A frosty Thursday

I’m finding Thursdays a bit tiring since I added an early morning run into the mix. It’s meant I’ve been less productive than I would like on Thursday afternoons. However, it’s still the best day for my shortest run, even if today it was a bit too icy underfoot and chilly to the lungs (-5°C when I went out!) to build much speed up.

I had a gain at Slimming World, which is super annoying as I was perfectly on plan this last week. I’ve not really managed to lose any of my Christmas weight, and I think it’s because of the second Healthy Extra A choice that’s now part of the plan, so I’m going to go back down to one A choice per day and see if that does the trick.

Pilates class was a nice warm down for the weekend as usual, although they’re repainting the church hall where our class is and so I’ve got a splitting paint fume headache now!

Looking forward to another quiet weekend.

OOTD 31st January 2019
OOTD: a frosty day – ready to get back in the warmth! Glasses Emporio Armani (2017), jumper Carlo Colucci (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2017), leggings Primark (2018), boots Clarks (2009).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Howard Jones – What Is Love?
The Power Station – Communication
Spandau Ballet – True
Blondie – One Way Or Another
Dire Straits – Romeo And Juliet
Spandau Ballet – Musclebound
Tears For Fears – Everybody Wants To Rule The World
Duran Duran – The Chauffeur

Phone Box Thursday: School Road, Rhonehouse

Today’s phone box is one that Mum and Dad found in Dumfries and Galloway.

Red phone box
Red phone box, School Road, Rhonehouse, 19th September 2016.

(Coordinates 54°91’64.5″N, 3°96’43.5″W.)

Interesting to see that only one of the ‘Telephone’ panels at the top has been replaced with a ’90s-era replacement panel – usually you find that all four get replaced so that it matches more neatly. The phone box is generally in okay condition, but the paint on the door has got very worn.

Incidentally, Google Street View’s image is from April 2009 – that’s nearly a decade ago, so I suppose the Google cars don’t get out into the Scottish countryside very often! – and it’s nice to see that between 2009 and 2016, the phone box’s door was put back on. Well done, Dumfries and Galloway council – nice to see an attempt at phone box upkeep! Maybe you could give it a new coat of paint as well, though?

Finalising things

I got my tax return done this morning. I’d left it a bit close to the deadline to submit the actual return, but I’d done all the accounting legwork earlier in the month so it was fairly straightforward. Another January job off the list.

I spent the afternoon doing final edits to a novel I’ve been working on for nearly eight years now, which is the first of the ten projects I’m pitching to agents this year. I still feel the opening few chapters could be improved – they’ve remained fairly unchanged from the 2011 first draft, and I think I’ve become even more pernickety with my writing since then – but it really is one of those cases where I have to stop rereading and tweaking it and start getting it out there.

I then went to my ukulele class, which I’m still really enjoying. We learnt a few more chords and songs, so there’s lots to practise over the next week.

OOTD 30th January 2019
OOTD: it’s still cold, and this is the warmest of my hoodies. Hoodie unknown brand (2009), t-shirt Punk Masters (2018), jeans Zara (2018), boots Carefree (2017).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Wham! – Bad Boys
Pepsi & Shirlie – Heartache
Tears For Fears – Head Over Heels
Alison Moyet – Is This Love?
Wham! – Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
Erasure – Ship Of Fools
Heaven 17 – Crushed By The Wheels Of Industry
Chuck Berry – You Never Can Tell
Gene Kelly – Singin’ In The Rain
Dire Straits – Romeo And Juliet

Book Review: I Know This Much: From Soho To Spandau

I’ve been going through a bit of a spate of rock star autobiographies lately, and I have several more lined up on my Kindle for the year ahead. My most recent read was I Know This Much, the memoir of Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp.

I Know This Much

It’s a very enjoyable read and probably my favourite of the rock autobiographies I’ve read so far. The story covers Kemp’s childhood in the pre-gentrification Islington of the ’60s and ’70s, his teenage successes in music and acting, the formation and early days of Spandau Ballet, their heyday in the first half of the ’80s, and the decline of the band and Kemp’s move towards acting as the ’90s approached. It then jumps forward to the royalty court case brought by other Spandau members in the late ’90s, and finally the band’s reunion a decade later.

The narrative is warm and engaging, and I found the focus on Kemp’s parents – who seem to have provided a form of stability, never changing in outlook or lifestyle even when their sons became famous pop stars – very touching. It’s their lives that bookend the story, and in some ways they are the central figures.

Kemp’s account of his band’s role in the story of London’s Blitz club and the wider UK music scene of the late ’70s and early ’80s also paints a vivid picture – it’s fascinating to realise how small a scene it was, with every other face in the crowd a future international pop star. It’s difficult to imagine a more modern equivalent – maybe this kind of scene is just something that doesn’t happen anymore. One part I really appreciated was the story of how True, which is probably Spandau’s most enduring song, was inspired by Clare Grogan, who’s one of my favourite fellow Scotswomen!

The highlight of these pop star cameos, though, is Boy George, who shows up in the narrative approximately once per chapter – on stairwells, in recording studios, in the street – purely to heckle Kemp and the other members of Spandau Ballet, like a slightly bitchier Statler and Waldorf. I like to imagine that this is still happening to this day.

I’m going to try and read the other Spandau memoirs sometime soon, while this one is still fresh in my mind – it’ll be really interesting to compare and contrast.

A busy Tuesday

I went for a run this morning, my legs just about having recovered from the two I did at the weekend. I’ve swapped my Tuesday and Thursday runs around on my training plan as I have more time on Tuesday mornings, so today’s run was a recovery pace run, which was probably better after the weekend anyway.

I also got a lot of writing work done today – editing one project and planning out another – and over an hour’s practice on my ukulele. Sometimes I feel like I’m starting to get the hang of the chord transitions, and at other times it just feels hopeless. Need to keep plugging away!

I’m looking forward to class tomorrow, ’cause hopefully we’ll be given some new chords and tunes to practise.

OOTD 29th January 2019
OOTD: looking for more comfy jersey ’80s dresses like this one! Dress Triumph (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2018), belt unknown brand (vintage 1980s, thrifted from Mum 2019), tights Primark (2017), boots Moda In Pelle (2018).

Today’s earworm playlist:

The Wanted – Walks Like Rihanna*
The Beatles – Ticket To Ride
Duran Duran – Rio
John Taylor – I Do What I Do
Vangelis – Chariots Of Fire
Tracey Ullman – They Don’t Know
Spandau Ballet – Gold
Duran Duran – Girls On Film
Dire Straits – Romeo And Juliet

*Except that it was the ‘I run like Mo Farah’ version that I’ve discussed before.

Booze Alternative: Nosecco

I first tried this alcohol-free fizzy alternative at my cousin Jen’s 30th the weekend before last. It was quite tasty, so when Geth and I were due to celebrate the arrival of his sabbatical on Friday evening, I bought another bottle for us to share.


I had been slightly worried that Nosecco would feel more like ‘fake booze’ than a booze alternative, i.e. set off my mental compulsions around alcohol like San Miguel 0.0 did, but strangely it didn’t – I didn’t feel the urge to chug it down or race Geth to the bottom of the glass like I always did with alcoholic fizzy. Perhaps this is because it really tastes quite different to prosecco, cava, or champagne, and so my mind’s not being tricked into thinking I’m drinking alcohol. It’s something I’ll always be cautious about, though, if I have this again in the future.

My new appreciation for rest days

Marathon training is tiring. I knew it would be, and I’m not moaning, because I signed up for it willingly and I want to run this marathon. However, it is making me appreciate days like today – when I get to sit on the sofa and get on with my work – all the more. Week 4 is a ‘rest week’ in my training plan, which sadly doesn’t mean I get to take a whole week off, but it does mean that my runs this week will be shorter.

As such, I’m looking forward to extra writing time tomorrow!

OOTD 28th January 2019
OOTD: wearing my shiny new jumper. Jumper Ellend (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2019), leggings Primark (2018), boots Carefree (2017).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Alison Moyet – Love Resurrection
Altered Images – I Could Be Happy
Idina Menzel – Let It Go
Adam & The Ants – Prince Charming
Billy Idol – Eyes Without A Face
Tracey Ullman – They Don’t Know
Kasabian – Fire
Tracey Ullman – My Guy
Abba – The Winner Takes It All
Calvin Harris and Rag ‘N’ Bone Man – Giant
Spandau Ballet – True
Jax Jones and Ina Wroldsen – Breathe

Music Video Monday: Tracey Ullman: My Guy

One of the things I love spotting in ’80s music videos is classic red phone boxes. You could probably have guessed that, if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time. The combination of ’80s music and the red phone box aesthetic makes a video several hundred percent better.

As I’ve discussed before, the UK started phasing out red phone boxes in 1985. The fact that so many are still standing thirty-four years later shows you how ubiquitous they were, and this was even more true in the ’80s, when they were still the standard UK phone box.

Tracey Ullman’s video for My Guy – her 1984 cover of Madness’ 1980 hit My Girl – is everything a 20th century telephone nerd could want in a music video. In addition to the aforementioned red phone box, there are classic phones a-go-go – none of them a GPO 746, sadly, but still very period-evocative. Let’s take a look!

Tracey Ullman - My Guy

At the start of the video, Tracey is dropped off at the bus stop in the rain by her boyfriend after an argument. This doesn’t involve telephones, but it does involve a super ’80s pimped-out car. Love that cadmium yellow colour!

Tracey Ullman - My Guy

Unlike many music videos to which I will be subjecting you all in the future, this video doesn’t actually contain a full-length shot of a classic red phone box. We get this close-up instead, where a cheery-looking individual is sabotaging Tracey’s phone call to her boyfriend with the help of some pliers. Those holes in between the red bars of the phone box are meant to have glass in them, incidentally (I believe this is known as a window). Music videos have never made any sense, and this one is no exception.

Tracey Ullman - My Guy

Back home, Tracey goes down to use the phone in the middle of the night, not realising that her mother has tampered with it. The phone in her mother’s house is a GPO 232, which was a type of GPO telephone issued between 1934 and 1957. You might wonder why the family still has such an old phone in 1984, but it’s probably for the same reason there’s still a ’70s-era GPO 746 sitting on the hall table in my parents’ house – i.e. it came with the house and it still works!

Tracey Ullman - My Guy

Again, no phones here, but I’ve always liked this girls-in-dinner-suits dance routine.

Of course, as I’ve discussed when doing my Now! marathon, the most notable thing about the video (assuming you don’t share my 20th century telephone obsession) is the Neil Kinnock subplot:

Tracey Ullman - My Guy

Neil first arrives at the end of the dance routine to partner Tracey in some kind of dance style that you don’t see on Strictly.

Tracey Ullman - My Guy

He then appears in a slightly more expected role, showing up to canvass at Tracey’s mother’s house. Side note: do party leaders actually go canvassing themselves during election campaigns? I know they at least sort of have to pretend that they’re still regular MPs in addition to spending a lot of time shouting at each other in the House of Commons.

Tracey Ullman - My Guy

Unfortunately, Neil’s bitten off more than he can chew with Tracey’s mother (also played by Tracey), who starts showing him all her photo albums. I love all the classic Labour slogan posters on the walls.

Neil shows up for a final time in the fast-food place where Tracey works, reading a paper. All the mosaic tiling and fancy plants look a little upmarket for a fast-food place. Maybe such places were just better in 1984.

Tracey Ullman - My Guy

Back to the phones! Tracey spends most of her work day waiting for the restaurant’s telephone to ring. I can’t place this model even after rummaging through a lot of databases on classic telephone sites, but it looks similar to a GPO 772 or 782.

The video ends without any resolution to the question of whether Tracey’s boyfriend is going to stop sulking and ring her back. They should have made a sequel.

Watch the full video:

Too much legwork

It’s been a long day in some ways! I got up and went for my long run this morning. It was pretty tiring given that I did parkrun yesterday as well, and the combination meant that my legs are a bit sore now.

Normally I’d spend the afternoon resting in the house after a long run, but there was a vintage fair on in town today, and I can’t resist a vintage fair, especially when it’s the first one of the year.

I’ve been able to have the evening on the sofa though, and thankfully I don’t have to leave the house tomorrow (well…I sort of should, because I need to go to the hospital for new hearing aid batteries, but I reckon I can cope with one hearing aid until Tuesday, when I’ll have a bit more time).

OOTD 27th January 2019
OOTD: now warm and cosy in the house. Glasses Emporio Armani (2017), jumper unknown brand (vintage 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2017).

Today’s earworm playlist:

Alison Moyet – Invisible
Pepsi & Shirlie – Heartache
Duran Duran – Come Undone
Band Aid – Do They Know It’s Christmas?
Soft Cell – Say Hello, Wave Goodbye
Tears For Fears – Sowing The Seeds Of Love
Connie Francis – Stupid Cupid

And a bonus track that Geth was humming earlier:

Pinkfong – Baby Shark

Vintage fair haul: Newcastle Vintage & Street Food Market

First vintage fair of the year! I’m restricting myself to no more than two items per fair in 2019, as I bought lots of clothes last year. This meant that today I only bought the things that really caught my eye.

Vintage fair haul
L-R: black and gold jumper, black top.

I bought another jumper, ’cause I’m wearing my ’80s jumpers a lot at the moment and I feel like I’m cycling through the same three or four all the time. I also bought this pretty black top with flower embellishments on the shoulders and chain detailing on the neck. It’ll be lovely to wear with a black skirt for a special occasion! Or just round the house if I get bored of jumpers.

The Street Food Market is a fairly regular event put on by Judy’s Vintage Fairs. I didn’t have any of the food, because (a) all the food vans were outside in the cold and rain, and (b) they were all selling savoury stuff like pizza, and while I could have done with a cupcake or something similar, I’d already had my lunch so couldn’t justify pizza. I’ll maybe venture out next time they do one in the summer.