Thursday, 28 July 2016

Why I can't watch The Job Interview...

There are some TV shows I find it stressful to watch.  The news, obviously, because some days it's just all bad.  At the moment you almost need a restorative cup of tea at hand just to be able to sit down and watch it.

Then there's MasterChef, when they go into the professional kitchens.  I'm fine when they're cooking in the studio, despite Gregg and John's constant shouting which really isn't necessary.  It doesn't add to the tension, it just makes me reduce the volume.

I don't even mind when the cooks are hurriedly preparing lunch for hundreds of people, and the queues are building and nothing's cooking on time, they're dropping things on the floor and the pastry's burning.

No, I really hate it when they're being shouted at in a Michelin-starred establishment and it's all going a little bit 'Pete Tong'.

I've tried to figure out why I feel like this.  It could be because I worked in the kitchen of a pub with a chef that made Gordon Ramsay look positively mild-mannered and pleasant.  I may be mentally scarred - in fact, thinking about it, I've never been able to eat a prawn cocktail since, and as this was one of the signature starters of the day (yes, it was a few years ago) it's probably that. 

With this in mind, I also can't bring myself to watch The Job Interview.  With my prestigious track record of messing up in interviews, I just think the flashbacks would be too much for me.

When I get really nervous, I either lose the power of speech or say the first thing that comes into my head - neither of which is particularly helpful.

In one interview when I was asked 'where do you see yourself in five years time?' I actually responded, 'not that old one!' because, frankly, I'd been asked it in every single interview I'd attended up to that point. 

This was sadly not appreciated by the interviewer, but it did make the accompanying HR lady laugh out loud.  No, I didn't get the job!

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Kudos to Dame Judi for seizing the day...

I don't like needles.  I don't mean the sewing variety - although to be quite honest, I'm not overly keen on those either. 

I remember in sewing classes in primary school one of the boys thinking it would be great fun to put a row of stitches with embroidery thread through his thumb.  He was alone in thinking this was funny, as the teacher and the rest of us in the class didn't agree.

I can't watch when the phlebotomist is taking a sample for a blood test.  How very interesting the pictures on the wall become at this point for me, as I gaze at the artwork much as Brian Sewell would have done at a gallery, but slightly less critically I imagine.

I therefore don't have any body art as I would have to undergo a general anaesthetic - yet more needles! - in order to have it done.

Hats off then to Dame Judi Dench for having her first tattoo created for her 81st birthday.  The words 'CARPE DIEM' are now indelibly inked on her right wrist for all the world to see, in block capital letters no less.

For those who, like me, went to the local comp and didn't study Classics - or if you haven't seen the film Dead Poets' Society - these words translate from Latin as 'seize the day', and this is apparently her motto.

It's definitely nothing to do with the fish of a similar name - for those wondering otherwise, ask yourselves why would Dame Judi have something about koi carp tattooed on her wrist?  Although the company of A Winter's Tale, which she was filming at the time she went under the needle, used to joke with her that it meant 'fish of the day'.

I did read that she previously considered some kind of symbol, but was unsure what it depicted despite assurances that it wasn't rude - she quite rightly erred on the side of caution and gave it a miss.  That would have been an interesting assignment for E4's Tattoo Fixers though!

Thursday, 14 July 2016

The Communards, The Rolling Stones and my mother-in-law...

My family and I combined a visit to the wonderful Kettfest - taking advantage of KBC's free parking for the day - with a trip to the Manor House Museum in Kettering.

Somehow I'd never managed to visit here before, despite living in this area for most of my life.

It really is a little gem, and well worth a peek.  As well as its usual collections, it's currently home to the rather fabulous 'I (heart symbol) Music: Kettering', which is running from now until 17th September.

This charts (no pun intended) the history of music in and from Kettering from the 1950s until the present day.

Possibly the coolest exhibit features some photos of Mick Jagger & Co hanging out on the High Street - I knew the Rolling Stones played at what is now the Gala Bingo hall because my mother-in-law was at the gig.

The artistes who hail from Kettering have been given their own gold star on the floor, which is sweet.

Amongst the exhibits there is information about Faryl Smith and The Temples, along with The Communards who have lent a framed gold disc and photos.

Growing up around Kettering in the 80s we were all immensely proud of the fact that (the now Rev) Richard Coles came from here - I remember singing along to their number one single 'Don't Leave Me This Way' with my friends in the lunch queue at school, and the teacher on duty raising his eyebrows as we warbled 'Baby, my heart is full of love and desire for you' (not aimed at him, obviously).

There were more trips down memory lane for me with memorabilia from Tymes nightclub, where we celebrated many an 18th birthday in the late 80s, dancing the night away to various tunes of the time including the 12" version of New Order's Blue Monday, which seemed to last forever.  Tymes is long gone, but was located over what is now Greggs bakery on the High Street. 

Admission is free and the museum is open from 10am to 4.45pm Tuesday to Saturdays.

Friday, 1 July 2016

To Hell in a handcart...

We've had the Ice Age, the Stone Age, we may have even had the Age of Aquarius, but now it seems we're entering a new phase.

I'm not entirely sure what name it should be given, but with politicians behaving in this manner it's leading me to think it's the 'to Hell in a handcart' age.

When I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the EU referendum and the 'In' 'Out' 'Shake it all about' vote, I didn't really expect politicians to carry on doing the Hokey Cokey and turning our world upside down.

It's almost like we were playing a board game - a very long, drawn out one like Monopoly - and somebody has picked up the board and hurled it across the room, then stormed off in a huff, leaving us scrabbling around on the carpet, trying to collect up all the pieces before the dog eats them or we tread on them whilst barefoot.

Except that this isn't a game, this is real life, and it's all very well for people to say they don't want to play anymore but they really need to grow up and clean up the mess they've created.  Yes, David and Boris, I mean you.

At the time of writing - I have to put that because this story changes almost hourly - we've lost a PM, the guy who effectively deposed him has himself been metaphorically stabbed in the back (Karma, anybody?), and the Leader of the Opposition is stubbornly hanging on in there despite everyone telling him he should go. 

However, on the plus side and trying to find the silver linings in the many storm clouds we currently have hanging over our heads, we could very well have women taking the roles as PM, Leader of the Opposition, and, if Hillary can beat Donald, there may be the first ever female POTUS too. 

Let's hope that they can put the brakes on our virtual handcart because this journey is not a pleasant one.  To quote Duran Duran from The Reflex 'I'm on a ride and I want to get off'.

Coming to terms with our divorce

Forty years is a long time to be married to somebody.  Inevitably during this time there will be good and bad times.  A successful partnership is based, amongst other things, on compromise, trust and good communication.

But when the two parties decide they want very different things, a split is inevitable if those wishes cannot be reconciled.

The momentous decision taken last week by the British people feels very much like an acrimonious divorce from the European Union.

As EU head Jean-Claude Juncker didn't very graciously put it, it was 'not an amicable divorce', but it 'was not a tight love affair anyway'.

Since the decision was taken that there would be a referendum, we have been bombarded with biased information from both sides, had to listen to the endless arguing and vitriol just like parties involved in a disintegrating relationship.

So now it's over, we've reached splitsville, and the squabbling over the children, dog and crockery begins.

Where do we go from here?  There are so many unknowns, it's impossible to predict.  Only time will tell.  There's a long process involved including invoking Article 50 and we will have to wait and see.

What we do know so far is that David Cameron has resigned.  A predictable response, but I don't think it's the right one.  What we need now is a period of stability and transition, not more uncertainty as we watch the wrangling while Tories vie for the leadership role instead of concentrating on sorting out the next steps. 

The prospect of another Scottish Referendum has been raised, and there are questions about Gibraltar and Northern Ireland too.  We may even have another General Election, who knows.

However, whether or not you voted for this outcome - or indeed voted at all - we must recognise that this result is the will of the majority of the people in Britain. 

We live in a democracy, and we need to accept it, all work together and move on.