Sunday, 28 June 2009

Week 8 - #51 Try a new cocktail

I know, I know - standards are slipping already. We're only up to week 8 and already I am falling behind. But, hell, it's summer in London, and anyone who knows me will know that this is when my social life goes into overdrive a little.

So, on to an easy one - trying a new cocktail. I don't tend to drink cocktails very much. being more at home with a pint of lager or some cheap red wine - not much of a girly girl as you may have gathered. But sometimes I like to order something that may come with an umbrella and makes me look 10 times more sophisticated and dead grown-up. I don't do it enough, really.

Last week I went with my lovely friend Jacquie to the Design Museum late. They were having a London through the ages via design night - how London itself has influenced design I guess. It was basically an excuse to catch up for a good old gossip surrounded by those nerdy boys I love so much. Also, there was a good old-fashioned Cockney sing-along around the piano, which I started to enjoy after a few drinks - all very silly, but fun.

Anyway, the evening was sponsored by Beefeater Gin and they had provided one free complimentary cocktail on arrival - so we had delicious chilli gin martinis with passion fruit. Doesn't sound like the most tempting option does it, but it was really very lovely. And lethal. We were supposed to get one each, but Jacquie persuaded the sweet Mexican waiter with a twinkle in his eye that we should have, well, three or four cocktails each for free. Sometimes being a bit cheeky gets you a long way...

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Week 7: #30 Go to a gig based purely on the recommendation of a friend

I love my live music. I can feel completely blissful while stuck in the middle of a sweaty bunch of people just listening and enjoying what's being played for me. I'm simple like that.

I'm not even that fussy about what I go and see. Last week, for example, I went to see lovely, folky King Creosote at the 100 Club and slick, manufactured Britney Spears at the O2. What? I got free tickets and I wasn't going to pass up that potential car crash. It was actually very entertaining, even if she didn't sing a SINGLE note all night. More like going to see a 'show' rather than witnessing a skilled craftsman showing me what they can do.

So on Wednesday, my friend Hannah badgered me into going to Proud Galleries in London's hip (=scummy) Camden. She is, among other things, a rather excellent photographer of rock bands. She has been working closely with an unsigned London band called Morning Lane, producing their photos and promotional leaflets and so on. She was displaying some of her work and Morning Lane were playing at a night she had co-organised called Proud Experience, so I went along in support, despite never having listened to the band before.

The night itself was very entertaining with some of my favourite people in attendance (Twitter users - @rubytrubes always buys you doubles instead of singles - you have been warned) and some great music. The first support act was a young Irish lady called Kal Lavelle who looked like Robyn but played acoustic-y songs about one night stands and the like. Cute stuff. I'll be honest, I didn't pay much attention to the next band (who I think were called Eric Ness and his band) as I was gossiping and catching up with some old friends. Good thing I am not a music reviewer, eh? Phew. And finally, our headliners - Morning Lane. Hmm - I'm in a bit of a tight spot here really, as they are friends of friends. Let's just say, it was catchy stuff, tightly delivered but sounded a little too much like Nickelback or Placebo for my liking (or somewhere between the two) - there were no musical revolutions going on here. So, not my kind of thing but certainly talented guys.

All in all, a lovely night was had by all. Made even sweeter because I could walk home (I laugh in the face of your tube strike, Mr Crow!). Up next musically, The Dead Weather (with the completely awesome Jack White) and reliving my youth at the Blur reunion gig in Hyde Park. Unfortunately, mankle issues mean that there will be no bouncing up and down for me, so I may have to take a sedate place towards the back of the crowd.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Week 6: #18 Read a self-help book

When I initially sent round my list to the people I trust to know me and give me honest feedback, this was one that my friend Phil decided was not worth it. From what I can remember, she thought self-help books were boring, generic and patronising and I would not gain anything from the experience. So far in my life, I would agree with her. If I want to learn something from a book, it's generally non-fiction about psychology or social issues (that makes me sound like an arse, doesn't it?).

I think the one I chose was not your typical self-help book, however. I think if I had plumped for a Men are from Mars, or The Secret, or one of the millions of ones written in the same ilk (or God forbid that terrible one about the different messages men and women read into text messages that scraped the barrel recently), I would have had the exact experience that Phil was describing. I actually read 101 Things to do Before you Diet by Mimi Spencer, which I found funny, insightful and revealing.

Presented as a list of, you guessed it, 101 things to try instead of dieting, it had some useful advice. It was also easy to pick up and put down, as it split handily into sections. There were pointers on cutting calories where you won't even notice them going (like in ketchup, or switching to skimmed milk). There were tips about which clothes to wear, why you should dress for who you are, not who you want to be. Why you should buy quality food and clothing rather than the false economy of cheap things (though, sadly that would mean me saying goodbye to my beloved H & M and Primark, and frankly, I am not paid enough to switch just yet).

Generally, I enjoyed the read and would recommend it to anyone. However, there were a few points that I thought were probably aimed at middle-aged women and people with kids rather than someone like me. I don't really throw dinner parties, or eat at fancy restaurants (unless the 'classic combo' of Quavers and Worcestershire Sauce flavoured Walkers that my friend Hannah always orders for us at the pub counts as 'eating out'). There were some things that are just impractical for me - she advises never really wearing flats as they make you look dumpy. Yes, I know this, but a combination of never perfecting the art of high heel walking and the pins holding my ankle together mean I really don't want to be prancing around in stilettos just to make my legs look longer. She also advises never having a hangover, and while this is very good advice, it's just not a practical reality in my life as it is at the moment.

So I came out of my first brush with self-help books pretty unscathed, and will keep the book to revisit some of the points at a later date, no doubt. Will I be reading any others, though? I doubt it.