Friday, 17 March 2017

On Walking

Hi, my name's Vicky and I like walking.

Like some sort of Guardian reader who shops at Waitrose.

Like some sort of hippy who eats quinoa and does yoga and mindfulness and meditates.

But only some of those things are true. I do read The Guardian, for example, but only on a Saturday as I am very poor and can't really afford to go buying the newspaper everyday like some sort of MILLIONAIRE. I read the internet. Obviously.

The thing is, it cannot be underestimated how great walking is. Especially for a city girl like I actually am. I love London. It's great. Shops are open 24/7 and there are police sirens often enough for you to be able to check your hearing on a regular basis. Winner! For real though, London is great. It's also full of parks and greenery so this woman here ain't complaining about the best city on earth (in my humble opinion but also, let's face it, I've never lived anywhere else so this is yet another Londoncentric view. Sorry about that).

But walking in the countryside is great. And apart from the train fare, it's also, basically, free. I mean, you might want to buy a map and some water or a book and a wine-cooler full of water, which is what I use as I am one classy chick, but the actual walking part? Free as rain. Talking of rain, you might want to invest in some waterproof walking boots and a rain jacket. Just TRUST me, OK? Like, we do live in the UK, guys. And you know what our weather is famed for? Raining. So, it'll probably rain. The first proper walk I went on it rained like a monsoon for the first 10 minutes. We were still in the urban bit of the walk, barely out of the train station. The heavens opened up like an Ice Bucket Challenge (remember that!?), ruined our book and made us squelch the rest of the way round that bit of the South Downs. But. Then. The clouds cleared, the sun came out and it was a beautiful, glorious, English summer day. Though it was muddy as fuck. Swings and indeed roundabouts.

Thing is, it is cheaper than the gym and you're more likely to go. Also, halfway through a walk when your legs are killing you and there's only bog as far as your eye can see and you want to lie down and be left there to die, you know that you can't. You can't just stay there in the woods indefinitely. You'd die of exposure and you wouldn't get to eat that cheeseburger in the pub you promised yourself. Because, damn it, if you can't eat a guilt-free cheeseburger after walking 12 miles then what is even the point of this whole business?

10 Walking Tips (for punk amateurs like me)

  1. Bring water, you moron. 
  2. Wear comfy socks, preferably walking socks. I buy great ones from Amazon. Because I am also obsessed with Amazon, yes I know that this is problematic. 
  3. Buy walking boots. Trainers are NOT good enough. RIP Nike Classics.
  4. Wear something reflective and/or colourful if walking in Autumn or Winter months. YES, I KNOW MY JACKET IS TOO DARK. THANKS FOR NOTICING THAT, MAN IN THAT CAR WHO PULLED OVER JUST TO TELL US THAT WE WERE WEARING DARK CLOTHES. WE GOT LOST! 
  5. Bring an apple. Or a Tracker bar. Or a Snickers, who's counting calories in the woods? 
  6. Wear layers. I know it might be freezing now and just a sweater and your coat are good enough but you are going to want to take that sweater off so you'd better be wearing a T. Shirt too. Idiot.
  7. Bring a backpack. One big enough to stuff your sweater and coat into. See above. You WILL take these things off. You must bring these things though as you WILL get really cold too. Fun, in it?
  8. Bring a torch. I know you have a flashlight app on your phone but what happens when your phone dies, VICKY? No flashlight app. Bring a torch. A real one. You might have to buy one from the National Trust shop. Fine. Do it. 
  9. Bring plasters. You will get blisters if you don't bring them. Fact. No way round this one. To prevent blisters bring a First Aid kit. 
  10. Just follow Sarah, this one really only applies to me but it is a really good tip. 


Friday, 3 February 2017

On Audiences

Foodstuffs and Wrapping

One of the greatest mysteries of the modern world (and there are many, I know) is why they sell anything in plastic wrapping at cinemas. M&Ms, Cadbury's Eclairs, plastic bags of popcorn (seriously. BAGS of popcorn. I pointed it out to my friend one time, over a year ago and I am still thinking about this. WHY? It's not like it's cheaper)... the list is endless. OK, so, it's not actually endless, I just can't think of any more off the top of my stupid head. But the mystery remains. I know that you can buy quieter snacks.
I know that, you know that and yet people do not. Why not? Because people are bastards. Loud, noisy, inconsiderate bastards.

Eat a hot dog.

Talking of hot dogs, why are they cinema food? And why aren't they theatre food? (I appreciate that this might be confusing for Americans where the cinema is a movie theater) Why not hamburgers? Or french fries?

Why isn't popcorn theatre food? Why is popcorn cinema food?

Why is food an option here at all?

If you can't go for 2 hours without eating popcorn, M&Ms and pick 'n' mix (and don't misunderstand me, I fucking love pick 'n' mix) then maybe you shouldn't be going to the cinema to watch movies.

Maybe you should get a subscription to Netflix, Sky Movies and a massive TV and stay at home. Not that I am trying to kill the cinema industry here it's just that other people are the worst.

Audiences are the worst and they have bad taste. Sorry for pointing this out. Again.

Speaking of audiences, did you know (and if you've ever spoken to me about TV comedy I will have told you this) that 'Mrs. Brown's Boys' was the most popular show over Christmas 2015 (and it's still really annoying me)? Did you know that? I did. I wish I didn't but there it is. And I am not being all elitist here it's just that it is such a terrible show. Like, really, terrible and awful. And if you don't agree could you please just try watching something else? Anything else. I hear Peppa Pig is pretty good. (What I am suggesting there is that you are childish and therefore only a children's programme would be adequate for your intellect. BURN.) I hate to be mean and I really don't wish to offend. I'm nice and I think people should be allowed to like what they like. But COME ON.

You want good Irish comedy? Then watch repeats of 'Father Ted'. You heathens.

And don't get me started on 'Gogglebox'. Seriously. Don't. Friendships have been irreparably ruined because of my stance on this fucking cheap programme. You know who you are.

I wonder what the American equivalent to 'Gogglebox' is?

Audience Etiquette

  • Shut the fuck up
  • Please turn all mobile devices off or on silent (no 'vibration mode' is not silent)
  • Quiet in the back, please
  • Don't google what that actor was in NOW. Wait until you have left the auditorium.
  • Don't clap at the end of the movie. This is not the theatre. The actors aren't here. I know, it seems like they are. It's really rather magical, isn't it? But don't applaud. No one cares. 
  • Shhhh. Think of this as a library where you can laugh aloud at the appropriate moments. 
  • If you are at the theatre could you please refrain from attending if you currently have tuberculosis (the only reason I can find for the coughing fit I had to listen to the last time I went to the theatre. And it was a really quiet, tense moment.)? 
  • Shut. Up. 

Friday, 27 January 2017

On The Wall

Once upon a time there was a wall that separated a city. On one side you could get Coca-Cola and blue jeans, listen to jazz and go on holiday. On the other side was a grey, drab world.
When I was seven years old this wall came tumbling down. To the sounds of pop music and the sight of flag waving, rather than burning. A new age had been born. A new era of freedom and capitalism.

A Shredded Wheat headed man, leader of the most powerful nation on Earth, is trying to make a new wall. One separating 2 whole countries instead of dividing one city. On one side you will be able to get Coca-Cola and on the other side you can still get Coca-Cola. Come on, you get Coke anywhere these days, it's 2017, not 1917. Hear me? IT'S 2017.

So why are women's rights being questioned?
Why are equal rights for all still being discussed?
Why do we still care about who you're shagging?
Why does the colour of your skin matter to anyone?
Why does your religious book make a difference to how you're treated?
Why is universal healthcare still not a right for everyone?
Why?

It is the 21st Century.

We should be thinking about hover boards and transportation devices.
Blue jeans should not be the staple clothing. If 1950s and '60s Sci-Fi is to be believed we should be living on the fucking moon, not stressing about abortion rights and voting scandals. Democracy has been around since Ancient Greece. We should have got our collective shit together by now.

It's 2017.

This is worth repeating.

Always and forever (until 2018).

This is the fucking future, guys.

We can look up literally any information on handheld devices. Devices that have more technology than rocket ships. We can see what the weather will be like, anywhere in the world (and other planets in our solar system) Look at moving images of Mars. Find out what programme that guy in that other programme was in. Like, now. Literally within seconds. Literally. 

This is 2017, fuckers.

We should be thinking about how we can perhaps make dogs into politicians as I feel like they'd make awesome decisions and I love them and I trust them to make all of ours lives better.

Because it's 2017 and the most powerful man on Earth wants to build a fucking wall.

Friday, 20 January 2017

On a Train

OK, this happened last week but I have only really just processed it - read: recovered from various hangovers.

Last Thursday my friend and I got on the Caledonian Sleeper from Euston to the wilds of Scotland. This was the most bizarre train journey of my entire life. And I've been on the New Jersey Transit. That train is loud as shit and is American and is obviously naturally bonkers. America, huh.

It appears that the very concept of going to Scotland, in January, to see a band, and go for a walk is crazy, insane, interesting and comment-worthy. It aint. I once ate an ice cream in November during a thunderstorm. Know why? I fancied an ice cream. Do you think it wasn't commented on? The shopkeeper thought I was nuts, my friend thought I was some sort of free-spirited anarchist. It's not like I sent a manifesto to the Daily Mail explaining the truth behind the moon landings and how the world is really ruled by aliens. IS IT?

Any way, the point is: why not go to Scotland in January? To walk? And see a band? HUH?

This is why: Snow covers the ground and makes it impossible for you to know how firm the ground underneath is. Also, your friend leads you into a bog. Bog as far as the eye can see. Except you can't see it because of the snow. Because you are in Scotland in January. Long story short - we got stuck in a bog and I fell and now I am grateful that I don't live near a bog. Kilburn doesn't count as a bog.

The train though, the train. Firstly, I admit that I am obviously the kind of person who meets strangers on a train and gets drunk with them. Let's admit something here: I'm the kind of person who likes to get drunk with people. And trains are pretty cool. And it wasn't our intention to meet random people and drink their wine. Look, if someone is going to buy you a drink the least you can do is drink it and entertain them with your witty conversation. And offer them cheese and crackers. It's the civilised thing to do. It's the human thing to do.

We ended up getting maybe 2 hours of sleep before KNOCK KNOCK on the cabin door and bleary-eyed we stumbled from the train, jumping with rucksacks and backpacks and heavy eyelids we followed Google maps to our Airbnb and went wrong somehow as we walked along an A road, climbed over a fence and stumbled down a snowbank. Still. We found the accommodation and I am heartened to report that I could totally survive on the streets in Birnam, a small town/village (I don't really know how big it is but there was an Arts Centre) as there's a little covered alleyway that I was totally prepared to sleep in. I'm not proud.

Mostly though I wanted to say that meeting a random stranger lady on the train has made me give pause to my current life narrative. She was a nice lady, attractive and jolly (and no, I don't mean 'fat') and generous with bottles of wine. She was nearing 40 (so not much older than me, really) and was single and happy about that. But was she? WAS she? Maybe she was but by goodness she seemed to have a lot of issues and she made me think: No, shit no, apart from having a kooky little shop in a kooky Scottish village (I'll admit that that made me jealous) her life is not the life that I want. I am not saying that I MUST have a boyfriend and that my life will be rubbish. I am saying that this wall needs to be removed. And that's what I learned on the train journey to Scotland.