Tuesday, January 27, 2004

I am back from the edge. I was nearly vanquished by my lunch, but victory is mine. Went to Chequers, the ace sandwich bar off the Strand, to get a tuna nicoise roll. I got it on olive bread, and when I unwrapped it back at the office and realised it was bigger than my head, my shoulders sagged in defeat. But! I girded my loins (not that they play any role in lunch), and I pluckily dug in. And dug. And dug. It didn’t help that the generous bastards give you free soup with every sandwich, so I had a polystyrene cup of Stilton & broccoli to get through, too.

Today I want to shop. And here’s what I want to buy:

A wrap (ballet) cardigan
Cords in dark red, brown or navy
Metallic ballet flats and satin/metallic tap shoes
Fake flower garlands for my bathroom (does anyone know where I can get these? And not for £20 each)
A laptop (although I never will, as it costs a month’s salary)
A sewing machine (where to put it? I barely have room for a stereo)

Any one of these purchases would improve my life; if I had all of them I would want for nothing and would be happy for ever.

As Steve sagely remarks every so often, “You can’t have everything: where would you put it?” Silly boy. My reply is always “In the biggest house in the world, with a very large storage facility a short distance away.” I have thought this through.

Friday, January 23, 2004

The day has started badly. Am coffee deprived. Sitting at desk opening post, and already I’m angry. The one thing that really gets my goat is people spelling my name wrong. Now, it’s excusable if you’ve never seen it written down, as it’s quite a mouthful. But if I have been SENDING YOU LETTERS every couple of months for the PAST TWO YEARS, TYPED LETTERS, with my surname TYPED, then for fuck’s sake please make an effort not to call me Jacevitz or Jazewizz or Jackanory or Jetwhiskers. I know it’s nine letters, but the books you write contain much longer words and you seem to manage those without much trouble. Grrrrrrr.

The Emap zine awards took place this week: here’s the skinny from the Pamzine.

You can’t have read a paper over the past few months without seeing a mention of this book. Some reviewers have slagged it off for being low brow/militant, and despite a shaky start as the author gets a bit “Hey kidz! Punctuation’s COOL!” it is a right cracking read. A non-boring book about grammar; whatever next?

Thursday, January 22, 2004

After yesterday’s awful lunch experience (bitter, glutinous lemon chicken that was neither lemony nor chickeny, cold noodles) nearly ruined Chinese food for me, I decided to have one more try today. From now on I shall eat only at Soho’s Yumi Food Bar, where £3.50 buys you noodles or rice and two toppings: the chicken curry and spicy ginger pork are particularly fine. The food comes in a vast plastic take-away trough, and eating even half of it is an achievement.

Two reasons why January is the cruellest month

1) All I want to do is lie down and sleep. Anywhere. All the time. Even at work (especially at work), on the bus, in the bath. At the moment the floor space under my desk is a jumble of old files, books, bubble wrap and paintings (just don’t ask), but I am thinking of converting it into a cocoon, with padded floor and sides. Have felt like this all month: shaggy dark hair in my eyes and bellowing when disturbed.

2) Despite Dr John Briffa’s hatred of anything that might possibly taste nice, on these short, cold days all I want to eat is stodge. Coffee, pasta, prawns, cinnamon bread and pierogi all get the thumbs-down from the good doctor: to me they combine to make the perfect meal. It’s a sad fact that the things I want to eat are making me tired and sluggish, while the things that would give me verve and pep aren’t appetising.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Another weekend, another two episodes of Joe Millionaire. On Saturday, three lovely ladies remained, vying for Evan’s dough. He had intimate ‘overnight dates’ (hook-ups) with each of the girls, flying them to some exotic locale on his private jet. Michelle, the curly-haired, slightly whiny one, asked Evan what turns him on. ‘Um, legs. I like legs,’ opined our shy hero. The next shot was of ’Chelle poking her scabby hoof, clad in sandals Pat Butcher would balk at, dangerously close to fake-millionaire Evan’s real family jewels. Despite her best efforts to sleep with him, Evan still got rid of Michelle when the time came to give out diamond necklaces.

Horrible Sarah, who did sleep with Evan (‘She knocked on my door. She wanted to look at the moon. [pause] Again.’), is still in the running. How he can find her dark brown monobrow (there is footage of Sarah filling it in a bit with a brow pencil, in case it’s not pronounced enough, I suppose) and blonde hair combo attractive is beyond me. And her conversation seems to be stuck on a loop of ‘How’re you holding up?’ and ‘I feel really comfortable with you. I trust you.’ It’s obvious* he’s going to pick gum-chewing teacher Zora, whose idea of dressing up is to wear a slightly more fitted western-style denim shirt than usual, and who feels bad that ‘the other girls can’t be here to enjoy [our date]’. Zora’s prudishness works to her advantage, too: whereas the other girls can’t wait to don a titty top and cavort in the jacuzzi with Evan, Zora is terrified of being seen in a bikini, despite being a bona-fide stunna. Thus Evan sees Zora as mysterious and ‘a challenge’. And this still works, apparently.

*Well it is to me, cos I’ve seen the last episode

Friday, January 16, 2004

one drink for the price of four

Am crabby today, and why should I suffer in silence when I can share it with you instead? Am surrounded by coughing, sickly people who feel the right thing to do when germ-ridden is to come to work and share the wealth. Stay the fuck at home! I don’t want to hear you hacking like a frigging Alsatian!

Ahem. In other interesting news, yesterday was mine and Steve’s anniversary. A drink was had at the American Bar at the Savoy, which I expected to be far nicer than it actually was. The bar was pretty, but the furnishings were similar to those you’d find on a P&O ferry, and the carpet was a migraineous swirl of navy and bright yellow. Also, turn down the lights! Everything and everyone (including me and my beloved) looks better in dim, sexy, conducive-to-drunken-flirtations lighting. As the drinks cost £11.50 each, we couldn’t afford more than one. Free bar snacks (olives, salted nuts and delicious, meltingly oily crisps) lessened the blow a bit. But really not that much.

It’s a sad fact that I complain about almost everything. Oh, the American Bar wasn’t as nice as the Green Mill, the hotel on NYE was mean and made us stay in their basement, and that rotten Toyota Corolla ad makes me never want to buy a car. Here’s where to complain about it . Unless you like seeing fat women being ridiculed and men being reduced to car-loving, shallow stereotypes.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Some great things

Joe Millionaire. Watched this on Sunday, and now there are only four lovely ladies sharing the French ‘shat-ew’ with hunky Evan. Funniest bit was when Evan asked the curly one what she’d do if she had loads of money. Her reply was ‘Um, I’d like, go to Africa? And work with the orphans. Like, bathe them and stuff. I guess that’s just the mercenary in me.’ The hired killer in you? Maybe she meant to say missionary. This tickled me no end, and when I talked to Steve later that night I said that maybe we could try the mercenary position one night, and go to bed with swords and grenades. Ok, well it made me laugh.

An elderly lady I saw this morning, who was wearing the coolest outfit I’ve seen in weeks: black 30s tap shoes, black patterned tights and a red knee-length coat. She looked like I want to look!

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Was talking with a Polish colleague about Wigilia, our traditional meat-free (but fish-filled) Christmas meal. She said that this year she decided to attempt a dish utilising the national fish, carp. The recipe she used was called ‘carp in grey sauce’ (note to the Poles. Could we at least try to make our cuisine sound vaguely appetising? I’d pass on Sachertorte if it were listed on the menu as ‘brown cake’). Unsurprisingly, the carp in grey sauce was foul. Krystyna explained that carp eat all the rubbish at the bottom of the river, and sift mud, stones and used condoms to get to the nutrients. Apparently you’re supposed to soak/pickle/salt the fish to get rid of the taste of trash (mmm…trash…), but she failed to do this, so on Christmas Eve she and her family were eating a fish that tasted like dirt. I say stick to ears and pigeons next year.

Monday, January 05, 2004

My NYE in a four-star bunker in Knightsbridge

The 31st and the 1st were an eventful couple of days. On the last day of the year, Steve and I went to visit my sister and her children, the Mewlies. They’re two years old now, so not really mewling any more, but instead chattering, clambering, jumping, and standing over their Gran to see if she drops any of her meals-on-wheels lunch on the carpet. They are like pets, but with clothing: anything that an adult is eating must be better that what they get fed. (Having seen the meals-on-wheels menu, I think the reverse is true. But how to break this to a toddler?)

After doing the family thing, we went to check in to our swanky hotel, booked the day before on Lastminute.com. Our main reason for choosing it over the dozens of other places touting for business was that the description stated that the hotel had a solarium, gym, sauna and pool on site. Did it buggery! Once we arrived and were led to our room (in the basement, through several fire escape doors), we decided to call reception and see where all these treats were located, as there really didn’t seem to be room for them in a townhouse. Turns out they were a 10 minute walk away, and cost £15 to use. We complained and were given complementary day passes, but once we got to the gym, we discovered it was closed until January 2nd. I was about ready to cry, and I actually did shed a tear when the vodka martini I ordered back at the hotel arrived in a tumbler full of ice, no olive, and containing not a drop of vodka but Martini Rosso vileness instead. (The hotel bar was free – yes, free – and that is probably the only thing that prevented us from storming out in a righteous huff.) Oh, and the only place in our room that had mobile reception was far corner of the wardrobe.

The evening got better, though. Drinking champagne in the bath, going to Maroush for a cheap and tasty dinner, and walking around Knightsbridge looking at toffs’ houses. I’ll tell you one thing, the rich have really, really boring taste in interior design. So much cream! Chintz! Heavy curtains (to stop bitter proles like me peering in? Probably), dull antiques, nothing retro or punk, not even any Chinoiserie. This didn’t stop me from muttering “I hate you, I hate you” while my teeth chattered and I stared at a – blond, Tory – family toasting their wealth and incredibly fabulous life around a Christmas tree. Bastards. I was greatly heartened after seeing a rat darting purposefully towards a basement flat full of more nobbs. Vermin don’t care if you live in a pit or in a palace. Marxist Ilona, over and out.

Upon returning to our hotel, we drank more champers, set up the scrabble board (my drunk ass was whupped by a man who works in marketing, for shame!), and watched on TV the fireworks I could have seen – live! – from outside my front door…

Happy New Year!