Adam & Albert

 

 

I’m currently writing this post from a wonderfully sunny St Ives in Cornwall, but before I go on to boast about the glorious weather, I’m going to rewind to last week, and a cold and faintly snowy London.

 

Last Thursday, India and I headed up to South Ken to see the event we’d been anticipating for months on end: Foals at the Albert Hall. We last saw them in the grubby, chilly, small Concorde 2 in Brighton, and were fascinated as to how they’d translate to such a different venue. If you’ve never seen the band live, I urge you to get tickets for whatever you can lay your hands on. Foals are phenomenal live, and I say that without the slightest bit of exaggeration.

 

After a rather pleasing support slot from Efterklang, the laser lighting kicked in, the smoke machine pumped up to full volume, and the band made their way on stage. Most of the set came from their new album, Holy Fire, interspersed with crowd-pleasers such as Total Life Forever and Spanish Sahara. When Foals play, something almost transcendental happens to the audience. I looked around the crowd, seeing people transported by the music, these huge guitar riffs and echoing vocals punching the walls of the Albert Hall.

 

After about half an hour, India and I grew frustrated at being in a seated area, and our attempts at chair dancing weren’t really cutting it, so we clambered down to the front of the tiered section in a haze of dance-driven urgency. We spent the rest of the gig waving about like idiots, watching the mosh pit from on high, and feeling the waves of sound on our faces. Due to our (over)enthusiasm, we got pulled aside at the end of the gig to give a short interview about Foals for the Albert Hall. After hoarsely repeating the word ‘epic’ several times, we were on our way to Soho.

 

In Soho, we picked up Frankie, who took us to a new discovery: The Soho Social Club. I almost don’t want to talk about it, because it was so ace that I don’t want anyone else to know it’s there, but what the heck. It’s essentially one room on the corner of a dark, tucked away Soho street, and contains a few small tables and one long banqueting table. The walls are stacked with books and framed black and white photos with a heavy S&M emphasis. The cocktail menu is brief but carefully curated, and the staff charming.

 

When we got there, Frankie was greeted heartily by an old dear in a fur hat and large earrings who perched, regally, at the very end of the long table. ‘Oh hello love’, she said, ‘it’s been ages since I saw you, hasn’t it?’ They chattered away for a little while, before Frankie turned to us and said she’d never seen the woman before in her life…But I’ve overlooked the very best part of TSSC: the dogs. Yes, dogs. Four squiggly balls of fluff scattered around the room, enjoying the attention of the delighted customers, and I took quite a shine to a sweet French bulldog called Modesty.

 

From there, we dashed to The Diner for stacked burgers, baskets of fries and Cherry Cokes before crossing the river to the BFI, just in time for my beloved Adam Buxton and the start of BUG. If you’ve never been, BUG is a bi-monthly (last time I checked) showcase for new and interesting music videos, which Adam hosts. Not only is it a fantastic way of discovering new bands, but Adam also reads out YouTube comments on the videos, and gives his own commentary, which is hugely entertaining.

 

Bit of a skim through Thursday, but I’ll be back soon with posts about Cornwall, and showing off about the sunshine. Ta ra for now.

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Life, lashes and laughter

That title sounds like a Lambrini tagline, right? Not that I’ve ever drunk the stuff, but still…

Life It’s been quite the crazy week, life-wise. While last week was insanely busy with doing stuff, this week has been mostly spent working at home. I tell you what, readers – I’d got to the end of my tether with freelancing all the time. I’ve been so lucky since I last left the office environment last June. I honestly never expected to be able to be my own boss, and it’s not something I planned at all. But project after project came in, affording me huge freedoms, and the chance to get paid to write; not something I thought I’d be doing for a very long time. But this month? I found myself between projects, very poor, and desperately yearning to flirt over a photocopier or make some foul instant coffee in an office kitchen.

Oh, obviously it was more than that. I wanted some structure, the knowledge of a regular paycheck, and a chance to actually reclaim my weekends. I read a wonderful quote on Twitter the other day, and sadly I can’t remember who said it, but it was something like ‘Being a writer is like having homework for the rest of your life’. And that’s truly how it feels. Can you remember that Sunday night/end of the holidays slightly sick feeling? The panic of ‘oh GOD, I’ve left it so late! This is insane. I can’t manage it. Can I?’ And that’s what I’ve been having a lot lately. Even if you get on top of things you still have more to do. It’s weird – it’s the same thing that makes me love writing!

So, I’d been applying for full time jobs and part time jobs. Part time would probably be ideal – that way I can keep doing the things I’ve worked hard to do, as well as having a bit of stability. I haven’t applied for a job or used my CV in over a year, and it’s been slightly exciting and slightly weird to do so. I got my first rejection on Thursday! I got a bit upset at first and then grew up, got over myself and forgot about it after an hour or so. It is odd though – I’d got used to talking my way into jobs or projects. For the past year it’s just been a matter of going ‘yeah, that sounds really interesting, I’m up for that’, and you get to do it, because the person employing you has specifically sought you out/knows your skills. Anyway, one rejection, but a rather interesting top secret project has also popped up. I’m saying nothing for now, but it has massive potential for awesomeness.

What else was awesome? I popped up to South Kensington to the Becca boutique, to review eyelash extensions for LadyMPresents.co.uk. I’ve thought about getting some for ages, so it was nice to try them. It’s definitely taken some getting used to – I crawled out of bed looking like a glamour puss and freaked myself out in the mirror this morning – but now I can do my entire makeup in about 3 minutes. Foundation, bit of bronzer, bit of lip balm, good to go. YES. Full review will be going up on LadyMPresents.co.uk next week, and I’ll be sure to link y’all, with some photos for good measure.

Last night I went to my very first TV recording. I’d heard that one of my heroes, Adam Buxton, was recording a TV version of his ‘BUG’ shows that he regularly hosts at the BFI Southbank. India and I saw him at Latitude last year and cried with laughter, then we saw him do BUG on the Southbank, and that was extremely awesome as well. Since seeing him at Latitude, I’ve listening to days worth of Adam and Joe radio shows, and they have truly made my life better. At the end of 2011/start of 2012, I was going through some difficult times with the end of a relationship, and general Winter blues, and honestly? Adam & Joe made it all better. Definitely should be prescribed to unhappy people. Since then I’ve turned into an A&J superfan. It’s against my nature to get so obsessed with stuff. I get bored extremely easily and, well…I’m waaaaay too cool for superfannish behaviour. (Ahem.)

But I made an exception for these chaps. I now know what Justin Bieber fans must feel like. I was massively overexcited about seeing Adam finally get a well-earned break with this TV show, and I wasn’t disappointed. We turned up at the Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, not really knowing what to expect – although I did get a bright pink wristband (YES) and the camp man checking us in said that my name was ‘amazing’ and that I ‘should be on Downton Abbey’. It’s a funny old business, TV recording. We had to do stuff like recording laughter – we were directed to do ‘polite laughter’, and then slightly more hysterical laughter, and then all out insane laughing, cheering, and clapping. It’s for this reason that I have no voice today.

I have to give massive ‘props’ (is that right??!) to Mr Buxton. I thought he was brills before, but he worked SO HARD. He had to stick to the autocue and often redo things a couple of times, but make the audience laugh each and every time. He was just amazing to watch – he would also keep joking about inbetween recording, so the audience had a proper evening of comedy instead of just stop/start-ing all night. He must have been absolutely exhausted, but he kept really cheerful throughout the evening, which kept the audience in a good place. I have a huge amount of respect for anyone presenting a show – Dr Buckles had an earpiece in with a producer talking to him, loads of camera people, the usual stress of a live recording, and obviously an autocue to do, and certain places to stand.

Talking about certain places to stand – one of the markers had come off the floor of the set, and because I was in the front row, Mr Buxton decided to use me as a marker! He asked me my name, so I told him, and then he said ‘Amelia, you’re looking very beautiful tonight’ (I’m not making this up, it really happened), and then he said he was going to stand in front of me. He made a joke about that being a bit provocative, and he did a ‘sexy’ dance across the stage. I seriously think that my own wedding will have to compete quite hard to improve on last night, because that pretty much made my life. Anyway, all round it was a fantastic night, and I have even more respect for Adam after seeing it. Today, I’m happy, achy, and lacking in voice, and it was all worth it. Check out the video below to see Adam in action. I love you byeeee!

 

Dancing on the Southbank

So, we’re rolling into September, and the weather is all over the place. As I type, I’m looking out into a glorious blue sky, that just half an hour ago looked absolutely Wintry. I always love September. I suppose years of being in the education system have made me consider it to be the real start of the New Year, a second opportunity to right wrongs, to change the way you live, to make new promises. I like to think it’s never too late in the year to make resolutions.

It was in this spirit that I considered my life at the moment. After a very strange period in the middle of the Summer when everything seemed to be going drastically wrong (and therefore I felt like a total fraudster writing a blog on happiness), things have almost completely changed. Touch wood, cross fingers, kiss elbows etc, but I’ll just say that recently, things have been looking up. Extremely up. When I get in this frame of mind, everything is exciting, I throw myself into everything I do, and I skip around feeling totally energised. I become untouchable, and nothing can begin to bring me down.

One of my most defining characteristics is my ability to only experience extremes of emotion. Either things are heartbreakingly awful and I’m wailing mascara-ed tears, or things are bloody brilliant, and I’m wearing a perma-smile. As I’ve got older, I’ve levelled out a bit. Sadness visits much more rarely, and when bad things happen I’ll cry, hit rock bottom, and then I’ll start sorting things out again. Happiness is my more frequent companion, and I’ve learnt to work at it so that I now know how to fix things in my life, how to take charge of myself and not just be at the whim of those ghastly things known as teenage hormones.

Anyway. I was, as I say, contemplating the recent upturn in events in my life, and I started thinking about university. I have to admit, I’ve struggled to come to terms with not being there anymore, and with not being a student. Royal Holloway bred a real community, a fierce loyalty, and a desire never to leave. For months after graduating, I didn’t really think about it. I was both enraptured and terrified by the idea of the ‘real world’. I ploughed on and on, enjoying my first proper paycheck, not having to read stacks of books every week (not that I necessarily always did that….) And before I knew it, a year had passed. It’s been the year AFTER the year after graduating that I’ve struggled with. Suddenly it all seemed so far away – the all night parties in the wonderful Founders building, walking home at 8am listening to bird song. Climbing onto the roof of said Founders building and doing everything that was wrong, but right too. The sound of the College chapel bells ringing out, through the window of my tiny student room. The amazing girls I lived with in third year, and the way we weathered any of the many storms that came our way.

I also missed…well, thinking, I suppose. Being self-consciously artsy. Revelling in the way that anecdotes about my ‘crazy drama stuff’ sounded when told to my friends doing more buttoned up degrees. When I visited the Southbank yesterday properly, it really hit home about how much I’d lost, or rather – given up on. In my first term, I’d often visit the BFI on my own, overjoyed that I had the freedom to do so. I saw a season of Isabelle Huppert films, wandering in my long black coat and piled up bun, feeling so….so like a student. So exactly how I thought I should feel, and look, and act. I took opportunities. I went to unusual places, took up strange invitations, talked to people I never thought I’d get on with,  just experienced every new thing I could, and I learnt.

When, and why, did I stop? It must have been the second I took off that graduation gown. I really believed I had to become an ‘Adult’, and all that entailed. Which was what? Working? Going out every other weekend? I shut down the creative part of my brain, and I lost that willingness to experiment. I suppose I was always preoccupied. First by getting a job – then a better job. Then any job. Then a better job, again and again. Then friendships, relationships, clothes, parents. I plunged deep into an entirely predictable identity crisis, and didn’t even start to think I might already know who I was. I knew it when I perched, feet over the edge of the huge, chateau-styled building at uni. I knew when I could be on my own, watching French films. I knew when I stayed up all night at the Summer ball. I’d just lost it.

Yesterday I began to find it again, and it took a trip to the Southbank itself to smash me back there again. My friend India and I just gave in to the atmosphere. Spying a crowd under Waterloo Bridge, we inveigled ourselves in. We could smell frying onions, hot dogs, a sweet but deep flavour that will naturally invoke fairgrounds and the seaside. We heard live music. ‘This is lovely’, we said, but made to move on. And then we stopped ourselves. We’ve made a collective vow to start experiencing life, to take those opportunities that constantly present themselves if you only look for them. So we stayed. We bought large cocktails in plastic cups that froze our hands, from a man in too-cool sunglasses. We stayed and watched a live band, seeing the sunlight bouncing off the architecture of the bridge and the blonde halo of the lead singer. We watched too, as a homeless man in camo gear danced, played his harmonica and stuck his middle fingers up in the air in a grotesque pose whenever a camera was produced.

Men started dancing too, elbows sticking out, first avoiding looking at the crowd and then gradually gesturing for people to join in. A dapper elderly man in flat cap and snakeskin shoes asked me to dance. I have to say, I turned him down, only because the homeless man was hugging everyone dancing. I regretted it instantly – he stepped into the centre, and proceeded to do a soft shoe shuffle with the mother of a young girl in tiara and pink dress. The girl began to dance too – the homeless man handed her his harmonica, her mother wincing slightly before the girl handed it back. We stayed, we absorbed, and we sang very loudly to ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’, belted out by a beautiful redhead in leopard print scarf. After the music was done, we moved on to our destination, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, to see Adam Buxton presenting ‘BUG’, a showcase of funny and bizarre videos. We finished the evening with hot chocolate and lemon tart from Le Pain Quotidien on Waterloo Bridge, and slunk off into the night to plan more adventures.

My point is this – life is happening all around us. I feel like I’ve just woken up. Engage with everything. Look, really look. Say ‘yes’ to everything. And when you’re ready to wake up, give me a call.