The magic ingredients – just how did they do it?


There are so many things that make Friends the delicious success that it is and continues to be. How can it be 20 years since this first lit up our screens and our hearts? Unless you have been living under a rock, you will know that this TV juggernaut has surpassed generations and made the six actors global superstars. One of my friends is ten years younger and yet we quote this show all day long at each other. There seems to be a friends-ism for literally every situation.


It does seem to be permanently on.  And even though I own every single episode on DVD boxset, when Friends is on, I can’t seem to switch channel. Like a moth to the flame, I select it, and watch it, for the umpteenth time, it all its TV glory – such is the gravitas it possesses. And Friends just keeps on giving. Something you found funny  the first time, you will keep finding funny. And that’s no mean feat.


The creators have recently said that ‘Friends is about that time in your life when your family are your friends’ – this was Marta Kauffman talking about why she wouldn’t revitalise the show for a comeback movie (which is desperately wanted by the fans)  because ‘that time has passed for the sixsome.’

Friends is literally the dream. I lived it at university. I embodied it when living abroad.  When I lived in New York – I would come home, open my dorm room and my two cool neighbours  (and who became my best friends) would gravitate to my room like magnets finding metal.

Whit would go on my laptop as hers was broken and Lis would watch my TV as it was big. We would slouch together on my bed.  And we would all chat. And I loved it. There was something so cool, comforting and awesome about it all.

Living with the people you choose to surround yourself with, really is a joy to behold. At uni, my bloke neighbours really would come and help themselves to the food in my fridge. There really were heartbreaks, and inter group relationships and falling outs and meeting family,  but mostly it was fun, carefree,  golden years.

This scenario alone though, could not have ensured the show’s staying power.

So just what is the secret to its everlasting success?


The Writing

I literally cannot stress this enough. I know they had copious writers – and it shows. Your actors are only as good as the writing – and in this case it is pure gold. Funny, witty, biting, snappy and well considered.  Bravo guys, seriously.


I may have just made up this word. Oh well. Friends has such a broad spectrum. It really does appeal to anyone – mostly because we have all lived through those situations which are familiar to most of us.  Also, it is about one of our most satisfying human activities – hanging with your friends.


This would not have worked if the characters were all douchebags.

The fact is they are all flawed, but they have ridiculously warm hearts (pre possessing aortic pumps, anyone?)  and would do anything for each other. Awww.

Rooting for the underdog

Let’s be honest – they all have their issues. Chandler is damaged goods but witty and sarcastic. Could he BE any more endearing? (sorry)

Joey is pretty but dumb. Sorry I mean pretty dumb..

Ross is Geek central and was in the friend zone for a long time. Bam – 9 years later he had Rachel.

Rachel was the spoilt princess who didn’t have a clue about the real world. She had to go get one of those ‘job things.’

Monica is the OCD personified that lives in all of us – but she really is the glue that holds the group together.

And Phobe? Well she’s off her rocker. Proving that patience is a virtue and maybe we’ll find her at Flimbys..


Thanks for the music Bright, Kauffman, Crane.. thank you for the words.


Friends is the equivalent of a hot chocolate or a Sunday roast. Comforting, satisfying and so enjoyable you want to repeat it every week.


To celebrate the 20th Anniversary,  Warner brothers, has released a  236 second clip of the all the episodes smooshed together. Enjoy :)






Beauty treatments are in the eye of the beholder

carrie wax


So this weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Ruby Salon in Carswell in Oxfordshire. It got me thinking about beauty treatments and what we consider our essential go-to treatments.

I have been getting my feet done more and more regularly at this salon as what you receive is so good.


I used to be a very infrequent visitor. I used to just get my feet done now and again – getting a pedicure isn’t really a priority for me. When it comes to beauty treatments my top two essentials and self-allowed luxuries are getting my eyebrows threaded and having my bikini waxed. I get waxed religiously every month – sorry if that’s TMI but it’s the truth. It is amazing what you will prioritize. I know people that only do this on special occasions, and even then it’s reluctant. I do it for myself. I like feeling clean and smooth.


When I lived in New York, I lived above a really kooky nail salon. A sign on the door said ‘manicure 15 dollars.’ Considering the pound was extremely strong at the time, this would have made the treatment under a tenner. Dirt cheap. My friends got theirs done there and were extremely pleased. Every morning I would leave my apartment building and as I passed it, I would think ‘ I must get go there and get that done.’ By the time I got to the subway the idea had wafted out of my mind and got carried away with the humid Manhattan breeze. The amount of times I eventually managed to visit that salon in my 3 months living in New York? ZERO. I guess it just wasn’t on my radar.


The mani-pedi may not have been at the top of my list,  however,  I made sure I visited a waxing salon. I had originally Googled a place that was Portuguese run and it was on my way here that I stumbled across another one – run by a very formidable Chinese lady.


I was just having a look in the window and she ushered me in. ‘What you want girlie?’ she asked, determinedly. ‘Er.. well I was thinking of getting a Brazilian.. I was just looking really..’

‘Ok, great. come with me.’ She was very authoritative for a woman under 5 ft.  I slowly followed her thinking what have I got myself into? EEK.


I lay down on the bed and she commanded I take my knickers off. The last time I heard those words it was on some stairs.. and he had at least bought me lunch beforehand.


Almost terrified I froze and went very bumbly and English ‘er, I don’t usually take my erm well my lady normally lets me keep them on.. I erm ‘

‘OH we have a shy one here hum’ she said in a very drawn out Chinese accent. ’Come on, i’m like a DOCTOR.’

I reluctantly peeled them off. I guess I did want the wax.


‘Wait’ I said, as if I suddenly remembered something.  ’how long have you been doing this for?’

To which she leaned close to me and said ’25 years, longer than you been BORN!;



So she proceeded to wax –  zip, zip, rip rip. Like lightning.


In all honesty, despite the terror, it’s the best wax I’ve had to this day. The precision, the smoothness,the lack of pain. It was amazing really. It set me back $75 (ouch) but definitely worth it and it lasted a long time.

These days, as I’m living in the slightly less glamorous Oxfordshire – not so much big apple as tiny pip – I like to visit my trusty salon in Didcot that has been doing my waxes since I was 18.


I guess having my feet done has become my third luxury. The appointment is an hour. You get a foot soak, dry skin taken off, foot scrub, another soak, moisturiser and then glorious foot massage. After that you get a full and proper pedicure  with nail cutting, cuticle clipping, cuticle oil, and nail polish of 4 coats added. You also get a cuppa and magazines and that’s all just for £20. Bloody bargainous if you ask me.


If you want a great pedi with foot massage visit Ruby salon carswell –

For a great brazilian visit premier beauty

Happy preening ladies. (Or men – if that’s your thing)



Cutting the deck – A House of Cards Review



So I know I’m late to the game, but I have recently started watching House of Cards.

My brother raved about this show after watching it when he lived in the states and so I requested the boxset for my birthday. I was looking for something new to sink my teeth into after devouring 5 seasons of the Good Wife and chomping my way through Damages – which I ingested much like a drug addict getting their next cocaine fix. My god that show was good.  Is there anything more delicious than getting completely and utterly hooked on a show that you actually think in the morning, ‘Ok I’m going to work now, but later, I’ll be watching *insert favourite show here*- yippee’  When the credits roll at the end of an episode and you think ‘NOOOO. Must. Watch. One. More.’ Even if it is 1am and you have to be up in 5 hours…


I tried Breaking Bad.  I was thoroughly bored for the first season. The arid scenery did not help its cause. Is it just me that feels like a city/setting should be another character that adds to the show? I also found it repetitive and formulaic. Guy has cancer, guy coughs his guts up. Guy kills a guy and takes like 3 episodes to dispose of the body. Guy gets horny and shags wife. And repeat.

I heard that it gets better, that you have to persevere  before it really kicks off – but I don’t want to ‘persevere ’ – this isn’t hard graft or a job I’m trying to get through – it’s meant to be escapism.

I tried three episodes of Game Of Thrones, but in truth I hate fantasy – there is only so much you can do and I find the genre very limiting: battle, death, shagging, dragons – and again .  It’s so intangible and unrelatable – for me anyway. My sister is absolutely addicted – along with the rest of the population.


So to the political drama that is House of Cards which exploded onto Netflix, taking a hearty chunk of the viewer base along with it for the ride. In a nutshell, and according to Wiki:

 Washington, D.C., HOC is the story of Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), a Democrat from South Carolina’s 5th congressional district and House majority whip who, after being passed over for appointment as Secretary of State, initiates an elaborate plan to get himself into a position of power.


Ooh.. Sounds juicy right? It certainly is, if a slow but steady burner. You get a hint of the characters’ intentions right away. It’s all very softly- softly; I would almost say that the approach is somewhat insidious, with each episode slowly burning on your psyche.

It definitely has a lot of appeal right off the bat. Sumptuous shots of Washington DC; a stellar cast lead by the ubiquitous Kevin Spacey, and supported by Robin wright who I thought was sublime in Forrest Gump and whose performance made me weep during that film. Set in the White house, with an array of guest stars -It was definitely an exciting prospect.


The pilot has lots of setting up to do. The dynamic of Frank and Claire is the driving force behind the show and the powerhouse combination of Spacey and Wright propels the drama where it needs to go. Their relationship is extremely complex, and as is revealed, far from perfect. For the first couple of episodes you feel almost voyeuristic as you try to decipher their unconventional and sometimes very stifled pairing. What is the true subtext here?  Before long you realise they are linked like chain metal – although not without any chinks in the armour.

Stuff happens for no apparent reason, although I am sure there is plenty of symbolism at play. This perturbed me a bit to start with – I guess I search for (and like) meaning in everything. Little moments that the music seems to give weight to – I’m still wondering the significance of the rowing machine (anyone?!)  seem to plant the seed of doubt, and yet you are not entirely sure why; it’s more of an uneasy feeling. All designed to make you slightly on edge, which is something that permeates the drama – who can you trust? Will they die? Was that a double bluff? I certainly love to be kept guessing.

Together they are utterly compelling to watch – I love their scenes together. I love their devotion to one another, despite the fact we still don’t 100% trust their motivations

There are so many layers to these characters; it’s like peeling an onion. Just when you think you have figured them out for the vindictive schemers that they are, another layer is revealed which makes them seem much more human, almost as if their spiteful behaviour were justified, a tiny but. The show is very good at this. Too much vitriol and we would hate these characters – but we find ourselves sort of rooting for them – and sometimes sort of not.

It’s a kind of ambivalence that is almost risky to play with – shouldn’t the audience always love the protagonist?  Sometimes I find myself hoping Frank will fall on his face – because I think he deserves it. The key is in Spacey’s gravitas of course. At first I wasn’t so convinced about his dodgy southern accent that kept slipping in and out (I have learnt to accept this now – a bit like the fact that no matter who Sean Connery plays – he will always be Scottish and I don’t even notice any more.) And the fact that he breaks the fourth wall and talks to camera I wasn’t so sure about either, but now it has been weaved into the very fabric of the show,  I can usually tell when he’s about to do it, and it doesn’t actually detract from the show itself. I quite enjoy him confiding in us.


There is of course the issue of the political jargon. I have no idea about American Politics. A lot of it goes right over my head, which is a shame – perhaps I’m missing out there – but I would have to sit on Google whilst watching the episodes to decipher the political machinations that they are hashing out – and I think that would make it less fun to watch. To be fair though, despite my political ignorance, my rudimentary understanding allows most of it to make enough sense that I am not scrabbling for answers to the inner workings of white house etiquette. I’m too busy trying to work out who is screwing who – metaphorically and in actuality.


Although the show is definitely not one that relies on a twist or a shock at the end of every episode, I think that by not doing that it packs more punch when something gasp -worthy happens. There are certainly some ‘Did that just happen?’ moments. All I will say is that if you want someone bumped off, don’t look to the mafia, just call a politician. Does this stuff really happen? Probably more than we think.

House of Cards is definitely worth a watch for Wright alone. She is stand out for me. She’s so intriguing and multi-faceted, giving humanity and genuine credence to a character who could so easily be reduced to a Cruella De Vil type.

Don’t be fooled though –  House of Cards is definitely a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Start watching it today, and don’t trust anyone.

An Evening with music composer George Fenton

So last year I had the pleasure of being invited to an exclusive evening with the music composer George Fenton.

I have always been fascinated by and in awe of music composers. What would Jaws have been without those few spine chilling bass notes? When we think of powerhouse films like Star Wars or Indiana Jones we immediately think of the epic rousing score. Films that make us emote – Forrest Gump when he is at Jenny’s graveside – it’s the score that gets the lump in our throats.

I was invited to this prestigious event by a director that I worked with on the short film, Etiquette, Andrew Carslaw.  Carslaw is an upcoming filmmaker from Oxford who has close ties with Oxford University and their creative sectors, having worked at the university for quite some time.

You could say that George’s music is eclectic. He has scored a diverse selection of films from Ghandi to You’ve Got Mail. His style of music is versatile and refreshing. He doesn’t have the universal recognisability of a John Williams or a James Horner, however I think this definitely works for him.

I always lament the fact that I didn’t learn to play a musical instrument. I told George about this. He gave some wonderfully encouraging advice. ‘It’s never too late to learn to play an instrument. Truly. Learn to play something – you won’t regret it.’ I have been thinking about taking up the piano. I genuinely thought this was something you had to start when you were 5. After all, hadn’t Beethoven scored his first symphony at 5? (This blows my mind by the way.)


Advice from George for film composers in the making;

Learn to play an usual musical instrument. This makes you indispensible. If they want someone to play the Aeolian Wind Harp and you are the only one that can – they’ll hire you.  George was a relative unknown when they hired him for Ghandi – however he was one of only a handful of people who knew how to play the Persian Setar. This essentially got him the job.

Never take rejection personally. It is nearly always politics at play. George told us that he had composed two thirds of the film ‘Interview with a Vampire’ starring Tom Cruise. Some of the producers felt edged out of the project so to assert their authority they fired George and hired someone else. He was collateral damage.  I asked George how that made him feel.  ‘Not very good, but it wasn’t about me. It happens in the business more than you think.’ We urged him to tell us on what other films but he remained discreet, if revelling in the mystery.

I asked George if he ever watched a movie and listened to the score and thought ‘I could do a better job than that.’ George laughed and commented that this was a very good question.

‘Not ever actually. The thing is I know how much work, sweat and tears has gone into that score. Above all else, I feel huge admiration.’  What an amazing guy.

To join in on the events, check out Film oxford



Working out. 

I don’t do it to feel good.  I do it to look good.

And anyone who works out would be lying if they said that the same isn’t true for them.

Now, I’m not claiming to be some model type, I’m a solid size 10-12. Back in the day I was a 6-8 and I did no exercise. NOTHING.  It was a simpler time, and it was all to do with a faster metabolism. It was a glorious time. I was young and lithe and had a gorgeous man…. Sob.  I mean I’m totally fine now.. *washes tears off keyboard.*Anyway I digress, back to the matter at hand..

When I’m in the gym, sweating and gurning and turning the colour of beetroot, what’s going through my mind is how fit I’m going to look.  How I need to burn off the chocolate that I consumed earlier, so it doesn’t stick to my ass.

When my feet are pounding the treadmill – and my bunion is yelling at me to stop – the pain just reminds me that I’m achieving something. No pain, no gain, as they say. (Although on a totally separate issue, I must get that foot looked at.)

The mirrors are a great motivator too, the bastards, ‘Look how heffing you are, you chunker’ they chide, from the sides. That could of course be my brother saying that too, but either way, the desired effect is there.

Funnily enough, the people around you don’t really impact what you are doing, which is great. Maybe we have matured as a society. I don’t really detect self-consciousness in my local gym. Everyone seems to be a pro. The only time I feel like a prat, is when I can’t use a machine. Even then people are usually helpful if you ask them.


If you take a glance around, sure there are slimmer girls, but they are about 18, and when I was 18 I didn’t need to go to the gym, so joke’s on them! Ha!

There are larger people too of course, but I just think, good for you! You go girl! Or man.

Really, aren’t we all just thinking about ourselves in the gym? I look around and people are so absorbed in what they are doing, it’s priceless.  There are the burly men, who look like they have been blown up by a bicycle pump, pushing weights up, and grunting loudly whilst exhaling, concentrating so hard, they’re either gonna pop a vein, or accidently fart.  I’m sure I witnessed this on one occasion. The man looked very ashamed of himself. That or he ONLY benched 125kg, sheesh.

 Then there are the older women, who are in good nick – you can you almost hear their inner monologues, whilst determinedly thumping the cross trainers – ‘I’m gonna be in shape so you don’t swan off with that slutty trollop in the office, you bastard’ ..this is what I imagine they are saying anyway.  Then the young stick girls on their phones – which by the way is massive pet peeve of mine – just leave your phone in the locker, or go home and text.  I was surprised that a middle added guy joined our row of cross trainers clutching his iphone. He put the machine on resistance 3 for a start (should have known he didn’t mean business then) and then proceeded to e-mail for the whole 6 minutes he was on there. His workout was crap. Obviously.

Classes are good to keep it fresh too. And you get another mixed bag of people. I like classes because you have no choice in the matter. A good instructor will metaphorically ride your arse like there’s no tomorrow.  And if you have put the effort in – you should be walking like John Wayne the next day.

The gym really is vanity, accepted by society. We could all go for a walk if we wanted, or go for a run, or a hike or a cycle, or climb. We can do all that for free. I just love our generation’s priority.

Early man would have laughed his arse off. We go to a room.. to exercise. I pondered this as I was using a bike at the gym the other day and it actually had simulated scenery of France on a screen, that travelled as you did. I found myself saying to my brother ‘ooh I saw some lovely views tonight.’

Well no, I saw some lovely computer graphics. Impressive, nonetheless, and I hate myself for saying this, but I loved my little tour de France!



Check with your work – You might get a staff discount. I do and it’s a hefty reduction.

Go on a Tues and a Thurs  People tend to workout Mon, weds and fri so it’s much quieter on the alternative days. You can break up the week by going for an actual run too.

Bring a bottle – The vending machines will charge £2 for a bottle of water, but if you have an empty plastic bottle, they have free water stations.

Have a gym buddy – I go with my brother. It’s good to have someone motivating you when your bum appears to be glued to the sofa.

Get a consultation – If you become a member, a good gym will offer you a free induction. Use this time to familiarise yourself with the machines so you don’t look like an idiot.

Use the mats – I never do – but I’ve heard they are good. Do planks and get Abs.

Play to your strengths – I like to SWEAT. So things like Yoga are a bit arty farty for me. I don’t want to be bendy like a pretzel – but maybe you do.

Do Classes – They are fun and interactive in a non-threating way. No-one will make you stand in the middle of the room. There’s a sense of community, and you’ll end up having a great workout.

*Disclaimer –  I am by no means an expert! If you need professional help, always consult with the personal trainers in the gym. 


Happy sweating :)



There was a rasping at the door. Or was it a tap quietly dripping somewhere? I cocked my head to listen. The house was opaque with not a sliver of light to penetrate the black. I stared into the darkness, listening. All I could hear was the sound of my breathing.

I put my head back on to the pillow to resume sleep.

Frapp a tap tap.

There it was again. This time I shot up from my pillow, sitting upright and trying to listen.

At first all I could hear was the pounding of my heart and then -


I heard my name faintly from outside my front door.  I glanced at my phone to see that the time was 2.10am. I felt chilled and churned at the same time. It was a man’s voice. A familiar voice; one I had not heard in 5 years, except in my head.  He began to bang on the door.

LAYLA!! You fool, it’s me.’

He was drunk. I could tell by his tone. The way the words he was tripping over sounded thick in his throat.

I sat glued to the bed. Frozen while I digested what was happening, and what to do.

Layla let me in.’

I got up slowly at first and then walked with purpose, concern, confusion. What was he doing here?

I hurriedly ran down the stairs. Suddenly the overriding emotion was concern. I was not surprised at myself.

I threw the door open. He stood side on to me, with one hand supporting his weight against the doorframe.

Something was wrong.

There she is. Can I come in?’ His eyes, smiling, darted all over my face.

‘Yes of course you can.’ I heard myself say.

I walked into the living room and he followed me inside. The moon’s beam illuminated a corner of the room but I couldn’t see him properly. I switched the light on to reveal him.

He had his back to me but I could see his sleeves were hanging low over his hands and they were blood soaked.

Gareth, what’s going on?’

‘What?’  He was giddy, light headed, and unable to answer me.

He walked away from me, lunging around the room, accidentally kicking things over.

My spine turned to ice as he finally turned to face me.

His face appeared to be mangled.

The bottom of his mouth was drawn down as if it had been tied in a bow at the corner, making the rest of his face droop with it. A huge gash lined his neck; his eye was a slit, welded shut against black dried blood and now the blood was dripping from his concealed hands.

I felt sick as I wondered what was underneath. I walked towards him, and he to me, in the same moment. He was still smiling like an idiot.

I stood in front of him as he raised his arms up out of his sleeves to cup my face and as he did so he revealed his hands.

At first I couldn’t comprehend what had happened to them. I think I was in shock. I saw a flash of red when he raised his hands to me.  I thought this was his blood – perhaps where he had injured himself. But as they grazed me they felt soft like the flesh of peeled fruit.  The blood was in a ring around his wrists.  I could see sinew and muscle…

His hands had been skinned. On his left hand three fingers were missing.  The muscles and tendons were fully exposed and pouring with blood at the wrist. They resembled watermelon flesh and I could see the tip of bone -I felt my stomach drop inside itself. I began to shake. He was still reaching for me, completely unaware of my reaction, fixing his eyes on me.

‘Gareth, what’s happened? We need to get you to a hospital now.’

I could barely speak as my throat had dried to a sandpaper finish. My heart felt as if it was trying to climb up my throat with every pounding beat. I tried to pour a glass of water but my fingers were shaking so much that I just tipped the glass over and then grabbed it back up and tried to suck down the drop of water that was left in there. I tried to string words together but choked on the horror and urgency of the situation.

And suddenly I was consumed by an overwhelming feeling of love and concern.

I didn’t love this man, not any more. Or so I kept telling myself. Maybe the love can come back on like the flick of a switch.  Maybe it never really extinguished.  I felt a hot burn of emotions.

It dawned on me that he didn’t realise what was going on, or that he couldn’t articulate it. But more importantly, this wasn’t a drunken accident that he’d had; someone had done this to him. Maybe several people.  Why had someone done something so awful to him?

‘We need to call an ambulance.’

Hold me.’ He said, seeming lucid for one moment.

I looked into his cobalt eyes, one of them looking sad and closed and the other holding my eyes as if they were tethered to his by a thread. I remember this look. It used to break my heart because I knew in that moment that he loved me, but I also knew it was temporary. That he wouldn’t always look at me like that. While looking in his eyes my heart shattered to pieces.

I reached around his blood soaked white shirt and pulled him into my body. He rested his head against mine and gripped me gently round the waist.  I felt terrible.

As I looked over his shoulder to the floor I could see the business card under my feet, squashing into the carpet. The faint telephone number, and a figure, were all that were still visible on the paper.


The Hacker in the Rye

So, Jennifer Lawrence et all have been hacked.

And it’s the naked pics.

What else? Of all the things to hack? Why couldn’t it have been what really went on at Area 51, or the whereabouts of Lord Byron, or what REALLY happened to Amelia Earhart (sabotage??! – this has fascinated me for years). THINK of the potential. This probably took the hacker a good while of planning too. Think of what could have been revealed… but no. It’s something so base.


It happens to be nude selfies, that ‘celebs’ have taken in the privacy of their own homes, for either themselves, or a romantic interest. Way to go hacker, great job.

It kinda makes me want to find the hacker, take a picture of his tiny penis (let’s be honest, this WILL be a bloke, and a sad one at that) and put *that* on the internet, so we can all have a look at that. And he can shrivel up inside, like I’m sure these women have, upon being exposed in such a way.

It’s much more interesting when someone hacks things that have meaning, that we have all been wondering about – and why the whole Wikileaks thing was so potent. I’m not condoning hacking of course (some of us have jobs) But at least *that* had a message. What’s the message here? Some celebs have taken naked pics of themselves, gasp, and now you can all see them. Hmm.

What makes this all worse for the women hacked, has been the vitriol thrown their way. So much so, that even Emma Watson has felt compelled to address it. What’s the motivation behind mud slinging them? What exactly is their crime? This is just adding insult to injury. These people need to shut up. I’m sorry, but he who hath not ever taken nude pics of yourself, cast the first stone please..


We even have Ricky Gervais weighing in with the tweet basically saying that if you have a nude picture of yourself on your computer, you have asked for it.

Of course Gevais doesn’t take pictures of himself naked – he’s kinda gross. He would make himself sick, let alone anyone else. Also even if he DID. No-one, but no-one, wants to see that.


Unlike Jennifer Lawrence who is sculpted perfection. Really JLaw, I wish I could have a chat with you and tell you that you have NOTHING to worry about – that you are glorious and that while this IS a shitty thing, and certainly a violation of your privacy, at least you can hold your head up high and go – you know what? I look banging. No unflattering pics there.


Now, people like Gervais need to just hush up. Why shouldn’t people in the public eye be naked in their own homes?  Why not? are celebs not human? Do they not bleed? Who hasn’t done this in a relationship? You’ll be lying if you said no.. Are we we meant to think of those in the public arena as not occupying the same space as us? Should they be saintly because they have been afforded a rather pleasant and luxuriant lifestyle? They are people.


Hell, even if you do it for yourself, to appreciate yourself. That’s your choice. I never use the cloud. I always thought it was bollocks and now I think that even more so. This hacker, undoubtedly has issues, and while he may think what he did has taken skill, it actually just proves that the cloud is not secure. If Jlaw and MEW and the Upton chick had taken those pics on a Kodak and given the pictures to a friend or lover, the only way to get those photos would be to get it from said lover – it wouldn’t be out there in the ether. It would be her negatives, and the hard copies. The hacker’s ‘prowess’ would be useless in that situation.


So yes, you are going to look, it has popped up everywhere – and I’ve looked myself. But it just made me appreciate what a goddess she is,  I mean really beautiful… and how I seriously need to just eat celery, and do more push ups. From now until.. ooh 2015? That or save up for lipo.


JLaw, I salute you.




I’ve been grumpy lately.


The emotion propelling this is frustration.

I am frustrated about a number of things. Relationships, money, creative satisfaction and so forth. The usual I suppose; we are all in the same boat.


Well, some of us are, some of us are on Yachts, so they won’t know what I’m on about..


If you look up the definition of Frustration in the dictionary, the result is this:


The feeling of being upset or annoyed as a result of being unable to change, or achieve something.


This is bang on the money. On both counts.

There are things I can’t change, things that occupy my already noisy mind. Things I lie awake at night, obsessing over.


Then there are the things I want to achieve that I haven’t yet.


Mostly I get frustrated with myself.

Wanting to be better, more successful, more proactive, make better decisions,  etc – the list goes on.

I’m frustrated that I’m not where I think I should be at this time.


Of course to quote Megan in Bridesmaids:

 ‘You’re your problem Annie, but you are also your solution’  

A bloody amazing movie, that rang true for me on so many levels. She’s creative but had failures, her love life sucks, and she drives a trusty shitbox. The only thing is her wardrobe is so much more glorious than mine. Really, they should have asked me before using my life story, but, whatever!


There is hope and clarity in Megan’s  statement. It’s true. I just need to fix things for myself. It may appear to those who don’t know better, that I’m impatient. But I feel like these things are a long time coming.


I’ve always worked hard, in any job I’ve taken on. No matter how big or small, I’ve always given it 100%. When I cleaned tables at a Debenhams cafe one summer, (after graduating with a very good degree I might add) my colleague, a slovenly boy, would sit out the back and read his books, shirking his role, whilst smoothing his gelled hair off his face. I would keep busy, wiping the marble tables and scooping the crumbs into my cloth. The manager came by one day and said he’d never seen anyone as hard working as me. I privately beamed.


Little did he know, that for me, this was a piece of cake. I’ve never been shy of hard work – having been employed by my parents to work their farm from a young age.


When I worked a bar, whilst studying for my Masters, I routinely took the most sales, and made the most tips. I worked 14 hour shifts and served in a sweaty bar, 6 deep, surrounded by clouds of thick smoke (pre ban). It wasn’t pleasant, but I did it, and I did it with gusto.


The point is, I’m a hard worker. I’m not precious. I’m not averse to work and starting at the bottom if I have to. It’s getting the right opportunity that seems to be the kicker.


I sent an email to the head of CBBC once. I asked if I could make his tea and get some experience. He was very nice. He asked me what I really wanted to do? As people who do this ‘just make really bad tea’ – he had a sense of humour. I said anything creative to do with production – writing ideally, or presenting – just being involved in the creative process. He asked me to send him a video, which was just wonderful. I felt hopeful.  I did – and he liked it. But he ended up leaving the position shortly after and nothing came of it. I guess it was a long shot. But it was disappointing no less.


After my amazing summer studying at the inspiring American Academy of dramatic Arts, I was invited onto their prestigious two year program in New York. I never wanted anything more. I gained a $10,000 scholarship but needed a further $20,000 for fees, and about 10 grand more in the bank. I wrote to every funding body there was.

The amount I collectively raised?


We were in a recession and everyone was keeping their purse strings closed tight under their chins.

So I had to turn down the opportunity.  To say I was gutted would be an understatement. I felt like I’d been dumped.

I’m not trying to make anyone feel sorry for me. I’m trying to explain where my head is at.

I need to be sated on a creative level, and that’s not happening. Certainly not being sated on an emotional level. And that’s too complicated for even me to wrap my head around. There are things at play that we cannot control, however much we want to. Maybe I need to accept some things, maybe that’s the problem.

For the most part though, I will pursue in the face of adversity.

So yes, forgive me if I’m grumpy,  I’m frustrated.  Extend some compassion, because I will always do the same.

I’m still working things out.  For those of you on the yachts, I’m hanging onto the lifeboat, and it’s bumpy back here.


In the meantime, I do have a few irons in the fire.


Let’s hope they ignite.







I think about you every day.


You are living rent free in a space in my mind that seems to be permanently reserved for you. I should have a cerebral sofa installed – seeing as you are already comfortable where you are.


I can’t concentrate. You probably think I’m pathetic. I’m not sure if the way I feel makes me sad or a fool or completely consumed by you.  I imagine it is all of the above.


I dream about you.  Last night I dreamt you promised you would stay and then you left saying ‘that you never’ promised that and then I came to your house and lost my shit because you were sleeping in a bed in the garden… and not alone.


 You would never promise that. You don’t make promises.


You blocked me in the dream. Sometimes you block me in real life. It’s all Freudian for the way my mind is fucked up about you. Maybe the garden represents how we are entangled like vines. Or maybe it’s because I keep being pricked by the thorns that come with knowing you.


One day our connection is strong like a piece of rope, the next it’s a fraying piece of string barely holding on. We go back and forth.


I don’t want to feel this way, this weak way.  It’s almost like you are my Kryptonite – you make me weak but you are like a piece of me.  I want to be able to put you in a little box in my mind – the way you do with any thoughts of me. You lock that box and you’re able to throw away the key for days. You chuck it over your shoulder without a care in the world, and it rattles down a staircase before disappearing down the rabbit hole. Done.  How do you do that? I would buy that off you. People everywhere would buy that off you.


I do things. I keep busy. I go to the gym. I go drinking with my friends. I enjoy all this. I’m creative.


I even go on dates with other people but this all just serves to remind me that they are not you. That they are not funny like you are, or quick or witty or sexy. They are not lean or lofty or have beautiful hands and a warm demeanor. It fucks me off, it does. I want to meet someone else, I really do. I try, but you know what they say, a watched guy never boils.


I sometimes delete your number – and all the messages we exchange so I don’t tirelessly trawl through them re-living our conversations again and again. And even though I don’t know your number off by heart, I can still find it if I need to. A bit like a drug addict going cold turkey, and scrabbling around the house for a supply.


I wish I was stronger and sometimes I wish I wasn’t so sensitive and emotional, but you know what, that wouldn’t be me. This is me. This is how it goes.


If you turned up at my door, you think I’d turn you away? You know I wouldn’t. And you have that comfort. Some days I wish you would turn up at my door. It would make me so happy.

But If I turned up at your door – not that I ever would – you would pretend you don’t know me. If I had a broken leg you would probably pay a taxi to send me away. That makes me sad. But that’s the situation.


Say goodbye, I hear you whisper, but when you have that rare and amazing spark with someone (and when you hardly ever have it with anyone) - when you touch someone and feel like electricity is coursing through your veins – do you really turn it down?  Be honest, it’s hard to resist, when you connect with someone intellectually, emotionally and sexually.


Keeping in mind we are all human, and all weak- the Fallen Human Condition and all that.

How can I give it up?

Can you give up coffee? It’s not *really* bad for you, is it? It’s not like it’s good for you, but you are addicted and you wouldn’t feel great if you had to give it up would you? You’d miss its comfort and warmth, and the way it peps you up. The way you need it in the morning, and think about it in the afternoon. And that’s just coffee.

When we are together, you are lucid and you hold me like you mean it. I feel your heart thumping excitedly in your chest. We talk to each other like old friends. You laugh and your stormy grey eyes dance when looking at me. I rearrange my life for those precious moments. They mean so much. 


My father once told me it’s a great thing to care about other people, especially if you know you won’t get anything back. It’s noble and loving. I have often thought about that and it comforts me.


I think you care too, in a way that you don’t communicate with words….. you show me in other ways.


You tell me things you don’t tell anyone else. You won’t admit it but I’m one of your best friends. Seeing your name on my phone makes me feel euphoric. Every snippet you share with me makes me feel closer to you. 


How can I say goodbye to that?


Let me have my coffee for now. I’m not ready to give it up.  

MEEP MEEP. An experience of Speed Dating.


So myself and a friend decided to go speed dating a couple of weeks ago.



We were lamenting the lack of eligible men in our areas – let’s be fair, this is farming county, not London – (and that thing about our areas wasn’t meant to be a euphemism by the way but I guess if the shoe fits..) When chatting about this, and as if Google had read my mind, along the right side of the ad bar on my computer screen an ad for ‘speed dating’ popped up. The powers that be who are spying should probably put their time to better use than finding me a date, however I guess you shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

I had never been speed dating before (and neither had my friend.) Would it be crazy? Would they all be trolls? Would Einstein’s theory of time prove that, yes, it really is all relative and maybe 4 minutes (the allotted ‘chat’ time) could feel like 400 minutes?  Indeed.

On a complete whim we decided to go for it. We chose the next available date which was actually 6 weeks away. It was a company called ‘Slow Dating.’ – not an especially clever play on words let’s be honest. We had to pay £22 which I thought was a bit steep but we rationalised it in two ways: firstly we could probably easily spend that on a night out and secondly, if they were paying too, they had to be a certain calibre of man….. right?

As the weeks crept ever closer we realised that, oh god, this was going to happen and we would actually have to go through with it.

My friend drove and we parked the car a block from the venue. We gave ourselves a quick check over. We of course, looked banging.

The venue was a bit of a dive. The Glee club in Oxford.

I’ve actually only ever been there when I was pissed and on a night out so I guess I hadn’t remembered what a sink hole this was.

There weren’t even directions on the door. Downstairs was like a saloon bar with one sad man drowning his troubles and it was only 7.15pm. Lowered tones of club music came wailing out of the mini speakers.

We saw a train of desperate women climbing the stairs. Aha! We were in the right place, and duly followed them up.

At the top of the stairs we were greeted by a middle aged woman standing at the door who had an array of ‘speeding tickets ‘ (see what they did there? Oh ho ho, very witty!)


We were given our name badges to stick to our chests and a pen.


This speeding ticket book would prove to be a bone of contention. It was a bit of an awkward prop. Basically it is designed so you can make notes to remember for later – only you had to complete it when they were with you as you had no time between each man. So I couldn’t write ‘bald, hideous teeth, bad shirt.’ For fear they would see.

Instead I was very clever and wrote down a celebrity that resembled them. For the above for example, I would have put Harry Hill or some such.

The upstairs smelt like feet and was very dark and a bit dingy. There were candles on each table and I could see what they were trying to do but.. not sure if it worked.


They weren’t prompt which was irritating as well. Once we had grabbed ourselves a drink at the bar I just wanted to get going but we waited for about 20 minutes.

The middle aged lady arrived and explained that the women would stay seated and as a courtesy it would be the man rotating around.

We sat down and then it began.






A man plopped into the seat opposite me and put down his booklet

 of awkwardness.

He was very friendly, bald and a bit nervous.


I asked him what the craziest thing was that he’d ever done.


‘I just did a wedding speech, that was pretty crazy!’ he nervously laughed. ‘Well, not crazy as such. Not crazy at all I guess.. but it took courage. Do I get points for that?’






I chatted to him about what I did for a living and I asked him ‘what do you do?’


He looked at me and said ‘what, right now? Well I think we’re just… I don’t know, what do we do??’  He giggled. I confirmed that I was actually just asking what he did for a living..




‘Oh.’ He countered. And then he told me he managed some project, something something, I forget because it wasn’t that thrilling tbh

He was very pleasant, if not my type.


Another guy leaned into me and told me my eyes were like whirlpools. What, my eyes were like washing machines? Ha.

Most of the guys I could communicate just fine with.


There was an RAF guy there, who acted as if he was too good to be there. He leaned right back in his chair and put his leg over the other. He was mildly attractive, but only in comparison to everyone else there. He told me owned property. I think he was trying to impress me. It didn’t work. He had no banter or wit, so his property could do one as far as I was concerned. Loving yourself unduly is a very unattractive quality. His ranking in the RAF wasn’t even that high…


There was a Latvian man who didn’t speak much English. I asked how long he had been in England, thinking that speed dating must have been one of the first things he had attempted once getting here. He answered 9 years. I nearly suggested he fire his English tutor. It was painful. I was trying to make conversation and his one word yes or no answers didn’t lead to much.


One of the guys was very chipper. He reminded me of Jamie Oliver. We laughed conspiratorially and chatted like school mates together. Sometimes it is easy to be familiar and comfortable with certain people, if they are receptive to it.

The final guy to sit down was a doctor. He had a lovely personality and was funny and interesting.

The kicker was that I found him very unattractive.


Here’s the thing. I have said this all along. You cannot fake attraction – raw physical chemistry. I’m not saying you have to feel like you could jump someone’s bones straight away (although it does help, and I have experienced this myself) but there has to be potential. If you are repulsed by someone, it’s a no go.

Regrettably, I was repulsed in the physical sense.


My friend had a similar experience. She didn’t find anyone worthy of a follow up.  


Later in the evening, the company send you a tick list and this gives you the option for yes and no.

The annoying thing was that you could only view who ticked you if you ticked some people yourself.

I selfishly ticked two people, Jamie Oliver and the  doctor.

I was able to view my results. Of the 12 men, 7 had ticked me, which was not a bad return.


Both of my choices had ticked me.

I immediately got an email from the Jamie Oliver alike.

‘Well at least sum1 liked me! Fancy a drink? Let me know wen ur 3’ Oh dear. Text speak. In an e-mail no less.

When I didn’t answer his email within 20 minutes I got a second email from his other email account.


This wasn’t going to go anywhere.


The doctor pursued me for a while, and I tried to be philosophical and not superficial. Maybe he’ll grow on me? I thought.


He requested me on Facebook. His photo was awful. In that moment I knew I couldn’t even meet up with him for a coffee. I let him down gently. He was quite disappointed, but I don’t believe in leading people on.



 A few observations:


Paying money unfortunately does not guarantee a certain calibre of man – one of the guys we were sure was in the wrong place; he was about 50 with a dirty leather jacket and a truly pickled face – presumably from alcohol. He was not even on the same planet mentally. He came in swigging a bottle of beer and leaning surreptitiously against a post. We are not sure how he found the venue.


First impressions count. The venue was foul. Dirty, sticky tables and horrible dingy lighting which didn’t add to the ambience, rather, it hindered it. The toilets were regular club loos, one even had broken glass it in, and puke on the side. Quite disgusting.


When they have nothing to say – it’s very hard work. I can talk for England, but it becomes a chore when the person opposite has nothing to offer. Amazingly 4 minutes can feel longer than staring into a microwave and watching a potato cook.


This is a quicker way of seeding the crap out than internet dating. You immediately know who to scrape off. In this case, everyone.


We decided we wouldn’t rule it out, and may even consider speed dating in London.. Because if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.


And then after that give up and buy cats. They are guaranteed to be cute at least.