Nothing to do with Charlize Theron or Bob Dylan.

Location: Norwich, United Kingdom

Keep on Truckin'.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Moving On Up

Tonight, Moo, Paul and I went to Club Retro at the Union. Think retro, think kaftans, think mum’s old psychedelic shirt, think tacky bag. That’s going to be a great photo. Best night ever, gurgle hic. Northern Soul blurry brilliant etc.

However, I did only manage 30 solo minutes in the bar before, oh look, here comes Reynolds and new girlfriend. Drat. I managed to calmly avoid them altogether until about 12.30am when he walked past with another guy who I recognised as Darren, his friend from back home, who I met a couple of times over the Christmas holidays. I said ‘hello’, he pointed out my hair and then I asked him about their joint music venture, at which point the man himself staggered into my ear. Left and right eyes focusing on different walls.

‘Of course, it’s all about strong commitments’.
‘Tell me you haven’t called yourselves The Strong Commitments’.
‘Oh, no, no’, he replies, gesticulating at Darren, ‘but the trust…the trust’. A few seconds later he wanders off, giving me his best wounded-baby-seal facial expression. ‘Goodbye then’, he says, theatrically using my full name which he knows I hate.

Hurrah for the Universe conspiring again! In two days alone I have managed to make peace with not one, but two of my exes. Thus I now have a 100% success rate at being on good (albeit perhaps drunken) speaking terms with all of my exes- SMUG!
Ooh, I’ve got that there ‘Sweet Soul Music’ song by Arthur Conley in my head now. Was my kerazy ‘windmill-arms’ dance invented for this? It just might be possible.

Five Other Northern Soul Songs Played By Club Retro For The Student Masses:

‘(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher’ (Jackie Wilson)
‘Tainted Love’ (Gloria Jones)
‘25 Miles’ (Edwin Starr)
‘Green Door’ (Wynder K. Frog). The best (non-porn) stage name ever?
‘Move On Up’ (Curtis Mayfield). Of course.

Friday, April 29, 2005

The Pitfalls Of Bisexuality

What an odd day. I knew I was bound to run into Reynolds when I was looking decidedly repulsive; I did not predict that this would be after 40 minutes walking in the hot sun carrying two heavy deckchairs. As I puffed and panted my way up to Floor 2 of Arts, there he was, chatting away to Fox. Ex-boyfriend and ex-girlfriend in light discussion. Whoops. Luckily, Fox was very receptive to a chat; Reynolds looked horrified, looked away and barely managed a sheepish ‘hello’. He did manage to find his girlfriend next to me in a queue outside the School Office, however, and proceeded to fondle and kiss her right there. Fox held the deckchairs as I, red-faced, clutched my pen and waited my turn.

F: ‘Things seemed quite strained with you and Reynolds back there’, she cunningly observed a few minutes later.
S: ‘You have no idea’.

In a weird twist, not only did we manage to finish an impromptu lunchtime glass of wine together without passive-aggressive/ friendly-but-snipey banter, but we also went on a girlie shopping trip. And it was, so help me, really good fun. With new shoes and everything.

Superdrug (Fox hunts for hairbands):

F: (Sees photo of dog). ‘I want a pet.’
S: ‘But you have a pet. Isn’t there a unicorn in your garden?’
F: ‘Yes, but only virgins can see it. I can’t.’
S: ‘Well I couldn’t see it when I used to come round.’
F: ‘Maybe it isn’t there at all then.’
S: ‘Maybe.’
F: ‘Well you definitely couldn’t see it now, could you?’
S: (Dramatic pause). ‘Does PJ tell you about my SEX LIFE?!’
F: (Cackles maniacally). ‘Peej is very loyal to you, but never tell him anything. Sooo…?’

Thus began a bizarre conversation in which I outpoured a not-so-potted history of mine and Reynold’s relationship whilst she pumped me for more details.

F: ‘Moo is right. He sounds a bit cruel to me. Ohhh, you just have the worst luck, don’t you?’
S: (Makes skewed glance in ex-girlfriend’s direction). ‘Hmm’.
F: (Gets the point). ‘I mean, I was such a bitch to you. I really was. But then at least I was honest…’

At which point I’m sure I saw a literal bubble of tension bursting enthusiastically between us, and she dragged me away in the direction of M&S to find the chocolate pudding ‘off the advert’.

Now, THAT’S progress.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Deckchairs And Ponies

The course I’m doing here tenuously clings to its title of ‘English Literature’. Last December I spent a nerve-wracking evening giving a (Beat influenced) poetry reading to assorted Literature ‘people’ (the fear factor was heightened by the impromptu appearance of Reynolds), which in my essay-programmed cranium was absolutely outrageous, but then I never did picture myself sewing photos onto personally-battered deckchairs. In true student style, I had only cold pizza and Murder She Wrote to accompany me on my sweaty journey to artistry today as I wrestled with the (damn) chair and tried to not to sever my fingers (as seems to be a genetic trait) on the shutting mechanism (read: potential death-trap).

Today is James (Fagin) of The Absinthe Associates’ 20th Birthday (aah, he’s a baby etc). The area around our houses is quasi-swamp. This means that any odd happenings can be blamed on the Old Norse Kings (ONKS) we believe to have been sunk here. Think Poltergeist, but replace the Ancient Indian Burial Ground theory with Norfolk lore. Now you’re with us. This also means that we have lakes. And jetties. One of which we hiked down to last night for a seeing-in-your-birthday-at-midnight type barbeque and beer event. All good fun, except that at about 1am the local rampant ponies appeared.

I used to have a My Little Pony; therefore at a young age was led to believe that Ponies had long pink locks and came with their own purple grooming stable box with a mirror and a heart-shaped comb AND EVERYTHING. To compound my disillusionment of this, not only do the local ponies bite stomachs (Hi, Moo), but they also have a habit of chucking up dust by charging in unnervingly large numbers.

And so it was, as the embers died inside our little disposable box that 8 or 9 dark figures emerged out of the gloom, looked us up and down and then charged in unison across the field, stomping and whinnying away. It was at the same time that several ducks (and possibly small aircraft) decided to land in the water behind us. The effect was of an orchestrated revolution by Mother Nature against, er, students. See, even animals hate us now. And they can’t even claim it’s for tax reasons.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Man Alive!

I'm finally doing a 'live'-post, having saved and then back-dated them for the last ten days.

Now, steady on, don't get too excited.

I've spent the last week, in between paddling-pools etc, wallowing in absolute apathy. It's that feeling where, when you're talking to someone, you're aware that your lips are moving, but the words coming out of them are completely alien. Like your brain has an understudy (and what a kiss-arrrse, as Sir Sugar would say) collecting in all the information and diligently doling out the appropriate responses. In short, I'm functioning completely on autopilot. A good thing about this intellectual 'switch-off' is that nothing really irritates me. A bad thing is that I keep almost getting run-over and have a continually vacant expression along the lines of Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers.

Perhaps the alcohol really has killed my brain cells. I vow to be a tee-totaller from here on in. Except birthdays and other nights out. And girlie nights in. Oh dear.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Chip Chip Chip

My friend’s Mum used to own a Mr. Motivator video in which the man himself would gush, ‘You’re looking good today’ every time the video was played from the beginning. This proved annoying and disconcerting for obvious reasons: the recorded Mr. Motivator didn’t appear to differentiate between days when Mrs. D had diligently trod the stairs for an hour and a half whilst grappling oversized bags of flour and days when she had worked her way through eight packets of McVities Chocolate Digestives whilst watching repeats of Trisha.

However, it must be said that everyone needs their own personal Motivators at some point. My own personal Motivator is currently proving to be Moo, as she continues her valiant quest to help me triumph over the Bastard Bastard Man Heartache TM.

Moo’s action plan consists of three steps:

1. Eye-contact
2. The Approach
3. Kissing

On Saturday night, whilst out, ‘tired, and emotional’, Moo became particularly concerned with the progress of Step 1. ‘Look at them!’, she cried, gesticulating wildly at two poor, unsuspecting young men. ‘LOOK. AT. THEM!’

S: ‘I AM looking at them! They look scared!’
M: ‘Look at them more. MORE! MORE LOOKING! Make the eye-contact!’ (She indicates her eyes in a Crocodile-Dundee-tames-the-rampant-dogs kind of way)
S: ‘I am, I am!’
M: ‘MORE!’

Unsurprisingly, the dance floor quickly resembled the site of some unfortunate nuclear incident in which men disappeared in the immediate vicinity and then slowly but surely vacated the surrounding ‘moderate danger’ zone.

Luckily I am not the type to have found this upsetting. I was more concerned with where the chips were coming from.

Mmm, chips.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Sundays Of Yore

Back to basics. It’s not only Shapeshifters’ ‘difficult’ second single, but also the legend I have lived this weekend by.

Yesterday, something in my cerebrum snapped and I was possessed by an overwhelming urge to buy a paddling pool. I barely resisted the model that came with a small inflatable slide, palm tree and flower that squirted water, but the 3m by 2m beast capable of submerging a vertical 5-year-old (actually, he was 4 and a half, but who’s counting?) did not escape my clutches. Me and Jacko spent a sunny afternoon working the hand-pump like Big Strong Girls (she can de-ice a freezer with a monkey-wrench, people!) and hurling small buckets of icy water at it in the absence of a hose.

Last night I went to the Union’s School Daze Event* which was preceded by a ‘Pre-School Party’ at Sarah-From-Round-The-Corner’s house. As well as the giant trampoline in the back garden, we were indulged in Twister, cocktail sausages, cheese-hedgehogs, jelly, fairy cakes, punch and, best of all, Fox's Party Ring biscuits. God, they made my day. Today, I’ve been eating ice-cream out of the tub, eating homemade cookies and listening to the 80s-influenced sounds of VHS Or Beta: part The Killers, part ‘Three Men and a Baby’ Official Soundtrack. And released last November! It’s all about re-living the glory years.

*OK, I don’t mean to sound scarily feminist, but who the Dickens wore fishnet stockings with visible suspender-belt, four-inch stilettos, a skirt which literally DOES NOT COVER THE BUTT-CHEEKS, a white shirt tied up under the breasticle area and a velvet farmer’s cap to school?!

Simply dressing as nubile jailbait for the sake of the ’Union is playing up to Average Joe’s sexual fantasy anyway; there’s no need to go overboard and make yourself look like a third-rate lap-dancer! It’s School Daze, not Pimps ‘n’ Ho’s. Save that cheap-looking basque (and who wore a basque to school?!) for when you can team it with your favourite bunny ears. Meow.

Rant over. Phew. Happy Sunday.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

I-Pod Spree!

On The Stereo:

  1. ‘Wasting Time’ (Jack Johnson)
  2. ‘You Got Me’ (VHS Or Beta)
  3. 'Love Her Madly’ (The Doors)
  4. ‘The Idea Of Growing Old’ (The Features)
  5. ‘Down In The Tube Station At Midnight’ (The Jam)
  6. ‘Fear No Pain’ (Willy Mason)
  7. ‘Like A Honeycomb’ (British Sea Power)
  8. ‘Tell The King’ (The Libertines)
  9. ‘Tell Me When My Light Turns To Green’ (Dexy’s Midnight Runners)
  10. ‘Hey Good Looking’ (Charlie Rich)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Bah Number 0ne

It’s not like me to be anti-men. Purely for mental-survival purposes (if not for procreation) I simply must believe that they are a fine, good, decent sex. And I did, until I started hanging out with real-life men. Without the prospect of dating at least one of them. Truth be told, a large percentage of the men I know are actually bastards. No, I don’t mean in the literal sense (although we haven’t all thoroughly shared life-notes yet). What I mean is that all-but-one of them have steady-girlfriends and all-but-one of them have had done one or more of the following:

  1. Gone on secret dates with girls they are interested in
  2. Groped their ex when drunk
  3. Kissed their girl friends. Or their girlfriend’s girl friends
  4. Sent promiscuous texts to girls they know are interested in them
  5. Offered ‘If I was single…’ sex to other girls

Which seriously questions my faith in men as a species. Someone please tell me it’s not as bad as all this. Am I just seeing the ‘Bloke’s Side’ of Man, or am I simply hanging out with Bastard Men Who Give All Other Men A Bad Name TM. Answers on a postcard, please.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Good Mixer, Bad Encounter

Oh dear. Just when I was starting to feel a bit stronger, Providence delivers a run in between me, Reynolds and his new girlfriend. Who is also a short-brown-haired-tall-person. Those few seconds of horror did not a happy Suzette make. Luckily, the unfortunate encounter happened to fall on the same day as tonight’s pub crawl, therefore progress lost is replaced by alcohol gained.

In other, slightly more cheerful, news, I went down to Camden Town yesterday afternoon to see Willy Mason busk outside The Good Mixer. It was a stunt for Channel 4’s Popworld, hence a fairly unreasonable presence of kids, but standing three feet away from the man himself while he belted out 'Oxygen' (in the sunshine!) was absolutely awesome. The guy coped very well with drunks accosting him mid-song, people tutting because the street was blocked (and they didn’t know who he was) and said kids laughing every time the word ‘Willy’ was mentioned.

His album ‘Where The Humans Eat’ has been playing on a pretty much constant loop here all day; I would recommend it to any old man in the street, and to you of course.

Monday, April 18, 2005

The Dark Pit Of Student

Sometimes you want to be a stereotypical student. You’re strolling blithely during the witching hour and decide a traffic cone would be a whimsical ornament, talking piece and focal-point for your bedroom. You’ve hit the overdraft limit on your student account and calculate that Baked Beans and Penny-save bread is the most cost-effective mode of survival. You hit a bar which happens to be selling a mix of eight different spirits and liqueurs topped up with Coke for £3.

The Bedford Spider (tagline: ‘Walk In, Crawl Out’) is possibly the most wrong drink I have ever sampled. Moo’s advice: ‘Close your eyes and it just tastes like Coke’. Actually, this is fairly true, but only because Coke is the only distinguishable flavour in the concoction. I expect the 'Spider mix includes Vodka and Rum (they don’t publicly display the contents), but also a harmless quantity of rat poison, nail varnish remover and puréed cigarette ash scraped off the bar with a plasterer’s trowel.

And the ‘Spider was largely responsible for a great Friday night. Whatever tomfoolery was lurking in that cigarette ash etc, certainly made me want to share the love about. To the point where I was skipping down a hill with a primrose frivolously placed behind my ear. Today Moo and I nattered about our joint ‘Uni Birthday’. A sign you’re a stereotypical student? You base your 21st Birthday Party around a potentially lethal cocktail.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Thieves! All Of Them!

Today we welcomed in previously-mentioned summer with an impromptu barbeque. We carried our (2 for £2.99) disposable contraptions home with the quiet smugness of prehistoric hunter-gatherers. It was only when we vaguely scanned over the lighting instructions we realised we needed some sort of cooking platform to avoid torching the patio. James (just call him Fagin) led a Shawshank-style chain-gang to the next-door building site and managed to sneak several discarded bricks from under the fence on which to mount our little cooker. Clever chap.
Whilst Fagin was slow-grilling his personally-marinated chicken kebabs, I was managing to nuke 22 sausages. Despite frantic spatula-action, each one turned quickly two-tone, dangerously anaemic on one side and encrusted with black cremation on the other. I’ve learnt that ketchup covers a multitude of sins. And so does alcohol.

When we could see our own breath at 8.30pm it became quite obvious that, despite our best efforts, it is still April. But I was going to wear those Birkenstocks even if my blue toes shrivelled and died. And I think one of them might have done.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Singular in Plural

I’ve just realised that tomorrow is the 16th of April. That means my diary will have been chugging along for three whole months!

In this time, Girl Of The North Country has charted my (I’m sure) thrilling rollercoaster ride from being in love, to being (technically) dumped, to (rebound) boozing right up to today’s (relative) normality.

Three months (unfortunately) means this page will have been going for exactly the same length asn my longest relationship. Ergo, my (now) longest relationship is the one I have with my laptop. It’s enough to make any single girl cry, really.

However, cry I will not. Summer is afoot! I have de-soiled my Birkenstocks (oh dear, that sounded horrific), tested out my short shorts for size (the world temporarily stopped spinning on its axis when I failed to squeeze into them and then remembered they were shrunk in a Thai laundry last summer) and generally fallen misty-eyed at the thought of shading under Oak trees, the sound of leather on willow and the smell of sun-cream and barbeques (whilst conveniently forgetting the angry ankle rash I get from sitting under trees, getting thwacked in the head by various stray balls and the incapacitating agony of getting both sun-cream and sausage smoke simultaneously in the eyes).

Come hither, sunshine.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Benefits

Woo-hoo! I’d forgotten how good pay-day was in the time when I did PROPER work. As in, work with hours one respected, bosses one avoided and colleagues one befriended/ignored/feared. Today the lovely NHS deposited a nice little sum in my bank account. Unfortunately, by the time I had finished paying back all the money I owed to my long-suffering acquaintances, I only had just enough for this week’s NME (for the posters) and a pack of Wrigley’s Extra (for the minty minty freshness).

Still though, it made the four days, possibly the longest four days of my life, I spent hauling around large medical folders seem worth it. It was worth the beaming-red labourer’s hands I now call my own, my dangerously collapsible knees and even the constant anticipation of severe concussion from regularly-avalanching shelves. The poor ventilation system having me in sweats at 8:45am. The creepy boy who would ‘surprise’ me from the back of the carousels when I was on my own, whisper ‘boo’ in my ears and attempt to seduce me with talk of napkins and green tattoos. The whiplash from adventurous elastic bands. The lady who talked to me as if I had an IQ of 53. The old queen who chose me to offload his paedophile ‘jokes’. I packed a lot into those four days.

And, by God, I’m enjoying this gum.

Also On The Stereo

‘Dead Souls’ Joy Division
‘Encore’ Jay-Z featuring Kanye West
‘This Modern Love’ Bloc Party
‘Sprout And The Bean’ Joanna Newsom
‘Get It On’ T-Rex
‘The Clock’ The Basement
‘Na Na Na Na Naa’ Kaiser Chiefs
‘Destroy Rock And Roll’ Mylo
‘Spit It Out’ Brendan Benson
‘Thru The Glass’ Thirteen Senses

Over the Easter Weekend, Shakedown went to Shepherd's Bush! If you're interested, go to Shakedown's site and click on the mini-photo next to the camera down at the bottom lefthandside at the page (phew, am no good at directions). It'll take you to Ben Brown's page at Flickr, where there's some photos of that night (a gurning blurry me on the Tube etc), along with other assorted tomfoolery.

That's all for now!

The Drink

As time ticks on (and yes, I do realise I am still not-quite-21), I’m coming to realise certain inescapable truths. Truth Number One: I am probably as pretty as I will ever be (DEVASTATING). Truth Number Two: My hangovers are getting steadily worse. There once was a time (think rocking-chair, think tumbleweed) when a hangover for me meant waking up with a slight thirst and an unusual aversion to music for about an hour. Whilst others around me cowered from natural light under blankets with suspicious-looking stains on them, I would skip smugly about the kitchen eating cereal straight out of the box and talking at a probably quite unreasonable volume. Now, a hangover for me is what I am ‘doing’ the day after going out.

It’s currently 7.35am, wait, 7.36am, I’ve already endured two waking hours of a world spinning faster than normal and I’m now sipping water slowly with my head out the window (to capture that bracing Norfolk air) in the unfortunate absence of Nurofen etc. I expect that by 5pm I shall be asking for my Rites.

While I’m at it, it appears that I may be slightly behind on Song Of The Week and The Sunday Pin-Up. Someone suggested that the Pin-Up for Easter Weekend should have been Jesus Christ. That’s a touch sick. Anyway, I shall crack on with filling the, er, cracks. I’ll call the Songs ‘Pictures Of You’ by The Cure, ‘Gimme Shelter’ (The Rolling Stones, in honour of the poorly Father) and for this week, ‘Maps’ by Yeah Yeah Yeahs. And as for the Pin-Ups, I’m plumping for Dylan Moran as Bernard Black in Black Books (there’s something quite saucy about that boy), Nick Valensi of The Strokes (his startled appearance rather than his tooth-grinding Blonde-Supermodel-Habit) and Nicholas Parsons. Only one of these is a joke.

The workers have started drilling. Please, no, not to me, not now…

Blah Blah Blah

I’m having technical problems of the scale seen in 2001: A Space Odyssey (albeit a touch less sinister). Drat. I’ve hiked up to campus today to use a lovely PC; the laptop has been sent to the coast to join the Navy in the hope that some time spent in Her Majesty’s Service will make a man of it.

Poor Father Frank has had a pretty rough week. He first bought a large grazing field, then a Forrest Gump-style sit-on lawnmower to trim it, and then managed to get run-over by said vehicle on its first outing. Now his index- and middle-fingers of his left-hand are considerably shorter than they should be despite the best efforts of “the country’s top plastic surgeon”. His words. Frank is not the best with blood. A good way to mentally torture him is to force him to watch Casualty or other programme involving any amount of the fake red stuff. He is also not the best with crisis situations; when Older Sister was born, he ran around the maternity ward literally wailing for a nurse and then fled home during the ‘gory bits’ to feed the cat. When I was stung by a jellyfish once, he took me to the Lifeguard’s Cabin on the advice of ‘Sister, pointed the vinegar spray at his own eyes, was partially blinded and hysterical for several minutes, and left me, welts and all, writhing about on the sand. Put these two minor flaws together and you have a quite poorly man who’s none too happy with his disproportionate digits. Get well soon, Dad.

Mother has recently emerged as quite a mine of information about said ‘gory bits’ of labour. She has also adopted the habit of bringing up the subject in situations where there is absolutely no escape. Like the car. There’s something a bit wrong about a parent proffering, “YOU were born face-to-pubes, darling” on the way back from the Pub. Cue sobering silence. “What?! What?! It’s a MEDICAL TERM!” The other day she harpooned me with it in a shop changing room. ‘Well, you’ll have no trouble having a baby with your hips. No, I shouldn’t imagine you’d tear. [Insert barely comprehensible birth anecdote]”. Am worried she might be getting some sort of ‘second wind’ for children. Oh God.

The hair is again brown. The blonde was stripped off it (by a lady called Lucy) more gleefully than bad wallpaper in the hands of a keen DIY enthusiast. However, the foxy brunette tint I had envisaged turned out more ‘Chestnut’ due to Ginger Override (GO for short). Anyway, it’s better. And let us never speak of it again.

I had a bit of a lucky break last week; I got to photograph The Others in a back-room at Northampton’s Roadmender. I turned up with my diddy little Canon EOS only to find Philip Sharpe, freelance photographer (I made him sound like a superhero there), smoking cigarettes with two assistants and three huge bags of camera equipment, which slightly demeaned my operation. I now (hopefully) have a reel of negatives containing some impressive rock pouting. We shall see.

Thanks for enduring the Mammoth like proportions of today’s post. And not even a picture to go with it. Take care.