Can I just start with the most middle-class, Cotswold drama to have occured this year at Christmas. Mumma B, setting her prized oven mits on fire, by accidentally placing them over a Yankee candle.
The best bit? Mumma B’s first reaction to my panic was to assume the vegetables were boiling over. I don’t think it quite trumps the time I dropped the Michael Buble Christmas CD in a tray of turkey fat, but it’s a close second.
Letters, Books, Pigeons: Christmas 2021
I’m going to start as we mean to go on, with this:
You know what? The more times I watch it, the more times I think there is nothing in here the great George Michael and Andrew Ridgley of Wham! would take issue with.
From the soundtrack to the casual bit of inter breed dating, I only hope, and I truly mean this from the bottom of my heart, that George Michael was able to watch this before his death in 2016.
(And if you think any of this is tragic just remember, this wasn’t even the worst thing I came across. Nowhere near.)
I’m Dreaming of a White…Pigeon
When it comes to Christmas, everyone has a different interpretation for what festivities look like. Some people have robins in snow, in Swindon we’ve got pigeons bathing in overflowing waste drains.
Beggars can’t be choosers.
While I’m not one of those who puts up decorations super early, I am a fan of Christmas when it does come along. Anything to get me over the trauma of Halloween.
Genuinely can’t be trusted to watch a 12-rated spook film without freaking out at the slightest jump-scare. Years it took me to get over Disney’s The Haunted Mansion, years.
I put up my tree…
…and proceded to smash up my beloved retro starburst clock, by attempting to hang lights off it. The entire glass dial, smashed into a trillion bitty pieces.
Mazel Tov! (Oh, wait, that’s the wrong religion.)
It’s always nice when Jesus graces you with his presence when you’re out and about shopping, even if his eyeless sockets are a little bit menacing.
We buy all these presents, yet not one of them is for him? So humble.
And I’m not going to lie, arguably the gifting has already peaked this year. That happened recently when my family teamed up to buy me a whole set of matching Next kitchenware.
My goodness, it’s so beautiful.
Huh? Sorry, what were we talking about? Oh yeah, presents.
I mean, at the same birthday I also got given this:
Honestly, the embarassment of opening this in front of my family, alongside Next kitchenware. Not just that, reading the blurb out! Trust me, it gets worse. Deary me, my cheeks were not ready for that leavel of red. (Thanks Matt, mission accomplished!)
Now this, this is the sort of tat I can get into.
(But not buy.)
Hang on a second, I’m sure I’ve seen something like this before.
My goodness, talk about nerve!
That was on sale for £2 less in 2019!
It set me up to be in a right unimpressed British emoji-type mood when my younger sister pointed this sign-board out to me.
No, just no.
Ignoring all of the random shop items, this year my best purchase has to be, without a shadow of a doubt, my new fountain pen.
I bought the pen, then proceeded to Google how to make it work.
There’s definetely something ironic in using the internet to lookup the basics of how to use a pen.
One of my favourite things I like to do every year is write Christmas cards. This year, with so many of my colleagues based overseas that meant a bit more spent on stamps but heck, they’re worth it.
I’m still at the stage of life where I don’t have five million of them to write out, and/or pressing life matters that see every night booked up from 1st August, through to 15th January. I can treat myself to the odd night of pure card-writing, jotting out personalised notes to those nearest and dearest. It gives me a kind of buzz.
What can I say? Some people have alcohol, I have cards. We both have wrecked tounges.
Terrible Christmas Films (No, Really)
When I write cards, wrap presents etc, I tend to stick on one of those terribly wonderful Hallmark-type Christmas films on. Predictable and, I used to think, unoffensive. That was, until I saw this clip:
THEY DON’T EVEN EAT THE FOOD!!
What kind of dining-out date is this? Nu-huh, I’m sorry mate, you can stop juggling those oranges, because if I’m not getting a look-in on that Tupperware box, then you ain’t getting this.
(Close friends have also pointed out countless other things that make no sense in this montage, however I’m sticking firm on the lack-of-food being the absolute worst. Three words; girl, gotta, eat.)
On that note… *returns to phone to scroll through her tailored Facebook adverts*
Serves me right for being an insomniac. And, on the topic of sleep, a late night pop to the shops to buy some milk and I spot this:
“…Does it come with a receipt?”
Oh, hey! Almost forgot. It’s December now, so that means my diet is even more whacky than other months* (*let’s be honest, my diet is hardly enviable). Did someone invite me to go around all the coffee shops, drink gingerbread lattes and not eat anything until evening, when I have a three course meal?
(Not that I ever want to have a three course meal, even two courses is an extreme for me, but because it’s December suddenly that’s a thing. Gonna get me a sweet, sweet latte, bigger than my tiny wrist can hold.)
Anyway, yes, yes that’s me. And I will read a book in there and no, you will not have a hope of kicking me out until at least two hours have passed, and not a minute before.
Unrelated note, does anyone else get life this after getting heavily involved with an emotional book?
“Walking through the dark and cold drizzel of town, after a 2+ hour coffee shop reading session. So full of mixed emotions right now, I genuinely don’t know whether to cry or feel inspired. Just me, or does anyone else have to take a lie down when the book feel get this intense?”
Turns out, it’s just me.
“Ink not coming out of fountain pen” is a niche search entry, I’ll give you that. Maybe not quite as popular as Ariana Grande but heck, you’ve gotta keep these traditions alive.
You know what? Stuff it! I’m just gonna book myself on a professionally accredited course to learn about unicorn magic…
…and go watch the Swindon Wildcats play down the local rink.
In fairness, it was such a good game.
Wait, There’s More!
Before you go, remember that video I included at the start of this post? Well, guess what? The creator only went and made an improved version and/or (to be honest I’m not entirely sure which) sequeal a few years later! Yeah, I know!
Better still, the soundtrack features the musical stylings of Cascada, covering Wham!
I was having a chat with someone at work the other day and it got me reminiscing about the first solo adventure I went on back in November 2018. Wow, three years has flown by! Since then I’ve been on three further solo trips and I can’t wait for normality to return once more so I can get back into exploring Europe without limitation.
I loved Bruges with all my heart, as much for what it did to me as much as its physical beauty.
One moment will forever stick in my mind. I’d taken it upon myself to visit a number of the churches in the North of the city, where very few tourists went. Alone in Sint-Walburgakerk church, an elderly volunteer, latching onto the excuse to perform, struck up the organ and began to play the most beautiful music. With every gentle note I started to reflect, thinking about all the things I’d accomplished in such a short space of time. I’d gone from being put down as the timid country mouse studying History and clearing wedding tables at 2am, to a smartly-dressed Financial Services professional, working in the City of London. And in a that I was there, in that church, travelling without anyone’s permission, approval or, indeed, moaning. I didn’t need to justify myself to anyone, not anymore. I was me.
In the same way I’d found myself silently weeping in Prague a year ago, over someone who’d rather sit in the hotel room 50 yards away than be with me, I was crying again. But this time something was different; the tears tracing down my hot flushed cheeks weren’t bitter, nor cold, they tasted sweet. In an empty church in Bruges, I was hit with a sudden burst of clarity. After all this time, I’d finally discovered what my heart had been missing all along. I was proud of myself.
Bruges was just incredible, second only to Arvon writing course (but then, to compare the two experiences would be like comparing chalk to cheese).
Most of you will have seen this already but hell, I’m sharing it again. Here is the Windows Movie Maker video I put together after I got back from my first solo city break to Bruges. Filmed on a (very) humble iPhone 5.
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You know how it is. It’s a Friday night, you’re a single woman with the world at your fingertips and anything is possible. You could go out, let your hair down or…you could stay in and give your kitchen a deep clean.
Thing is, I’m not even embarrassed to admit this. In the same way I’m not at all ashamed to say the only bottles this girl was demolishing the other night were these:
(Obviously in non-drinking, sense. Please don’t call 111.)
With cleaning plans firmly lodged in my head, I changed out of my dress and put on a black vest, thus transforming me into a low-budget search engine result for “contemporary dancer near me”.
(No refunds for crimes against the aeroplane dance move.)
First item in my line of cleaning sight (yes, this was genuinely how I spent my Friday night), the fridge. Breaking this mighty deliverable down into smaller, manageable, chunks (who said bringing the day job into personal life isn’t exotic?), I went for the bottom drawer first.
This was followed by a healthy amount of neighbour stalking / Alice rambling (feat. actual cleaning).
Several hours later, and after inhaling quite a considerable about of cleaning fumes in a confined space, this happened.
I’m not going to explain nor apologise. I sent it to my close friends and the responses speak for themselves.
So that’s how I spent my crazy Friday night, what about you?
Now, I’m no super fan, nor am I Scottish-leaning (I’m actually part Welsh. 75% English, but I like to pull the minority card when stuffing my face full of Welsh cakes – “I can’t help it, I’m genetically programmed!”)
Twenty seconds in the old popty microdon and seriously, I’ll do pretty much anything for these sweet babies.
*Deep sigh*, God, I love Welsh cakes.
Sorry, what were we talking about? Oh yeah, football.
I’m not a massive football obsessive, BUT I couldn’t help watch the outcome of tonight’s Euro match of England versus Scotland and be strongly reminded of a series of targeted advertisements that were doing the rounds earlier this week.
All I’m going to do is put this here:
And all I’m going to say is this: hahahahahahahahahaha.
My final thoughts? Pelting both teams with plates of Welsh cakes would have made the match more interesting. (Just sayin’.)
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By now pretty much everyone in Europe will be aware that Britain’s entrant for this year’s (2021) Eurovision scored 0 points.
For those who haven’t already seen/heard it…
Compare this to Germany’s entry…
Germany scored 3 points. At the risk of eroding the UK’s diplomatic relations with Europe further, 3 points was plenty.
And before you go all “Alice, you’re from Britain so naturally you’re going to be a sore loser about this” – well, do you remember Daz Sampson? Back from the 2006 Eurovision in Athens?
Let me refresh you.
Daz Sampson was originally part of Uniting Nations, the duo that, in fairness, brought out this one-hit wonder in 2005:
(Side note, was I the only person deeply uncomfortable with the trend to sexualise women in music videos, even back then? Why was this an acceptable thing?!)
Needless to say, the guy knew how to make a club banger.
But when it came to our Eurovision entry, we got this:
Basically the same setup from Out of Touch, but in a school setting, with DJ turnstiles, none of the tune status and, to quote one YouTube comment, “your drunken Dad trying to rap at a wedding.”
This is the edited version, in the XXX director’s cut I’d wager the women get on the desks while Daz fans their awkward dancing with cue cards and revision notes.
I mean, just look at the album artwork.
The wannabe hard guy who peddles drugs at the school gates and then tries it on with the 16 year-olds, even though he’s 45 and still lives with his mum. Tell me I’m wrong.
The best bit? We got 25 points that year, 25! By British scoring standards that’s alright, a fair crack of the whip. So please, please don’t tell me that the 2021 entry is of inferior quality compared to that. Don’t tell me it levels with Britain’s only other nil point entrant from back in 2003.
To quote the article, “will the dynamic duo make it to Eurovision?” Well no, they didn’t.
Ironically, Belarus went for another song called “I’ll teach you” which was itself disqualified on account of it’s heavy political agenda, mocking of the ongoing peaceful protests against recent election results. Lyrics (translated into English) here.
Make of that what you will.
I wonder why the country weren’t prepared to enter Daz’s number?
Honestly, I have no words left to say and a cupboard that’s now chronically low on alcohol.
Having been cooped up for what feels like a lifetime, I was overjoyed to hear that Eurovision is going ahead again this year.
In celebration of this wonderfully cheesy event, here are a selection of songs which could describe the stages of British reactions to Covid (anything to make this a bit more topical).
British Politics, as Told Through the Medium of Eurovision Songs
Before Covid, everything was wonderfully normal and all we had to worry about was accidentally winding up on a date with someone you think is famous, but is actually the Bruno Mars tribute act playing at your best mate’s wedding
That, or the effects of drinking river water contaminated by the chicken farm upstream.
And then Covid kicked off, and suddenly it was like we were being plunged into a world were being happy wasn’t allowed.
Stuck at home, everyone took to bombarding social media with photos of their baking and back-garden boozing (often at the same time).
And, like the song, it quickly became very old.
But while we all stayed at home and kept our distance, our front line workers in industry and health care continued to press on tirelessly, whilst scientists around the world battled to find solutions to this global pandemic.
And, for the most part, the UK government was like this:
And self-employed / small businesses were lobbying for the easing of restrictions, like…
And young people with buggered-up A-Levels and university studies were like…
But as far as Boris Johnson’s public ratings were concerned…
(Coupled with a bit of…)
It wasn’t all doom and gloom. Initially, we were allowed to go out more than once a day and countryside walks were back on. Mind, the British summer though…
Then the pubs started opening up again, shops welcoming customers. For a (short) period even international travel was back on. Happy days!
And then we c**ped it up again.
Nil-points. Ah well, back to restrictions and excessive handwashing it is.
Still, they couldn’t stop us dreaming of a world free of limitations.
Even if some of those dreams were a tad surreal.
And others more nightmarish.
But with vaccine rollouts now taking place in many countries around the world, and shows like Eurovision being staged, it serves as an important reminder that we will get through this hardship. The show must go on!
Reminds me, I better dust off some of my unworn dresses from the back of the wardrobe.
But most importantly. BRING ME MY FRIENDS, BRING ME THE CHEESE AND BRING. ME. THE. PARTY!!
1998 this song was released, 19-flipping-98. Still a belter but golly, are we all getting old. And please, don’t come back to me saying you have no memory of this track or, worse, you weren’t even alive then. I-I just can’t.
After the questionable success of my previous post, My Sister, On…, here is the “me” version of that. Don’t worry if you haven’t read said post, you’ll get the hang of this very quickly.
Alice, on…Responsible drinking
Alice, On…Effective conflict resolution
(For context – I picked a fight with a pavement.)
Alice, On…Tropicana on a budget
Alice, On…Workplace integration
Alice, On…Open bars
Alice, On…Bathroom fittings
“Alice, why are you taking so long to rub the sun cream in?”
“Well then, can I get up?”
“DON’T YOU DARE GET UP YET!!”
Alice, On…”Does my bum look out-of-proportionately big in this?”
Alice, On…Any kind of headwear
And finally (for now), Alice, On…Basic photographyskills
Oh, trust me, you’re welcome
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