Sunday, 27 April 2014

A boy or a girl?

Gender is a very strange thing. I didn't think of it until I went to Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake last week when it visited the Theatre Royal in Newcastle upon Tyne.  I love the Theatre Royal even though its seats are only big enough for medium sized children. What were they thinking?  I know numbers matter but when you have to take in your breath as you pass the people who managed to avoid the bar and took their seats earlier it makes me wonder how any man ever gets there. Now that's an important gender matter.
People have called it  'the gay Swan Lake'. Dear God, how absolutely bloody stupid. Yes, men play swans but last time I looked there were as many male swans as female swans and besides, it's just plain daft.
The whole thing is enough to turn Tchaikovsky in his grave. For God's sake. It's about a poor young bloke, like a whole load of other unfortunate royals who have to do the right thing, is suffocating, he longs for a different life and when the swan tries to rescue him they die because they can't help one another. It doesn't matter who is a man and who is a woman, all the best stories are about people trying to live decently and to help people, struggling for survival as best they can. People love people and they die and they lose one another.
One of my daughter's dearest friends is soon to have a child and we went looking for baby clothes. They don't want to know whether it's a boy or a girl but we were besieged in every shop we went to by blue for boys and pink for girls. Is it just me or is this completely asinine?  It's like going into toy shops and having boys' toys and girls' toys. The whole thing makes me want to spit. Why?
Must we go on and on like this endlessly? Must we tear ourselves apart being a woman or a man first rather than just being people?  Who says it has to be that way?  Well, I say, it doesn't.
My daughter was very embarrassed because I have a loud voice and said all these things in the shops but really I am very tired of the whole thing.
So if you do want me to buy baby clothes - all those shops who stick to pink and blue -  they will have to be red and white and black and orange and whole rainbows of colours because it doesn't matter whether you are a boy or a girl, with luck your parents will adore you and you will have the whole world in all its glory to grow up in and go and see Swan Lake in all its different interpretations. I hope so.
And thank you, Matthew Bourne, for the sheer brilliance of your beautiful version of a work of genius.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Game of Thrones

I always bring up the rear when it comes to reading. If George R R Martin had been waiting for me to make his fortune the poor bloke would have had a long wait. I know now why I didn't venture in. These books are so addictive that I'm ashamed to say I gulped down the first one in two days. I didn't do anything else, I sat there in my conservatory with my feet up and let him  open for me the bliss of another world. I promptly downloaded the following two books and am trying not to read them because they are such fun, all those breasts and long hair, all that hacking off of heads and best of all he does STRONG WOMEN. Oh my God, they don't get any stronger than Mr Martin's books.
And wow when you look at his profile, yes, he looks as though he had stepped right out of one, there he could be screaming over the moors on a horse. He has a merry face and a big white beard.  He has a Santa Claus look about him  and boy has he turned out to be Father Christmas for thousands of people and a good many actors too. Can there be any feeling in the world better than knowing you have books you are desperate to read?  It's such a warm fuzzy glow and reminds me of Jo out of Little Women going up the attic with an apple and curling up there to leave the difficulties of the real world and immerse herself in a good book.  Oh joy.  Thanks, George R R Martin and all the other writers who make my life so much more enjoyable.  Where would I be without you all?

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Eat, drink and er …not so merry

Trying to cut down on the amount of wine I drink, which has had to be several oceans during the past ten years, I thought to myself,

'You know, Liz, if you could cut down it would help a lot. You don't smoke, you eat properly, on a good day you go for a walk, seven lots a day of fruit and veg is nowt to you so give it a go.
I do try to eat sensibly. I'm not very keen on fish. Like Bertie Wooster, to me fish is the course before meat and a course or two before cheese. I eat chicken because although I love red meat I am aware that too much of it is not meant to be good for you so I try.

The first day I had a sensible breakkie - fruit, nuts, seeds, yoghurt - I have that six days out of seven. I know I'm starting to sound smug now but hang on. On a bad day I do have a small glass of dry white wine for lunch but I didn't. I thought no, different food. I was very hungry by one o'clock, much more so than usual and in the space of the following hour I am ashamed to say that I dashed to Tesco, spent half an hour trying to decide which cake to buy as it had become something of a pilgrimage, picked up a big white loaf and a cake, dashed back with these, got home, grilled and ate an enormous bacon sandwich, demolished three cups of tea and two huge slices of lemon drizzle cake. Oh dear.

On the second day I tried even harder. I thought I'll make food. I used to be quite good at this. So if I make bread and a wonderful Elizabeth David soup that'll keep me busy for a couple of hours. I duly assembled the ingredients for making the bread, only to find that my flour was three years past its sell by date so no bread. I did make the soup but it all took a terrible amount of time and Come dine with Me - perhaps not the best programme to watch in the circumstances, all those people swigging wine and laughing - was on the television so I thought I've got some low what sit bubbly in the fridge and the fizz is going from it because it's been there almost three days, I'll just have half a glass before it goes off completely.

The soup took quite a while, it had to be  messed on with, lots of chopping and organising and only with the white part of the leek and then I had a job to find a decent onion - I tend to keep them too long and had to bin two of them. So washing leeks and peeling potatoes, finding the only clean pan, the rest were either in the dishwasher or in the sink, then realizing I needed the big frying pan, I had to wash that. I duly waited and prodded vegetables and 'melted' my sliced onion in butter and I watched Come dine with Me and I thought just a little more fizzy and eventually the soup had to be blended. Couldn't find the blender, so big search of the kitchen and there it was at the back of the last cupboard. I found its bowl you pour the soup into for blending. So I poured and then I blended. Some of the soup went over me and some of it went over my newly cleaned cooker top and some of it over my newly washed kitchen floor.

Then I put in the butter soaked onion because it had to cook for another ten minutes ( I obviously had a lot more time when I was young!!) and then I remembered it was meant to have boiling cream so yet another saucepan. I was by now on to my second glass of bubbly and I swigged it and laughed over the people in the kitchens on telly making a mess.I boiled the cream and poured it into the soup and then I found bread in the freezer and that took fine minutes to defrost and butter and then I sat down and then I thought well, there isn't much bubbly left I might as well have the rest so I did.
The soup was lovely. I imagine my cholesterol level shot through its own roof, the kitchen was a disaster area and I had to go to bed after two and a half glasses of bubbly.

Conclusion - a small glass of dry white wine, plus a few prawns, carrot sticks with low fat hummus, a small piece of cheese and a chocolate or two - often my mid day meal - is probably less harmful than two disastrous lunchtimes, a mucked up kitchen and me losing my afternoon to snoring.