Friday, 21 December 2007

Ooh Pretty Lights

Well, I'm officially back home and I have to admit that I am sort of surprised by the changes that I've noted this year in relation to the amount of Christmas tat around. Usually by this time of year the houses are in full technicolour glory with inflatable snowmen and Santa's, fake snow, more lights than you can shake a stick at and so on. This year things seem different. Yes there are lights and tacky decorations but there just aren't as many, things are just more restrained. Which is a shame as I enjoy observing the peculiar decorations that people decide to decorate their houses with.

The funniest, if slightly peculiar, one that I remember fondly belonged to the apartment building opposite where I used to live. They had a Santa figure who hung out of the window on a rope. I think the idea was that it was supposed to look like Santa was climbing up to deliver the gifts. Unfortunately, that was the theory, it didn't work too well in practice. Instead Santa looked like he had been hung. In high winds it was even funnier as he was blown horizontal.

In other news the Christmas tree is now up and decorated and most of the gifts placed beneath it. And around it. And in stacks up against furniture. And the stockings are on the other side of the room. There seems to be an awful lot this year, and my other half hasn't added his stuff to the pile yet... It's getting to the stage where the presents are going to have to be strategically arranged so we can fit them all in, but I guess it is a season of gross indulgence.

Monday, 17 December 2007

The Cows are Chasing Me...

Seriously they are...

I first met the Cow Parade Cows in New York several years ago, then they turned up in Amsterdam. And then Edinburgh. And finally in Athens back in 2006.

Now they are invading my home...

The idea behind Cow Parade is really good, and its nice to see some of the really unusual things people do when presented with a giant plastic cow and told to customise it.

The best I've seen so far was a bright purple one which had been turned into a washing machine in Athens.

Sadly though I have also seen these poor cows abused. It was saddening to see that the ones in Edinburgh had been vandalised, graffiti all over them (I realise that some are designed to look graffitied, believe me this one wasn't), one even had a broken horn. Poor cows.

It seems a shame that the only ones I've ever seen damaged are here in the UK. I realise that their probably have been cow attacks elsewhere in the world, but its sad to think that it happens here as well.

So if you see a cow, take a picture not a horn as a souvenir.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

There goes the neighbourhood

I've been living in my current flat for nearly two years without any issue, until friday night. Ah the joys of Chavs. The delightful little brats decided that the nice secluded entrance to the our apartment building was a great place to have some fun. So on saturday morning I pop out only to discover that the front door, entry system and some of the brickwork were covered in graffiti. Tastefully done, I might say, in red and black marker pen. The daft thing is that in the glee at finding these wonderful surfaces upon which to scribble, they failed to realise that writing over the ink while it is still damp will only transfer the ink onto themselves. I'm really hoping that they got permanent ink all over their pretty little tracksuits... and that stuff never comes out.

Educating my Other Half

For all the time I have been going out with my other half he hasn't been a fan of whisky. Until this summer, when we went to Edradour distillery near Pitlochry. Surprisingly he liked it. Then he tried Laphroaig Quarter Cask and liked that.

We're now in the happy position of trying various different types of whisky. So far we have tried an awful lot... Glengoyne, Edradour, Edradour Cask Finish, Ballechin, Bunnahabhain, the Balvenie, Auchentoshan, Highland Park, Jura, Jura Superstition, Tallisker, Tobermory, Glenkinchie, Dalmore, Ardbeg....and there are a lot more, we've started keeping a list.

He even bought a book by Ian Banks where he travelled around Scotland visiting various distilleries, with various nice cars. Good book, would reccommend it - its just a bad influence on those who like whisky...

Speaking of which, a wee nip wouldn't be a terrible thing, would it?

Ah the Joys of Christmas

December is just one those months, pretty much the most fun and most irritating time of the year for me. All because of one little thing - I was born in it.

I've found this out (perhaps to my cost) recently and joy-of-joys that most wonderful thing (maybe not) - the Christmas Party. Now don't get me wrong - I like parties - it is a good excuse to drink in public and be silly. But a Christmas party is the last thing I can be bothered with - at least until the birthday is out of the way. So as I said - party fine - just maybe not Christmassy. I have to admit I have been surprised by the reaction (okay maybe I came across as a bit of brat) but it was the hostility to having just a *party* and loose the tinsel crap. I never suggested that the party be cancelled, just de-Christmas-fied.

In regard to the birthday, I've heard various suggestions - have a meal earlier in the month - now, fair enough, but no one else has to reschedule their birthday to avoid Shrove Tuesday or Guy Fawke's night, so why should I...?

I actually realised the other day, that the fact I dislike fuss over my birthday might be directly linked to its proximity to Christmas. Going out for a meal or drinks is a nightmare as most places are A. Full of Christmas decorations, B. Christmas music (now lets be fair no one who has ever worked in a shop over Christmas can like this stuff) and C. Full of drunken office parties.

Plus the fact that over the years my birthday has been forgotten (most memorably by my grandparents), or suffered one of those ultimate injustices for anyone with a birthday at this time of year - a joint Christmas/birthday present. The latter usually accompanied by the excuse that it is an expensive time of year (never mind the fact that I buy birthday presents throughout the year *and* Christmas presents at Christmas).

Even more annoying is the fact that because I'm not really ready to celebrate Christmas 'til after the birthday has led to accusations that I'm being all humbug-ish. Now thats not true - I love Christmas, I really do. I'm looking forward to getting a real tree at home this year (hopefully without the mother-leg-saw inccident that marred the situation the last time we got one), I have an advent calendar (although the enjoyment from that is the fact that I get to eat a bit of chocolate everyday, you could call it training for Christmas food-overdose situation coming later this month), all my presents are bought and wrapped (nearly), I'm sorting out the Christmas cards.

Anyway rant over, but if one more person tells me to "Cheer up, its Christmas" I might scream...

Evening Gloves and Pearls

So I have Halloween party tomorrow night, and one of the obligations is that you have to be in costume. I did wonder if it was possible to get away without a costume - but everyone I've spoken to is talking about what they are going to wear - so no avoidance.

Which means for the first time in my life - I'm dressing up for Halloween. (It's not that I haven't dressed up before...very publically - one BBC reporter with camera + me in costume for Monty Python Day @ Doune Castle = oh dear...). Now the issue is what to go as. Call me daft but I don't want an embarassing costume - so I figured Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's. Not bad...

So I managed to make a fancy fake cigarette in a holder (from a black pencil, some tippex, nail polish and an orange highlighter) which looks rather good. I figured black trousers, heels and a black top. Hair can be styled appropriately, as can make up (just need to schedule several hours to try and get the eyeliner right - not too mention the half hour with obligatory watery eyes when I stick the mascara wand in my eye...Again).

But there are the accessories, i.e. the aforementioned gloves and pearls... which explains why at 20 to ten on a friday night I am searching second hand clothing shops in the west end that deal in evening wear....But I suppose it could be worse.... I could have to try and convince a Cat to sit on my shoulder all night....

The Shed of Unspeakableness

Although I've now finished with the job, there are still some bizarre things that I would like to share.

Starting with the fact that during all the time I was working there no-one could explain why there was a rather large red shed plonked in the middle of the open-plan office.The shed had maps of various parts of the UK pinned to it, and inside a Fussball table and a lot of boxes. For the first couple of weeks I was there, it was locked - but it seems to be only lockable from the inside. The only thing I can think of is that a demented executive lost the plot and decided to give up life within the confines of the shed.

Then it was open one day - and since there was no strange smells - I think it safe to assume that no-one had used the shed for a final resting place. The funniest thing was that everyone I asked as to why there was a shed in the office, all acted really skittishly - just generally rather paranoid - plus they all sort of froze and twitched while they talked about it...

I wonder how many Christmas parties will end up in it... its far more innovative than a photocopier (actually maybe that is it - people have used it for non-office purposes...)

Tattooing Fruit...

Since I started the job (its in media, and thats all I'm going to refer to it as - I don't want my ass sued) I have overheard many strange and peculiar stories being mentioned. Whether you can tattoo a fruit?

Lets call him Joe* (*actually I have no idea who he is) announced in an extremely loud voice that for the latest project he was trying to work out whether fruit can be tattooed for prop purposes. He wanted a melon tattooed with a word. On discussion with a tattoo artist, (a long and particularly detailed conversation) they decided that some melons might not be suitable, maybe an orange would be better. Thankfully (what are the chances of this?) there was a greengrocers next door to the tattoo shop. So orange procured, the tattooist began to start with the words "if the needle breaks, we are not trying again and you're paying for it" ... Guess what happened...

So this enterprising individual decided to improvise and proudly displayed to the office his solution, a courgette - sliced lengthways - with a word inked on the flesh of the veg... He triumphantly asked pretty much anyone who passed if they could read it... it wasn't difficult.

Then one person (again no idea who she is) said that the courgette would go brown before the prop could be used. Lemon juice would be a solution she announced, so Joe* wandered off to see if he could find a lemon...

Oh and the word that was written - atheist - why oh why would you need a courgette with the word atheist inscribed on it....?