Friday, 24 June 2011

My crush and me

Last night I was a woman possessed. There’s really no other word for it. I was in exceptionally close proximity to my beloved Mark Owen, and it was emotional. I’m not sure the word crush comes close, it’s love. And yes, I know he’s a cheating love rat - but readers, I forgive him all.
You see I liked him the first time round. When I was young and had dozens of Take That stickers from Smash Hits magazine all over my folders. And posters from Big plastering my walls. And when they split all those years ago I was bereft, and there was not a middle-aged woman being admitted to A&E in sight.
I do feel that I’m in good company with my slightly obsessive crush. The lovely Kate Winslet has admitted that her current co-star was in fact her teenage crush. Guy Pearce was the "heart-throb” she obsessed over as she was growing up in the Berkshire countryside when he was an actor on Neighbours, the hit Australian soap series.
Such was her obsession with the 43 year-old British-born actor, that Kate would even pretend to be ill so she could skip school to watch the soap. Clearly she didn’t realise it was also on at 5.30pm?

But you see for her, things have really worked out. She’s now a stunning Oscar winning actress being paid millions to get naked with her crush.

I am stuck screaming, along with all the other lunatics. Mark is just a few feet away, but is protected from us by a band of burly security types. He says he loves us, but is ready to have us forcibly removed at any moment.

We reach and long to get a touch. It’s embarrassing, it’s tragic.

But... perhaps all is not lost.

Maybe I’ll be a famous author yet. Then perchance we might meet at a showbiz party. He’ll buy me a drink. We’ll laugh at how I wore an ‘I heart Mark’ t-shirt and know all of the words to Babe.

Rachel Owen, it’s got a certain ring to it.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to perfect the dance moves to Pray. I’m sure that’ll win him over.

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Saturday, 11 June 2011

Needed: Cardboard boxes and valium

I am spending the weekend packing boxes, because folks, I’m moving flat. I am leaving the posh Georgian West End of Edinburgh for the slightly more ‘colourful’ Leith. (Location of Trainspotting for the ill informed.) The flat is lovely – in the up and coming part I’ll have you know.

And if perchance I do need drugs, they'll be easy to come by.

It is a cliché that moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do, second only to divorce. I have no direct experience of divorce, but indirect experience is bad enough, and I would certainly not choose to go through it. I do, however, choose to move house from time to time. I admit that there is stress along the way.

So far in this house move episode, I have smashed a picture, sliced my finger on the broken glass and caused a cardboard cut nice and deep on the crease where my thumb is attached to my hand. I now have only one opposable thumb.

As Celine Dion once sang, ‘It’s all coming back to me now.’ When, 2 years ago I moved into this flat, I made a solemn vow that I would be leaving it in a box. But no, seems it’s me loading up the boxes once again.

2 years ago I moved from Durham to Edinburgh. When the removal man vomited in the afternoon, I wondered if there shouldn’t be a Government Health Warning on moving house. Throughout that long, exhausting day I’m convinced my blood pressure hit danger levels on a number of occasions.

Although it could have been worse, a friend recently moved house and the day didn’t start terribly well when the removal lorry arrived at her home and reversed clean into her car. Whoops.

When I moved, an Edinburgh parking warden (read evil Nazi ticket distributor) stalked around the van desperate for me to leave it even momentarily unattended.

Whilst I was guarding the van from our fluorescently -cladded friends, the removal men were busy tearing the leather of my flatmate's one thousand pound sofa, scratching my dressers and vomiting in the stairwell.

I knew I shouldn’t have booked through gumtree.

This move hasn’t started well with my string of injuries, but I’m optimistic for an easier move this time over.

Although I am thinking of setting up a removal firm that provides a counselling service to help repair the shattered nerves of homeowners. We’ll also leave a welcome pack containing spare keys, plasters, bandages, scotch and valium.

Interested? I’ll be taking bookings... as soon as I get through my own move of course.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Poor kids

I told you last week how I loved a documentary. I’d been watching Made in Chelsea and it had upset me.

On Tuesday night I watched another documentary. This one actually upset me.

Poor Kids, on BBC 1 was a gut wrenching documentary about children living below the poverty line in the UK. I felt ashamed that I had ever moaned about having to suffer a camping holiday or cancel my glossy mag subscription.

The kids featured, 11-year-old Sam and his 16-year-old sister Kayleigh in Leicester, eight-year-old Courtney in Bradford, 10-year-old Paige in Glasgow – speak for themselves, but also for the 3.5 million other children living in poverty in Britain. And boy did they speak well. Honest, eloquent, strong, and mature beyond their years.

So much of it was unbearable: Sam being called a big girl's blouse for wearing his older sister's hand-me-down shirt to school, Courtney's resignation that she will always be poor, or saying her family doesn't go on holiday because they can't get on a plane because they're afraid of heights.

This is so different to the world I inhabited as a child – which by no extent was what  you might call 'privileged', but was filled with things like summer holidays to Wales, tap lessons, Brownies and birthday parties.
There was a moment in the film where Sam, on his 12th birthday was being given a cake and sung happy birthday by his small family, and the electricity went off in the house.
Whatever people want to say about their parents, if there really are children who don’t have a meal in the summer holidays because they are not getting their free school lunch, we really have a problem.
How can these children have a realistic expectation that they will ever amount to anything when they are surrounded by news of job cuts and an estate full of the unemployed?

I don’t know the answers but I know that so much of it is a disgrace – the mould in Paige's flat that means she can’t sleep on her top bunk, the fact that Courtney's mum can't afford the bus fare to take her swimming, or that Sam sometimes ‘saves up’ his hunger for when his dad can provide a meal.

These kids are bright. At the end of the programme Courtney comments "I don't want to grow up."  Heartbreakingly it's due to her fear of what's to come, not so she can stay forever young in a magical Neverland.

These children could go onto great things given the right chances. So the right chances must be given.

If you didn’t see the programme, you can watch it on catch up here

Thursday, 2 June 2011

A little joy goes a long way

This afternoon summer arrived in Edinburgh. At 5pm I was promptly out the office door and off to the pub. I sat in the afternoon sunshine, having a beer with friends and it was a Thursday afternoon treat.

Perhaps this delight is heightened by living in Scotland. For those who do not live in Scotland I should explain. In Scotland sunshine is a rare and wonderful thing. Scotland is good in theory. People often describe it as ‘bracing,’ which I’ve come to realise just means freezing. A friend of mine recently described Scotland as a cold purgatory.


Well this afternoon, the sun was out in force. Out came my freckles, and goddamn, I even went a little red.

As I walked home, a little tiddly after a few beers, I realised that I really was incredibly happy.

And so, today, rather than having a wee rant, I thought I’d share a few of my favourite things – even though I could tell you the horror that is the fact that yesterday Gail Platt (of Coronation Street fame) was wearing my new White Stuff shirt. Gail blooming Platt.

Anyway, as I was saying.

Things that make me happy

The sun on my face
Bacon sandwiches
Playing on the swings
Fresh bedding
A lie in
Laughing until you can’t remember what was even funny
Christmas carols
My mum’s roast beef dinner
Earl grey tea from a pot
Dinner with friends
A power shower
A cold beer on a warm day
An afternoon snooze
Homemade apple pie                                                       
Breakfast in bed
The sea
Getting drenched in the rain
Cracker jokes
Old books