Sunday, 16 September 2012

Being the help.

There's a house on Iona that I look after; keeping it clean, making it ready for people to stay in, doing the weeding... that kind of thing. Doesn't take much time out of my week, and I enjoy doing it most days. Part of that, I have discovered, is because the people staying there have always been gone or out when I go round.

Not this week.

It's used for people coming to redesign some of the displays at the Abbey, and they usually come on a Sunday and leave Friday. I come in Saturday when it's empty. The people this week decided to stay on over the weekend. Not too bad. Or it wouldn't have been if the guy I met wasn't Grumpy McJerkface.

When I saw there was someone there I popped my head round the door to introduce myself and tell him why I was in the house. Reasonable? No, as it turns out. He just looked at me like 'well get on with it then'. I clearly looked confused because he then said 'Do you need anything from me...?' When I told him I didn't he just walked away and ignored me from then on.

I went from human being to 'the help' in mere seconds. Now, I'm not naive enough to think that never happens. It was more that it was so weird to have that happen on Iona. No matter who you are and what you are there to do, the folk on Iona will stand and chat to you for two minutes - like you are a person with feelings. This guy brought in with him one of the worst aspects of 'normal society'.

Naturally, with the next couple of hours of thinking-free work I pondered this train of thought. We as a culture are shocked by topics such as slavery and equality. Why then do we continue to talk down to the person who cleans our houses, or the person who makes your coffee in the morning?

I got this a lot last year while working in the tearoom on Iona. Apparently making coffee for someone instantly makes you an idiot who will do what they are told thank-you-very-much. To me, it's just two people standing on either side of a counter. To some, there appears to be a better side of the counter to stand on. One woman told me I needed to find a man to support me so I could get out of there, as if it was degrading for me to work in such a place.

Unfortunately I have come up with no real answer to this. Is it a throw back from society as it used to be, when wait staff made up of the poorer classes made you and brought you your coffee and cleaned your house for you? Is it that this feeling of servitude lingers? Or is it something else?

If anyone has any thoughts on this, please comment. I'd be interested to know what other people think about this!

Monday, 10 September 2012

My mother loves to boogie, on whatever damn night she pleases thank-you-very-much.

When I posted the Shuffle on your ipod blog post, my mum jokingly said to me that I should have a go at guessing her top 50 songs to see how many I'd get right. That made me curious... how many would I guess correctly? So I'm going to have a go right now, right here.

Instructions for Mum: Leave a comment at the bottom of this post telling me which ones you wouldn't put on your top 50 list and if there were any I missed.

Instructions for everyone else: Enjoy this guided tour of music you can dance to that draws from the 70's and 80's and 00's and misses out the 90's entirely.

1. Careless Whisper - George Michael (I'm starting with the obvious)
2. Whiter Shade of Pale - Procol Harum (Mum goes all melty to this)
3. Sylvia - Focus
4. Don't Feel Like Dancing - Scissor Sisters (Because George Michael is not gay enough...)
5. Dancing Queen - Abba
6. Chiquitita - Abba
7. Fields of Gold - Sting
8. So This Is Christmas (War Is Over) - John Lennon (Christmas is cancelled if Mum doesn't hear this played in some shop somewhere in the run up to 25th December)
9. If Paradise Is Half As Nice - Amen Corner 
10. Outside - George Michael 
11. Criticize - Alexander O'Neal (To be blasted loudly throughout the house)
12. Maggie May - Rod Stewart
13. Club Tropicana - Wham (Mum 'secretly' listens to this while lying beside the pool)
14. Desert Rose - Sting
15. Senorita - Justin Timberlake
16. Baker Street - Gerry Rafferty
17. Real Gone Kid - Deacon Blue (Woo ooo woo ooo's and all)
18. Dignity - Deacon Blue
19. Something For The Weekend - The Divine Comedy
20. Come On Eileen - Dexy's Midnight Runners (The one song Dad will refuse to dance to)
21. Don't Stop - Fleetwood Mac
22. Looking For Linda - Hue and Cry
23. Labour of Love - Hue and Cry
24. Come Up And See Me (Make Me Smile) - Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel
25. Bailamos - Enrique Iglesias (Yes, really)
26. Day After Day - Badfinger
27. Clair de Lune - Debussy (Didn't expect that now, did you?!)
28. What A Fool Believes - The Doobie Brothers
29. King Of Rock And Roll - Prefab Sprout (Go on Mum, tell us what it is all about...)
30. Caledonia - Frankie Miller
31. If You Stay - Heidi Talbot
32. I Got You (I Feel Good) - James Brown (To be sung boarding a plane going to a hot country)
33. Crush - Jennifer Paige
34. Jealous Guy - John Lennon or Roxy Music (I couldn't decide)
35. Beautiful Boy - John Lennon
36. Fairytale of New York - The Pogues (Because that bit needs to be sung with gusto)
37. One Vision - Queen
38. Who Wants To Live Forever - Queen (With "Don't see me like this, Connor" added in over the top in a thick Glaswegian accent)
39. If You Think I'm Sexy - Rod Stewart
40. Listen To What The Man Said - Paul McCartney
41. Summer Son - Texas
42. Private Dancer - Tina Turner
43. The Whole Of The Moon - The Waterboys (This song IS my parents. True story)
44. Treat Her Gently - Paul McCartney and Wings
45. To Sir With Love - Lulu
46. It's A Sin - Pet Shop Boys
47. Maria - Blondie
48. Too Funky - George Michael (Ha! Bet you thought you'd seen the last of him!)
49. Star People - George Michael (That was the last, I swear)
50. So Easy - Royksopp This one comes with a video and a story. I'm putting the video on because ironically Mum may not know what this song is called or who it is by. The story will make sense of that. First, here is the video:

Here is the story:

Sitting one day in my parents living room with my Mother when out of the blue she asks if I can find a song for her.
"Sure," says I, "what is it called?".
"Umm... I don't know," is the reply.
"Ok... who is it by?"
"Umm... I don't know that either."
"It comes from a car advert."
"For what car?"
"Oh. I don't know."
"But it goes 'Oooo ahhh oooo, la la la la la'."
"Uh huh..?"
"Does that help?"

Believe it or not, I then typed into google 'Oooo ahhh oooo, la la la la la'. And found it. Top result on the page and everything. I still can't believe it happened.

So go on Mum, how many did I get?

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Favorite photos of you.

I don't like having my picture taken. So I'm not sure about this 'favourite photos of you' thing. But I have raided my pictures none the less and chosen a few.

I've been told this could be my album cover if I were to ever have such a thing. This was taken while waiting for the ferry to go volunteer at the Iona Community Shop in 2009. We were playing around with our friends fancy camera while we waited.

I like this one because that moment was epic. Sorry Sue.

May I present to you all: Squarah face.

This was such a fun day, and I'm so glad that we got this epic photo out of it. There's an awesome one where Natalie looks just like Calvin and Hobbes as they rocket down a hill. Brilliant.

And that is the Blog Challenge finished! Took longer than 30 days... but I didn't promise anything there. I've got some ideas out of it, but if anyone has any suggestions for interesting lists or things to ponder let me know!

Shuffle on your iPod.

I have to admit to not really looking forward to this one. This could be quite embarrassing. Let's face it, we all have secret music that we like but never admit to. All I ask is this: don't judge me.

1. No Other Way - Paolo Nutini
2. Denis - Blondie (Vacuuming music)
3. The Frog Prince - Keane
4. The Pick of Billy Connelly Side One
5. Sorrowlessfield - Karine Polwart (Beautiful... I recommend you go find this)
6. On TV Commercials - Bob Newhart
7. How Body Dysmorphic Disorder Works - Stuff You Should Know podcast
8. A Pirate Looks At Forty - Jack Johnson
9. Smile Like You Mean It - The Killers
10. Me and a Gun - Tori Amos
11. I Dare You To Move - Switchfoot
12. Ticket To Ride - The Beatles (I do love me some Beatles)
13. Good Enough - Sarah McLachlan
14. How Population Works - Stuff You Should Know podcast
15. Across The Universe - The Beatles
16. If I Could - Jack Johnson
17. Clocks - Coldplay (I did not know I have this)
18. Moments Last Forever - John McCusker/ Kris Drever/ Roddy Woomble
19. Bittersweet Symphony - The Verve
20. Special - Avenue Q Original Cast Recording
21. Song 2 - Blur
22. Crazy In Love - Snow Patrol (Awesome Beyonce cover)
23. When They Ring The Golden Bells - Heidi Talbot
24. Harvester Of Hearts - Rufus Wainwright
25. Nocturne in G Minor - Chopin
26. Patience of Angels - Boo Hewardine (Had to stop to sing along to this one)
27. How Death-Proof Cars Work - Stuff You Should Know podcast
28. Black Horse And The Cherry Tree - KT Tunstall
29. Ning Nang Nong - Spike Milligan
30. All My Loving - The Beatles
31. Let The Cold Wind Blow - Kate Rusby (Necessary depressing Kate Rusby song)
32. Carousel - Honey Thieves
33. If I Ever Lose My Faith In You - Sting (Suddenly remembers music put on here for Mum to listen to on holiday... puts head in hands)
34. Where Is My Mind - Pixies
35. Crazy Little Thing Called Love - Queen
36. Some Tyrant - Kate Rusby
37. Eternal Clerking - Amateur Transplants (Hilarious but outrageously inappropriate)
38. Good Vibrations - The Beach Boys
39. Cast No Shadow - Oasis
40. Right Said Fred - Bernard Cribbins (Dads DIY song...)
41. Wasting Time - Eddi Reader (Can't believe we got to 41 without her!)
42. Tongue That Cannot Lie - Karine Polwart (Haunting and heartbreaking)
43. Sean Maguire's - John McCusker
44. Chiquitita - Abba
45. Didn't Leave Nobody But The Baby - O Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack
46. The Man Who Looked Like Hitler - Bob Newhart
47. Patience of Angels - Boo Hewardine (Again? Shuffle fail)
48. Kiss From A Rose - Seal
49. Strange Boat - The Waterboys
50. Walk Me By The River - David George (So happy Dado made it on!)

So there you have it. I decided 50 was a good number to stop at. Not many really embarrassing ones I think, but you may disagree with that! There's quite a good mix on there too; some folk, classical, comedy, podcasts and some more well known classics. I just couldn't escape that Abba, could I?

Friday, 7 September 2012

Only two brands of clothes you could wear for the rest of your life.

First of all, I need to say that I'm really not a brands and designer labels person. I couldn't care less about that kind of thing. But I will admit there are brands that I like more than others from a design and style point of view.

I have either a great or very bad relationship with H&M. It is great because I cannot walk into one of their shops or visit their website without finding some delicious new thing to wear and to love. It is very bad because this costs money and I don't really need new things. It helps that H&M can often fit into my if-I-can't-buy-it-for-less-than-£10-I-can't-have-it rule. There are very few shops that do.

The other clothing brand I like is a little bit silly... in that it is a supermarket clothing line. I feel a little ashamed by this. I have the same relationship with George at Asda as I do with H&M, and it's for all the same reasons. Also, I have bought some of the most comfortable clothes I've ever had at George. Now, I don't mean people you see at Walmart kind of comfortable. (I do see the irony in what I just said. Asda is part of the Walmart 'family'.) I mean good looking clothes that don't rub in weird places, or cling when you sit down, or hurt your feet every single time.

Ok, here's the part where I don't play by the rules. Even though I've picked two brands they aren't my real choice. Here are my real two:

1. Charity shop clothes.
2. Things I get for Christmas and birthdays.

I would be quite happy with that, even though they aren't strictly brands. I don't really go shopping much, mainly because of my location (but also because of the whole money thing). My nearest Asda is 123.8 miles from me. My nearest H&M is 137.8 miles from me. Both of these distances are by road instead of as the crow flies, but for me going there that's more accurate! So you can see why I may not frequent these places. Island Castaways Charity Shop in Craignure however, 35 miles. Much better. Plus, I am the Charity Shop Queen. I don't know how I do it, but I can find the most amazing things in them. I'm gifted that way. The best bit? They pretty much price everything at £3. Win.

And what brands do I end up picking up most often when I'm there? That's right, H&M and George. Boo yah.

Monday, 3 September 2012

What you've learned in the past year.

After a brief pause to allow me to go and bounce around a big muddy field in the rain laughing so hard it hurts (otherwise known as Greenbelt) I am back ready to finish the blog challenge. Only a couple more posts to do now.

I'm not sure if I've learnt anything huge and life changing this year. If I have it isn't making itself known to me right now! I do recognise, however, that I have learnt a few smaller things.

The first is that the crafty, arty side of me that I've always had as a hobby can actually be more than that. I've really enjoyed having the time and the opportunity to try it out this year as a way to make money for myself. Turns out people want to buy what I make. Crazy. I'm enjoying making things, mostly sitting crochetting away merrily, and I'm relieved to find that I'm not getting bored of making the same things over and over.

This is probably because I do other things at the same time to keep my brain going. I listen to podcasts by which I recommend to everyone ever, or I watch programmes on 4od. I was very pleased to find 173 episodes plus all the specials of Time Team on there which I am making my way through. I've learnt, or perhaps relearnt, that I love to learn. Even more so, I need to learn. I don't think I would be able to sit for long periods of time crafting like I do without feeding my brain something. Interestingly, I get bored of what I'm making quicker if I watch trashy tv shows rather than something a little more intellectually challenging. Although I will admit to putting the crochet down for a minute or so to gape at whatever find they just pulled out of a trench.

On a more practical note I learned how to put air in the tyres of my car. That made me feel a little less like a silly girly type. So, yay for that.

I think what I've noticed this year is that I don't seem to need a lot to be happy. I can be quite content when left to it. My world might look quite small to others looking in on it, but I don't think it is. I'm quite happy on this little island reading my way through a stack of books, crochetting my way through a pile of wool, while filling my head with stories of the great wide world. Don't get me wrong, I would like to see the great wide world first hand. And I'm not denying that I like to buy new shiny things just like anyone else. I'm just recognising that it isn't essential to my happiness. Some things, I guess, are more important.