Saturday, 18 August 2012

Episode 4: Reality

I have been to Spain for precisely seven days, and will return to the country in question-- to live-- in another seven days. Amongst friends, I deny this information to be a viable topic of conversation. Amongst my family, I am frequently reminded of how much I have yet to prepare, generally resulting in me fleeing from the room. From a personal perspective, I have ignored all ideas of Spanish living, and am still floundering in despondency, ignoring all travel tips, language preparation and have not looked any further into it than booking a hostel for the weekend. Why? Because I am in complete and utter denial.

I must admit-- and I hope not to distaste-- that I have always been a person who survived on luck and chance. Inherently lazy, I spent my A-Level revision periods Facebook stalking, my university seminars making up the second part of an unread text- and somehow, just somehow- managed to attain my placement for a star-studded magazine in Madrid despite having an ugly bout of gastric flu. In this madness of spending my last few years of my life rather lethargically, I have done rather well for myself. However, I do have a confession to make. I am aware that in the seven days time, this mode of living will no longer work. I will have to be eager, enthusiastic, organised, and even more frighteningly, somehow apprehend the skill of successfully reading maps.

Plonkishly attempting to thrive under pressure, I began stage one of the preparation this morning: sort of preparing to pack. Beginning the job my Mother proposed to me six weeks ago, I began sifting through clothing, paper, and accessories, college era to present. Yet again, I admit something not altogether pleasing. For someone with only virtual, bank given pounds in their account, I have a hell of a lot of clothes. Enough to fill a garage, four wardrobes and a chest of drawers, to be precise. I am not exactly sure when, or if, any defining fashion sense has arisen from the ghosts of clothing past. Picking up one bag, it's definitely clear to say I went through an intense navy stripes phase, and thought hanky tops, bright purple gilets and ill-fitting skinny jeans were blessings to my body. I came across photo evidence detailing these more awkward fashion moments, and felt a lump in my throat. Diaries upon diaries demanding organisation were piled up high to the garage ceiling, with vacant spaces during July-September, detailing birthdays of loved and formerly loved ones. On the brink of nostalgic heartbreak, I came across letters from my best friends, being far nicer than anyone should be. And oh my, and the mould. Threatening my once favourite bag and a multitude of cheaply bought pumps, I solemnly swear to forego bulk buying and think before buying yet another animal print t-shirt. Looking through my past, I began to throw away my material memories, aware that I am generally lazy for I reason- I really hate saying goodbye.

Now the actual packing is due to begin, where actually am I? Still writing this blog post, because, my dear friends, that's what DENIAL is. I'll be in touch when I realise I'm on the brink of an emotional breakdown because I don't own a functioning adaptor.

                                          Looking like dappy in Orca-shaped hat courtesy of my boyfriend. Just call me
                                                        the "orca"-strator.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Episode 3: Belinda's

It has taken me so long to pay attention to this post because I have been so desperate to do it justice. Certain words spring to mind- surreal, eye-opening, hilarious, catastrophic. Admittedly, these words are associated with every event that is in conjunction with my extended family, but this event deserves its own dedication. I am here to tell you the tale of my half-cousin Belinda, a sweet spinster who has just found the man of her dreams and is due to be married this Friday. I do not mean to ridicule or lambast, but confess only what my eyes and ears recorded. Here, the tale of Belinda's hen party commences.

When I was informed that the hen party was due to take place on a Sunday evening, perhaps I should have taken notice. People go to church on Sundays, perhaps even have their weddings on a Sunday, but hell, if they are looking for a good time, Sundays are not the prime date of selection. Sundays remind me of pyjamas, bad hangovers and a Yorkshire pudding or two. Nevertheless (perhaps in blind optimism), I ignored this significant detail as my mother persuaded my sister and I to join in the celebrations, and have a spot of family bonding. Perhaps "persuaded" is not the appropriate lexical choice in this context; we were only informed that we had an option upon walking out of the door.

Late and frustrated, we collected my Grandma to move on the proceedings. I could write several stories about Grandma, the wanton wonderess who frequently gets mistaken for my own mother. Never without heels, slickly made up with a blonde bob in tow, the woman is as youthful as the filth that comes out of her mouth. For my own rather prudish mum, I have never really decoded whether this is hilarious or painful. For me, it is comedic paradise. Keeping her mouth prim and proper for the time being, we arrived to be greeted by Belinda's husband-to-be, who seemed rather alarmed at my sister and I's arrival.

"...but we haven't got enough special glasses! (Sighs) You'll see when we get inside."

Slightly bewildered by this introduction, we arrived into the living room to be introduced to a further state of perplexity. Belinda, decorated in L plates complete with a frilly white dress, was shaking like a leaf, next to Batman, a pirate, and a pink-wigged woman of non-descript character. As well as half of us not receiving the fancy dress memo, there was another problem. The Batman in question was a man.

Grandma and Mum were handed shot glass necklaces with neon pink penises inside. I tried hard not to stare.

This was when I began to pay attention to the living room in question. Admittedly never having stepped foot in Belinda's house, I was amazed to see the ornamental complexity before me, describably "kitsch". A Betty Boop drinks cabinet. Las Vegas wallpaper. A motorbike phone. A fake baby. A fake cat. Oh no, wait.

"ARGH IT'S ALIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" said my Grandma, post-poke. Thanks for clarifying that one G-Dog.

This was when even more illusions were shattered.

"Where are we going exactly?"

"The social club at the bottom of the road. Belinda's a regular."

Sticking by the side of my Auntie and sister, we were informed ten paces ahead of everyone else the 411, as well as being assured that we were not the ones to be declared medically insane. We would be going to the battered social club at the bottom road- the average age of the said attendant, 84.

Cabaret singers. Bingo sheets. Ballroom dancing. Cabaret singers. We had officially arrived in God's waiting room. Never had I seen so many pairs of cream slacks and braces, blue rinse perms and hearing aids on offer in one venue. All too aware of my apparent youth, we all located to a table in the corner, wondering how we had become embroiled in the antichrist of hen nights. As a man in a sergio tacchini white tracksuit top came over to maul us, we wondered what we had done in our past lives. I am pretty certain he didn't have teeth.

"I wish I hadn't worn such bright leggings", remarked my Auntie. "I nearly put a red bra on under this lace top- I might have given them a heart attack."

Apart from the pervy men on offer, we spent the first couple of hours having only interacted with one local, who waltzed over after a solo session on the dancefloor, moonwalking past us to say "... and I'm 92." We were resentfully included in the bingo plans, and when we joined in the raffle we were delightfully informed by Belinda that we could even win a slab of beef. As a vegetarian, this didn't sit with me nicely. However, when I bought a packet of crisps and jokingly offered them around as a snack, I couldn't have predicted what had happened. Belinda's last night of freedom had resulted in her unravelling a tesco bag of cocktail sausages, cheese and onion rolls and pork pies. Between that and the bingo, only one option was available- drink.

Grandma, muttering all too loudly how she was "just too young for this", took the vodka and soda measures a bit too willingly. Her participation in the only hen activity stamped with approval- "words of wisdom", led to the alphabet poem, delightfully transcribed by my mother. By the time I had sourced an appropriate Antony & Cleopatra quote, I read a fascinating alphabet sex poem that I will refrain from writing for the general public in fear that these worlds will be blacklisted for here on in. Let's just say no daughter wants to ever read in their mum's handwriting the word "pussy". Ever. Before Grandma tried to give my sister and I some chat about "the birds and the bees", a request was sent for "all the able-bodied to move onto the dancefloor." Belinda tried to refrain, but the shots of Tia Maria had just become too much. The timid spinster was unleashed on the dancefloor. The men goggled as we all swayed in a middle-aged fashion to "Man I Feel Like A Woman." Belinda went for it, lifting her skirt up, and caressing her body. I hope that I saw leg hair rather than something quite different. For now, I'll leave the full-bodied descriptions to my Grandmother.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Episode 2: Alcohol

For the past month, there has not been one day where I have not drank some alcohol. Be it a casual beer in a not-so-sunny beer garden, a cheeky glass of wine with my boyfriend's mother, or an embarrassing bender with my friends (more often than not), I have swiftly undone my practically teetotal status of drinking the occasional Guinness, and providing care for the rest of the drunken louts that surround me.

Amongst my friends, we all agreed that we had not drank this much since we were underage, testing the boundaries of our limits, seeing exactly what spirits would push us over the rim of the toilet. There was one particular club in our area that would accommodate our underage needs, allowing us to enter its murky depths with a photocopy of our sister's passport, a student card that ever-so-obviously listed us as a sixteen year old, and on some occasions, even a bus pass would suffice. Dingy and dirty, we all wore black and flats to avoid sticking to the dancefloor. Not only was this a haven for the teens that entered its doors, it was a haven for all purses and wallets alike. Getting smashed on a £3.10 "pangalactic gargle blaster" was the highlight of the night. We immersed ourselves into this sci-fi underground, meeting people both 14 and 40, only to have to get a taxi into college the next day.

As the blog title suggests, my friends and I are now aged 20+. The last time I stepped foot into the said club I was a meagre 17, and ended up meeting someone who I definitely wish I hadn't met. Bad memories aside and nostalgia en vogue, my friends and I returned to the said club at midnight-- this being after our taxi driver stopped at a petrol station for twenty minutes, leading us to question his potential status as a serial killer. Late and bladdered, we were determined to wreak havoc on the place that had given us all of our alcoholic education, paying back the price for the stained clothes and gin- induced tears.

Disregarding The Smiths, Pixies and The Cure that was infiltrating the upstairs room, we moved over to the retro request book to taint it with three pages begging for some Kanye and Jay-Z, only to be told numerous times that "we do not play that sort of stuff here". Ending the request with Love Will Tear Us Apart, we lied and procured drinks by alternating between stage names such as Gertrude and Candice to confessing alternately that we were 15/30 today and if we didn't hear the radio shouting about fish fillet we would have to stamp on their toes. These minions walked up to the DJ, only to see his face reddening even more for one 5'2 creature to be victim of "IF ANYONE REQUESTS THAT SONG ONE MORE TIME I WILL THROW THEM OUT!". Oops. Needless to say, when I went to request Love Will Tear Us Apart once more, that didn't go down well either.

After pretending to be German, Swedish and Russian, we were catapulted out of the club fifteen minutes later, only just into the early hours and still desperate to party. Another club rejection down the line and a box of cheesy chips later, I passed out on my best friend's sofa. Now THAT is seventeen year old behaviour.

                                                           note: face hidden to hide shame.