Thursday, 30 June 2011


Seeing as the last two days have seen the big cosmic fruit machine in the sky cash out for me three times (don't get too excited!), I couldn’t help but do my usual and start thinking about what I’d actually do if I won the Lottery. You know when you start thinking about it and you almost convince yourself that it’s ACTUALLY going to happen and so you start stressing about the consequences of your newly-minted actions.
Even though you don’t have a ticket?
Well, yeah, I did that. It meant that I laid in bed wide awake for a long while last night deciding what I’d name the tea shop I’d buy (still undecided, more sleepless nights ahead), whether it was too patronising to treat all my friends and family to a massive group holiday (I think they’d be ok with it!) and whether I’d bother to work my notice or not (keeping that one to myself!).
So what would my first five purchases be?
1.       A family home with a dining table to seat 20 – then I’d commission a massive lazy-Susan so that Diana couldn’t hog all the roast potatoes at the other end.
2.       A white convertible BMW 1 series with pale gold leather interior - I’m an Essex girl, what can I say? Although once I’d come to terms with my squillions then I’d buy a fleet of Aston Martins, a few Land Rovers in an array of colours to match my mani-pedis, a VW camper van an old E Type Jag and a cream vintage Beetle!
3.       A white leather Chanel 2.55 flap bag with platinum chain detail – to go on the passenger seat of my new Essex girl car. Obvs.
4.       A pretty little tea shop – I’d fill it with wait staff in 50s-style uniforms, retro, imaginative cupcakes, genuine vintage china and atmospheric tunes. I’d park my pretty little car outside, put my pretty little handbag over my shoulder and waltz in for a pretty little cupcake and chats with my pretty little besties.
5.       An Ibizan villa.
And then I’d totally buy world peace by paying Jason Bourne to go out, round up all the nasty war-mongering bastards out there, tie them up and put them in a well until they can learn to be friends. I’d also pay him to put Mark Wright and Spencer from MIC in there too.
In fact, that's complete fantasy. We all know there's no way I could make big decisions like that without at least two months of email discussions with my (long-suffering) besties and colleagues, deliberating all possible decisions and options. So in the meantime the first five things I'd buy would be Grazia magazine, that skirt I put back in Ted Baker as I couldn't afford it (in the sale), Essie nail varnish (they last like, years), a new digital camera (I've just broken mine) and another pair of those comfy Next wedges (I couldn't afford the pink and the green last month)...
Sweet millionaire dreams

Monday, 27 June 2011

continuing the theme...

There's lots of them about. It feels strange. Like my friends have been naughty and gotten knocked up by mistake and we have to hide it from our parents. And then I remember I'm only half a year from 30 (to the day) and it's more than normal that over 50% of my friendship group have littluns in tow. I swing between uber-broody and absolutely frickin petrified of the P-word sometimes hovering in the middle at "I'm settled with a great man (don't tell him that, he'll get a big head) a stable job and a roof over our heads, so let's consider it".
There's nothing, literally nothing, that makes me feel better when I'm down in the dumps than a snuggle with a new born baby. Snuggles are great normally, but make your fellow snuggler a cute little bug with a scrunched up face, chubby little hands, little snuffly sleeping noises, THAT baby smell (impossible to replicate - even with all the key ingredients), a onsie with farmyard animals/colourful vehicles/flowers/cartoon characters on and that snuggle is just about the best thing ever. So I imagine when the snuggler is your own child it must just feel like your whole reason for being alive....
I've been to visit my friends in hospital before bub was even two or three hours old, I've spoken to my friends whilst they're feeling the contractions burn (apparently "burn" is not the word... Apparently there is no word for that pain), I've held their children while they screamed, smiled and snuffled and felt nothing but the need to protect, love and care. I'm welling up now thinking about it... So imagine what I'll feel like about my own. Christ!
Which makes me think that I should just give in and get on the baby wagon. Maybe.
Maybe not.
I'm scared though. I'm indecisive at the best of times. Pink shoes or yellow ones? KitKat or M&Ms? Jeans or a dress? Blue nails or pink? So imagine my indecisive brain trying to deal with "Baby or no baby?"
Have I done everything I need to do? Have I visited enough countries (never!)? Have I had enough wild nights out (probably... NYE 2010/11 put that to bed for a while!)? Do I need to do more education type stuff? You know, MBAs, learn some languages (again), get that A Level in psychology that I always regretted. Do some kind of history course, learn how to take a proper photograph, learn an arty skill, get that last dance certificate (the one there's still a space for in my Achievement Folder for). Have I ACHIEVED enough to qualify as a parent (nope!)? Am I mature enough to care for an infant (I can barely care for myself to be honest!)?
Then there's the money, energy and time issues. I think I'm broke because I can't afford those *perfect* wedges in pink AND green and then borrow my bus fare off Nick. I think I'm tired because I've sat up all night catching up on Made in Chelsea. I think I'm busy because I haven't got time to drive all over the county chasing after that bargain Primark dress seen in Grazia magazine (I got Nick to do it instead - yes I'm super smug that i not only found Mr Perfect but in fact I also tricked him into marrying me - SCORE!!). I think I'm harassed because I have to clean the flat to make the house presentable before guests come over. I think I'm hard done to because I don't have a cook and a cleaner and an ironing lady (although Mr Perfect is a good substitute). In my head, once these things are sorted I'll be able to settle down and have children. Once these things are taken care of I'll be a proper grown up and will be perfectly qualified to become a parent.
Unfortunately, I realised a little while ago that these things are never going to "get sorted". Which means that, god forbid, I probably qualify as a Proper Adult now. I’m not too far off the age my parents were when they had me.
Which is scary.
Very scary.
How can I be a grown up when I still go to parties/bars/clubs and fall asleep in the toilet/throw up on myself (and other people)/become that person that's asleep on the sofa while other guests balance things on my alcohol-deadened body.
How can I be a grown up when I still get excited about going to Disneyland?
How can I be a grown up when I get so drunk I sleep past my stop on the train and think it's clever to share a cab home with a strange man, who to be fair had fancy shoes? Although I did check whether he was a rapist or a murderer before I got in. You know… safety first.
How can I be a grown up when I feel like a productive Sunday consists of catching up on sitcoms, eating cereal and Haribo for lunch, beating my top score on Fruit Ninja then going to my parents’ to get some kind of nutrition when I discover that there’s nothing in my fridge but chocolate Alpro (at least three years old), strawberry beer (yeuch), rosemary (huh?) personalised chocolate bars (don’t ask) and three half-finished bottles of wine?
How can I be a grown up when my brother and I still argue about who gets the dust at bottom of the Frosties packet?
To be fair, how can I be a grown up when I still eat Frosties…
…for dinner…

Wednesday, 8 June 2011


I don't know about you but my mum always used to say to me "I remember when they were/that was in fashion the first time around".

I used to scoff "well you should have kept them/it for the younger generation then..." because, quite clearly, she was mistaken. What I was wearing was clearly much more fashionable, completely original and WAY cooler than anything she would have worn.

How ridiculous of her to even think it.

Tsk tsk.

Did these Grown Ups really think that they'd seen and done everything, or in fact anything, before me? Me? My generation? We were trail-blazing. I was original. We were educating our parents in cool. We were changing the world. My parents were old school (before old school was cool, obvs). And then it happened.

I turned in to my mum.

I think it happened last week sometime... in Boots.

I was looking at the pastel nail polish shades I'm currently sporting on my digits, and purchasing another (very this- and last-season Chanel, but not actually Chanel, I said I'd turned in to my mum. Not a millionaire), and I actually said The Words. The Words I swore I'd never say. The Words I swore I'd never say, for two reasons:
  1. saying them would mean I'd officially become old, and
  2. I would have no need as I was always going to be original.
So anyway, the words...

"I remember that first time around...." Lord help me, it got worse... "and back in the day it was much cooler as I wore a different pastel shade on each finger"... and the clincher "in fact I was a bit of a rebel". Jesus Christ. I'm not just old, I'm criticising the younger generation, and staking a claim on cool.

I could literally see Baby Griff squirming at my ancient-ness as the words came out.

But it's like bacteria, it's growing inside me. I've started telling Kids that the track they're listening to came out before they were born. Thinking that perhaps I should carry some flat shoes in case my heels start to hurt me. That I should steer clear of a particular bar because it's for Young People. That perhaps one of The Kids en route to the Young Person's Bar might like to cover up and wear something a bit longer/less tight/more covered up... and to be careful of having her drink spiked ("buy bottles, they're safer, but clean your teeth well when you get home")

So that's it. I turn 30 in six months. My mum turns 60 in two weeks. My dad's 61 in five months. My baby bro is not such a baby, and is bigger than me. I'm a god parent. My friends are doing the baby thing for the second time.

I have to admit it.

I'm a grown up.


But help me out - I'm not the only one that remembers when Hard Candy released their pastel nail shades in their distinctive bottles with plastic rings on the lid. Am I? They could only be purchased on trips to London or on holiday in the US so they were saved for special occasions. Weekdays (i.e. school days) called for the cheap version. One shade on each nail, until Mrs Hall dragged me to her office and made me remove it (such a waste if it were the real thing!). Only for me to return to my class room and replace it with pastel coloured Tippex (you remember when they released that too, right?). So that when she shrieked at me in the corridor "Miss Hale, are you wearing nail varnish AGAIN?" I could look her right in the eye and with no qualms say "no Miss" with the sweetest of smiles (a.k.a. a massive smirk).

She still had me write lines (I will not wear nail varnish to school and will not cheek the teachers), which I maintain is unfair, as it clearly wasn't nail varnish. So I did my usual and wrote my own version of the lines (I should not be punished for crimes I did not commit). Which resulted in more lines (I will write the lines I am told to write). Well, that showed her didn't it?

See. I was a bit of a rebel.

P.S. Post coming soon where I explain why I'm not actually old and why I should not even be classified as a grown up yet. Brilliant.

Saturday, 4 June 2011


So, on the subject of memories, I was just driving home from Zumba (my latest obsession!) and a quick excerpt of Chris Moyles’ Ten Second Take Over came on and of the songs, every one of them evoked a strong memory. Scientists say smells evoke memories, and I believe that. Tea tree oil reminds me of my days as an underage bar maid, Issey Miyake reminds me of the early days of Operation Make Nick Marry Me, CKone reminds me of the summer after GCSEs, a squeeze of lemon in cake batter reminds me of my mum’s pre-Christmas baking weekends, chemically treated water makes me think of Disneyland and more recently adult-Disneyland (AKA Las Vegas)… the list could go on…
But songs, they don’t just remind me of things, they make me relive the memory. They make me sad, or happy, give me goosebumps, make me cry, leave me unable to stop myself from pulling out a few toe taps and finger clicks (unless there’s a good space and then I pull out a full on impromptu dance routine), I literally couldn’t live my life without music.
Sometimes I can’t remember the exact memory, I just remember the feeling and for no reason I’ll burst out laughing, or the tears will just start to fall.
Maybe I need counselling?
Maybe I don’t.
Either way I don’t care, because, despite my hyper-sensitivity sometimes being a hindrance in everyday life (does anyone else cry when they run out of CocoPops or when they miss the bus by a split second? No? Just me then), sometimes, it’s what actually makes me feel alive.
So, here are my top picks for making me FEEL my memories all over again (remember, these are not my favourite songs, that's a whole different ball game. These are just ones that have the strongest memory connections for me)
  1. Born Slippy – Underworld: the goodtimes of Year 9. I thought the dramas of skirt lengths, the embarrassment of flat shoes, inappropriate boy crushes, glittery eyeliner-related detentions, friendship pacts, tattoo designs on the back of pencil cases and avoiding violent confrontation with the nasty girls in the year above when caught sneaking in to their toilets would last forever. Sometimes it feels like it has!
  2. When Doves Cry Quindon Tarver: The second Sandon School Variety Show and every Friday night round at Kim’s! There are various other songs from Romeo and Juliet that would make Kim, Caroline and me go weak at the knees mainly for their association with Leo. This one holds the most memories for me though.
  3. The Secret Song – Alanis Morisette: sung a cappella in a haunting voice with heart wrenching lyrics by the woman who played God. Sung in screechy, 20 20-fueled voices by me, Kim and Liz “over the park” most weekends.
  4. Like a Prayer – Madonna: the original bad girl from Nu Yawk, causing outrage in the Catholic church long before she passed the baton to Lady Gaga. This song just makes me think of my childhood, dancing, parties, going to church, Top of the Pops and generally being happy and dancey and a little bit crazy…. And THEN it makes me think of the fact that Papa Bear was offered two VIP tickets for her Blonde Ambition tour and he turned them down on the basis that I was too young and she was too raunchy. When I found out I. Was. Not. Happy.  Hmph! I could include every Madonna song here –I won’t, but I would like to give a special mention to La Isla Bonita, Crazy For You, Vogue and Papa Don’t Preach. 
  5. Bad Medicine – Bon Jovi: in fact, any Bon Jovi song, but this one in particular reminds me of driving to pick up my Nanny from London with Papa Bear. I would hold the hair brush for him to sing in to, then I’d play air guitar and he’d play the drums on the steering wheel.  We would show Nanny on the way home and he’d get shouted at for taking his hands off the wheel. Don’t tell Nick! 
  6. Cry me a River – Justin Timberlake:  reminds me of my 21st birthday when one of my besties managed to blag us in to his launch party at the Mayfair Club. We watched him throw some moves to Rock your Body, Baby Spice hit me on the head (by accident) with her glass, we danced on a sofa with Romeo and got papped leaving the club and sharing a cab with O-Town. Surreal night, and one I will never forget. The song still gives me goosebumps… the Justin one, that is!   
  7. Beyonce – Sweet Dreams:  whilst getting ready with my BMs and my mum and two amazing assistants on the morning of my wedding, we had MTV on for about four hours straight. This is the only song I remember, and now every time I hear it I think of those feelings of anticipation, excitement, happiness, love and togetherness all over again. I distinctly remember admiring her hot bod and fly-girl moves and probably did a wee jig of my own in the bridal suite in my PJs, and it’s highly likely I did a little damage to the 15th century beams and floor boards in the process.  It’s strange that in the hustle and bustle of the most important morning of my life, of all the things to evoke such strong feelings, it’s this song. Thank you Beyonce for the sweet dreams and beautiful nightmares!
  8. Sneaker Pimps – Spin Spin Sugar: Vauxhall Novas and Calibras, Kenwood sound systems, tweeters  and subwoofers, Easy Jeans, CK jumpers, curtains, puffa jackets, first mobile phones, pagers, borrowed jumpers…  ahhhh my rude girl mid-teens. PURE! 
  9. Status Quo – Rockin’ all over the World: I think my Dad is proud of me, in fact I know he’s proud of me. However I think the one achievement in my life that makes him the most proud was when he taught me the Status Quo shoulder-to-shoulder-hands-on-hips dance as a toddler and I would perform it with him on demand at parties. A teeny (but little bit pudgy) tot and a 6 foot 2 rugby player, Status Quo-ing on demand – excellent. Had You Tube existed then we’d have been legends! 
  10. Xtina – Dirrty and Nelly – Hot in Here: Monday nights at Dukes with Katy and Claire, strutting our stuff on the dancefloor and drinking dirty pints in KEGS bar. Fights (not our fault, written apology gained), keeping other dancers away from The Shoes, fancy dress, fake DJs, chats with Pat, microchips, queuing round the car park, £7million refurb… I miss the Dukes days. Soon it will be razed to the ground. That will be a sad day.  The minute we hear the opening bars of these tunes at a party, wild horses couldn’t drag us girls off the dancefloor. 
  11. Fleetwood Mac – Little Lies: “Mummy, why does the lady say to tell lies, I thought lying was bad?”… explain the meaning of a Fleetwood Mac song to precocious child who won’t accept “because I’m bigger than you and I said so” as an answer. This was always on in my Mum’s red metallic Renault (never in the banana-yellow one). I loved it, not just for the catchy lyrics and atmospheric tune, but for the thought provoking moral debates those lyrics encouraged on long drives. Also, can we just take a moment for Stevie Nicks in that amazing frock coat… 
  12. Lonyo – Summer of Love: I passed my driving test, got me some wheels (a blue Fiesta, W162 YTW) got me a wicked sound system (a remote control for my head unit – well flash), got me some wicked sounds (Pure Garage innit) and this was on the mix. Bombing around Essex and “parking up” with my Rude Girls (Lady Caz – you know this), my tunes blaring and my tyres screeching. Happy happy days! 
  13. UK Apache and Shy FX – Original Nuttah: I just HAVE to get up and dance around like an Original Nuttah to this. I can’t tell you what the exact memories are, but I know they revolve around Reebok Classics, dancing and goodtimes! Nicky G and I bonded, not just over our love of Harry Potter, a family interest in rugby and our extreme good looks… but over our love of a bit of Junglist craziness on the dancefloor in Chicagos. Wicked wicked. 
  14. Baby D – Let Me Be Your Fantasy: the year 8 French trip. We did what all good Sandon girls should. We ran riot. We rowed. We formed new friendship groups and switched rooms in the middle of the night. We chatted to French boys through the window. We drove the teacher mad. We got sick on smuggled-in alcohol. We got lost. We got threatened with expulsion. We got the bus driver in trouble for perving on us (he was!!!). We played baby D’s Let Me Be Your Fantasy on our Walkmans and shared earphones on the backseat. French trip: Done. 
  15. The Rembrandts – I’ll Be There For You: Soundtrack to one of the best programme in history (Friends –obvs) and thus the soundtrack to MY history. Friends (the series), to me, means so much – Friday nights, snuggling up with Nick to watch my Christmas boxsets, summer holiday lay-ins with T4. Scene It games nights before big life changes. Also, when told by Emma that she’d forgotten the Mack and Mabel music for my Leaning on a Lampost solo number in the Variety Show finale, but not to worry – she had a replacement and I could freestyle it. So, I was on the stage in my top hat, tail coat and sparkly dolly shoes and this came on… most fun I’ve had on a stage, ever! It basically makes me think of my Friends and I know that they’ll be There For [Me], forever.
  16. Christina Aguilera, L’il Kim, Pink, Mya – Lady Marmalade: reminds me of the last dance show I performed in and I miss dancing every day. Thick stage make up, sweaty tights, smelly costumes, bleeding toes, lost shoes, chocolate for lunch and Wimpy for dinner, not seeing daylight for a week, backstage nerves, getting naked in corridors in front of complete strangers (you not caring and them not blinking an eye), getting physically abused by the hair assistants, learning to apply false eyelashes without mirrors, being a size 8… those were the days. 
  17. Queen We are the Champions: Watching Live Aid with my Dad. It’s just so atmospheric. He recorded it and we’d watch it on Saturday afternoons when my mum was out or play it in the background while we would be clearing up the house and moving the lounge furniture around to prepare for a big Hale House party…. Goosebumps every time! 
  18. Robbie Williams – Angels: bunking off school one afternoon and heading round to Dan’s with Neil, Crabtree, Fisky and Amy to play Monopoly and drink strawberry daiquiris(?!?) a few days before we broke up for Christmas.  I can’t remember much about the afternoon but I remember our excuse for absence not going down well with Mr Ragg and I’m pretty sure we missed some important GCSE stuff. Hey… we were learning about property management.
  19. Israel kamakawiwo'ole - Somewhere over the rainbow: the only memory on this list that is a sad one. Well it’s not completely sad. It makes me think, originally, of when Dr Green died on ER. A sad, sad event. I cried a lot at that. In real life it evoked happy memories of mine and Kim’s weddings, and sad ones then of saying goodbye to my Nanny, a wonderful woman who is now Somewhere over the Rainbow with my Granddad. Really the memories are not about the happy or sad events that I associate it with, but about the people that those events included. It’s an extraordinary song, sung by an extraordinary man, in an extraordinary way and it reminds me of extraordinary people. I listen to it a lot. Sometimes I have to skip it though as it’s likely to make me cry, but crying is feeling and feeling is living and living is good. So this is one song that will ALWAYS be on my iPod. Listen to the words. In fact, watch the video attached. Those folk in the water are there to celebrate his life, the things he achieved, the people he touched, and the fact that he lived. That’s what mourning looks like in my head and this is the music that goes with that vision.
  20. Lady Gaga – EVERYTHING: do I need to elaborate? Every time a song comes out it becomes my fave. She rocks my world and she makes me happy. Punch-the-air-dance-in-the-street-sing-out-loud-on-the-bus happy. “I’m beautiful in my way, ‘cause God makes no mistakes”. This is the Word of the Lady. Thanks be to Gaga.
I also have a whole separate section of Christmas songs that just fill me with tremors of seasonal happiness… the top five being:
  1. Stay Another Day – East 17: reminds me of my favourite time of year and the excitement in the run up. I think it’s the bells that get me. That and the fact that I was always team E17, never Take That. Unfortunately they let me down badly. 
  2. All I want for Christmas - Mariah Carey: Just reminds me of the pre-Christmas club excursions dressed up in sexy santa outfits (obviously) and bopping about with mistletoe headbands at Dukes with Katy and Claire.  
  3. Mistletoe and Wine – Cliff Richard: reminds me of the first time I ever went to a stadium concert. My dad knew Cliff’s PA and got me and my Nan VIP seats. I was the youngest person there by three decades, but I loved every second. It was the middle of summer and I was worried he wouldn’t sing this, seeing as it was out of season, but sure enough after his 50s medley (I must have been the only 7 year old who knew all the words to those 50s classics, and so my Vintage Americana obsession began) he pulled out my song, not before he pretended to be a jewellery box ballerina and did a few pirouettes. He waved at me at the end of that concert…. It was only 15 years later that my dad told me that I was sitting in the row behind Cliff’s mum and he was waving at her! Oh well… he did send me a signed picture for my birthday to make up for it.
  4. Do They Know it’s Christmas – Band Aid: the bells, the atmosphere, the feeling of togetherness, it just makes me feel so festive and happy. It makes me want to hug people and feed the world. Probably the best charity song ever as well as one of the best Christmas songs. I remember putting up Christmas decorations at my mum’s friend’s house and standing on chairs to reach the ceiling, and singing at the tops of our voices while playing air drums and guitar, memories! 
  5. 2become1 – The Spice Girls: Not strictly a Christmas song, but Liz bought me this for me for Christmas one year, with a black PVC make up bag (that I still own) and I listened to it non-stop over that Christmas period, now it reminds me of wearing tinsel round my tie, bauble earrings, mistletoe on my antlers headband (all on top of my school uniform obvs), Christmas eve prep, maxi skirts (the first time round), queuing at Derek Kelly for our turkey and family arriving to start the celebrations. God I loved the Spice Girls.  
And to finish… the “if I had to pick a soundtrack to my life” song
Greatest Day – Take That: I’m not a Take That girl as I mentioned, so I was more surprised than anyone that we picked a Take That song for our first dance. But we did, and now, in my head forever it will be “Nick n Viki’s first dance” and it makes me smile. Which is good, as that’s what first dances are about…. and it really was the Greatest Day! That bit at 2 mins 40 makes my heart surge, I see it as the “fist punch in the air” ultimate feel-good moment and I have to restrain myself from doing so on the train/bus/street/car (I have a soft top, so the roof is very low), and it works for any happy situation - graduating, a winning sports team, a love story, someone overcoming adversity…
Listen to the words and tell me that they don’t make you tingle too…