Friday, 7 May 2010

Ode to Dougal

He was ill fated from the start. Poor little fluffy bundle of joy, we’ve never had much luck with male dogs. Dougal the dogs untimely death needs to be noted somewhere. So here is my wee tribute to him.

He was of Scottish descent, naturally, but born as it happens in Wales. I remember driving miles out of London, to a non-descript service station in god-knows-where to fetch him. We’d left all our pets behind in South Africa, the only one we still have contact with, a large Siamese being systematically overfed, by my grandmother (who systematically overfeeds most everyone and thing).

Nevertheless, our house had been free of animal noises and fur and the general furious taps of paws on floorboards for many months. Having settled into this fine land known as England, with only terrestrial television, and these new fangled umbrella things to keep us amused we’d become acquainted with some strange customs. Countdown, Call My Bluff, a strange lady with buoyant flame red hair called Cilla Black who sought to fix the hapless love lives of countless women named Claire, or Clur on Blind Date and most importantly a small horde of Irish priests on Craggy Island in Father Ted. This is how Dougal, the Scottish terrier came to be. Part Welsh, part Scottish and now part Irish.

He spent his life terrorising squirrels along with his feline friends Tigger and Wallace. They taught him everything he needed to survive, most of which was relevant only in the cat world. He developed an uncanny ability to teeter on the back of sofas and armchairs, he enjoyed brushing up against your legs, and walking under them time and time again should you dare to rest your feet on the coffee table. He only failed on two counts, never quite mastering the meow or learning to play it cool at the sound of his rattling leash or the mention of walkies.

He devoted his life to being excitable and infinitely huggable. No visitor ever went ungreeted and no session on the saxophone unaccompanied. From being strangely feline to acutely human, he certainly was a splendid friend.

He was last spotted in a better place, with a grey squirrel firmly clapped between his smiling jaws.

Monday, 15 February 2010

A Single Woman

I have no patience. Zero. Squat-all. As a child I used tell my brother he was irritating. He would simply respond by telling me that I was irritable. Well it’s a fine line when you’re a woman. It’s a fine fine narrow piece of ice and my housemate is treading on it without any trepidation. He should be.

My threshold for daily annoyances has packed its bags and gone on holiday. I’m quite aware that this Saturday I move house, I move into my new, smaller, but less ikea’d girly and bookshelved flat and as such can no longer tolerate any annoyances I used to put up with. Is this normal? Am I some sort of intolerant freak? Am I to sit back and ignore the inhalation of cereal next to me, while words sputter out mid chomp? I guess this is just another addition to my list of middle-class problems, which I’ll throw in the furnace when I get a firmer grip of reality.

Speaking of not having a grip on reality, last night I watched When Harry met Sally for what was quite possibly the 50th time. Which was preceded by watching 50 First Dates, another high quality contribution to the world of film, by a man named Sandler. All this on the one day that I normally pledge to resent love and be the bitter (prematurely) old woman that I am. The stupid universe snuck up on me. It filled my belly with paella, and then erased the fact that it was the dreaded V day from my brain and taunted me with a severely loved up tv schedule.  I wasn’t even bitter, not one bit, I even shed a little tear over 50 First Dates and dozed off blissfully before the final “and it’s not because it’s new years eve” speech of Harry and Sally. So in the spirit of positivity and ignorant bliss, I’l just assume that the little notes of secret admiration got lost in the post… hmmph.

On Saturday, still in the throws of ‘post-cereal-munching’ anger, I dotted off to the movies. By myself. This is hands-down, one of my favourite treats. I’m not some kind of freakish loner. I wanted to see A Single Man, with Colin Firth, and I didn’t want to risk it being ruined by company.  It was complete and utter film perfection, arresting, poignant, heart aching perfection. I’m in love with it, in awe of it and hanging on its every word. You should probably see it. 

Friday, 15 January 2010

The Joey Special

I’m not a negative sort of person. In fact I think I can describe myself as, well, overwhelmingly sunny. However, some things just get you down. Some things are well, rather unavoidable, so here is my first sunny instalment, of ‘Things that ruined my week’.

I’m going to start with something that happened on Thursday, because, like me, you are about to have your week ruined, when it is just about over. Firstly, what the hell happened to Joey Tribbiani?  “I thought we had a deal god?” I, for one, am a happy loser, that needs at the very least, a daily dose of Friends to keep me regular. My mood that is. On top of that, I love Joey. Love him. Yes I didn’t entirely care for the Joey-loves-Rachel and months later Rachel-loves-Joey-storyline, but come on! Joey in Phoebe’s pregnancy pants? Joey falling down a lift in Days our Lives? Joey’s secret roof top party? Joey and Janice’s day of fun? Sandwiches? And now, well he kind of looks like my dad, with a slightly less bulbous nose. Oh Joey Tribbiani, don’t save your sandwich, save yourself! I’m sure it’s a very excellent sandwich, but is it worth looking like George Clooney’s less attractive twin?

And that was just the icing on an already sludgy cake. I will now take issue with Great Britain herself. Yes the whole of you Britain, you, your entire incompetent self. Lets start with the facts. Lets start with the fact that just over a month ago I was waist deep in snow, in the American West. The wild wild, snowy snowy, American West. Blizzardly Blizzards swept through and yet, not once were we confined to the great indoors. Not once was there a motorway or mountain pass so covered in snow that we couldn’t get to our next destination. Look at you Britain, look at you in the heat! You melt, your underground train network is a deathly sauna, two words – air conditioning. Now look at you! West London is covered in a mere dusting of snow and down the road at Heathrow people are spending days on the airport floor. Rumour has it that at Edinburgh just before Christmas so many people were stranded at the airport, that John Lewis let them stay in the bedding department! Its not that I don’t love you, you’ve been my home for 10 years now, but dear god, we’re supposed to be the first world. The example of a functioning, capable nation…yet we cant even put enough salt on the ground to facilitate a walk from my house to the supermarket. God help you Britain.

My final rant, (I promise, oh bored reader) is about another bridesmaidly duty that has been bestowed upon me. It seems, yes, it has once again fallen to one of my many coupled up friends, to don the bling and pick her inferiors. So after what was quite possibly a solid month’s worth of scoffing, drinking and general celebratory weight gain, I was tasked with going shopping for bridesmaid dresses. Not only that, but my lardy ass was (to its surprise) the lardiest amongst a group of near anorexic fellow bridesmaids. Fatty McFat here was wedging herself into the size 14s, while the other two were flitting about in size 8s and 10s. Talk about soul destroying. Well at least my mum thinks I’m the prettiest and despite not meeting the other girls is almost certain I have a better personality.  

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Post haste, date o' clock

In exactly an hour and a half I will be leaving this joint to go and eat cheese.  And I will eat cheese to my little hearts content. It is both my favourite thing in the entire world and also my arch nemesis. For today friends I am giving the finger to my healthy eating and gym bunniness. Tomorrow morning however, at approximately 8am, I will let the gorgeous gym instructress have her way with me and get my ever expanding arse into gear.

Enough about cheese, time for the wonderful world of dating. Sometimes singledom gets you down, so you grab the proverbial bull by its proverbial horns, and say ‘hey ho, throw me on that bandwagon’ and here is what happened. It was a sad, sad day when my housemate dragged me speed dating and being weakened by single status I woefully agreed. Off we trod to trendy Shoreditch for an evening of table football, 3 minute conversations, strangers, even stranger hosts and possibly a cocktail or 4. Sceptical was not the word. Cynical was. However my thoughts of trendy sorts in ankle-swinging trousers and 40s war time comb-overs were laid to rest. I met a grand total of 19 men, 16 of which I didn’t hate and 6 of which I thought held potential and I gave the tick of approval. I left feeling strangely positive about the weird old world of dating, little did I know the anxiety and embarrassment that would haunt me in the days to come.

Not 24 hours later and there sat I, at work, in a casual meeting in the downstairs lobby, of what I think would be fair to call, our extensive offices. Who should walk past? None other than Thor.  Not the Thunder God, but someone who had the night before masqueraded under this very pseudonym at speed dating. Oh the shame, admitting to colleagues that the reason you are now chuckling strangely and near silently to yourself is that Thor has just entered the building…

A few nights later housemate and I sat with our laptops, well, in our laps (obviously). I watched as not one, but two, TWO, emails arrived in his inbox, ‘congratulations you have a match!’ the emails proclaimed. I then watched in agonised silence as the event organiser went offline. I sat and stared for a few moments longer at my empty inbox, remembering the immortal words of Peter Kay: “You have no messages. Not even from your mum.” Days passed with only one further email from those bastards, inviting me to sign up for a televised dating show. Inviting me to endure this humiliation in a more public, but I expect, somewhat less speedy domain. No fucking thank you.

 I have since tried real dating. Without speed. Simple, boy meets girl kind of stuff. Well French boy meets girl. Let’s just say it’s a minefield. It’s a brutal and dangerous, anxiety filled minefield, and it’s a long story, which I will tell you another day. I will say this though – cheese will never let you down. Never.



Monday, 24 August 2009

Rock n’ roll Birkenstocks

This weekend I mosied on home for my dad’s big day and all the proverbial knot tying a girl could hope for. Little did I know it would be a ‘jam’ packed musical mystery tour of the south east as well a much deserved opportunity to see the older members of my family strut their stuff on the dance floor.

I’ve been to a few gigs this year, through no fault of my own. I love a good gig, and a good pre-gig curry, as my boss pointed out, but given that you need to buy tickets years in advance I tend to rely on the organisational skills of my friends. Still, I digress. Why have I called you here today? Well, for the musical mystery tour of course. On Friday night we ended up in a venue I have not set foot in for the best part of 8 years, The Forum, in Tunbridge Wells. Formerly some kind of Victorian public restroom and now the preserve of death metal enthusiasts of Kent. I was there because my brother’s friends had made it to the final of a local battle of the bands. I was assured that we would miss the metal portion of the evening and that the band would be worth seeing. You know what? He wasn’t wrong.

Ladies and gents, girls and boys, teens and toddlers, I give you Clockworks. Lead singer Josh looked a little skeletal in comparison to the ball of death and sweat that rolled off stage before him, but didn’t seem too bothered by it all. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a front man with such genuine swagger and natural stage presence. His voice slightly reminiscent of Brian Molko, of Placebo fame, is unaffected and sincere. In fact unaffected and sincere may be exactly what they’re going for… when was the last time you saw a bassist on stage in white sport socks? The songs were catchy without being annoying or tedious, on further listening the lyrics are (in my mostly humble opinion) pretty damn brilliant and the band appear to be enjoying themselves. Slightly novel, given that one of the rock last gigs I went to, I wished the lead singer would just help himself to a handful prozac.

Maybe I’m just high on the joy of seeing originality and talent untouched by executives, hairdressers and personal trainers. Maybe it’s the achingly high notes on now favourite track ‘Always’. Maybe it’s the infectious joy of the groupies apparent. Three gorgeous 20-something Abercrombie boys that stalk the band from gig to gig, know all the words and make drummer Simon’s attempted seriousness impossible as he beams from behind his high hat. I joined the groupie boys (really friends of the band) and spent Sunday in the grounds of Arundel castle as Clockworks filled a last minute spot at the Arundel festival. Bassist Luke is still in his socks, Josh is sporting Birkenstocks and Simon is fighting a whole new battle with a snare drum and despite the less competitive atmosphere (and shock heatwave), they’re still outstanding.

I don’t want to say it...but I’m going to…god it’s too cheesy, but its true. They may have lost the battle, but the war is theirs. Theirs I tell you! They’re just a kilt and pot of blue facepaint away from going straight to the top.

Oh and for a bit more Clockworks magic and musical mayhem, check out

Friday, 14 August 2009

cold as gasoline

I don’t drink Guinness. It’s a meal in a pint glass. I. do not. drink. Guinness. Although 2 bottles of red wine can make a pint of Guinness seem rather appealing. So why not, I’ll have a pint of Guinness. Thanks.

Moving to London is a disaster, it really is. My brain is a manipulative little bastard. Last night I had planned one of my favourite anally retentive activities. Clean sheets night. You see, it’s not just clean sheets. It’s clean, crisp, ironed sheets. It’s machine washed, fabric softened pillow-cases and duvet covers. Once those are neatly on the bed, it’s time for clean Danni, fresh from her bubble bath and in her clean pyjamas. All day I dreamt about this. Thoughts of sliding under cool sheets, sinking into pillows and a still dreamless sleep. But, oh no, this is not what happened, not at all.

One farewell drink for a colleague turned into a lot of farewell drinks for my common sense. Like teenagers with a wad of fake IDs we cleaned out the booze isle of the supermarket and bid goodbye to our lovely colleague the only way we knew how. Getting drunk on the patch of grass they dare to call a park outside work. One drink, that’s what I’d told the brain, then it started to reason with me, in the process erasing the thought of clean sheet night, and my then unmade bed…

Wine wine wine and Guinness later, I navigated the mammoth four stop tube journey home. Memory returning slowly, biting me sharply on the ass, the unmade bed dawned on me. Clean sheet night was ruined and so was I. I made the bed, I made it, after I made toast, with mustard and ham and shortly before not taking off my makeup.  So much for my anally retentive order of events. No sliding into anything, no neat and tidiness, no bubble bath, just a harsh beam of light breaking through the blinds at 6am demanding a handful of nurofen and a cold shower. Goodbye lovely colleague, we will miss you. 

Thursday, 6 August 2009


It’s a simple fact of life that some of us have a weirdo homing device. What this essentially means is that people, like myself, who are in fact perfectly normal, are carriers of a mutant ‘weirdo gene’. Like the call of a wild pheasant, it sends out a signal to the more barmy members of the human race and says “talk to me”. It overrides your screaming internal monologue and says, “Yes, I, Danielle, am happy and willing to give you a spare second of my time and am, much to my own annoyance, so polite that I wont run away screaming”. 

In an office of hmm, lets see, nearly 30 people, why is it that a slightly odd man, roaming the corridors of our sizeable building, found me? More to the point, who let him in? He then tried to recruit ten minutes of my time to test out a new digital reading invention, which no doubt has robbed him of thousands of daylight hours, his bank balance and a sense of humour. He hovered around my desk, talking painfully slowly in a way that suggested I might not understand the higher level he normally communicates at. In the politest way I knew how, I managed not to be welcomed onto Starship Enterprise and suggested that my colleagues were more than likely too busy to participate.

Did they thank me? Did they sigh with relief, run over and throw their arms round me out of gratitude? No, of course not. Mutiny broke out in the school yard and the bullying began.

“Oooh, Danni, is that your new boooyfriend?”

It should be noted that I am fairly accustomed to this behaviour. Indeed, it is not the first time I have been a victim of their mockery, for they too know about my mutant gene. The previous story goes a little like this:

Colleague: “Danni, a really rather attractive man came to see you while you were away, about the office move”

Danni: “Really?”

Colleague: “Yes, he’s coming back later, he looks a bit like Jesus. In a good way.”

Well the Jesus part was true. Since the move took some time to coordinate, Jesus was to pop into our office from time to time and as such he became my boyfriend. Not really! pfft! Don’t get carried away. They called him my boyfriend.

I threaten them with mock emails to HR, swear that I will never unlock my alcohol cupboard (yes, we have one), but none of it matters. I am the youngest, doomed to be mocked!