Monday, 30 July 2012

2 Sleeps To Go...Life's Spanner

Today it's Monday. July 30th. That's 2 sleeps to go.

2 sleeps before the day of moi on August 1st.

And life, in its own inevitable manner, has thrown a spanner in the works.

You see, I have been quarantined since last Thursday with chickenpox.

I mean really. Chickenpox for goodness sake! Surely that's for children? That mysterious illness that mothers in my acquaintance are charged with managing in their various little ones.  And then see fit to regale all in proximity about its trials and tribulations thereby forcing me to maintain my sympathetic and concerned face for longer than 5 minutes.

(I would like to point out here that I can do sympathetic and concerned but sustained effort in this area is not my forte. As my friends know, I can be brutal with my 'suck it up princess' philosophy of deaing with life's hard knocks.)

And yet here I am, forced to keep my own company, no-one to soothe my fevered brow while this virulent virus makes its way through the various stages of its frolic around my immune system. Snap!

This was not my plan. I had imagined quite a carefree week to finish my 42nd year on the planet. Filled with laughter, amusing repartee and kindly reminders of sleeps to go and shopping days remaining for you all. 

But the spanner arrived. So I have focused on doing the right things and riding this sucker out in the hopes of being fit for company (read work) again come my big day. I mean I have birthday yummies to share and the alternatives sans company are either gluttony or waste. And while I am of the school of 'waste not want not' (or as my mother called it ' the starving children in Africa' who can quite frankly have ALL of my peas and brussel sprouts), a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips is definitely no fairytale.

2 sleeps to go peeps. Time for someone else to have the spanner.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

A+ For Creativity...

In previous posts I have been known to bemoan the less than extraordinary output managed by today's educational systems. Whether they be the formal or informal, academic or the University of Life, it has seemed that perhaps something has gone awry and that we are not preparing the current - or for that matter future - generations as we should...and I use the term 'we' loosely to mean society in general.

As far as I can see, there's something of a dichotomy going on at the moment.

There's the over-arching drive to get that all-important (and increasingly expensive) university place, although it doesn't always seem to be pursued as a heart-felt vocational calling but rather as an experience or a rite of passage before entering the 'big bad world'.

And then there's a worship of role models who come sans academia - the self-made men made Lords, the single-minded stars of the sporting arena, and those in the pages of the weeklies who seem to be celebrated for...well...being.

So where does education fit in? How do we line up the roles that society has created with an education system at odds with fulfilling them? And what happens to those that fall somewhere in between talent and narcissism?

Just when you thought that this post was turning into another rant on the state of the world, I want to take a pause to share a demonstration of the very mismatch I speak of.

The following is a selection of exam questions and answers provided by one particular student:

Q In which Battle did Napoleon die?
A His last one

Q What is the main reason for divorce?
A Marriage

Q If you threw a red stone into the Blue Sea, what would it become?
A Simply a wet stone

Q If it took eight men 10 hours to build a wall, how long would it take four men?
A No time at all. The wall was already built.

Q How can you drop a raw egg onto a concrete floor without cracking it?
A Any way you want because a concrete floor is very hard to crack.

The teacher obviously saw the funny side and noted A+ for creativity...and the student failed the test.

So whether you've chuckled at their chutzpah or despaired at their defiance, the question remains: how do we engage this clearly clever mind in contributing something valuable, meaningful, worthwhile to the world at large?

Now just before you race off to ply sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, grandkids and/or the neighbours' offspring with a raft of serious and thought-provoking questions on the matter, in the spirit of true narcissism and self-absorption, I must remind you that there are only 7 sleeps to go until Society's Celebration of little ol' moi is upon us. Not many shopping days left peeps...are you ready?

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Summery Sundays...

It's Sunday.

A lazy, mooch-about with A-used-to-be-down-the-hill Sunday.

And it's a gloriously sunny Sunday here at Gidday HQ.

Yes, you heard read right.

The sky is brilliantly blue, the sun's rays fierce in their determination to make up for lost (British Summer) time.

And there have been a couple of squatters on the back patio for the second time in as many weekends.

We even had to put the umbrella up to protect our delicate Australian  hangovers skin!

Don't look now but it might be summer at last!

Shhhhh....wouldn't want to scare it away again...

ps...and there's only 10 sleeps to go 'til the big day peeps. That's right - only 10. You can count down using only your fingers now...

Thursday, 19 July 2012


In the midst of preparations for last weekend's Gidday Soiree, I took a break and went to Sadler's Wells to see Matthew Bourne's Play Without WordsThis was both my first Bourne and even more remarkably, given my love of dance, my first visit to Sadler's Wells. And apart from it being another bonza deal unearthed during my daily travels, Sadler's Wells is an easy commute down the Northern Line from Gidday HQ so I suspect that this cultural pocket of London will feature amongst my erstwhile ramblings a little more often.

Anyhow, Play Without Words is set in London in the early Sixties and is based on Robin Maugham's novel, The Servant. The action starts as we see leading man, Anthony (all 3 of them) sign the lease on a swanky new pad. He hires manservant Prentice (3 of them), a maid Sheila (only 2 of these), meets up with an old friend and then hosts a party with his glacial financee Glenda (yes, 3 of these too) by his side.

The trios and duos interweave to show the same character captured in three different moments in time, adding power and depth to the wordless storytelling.  There's friction and frostiness as the relationship between Anthony and Glenda disintegrates. There's wit and clever visual repartee as Prentice and Sheila insinuate themselves into the household. And there's sizzle and sexual tension and lust and betrayal - and I LOVED IT!

But more than anything, it's Bourne's visionary eye that makes this a seamless and sensual masterpiece. I was entertained, uplifted, moved and thrilled...and determined I'd be back for more.

So as I left, I picked up the program for the rest of the year and amongst the turned-down page corners, you'll find the San Francisco Ballet, the Rambert Dance Company, Paco Pena and...yes you guessed it, Matthew Bourne and his world premiere of Sleeping Beauty.

It might be baked beans on toast for a while should I let myself indulge in this passion.

Now where is my debit card?

If you are in London between now and August 5th, make sure you get along and see Play Without Words. I kid you not - it's absolutely brilliant! And I even got an Editor's Choice for my review on Weekend Notes.

ps...if you've been under a rock ignoring me not reading my posts all the way to the end, Birthday Number 43 is fast approaching. You are down to only 13 shopping days peeps so let's make that a lucky 13 shall we? Don't let a little superstition get in the way of

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Gidday Soiree...A Hat Trick Of Birthdays

The inaugural Gidday soiree is done. My guests have left replete with good food, an indiscriminate amount of wine and feisty yet flowing conversation.

Le outdoor setting (or patio furniture as my American compatriate at work calls it) did me proud and the skies, while not exactly blue and sunshine-y, kept to themselves with not a drop of rain falling. That's a minor miracle in itself given the past few weeks.

(Although as I woke this morning after yesterday's intermittent and torrential rain, I do believe I closed my eyes and whispered 'oh please just let it be dry!' Maybe someone was listening.)

It has inspired me to do more of this. I have to say that I rather enjoyed having visitors to fuss over, deliberating over the menu during the week prior to strike the balance of both the 'right' quantity and trying out some new things.

(There was a chilli, cheese and corn loaf and some savoury rolls - basically a soft cheese mixture and some other ingredients wrapped in pita bread, chilled overnight and sliced - which were both newcomers to the party.)

It was also an opportunity to use my 'stuff'. You know the stuff I mean. You have some of this yourself. For me it was my Oma's crockery, my Mum's tea set (for the coffee) and, being a cup short, even a lone Royal Doulton cup and saucer for the fifth of our party.

Having the room at the new Gidday HQ for all of this to have been unpacked from the boxes that were their home for 6 and a half years is absolutely brilliant. Now it's all just an arms reach away on the top shelf of the kitchen cupboard.

I'm extremely proud to say that the only thing not Gidday-Made was the chocolate cake, collected from the local Polish store round the corner this morning, to celebrate our three birthdays.

Which brings me neatly to a reminder that there are only 17 sleeps to go until my big day. Celebrations may have started today at Gidday HQ but this doesn't mean you're off the hook peeps.

Not by a long shot!

Friday, 13 July 2012

Earn While You Burn...

There seems to be a bit of a theme developing what with London 2012 fast approaching.

Not only have I been mugging hugging torch bearers (OK just one then and it was before he was fired up and running) but last week I discovered some clever kinetics appearing underfoot during my commute.

In the continued spirit of running (or trotting briskly if you prefer), I have come across another brilliant idea, this time from Nike

It would appear that those south of the border (down Mexico way) have designed a pair of clever clogs...literally.

Apparently the more ground you cover, the more currency you earn. Which you get to spend by bidding for things on their auction page.

It's called Subasta de Kilometros (Auction of Kilometres).

I wonder what I could buy for a gentle stroll?


A Special Sleeps To Go Alert: 
Did you realise that there are only 19 sleeps to go until Birthday Number 43 arrives and waves its magic wand to...well...who believes in fairy stories anyway. But the rules say it's the one day of the year where it's all about me so get your skates on peeps...I'll be expecting a little celebratory sparkle.

Monday, 9 July 2012

The Spirit of the Games...

There's the small shindig happening in London later this month. It's happened a couple of times before. A gathering of sporty types who'll bring their best, enter the arena and fight for the gold in front of a global audience. Dashin' and prancin'...

...the Olympic Games are comin' to town.

And the Olympic flame, that which symbolises the spirit of The Games, has been wending its way to London through rain and shine (but mostly rain) to inspire the people of England.

On Sunday afternoon, a few folk gathered along Hatfield Road in St Albans to eat, drink and wave a flag or two. The vibe on the street was dry (surprisingly enough) and humming with excitement and anticipation...

All of a sudden, the convoy had arrived and with it, the flame...

...and before too long, it was on its way again, safe in the hands of Huddersfield Supply Chain Manager, Glyn Carter.

Just as well we snaffled a sneaky snap while Glyn was waiting his turn... show we were really there!

Only 17 days to go peeps. Are you ready for the Games of the XXX Olympiad?

This post is part of July 2012's Post of the Month Club

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Everybody Needs Good Neighbours...

Another excellent deal snaffled on my commute put me in an aisle seat at the Cottesloe Theatre for Detroit tonight. Written by Lisa D'Amour and first presented by the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago in 2010, it's a raw and wry out take of life in the suburbs - but not quite as we know it.

Ben and Mary scratch along together in life, she as a highly-strung paralegal, he as a mortgage advisor recently made redundant. The play opens on their back patio with new neighbours Kenny and Sharon who have been invited over for a BBQ, and continues by moving back and forth between the adjoining back yards until the final scene.

I don't want to divulge too much so I won't talk about the plot. In any case, I went along without any knowedge of the story, just letting it all unfold in front of me and I loved it. Often when you don't know what to expect, you can just be present to the action in front of you rather than taint it with the anticipation of what's to follow.

Suffice to say Kenny and Sharon have an interesting past and these two unlikely couples share neuroses, dreams and philosophies on life until the whole thing goes up in smoke.

The characters are larger than life and there's no one performance that shines brighter than the others. One minute I'd be cringing at Mary's pedantry and nagging, the next chuckling at Kenny's slightly skewed outlook on life (or dancing), then smiling at Sharon's passionate neighbourliness, before wondering what sort of business Ben could possibly end up with as he interrupts his website 'development' activities to offer some self-help style financial mentoring for 'them next door'.

The Cottesloe is quite a small theatre with the audience sitting right up against the performance 'space' so the whole time I felt like I was peering over the fence from my own back yard. It added an intimacy to the play and it felt slightly voyeuristic with every afternoon shindig and midnight tryst that played itself out before us.

The performances were electric and with no intermission, this ensemble cast maintained a cracking pace for the audience for just under 2 hours. Will, Stuart, Clare and Justine really did leave it all on stage. They were brilliant.

Alas, this production at the National Theatre on London's Southbank closes next Friday (14th July) so you'll have to get your skates on if you want to see this one. But it's expected to have its off-Broadway debut in August at Playwrights Horizons and as tickets went on sale today, those of you across the pond have the opportunity to partake.

I saw a play years ago - Art written by Yasmin Reza - which is one of my all-time favourites and Detroit reminded me a little of that. Gritty, dark, passionate and not for the faint-hearted. But absolutely fantastic and not to be missed.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Commuting Gems...Recycling's Foot Soldiers

Sometimes inspiration come from the most unlikely places.

Tucked into my seat on the train earlier this week, flicking through The Metro with the patter of raindrops on the window in the background, I came across this...

No it's not a version of MJ's Bille Jean video souped up for the cyber generation. It's actually the latest and greatest in the harvesting of natural energy sources.

Pavegen is the brainchild of Laurence Kemball-Cook, a young British entrepreneur who has combined a recycled rubber and polymer mix with a hybrid kinetic energy-harvesting system. Stepping onto the 'tile' generates between 5 and 8 joules of electricity - a small percentage of this is used to the light the tile while the majority is either stored in a battery or powers the surrounding area.

It might sound like small potatoes but Kemball-Cook took a Pavegen dancefloor to Bestival last year where the grooves of 50,000 festival-goers charged 1,000 mobile phones. They have been installed (Pavegen that is, not the festival-goers) permanently at a school and more recently at Westfield Stratford City.

It's extraordinary and exciting stuff. Imagine...our 'energy output' collected and tranformed into a unique - and boundless when you think about it - source of electricity. 

Brings a whole new meaning to the term recycling, doesn't it?

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

News From The (New) Patch...

Last week marked the start of Wimbledon with some unseasonably warm weather...and a few torrential downpours. The newspapers have been filled with pictures of flooded roads and cars abandoned to the eddies of the rising waters.

But not in London.

While it's had its grey moments, the sun has shone down on London town and bathed the city in preparation for summer...

Oxford Street still looking all Jubilee-esque
Great College Gardens, Westminster on the way from Westminster tube to Head Office
And not just on the outside either...
Lit in glory, the ceiling at the Wyndham Theatre, near Leicester Square

Gidday HQ has not been spared a spritzing of summer either and I am delighted to report a couple of exciting developments at my new 'patch'.

Those of you who have been reading along for a while now may remember the trials and tribulations of my first patch, featuring any number of pot-reared veg, a few herbs and the curious case of the disappearing 'strawb'. Well over the last week, I've discovered a veritable panopoly of shiny red berries hidden beneath the leaves overflowing the old strawberry pot...

Luscious and ripe, my strawberry plant has more than just survived the move north of the river
And last but certainly not least, there is a new addition to Gidday HQ. Delivered and legs reattached this weekend, it seems fitting that it has emerged on to the back patio in all its glory after such a week. So without further ado...


...and there's a big umbrella too!
And the first Gidday soiree is already scheduled...

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Your 2012 Five A Day - July

It's July already and the sleeps to go count down will be starting soon. How have you been enjoying your Summer so far? Here in the UK, the festival season is off to a traditional start. 

After a rather damp River Pageant to mark Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee at the beginning of the month (which left The Royal Husband with a urinary tract infection), the pee-ing down continued with the Isle of Wight festival being a bit of a mudbath last weekend, giving all those Surrey-shiny Hunter Wellies the chance for a proper outing.

Speaking of pee-ing, this month's Violent Veg sees the return of Colin Carrot who, having recovered from his brush with danger with the little ones, has this month decided to live life on the edge...

So have a fab July pea-ps!

(Geddit? Pea-ps instead of peeps?)

Oh and there are only 31 sleeps to go...just in case you were wondering...)

Five A Day Back catalogue