Over again until next year

Today, I had to take the cats to the vets with my mum. I remember this being a really fun and exciting experience when I was younger. Now, not so much. They do everything, EVERYTHING in their power to avoid being put into their little carry cages, this includes scratching, BITING and shoving tails and ***holes in your face. So there I am, my mum’s given me the task of getting Sam, the boy and significantly larger cat, into the carry cage and so I’m stood, pretty much doing the splits, trying to force this black mass of cat into this blue cage, (Poppy has a pink one, my mum adhering to gender stereotypes) and my mum just picks up Poppy, who weighs, oh I don’t know, about a pound, and carefully places her in the pink carry cage. We figure out the only way to get Sam in this cage is to trick him. So, together, we devise a plan to throw some dreamies in the cage (dreamies are the equivalent of crack cocaine to cats) (if you’re addicted to crack that is, otherwise it’s like an Oreo) and it works a treat (scuse the pun) and he rushes in the cage and we crank the door shut so all we can hear now is MEEEEOW MEEEOW MEEEOW

ALL THE WAY TO THE VETS

MEOW MEOW MEOW MEOW MEOW MEOW MEOW

It doesn’t stop, even when we get to the vets and we sit in the waiting room and we’ve faced the little cages toward each other so Sam and Poppy can comfort each other over how unfair their lives are, how these dirty horrible humans woke them from their slumber this morning only to TRICK THEM INTO THE CAGE OF DOOM and bring them to this smelly building which was far away because they came here in the metal box they get in to go places. Why are they here? The humans plan to kill them, it happened last year. But they managed to escape the penalty last year. Fur (sorry) some reason, the humans spared their lives last time and perhaps, perhaps this year, they’ll be spared again.

Regardless of the cat plotting going on behind our backs, when we took the cats into the vet’s room, we made that awful awkward small talk about how our pet’s a pain in the bum and “Oh no, stop being such a little bugger and sit on the scales” jokes. When secretly, EVERYONE at the vet’s knows that their pet is the best. And every pet knows that yes their owner might be calling them “a nifty bugger” right now and saying they’ve gained weight but all the pets know as soon as they get home, their human will shower them with dreamies and choruses of “awh and who’s a pretty [insert type of pet] then, who’s my liccle shuggy wuggy wuggums?” “You are, yes [insert pet’s name] is.”

Anyway, turns out our cats aren’t bothered anymore, Sam slides out of the carry cage straight onto the scales like the big lump he is, (sorry schnuckums) and then takes his thermometer like a trouper, and his injection like a man. Poppy is so bewildered by the fact that she’s still alive that she does everything the same and it’s done. All over and done with for another year.

A friend sent me this video and it literally, couldn’t be more true that these thoughts have crossed the minds of anyone who has a cat. Enjoy.

It’s a small world after all

I won a competition on Twitter run by A Younger Theatre, (A platform for young people on theatre and the arts. Publication and Theatre Company) for 2 free tickets to see Romeo and Juliet/Prince of Denmark double bill by the National Youth Theatre last night. I’ve already seen the Rome&Juliet performance for my birthday, but I’d pay to see it again, so seeing it again for free was a massive bonus. I took my friend Ros, and apart from being a little late, (CHEERS MEGABUS, I’LL RANT ABOUT YOU LATER) we got the best seats in the house and the performances were great.

I bought a programme for the performances, and when I was flicking through, I noticed something. One of the actors of the NYT, was a girl a couple years younger than myself who I went to Stagecoach (stage school) with when I was 13-16. I tweeted her when I got home, and low and behold it was her. I had my suspicions the first time i saw the play, but shook it from my mind. And I also had flashbacks to one of mine and Emily’s first nights in London where we ended up going to see a play, and turns out all the cast were from South Manchester. Trust me to come to London and keep finding everything and everyone from Manchester.

I forgot to mention

After the event at Foyles last night, myself and Emily found ourselves parched for a beverage and stumbled upon Bar Evaristo, aka Trishas. Set in Soho, unless you knew about it, you wouldn’t know it was there. Luckily, I’d been told about the unique little spot by my housemate, so I knew to look for the shift/shabby blue front door and walk downstairs.

Now if you like 50s to 70s Disco music and a dingy retro themed tea rooms, this is the place for you. Why not throw in an original pop up bar too, complete with bottles of fizzy pop rather than syrup from the pump. The host, who shall remain nameless, was a fetching middle aged gentleman, who heckles his own customers and waved me and Emily of the fare of membership cos we had faces like “pretty dolls”. After enjoying our beverage and bopping (feet tapping) to some tunes, we ventured to the garden out back which is just like being in a funnel of white walls and blue lights.

Trishas is the ultimate place for wonderful weirdos.

In the house of my master

This evening, myself and Emily decided to hop on the overground to Hampstead Heath and visit Keats’ House. The house is now a museum and is actually made up of two semi-detached houses known as Wentworth place. John Keats actually resided in one of the houses with his friend Charles Brown between 1818 and 1820. Dubbed Keats’s most productive years, it is claimed he even composed Ode to a Nightingale under the plum tree in the garden, (yes I stood under the tree, yes I hugged it).

I was informing Emily of the Fanny Brawne fiasco and explaining the many framed sketches of a woman standing outside rough sketches of the house and just how detailed his love and obsession was with her. As we were early for the poetry reading and it was after hours, the main museum man didn’t want us to be cold and therefore said we could have a look around the house, FOR FREE. GET IN. The main door into the house had the doorknob placed really low down, it’s hard to imagine the man I featured in my dissertation was virtually by today’s standards, a midget.

Anyway, if being in JK’s house wasn’t spectacular enough, the reason we attended that night was actually for the London Literature Lounge who meet in, sometimes historical, sometimes totally normal places and perform poetry, music and any other types of vocal performance art. We were lucky actually because there was only around 12 people at the performance, so not only did we get a great seat, it was a really nice, intimate poetry gig. The compere did his bit with introductions and what not, read a little of his own poetry, which was also very good. But the main attraction at the poetry evening was Anthony Joseph, author of collections such as The African Origin of UFO’s and Bird Head Boy. Anthony Joseph moved from Trinidad in 1989 and in 2004 he was chosen by Renaissance One and the Arts Council England as one of fifty Black and Asian writers who have made major contributions to contemporary British literature. Joseph treated us firstly to some funny, playful poems he was thinking of including in his next collection as well as the beginning of a planned novella. I closed my eyes and pictured the scenario Joesph was describing and managed to do this for about 5 minutes until I got distracted by my own thoughts. To me, if this is Joseph’s first novella, he should reassess how he wants to present it, because I’m no expert, certainly not to Mr Joseph’s standards but his novella honestly after 2/3 minutes was just beginning to sound like the start of an free verse, narrative poem. He mentioned stories and tales from his youth to us and was so animated about his first impressions of London etc and apart from the descriptive element to the novella extract being beautiful words to the ear, it lacked the personality Joseph so readily showed the audience in between his readings.

Golden shovel poetry was a highlight of Joseph’s reading, with him even giving the class a semi-lecture on how to compose to one if we wished to do so, it seems he couldn’t quite shake his lecturer ways, but that was just even more beneficial to our intimate audience. For those that don’t know, a golden shovel poem is best explained as simply as possible. Write a sentence, use the words of that sentence to finish the end of each next sentence. It makes you listen out for the words.

Joseph’s reading was short, only perhaps an hour or so, but he conveyed so much history into that hour that he captivated the audience from start to finish. I spoke to Mr Joseph in the interval, explaining that I studied the likes of Linton Kwesi Johnson and Kamau Braithwaite for my degree. He asked me what I’d learnt from those poets, what was the one thing that stuck out to me most from studying those authors for my exams. I decided to tell him that against the advice of my teachers, I didn’t listen to recordings of the poets reading their own works, because it distracted me from the meanings of words and phrases. I knew this was risky saying this to a celebrated modern day performance poet but he actually replied, “perhaps you’re right, the poet wrote the poem for you to read in your own voice, because that poem is as much yours as it is theirs.”

Andrew Marr- A Short Book About Drawing

Tonight myself and Emily decided to attend an exclusive event at Foyle’s bookshop on Charing Cross Road. The event was the unveiling of Andrew Marr’s new book, ‘A Short book About Drawing’. Marr’s book is a collection of drawings he did whilst in an out of hospital, recovering from the stroke he had just over a year ago. The narrative of the book follows the stories of each image contained within the book, and we have some drawings that are memories of Marr’s childhood, to images of a television with Sky news in his own living room.

Marr emphasised in his speech, that drawing was, in a sense, a way of feeling himself again. We know Marr as the famous Scottish journalist, political editor and writer/presenter of fascination history programmes. But Marr revealed that these drawings actually unearthed the person that turned down the idea of going to art college, of following the path of art just because it wasn’t the option for him at the time. It was funny because, in the Q&A section of the evening, a lady told Andrew that she was glad he hadn’t gone to Art school, because she wouldn’t have known him as the Editor of the Independent for a short spell in the 1990s, consequently leading to her whole family watching his series ‘Andrew Marr’s History of Britain’ and subsequently, her daughter being influenced to study history and applying for Durham and getting in and graduating with a first. I had to stifle a chuckle, and by the looks of things, so did many others. Mr Marr himself, took her funny idea that he’s ruled her family’s life decisions on the chin and simply replied, “well it’s a good job I didn’t follow my dreams then.” Not labelled a comedian, he certainly knew how to ease the tension in the room. And tension, surprisingly there was. The turnout was full to the brim, we had to stand but also, the audience wanted answers from Marr. Why did he choose art as his therapy for recovering from a stroke. Why not poetry, or photography or stamp collecting?

Marr’s answer was incredible. He proposed the idea of the artist Cezanne. Now I’m only familiar with Cezanne because my own dad likes his work. When we were at the Tate recently he spent £40+ on a book from their gift shop which i promised him he would get cheaper on Amazon, (student saving mind!). But he insisted he buy it there and then, to look at, to peruse and to devour on the train journey home. And when I heard Marr’s response, I thought of my dad’s adamant stance to buy the book from the gift shop that day. Andrew stated that Cezanne, was not his favourite artist. In fact, his favourite artist was Matisse. Apart from  the colours used, Cezanne and Matisse are strikingly different. But Marr commented on the frustration of Cezanne, the temper he had of throwing away almost complete paintings even if he had only made the tiniest mistake. Marr aligned this to his self expectation of his drawings, and how he was the complete opposite. He didn’t start with a vision, but merely created it as the drawing came to him. He said this was the only way to turn art into the therapeutic remedy it became for him. It transformed the way he could be carted in and out of hospital ‘x’ amount of times in a week. He could sit there and aimlessly draw for hours on scraps, but then suddenly something that would then end up in the book at a later stage would pop into his head. Marr stated that he wanted to acknowledge his Scottish heritage and the fact that they are portrayed as having no feelings. He wanted his drawings to represent a moment in life for himself, but also for anyone, the main theme of the evening being that, anyone can draw, even if you can’t.

Afterwards, we were invited to flick through the book ourselves and get a copy signed. In the queue, we got chatting to a lady behind us who was going to mention to Andrew that he in fact lives in her old house. I got a book signed for my dad for Christmas. I think I might wrap it with a book mark already inserted into the page with Marr’s message, just as a nice surprise.

Foyles bookshop have regular events like this, you just need to check their website and send in a short email with your name to be put on the list to attend. Follow them on Twitter, to see any events posted as they are first come, first served in a sense, but most events are free.

Hand&Lock 2013 Embroidery Awards

Emily gifted me an invitation to the exclusive Hand & Lock awards for my birthday and last night was the big night. I had just travelled back from Lancaster, so wasn’t in the most awake of moods, or the best of appearance (hungover). So I rushed home, got changed, attempted to eat sandwich. Failed at eating sandwich. Left remainder of sandwich and rushed to the underground. Luckily, the awards were held in the beautiful setting of St. Mary’s Church near Marylebone, so not too far to walk in heels.

The ceremony, (I shall call it that, it was grand okay) began with the gifting (loving this word) of a goodie bag from the guys at Hand&Lock, which included various bits and bobs from the colleges, textile and embroidery companies displayed on stalls around the hall, as well as a copy of the prestigious Selvidge magazine (RRP £7, £7!!!!). There were canapes of goats cheese, mini smoked salmon bagels, bruschetta and fountains of wine. So naturally, even though I was probably the only person in the entire venue who couldn’t be further from being able to sew, I knew the night would be good. The finalist’s designs were split into two categories, student and independent, which meant it was open to anyone who wanted to enter. The designs were displayed on mannequinns and invited spectators to see the designs up close, touch and feel the material of the garments and ultimately decide whether it was heavenly or horrendous.

We all cast our votes and around 8pm, the winners were announced. Now don’t ask me to recount names because by this time the event was running a bit late and that Rosé wine was going down A TREAT. But anyway, the winnings seemed worthy and I was just happy that I’d chosen two out of the 3 winners.

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First prize is like £25,000 for this competition so if you’re really into sewing and want to get involved with the award for next year, then follow H&L on Twitter for regular updates and news of the 2014 competition where 1st price is £26,000.