Thursday, 21 June 2012

A rare gem

Every now and again whilst browsing around online for my job, I come across some strange choices of words or malaprops due to poor spelling, grammar, punctuation or just the sheer speed at which things are often thrown together in the online world.

But rarely have I ever found a phrase as nauseatingly offensive as this one, used by a certain company that will remain nameless, for their Twitter description:

"Feverishly nurturing juxtapositions from seeds into eggs with the lightest of carbon footprints"

I don't know if it's the use of the words feverishly, seeds and eggs in the same sentence (inappropriate), the fact that they've related carbon footprints to art (which is what the company actually does - would you have guessed it from that description? I thought not) or just the fact that it plain doesn't make any kind of sense, but it made me stop dead in my tracks, turn up my nose, and wish the written word had never been invented and that we all still communicated in yelps and yowls.


I feel the need to read something beautiful as an antidote. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Feelin' feline

We’ve got some new additions to our family. Meet Margot and Inez – our new kittens!
This is them when they just arrived home:
They’re just moggies really, although their mum was half Burmese so that makes them about a quarter I guess?! They’re beautiful if a little timid.
It throws up some interesting loyalty issues with our delightful first cat, Enid (a boy – we thought it was a girl to start with and when it turned out differently, well – why wouldn’t you want a cat called Enid?! So he’s gotta live with it). We love Enid like he was a real child. Issues, I know. We’ve got issues. But my lovely husband decided he wanted more kittens and when we found these little lovelies we couldn’t resist.
Already they’ve got stuck in the piano, refused to move out of the safety of their bed, and got their heads stuck in the holes of the makeshift box we used to transport them home.
Something tells me we might rue the day we made this decision…although there’s something deliciously LARGE about our new family when you list us by name. We are now:
Nick, Natasha, Enid, Margot and Inez
I think the phrase for it is Safety in Numbers. And it feels good. Just ask these two:

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Stuff I've forgotten I learned #1

There are many advantages to living next door to a school. The natural alarm clock that is the morning school run. Seeing the moments only parents normally get to experience - first day, bad day, home-early-feeling-sick day. The constant reminder that life used to be divided into such tiny chunks. (Really, it's amazing they get to do any actual learning in between all those breaks...)

Of course there are disadvantages, which include potty-mouthed parents, litter blowing over the wall into our garden and a constant refrain of "MISS! CAN WE HAVE OUR BALL BACK?!?!" every single time I go home for lunch. But still.

One of the benefits I noticed today (whilst walking home for lunch - when do I do any work?) was being reminded of stuff I had forgotten. Specifically, that most exciting of events known mysteriously as 'cycling proficiency'. Even the word, 'proficiency.' It's got to be the only time that word is used in a sentence.

Cool stuff like that gets pushed out when you get older, one-in, one-out style: in goes another internet password, PLOP! Out goes a times table. In goes a useless piece of marketing jargon, PLOP! Out go the lyrics to the first musical you were in (Wizard of Oz - I was a flower. Aaah).

I watched over the playground fence as they wobbled around, cycling helmets on (another thing I haven't used since school), attempting to ride one-handed and learning how to move to the middle of the road ("what?! IN FRONT of the cars?!") when turning all came flooding back.

I'm still not sure what I was most proud of, that I managed to get through my test without wobbling off, or the shiny green rectangular badge I got at the end of it, that I wore proudly on my school jumper for ooh, at least a week, until I realised it wasn't "cool" which was why I was the only one wearing it. Even then I only downgraded it to my pencil case.

It got me to thinking of the other things I probably learned and have since forgotten - like how to convert pounds into kilograms, how to make a dove joint, what pipe cleaners are for or the first time I read a story all by myself (when did I learn to read? I imagine that was a pretty cool eureka moment, but I've yet to find anyone who can objectively remember the exact point they worked it out. Weird).

Anyway, I'm not one for pointless nostalgia but it was nice for a moment to remember how little things like that were so exciting.

And besides, I reckon the impact of school sticks with us in even more profoundly biological ways. Like the 3.30-4pm slump. A narrow but distinct window during which my body gives up and only caffeine or chocolate (or both) will get me through to the end of the working day. Try telling me that's got nothing to do with my body still being fine tuned to the sound of the school bell...

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Being a sponge

Typed 'culture overload' in Google image search and this came up - cool!

So the best thing about changing job and starting afresh, seems to be that my brain is suddenly waking up after a period of extreme asceticism, culturally speaking.
When I'm so stressed out thinking about everyday things or facing a big change, my brain is so active trying to work out that problem I can't seem to explore the wider world of music, arts, and culture. I listen to Radio 4 pretty much constantly in my car, but other than the odd film of an evening to relax and escape, the rest of the world's artistic output seems to woosh straight over my head.
But here I am, new laptop (big plus!) and part time once again and I'm inspired to soak it all up and hopefully kickstart my writing again.
Highlights from the last week:

Bernice Bobs Her Hair - a short story by F Scott Fitzgerald recommended to me by the lovely IT manager at my new office! It's a lovely little slice of humorous 1920s American fiction, but more than that he amazingly gets right into the head of teenage/young adult girls and their bitchiness. Seems some things never change...meow.

Dreams of a Life - a really harrowing film/documentary about a woman from Hackney who died and wasn't discovered for three years. Supposedly tackles issues about modern society and how disconnected we are, but I didn't feel it really got to the heart of the story. The filmmaker obviously had problems getting people to speak - for example she contacted the woman's family but they wouldn't get involved with the film - and the ones that did were so disconnected it's hard to believe what they're saying. The filmmaker herself refrains from making a comment which is a shame as she's done so much research she probably has the best view of what happens - but she has chosen not to express an opinion, so the viewer is left wondering, which is never a satisfying experience.

Also due to exciting technological developments I have been able to subscribe to a gazillion podcasts and do geeky things like organise my favourites so I can have easy access to all my most inspiring avenues of cultural exploration...truly, living in the 21st Century has its benefits.

More to come.