books. Or that my hair is black…although, actually that could be one. Since I have a starting point, here goes:

My hair is black. Out of a bottle now, of course, but when I was born, right up until the age of 10 my hair was jet black, raven black. Aged 10 genetics kicked in and I went grey—100 per cent. Which is a pain in the arse, but now that I’m out of my teens (barely, obv), I can see the joy in having rather nice, silvery grey hair (not that anyone is going to see it for at least another 15 years).

To continue on with the physical attributes? I don’t know, maybe.

My eyes are brown, they are sometimes light hazel, which I dislike, tbh, they’re at their best when chocolately brown. I’m surprisingly vain. Yes, surprisingly. *steely glare*

I have no control over my facial expressions, you can tell exactly what I’m thinking as I think it. Which is a stone cold bitch, tbh. Also, when I am *cough* less than honest the pitch of my voice rises. Yes, I am delighted to be such an open book. I am equally delighted that I had to be caught out many times for someone to figure this tell out. 😐

I’m good at keeping secrets. Which is a damn good thing because people tell me theirs.

I can’t spell (without the aid of spell check/the OED/Google/much retyping) rhythm or rhyme, have trouble differentiating between breathe and breath on the spur of the moment, and recently discovered “judgement” could be spelled “judgment”.

I mentioned above the touch of drama queen? Well, I also have a touch of the gibbering crazies. That mad glint drives me to do stupid things and think stupid thoughts. Feelings of paranoia happen and whenever these rise up I require a slap in the face and a sharp “cop on”, which is good because that’s all I ever bloody get (thanks, lads) (OK, I lied, sometimes I get hug. Which is nice.).

It was suggested that I don’t have to be honest in this list, with this in mind I present you with three statements, one is the truth. Feel free to choose your preferred story.

  • I’m the mother of two adorable, yet utterly badly behaved children named Pubert and Pubertina.
  • I once dislocated my shoulder in a hilarious pratfall during a job interview a few weeks after concussing myself in yet another sidesplitting incident.
  • I do not have one tattoo, as I have previously stated. I, in fact, have two tattoos. The second (but chronologically first) happened in Boston after the Red Sox won the World Series. I refuse to disclose what it is, or where it is.

(This blog post, my first since January, is a result of being awarded a “versatile blogger” badge from @nettiewriter. Thanks Nettie! In thinking about this post aloud on Twitter, others felt the need to butt in (joking!) and tell me some things about myself…they are:

1.pernickety 2.eyeliner 3.stripper 5.clever 6.loose 7.funny

1) Young 2) Pedantic 3) Irritating 4) Irritatingly young 5) Youthfully pedantic 6) Pedantically irritating 7) Irish (from @janetravers)

(Updated 7 things from @marzillk, she gets extra points for not being insulting!)

I know you have a tattoo, you love em-dashes, you do burlesque dancing, you can’t mambo & your flat overlooks a graveyard.

This is interesting, because Irish came up twice, which I wasn’t expecting! I was also delighted to see “stripper”, “irritating” and “loose” there. You know me so well…Feel free to add to the many insults listed above in the comments section.)