This is the longest time I have worn a dress this year whilst still staying conscious. It is 6am and I have just got back from covering the count of the county. It is strange to think that this time last year I was doing my best to stay awake during public affairs lectures and now I am doing my best to stay awake during public affairs in practice. I am rather worried about all of the ways I could mess this up; telling the candidates what I really think about their policies; letting slip who I voted for at the polls or accidentally tweeting out the wrong winner.
After watching the alternative election night for a couple of hours I make my dress more conservative by removing my pink belt and bright pink shoes and powdering up my nose. I deliberately chose this dress after carefully checking that none of the parties in the area have chosen pink, grey, black and white as their official colours. It is a good job as when we get there I give a mini interview to each of the three candidates which we upload to our site as soon as possible.
I know it sounds silly but after the third interview I am beginning to feel like quite the little journalist and I reward myself with the worst cup of coffee in the world. It is however two in the morning and the lady served it with a smile so I resist the urge to gag and swallow down the sweet caffeine goodness hoping it will keep me going for at least another hour. I slip into the bar to take a look at the swing and am met with the ends of an argument between a Tory and a Labour supporter. As I silently watch the swing I find myself hoping the spat will get going again as I am starting to drift off and can think of nothing better to get me going than a fight between the left and the right. I am just about to send a tweet to my followers asking them who they think would win in a fight between the reds and the blues when the coffee kicks in and I remember that this is the kind of tweet which could get one in trouble. Hurrah I think, I am a sensible journalist with good coffee powered instincts.
We are sharing our media table with the Leicester Mercury, BBC radio Leicester and Harborough FM. Though we are all technically competitors there is a great little buzz in our corner and we all speculate over who will be the next leader. Harborough FM in particular are a great crowd. They are funny, happy to share their electrics and when the BBC lady breaks her microphone their engineer kindly steps in to sort her out.
It is gone half four before the rumours start to fly about who has taken the seat and it all becomes very exciting. We have councillors and politicians flock round the table to give us their take on who is going to win and I even try to do my own little assessment by sneaking round the voting tables trying to take a count. Mathematics has unfortunately never been my strong point and trying to look subtle whilst keeping count is a bit of a nightmare and in the end I skulk back to the table to have a biscuit and look at the results which are now coming in quick from other counts across the country. I have a biscuit, which was given to us by one of the Liberal Democrats wondering but not really caring whether chocolate constitutes a bribe.
One of the candidates comes over to our table at one point and asks me when I will be submitting my work. I give him a bit of a death stare and asked him what exactly he was implying. ”For the university, you are a student aren’t you?” Perhaps in usual circumstances I may have been flattered by his mistake, but it is 4am in the morning and I am not at all amused. Fixing him with a look of finely veiled fury, I ask him whether he perhaps is referring to my paper? He is a little embarrassed and mutters something about all young girls looking the same. I force myself to breath, I am a professional after all and filing the comment in my things not to forget file I smile sweetly and excusing myself head to the ladies room where I line my eyes and try to adapt a more hardly look. Where are those bloody wrinkles when one needs them?
At half five the candidates are called forwards to the stage and the winner is announced. There is a flurry of activity; cameras flash, phones ring and the BBC lady takes to the microphone during the Labour candidates speech near drowning the poor lad out. I lurch forward to grab a word with each of the candidates about how they feel while my colleague finishes filing the story. It is all very exciting and when I speak to the candidates who have lost there is a little bit of me that wants to give them a consoling cuddle, but I fear this would be slightly beyond the boundaries of my role and may lead to me being black listed from future elections or jobs generally.
As we step out into the parking lot all but three of the cars have gone and though I am so close to tears from tiredness I feel really rather proud to have been a part of this night. I had wondered whether it was a good idea for me to go earlier on in the day but if I hadn’t I get the feeling that I would have regretted it for the rest of my life. No matter what anyone says about our political system, we have a vote and a choice and a quarter of a century ago for many men and women in the land, this wasn’t the case. Being a part of a night like this, being able to report on it live back to anyone who may still be awake and watching feels a little bit magical but that might well be the coffee and the sleep deprivation talking.
- The dress I am wearing today was another donation from the mystery lady, or maybe the mystery man? It is originally from Select and luckily before I left for the count I noticed my cleavage was just a little too much on display. I covered it up and tried to make it prim and proper with a pair of sensible green courts and a vest to keep everything under wraps.
Now to the untrained eye, it may seem we had a bit of a knees up last night and the injuries shown which flatter the dress so delightfully were sustained due to the old communion wine. This would be wrong. Last night me and the girls were looking forwards to a good old girly night out. I had spent the day wearing this figure hugging, angle enhancing, darling of a dress with only a pair of knee high leather boots and a teeny tiny military style jacket to give off an air of this is honestly not the same outfit I was wearing last night. I wanted to wear it because it has been ages since I have been for a night out with the girls and I was so looking forwards to letting off a little steam and this seemed the perfect party frock in which to simmer.
As Harborough’s restaurants were all either fully booked, overpriced or closed for business I decided to cook the girls a three course meal and after the giant decided to take all the food in the fridge to the land of the poets I had no choice but to take a trip to the shops in my sparkling sequinned skin-tight number. Though the frock is hardly supermarket sensible, I was still left feeling a little upset and frankly at times somewhat disturbed by the bitchy looks and all too obvious glances of grandfather aged men at my frock.
I somehow managed to get the goods, cook the meal and even remembered not to leave the wine in the freezer all whilst wiggling around with minimal room for movement. Me and the girls had a great time getting ready; painting our nails, adding on a bit of sparkle and discussing the prospects of meeting eligible men in the Markets. Though I am not single I am a bit of a romantic and love playing at being an honorary single girl whenever I am out with my bachelorette buddies. Obviously I can not join in with any of the actual flirting but it is still rather good fun casing out the joint for suitable single men of a certain age. I am a terrible match-maker, completely unsubtle in my efforts but I do a great job of setting up mutual friends and at least one of these matches has ended in marriage.
As is the way with all good friends, what goes on tour stays on tour, but what I can say is we had a brilliant night out. It has been years since I have been to Club Enigma but I was desperate for a dance and being the only club in our compact city we drifted towards its doors as the time ticked on. At first it was amazing; they played Don’t Stop Believing from Glee and with the dance floor all to ourselves we performed the kind of choreography only a true musical fan can – see photos above.
Unfortunately about an hour after this happy hoe down there was an announcement from above about a monster munch party. Assuming there had been an error me and the girls continued with our groove until all of a sudden, beefy flavoured crisps, shot out from a canon above, began to rain down on us covering in wheat based high calorie snacks in an unprecedented and frankly foolish assault. Now I know I am rather past my prime, and that I am not necessarily down with the kids, but I fail to see how such craziness is in any way cool. The whole place stank of beef and there was crisp crumbs everywhere; in our hair, on the dance floor, even on our lovely dresses. There were even crisp crumbs on my eyelashes when I woke the next morning. Feeling a little “too old for this £$%”" me and my girls went upstairs to sit back, have a drink and watch the madness unfold. Unfortunately on the way up the stairs as I stepped off a poorly placed mat, my poor shoe connected with a murderous combination of crisp crumbs and sticky al-co-pops. I slipped dramatically, seeming to hang momentarily in the air before falling back on to my cranium, bashing my hip, elbow, wrist and thigh. As well as being utterly humiliating I was also extremely upset as I had even more crisps on my outfit and felt like a total fool as well as being in a quite horrific amount of pain. I dusted myself off and behaving like a wounded warrior, shrugged off the kind assistance of the bouncer who offered me a medic and stumbled upstairs starry eyed to the bathroom above where I burst into tears as my friend trying not to giggle did her best to soothe me.
I felt extremely sorry for myself and after a short time and another slip, this time on the dance floor itself we decided to call it a night. Though I tried to keep a brave face, after a rather tipsy discussion about the blame there is a claim commercial and a deliciously distracting desert of Chocolate cheesecake GU which helped get my levels up, my friend and I decided to document the evidence – again see photos above, particularly knee and cranium bumps.
In spite of all the medical drama and the poor product placement we did all have a really very fun night. Though I wish the frock had a little more padding it was great to wear and gave me a real confidence boost. In spite of the supermarket glares, I felt really great wearing it; for the first time in months I actually felt happy with my figure and though tomorrow will probably be another day of body loathing at this moment in time I feel happy with my figure, battered, bruised and covered in wheat based snacks though it might well be.
- Today’s dress is from HP. A friend of my sister from her University days she is an absolute legend who is a great surfer and good craic to go clubbing with. She is a business whiz, can drive a motorbike and is also the mother of two very lovely little girls. A supporter of the blog from the beginning, H has harangued her friends to find dresses for the project and shares the posts with her friends through her own Facebook wall. She once posted a very nice note about how reading the blog had replaced Farmville as a form of entertainment for when she has to get up in the night to care for the kids. It is because of this that I do make an effort to get something up on the site every day even if it is just a few photos. She kindly donated the dress a few weeks ago but I have been saving it for a special occasion like tonight. It was originally from Hennes and has to be worn without a bra which was frankly quite liberating if a little bit ris risky during the dancing.
Every relationship has a beginning. In the traditional American dating system, the home of The Rules, the beginning is usually quite clear to both parties. There is a first date which led on to a second, a third, marriage and children. In Britain, we tend to have a rather different approach to dating which does not involve asking a fellow whether he plans to have children in the near future by the time dessert has been served. Most of my relationships have begun by a night-time snog aided by a few apple sours or back in the day the toxic orange Reef drink. They slowly become something after the first meet, by the aid of a couple of texts and a meet up in a bar where you both sort of remember what the other look like but are still fairly surprised when they turn out to have had purple hair or a tendency to wear tight T-shirts which showcase their nipples. Although liaisons and nights spent sitting up chatting till sunrise are a common feature of the start of our relationship it is far less common to begin an affair with a traditional date. Relationships then in England tend to become official far more organically than they might in other cultures where booze is not the nation’s primary aphrodisiac.
As it turned out today was our actual anniversary I thought I would share the story of our courtship. It is a story most of our friends know and is happily lacking in sonnets and musical midnight serenades. What does feature in the tale of our coupling is a pair of “kinky” black suede boots, one of Manchester’s biggest cattle markets and an argument about Jack Johnson.
The first time myself and the boy made eyes at each other was when he played a performance gig at Jabez Clegg where I was working as a barmaid. The band was called Onions and though his other band The Schmatte Kid went their separate ways without ever really informing each other, Onions itself is still going strong today. Occasionally there are groupies at gigs which cause me a fair amount of annoyance but one can deal with them directly by planting a great big smooch on one’s musical man immediately after the gig, just as they come off stage. Admittedly this does mean one gets covered in performance perspiration but it really is necessary to mark one’s turf when there are predatory indie chicks about.
What was strange about the night myself and the boy met was that as I went amongst the crowd of annoyingly amorous students some of whom would try to “give me a hand there darling”, or put their paws on me, I couldn’t help but notice the drummer was looking over in my direction whilst he happily bippity bip bopped away. Reminding myself I had once managed to convince myself Justin Timberlake had given me the eye at a sell-out concert at the MEN I brushed the thought aside and continued to collect up the dregs and fag ends.
After the gig was over I was downstairs on the bar finishing up. I had grown a tad sick of the place as I had foolishly got involved with a guy who I worked with who was lovely but totally not interested in anything but a fling. This was fair enough but when it came to a rather abrupt ending I was left feeling rather uncomfortable in the work place. As it was he was luckily not there that night so I was feeling happier than I had done in days. A friend who I worked with, the cupid in this tale, Nicola Steele, was sitting with some friends so I went over to have a quick catch up whilst collecting the glasses. When I got over there I noticed the drummer boy sat across from her. He was dressed in a really lovely looking shirt and tie with his hair all nicely spiked up and a lovely big smile on his face. Whilst collecting the glasses from the table I stood behind the drummer and mouthed to my friend, though I do not remember this, “Who is he, he’s well fit.”
According to the boy before I had come over he had been considering whether or not to approach me and offer me a drink. After deciding I was far too much of a lady too be approached in such a way he voiced his thoughts to his friends girlfriend who told him that any girl wearing knee-high boots and fish net tights would not be mortally offended by such an intrusion.
In the end he chickened out. The next time we saw one another we were in a large group at Trof and he was acting like an eejot. After insulting my musical taste, he told me Jack Johnson was a talentless nobody and even yelled at me. As a result I decided he was far too arrogant and set off to meet a guy I’d been seeing at the cinema. I did not leave the bar however before I’d turned to him and called him a musical Nazi.
When he got home that night his friend asked him whether the girl he had spent the night insulting was in-fact the one he was trying to get with. His face fell as he said: “Yeah. I’ve blown it haven’t I? And indeed he had. I went to my date that night resolved to give the guy I was dating more of a chance; after all he might not set me alight but at least he didn’t yell at me.
- Today’s dress is another gift from my fairy god mother. I believe it is from Next and is lovely and silky. It is cute but low cut enough to prevent it looking too girly. As it was our anniversary and unfortunately pouring it down I put on some thick purple tights with hearts stencilled in to them and black knee high leather boots. Really I could have done with some brown as the black took away from the flirtiness of it and made it a little too harsh looking but I wasn’t about to ruin any shoes on the way down to watch the rugby at The Kings Head with the boy and an old friend.
Day 48 – Mysterious strangers in motion calming down the commotion and one hell of a Valentines day gift
Today’s dress was brought for me not by a mysterious stranger but by one of my most generous friends, she is like father christmas but all through the year and is always the first to put her hand in her wallet and the last to complain about parting with cash for the sake of treating friends to a coffee, a bottle of wine, baby clothes or in this case a pretty dress to keep the project alive.
We once had an argument back when I was ten-years-old, I can’t remember exactly what she said, it usually comes to me after a couple of glasses of wine but this being the first day of lent I am stone cold sober and all I remember is that I think she may have insulted my cardigan which was white and knitted and I cried. Anyway back then I was well-known for my mood swings and my darling sisters coined the wonderful and truly inventive song to compliment my sudden sulks which was; “see-saw, mardjeri-door, Ellie’s gone off in a mardi.” Kids can be so cruel.
Anyway thanks to my ability to sulk and us being placed on different buses and in different half of the year at school it wasn’t until upper sixth when we were learning, mainly how to drink, that we crossed paths again. She had a bit of a thing for one of my friends and as she was a lot of fun and her friends clearly lacked the staying power and general hilarity factor of my circle we adopted her and since then she has been one of my best friends and my closest, in proximity (she lives just down the road) and “emotionally”, Harborian friend.
Today has been a bit of an odd one, most of the time I have felt great, really happy and quite positive but I have also been rather frantic at times. I am getting a little tired of going up and down the country and am feeling torn between my two homes and missing the security of waking up in the morning and knowing whether I am beside my darling boy or at home in a single bed reaching out for a warm body which isn’t there. Also the side effects have started once more due to the increase in medication and it is truly one of the worst so far, nausea. On the train I am constantly holding my stomach trying to settle it and ignore the hot and cold flushes which keep coming over me.
Arriving at the train station all a flutter I find the ticket machine has failed me once again and knowing I can get a ticket on the train with my railcard if this is the case I board without really thinking. It is not until I get to Sheffield that I realise I have not got my railcard or my ticket with me and that my debit card is still up in Manchester. It is rubbish because I start to go red and realise I am going to have to face the full wrath of the train manager. After speaking to my Mum and telling her what is going on she tells me not to worry as the peak district is very pretty so I can take the opportunity to be at one with nature, thankfully I go through a tunnel at this point so am spared any more positive prattle.
The train manager turns out to be a darling, extremely understanding and issues me with a not paid slip and refuses to take my laptop as a down payment. I have just started to settle down and am in the middle of finishing the final few paragraphs of my carefully constructed feature on the state of the railway network when I am accosted by the mysterious stranger. She asks me whether I know the lady who was sitting next to me in what is it must be said a rather urgent aggressive tone. I tell her I have no idea who the lady is but she persists in questioning me and just when I am about to start crying for fear I have become involved in a low-budget crime movie I remember the lady in question had been speaking to the man opposite us and like a traitor I point at him and cry, “He knows her.” The heat is instantly taken off of me, it turns out she is a ticket dodger and that the mysterious stranger is just trying to protect the kindly train manger who has a good heart.
The mysterious stranger later checks to see if I have survived the difficult ordeal and after I jokingly mention that the two of us should receive citizens award for policing the railway she mutters something about well I was ready to pull it out. Good god I think, I am fraternising with a bloody terrorist. Luckily it turns out she is in-fact a copper not as I had thought just another nosy sod like myself. I must admit it really reassured me to know there are people on the trains looking out for us. Though I am pretty sure she was just in transit herself and was not necessarily an undercover transport cop, I was impressed that this lady had gone above and beyond her duty to protect a lovely lady who was being taken advantage of.
The dress I am wearing today is from Next and I must say due to the nausea and the ridiculous cleavage and tummy room it gives one I am not surprised when during the Midlake gig when I have to run to le loo at one point to be sick people are happy to let me back through afterwards assuming I must be as the boy so joyfully puts it, up the duff. Later on the bus home from the gig the nausea comes on once again and in spite of having drunk nothing but delicious Mancunian water I have to sit with my head in my hands with the window open. I am upset because a girl in front of me watches me judgementaly and mutters loudly enough so I can hear to her boyfriend about girls who can’t handle their alcohol. I’m more upset for her than anything as I often find that women who lack confidence in themselves are more likely to turn on other girls and unfortunately I think it hadn’t helped that her boyfriends rattish eyes were drawn to my cleavage. I try not to care and for once I manage to hold my tongue, but I am disappointed in this fellow member of my fair sex and feel sorry for my cleavage which really wasn’t doing any harm to anyone.
As I am having a mini-tis at Marks and Spencer and have banned the boy from buying flowers from there or going there to buy a Valentines-day meal; last year we rang up and reserved it the night before and it was lovely but this year Didsbury’s manager is a stickler and apparently “this is not something we would ever do.” So I have decided that buying their food, flowers or cards is not something I shall be doing. I am also a bit crotchety with them because I have tagged them and sent track-backs to them several times over the past weeks and never have I heard a word of thanks, harumph.
Anyway before I start acting like a diva about Marks and Spencers, charity shops who charge too much and other such grievances I would first like to thank those visitors from freecycle for their generosity in terms of dresses, two people have come back to me so far offering to rummage through their wardrobes or lend dresses for one wear. I would also like to thank the super star theatre lady that is Ms Anna Clayton, she has leant me two pretty dresses for the weekend and I look forwards to sharing them with you.
Well that’s now over and done let us get down to the business of today’s blog. As I could not justify my beautiful boy spending his hard-earned cash on overly priced flowers he has volunteered to instead buy me some dresses. I have told you in the past of dresses I have purchased from e-bay for minimal sums, many of which when inclusive of postage and packaging barely tip the £5 mark. Yesterday whilst searching for dresses, thinking I might be able to get for £20 at the most I was horrified to see how snooty many branches of charity shops have become. I noticed it before when I went to purchase books and was charged £5 for copies of Harry Potter that were so battered and smoke smelling you wondered whether they had been re-free-cycled five times over. i have no problem buying from charity shops, I enjoy knowing that when I buy things the money, well the percentage of it not given to expensive advertising campaigns, will be going to a cause. I also enjoy gifting clothing to them which is in a reasonable condition, clean and of good quality knowing that someone else will be a ble to get wear out of it and that it wont end up in a landfill someplace else.
Vivienne Westwood this week said she thought people should stop buying clothing for at least six months to stop the increasing landfill problem. Whatever your views about climate change no one can deny the harmful effects of excessive wastage. Wherever it end up every bag we throw out is one more to add to an increasing pile of crap in Scotland, China or even the local tip and the only way to stop this is to stop buying. However in an economy largely driven by consumerism to stop buying is to continue to damage the economy, so what can we do? Well we can have swap shop parties, or we can take our old unworn clothes to charity knowing they will go to a good home.
The problem we found however, is that charity shops, spurred on by the age of Vintage becoming cool have become carried away with their pricing and are somehow managing to justify charging up to £13 for a Next dress and around £7 on average even at times for Primark and George. It is a total joke because we went in yesterday ready to spend £20 and left in disgust at the fact this would buy us only two dresses and had we went to eBay we could have triple the amount of dresses. It is silly because people spend more when they feel they are getting value for money, less or nothing at all when they feel they are getting ripped off.
I wonder whether charity shops need to get with the rest of the fashion industry and realise the importance of discounting fashion otherwise they may find themselves getting left with people unwilling to give away old clothes when they know they are demanding an unreasonable amount for them. I wish charity shops would use a system of credits whereby if you give you get credits to buy new books or clothing, not a large amount just a quarter or a third of the proposed selling price, either that or they just stop ripping people off and get down off their high horse upon which they ride with Marks and Spencer’s Didsbury branch.
Release Date 22/02/2010
Two of CityLifers heavyweights go head to head in the JLS single review rumble in the jungle. Who will win?
Elinor O’Neill (fan of JLS)
Chris Gilliver (most definitely not a fan of JLS)
Myself and JLS have a bond shared by few others; when I crashed my car last year, flipping the vehicle three times and spinning it around only to emerge from the wreckage bruised but not broken, I was listening to their debut album. Because of this, I feel a strange pull when I hear them, because to me, their angelic harmonising voices signal one thing, survival.
When I stick in the CD, tres retro, I am a little concerned hearing them may bring on a full blown panic attack, but it doesn’t. It just sounds wonderfully smooth and very cool.
Second only to the memory of a car crash, the single reminds me of two very different but equally lyrically brilliant songs. The first being Britney Spears; Lucky which was released prior to the dawning of her difficult days and may well have been a forewarning of what was to come of a girl who should feel lucky but who is actually “Cry, cry crying at night”. The other song is The Girl All The Bad Guys Want by Bowling For Soup.
The lyrics allude to the difficulty of a guy brave enough to try his tricks with the ladies, who is approaching the pre-breakdown equivalent of Britney, a girl we read about in magazines. The song reminds us of the importance of making the most of every moment, as after all, we have only one shot.
I have always known that JLS are geniuses of the sing-song; I listened to Everybody In Love until the point when those who were not in love with me, or the song asked me, to put a blooming sock in it – though in an abbreviated form.
I was also aware of their mega-hunk status; they have a tendency to look as chiselled as Ken, and the innocence they exude makes one think of them in extremely asexual terms. And if they ever do respond to my fan-tweets demanding tickets and tokens, I would probably retreat quicker than John Terry from his meeting with Capello
They have that boy-band quality that leads to the ladies lapping up every hit they churn out, but they lack the sex of Take That in their early days before they became mothers meeting fodder, and the underwear thrown at them became more likely to be Miss Selfridge than La Perla.
I always wonder if I should feel a little guilty about my JLS obsession. Surely a lady of my years who used to be in a TTAC (Take That Are Crap) society when I was ten should not melt at their music, but I do, and I think we should acknowledge their talent for tunage.
One Shot professes a mature philosophy, which reads as Carpe Diem for illiterates and with it they have shown themselves to be more than just hunky, dancing, singers, who make you bop like a space hopper on speed; they are also learned beings and accomplished lyricists – even if according to daytime TV they are the third party responsible for me crashing my car.
JLS have broken the traditional boy-band mould and invented a new paradigm: the prematurely balding one; the one who desperately wants to grow some cool facial hair but can’t; the one who sings like Cher and can’t stand up without cocking his entire body to one side; and the one who looks like the lovechild of Sacha Baron-Cohen and Vin Diesel.
The old saying goes ‘you can’t polish a turd.’ Well, I reckon if you tried, you could probably flash-freeze it, apply some sort of superglue/laquer mix, leave it in the fridge overnight and ‘voila’ – shiny turd. Nowadays, technology allows us to make recordings of any talentless oiks sound quite good. JLS’s ‘One Shot’, however, is not one of those recordings; it is dire, unadulterated tripe of the worst kind.
They seem to have stolen a riff from the ‘Rave Anthems’ advert and the lyrics from Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’ then got rid of all the good bits. At one point they even run out of words halfway through a chorus and say ‘da da da, da da da’. The pitiful ending to this disjointed mess of a song sounds like a 16 year old’s music technology project.
I genuinely despair that this will reach number one.
Sound Control, Manchester 06/02/210
By Ellie O’Neill
Oh the sound, the sound of The Drums. When I heard seven days ago I was going to see them, I got so excited I began practicing my dance moves and planning what to wear to a night I thought would be monumental. This was the act which I thought would propel Manchester’s new venue Sound Control to a whole new level of luxurious musical mania, an act which would test their control of sound, an act which would pull in the crowds so sadly sparse upon their opening night. This was their chance to be The Venue for music lovers to go to when they wanted to hear great music and to hear it lovely and loud with lots of beautiful bass.
Sound Control was brilliant. Other than an audience tending a little too much towards the student crowd, pulled in by the cheapness of the drinks. The sound delivered perfectly and the place was packed. The basement was once again closed, presumably not because numbers failed to reach full capacity, but because of the heating being broken, again.
There are two issues Sound Control will need to resolve before it reaches its hey-day, the first is the choice of act, no matter how I try to put a positive spin on it I think The Drums are dreadful. So bad at one stage I nearly leave but am persuaded by my companion that reviewing only the first ten minutes of the act would be a tad harsh. The second issue is the crowd, which I strongly suspect would be a lot more friendly if those who were only there for cheap bottles of beer would leave, leaving behind the kind of people the venue needs, music lovers.
The Drums put on a performance so self indulgent that one gig goer suggests they were getting a little too happy about themselves; I am tempted to leave the rest of the quote to your imagination but it is too much of a line not to share, “God, was it just me or were they practically tossing themselves off up there at how terrific they think they are”. I try to enjoy them, I really do, I loved Sound Control the last time I came here and genuinely had high hopes for the night but The Drums don’t deliver to a crowd which would generally be just as happy dancing to the music of, well anyone really and the free unsigned gig I went to at Fuel earlier in the night in Withington had much more gumption than anything they had to offer.
When I first came I was inspired by the potential of the venue as somewhere for lovers of good indie to desend, whether they were old-school rockers or drainpipe wearing T-shirt clad disco dancers. Today I was struck by the shallowness of the place. The few people who were making moves could have been doing so to their I-pod, it was like being at a silent disco where someone’s let off a silent scent and you don’t want to say anything for fear someone will think it was you. I would rather drink water or pay £4 for a beer in the place if it means not being surrounded by people whose only concern is reaching a state of sedation so thorough that they struggle to remember who they saw the previous night.
I don’t want to upset you too much with my description of The Drums, but it is after all a review of them so I must. In spite of having a back catalogue of some really great tunes which fully tested the Sound Control machine, they were as one guy beautifully put it “Aaaarrrgh, that was awful, just awful, I’m so glad to get out of there”. Unfortunately at the time someone who looked scarily like one of The Drums was standing next to him outside. I had looked forward to a crowd in this venue who would dance with no regard to posing or prancing, a bunch of gig-goers who would genuinely be there to greet the act with an enthusiasm and willingness to boogie the night away, unfortunately I was horribly disappointed. As well as being called “A nice piece of meat” by a man whose only intention tonight was to find himself a honey and having a drink spilt on me by a guy so coked up he had no awareness of his actions, I was struck by how few people were dancing.
The sound was awesome, but the performance was dire. They continually rocked out to their own tunes, failing to engage with the audience or even notice they were there, so struck were they by their own greatness. They could have been at Rockefeller centre or The Queens Garden Party, there was no adjustment for the crowd to which they played and most of the time they barely acknowledge those who had forked out £8 to see them.
I came here expecting to see an act who could inspire the audience, but what I saw was an act who hardly hold our attention and a crowd who leave the moment they stop, leaving behind them a tide of plastic cups more akin to the debris of the cattle-market that was once The Bop.
So first things first, where is the photo of lady Elinor I hear you ask. The dress is here and yet there is no girl in the dress, a mystery. Well in spite of being a bit of a lazy daisy this week I have finally decided to put you out of your misery. Yes I did wear the dress all day but by this point in the evening I was simply too tired for photos partly because I had partaken in a new sport called roller derby, like rugby but more fun and with a high risk of injury which makes it slightly cooler; the other reason was a dreadful argument I had on arriving back home with the giant.
On this day of 365 dresses, day 38, I was feeling (largely as a result of the previous nights dreadful disappointment) a little bit blue, grey, and other non bright or sparkly colours of the spectrum. I had to leave the boy behind and as we have had a few troubles it was not easy. I also had to climb on to a train where I was once again confronted with idiots; idiots who charge £1.50 for a cup of tea; idiots who eye you up through sunglasses which aren’t dark enough whilst sitting next to their poor spouse; idiots who drink red wine from a bottle before midday and idiots of course who think its ok to run a train service which is nothing short of appalling. By locating a couple of magazines on the train I finally started to feel as though I might make back some of the £300 I have spent on rail travel over the past three months. I am unemployed for goodness sake, how can they get away with this, it is preposterous.
Anyway enough of the rant, in short at the start of the day I was depressed and at the end of the day I was exceptionally depressed but there was a small short two-hour window spent with my sweetheart of a sister at Roller Derby when I was happy and writing this now I struggle to remember it but I was.
Roller Derby is an amazing sport from the states where, as I now understand it you have to knock people over and skate really fast. When I first get there I must admit I was surprised at all the padding and by the girl sitting taking photos with a plaster cast round her leg. I was wondering what need there was for such decoration when all we were doing was having a disco party, there were sweets and flapjacks after all. It turned out that when my sister invited me to a roller disco she actually said derby. The two are it would seem rather different and when I asked our tutor, who kept teaching me how best to fall, why it was one would be falling she looked at me rather alarmed. “Do you know anything about roller derby? Anything about the hitters?” Well if I was not a braver woman I would have immediately left, I knew nothing of these hitters or of the heathen sport of which she spoke. It turns out much of those of us in the beginners pen were not aware of what we were there for. We were being trained like pawns to be used during practice. Roller derby is a team sport, one which you have to sign a waiver for which absolves them of your death.
It sounds dreadful but turns out to be the most fun I’ve had since hockey games at Canterbury Court and cadets. It is dangerous, my bottom is severely bruised and I have mini anxiety attacks about my weak ankles and wrists, but you are padded up well and they only let you get in on the game if you wear a gum-shield. We learn how to do spinning stops, sliding stops, race relays, play tag and it turns out I am quite good at running on my breaks, though look a little too like a ballerina than a rolling rocking roller derby girl (I am secretly happy about this as it looks like the lessons paid off after all and I no longer prance like an elephant). I guess it doesn’t help that I am wearing sparkly tights and a pretty dress or that my hair is down unchecked by a bobble.
Fortunately roller-derby is a place of great female solidarity. Whilst in the outside world women are waiting patiently to get their claws into each others men, or so the press would sometimes have us believe, in here we look after each other and there is a great community spirit. There is no bitchiness, of which I was aware; I am lent a bobble by a friendly lady and we all cheer each other on. I even get teased about my porn star falls, (both knees, both elbows, face hits ground) and I don’t mind because it is just teasing.
It is great to find a sport which is physical yet does not feel aggressive. It is very competitive and amazing exercise, my thighs feel like thunder and every muscle aches. When I leave I am desperate for a bath and a hot water bottle and so when I receive a surprise attack from the giant I am most upset. I leave the place buzzing with endorphins and on being collected by my kind parents I was chattering away and unfortunately said something which put the giants back out and from here on it was less than forty minutes before I was upstairs crying to the boy like a child as he flipped out asking why the hell it was I get on ok up at his and at his parents but fall apart as soon as I get in the door. He does not mean it he just feels helpless but I know what he means, my home life is always on a higher stress level but it is as much my fault as anyone elses.
I do not know why it is myself and the giant clash. He is not a bad giant, like Hagrid’s brother Grawp he has good intentions, and is even able to form strong attachments, his only problem is he, like all giants is territorial and is not a fan of calm and collected communication as a way of doing battle. Yelling is much more effective he feels and I believe it was my unexpected early arrival upon his territory/ home that led to his show of strength. I foolishly joked about his pride of place, his giant throne which is the comfiest chair in the house. He did not take to it kindly and cited my annoyance at his response as another example of my rashness which meant I was manic. I miss Manchester, I’m starting to think it is time to leave the home of the giant and seek smaller dwellings.
The dress I am wearing today is one of the boy’s favourites; he has been a bit of a grumpy of late ever since he realised many of the dresses would be sold. He has a bit of a thing about me lending my clothes to people as it upsets him as he then struggles to look at me in them without the memory of happy times of me wearing the dress; anniversary dates, meals out, summer days etc. are apparently tainted by someone else having worn it. It is strange but he assures me it is a boy thing. It is perhaps because of this I am unable to persuade him to go with me to a clothing swap shop in Manchester today. It is being put on at the 8th day by some students, one of whom has assured me they can set me up for dresses for the year. I am wary however as I have been fooled before by such gushing support so I try to approach the evening as cynically as possible for a person who loves the idea of getting newish clothes for free. I smile as I enter to see a swarming mass of foxy, feisty, women, trying hard to look as though they are not waiting for the whistle to break from their friendship groups and fight as politely as possible for frocks, tops or the ever coveted brand new with labels designer item. These sales are a great way of getting money for old rope and if you are lucky or selective about visitors you can get some really good finds. I have heard an awful lot about swap shopping but at first thought it sounded a little too much like swinging; however, desperate times and a lack of dresses mean I have no choice but to investigate.
In credit to the volunteers who have put this evening together every effort is made to aid visitors; strong sustainable bags are re-distributed, clothes are laid out nicely and in relatively well organised tables and they even make a flawed attempt to filter the hoard. The problem with a lot of the things available is the quality of the clothing; there was more Prada-mark than one could believe, and though I should have been more wary after seeing the waddling shuffle of ugged hooves I had carelessly handed over my bag of high-end well washed barely worn finds before seeing the state of some of the clothing. A lot of it is from the lowest possible end of the high street and some of it is neither washed, pressed or even unstained. I would be embarrassed to put my washing out in this state let alone give it to others in return for a new wardrobe but many people seem quite happy to hand over questionable clothing with no scruples.
Interestingly there is no limit to the amount of items you can walk away with which is quite good as in spite of feeling rather forced together the lack of rules means the atmosphere is fairly relaxed. I find most people reasonably polite, many of them excusing themselves after shoulder barging you or ripping a vest from your finger tips, which is unnecessary in this shop but sweet nevertheless. I end up with one or two dresses and a horde of tops but all will need some level of adjustment or dry-cleaning to make them blog worthy but I guess that’s just part of the fun of swapping.
I am considering organising my swap shop with tea and home-made cakes where people can bring unwanted dresses and swap them for luxe items from my extensive wardrobe or for other items of clothing brought by other swappers. There will be a bit more enforcement on the door as I will not have dirty hockey tops messing up my home and though we usually run a shoes on in the house policy, any Uggaly wearers will have to leave their slippers at the door and legging lovelies showing front rump will be provided with a modesty pashmina for their own good.
Today I am feeling a little bit vulnerable. It may be a result of the flimsiness of the dress which is pure silk from Topshop unique and which once gave everyone on my NCTJ course a rather raunchy display when I entered our office after being caught in a rain storm. Never forget to check in the mirror when you come in from outside and if wearing a thin dress such as this make sure you pop on some French knickers and a covering cream bra or even a slip. That is unless you think you might enjoy a day spent blushing as red as your underwear.
I think the real reason has nothing to do with the dress which is transformed easily with thick woollen tights and cashmere cardigan; it has a lot more to do with the attitude of duplicitous and down right rude men and women. Yesterday a horrible person, stole my friends wallet whilst she was dealing with the baby on the bus. What really upset me and her is they must have kept an eye on her to see whether she became distracted so they could swipe the bag from the pushchair. I don’t really understand people who rob mothers, perhaps it is because they are on crack and think of them as an easy target, or maybe they have childhood issues. Either way it seems rather rude that they take from their fellow bus riders and not going and getting a bit itchy fingered in HMV. Not that I am advocating a shop lifting campaign at this establishment for crack users, but one must admit it would be a lot better than stealing from a Mummy. I find myself thinking today that I hope rumours of the power of karma which us Catholics are kept ignorant of are true and the person in question comes back as an assistant for Naomi Campbell and gets regularly beaten and exposed to class A drugs they are not allowed to touch for fear of punishment. Obviously none of this would be the result of them being around Naomi who has apparently softened in old age like a mature but tasty brie.
I like to think such incidents of crime are isolated but two things which happened yesterday made me realise that not everyone in this world or indeed in Manchester is a nice person. I know this will seem obvious to the majority of you but I have always been a bit blinkered when it comes to spotting the b-words of both sexes. Yesterday whilst at a cash point I saw a man who looked like a student, carrying a blackberry and wearing expensive sports gear barge into a woman as she walked away from the cash point only because she had taken too much time. I muttered abuse under my breath but other than rip out his headphones and demand he follow her to apologise I wasn’t sure how to make him see that pushing a girl half your side in the chest is just plain rude.
The other incident occurred later on the same night at the students union. I was killing time after the swap shop and feeling quite pleased with myself for managing to rescue back my Next suede coat from out of the clutches of an Ugg wearer, in my defence i am saving it for the theatre starlet when she returns from London this weekend and as a reward I thought I would treat myself to a coffee/ beer in the students union whilst transcribing an interview. I have never actually been into the students bar since I was at Manchester University four years ago and fancied seeing whether all the hype about its splendour was for real. It turned out that it was but it took me such a ridiculous amount of time to get inside that the novelty was a little lost on me after a run in with a horrible bouncer who refused at first to let me in. I tried to explain I was reviewing a gig and I had a student card still but in the end let him continue his unending rant whilst getting out my sd card and silently flashing it at him at which point he backed off a bit. I tutted at the grey giant and muttered the offensive statement, “for goodness sake” at which point his uglier even larger friend decided to join in with the fun and told his friend he had made me an unhappy lady. The charmer responded crossly he didn’t care whether he had upset the stupid cow or not. Well, I was so upset I ended up telling on him to the girl behind the bar who gave me a drink for my nerves where upon I went off to hide until the boy arrived. We crossed paths with him before going to see Adam Green only to hear him threatening to blow the place up because he hated students. Now I must admit I am not the biggest fan of students myself. It is probably because I am a bit jealous of their freedom but I also get annoyed when I hear the horrible ones on the bus who dress as though hey are wearing clothing from the original fifties, not the nice fitted flattering stuff but the clothing my grandmothers mother was probably wearing whilst saying the word like a lot and asking over and over if their long-suffering friend knows what they mean and slating the North. In spite of this the majority are quite sweet and even the annoying ones don’t deserve to get blown up by a grey student despising giant.
It is horrible how some people feel they can treat others and I do wish my general response was a lot more effective than the occasional mutinous muttering. I am going to have to work on quick responses to amateur terrorists and cash point cjawhatsits or else I will run the risk of ranting for eternity without ever making a stand against them. Watch out for your handbags wear them in front of you where possible and keep your phone out of sight. Make sure you build up your arm muscles so bank barges bounce back off you and if you go to a gig at the academy make sure you do your best to avoid the wrath of the warlord.