Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Five reasons why I am a bad blogger

Since I started blogging back in June I have been feeling my way like a blind woman through the blogosphere trying to decipher its secret language, learn its customs and conform to its codes.

As the year comes to a close I think it’s only fair that I come clean about the things I have struggled with.

You maybe sniggering at this point.....only five reasons? Well free to point out any I’ve missed….

1) I don’t reply to every comment
2) I don’t know what a meme is
3) I don’t really do the award thing
4) I cannot work out any of the social networking stuff
5) My site is severely low tech



# 1 Comments

This is a biggie. Do you reply to every comment?
Well it seems some very conscientious bloggers do, but is this necessary? On the one hand it’s very nice to see your name with a little note beside it on someone else’s blog because it makes you feel special. But on the other hand if they respond to every comment, because they are polite, lovely people, this also means that you are not at all special.

If I don’t get a response I’m not personally offended. But maybe others are? Maybe one loses readers because people feel neglected? What is good blog etiquette?

I suspect there is no clear directive on this. For example, take Dooce; how the hell would that woman respond to everybody? And if, as I suspect, she doesn’t respond to everybody, then does that put an end to my ‘reader neglect’ theory? This one will probably have me pondering during the whole of 2010 too.

#2 The meme

If you say a word often enough it loses its meaning. I also find that if you don’t know what a word means or don’t know how to pronounce it, the word becomes really fucking irritating. I see this word ‘meme’ everywhere and it taunts me like a private joke in a party of three. ‘Wordless Wednesday’ had the same effect on me, until I looked it up. So the other day I looked up ‘meme’. This is what Wikipedia had to say

A meme (pronounced /ˈmiːm/, rhyming with "cream"[1]) is a postulated unit of cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena.”

….yeah, thanks for that Wikipedia – you really cleared that one up for me. The only thing I learnt from that was that it rhymes with cream, which has now only added to my confusion.

#3 Awards

OK. I think I have fucked a few people off with this one. Here’s my problem with awards. If I win an award I need to go up on a stage in an amazing outfit and hold a piece of glass/perspex in my hand to feel that I have really won an award. I need to have beaten others in my catergory. I need to have been to the hairdressers for the occasion.

Now, I understand that blog ‘awards’ are a way of bloggers acknowledging and complimenting one another. I am not going to lie and say that I don’t like receiving them because I do. But here’s the thing: I resent being told that I now have to pass it on to ten other people. I resent being told that I have to tell you 5 of my biggest secrets and what I dreamt about last night. It’s like those really irritating e-mails that go round teling you ‘I don’t often pass these things on but this one REALLY works’ before telling you to forward some sappy friendship poem to ten people, including the person who sent it to you. Fuck off!!!!

Many of you maybe thinking at this point – calm down Troutie, it’s only a bit of fun! You’re right. I should just chill out. But when another blogger impresses me, I just say so. I just mention them in my blog and link them and say, I really liked this.

For example: I really liked this: Mommy has a headache, Not waving but ironing

My final word on awards. Please feel free to send me one. I will genuinely appreciate it and I will thank you and link you and love you, just don’t expect me to join in with the rest of the rituals because I am one stubborn bitch who hates being told what to do. And besides, I think you get to know quite enough true things about me already, I’m a fairly no-holds-barred kind of girl.

#4 Social networking

I am on Facebook but I rarely use it. I would prefer to remain fairly anonymous in blog land. I thought about setting up a fanpage (delusions of grandeur?). But none of it did what I wanted it to do and I ended up getting very frustrated.

Ok. So then I look at the Twitter homepage. It says ‘search’ but I have to search by theme. So I can’t for example follow a particular celebrity – say Stephen Fry, who I know likes to tweet? Accepting this and moving on from it, I still don’t find Twitter engaging or easy to use.

I just don’t get it! Maybe this makes me a total moron? Maybe that’s Ok. Anymore time spent at my computer and my life might really fall apart.

#5 My low-tech site

Your lucky if you get a picture folks, that’s all I’m saying. I would like to get a nice design and stuff but …….

…….it’s all on my ‘Things to do in the New Year List’.
I'm unlikely to be around much over the next few days, a cocktail in one hand and child in the other. I'll be checking comments but unlikely to post much. So, in the meantime, thanks to everyone who has visited my site and thanks to those who left comments, awards and were generally nice to me in my first year of blogging. You’re all either drunk or crazy. I’m usually both. Thanks for reading!

Angels and Demons

During these last few snow-sprinkled days I have been gadding about Hackney in my fake fur Russian hat. There’s something about snow which calls for glamour, even in Hackney.

Really I should be doing a Part Two to my first Christmas Post. But then I ask myself, does anyone care about my time swap with my sister and the coffee chocolates I’ll never get round to making this Christmas? The answer is probably, like fuck they will. I’ve definitely moved on from my Mumsy Christmas phase. Sorry about that folks - normal service has now resumed.


Now, you might know that I am a stinge bag when it comes to my son and presents; so it will come as no surprise to you that this is genuinely what I’ll be making him this Christmas.



Get yourself an empty water bottle. Fill it with nonsense: old buttons, broken necklaces, rubber bands, things from Christmas crackers that are lying in your messy draw. Give it to your child to shake. Watch their delighted little faces.

Reminder: he is one and easily pleased. For children up to eighteen I suggest a large cardboard box.

Now to the angel at the top of my tree……

London City Mum suggested that said angel is a fertility symbol. If this is so, I didn’t realise it. It was purchased many years ago from an Oxfam shop for 70p. I have always loved it.

To cut a long story short, when I was 24, I went to build a house in the Caribbean with Mr. Wasted Years. Because of our immigration status we had to come home for a short period every six months. I left this statue in our house to safeguard it but I didn’t see it again for many years because I never went back.

Recently I had the urge to be reunited with the statue. Mr. Wasted Years (a white, middle-class man, since you ask) got married (to a West Indian woman while we’re on the subject) and mutual friends went out for the celebrations. I asked them if the statue still existed and if so, would they bring it back? So, a couple of weeks later the statue and I were reunited. I haven’t quite found her a permanent, child-proof home yet, but I thought that after being separated for seven years she should be given pride of place on our tree where she can watch over us all.


If only statues could talk……..

Monday, 21 December 2009

All blinged out in Hackney

This time last year my son was just three months old. My tree was covered in silver and blue baubles, blue lights and blue ribbons. But this year it's all about me.......

It struck me a while back that I hadn’t worn any jewellery for ages. I have tons of the stuff which since becoming a mum I rarely wear. So this year I decided to get it out and hang it on my tree. Bling! Bling! Bling!

I had invited my friend Miss Stitchie round for sherry, mince pies and tree dressing last weekend but when my Christmas Ocado delivery arrived on Thursday night (Yes, I now I can't really afford Ocado but it's Christmas), out came the sherry and before I knew it the tree that I got out 'just to put the lights on' was suddenly dripping in jewels. Luckily Stitchie forgave me and even helped me to make two wreaths with greenery collected from our local overgrown cemetery.



So here is the blinging tree I created whilst drunk on sherry ......





The mask, I wore to a ball at the Venice Carnival in 2008. It's significant for two reasons. Firstly because this is how damn glamorous I used to be. Secondly, it was after this holiday that I became pregnant.




The outfit seen here, included an enormous brooch, now on my tree......



...and pearls and diamante buckles....


Lots of the other stuff on my tree I made out of broken jewellery and old bits of silk.






Also on my tree is reams of my grandmother's vintage crocheted lace, broken chandelier drops, bangles and bows.



Last but not least a fairy who if she could talk, would tell you a thousand tales......


Many thanks to Miss Stitchie who made these beauties for me from an old jumper and real pearls!



And also for my cemetery wreaths!


Merry Blingin' Christmas to one and all!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Get your gingham apron on folks, it's Troutie's Christmas Post - Part One

I went a bit funny in the head before I wrote this blog. I came over all Martha Stewart/Delia Smith with a splash of Keith Floyd. You’re probably going to hate it. So feel free to go to someone else’s blog right now.

Firstly, like a good cook washes her hands, I’m going to cleanse my soul with this honest offering. I’m sorry for what I’m about to say, but here goes.

Sometimes I harbour real anti-mummy blog feelings. There you go, I said it. I don’t want muffin recipes and crafting tips and competitions for a breast pump and to hear how many bowel movements your son had today. I just don't.

I want to win a year's subscription to Scarlet Magazine, a case of rum and tickets to the next Dancehall Queen Competition in Jamaica.

But right now the sprit has got me. I’m not necessarily talking about the spirit of Christmas or the kind of spirit one gets in a bottle. I’m talking about the ‘Mum Spirit’. The desire to cleanse, nurture, nourish and indulge. (No, I'm not pregnant - we established that in the last post). Anyway, whatever the reason for my sudden domestic goddess desires, here it is my homelovin’, homecookin’, real bitch of a Christmassy tips and hints kind of post -Part 1.

PRE-CHRISTMAS LIFESTYLE

I admire and respect the ideas behind Ramadan, but I know I don’t have what it takes to fast. This is due to a distinct lack of willpower or religious incentive. However; I alway feel uneasy about Christmas excesses, so I decided to have a month from 23rd November to 23rd December where I lived a more frugal life by doing the following things:


Paying attention to using up leftovers and eating up everything in my cupboards/fridge so I don’t throw out food.

Buying less food; spending less money

Eating less sweet, salty and fatty fatty boom boom foods

Eating more simple dishes with seasonal ingredients

Recycling things (more than usual)


Yeah, well I am trying…….. my freezer and cupboards are emptying. The simple dishes with seasonal ingredients is a tough one (is a mince pie 'seasonal'?) Steering clear of salty/sugary treats is also hard (does it count if someone else buys them for you?). I am definitely buying less food, but can't see this translating to spending less money. All in all 'could do better' - just can't seem to give up wine.......although I have cut down (does this sound like denial to you?).

Anyway, once I come off my regime I’ll be hittin’ the hard stuff in spectacular style. So if you fancy joining me for a tipple here are a few Christmas drink recipes from moi.

DRINKS

I think Cosmos are really Christmassy with their cranberry and citrus flavours, so here’s the recipe from the International Bartenders Association.

THE COSMOPOLITAN
Vodka Citron
Cointreau
Fresh Lime juice
Cranberry juice
Add all ingredients into cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into large martini glass. Garnish with lime slice. (although personally I prefer the orange peel garnish- also I have removed the measures. Come on who needs measures...just keep trying until you get it right!)


Because there is a strong Jamaican influence in my household, I loved the look of this Rum N’ Ginger cocktail courtesy of The Guardian.

RUM N' GINGER
Fill glasses with ice, pour in two slugs of good rum (preferably Appleton Special). Top up with ginger beer, squeeze two chunks of fresh lime.


Another one I’m going to try this year is Swedish Glogg. Ever since I had a short holiday in Stockholm a few years back I've been fond of this winter warmer which, if done right, can pack a real freaking punch and make you hallucinate moose.


SWEDISH GLOGG
Makes about 1 gallon (those are more my kind of measures)
1.5 litre bottle of inexpensive dry red wine
1.5 litre bottle of inexpensive port
1 bottle of inexpensive brandy or aquavit
10 inches of stick cinnamon
1 Tablespoon cardamom seeds
2 dozen whole cloves
Peel of one orange
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup blanched almonds
2 cups sugar
Garnish with the peel of another orange

Heat it up and drink!

TREATS

Now, usually you wouldn't catch me putting any kind of biscuit recipe on this blog whatsoever but in keeping with my theme today, I just loved this idea from Annabel Karmel.


Next time........ I'll be bringing you the perfect gift for your young child and inexpensive yet blinging ways to decorate your tree.

In the meantime.......... I loved 'Little Green Fingers' post about Kirstie Allsop. And now I'm off to blow my own glass baubles, stuff my turkey, erect my tree, weave my own christmas linens, polish my silver and gild some fruit.

What might have been......

I’ve been a bit quiet of late. I scarcely know where the time has gone. I have hardly had time to keep tabs on my own blog, let alone anyone else’s.

So, this past week I’ve rescued a man from his own van, endured a confusing few days thinking I was pregnant and bumped into Chocolate man – this time face to face.

Dealing with these in chronological order:

On Wednesday I woke up extremely late and as I rushed out of my flat I heard knocking coming from the back of a white van parked outside.

“Hello? Can you help me please? I’ve locked myself in the back of my van.”

It was barely 8.15. All I could think about was that if I did open this door I could be dragged by the wrist into the back of this white van and mercilessly murdered. Worse still, I thought, I could be taken to an underground bunker and used as a sex slave by someone lacking in social skills and sporting a very bad haircut.

Do I try to open this van door? Is this a genuine cry for help or just a pervert looking for his next victim?

I conversed with the trapped gentleman for a few moments trying to ascertain whether my naive attempt at being a good samaritan would result in me giving birth to his children, in a damp dungeon, years from now. Would I end up being interviewed by Lorraine Kelly once I had been rescued? Would I actually end up being fond of my captor? This was all way too much for 8.15 in the morning. I decided to attempt the rescue, all the time thinking about the things I could use to defend myself, were it necessary. I had quite a bit of agression in me that morning and felt confident that I could probably kick the shit out of anyone if I had to.

The door was not quite shut but not quite open. It was fixed firmly, jammed in an in-between stage.

“It’s new van you see….” , said the man inside.

I tugged and pulled at the handle, twisted the key, pushed the key in, pulled it out a little - was there a knack to this? I tried banging the handle, gently squeezing the handle, brute force, flirtatious coaxing. Nothing seemed to work. He kicked from the inside; I pushed from the outside. I was tiring and on the verge of giving up and calling the fire brigade when finally it popped open. Out stepped a very thin man on the verge of a panic attack, thanking me profusely. I was a little upset that it hadn’t been one of those really arrogant white van men, reduced to tears by the prospect of dying in the back of his own van. This guy was actually quite nice. Needless to say, I haven’t been tied up all week performing sexually depraved acts. Instead I have spent most of this week convinced I was pregnant………

There’s not really a lot to be said about this. I went through the usual to-ing and fro-ing, the am-I-aren’t-I deliberations. Mentally I made space in my life for another human being and listed the things not to throw out. I mean, for god’s sake, I have just started to get my life back; I have just got my figure back; I have no intentions of getting pregnant right now!

Then of course the moment you find out that you aren’t pregnant you are filled with what might have been. Then comes the sadness, the sense of emptiness and then I hate myself. I hate the fact that I can think rationally in my brain and yet there is something else controlling me. It’s not my heart. It’s some kind of fucking biological magnetism. It’s like being part of the sea, drawn by the tide, pulled by the moon. It leaves me feeling like I am not master of my own destiny.

So before this rant gets anymore painfully intense this is a good time to bring up Chocolate Man, who on Friday afternoon around 4.30 is knocking off work and walking straight towards me. I had been on a long walk with Miss Stitchie.

“Keep walking and talking” I say to her, spotting him in the distance. This, of course, does not work because he has those eyes which are constantly roving, scanning the landscape for fresh meat.

I look neither my worst nor my best. We pass a few casual sentences. He seems genuinely pleased to see me and wishes me well with sincerity. He is impressed that I have produced a son and I am impressed that he actually remembers my name. I leave feeling just a little bit fond of him and also feeling that he is actually very short.

There are many things in my life that make me wonder what might have been. He is not one of them. This is probably the very reason why I can afford to feel just that little bit fond of him.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

PVC and a Turkey

My last post managed to include both sex and chocolate. This post isn’t nearly as good, but it does include PVC and a Turkey, so you may want to click your mouse at this point and get your kicks elsewhere….

Last weekend I was doing this



.........and this





Then this week I did this......




......and more of this





Yes, I too think that two spa dates in one week is a bit too much. Well…the second one was more of a one hour thing rather than a spa day. It was actually a maternity present from my colleagues which, if I didn’t cash it in soon, would have run out.

I didn’t really enjoy this one as much. Not because the Clarins Skin Spa at House of Fraser isn’t nice but it’s just that having a massage and then stepping out onto Oxford Street isn’t really that relaxing and the whole time she was giving me my 'Aromatic Full Body Balancer' I just kept thinking......




"Oh my god she's touching my feet, I should have pumiced them, I should have shaved my armpits and my legs and waxed my bikini line."




My masseuse on the other hand was pretty and polished and asked suitably vacuous questions punctuated by that beauty therapist laugh which must be a part of their NVQ or something. I have nothing against beauty therapists – indeed some of my best friends are beauty therapists - but this one was your stereotypical beautiful-but-blank type although not at all bad at her job, which is of course the important thing, as let's face it, I didn't go there to chat about foreign policy or climate change.

Anyway, I left the Skin Spa smelling damn good, if feeling a little oily.

I also saw Selfridges Christmas Window and the Oxford Street Christmas lights, neither of which can just be decorative anymore, now they have to advertise something as well, like Jim Carrey's latest movie.

This was my favourite window, nevertheless...


Last night I had dinner with Chanel No. 5 and Helena Rubenstein, who is finally pregnant.

“How far gone are you?” says Chanel No. 5

“Four and a half months” says Rubenstein.

“Well done.” says Chanel No.5 who finds anything to do with children very challenging. She follows this up with an anxious look as if to say “Did I say the right thing?” She may be wearing the latest Chanel nail polish genuinely effortlessly, but she is useless when it comes to responding to pregnant people.


“Everybody’s going crazy about that colour.” Says Rubenstein looking at Chanel's nails, “I knew you’d have it, it’s become so popular that there’s a waiting list. How did you get it?”

Chanel No. 5 is genuinely surprised by this. “I just walked into Selfridges and bought it.” she says.

Dinner was an unusually restrained affair. Rubenstein did well to stay out past 9pm and Chanel No. 5 was getting over the very recent death of her dog. Between us we drank one beer, one glass of Pinot Grigio, one glass of desert wine and a large bottle of mineral water plus a jug of tap water. Most of the alcohol was consumed by yours truly.

Last time we went out we sank about twelve cocktails. Rubenstein thinks this may have been when she got pregnant.

On this occasion, Fatty here, ate the full three courses, finishing off with sticky toffee pudding and was at home with her parents by 10.30. Not knowing quite what to do with myself, I went to bed and had a really amazing sleep.

Following on from my post about hotpants, Cupcake posed another interesting one this week: PVC.

“I’ve bought some PVC Olivia Newton-John type trousers, a see –through lace top and I’m wearing those with some killer heels this weekend.” She said to me while I was in Marks and Sparks deliberating over a Tuna or a Chicken and Bacon sandwich. She waited for my response until she was worried that we had been cut off.

“Are you still there?” she said

“Yes.” I said. “It’s just that you’ve silenced me. I’m really trying to think of a way to respond to that statement diplomatically. I think it’s safe to say that you’re still in that period where you’re not sure who you are after having a baby.”

“I haven’t worn PVC in years” she said

“I last wore it at the millennium,” I said “and there’s a reason for that. Surely PVC is just wrong?”

I have no idea how this story ends and it’s very possible that she pulled it off in that indomitable Cupcake style. Anyway, as soon as I know, you’ll know.

Meanwhile, prepare yourself for two things: Firstly my backpacking-with-baby adventures where I’ll be introducing a new friend of mine “Miss Stitchie” and secondly; my upcoming Christmas post where I am going be very un-Troutie like and more like Delia...........only better.

I watched her Christmas programme the other day and apart from wearing a really bad top she actually said, whilst thrusting sausage meat into the cavity of a bird:

“I’ve never had a dry Turkey in my life.”