Monday, 26 November 2007

The New 1950s

I have recently become truly obsessed with UKTV Food. It is a worrying obsession. I have started seeing Gary Rhodes and his Local Food Heroes in my dreams, started obsessing over going to Oliver Rowe's Konstam when I'm next in London (2009 sometime then) and even found my lunch-time pub chat today revolving around the Two Fat Ladies. Not good.

As I write this I am watching Nigella Lawson pout at the camera before lowering her enviable lashes to a misty close-up of goujons of sole. Earlier I actually cooked something, a risotto out of my "Cook Yourself Thin" book, which went down well with the housemates. Before that I was reading the New Urban Gardener's blog at Times Online. At the weekend I watched Saturday Cooks, as Saturday Kitchen wasn't on, and missed Sweet Baby James while Anthony Worral-Thompson gurned at me.

Yesterday I made the boyf not one but two homemade meals, just for coming to see me, one of which was a full roast chicken. He ate well, and I sat proudly looking on like a Stepford Wife, or, more horrifically even than that, Anthea Turner. Something strange is definitely happening to me.

I think its some kind of nesting syndrome. Having finished uni I've got kind of fed up of moving around, living in virtual squats, and being content with packet soup on pasta serving for a gastronomic delight. So now I feel all old and graduated I want to learn to do it properly. Plus, the boyf had just driven quite a long way so I felt that was a legitimate excuse to exercise my UKTV Food gleanings. I feel like I should be eating take-out sushi whilst wearing Prada and living in a stainless steel and faux fur bubble. Instead, all I want to do is get a dog and a sofa, and live with the boyf whilst cooking things. Is this a natural urge? Its not one of the ones they warn you about in pre-prubescent lessons. Perhaps I will write to Gordie and suggest that domestic urges be taught about in schools, because in today's world of high powered females it's a lot more scary to feel like you're going backwards in the Delorean than to find hair in places you didn't expect.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Goodness gracious me, I'm a Vase!

I found myself alone in the house tonight, and so, taking advantage of having shed the three male housemates, I indulged in some true girly TV. Hollyoaks, America's Next Top Model and Trinny And Susannah Undress The Nation were on the menu. It was amezin, as Scott Mills would say. Truly Amezin. And I found out something about myself; I'm a Vase.
Trinny and Susannah are re-categorising women's shapes. They have classified women's typical shapes into twelve separate sections - The small-waisted hourglasses, cellos and vases, the waistless bricks, columns and apples, the large thighed bells, pears and skittles, and the big-breasted lollipops, goblets and cornets. Harsh though it may sound, it actually worked and I almost hate to agree with them but it is a much better way of working out what suits you than a size sticker on a rail.

The nation has a love hate relationship with Trinny and Suze, so I was wondering how it would go down when they attempted to undress it. However, women really do go on this show of their own free will, as my prematurely returning housemates couldn't believe. I personally regard them as a bit of a guilty secret - I have not one, not two but three T+S books stacked somewhere at home. They are entertaining, and despite the methods, know what they are talking about when it comes down to it. Posh and brash they may be, but they never criticise a woman's looks, or shape, only her clothes. And lets face it, 9 times out of 10 on makeover shows, thats only a good thing.

The funniest part, though, were the pagans who attempted to stop T, S and their assorted gaggle of household objects from scaling the hill to give the Long Man chalk figure of Wilmington a sex change. Hmm yes. They changed him into a cornet, a pear, and apple and an hourglass successively, despite the humming pagan ring and druidic glares emanating from the bottom of the hill. One of them was especially pissed off when Susannah suggested that he could wear a wider belt. He was pretty much an apple, breasts and all.
Great telly all around.

Fun and (drinking) games at the PTC Awards

Last week, five colleagues and I were lucky enough to be picked to attend the PTC New Journalist Awards in Westminster. Held at the decidedly swanky Millenium Mayfair in Grosvenor Sqaure, it was hopefully a taste of things to come for us budding journalists from little old Cardiff. After a rather dazed coach journey - four hours next to a stinking toilet is not my favourite way to travel - I straightened out my new Topshop pencil skirt and trotted along to the hotel. By this point we were pretty starving, and also late, so when we were immediately split up and siphoned off into different panelled rooms we really were confused.

However, once we were in it was a different story. I really wish I was in one of the other groups, as the first speakers I got to see were Tom Dunmore of Stuff Magazine, and Michael Harvey of TopGear who were talking about multi-platforming and 'brand'. Strange man-jargon aside, this was a great session and I would have liked to have seen the start of it!
Michael Harvey is, to be honest, a bit of a legend. Hints suggest that he is slightly renegade in his post at BBC Worldwide and he certainly seemed so in person. He swore - to be expected - and mumbled a bit, but was generally entertaining even *gasp* without a powerpoint presentation! I watch Top Gear religiously so found it interesting that he was talking about how the brand relies somewhat on Jeremy Clarkson, and how personality is so tied up in brand. Especially when my favourite is the Hamster. But I see what he means, as Top Gear without Jez would be a bit like Russel Brand with a No1 cut, or a shake-free Ozzy Osborne - OK, but without its USP.

Tom Dunmore (quite apart from being surprisingly fit, and reminding me of Ollie Rowe the Urban Chef, another crush of mine) was really entertaining, mainly because he too swore and showed us funny videos. He said that they had really had to pull their socks up at Stuff with the advent of online, particularly as their first attempts at a website were, as he noted, pretty shitty. I did wonder though if with a prevalence of women in the room and his repeated appearances on Radio 1's Jo Whiley show, whether Stuff was having to revolutionise itself and move away from the lad's mag persona. A quick look at the magazine or website will tell you this hasn't happened too much, but I'm sure that with more and more pretty gadgets out there, the female interest will be growing every day. Unfortunately I didn't have much time to ask my question, as we were hustled along to the next session, a pattern which was to continue until lunch.

Next it was on to the imaginatively titled "What do high heels, building design and thrashing rock music have in common? No, not an architect dressed in drag at a Metallica gig!" session. This was led by Scott Rowley of Metal Hammer and Classic Rock, Ali Hall, who launched Look this year, and Amanda Bailleau of BD, an architects B2B mag. They all said pretty much the same thing - that you have to know the reader and learn by trial and error - except Scott Rowley who sort of contradicted himself by saying all this and then saying that the reader doesn't really know what they want. So I think we had to draw our own conclusions out of that session, but I did enjoy seeing Ali Hall as I read Look quite a lot. I was surprised that she said that they expressly have no sex content in the magazine, to concentrate solely on shopping, until I realised that I buy it for exactly that reason before any clandestine spending spree. Again, there was no time for questions, as we were shifted on to session 3.

Session 3 was the ethical bit. John Sanderson, director of Environmental affairs UK, at UPM kicked off the session with a talk which revolved around a strange but effective metaphor - that ethical printing and sourcing of a magazine is like the 'balanced food plate', with a 'healthy' amount of virgin and recycled fibre. He compared fully recycled paper to a diet, and said that you cannot live on recycled paper alone. This was interesting and thought-provoking but of course, as a cynic, I couldn't help but wonder how much his business would lose if print disappeared. Next was Alison Carter of Printing World, with a short talk which contained a lot of figures and therefore left my un-numerical brain flailing a little. However, then we were on to lunch, and my, was that an affair.

Bearing in mind we had been up since 4.30am and not eaten anything, 1pm found us a little dizzy. Several free glasses of champage, rose and bucks fizz later, and we were even dizzier. We spent the meal playing a drinking game by betting on a winner, if you won the others had to get the gist. Lunch was quite nice apart from the coconutty/eggy concoction pretending to be a creme brulée. My tutor Jane was nearly sick. All in all it was very fun, and one of those uncanny meetings with someone I used to vaguely know at uni who was sat at my table just compounded the hilarity, and drinking.

So, a little sozzled, and with a slight telling off from a pompous man at the tube station (if you will sit in a train station pub, what do you expect apart from drunk people in suits? Its hardly a private members club) we were back on the coach with the fetid loo. Unfortunately this time we were sitting nearer to it, so I spent most of the journey straining to do the crossword and three sudokus over the shoulder of the man next to me, and trying not to be that annoying person on public transport who butts in to your private puzzle. By the time we got back to Cardiff he was practically tenting his jacket around the paper to hide it, and I had started to get a tiny hangover.

All in all a great day out!!

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Henry Holland and Me

Whilst procrastinating today, I was flicking through The Times's style pages and discovered something amazing... to me... Henry Holland, fashion designour du jour and bezzie of Agyness Deyn started his tshirt line from the Bliss fashion cupboard. This to me is amazing for two reasons. Firstly, I have been making my own tshirts, mostly printed (like Henry's) or beaded for years, although time has been limited recently. I go around with tshirt ideas in my head, as, so it seems, does he. Admittedly for him it started with a BoomBox in-joke between him and Gareth Pugh (UHU Gareth Pugh) but still. Secondly, he has managed to marry this "hobby" with a career in magazine journalism, something which I am training for. "Could this be my future?" I thought, before foolishly realising that A. I am not a man, B. I am not half as cool and Henry Holland et al, C. My tshirts aren't funny. Damn. Nevermind, it still gave me hope. For someone who loves fashion and harbours a secret desire to be a fashion designer, I always thought tshirts were the way to go about it. Seems Henry was thinking the same thing. Plus, him and AGYNESS DEYN no less were both crapping themselves when they met Anna Wintour. Perfectly sensible I say.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Glamour is...

The legendary Alexandra Shulman opens this month's Vogue with a list of what she thinks constitutes glamour. Of course, being Alexandra Shulman it includes such things as Hermés stationary and the Cipriani, but it has inspired me to put down a little of my own, possibly foolish, interpretation of the eponymous term.

Mario Testino photography

The man is a sheer frikkin' genius when it comes to capturing fashion. No way round it. He manages to make celebrities look like themselves, whether that is a good or bad thing. The ideal world wedding photographer.

The sea in winter.

What is it about raging swells that makes you feel like you are in a period drama? It incites heaving bosoms and dreams of tearful longing that only the most melodramatic of us usually allow ourselves to indulge in.

Brigitte Bardot

Yep, she was sexy, and yep, that can be elegant. Legend of womanhood in tight jeans.

Stella McCartney
Do I even have to count the ways? One of the best designers of our time, super-cool, environmentally conscious, makes amazing shoes and used to design for Chloe and now has her own label... oh and she's only the daughter of a Beatle.

Le Citron Vodka

Because it tastes amazing, and looks a hell of a lot better than an archers and lemonade.
Eternal cool
How do some people manage to always be one step ahead? They are glamourous in their very vitality. Daisy Lowe = supreme example, and is younger than me, damn her.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Mr Darcy the lothario

I am reading a book that can only be described simultaneously as the strangest, most unintentionally funny and florid book I have ever read. It's a continuation of the Pride and Prejudice story so beloved by women of the Bridget Jones generation, so therefore must have a huge market.It is called Mr Darcy Takes A Wife by Linda Berdoll and is basically porn for Austenites. And I mean that literally. It is ALL about sex, and has some of the funniest sex scenes I have ever read, but the thing is I don't think they are meant to be funny. If it is a comedy, all credit to her because she made my sides split. My I was laughing more at the language than anything else.
Here's an example;
"So this was the act of love.
"She felt as if she had just fallen off the roof of a barn and he had not extended his hand to help her to her feet."
Hmmm. The author uses the archaic language of the 18th and 19th centuries, but somehow it seems incongruous and is an obstacle rather than a gateway to the narrative. "Bingley's privates were unlikely (especially in company in the parlour) to burst from his inexpressibles as if an enraged squirrel" makes an effective demonstration.
The thing is, I am accidentally enjoying it. I went in with my literature graduate hat on, nose high in the proverbial air, and ended up curled up under a blanket devouring the stuff. I can't help it. I love Darcy and Elizabeth as much as any woman. It is all Austen's fault for creating such identifiable and enduring characters, damn her. Everyone wishes she had written a sequel, and evidently some feel that if she didn't, they will and with gusto. The off-putting thing here is the amount of time the author has put into thinking about what Mr Darcy's "appendage" must look like. It's large, apparently.
Despite all this though, I just can't help myself. It is addictive and hilarious chick lit in a corset, and I confess, I like it. So perhaps when I've finished it I will guiltily go and buy the sequel to the sequel, Darcy and Elizabeth: Nights and Days at Pemberley. Of course, I will be wearing a balaclava, but I'll have my glass of red wine and blanket all ready for when I get home.

U-G-G-L-Y, you ain't got no alibi...

Sienna in her Uggs FOUR YEARS ago!

I have to say I have a love/hate relationship with my Ugg boots. It is four years since the crazy looking beasts first became fashion news on the feet of the likes of Sienna Miller and Kate Hudson, but the pesky things don't seem to want to go away.

Uggs went from fashion favourites to faux pas when the WAGS caught on so I stopped wearing mine. This transpired to be a stupid and unmanageable decision as soon as December hit. Ballet pumps jst don't cut it in the British winter. So I dragged the relagated items from the back of my wardrobe and breathed life into them once more. My feet enjoyed this newfound toastiness until I saw a ten-year-old wearing some very similar, upon which sighting they were instantly demoted once again. This was about two years ago. Since then my Uggs have been repeatedly picked up and discarded. This year, it seems, you cannot be a student without a pair, and those who did not buy them four years ago are filling the coffers of Ugg once more. Therefore I am wearing them again, admittedly with a slightly hangdog an expression and a "but they're really comfy..." ready on my lips.

The thing is, these are weird shoes, as shoes go, and that is saying quite a lot. One commentator, probably a man (and by the way, men in Uggs should be shot), said they made women look like they had hooves. The proliferation of celebrities who look like Innuits because of them is surprising. Therefore, it must be the comfort factor that keeps us coming back for more. It is certainly not anything to do with the price! But despite all this, and the ever-maligned likelihood of looking like a sheep (literally) I just can't put mine down. So tomorrow I will sheepishly be pulling my Uggs on, because its one shoe addiction I just can't break.