Tuesday, 28 February 2017

My 'award-winning' column

I'm sitting at the award ceremony in my fancy black frock and my high-heeled shoes that always make my feet hurt but I have to wear them because they look nice. 

I'm listening intently to the categories, and am shocked to hear my name read out in the Columnist Of The Year category.  I look at my husband for confirmation, and he beams at me, squeezes my hand and motions me towards the stage.

I stand up, smiling, making sure my skirt isn't tucked into my knickers as I walk as confidently as I can towards the stage, secretly repeating the mantra 'don't fall over' to myself as I go.

Stephen Mangan, the host, greets me warmly, and I walk towards Stephen Fry who is brandishing my prize - a £50 book token.

I shake his hand, take a deep breath and take my place at the podium for my acceptance speech.

I thank my Mum and Dad - my Dad when I ask what he thinks of my latest column either says 'very good' or 'it must be hard to come up with something to write each week'.

My husband and daughter, who proof-read for me and say supportive things like 'please don't mention me anymore - I absolutely forbid you talking about me in your column'.

My friends, who have been a source of strength, provide inspiration, caffeine and alcohol on occasions when required, sometimes simultaneously.

It's all going swimmingly, and then I see a Stephen waving at me, and to my horror both Stephens rush towards me going 'Stop, there's been a terrible mistake!  You're not columnist of the year at all.  We've got the wrong card.  Sorry about that.  The proper winner is of course Caitlin Moran.'

So I hand the book token back, and shuffle off the stage feeling mortifyingly embarrassed that I went up there in the first place.

And then my alarm goes off and it's 6am on a Monday morning.  Of course, that's just a classic anxiety dream isn't it?  Nothing like that would ever happen in real life!

Prue Leith and Bake Off

Daughter, reading the paper one Saturday morning, asks me "Mum, what's an orghee?" (rhymes with corgi); confused I asked her to spell it, and she duly did, "o-r-g-y."

"Why do you ask pet?" I managed to reply, thinking to myself how am I going to answer this truthfully, yet in an age appropriate manner.  She is only 13, after all.

"There's an article in here about Bake Off," she continued.  Now, I know Channel Four's a little, shall we say, edgy, but what on earth is the link I thought.

"Well, according to this Prue Leith's been to an orgy."

Ah, I see.  So I explained as best I could that an orgy is a kind of wild party, and that it was perhaps quite a long time ago - although truthfully I have no idea, it could have been last week, and in this era of fake news, it might not even be true.  It's not something I want to type into Google to try and confirm, believe me.

She considered this momentarily, and then said solemnly "Mary Berry wouldn't have done that."

And that's the problem that Channel Four's Bake Off will have.  The new line up (yet to be confirmed but rumoured to include Prue) will always be compared to the old, measured and found wanting.

In much the same way, I saw a whole heap of Mary's and Prue's recipes compared and contrasted, and in fairness to Ms Leith, some of her recipes did quite well.

But do you know which one failed miserably?  The Victoria Sponge cake, in my mind the standard by which all other cakes are measured.  Mary's was a million times better.  Prue's didn't rise.  Mary's was light and fluffy and Prue's resembled something I would bake, similar to pancakes.

OK, until they're both standing in my kitchen with a cake that each of them has personally baked by hand, themselves, wanting my approval, I can't accurately judge. 

And I loved Prue on Great British Menu, I really did.  But when it comes to Bake Off, she's just not Mary.  But then again, nobody is.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

February half-term, the cinema and The Lego Batman Movie

The February half-term started cold and foggy so we grabbed the opportunity to go to the cinema.

I remember not so long ago that if you wanted to see the latest films it meant a trek to Milton Keynes or Northampton.  My friends and I made pilgrimages just to see movies like Housesitter (Goldie Hawn, Steve Martin) which truthfully weren't worth a two-hour round trip plus viewing time.

We did have small, two-screen cinemas closer to home.  The Ohio in Kettering and the Forum I think it was called in Corby, next to the Library, where I was also a frequent visitor.

These were, I think it's fair to say, cheap and cheerful establishments, and tickets cost a very reasonable £2 I seem to recall, although I may be wrong.

The opening of the Odeon in Kettering and then the Savoy in Corby therefore caused much excitement - well, it did for me anyway.  Their arrival heralded a choice of more than two films, at various times during the day too.

Even now I think it's fantastic to be able to pop along, just a few miles from home, without planning a huge journey, filling a tank of petrol and programming a sat nav.

With our Broadband speed remaining woefully slow at under 2Mbps, I won't be subscribing to Netflix or similar anytime soon either, so long live our cinemas!

Back to our half-term excursion - we watched The Lego Batman Movie.  This divided the Bach household - daughter and I liked it, husband hated it.  In hindsight, the Lego Movie a few years ago also caused such division, so perhaps this wasn't entirely unexpected.

OK, it hasn't much of a storyline, but sometimes I like not having to over-think things and just be entertained.  In its defence, it does have morals, themes and metaphors - no man is an island being one - and the characters unite to fight and overcome a common enemy and save themselves from certain destruction.

Perhaps in this current age of uncertainty there's an underlying message for us all in there?

Thursday, 9 February 2017

There's only one Kylie

There are some celebs so famous that they are instantly recognisable and known by one name alone.

For example, exhibit A, from the world of music - Madonna, Cher, Beyonce, Rihanna, Gaga and Prince.  Exhibit B, the celeb cooks - Delia, Nigella and Jamie.

It doesn't quite work for some people though - when it comes to Cheryl I'm afraid I'm left asking 'Cheryl who?', and I assure you no disrespect is intended.  It's just that I've always known her as Tweedy or Cole or Flipflop Versace or whatever it was; as just Cheryl alone it doesn't quite work.

And then there's Kylie.  In my mind, there's only one Kylie, and that's the diminutive diva from Down Under, whom we all adore.

Whether as Charlene, the tomboy motor mechanic in 1980s Neighbours, or the gold hot-pant-clad musical minx from her Spinning Around days, there's only one person worthy of being known as just Kylie.

Which leads me to the news that there's a pretender to the pocket-sized pop princess's single moniker throne in the guise of one of the Kardashians, a certain Miss Kylie Jenner.

Now, I can't say I've ever watched an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, and I don't know much about them except a picture of one of their posteriors 'broke' the internet (and yes, my husband did comment that the only way my rear would break the internet was if I sat on it; oh how I laughed, hollowly).

Kylie Jenner has tried to trademark her first name so that she can use it for merchandise etc in the USA.  This is patently ridiculous (pardon the pun), and the original Kylie lodged a complaint as she already uses it for marketing purposes.  It appears the two Kylies may have now reached some sort of settlement, as yet undisclosed.

It's similar though to Victoria Beckham trying to stop Peterborough United trademarking the 'Posh' nickname they've been known as for many years.  Perhaps these people should stop and ask themselves 'who was known as this first?' before trying to prevent somebody using their own name.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

The eye test

With the wonders of modern medicine, it seems incongruous that the eye test hasn't changed much over the years.  Ever since I've been going to the opticians, it's remained pretty much the same. 

For me, it involves flinching and then laughing as the puff of air is put into both my eyes to test the pressure in order to detect glaucoma.

I have to repeatedly apologise to the person who tries to administer this, because once the first puff of air goes in, my body just reflexes every time and it's virtually impossible for them to get an accurate reading.

Not sure why I laugh - I think it's a mixture of nervousness and embarrassment as I wait for them to get cross and tell me to sit still.  In fairness, this hasn't yet occurred, but it's only a matter of time.

Then it's on to the 80s space invader game - put your head into a machine while wearing a fetching Pirate-style eye patch, and then blast away on the trigger as the little lights flash all around you.

From here, I'm winking, blinking and watery-eyed as I stagger to the optician's version of the Mastermind chair.

Once in situ, it's on with the glasses, and then the 'which looks clearer?' questions as lenses are popped in and out and I can't remember which is which, so it's round and round we go until I just pick one, hoping it's the right answer.  Going on Mastermind and facing John Humphrys would be far less stressful!

'Read the smallest line of print you can without holding it at arm's length' is the next test.  Then there's the bit where the optician gets up close and personal staring into my eyes checking their general health, while I try not to breathe but still think to myself I'm glad I didn't have garlic for dinner last night.

But, as we all know, it's one of those essential tests to get done regularly.  Perhaps one day it'll all be done by lasers or something.