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!
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!!
Minding my own business on emails (aka clearing out my junk folder, because, you know, what else is there to do right now?)
Anyway, I was doing that when something on the side bar caught my eye. This, the side bar which is always filled by random advertisements. For example, I’ve been invited to take out over 50s life insurance for far too long…a product of my enjoyment of Classic FM perhaps; other times it’s linked to the websites I’ve been loitering on.
Amazon, eBay, that Scientology website I once browsed at stupid o’clock. Even if the targeted adverts are sometimes questionable, it’s rare I look at these and go “where the Hell did that come from?” I’ve yet to take out the insurance, and last time I checked I hadn’t joined a cult…I think…
Right, so, what’s the point of all this preamble, you say? Well, despite all of the above, one day I got this in the side bar:
No, that’s it. Nothing more below, save the rest of the boot-shoe.
First off, how are any of these items linked? Hosiery/half a mannequin (I’ll be honest, I don’t know which it is), a balaclava and two types of shoe? It’s honestly the most mixed-up selection of clothing items one could buy, let alone for a lockdown fatkins like me.
Secondly, and probably the bigger question I should be asking, WHY AM I GETTING THIS?
I’m a lazy sod who hasn’t had a need for football boots since I played hockey for the school team in 2009. Plus, I couldn’t give a rat’s patootie what my rat’s patootie looks like. (I’ve just revisited that image, it looks like shapewear in the first thumbnail.)
Ain’t no shapewear containing this level of awesome!
So, the million cent question, did I click on the link to learn more, or possibly even purchase some of these dazzling products?
Am I however now racing to go back through all my browsing history and clearing out the tracking cookies. It has lead me to wonder though, have I been hacked by the Scientologists?
I mean, it would certainly explain the randomness of items (can you understand a word he’s saying?)
Also, Tom Cruise.
(I think I’m going to like inserting this sound effect into my work very much.)
“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there” – L.P. Hartley
A year ago today, I returned from a London city break and published my first post. I’d spent a year living in the UK capital, so for me it marked a refresh of the best bits of city-living, including art galleries, theatre performances and catching up with old friends.
Days after my return I was left encumbered, battling a mystery illness. Those following weeks I pressed on the best I could, putting it down as another one of those viruses which circulate in densely populated environments. A year later I’m no closer knowing what struck me down; we all have our theories.
Back then, my friends and I had whimsically noted the high-adoption of face coverings being worn by the predominantly Asian tourist base. We mused on the foreign illness that was gripping other continents, but to comprehend the possibility that our own country could already be rife with disease was a step too far. We were better than that, we were British. Instead, we continued to pack ourselves into dense sweats to watch live music, feasted in noisy restaurants and embraced fondly.
If only we’d known.
So, with perhaps a naively romanticised view of what were truly the last days of normality (late January 2020), here are all four parts of London Recalling.
While the rest of the country flipped out over Covid for the billionth time that year, my sister and I chose to spend one particular Saturday night watching the high-quality coverage of the 1974 General Election.
No, I’m not joking.
One day we’ll look back on things like this and go, “yes, we really were living life to the best when in our 20s.”
(By the way, we shouted “PHONE!” When the phone was heard ringing in the studio. It’s not quite audible on the playback and I’d hate my reputation to be damaged by this one element.)
Spoilers: Harold Wilson of the Labour Part won a majority of three seats and took over from Ted Heath’s Conservative-led government (I may have Googled that – even I couldn’t face staying up until 12:45am).
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