Thursday patterns

It’s been an interesting Thursday! I got up early and went for another run. Thursday runs on my marathon programme get longer every week, but I’ve got into a good pattern of doing them first thing in the morning, so I’ll be getting up at the crack of dawn once I get into the really intense part of training in a couple of months’ time. Hopefully the daylight will be more on my side by then!

Afterwards, Geth came with me to Slimming World this morning so that he could join the group. We’ve been working out what would be best for him to eat on the plan, and it sort of feels like starting again for me because I’ve spent two years falling into particular habits in terms of what I eat. We’re having jacket tatties tonight, which I honestly don’t think I’ve had since long before I started Slimming World.

I had a quiet afternoon, which is becoming another Thursday habit, followed by Pilates class. I’d have preferred not to have to go out so much today – it snowed heavily this morning and then froze, so it’s really icy out there – but Pilates is really helping with the overworked muscles at the moment.

OOTD 17th January 2019
OOTD: my favourite jumper is becoming a Thursday habit too. It’s so cosy for when I’m out and about! Glasses Emporio Armani (2017), jumper Carlo Colucci (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2017).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Thompson Twins – Hold Me Now
Duran Duran – Union Of The Snake
Eddie Murphy – Party All The Time
Rick Astley – Together Forever
Cass Elliot – Make Your Own Kind Of Music
Duran Duran – Hungry Like The Wolf
Dusty Springfield – I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself
Katy B and Ms Dynamite – Lights On
Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J Balvin – I Like It
Zara Larsson – Ruin My Life

Phone Box Thursday: Abbey Park, Dundrennan

I’m moving onto a series of pictures of phone boxes that Dad has sent me in the course of his and Mum’s travels. This first one is from Dundrennan in Dumfries and Galloway.

Red phone box
Red phone box, Abbey Park, Dundrennan, 24th June 2016. Photo by John Cooke.

(Coordinates 54°80’89.1″N, 3°94’74.3″W.)

This phone box goes beautifully with the pretty church behind it. Rural boxes in the middle of nowhere, like this one, tend to be less at risk from councils attempting to ‘modernise’ things, so you still see lots of them about.

A creative Wednesday

Today was really productive. I got in a full day of writing and editing, which was great. I’m working on about five different writing projects at the moment, which is a lot to keep track of in my head, but it’s making things really interesting.

In the evening, I went to my first ukulele class at the Sage Gateshead. I’ve found over the last few years that going to classes and groups is the best way to keep myself focused on something, and I was pleased that there was a new ‘absolute beginners’ course starting so soon after I got my ukulele. Half the people in the class had also got ukuleles for Christmas – apparently that’s very common among people coming to the spring term courses! We’ve learnt two basic songs already, so it seems as though the course will zip along really quickly.

It’s my usual busy Thursday tomorrow, but I’m looking forward to a bit of breathing space in the afternoon.

OOTD 16th January 2019
OOTD: a comfy jumper for a writing day! Glasses Emporio Armani (2017), jumper Jac (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Travis – The Last Laugh Of The Laughter
Jools Holland – Enjoy Yourself
Bros – When Will I Be Famous?
Spandau Ballet – True
Bros – I Owe You Nothing
Marshmello and Bastille – Happier
Wham! – Club Tropicana
Bruno Mars – Just The Way You Are
Duran Duran – Hungry Like The Wolf
Duran Duran – Winter Marches On

And a bonus track that Geth was humming earlier:

Patrice Rushen – Forget Me Nots (although it was the ‘black bin bags’ version from Phoenix Nights)

2019 Pizzas #2: San Lorenzo Margherita con Bufala

As I’ve mentioned before, Geth and I went to a new (to us) Italian restaurant, San Lorenzo, on Sunday night. New Italian restaurant equals new pizza to try! There were various veggie options on the menu, but I went for a Margherita con Bufala.

San Lorenzo Margherita con Bufala
San Lorenzo Margherita con Bufala.

They also had a regular Margherita on the menu, but this one was advertised as having buffalo mozzarella in addition, so obviously I went for it. I love buffalo mozzarella. Unfortunately, the chef was a bit stingy with said buffalo mozzarella (this was a bit of a theme, as the caprese salad I had for a starter had barely any mozzarella on it as well) and so you couldn’t really taste any difference in the cheese, which was a bit disappointing.

The tomato pizza sauce was absolutely delicious, though!

Overall an okay restaurant pizza, but I think I’ll be trying a pasta dish next time I go there.

A long Tuesday

I went for another run this morning – finally starting to speed up after the winter slump. My muscles have stopped protesting now as well, which is great – I think my legs have accepted the fact they’re back running again.

The rest of the day has been a mixture of work for clients and getting on with my own writing. Looking forward to another relaxed evening!

OOTD 15th January 2019
OOTD: the girl in black. Top LK Bennett (2018), skirt unknown brand (2005), shoes Vivienne Westwood Anglomania for Melissa (2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Men Without Hats – Safety Dance
Bros – I Owe You Nothing
Florida-Georgia Line and Bebe Rexha – Meant To Be
Duran Duran – Late Bar
Bros – When Will I Be Famous?
Marshmello and Bastille – Happier
Howard Jones – Life In One Day
A-ha – I’ve Been Losing You

Booze Alternative: San Miguel 0.0

I wasn’t expecting to try non-alcoholic beer so early after quitting drinking. However, last Friday, Geth accidentally bought a can of San Miguel 0.0 at King’s Cross on the way back from his business trip, and gave it to me when he got back home.

San Miguel 0.0
San Miguel 0.0.

I was never really a beer drinker unless cider was unavailable. However, this tastes exactly like the kind of beer that’s palatable to me – light, generic-tasting lager. It was nice and refreshing.

I don’t think I’ll drink non-alcoholic beer in the house again, though, because I found that my mind was doing a lot of the compulsions it always did around actual alcohol (*chug chug chug* *satisfying can squish* ‘BRING ME ANOTHER’) – and that’s the kind of thing I wanted to get away from by becoming sober. I’d be willing to try drinking it in restaurants, where my drink mentality works differently – but I know I need to be cautious, so we’ll see.

Me and my sofa

I’ve been able to spend a full day today sitting and writing, which has been great. Geth has to work from home tonight, so I’m going to have a quiet few hours sorting out my to-do lists.

It’s going to be a bit of a busy week, but hopefully everything will get done!

OOTD 14th January 2019
OOTD: in a ‘working’ mood! Scarf Marks & Spencer (gift from Geth’s mum Anne 2017), hoodie Sonar (2006), t-shirt Punk Masters (2018), skirt Calvin Klein Jeans (2004), tights Primark (2017), boots Moda In Pelle (gift from Geth 2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Billy Idol – Rebel Yell
Duran Duran – Save A Prayer
Dee-Lite – Groove Is In The Heart
Murray Head – One Night In Bangkok
Jools Holland – Enjoy Yourself
Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus – Nothing Breaks Like A Heart
Travis – The Last Laugh Of The Laughter
Years & Years – If You’re Over Me
Duran Duran – Is There Something I Should Know?
Howard Jones – I’d Like To Get To Know You Well
Howard Jones – Life In One Day

Music Video Monday: Howard Jones: Life In One Day

I love music videos, so if you don’t mind, I’m going to babble on about them once a week from now on. Sometimes I’ll be discussing videos from modern chart hits where the video was released too late to be discussed on my New Hits Friday post, but usually I’ll just be banging on about the ’80s, when music videos, like everything else, were so much better. You have been warned.

I’m starting with Howard Jones’ Life In One Day (1985), which works on multiple levels and is a real hidden gem among ’80s videos.

The video starts out not looking like a music video at all. It looks like a Top of the Pops performance instead, complete with an introduction from a presenter (I think it’s Tony Blackburn, but the picture quality is so poor I can’t be sure) about how they’re not going to play the music video because Howard Jones is live in the studio. As the performance begins, there are a lot of jumps and scratches in the tape, like it’s from a dodgy old VHS copy that somebody’s had for years and has played over and over until it’s become degraded.

The original joke, of course, was that viewers would think there was something wrong with their TV picture and get up to perform percussive maintenance on their boxy mid-’80s TVs. A few commenters on the YouTube video describe doing exactly that back in the day.

But what’s so brilliant about the way the joke has aged is the accidental prescience of the way it works in the YouTube era. Here’s the thing: when you search for a music video for an ’80s hit song, YouTube will also throw up a whole load of contemporary performances of the song on music shows like Top of the Pops. Most of them are uploads of VHS copies that people taped off the TV when the show was first on, and so the VHS copy is thirty years old and features the exact kind of jumps, scratches, and other picture issues that were deliberately inserted into the Life In One Day video.

As such, the automatic reaction of a YouTube searcher to this video (it was certainly mine) will be: ‘oh, FFS, this is just the TOTP performance – where’s the actual music video?’ As such, modern viewers are fooled in a way that the video creators couldn’t have imagined back in 1985! Nothing makes this clearer than the fact that the top search on YouTube for the song is ‘howard jones life in one day official video’, which is exactly what you put in when you’ve just watched what you believe to be the opening few seconds of a Top of the Pops performance, shut the video in frustration and try to find the ‘actual’ video instead.

I think this is partly also due to the fact that the Life In One Day video is rarely shown on TV nowadays (I’ve certainly never seen it on any of the UK music channels on my TV package) – perhaps because the joke is (ironically) seen as dated now – and so people are more likely to hunt for the video online.

Anyway, the rest of the video is great too – the imaginary VHS-recording viewer starts to change channels, but the TV keeps flicking back to the performance, and then the song and lyrics start to seep into the other programmes – a newsreader’s words, the background music in laundry detergent adverts, the featured video in a record company advert. It’s all very cleverly done, but of course it’s the initial joke that I find to be the real standout feature of this video.

I noticed from the end credits that Godley and Creme were involved in the production of the video – they did some brilliant videos during the ’80s, so I’m sure I’ll end up discussing them again soon.

Another music video next week!

Sunday morning running, Sunday evening eating

I went for my first long run of my marathon training plan this morning. I’m feeling a bit worried about the fact that I’m still having a lot of muscle pain and it’s really slowing me down, but hopefully this should ease off over the next few runs. I’ll see how it goes over the next week.

I don’t usually run on Sundays (unless it’s a race) but I can understand why so many people do. Traffic is quiet and there’s lots of other runners about for solidarity. It was also a mild, sunny morning (it felt more like spring than winter), so it was quite pleasant apart from the muscles fighting me all the way!

Geth was out boardgaming at a tournament this afternoon, so I had some quiet time to myself before we went out for a meal this evening. The meal was a late birthday treat and involved us discovering an Italian restaurant we’d not been to before. I will definitely be going back, though, as there’s a lot I want to try on the menu.

OOTD 13th January 2019
OOTD: discovering all the nice things that sober people can drink in restaurants! Glasses Emporio Armani (2017), scarf Matalan (2016), hoodie Sonar (2006), t-shirt Katharine Hamnett (2017).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Little Mix and Nicki Minaj – Woman Like Me
Soft Cell – Say Hello, Wave Goodbye
Adam & The Ants – Kings Of The Wild Frontier
Duran Duran – Come Undone
Wham! – Wham! Rap (Enjoy What You Do)
Spandau Ballet – To Cut A Long Story Short

Book Review: The Lightning Thief

I’ve been rereading Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series lately, as I’ve never managed to finish the Heroes of Olympus sequel series (despite them all sitting on my shelves for years) and wanted to read the whole thing again from the start.

The Lightning Thief

I didn’t get into this series until about 2011/2012, by which time the whole of the first series had already been released and were ready on Amazon in a handy boxset for me to devour in one go. The reason, I think, why I hadn’t been interested in reading them – despite being a fan of well-written ‘middle grade’ children’s literature – was the advertising for the film version, which made it look very similar to Harry Potter. This did the books a disservice, I feel, because they have a very different feel and a very different writing style (Riordan’s voice, which is personable and humorous, has become one of my favourites in this genre).

The Lightning Thief does a great job of introducing a world of teenage demigods and fantasy creatures. The story kicks right into action and doesn’t let up till the end, with Percy and his new friends Annabeth and Grover embarking on a desperate mission to find Zeus’ stolen lightning bolt before it causes a war among the Greek gods.

The story is actually very educational – I studied classics at university and yet there are Greek myths I remember better due to this series than due to my studies – but never in a dry or po-faced manner. The way the myths are translated into a modern context is always very fun, and the classic mythical figures are characterised really nicely.

I’m already several books down in this series, so I’ll be reviewing the others soon!