sprezzatura: (80s!)
  • Recent general election resulting in change of administration: check
  • Tory government impose dramatic and sweeping spending cuts resulting in job losses, demonstrations and riot: check
  • Fashion shops full of stiletto boots, batwing sweater dresses and leopard print: check
  • Boys* get this for their birthdays: check
  • High streets full of punks and people promoting The Socialist Worker: check
  • Crimpers gaining popularity on the Goth scene**: check
  • Announcement of Royal Wedding and national holiday: check

    Is this Gene Hunt's Cop Narnia or have we actually slid through a wormhole to thirty years in the past?

    *Ed, from my mum. I am dead of envy.
    **If WGW, which seemed to have rejected woolly hair extensions and dayglo trousers in favour of extra strength Elnett and black was anything to go by! Hoorah!
  • sprezzatura: (Default)
    In Whitby and in deep disgruntlement. Way too many people and way too many cameras. It's very difficult to talk about how much better WGW was in the old days without sounding sneery and pretentious, but WGW was much better in the old days before it became a fancy dress photo opportunity.
    sprezzatura: (80s!)
    I have sometimes heard it said that musically speaking, the 80s were over by 1988 when the top 40 became dominated by dance music and all the "proper" 80s outfits like Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran and Adam & the Ants had gone into acting, yachting or institutional care. I think this view overlooks a particular set of groups from the back end of the decade who, due to the fact they wrote their own songs and played their own instruments, I feel it would be unfair to dismiss as "boy bands" despite their regular appearances in Smash Hits. With this poll, and thanks in part to [livejournal.com profile] moral_vacuum and [livejournal.com profile] foxy76's comments on yesterday's post, let us remember them.

    [Poll #1631374]

    I couldn't be bothered to add any more poll questions, but who can name the front men of any of these bands? I could do five, but I bet there's someone out there who can beat that.

    Edit: Shit, I forgot A-ha. Still, they're probably a bit early and I don't remember ever seeing Morten Harket in a hat.
    sprezzatura: (Filthy Look)
    In response to my post yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] moral_vacuum invited me to make a positive comment about being over 30. Of course, what I should have said was that I couldn't, having no experience of it, but that didn't occur to me until an esprit d'escalier moment several hours later and in any case, I've always been rubbish at lying about my age.

    I do worry about getting older, mostly because of how little I have to show for my thirty... erm... something years of life and all the mistakes I have made. A couple of months ago, [livejournal.com profile] sneerpout pointed me at a fantastic cautionary quote from Dorothy Parker: "She had spent the golden time in grudging its going." I've been trying not to do that so much recently and I made sure the diem of the summer was well and truly carped, but it's an uphill struggle to convince myself I'm not actually over it yet. There are many advantages to growing older but I'm not always good at remembering, so I invite you all to remind me of them.

    What is the best thing about being over 30, or, if you're not there yet (lucky buggers), the age you are now?

    Also, in case you haven't already seen it on Facebook, I am in need of Ten (or more) Good Reasons not to buy this. They do say mid life crises are getting earlier, but I'm not sure that would justify the purchase of an album of covers of songs from my youth by the man I wanted to marry when I was thirteen. Talk me out of it, in the wittiest way possible!
    sprezzatura: (History)
    First thing's first! Addendum to yesterday's poll, including various programmes I had forgotten about or which other people said I should have included. This way for the Tickybox )

    I have been at university this morning and one of the topics that came up in discussion was whether, in this age of digital disposability, we would leave any records of our lives for the historians of the future to pick through and write dissertations about. I wasn't going to admit to keeping a paper diary in front of a room full of twenty year-olds, but there is one (several volumes worth, actually) and when I get round to it I might do a [livejournal.com profile] shewho and publish some of it here. Maybe in years to come someone will find my detailed accounts of Neighbours episodes of the late 80s, or rants about how crap the top 40 was in 1991 useful as part of a study of the popular culture of the day. Who knows, in a hundred years, someone might decide to base their PhD thesis on what the best rides were at Chessington World of Adventures in 1989 according to the opinion of a fifteen year-old girl.

    Of course, there are other personal records: letters, medical details, Nectar points, even receipts from which people of the future could learn about us, which have inspired the following poll:

    What will you leave behind? )

    What I really want to know is what is going to happen to the Interwebs in the future? Here we all are, busily trying to save Livejournal, but exactly what are we saving it for? I've been rambling away online for well over a decade now, and ignoring for a moment the very important civil liberty/identity issues, I'm quite upset by the idea that there might not be a record of any of the long, rambling email conversations I used to have back in the days when it was a novelty. I would like to think there is a dusty old server somewhere that might still be storing the archives of long-defunct Hotmail accounts with cringingly cheesy goth names, but the idea horrifies me as much as it comforts me. Can any geek types offer a view on what might happen to all the nonsense we churn out? Should we try and download the whole lot now and store it away for posterity, or is it gone for ever?
    sprezzatura: (Default)
    [livejournal.com profile] neenaw has declared October to be Save Livejournal Month, and is taking time out from aiding in the resuscitation of London's sick and injured to post here every day in an attempt breathe some life back into this neglected corner of the Interwebs. I have decided to join her, and so should all of you.

    Predictably, I will begin with a poll.

    This one is about Grange Hill )
    sprezzatura: (Fagpuss)
    Folllowing on slightly from yesterday's post, what, or who, used to scare you as a child?

    A universal figure of terror was the sinister presenter of 1980s schools programme Picture Box, who gave me the creeps anyway but started to give me nightmares when he introduced a programme about The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The very thought of him saying the name "Ichabod Crane" still gives me the willies even to this day.

    In slightly younger days I was mortally afraid of bearded purveyor of puppet-based horror Yoffy from Fingerbobs. Just look at that picture and tell me he doesn't have a glint of pure baby-eating evil in his eye?

    Books were frightening! I was petrified of zombies for ages after reading a poem about one at school, the only lines of which I can remember are:

    There's a zombie in your room
    And with it dwells your doom

    Though on reflection I think the scariest thing about that is the crushingly unimaginative rhyme. I had to keep a perfectly innocent text about the kings and queens of England in the wardrobe after reading about Anne Boleyn and Charles I being beheaded as though I thought their headless ghosts would come drifting out of the pages to terrorise me in my bed.

    My crappest, most pathetic childhood phobia of all, by which I'm still vaguely embarrassed even though I was only about three at the time, was Gabriel the Toad from Bagpuss. My mum watched an episode with me once to reassure me that he was alright and it quickly became one of my favourite programmes, but given my current music taste I can't help wondering whether my mum wouldn't have been better letting me be and raising me with a healthy fear of beards, banjos and folk singing!
    sprezzatura: (Kinkaku-Ji)
    I've just been to a lecture on what is effectively my last module of my degree course, about the American Civil War. I think it is unique amongst the seventeen modules that I've taken in the last couple of years, in that I knew absolutely nothing about the subject in advance. I must admit, it was a bit of lesser-of-three-evils choice that I didn't think would interest me very much, but it's beginning to capture my attention. The one piece of relatively trivial information I took from today's lecture was that the last survivor of the conflict died in 1959. This shocked me because the little information I had in the back of my head about the war was that it took place in the nineteenth century and was as far removed from the modern world as, for example, the Napoleonic Wars*.

    When Harry Patch died I remember someone on my friends list saying it was a poignant marker of the passing of time, the way the First World War slipped out of living memory. When I was K's age many veterans were still alive, and all my grandparents remembered the war. It still felt like something within a lifetime's reach rather than "history", which it has now become. I'm quite struck by the fact that when the last American Civil War veteran died, my dad was only five years younger than I was last summer, so it would be reasonable to suppose it had a similar impact on his generation as the effect of Harry Patch's death on mine. I suppose for K's generation it'll be the Second World War, or Vietnam. Both felt almost tangible when I was growing up - both my parents talked about their World War II experiences and Vietnam was still going on when I was born. It's odd to think of them sliding into the abstract. It seems so disrespectful just to let such important things go, and if I were ever called upon to justify studying history I think this would be one of my main arguments.

    On an unrelated note, I've just watched Caught In The Web with K. Children's Internet safety is all over the news today and it does worry me. I stopped K from using Moshi Monsters the other week when I found out people she didn't know could send her messages. She still uses Club Penguin, which has a system I rather like where other members can only send standard, pre-written "postcards" to people outside of their buddy list. It's hard to strike a balance between protecting her safety and frightening her. The programme we just watched frightened her a little and she said this evening that she didn't want to use the Internet at all any more. I can appreciate how she feels. I remember watching this when I was about the same age and it frightened the crap out of me. As I mentioned on Facebook, Internet Paedos are the new Stranger Danger.

    I guess it all boils down to the same thing. The reason the 80s video frightened me was that I didn't entirely get it. At seven, I had no idea why dodgy looking men might want to lure me or any other kids into their cars, I just convinced myself there was one on every corner. Similarly, K hasn't got a clue why adults might want to pretend to be children in order to talk to her, but now she is afraid that everyone on the Internet is dodgy. I need to find a way of explaining to her why she needs to be cautious without worrying her unnecessarily and without going into age-inappropriate detail about The P Word. I'm not sure Caught in the Web got it quite right, but I'm confident it will be something that gets picked up by her school.

    Anyway, I think that's quite enough nostalgic rambling from me, and three posts in two days must be some kind of record for me. What were your favourite terror-inducing public information films, viewers?

    *Actually around fifty years apart.
    sprezzatura: (Cherry Red Girl)
    I have just put three trays of pink cupcakes into the oven in anticipation of K's birthday party* tomorrow, reserving, as is my custom, a little of the mixture to eat raw, because I am a grown-up** and I can. Pondering on the fact that I still believe cake mix tastes better before you cook it even at my advanced age, it occured to me that this is just one of several youthful pleasures I have carried with me into adulthood despite being assured I would grow out of it. No doubt you lot have a few of your own, so with a little light Friday comment-whoring, we could probably compile a list. Here are a few to get us started:

    • Licking the bowl/spoon clean of uncooked cake mix
    • Swings
    • Unattainable crushes (though admittedly on different people)
    • Liking Monster Munch (my parents assured me that no-one over the age of sixteen would willingly eat any sort of pungently-flavoured corn snack, but I think they have already been proved wrong on that score)
    • Fizzy drinks (see above)
    • Sibling rivalry
    • Throwing myself wholeheartedly into celebrating Halloween
    • Kicking through fallen leaves
    • Leaving out a glass of sherry and a mince pie for Father Christmas, though I always insist this is for K's benefit

    What else do you suggest?

    *If anyone is thinking "didn't she just have a birthday a few weeks ago?" yes, she did, but we postponed her party until her granny got back from holiday.

    Take Five.

    Feb. 20th, 2009 02:18 pm
    sprezzatura: (Snape)
    I have often said that the reason I have never written fiction is because I lack the imagination, and as my recent silence might imply, I am now having the same problem with LJ. Thankfully, a meme has emerged whereby you invite your friends to give you five topics to write about, and this is what [livejournal.com profile] tga selected for me. You know what to do if you want five of your own.

    TV talk shows, cars, lesbians, movies and Alan Rickman. Does that sound like the recipe for a good night out? )
    sprezzatura: (Filthy Look)
    I'd like to ride this bandwagon, I really would, but having finally managed to wrestle the White Lies album from the unusually steadfast clutches of 7digital and given it a proper listen, for me they're not quite living up either to the hype or the little soundbites I had heard. It's perfectly likeable background music but it's not very engaging and I get the distinct impression I have heard it all before, mostly in between the dialogue of scenes in seedy nightclubs where everyone had Flock of Seagulls hair in eighties TV cop shows. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but there's nothing exciting about it. I do like the singer's voice, which I think has a slight hint of Julian Cope about it, but the album sounds like a collection of covers from the fantasy soundtrack of Ashes to Ashes. Having said that I still seem to be listening to it and I suspect it will grow on me.
    sprezzatura: (Default)
    I always wanted to be the New Girl at school. With exception of the mostly undesirable option of having a sick parent, there was nothing like primary school New Girl-hood to guarantee not only instant popularity, but access to privileges the like of which old lags such as I could only dream about. Being allowed to take in the teacher's coffee mug at playtime, for example, or attending the first sitting for school dinners were things that only New Girls got to do. As I got older, the idea of the slate-wiping that went along with New Girl-hood became increasingly enticing as the catalogue of social misdemeanours, fashion errors and embarrassing crushes began to stack up behind me. How lovely it would have been to start again at a new school and reinvent myself as someone interesting and trendy that everyone would want to be friends with, or maybe even fancy.

    Unfortunately for me, despite their Forces careers which could normally have been relied upon to afford at least one unscheduled move during one's school years, my parents were mindful of the fatal disruption caused to my mother's education by being the New Girl a startling seventeen times. She left the RAF before my brother and I were born, and my father, approaching retirement, was able to make sure that his final posting would not involve relocating, so we stayed put. After seven years at the same primary school, my reward was to endure a similar and altogether less pleasant stretch at the same secondary school, watching New Girls come and go in a flurry of attention and social desirability while my own reputation as a fat and emotionally incontinent drama queen was scratched ever deeper into the battered old desk of familiarity by the compass of contempt. My fate, like my adolescent image, was sealed, and my parents remained depressingly resistant to the idea of emigration. Having witnessed the social anxieties and in some cases bullying experienced by some of the New Girls of my acquaintance over the years, along with the discovery at university that self-reinvention is a lot harder and less fun than I might have imagined, I ought to thank them for that, but I'm sure you will understand the grudging nature of my gratitude.

    This morning, my daughter is the New Girl. She had already started nursery by the time we moved in with Ed, and because my hateful ex job was also in Horrorgate, near the school, we decided it was as well to let her stay where she was and join the infant school there rather than add the upheaval of moving schools to that of moving house. She would have had to have moved at the end of this school year anyway so even after I finished work, it seemed reasonable to let her finish that stage of her education where she was. Various things happened last term that made this option less appealing; the new headteacher was making what, in my opinion, were pointless changes like insisting all classes should be referred to by the name of a cute woodland creature rather than a number*, but more importantly K was getting too tired between the various extra-curricular activities she was doing and the long commute. Therefore, we arranged to transfer her to a primary school closer to home two terms ahead of schedule and today is her first day.

    I had already visited the school twice before and, in a weird, nostalgic sort of way, fallen in love with it. It reminds me a lot more of my old primary school than her last school did. Like my first Alma Mater but in contrast to her previous one and most other schools in the area, there is no uniform, so today she is modelling proudly the High School Musical jeans she got for Christmas. Yesterday we bought her some enviable new boots the like of which I would have happily traded all my fanciest felt-tips for at the same age and, to be honest, would quite like even now if only I could find a pair to go round my fatted calves. She is pretty and smiley and friendly, and she went off to greet her new teacher and classmates with just the right mix of quiet confidence and endearing timidity. Finally, I was going to have the chance to live out my New Girl fantasy vicariously through her.

    Perhaps not so vicariously, as it turns out. Because I was working, and subsequently at university, the burden of the School Run has, up until now, fallen largely on my mother. Consequently all the playground acquaintances and alliances were hers, and I was just an occasional hanger-on. This morning it was up to me to take K to school, see her into the classroom and create a first impression by which we will both be known for the next four and a half years! I made a point of getting up early, doing my hair, applying what I hope was just the right amount of make-up to look as though I had made an effort but not at the expense of getting my daughter's breakfast, and carefully selecting my outfit (easy on the black!) I swear, as we approached the school gates, I was ten times more nervous than K who maintained the air of calm enthusiasm she has had for her new school all the way through the holidays.

    Having been shown into the classroom by the teacher, K settled quietly in to the "Early Bird Activity" of a maths worksheet as though she had been doing the same thing every day of her life. It was I who hung around not knowing quite what to do, grinning nervously at anyone who happened to glance in my direction, enthusiastically returning the "hello"s of those parents - several of them, actually, it seems like a very friendly sort of place - kind enough to speak to me, and watching with whistful hope of joining them as they all greeted one another. The teacher finally rescued me and suggested that as K had relaxed immediately, there was no need for me to hang around, so home I came, being sure to offer a winning smile to other school-runners I happened to pass along the way.

    Forced at last into the role of New Girl, I am determined to take advantage of the opportunity to refashion myself, or at least the bits that others see. It is time to stop slobbing shambolicly about and start living up to my new username. If I look like the kind of woman who has an effortlessly tidy house, organised life and nice hair, then I will become that woman, right? If I pretend to be the sort of Proper Mummy that juggles mature studenthood with domestic goddessery, looking fabulous and welcoming an endless procession of my daughter's friends in to the house for home-made beefburgers and organic orange squash, no-one will notice that I'm not, will they?

    Will they?

    I'd better go and clean the kitchen.

    *Entirely counter-productive. There was no sense of numerical superiority attached to the old system, class names reflecting only room numbers, while as any fule or six year-old no, foxes totally kick rabbits' butts. And more than likely eat them as well, but I don't want to think about the implications of that.
    sprezzatura: (Me Nostalgia)
    Inspired by [livejournal.com profile] teqkiller's post and the general run of Facebook-related nostalgia, here is a poll about the most ubiquitous UK pub franchise of the mid/late nineties.

    Ticky Firkin Box )

    Aaah, memories. I even called my first rat Firkin. He used to steal digestive biscuits and run up the stairs trying to carry a whole one in his mouth. I miss him.

    ETA: A point for anyone who can remember the Latin slogan on the beer mats, and another for anyone who can provide an accurate English translation.

    Sick Child

    Jan. 26th, 2007 11:16 am
    sprezzatura: (Mood Puking Pumpkin)
    K has tonsilitis, which effectively renders us housebound for the second day in a row. As tradition demands, I have made her up a bed on the sofa and she is currently reclining pallidly infront of Cinderella. She doesn't want to play games, is feeling too feeble to draw and is uninterested in listening to stories. Thanks to Ed's dawn raid on the supermarket, she has a plentiful supply of apple juice, though she claims to be too frail to lift a glass or carton to her lips and keeps summoning me every time she wants a drink. I don't think she's up to dealing with the logic that her throat will hurt all the more if she keeps shouting, and the table is not that far for her to stretch. Perhaps I should get her a bell?

    So far I have been unable to tempt her to eat anything beyond a bowl of dry cereal, from which she will take the occasional nibble, and some cheese on toast yesterday lunch time. She has turned her nose up at my childhood comfort food of choice: a digestive biscuit spread with butter and/or Dairylea and a mug of "watery tea". I can't actually remember watery tea tasting any different to the tea we drank the rest of the time but it, along with the old-margarine-tub-featuring-cartoon-of-the-Green-Cross-Code-Man sick bowl and a thermometer under the tongue, became an accepted part of the paediatric malady experience in the house of Caustick.

    At the risk of this becoming a tedious middle-aged whine about how kids today have it so much easier than we did, kids today have it so much easier than we did. There was no dawn-to-dusk CBeebies in our day, and until my parents finally succumbed to the purchase of a video early in 1986, we had nothing but the likes of Pebble Mill and an inadequate half hour of lunch time 'programmes for younger viewers' to distract us during times of illness, at least until we learned to read. K's only complaint is that I won't let her watch the advert-dominated cartoon channels for hours at a time, when back in our day the most exciting thing my brother and I had to watch was the specks of dust dancing in the tiny strip of sunlight visible between my parents nasty seventies living room curtains!

    If K will allow me to switch on the hoover without complaint, I plan to spend the rest of the day cleaning. In the mean time, let's have a nostalgia-fest. Tell me what you remember about days off school sick as a child, viewers!
    sprezzatura: (Default)
    At my primary school, and presumably at similar institutions across the world, everyone was fiercely protective of their stationery. Being allowed to use someone's new crayons or Ivor the Engine pencil sharpener was a privilege hard won by grovelling and being from The Right Side of the Traffic Lights, with access to the scented novelty erasers and the like brought to school by popular children run like a caste system for seven year olds in the early eighties. I still remember the disappointment and sense of desperate social inadequacy I felt when denied the use of JT's inviting rainbow of felt tips, and the superior feeling of being able to refuse SC and CA my much-coveted new paints. Stationery, back in the day, was power. Daring to intrude upon someone else's flourescent faux fur pencil case without permission was the worst kind of 'You're Not Coming To My Party' transgression.

    The ghosts of this sort of Crayola-based feudalism have been evident in every office I have worked in. Respect for the sanctity of one’s desk tidy is tacitly acknowledged as a basic human right. The flagrant theft of a person’s stapler is like sleeping with their spouse and then stubbing out a post-coital cigarette on their monogrammed dressing gown: an insupportable violation of the person which should not happen in civilised society.

    Which is why, if IT leans over my shoulder and borrows my scissors just one more time, I swear I’m going to stab her with them.
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