Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year!

I did mean to write something deep and meaningful about how I was how I was going to make New Year's resolutions to become thinner/kinder/an all round better person but you know what?

I'm not going to!

New Year's resolutions never work anyway.  All I'm going to say is - spend as much time as possible with the people you love & who love you; work hard; play hard and above all remember, you have a duty to enjoy your life!

Happy 2014!  Thanks for reading my blog.

Monday, 23 December 2013

... and breathe...

I've previously mentioned how hard I've been working.  Well the show's up & running and it received amazing reviews.

The production is Emil and the Detectives at the National Theatre.  It's a fantastic kids show but like all good children's shows, there's something for adults too.

Without giving too much away, Emil looses his money to a sinister figure but has a marvellous adventure along the way.  It's set in 1920's Berlin and the script doesn't shy away from the social tensions of the time.  The visuals are incredible, referencing the expressionist films of Fritz Lange.

If you have a child or there's a child in your life you'd like to treat, come along! You won't regret it.

Friday, 22 November 2013

All I do is eat and sleep and work

I'm working so hard on this new show.  It feels like I've done nothing else but the show for months.  But it will be worth it because it's a stunning piece of work. 

Abba sum up how I'm feeling at the moment far better than I ever could with Super Trouper...

In a geeky aside, the light shown throughout the video isn't actually a Super Trouper.  It looks like a Sil 2k but I guess 'Sil 2k beams are gonna find me' doesn't have the same ring.


Sunday, 17 November 2013

Object of desire - Mary Katrantzou Structured chiffon overlay gown

Oh, I love this soo much.

Image via shopstyle.com

I adore the fabulous coutureness of it.  That picture of it isn't the best but it's the best I could find.  Click through to the Selfridges link and you'll see that the print is of a moonlit scene on organza.  It must look incredible when displayed on a human body.  It's gowns like this that reinforce my idea that couture is wearable art.

Sadly at £4,885.00 it's way out of my league but a girl can dream, can't she?  Maybe someone like Rooney Mara will wear it to a grand event and I can live vicariously.    

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Hard work

Yes, I know.  I haven't posted much recently.  That's because I've been working very, very hard.  Last week I did 6 thirteen hour days in a row!   It's been good because I'm working on a fascinating new show but it really doesn't leave much time for anything else.  And this is going to continue for the whole month of November - 6 thirteen hour days on, one day off.

Living the dream.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Beauty review - Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus

I was childishly pleased to receive a free sample of Clinique's Repairwear Laser Focus with the October copy of Marie Claire.  I'm a cosmetics junkie lover of beauty products - for better or for worse, these kind of things excite me.

Before I begin, let me clarify - this was the serum I was trying.  There seem to be a lot of similarly packaged items called Repairwear Laser Focus.

I'll be honest, I was somewhat sceptical right from the start.  'Laser focus'?  Their blurb says, '63% of the visible wrinkle-reducing power of a laser at 12 weeks'.  A laser and a face cream are two completely separate things. They react on the body in very different ways. Mmm...

The claims were that the cream 'smooths, restores and corrects'.

Let's start with 'smooths'.  I found this rather curious.  Unless you are unfortunate enough to suffer from acne scars, human skin is generally pretty smooth.  I have smooth skin so I really didn't see any difference.

'Restores'.  Restores what?  C'mon Clinique!  I think the French text was more accurate - reparation (repairs).  I was doing some long hours at work and coming home looking pret-tay haggard.  I do think I looked a little less knackered and worn after applying this.  Or maybe it was to do with the fact that I could sit down, relax and have a cuppa. Difficult to say really.

'Corrects'.  Again the French text - correction anti-age provided more of a clue as to what they really meant.  To be honest companies which suggest that ageing is a mistake to be corrected actually really annoy me.  I don't want to look 16 again, I just want to look good for my age.

So my overall verdict?  It was ok.  I had no adverse reactions, I certainly didn't look worse but, then again, I didn't really look better. As for the laser thing - surely no-one's that gullible.  

Monday, 30 September 2013

Writer's Block

It's happened to me.  I think I've got writer's block.

I have a couple of half written blog posts languishing on Blogger but when I read them through, I think, 'Meh, these are so flat.'

If anyone's got any suggestions on how to break through this, I'd be interested in hearing them.  x

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Musings on freelancing

Freelancing is a very strange beast.

One moment it's all 'OH MY GOD, I HAVE NO WORK.  I must have annoyed everyone and screwed up a job (even though it all seemed to go well).  I'm going to default on the mortgage, get evicted and end up sleeping face down on some cardboard.'

Then wham!  Work starts flooding in and before you know it, you're doing your third 15 hour day in a row.  And then you remember that the reason you had no work was because it's a slow time of year - summer events are over and the autumn schedule hasn't really kicked in yet.

Note to self - Don't panic, be more positive.  

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Beauty review - Crabtree & Evelyn's Rosewater Eau de Toilette

It's funny how the weather can really affect your perception of a perfume.

When I first smelt Crabtree & Evelyn's Rosewater Eau de Toilette, I loathed it.  I thought it was an overly sweet, yet somehow insipid little scent that disappeared after an hour.  I tried it a couple of times then the sample rolled to the back of the drawer and I forgot about it.  But, of course, that was during the winter.

Then this glorious, hot, sunny summer came along and I was looking for a light perfume to wear so I thought I might as well give it another go.

Image via shopstyle.com

Well, what a difference a season makes!  

In the heat, it didn't seem sweet, it smelt appropriate, like an English country garden - fresh, light and more importantly, not too overpowering.  Heavy perfumes in summer actually make me feel slightly nauseous.  Weirdly it seemed to last longer too.  I kept getting very faint whiffs throughout the day.

Great perfume but choose carefully when you're going to wear it. 

Friday, 6 September 2013

Music - Are you getting enough? Professor Green featuring Miles Kane

I first noticed this song when it was played on the screens at the gym. I like the frantic almost nilhilistic visuals.  And the fact that Professor Green raps in his London accent is a bonus - really there's nothing worse than a faux American accent.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Beauty review - Bumble and bumble thickening hairspray

I really had high hopes for this.  Thickening hairspray - would my fine, dry, fly away hair finally achieve a full bodied bouncy look?

How my hair usually looks (except it's normally messier)

The kind of full bodied hairstyle I hope to have one day

The short answer is no.  I did not achieve anything close to a bouncy, glossy, perfect look.  What I actually achieved was a dry, frizzy ball of a hairdo that made me look like a low rent Cousin It.

This hairspray may work on someone with greasier hair but it's a definite no from me.  

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Musings and reflections and winter coats

The weather's definitely changing.  Evenings are a little chillier and mornings a little greyer. I'm very glad I took the last couple of weeks off.  It really enabled me to relax and enjoy the last of this marvellous summer.

I'm ready for autumn though.

There's so much to love about this time of year.  It's quite intimate in some ways.  Evenings indoors.  Small gatherings of friends as opposed to the great public events of summer.   Rich hearty food with glasses of good red wine.

And the fashion.  I do think that if you love clothes, you tend to love winter dressing - such rich textures and colours.  And soo forgiving, darling.  A structured coat hides a multitude of sins unlike a flimsy sundress.

Talking of coats,  I'd love this coat from M&S.  It'd work with just about everything in my wardrobe.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Upcycled chest of drawers for sale.

My boyfriend & I are selling this chest of drawers/bureau.  We're asking £500 for it.  I know that's a lot of money but my boyfriend has worked incredibly hard restoring it from a slightly shabby, nondescript item to this.  He's really poured his heart and his soul into this project, agonising about the correct colours & handles and spending hours re-doing the paintwork & the interior until it's perfect.  I can honestly say, without bias, it's a work of art.

We're trying to start up a little business selling upcycled furniture and this is our first item.  I like the concept of upcycling.  The hippy part of my soul finds something depressing about dwindling natural resources being used to churn out identical, mass produced goods designed to fall apart after a couple of years.  Upcycling's about taking an item that's past its prime and turning it into something that's unique, something you really won't find anywhere else.

The workmanship is flawless

He's taken so much care to choose a wood stain that enhances the beauty of the wood.

The drawers are beautifully lined with sable coloured suedette.  They're done in such a way that it's easy to replace the lining.

To arrange a viewing or you need more information, do email me on beautifulthings100@gmail.com.

If you don't want to buy it, fair enough but I'd really, really welcome advice on how to sell this, either in the comment section or email me at the above email address.  In fact, any feedback at all would be amazing.   

Finally - a big favour here - could people share this on social media etc so that as many people as possible see it?  I can't tell you how grateful I would be! x


Height; 84cm 
Width; 84cm
Depth; 40cm

The frame of the piece is stained in dark walnut and the drawers are painted cream.  Each drawer has 2 dark metal handles.  The interior is lined with sable suedette.

The cost of delivery in London & the South East will be between £20 & £60, depending where you live.  For delivery costs in the rest of the UK or the world contact me on beautifulthings100@gmail.com.  Obviously, if you come and pick it up yourself, delivery costs are nothing.  Email me if you have any questions at all. 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

August Bank Holiday roundup

Well, it's been and gone.  The last Bank Holiday of the year, that is. Very nice it was too.

Well, I could have done with a little less rain & a little more sun but you can't have everything.  Oh, who am I kidding?  All that rain on Saturday enabled me to sit indoors, all snug & warm & dry, looking at pictures of the mudfest that was Leeds Festival and feel very smug that I wasn't working there.  I've worked on muddy festivals for years so I feel I've earned the right to be feel pleased with myself.  The stories from friends who were working on it sounded horrific.

Anyway I'm rambling...

Friday was lovely.  We went to the BFI to see this film.  It was an odd film - a compilation of training videos from West Germany covering every aspect of life from birth to crossing the road to stripping - but there was something compelling about it.  It was a really thought provoking insight into life back then.  Was everything so controlled or does it just seem like it with hindsight?  Is that where health and safety started?  Who knows.

Afterwards we went onto Le Pain Quotidien and ate & drank far too much.  It was great.

Saturday was devoted to taking it easy & the aforementioned smugness.

On Sunday, we met up with friends in Shoreditch.  We went to a Vietnamese place on Kingsland Road (very nice) then on to an 'Alternative Burlesque Evening'.  This was probably the most disappointing part of the weekend.  It was Sunday evening, remember. Even though it was a Bank Holiday, the public transport was still Sunday service.  This means transport finishing early, so the promoters, in their wisdom decided to start the show at 10 o'clock and then of course, they were running late!  In the end, we saw one act before we had to leg it to get our trains.  Luckily the tickets were free otherwise I'd have been asking for my money back.  I know it's all 'decadent' and 'cool' to have these things late but surely the worst thing is to have your audience walking out half way through the show.  It's extremely dispiriting for the performers and frankly a waste of time even putting it on.

Shoreditch is a funny place.  I love it and hate it in equal measure. There are some fascinating, quirky bars & restaurants there but the incredibly self aware nature of the place does start to grate after a while.  The funniest person on Twitter, Mangal 2 (a kebab restaurant in Dalston incidentally!) put it very well.

I can't help feeling that the Shoreditch 'scene' is starting to eat itself. About ten years ago, a friend of mine worked for an artist's studio around there.  The reasons they rented space there, as did many other artists, were cheap rents and the area's proximity to central London. The hipsters got wind of the art scene and started moving in in their droves.  Of course, the inevitable happened, rents started going up and the artists, the creators of the scene, couldn't afford it anymore & started moving out, leaving just the hipsters.

On Sunday, my boyfriend and I decided to go out to the country to do some star gazing.  Yes, we're both nerds.  I have the Night Sky app which enables you to identify stars and other objects like satellites in the night sky (Lyra!  Arcturus!)  It was great fun and quite romantic sitting in the dark with a blanket wrapped around us looking at the stars.

And now it's Tuesday.  And I'm trying to drum up some more work. Joy.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Hurrah for summer!

Yay!  It's nearly the weekend!

I've worked very hard this summer so I've decided to give myself the rest of August off and enjoy the remainder of the (hopefully) good weather.

It's been absolute bliss not having to wake up to an alarm clock, wearing pretty girly clothes, cooking nice food and catching up with friends.

We're seeing a film at the BFI this evening and on Sunday we're going to an alternative burlesque evening in Shoreditch.

What are your plans for the weekend?  I'd love to hear them.  x

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Hero Beauty Product - The Body Shop Hemp Moisturising Hand Wash

I really, really love this one.

Previously I'd been using a godawful Radox hand wash which dried out my hands so much they were cracking & splitting & bleeding.  I have to wash my hands more than normal.  Besides the usual daily activities, I get very dirty at work and occasionally I deal with dangerous chemicals but my hands were so painful, I was avoiding washing them unless absolutely necessary.  Unhealthy and potentially dangerous I know so I was desperate to find something to solve the problem.

The Body Shop's Hemp Moisturising Hand Wash was recommended by a colleague so I decided to give it a go.


What a relief!  I could actually feel the difference from the first use. My hands didn't have that painful desiccated feel that they used to have after using the Radox hand wash, they felt soothed and supple and, most importantly, my hands had time to heal because they weren't being stripped of moisture every time I washed them.

There's an faint, slightly medicinal aroma to it but I've decided that I quite like it. Ha, ha, maybe this smell has become linked in my mind to relief and comfort?  Who knows?

It's certainly pricier than regular handwashes - currently on sale for £3.50 for 250 ml (usually £5) but in my book, it's worth every single penny and I'm definitely going to continue buying it.

If you suffer from very dry skin, I can't recommend this highly enough.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

A round up of Useful Things, Beautiful Things news.

As you can see I've gone for a bit of a blog re-design in an attempt to make it clearer looking on the page.  It's not one of those major re-designs where I pay someone to come and do it for me, then have a 'reveal'.  It's just me playing around with Blogger templates but hopefully it gives it a fresher look.

Here's a round up of the myriad ways you can now follow Useful Things, Beautiful Things.

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/UsefulThingsBeautifulThings.  I'll use this to post links to new blog posts as well as occasional links to things that I think people may find interesting.

Pinterest - http://pinterest.com/beautflthngs/.  I use this to collate images that inspire me.  Yes, there's a dark side to the internet but there's also so much gorgeous stuff out there and I want to be able to keep hold of it & remember it.

Bloglovin - http://www.bloglovin.com/en/blog/3489517.  A blog reader service but then I'm sure you already knew that.

I'm considering adding an email subscription service but I'm not sure I could keep up.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

A sunny afternoon in London

My boyfriend and I decided to take advantage of the very un - English, warm, sunny weather we've been having here recently and go exploring London.

We started off at the Southbank.  It's one of my favourite places in London.  I think the mixture of highbrow sophistication (the National Theatre, the BFI cinema & the Royal Festival Hall) coupled with the street culture of the skate park & the food market gives it a unique atmosphere.

Once we'd had our fill of people watching, we boarded the river boat at the London Eye pier and off we went...

Naturally I had to take a picture of the Tower Bridge, even though I know it very well...

We disembarked at the O2 (North Greenwich Pier)

I must admit, I find the whole Greenwich peninsular a little soulless. It's just full of generic restaurants which you could find anywhere in London.  I wanted to show my boyfriend The Pilot pub which is a very old pub in the only Georgian terrace left in the area but they'd closed in order to catch up on their glass washing!!  Okaay...  We ended up in a branch of Wagamama's which was fine but completely indistinguishable from every other branch of Wagamama's I've ever been to.

After we'd finished our food we caught the cable car over the river.  

The views were fantastic

We could see the Thames Barrier

The sun actually started setting on western side of the cable car

The journey ended on the north side of the river, near the Excel Centre

I loved the birds living on the base of the cable car pylons...

... and the illustrations of local history


The nerd in me was fascinated by the planes coming in to land at London City Airport.  Those planes were close!

See those beige strips in the middle right of the picture?  Those are the runways for City Airport.  Yup, they're on the river.

After a brief wander around the Excel Centre, (not much to see there) we dropped in on my brother who lives near Canary Wharf. This is the view from his kitchen window.  Seriously.

After supper with him, it was getting late so we caught the tube home, tired and happy.  A great day.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Facebook page poll - the results

I asked you, my lovely readers a while ago recently about your thoughts on a Facebook page for this blog as well as a poll on your opinion.  The results came back as an overwhelming 'yes, that's the way forward'.

So without further ado, here's the link to the Facebook page for Useful Things, Beautiful Things.  https://www.facebook.com/UsefulThingsBeautifulThings

Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to comment and vote.  x

Monday, 22 July 2013

A question for my readers

I'm trying to increase the readership of this blog.  If no one's reading your stuff, blogging is just self indulgent shouting into a void - white noise on the internet.

I've add a 'share' button under each piece but given my anti Facebook rant here, is it hypocritical to give readers the opportunity to share my stuff on Facebook?  On the same vein, what about a Facebook page for this blog?

I'd love to know your thoughts.  If you have the time, do vote in the poll I've set up to the right.  x 

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Object of Desire - Annie Embroidered dress by French Connection

It was when I found myself debating the merits of M8 ratchet spanners that something struck me quite strongly.  I need to reconnect with my girl side - fashion, beauty, pretty things.  I have to wear black jeans, black t shirts and steel toe cap boots for work so when I'm not at work I crave fresh white clothes, especially dresses with pretty shoes and jewellery.

This dress fits the bill perfectly.

I love its slightly longer length because I'm far too old and chubby of knee to wear short skirts these days.  The V neck and the defined waist work well with my hourglass size 14 figure.  The delicate embroidery throughout is the perfect antidote to those steel toe capped boots.

I'd wear it with some blue tribal style chandelier earrings, which would really pop against the white, and strappy brown leather sandals.  Ideal for lazy afternoons in the park or strolling along the South Bank.

And the best thing?  It's on sale, £65 reduced from £130!   Just leave me one in size 14.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Book review - A Street Cat named Bob by James Bowen

One of the reasons I love books are they allow you to see into areas of life that you wouldn't normally experience.

'A Street Cat named Bob' is a wonderful little book.  It's the story of how a mangy ginger tom cat decided to adopt a homeless heroin addict, James, and how the simple fact of having another living being who needed him enabled James to turn his life around and get off the smack.

Image via amazon.com

It's a simple book about ordinary things like how James tried to dissuade Bob from living with him, (but Bob was having none of it), taking the cat for his vaccinations, getting excited about earning a bit of extra money and being able to afford a nice curry & some extra special cat food but there's something life affirming about it.  We all need someone (or some cat) to stick with us in spite of everything and we all need responsibility beyond just taking care of ourselves  to give our lives meaning.

I think I've actually seen James and his cat busking in Covent Garden so it's nice to read about the back story.  That cat was actually giving him high fives! 

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Happy Fathers Day to my wonderful father.

Thank you for making me feel adored and special.  Thank you for showing me the importance of a good work ethic.  Thank you for teaching me to treat everyone the same no matter what their status.  Thank you for passing on your curiosity and vigour for life.

I miss you.      

Monday, 10 June 2013

Phew! What a week that was!

Last week was tough!  I had 7.30am starts with 11 hour days followed by a slightly later start on Saturday but going on to an overnight job.  As you can see, it's hard to turn down work as a freelancer because you never know when the next job will turn up.  People who think I have a glamorous showbiz job don't understand just how much hard work it can be.  *Sighs*

As a consequence, come Sunday I was somewhat tired.  I spent most of the day in bed only getting out of my pyjamas at about 4!  I slept, ate some nice food, watched a few things on catch up and generally vegged out.  It was absolute bliss.  We did venture out to our local for a couple of drinks later but I was in bed early.  

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Ladies - let's just be nice to each other!

I was gobsmacked to read recently that Gwyneth Paltrow was voted the most hated celebrity of 2013.  Gwyneth? What on earth has she done to be on the receiving end of such vitriol?  The woman beating Chris Brown only crept in at number 20 whilst murderers like Robert Mugabe didn't even make the list. When I thought about it however, a few things started to fall into place.  I'm taking a punt here but I'm guessing it was mainly women voting.

Before you jump down my neck, let me present my case. First there is this post by the lovely Samantha Hadadi about how she's receiving a lot of judgmental comments from women for deciding not to return to work after having her first  child. Then of course was the infamous Samantha Brick article where she stated that 'other women hate me for no other reason than my lovely looks' and received a barrage of comments ridiculing her appearance - again, mainly from women.  Lastly is this fantastically empowering response by the actress, Ashley Judd to media criticism - largely from women - of her appearance. 

All very different but the common theme was how judgmental and critical women are of each other.  Many of the responses to Samantha Brick said that women don't hate beautiful women, they just don't like arrogant women. Mmm...  I used to know a stunningly beautiful girl called Jody who was also one of the sweetest, kindest people I've known.  She never ever used her looks to get anywhere.  It was depressingly common for us to be in a pub or something and groups of women who she'd never met would stand in front of her & talk loudly to each other about her calling her a 'slag' or say that she was 'just an stuck-up ugly cow who needed to be taught a lesson'.  In one notable incident she was attacked by a group of girls in the toilet of an upmarket bar 'for thinking she was better than them'.  

In my younger days when I was... er, in the bloom of youth, I'd know when I was looking good by the filthy looks I'd get from other women.  On more than one occasion, when I was on a crowded tube I had women murmur in my ear, 'You really think you're something special, don't you?  Well, you're not.'  Just for the record, when I was young, I didn't need anyone to tell me how I wasn't special - no one knew that more than me.

Now there's no way I could be considered beautiful when I'm at work.  Unless motor oil on the face, birds nest hair and a spanner hanging out of the back pocket is now considered attractive, in which case I'm well in there. 

Anyway, I digress...  

What saddens me is how so many women regard each other as the enemy.  It strikes me quite strongly that we hate in each other is a projection of what we feel bad about in ourselves.  Hating Gwyneth for saying things like "Sometimes Harvey Weinstein will let me use the Miramax jet if I'm opening a supermarket for him"?  All that says to me is that you wish you had a big shot film producer lending you a jet.  The girls who pillory the beautiful girl?  Actually they're just pissed off because they don't think they're that attractive themselves.

Now I'm certainly no saint.  I'll admit that there have definitely been times when I've looked at the so-called perfect woman with her great wardrobe, immaculate hair, handsome husband & all round enviable life and thought 'Bitch!' but I've learnt not to vocalise it.  It's doesn't make my life any better by trashing hers.  It's just going to make me look jealous and unconfident which are highly unpleasant traits.

I'm going to put something out there.  Let's just be nice to each other.  Really. The odds are stacked against us as women so let's not add to the burden by trashing each other.  Just because someone is beautiful and successful doesn't mean that you're not.  I'm not advocating schmaltzy gushing, just common courtesy and respect.  It'll make all of our lives better in the long run.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Sunday afternoon

Yesterday really was wonderful.  One of those perfect days that really sets you up for the coming week.

We started off by going up to Hampstead to see 'The Stars that play with Laughing Sam's Dice' by Robert Calvert (from Hawkwind) at the Pentameters Theatre.

I knew it was going to be special the moment we walked in. Pentameters is a fringe theatre above a gastro pub in Hampstead. Audience seating was wooden chairs with a selection of mismatched, old cushions.  A joss stick was burning in the corner and the back wall was covered with pictures from previous shows.

The lights didn't just dim before the show started, the founder of Pentameters actually came on stage and chatted to us about the show.  She'd met Robert Calvert whilst she was visiting a friend in a mental home back in the 70's and had encouraged him to write this script!  It was so interesting to hear the personal aspect to the production.  She also told us a little bit about everyone involved in the production, even down to the technician.

The play was about a meeting between a young, black, American paratrooper called James Marshall Hendrix and a staff sergeant back in the 60's.  The paratrooper went on to become Jimi Hendrix.  It's very much of its time, which believe me, isn't a problem as far as I'm concerned.  There was premonitions and talk of pacifism and a bit of psychodelia.  The only problem I had was with the casting of the sergeant.  He was obviously younger than the guy playing Hendrix and that didn't really ring true with me.  Still, it was a minor quibble.

It's such a shame that yesterday was the last performance otherwise I'd be urging everyone to go and see it.


After the show, we decided to go for a walk as it was such a gorgeous evening.  We didn't have any particular destination in mind other than following our noses down interesting looking streets.

We ended up walking through the leafy streets of Hampstead, dreaming of living there one day,

through Swiss Cottage and into Regents Park.

We came across a flying trapeze school but sadly they weren't practising.

After dismissing the tourist trap that is Baker Street, we ended up in The Real Greek just off Marylebone High Street.  Good fresh food was the perfect end to the day.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Why I'm deleting my Facebook account

Ah Facebook...  It seems like such a good idea.  A place where you can catch up with long lost friends!  Somewhere for you to really express yourself - post about things that interest you!

I'll admit, I was a real addict when I joined about six (eek!) years ago.  I was touring with a theatre show and it became a great way to keep in contact with friends from outside the business.  And yes, I was one of those annoying people who updated their status with the most boring minutiae - what I'd eaten for lunch; the fact that I was going shopping, etc.  Mea culpa.

Image via www.fun2video.com

Then things started changing and more people started friending me. People who I worked with.  I know, I didn't have to accept their friend requests but I thought it might cause problems if I didn't.  Don't get me wrong, they're great but the whole point was to use it to get away from work.  My work is in the entertainment business and can involve long, hard days -15 hours is not uncommon.  Believe me, it's easy to get lost in showbiz.

I was also beginning to find that it brought out a side in me that I didn't really like.  Yup, I'm talking about stalking here.  It wasn't an issue when I was just friends with folks I knew well but when it's people who I only know through work, I don't really need to know that they enjoyed their lunch with Aunty Ethel or that they're having trouble potty-training their kid.  It's about boundaries and it's too easy to over step them on Facebook.

Things started to get really interesting when old school and university friends cropped up.  Without going into too much personal detail, the political situation in my country of birth meant that anyone who can has left the country and we're scattered all over the globe.  At the time (1980's) there wasn't email etc so it was a lot harder to keep in touch.

I'd lost touch with all my old friends so it was absolutely riveting browsing through their profiles when they cropped up on Facebook.  Firstly there was the girl who, for years, I'd thought had killed herself.  Seriously, how do you approach that subject?  I still don't know what happened or how that rumour started.  I'm too afraid to ask.

Then the girls who'd bullied me quite badly at school turned up.  I'm not sure why they friend requested me or even why I accepted but there you go.  There was a strange moment when I realised that two of them were grandmothers.  Grandmothers!  Can you imagine?

Strangest of all was the realisation that most of my old school friends' lives had followed a very similar pattern - marry a man who's either a farmer or owns a computer business; if not living on the farm, move to a small town; have two children, the oldest of whom is a boy who loves rugby.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting at all that there's anything wrong with that lifestyle, I'm just surprised how few people deviated from it.

I think ultimately though the main problem I have with Facebook is the sheer pointlessness of it.  I'm already in contact with the people I want to be in contact with.  We call, we text, we meet up and have actual conversations.  Those crappy, affirmational statuses that people are so fond of - 'When life gives you lemons, make lemonade' etc are utterly meaningless.  People displaying their asinine political views are not going to make me change my view points, they're just going to confirm that my own ideas are correct.

My pet hate though is those awful statuses that say 'Share if you're against child abuse/animal cruelty/cancer etc.  If you don't share, you don't care' usually accompanied by a graphic picture.  Study after study has shown that sharing those things actually makes things worse!  Fifteen years ago, people would have dropped their spare change into the Cancer Research collection box.  Nowadays people don't donate money because they feel they've done their bit by sharing those statuses.

Most importantly of all Facebook is stopping me from writing.  I've got a TV script on the go.  I've been told that it's good and I should finish it but this is how my writing routine goes...  Wake up early. Decide to do an hour's writing. Tell myself I'll just have a 'quick look' at Facebook before I start.  Emerge an hour and a half later with the beginning of a headache and tired red eyes having achieved nothing bar reading meaningless rubbish.   Take a break.  Do the laundry.  Do the housework.  

I also want to write more on this blog.  I started it for a reason, ie a creative outlet.

I've just checked my Facebook, (purely for the reasons of research, y'know).  These are how peoples statuses went.  I've edited nothing;

  Inboxed dislikess (sic)

  B*** earned an achievement in aviator

  In the paper today..hope i get to see my Sofia again...

  B*** played 2 words in Words with Friends

  Ministers who misuse statistics to mislead voters must pay the price | Peter Wilby

I rest my case.

I'm in the process of saving my photos then I'm gone.  

Monday, 20 May 2013

Book review - The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

I finished this book by one of my favourite authors, Kate Morton a couple of days ago and I can't stop thinking about it.

It begins as a fairly standard but well written family mystery novel. A young girl, Laurel, is sitting reading in a tree house on a warm summers day in 1961.  She witnesses something that afternoon which changes her life for ever.  The act that she sees is a lot more 'full on' than is usual for the genre and this was the first sign that this book was going to be different.

Action switches between 2011, the 60's and wartime London as the adult Laurel tries to uncover what actually happened that afternoon and why.  She realises that something happened to her mother, Dorothy during the war which triggered the event she witnessed as a young girl.  I must admit, I very nearly stopped reading the book because I found the character of Dorothy incredibly irritating, manipulative and self absorbed but I continued reading & I'm so glad I did.  The twist at the end of the book is shocking and completely unexpected and yet emotionally satisfying.  It subverts the conventions of the genre in a rather good way.

The Secret Keeper is a very rich, multi layered book - very much my favourite kind of read.  A definite recommendation from me. 

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Musings on 2013

What a strange year this is turning out to be...

Firstly there was the nasty dose of norovirus

And then came the travel...

As a freelancer I'm used to January being a quiet month but before January had finished this year, I'd been to Barcelona and Berlin, (purely for work reasons).

It was only slightly surreal going from snowy London to sunny Barcelona in the space of a morning

Berlin was icy cold and snowy

But, as ever, it was the exciting, creative city I love so much

There was the excitement, the hard work and the chaos of Fashion Week.  I wouldn't change it for the world but I'm always exhausted by the end of it.  

I can't talk about the rather peculiar job I did in a large London school, (if you employ me because you need a professional, you need to listen to what I'm saying) but how I'd love to!  All I can say is, schools certainly have changed since my day.

On a individual level, I had a particularly bleak couple of weeks when I was owed in the region of £5000 and had -£30 in the bank.  I wasn't far off fighting the down & outs in Lidl's for knock down items.  I've certainly learnt my lesson now and have savings which I won't touch unless absolutely necessary.

And on a more cheerful personal note, I've started taking French lessons.  It's something I've wanted to do for a while but it's harder than you'd imagine to find a good French teacher.  I've taken lessons with the Alliance Fran├žaise in the past but I've found them to be rigid and inflexible.  Whilst I do appreciate the importance of being able to speak perfect French what I actually need is to be able to understand the people I'm working alongside in their everyday transactions with each other.  Les hommes versus les mecs, anyone?  I've got high hopes for the teacher I'm with now.  She understands that the purpose of learning a language is communication, not following a syllabus.  

Whilst we're on the subject of how strange this year is - what is up with the weather??  It's April (which if I remember rightly is spring) and it's freezing!  I've actually got the heating up on full.  Please let it be a warm summer.  Please.


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