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Australia

Much to my disgust, I am back from my wonderful month long holiday to Australia. I am gutted. Don’t get me wrong, the UK has some things going for it, like pork pies and Stephen Fry, but I would chop both of those in a heartbeat if it meant we could get our hands on some shark infested waters and a claim to inventing pavlova.

Australia is just wonderful. If you haven’t been, DON’T. Save yourself the heartache you experience on return. Especially if you’re Northern. I’m finding the transition hard enough and I’m from the nice bit of the UK, but YOU guys would be searching for the painkillers and whisky before you’d passed the first sign post to Birmingham.

The reason I was Down Under over Christmas was due to the fact that I have chosen an Australian life partner. So incidentally, has my sister. It seems my mother severely underestimated the effect long term exposure to Neighbours and Craig McClachlan can have on impressionable young girls.

So Sydney was my adopted home for a few blissful weeks where I spent much time observing the natives. Here are some insider Antipodean facts for you:

1)    Australian people don’t see shoes as mandatory, particularly on children. Everywhere you turn there are shoeless kids running around like human veruccas. I even saw GROWN UPS wander round shopping malls sans footwear. Imagine that. The only adult in the UK you see without shoes is Diana Vickers off of the 1987 Xfactor and she only does it because she’s totes a free spirit. These Aussie shoeless souls were definitely NOT free spirits because they were usually drinking slurpees from 7 Eleven.

2)    While shoes aren’t de rigueur in Aus, they do have some other stringent sartorial rules which unfortunately, I learnt the hard way. Imagine my despair when I turned up to a bar in my favourite muscle shirt at 6:03pm and saw the below sign. Until that moment, I didn’t know it was possible for deltoids to do a sad face.

3)    Australia uses jigsaws to lie to their children about animal behaviour. From my experiences gained by watching ‘The Really Wild Show’ I’m almost certain no cat has hatched out of an egg and then embraced two things that are very much below it in the food chain. He may as well have his arms around two zinger burgers.

4)    As you can see below, Aussies like to put sheep placenta on their faces. Placenta. Of a sheep. Needless to say I didn’t buy any. If I wanted to slather my face with something weird and slimey that another mammal has excreted from their body, I’d just motor boat Dr Christian from Embarrassing Bodies.

5)    Sydneysiders like you to admire their bridge, which I think is weird. Essentially, a bridge is just a road on stilts. Sure roads are great; I wouldn’t be where I am without them, but I’ve never been on the M25 and thought to myself ‘That flyover would look ace on Instragram’. But you gota do what you gota do, so below is the obligatory selfy. (I’ve got a picture in front of an brilliant roundabout but I want to stagger releasing such gold into the world.)

I have loads more of these mind boggling facts but writing about Australia just makes me miss it even more. There’s only one thing for it – I’m going to watch Bondi Rescue, stroke my muscle shirt and find the afterbirth of a sheep. Bonza.

First Class

If I had a pound for every time someone’s said “Hurry up and write a blog describing your experience when you recently flew in First Class!”, I’d literally have no pounds. But I would have an Anya Hindmarch toiletry bag that I stole from First Class. Did I mention I flew First Class?

But I’m still one of you though guys! Sure, my toiletry bag is superior to yours, but I’m still normal. What I’m trying to say, is that in my previous life when I had a grown up job and a vague chance of ever getting a mortgage, I flew to places for work and amassed a large amount of air miles. And much like money and bowling shoes, you cannot take air miles with you. So when I had to book a flight to visit absent boyfriend in Russia, I decided to splurge.

I splurged on the face of Economy Class and it’s plastic cutlery. I splurged in the eye of the nominally increased legroom of Premium Economy. And best of all, I splurged long and hard all over the flat bed of Business Class, because when I splurge, I. Do. It. Right.

(…And also because there were no other air mile flights available so I basically had no option. If I’m honest, the splurging was non-consensual.)

So here is the story of how I was made to feel like a movie star. (By that I mean ‘special’, not under sudden pressure to lose two stone and marry Tom Cruise.) I’ll do it in bullet points because lets be honest, the splurging paragraph was painfully laboured:

* I arrived at Heathrow and approached the ‘First’ check-in section so I stopped to take this photo. The man on the right of the photo is telling me to stop taking photos.

* After playing it cool at the check-in desk by saying “ARE THOSE REAL FLOWERS?” (they were), I was fast tracked through security. Never has the bit where the lady in the uniform sweeps her hands along your underwire been more thrilling.

*I then went into the Concorde Lounge for some breakfast. It’s like Giraffe, but for people who matter. Below is my table, complete with a rosemary plant. Special people like fresh herbs with their Special K.

*After spending lots of time putting things in my bag (magazines, biscuits, waiters), it was time to board my plane, where I was greeted by name and asked to turn LEFT. ‘LEFT’ MOTHER HUMPERS!!! And below was my cabin. MY cabin. All to myself. ‘Cos no other bastard was as important as me /stupid enough to waste all their air miles on a four hour flight.

*I settled into my seat and ingratiated myself seamlessly into the First Class experience by asking the stewards insightful questions like “ARE THOSE REAL FLOWERS?” (they were) and taking photos like this.

*This is my area, by which I mean my seat and not my vagina. Those are my FREE slippers (I smell them sometimes).

*Table cloth. That’s all I’m saying.

*After this I was too drunk to take more pictures, so I fell asleep. On my bed. A bed. IN THE SKY. And when I woke up, the air steward had covered me with a FEATHER DUVET. It was like being cuddled by a cloud.

*And then we landed in Moscow and I queued for an hour at immigration because I wasn’t special anymore. Sometimes I wonder what will run out first, the special memories of that special day or the shit load of biscuits I nicked.

My Summer

What a summer! I survived my first ever Edinburgh comedy festival which is no mean feat considering it’s normal up there to say things like ‘This is my fifteenth gig of the day, only two more to go’ and ‘I had an early one last night, was home by 4’.

The festival was brilliant and uplifting but also awful and bone crushingly horrific all at the same time. Very similar to the act of child rearing, I imagine. Just when you think you’ve successfully placated a tantrum in Tesco, the little brat takes its trousers off and shits in the biscuit aisle.

So after a month of no sleep and audiences as fickle as a Natasha Giggs in a room full of men with the surname Giggs, it was only right that I took some time out in the form of a holiday.

So did I jet to Barbados for sun, rum and a passionate but fleeting affair with Michael Winner? Hell no – not after last time.

Maybe Marbella then, to hang out with some of my kinfolk posing on the Essex Riviera? No way – there’s no way I’m wearing a bikini with that fox Nanny Pat around.

No, in fact , I went to a holiday home three miles west of Norwich accompanied by my parents, my sister, my brother in law and my nephlettes. (NB: ‘nephlettes’ is a word I have created to refer to a mixed group of nieces and nephews. I’m pretty pleased with it.)

And the glamour doesn’t stop at the ‘Norwich’ name drop my friends, oh no. Due to the fact that there were seven humans and two bedrooms, the sleeping options were somewhat limited. But as my family love me dearly, they kindly managed to rustle me up a spot. I was informed by my darling sister ‘The baby’s in the living room so the sofa bed’s out of bounds. You’re on the floor in the hall.’

THE HALL. The picture below shows my plush dwellings.

Now I don’t mean to come across like a diva, but even Anne Frank had access to an actual bed. All I had was access to the post when it landed on my face. And on that point, IT’S A HOLIDAY HOME, THERE SHOULDN’T BE ANY POST.

I never did decide what was the best bit of bedding down there; was it sleeping underneath a curtain of coats or maybe the exciting threat of giving myself concussion on the radiator during every nocturnal duvet readjustment? Gosh it’s just like a holiday version of Sophie’s Choice.

But all in all, I had a wonderful time with my family. The memories of the holiday will live long in my heart. Maybe even longer than it takes for the scabs from my ‘Welcome’ mat inflicted facial carpet burns to heal.

Restaurant Amnesia

I went for dinner at a restaurant last night, something I have done countless times.

I am fully aware of the process involved; I choose from the menu, I tell the waiter my choice, the waiter brings it to me, I eat it. This procedure has always, and will always be the same. So why then is the whole process so often such a shambolic experience?

It’s all downhill from when the waiter asks ‘Are you ready to order?’. So often at this point, I am genuinely taken a back.

‘How strange. A little man with a notebook has crept up on me and is asking what I’d like to eat. This has caught me most unprepared’ I think.

In reality, of course I am ready to order. I also know that everyone else at my table is ready, seeing as I’ve just spent seven minutes discussing the merits of getting a pizza over a pasta (the fail safe reasoning ‘But you can make pasta yourself at home, you can’t with a pizza…’ will undoubtedly have been used.)

Yet suddenly, in front of the man with the notepad, it seems confusing and rather presumptuous for me to jump in and answer for everyone else. Cue frantic mutterings around the table of ‘Are you ready…? I’m ready, but are you ready?’. Then as these mumblings begin to crescendo, someone in the group feels compelled to take charge. They grab hold of the situation by boldly and solemnly declaring that ‘Yes…we are ready,’

That person is now The Leader of your indecisive dining quiz team. If this were University Challenge, they’d sit second from the right. They shall forever more (until you pay the bill) be your spokesperson.

But then there comes the minefield of ordering. The quiet chaos continues. Who goes when? Who orders what if you’ve decided to pair up and go half-and-half? And who, in a pure state of bewilderment, will unleash the most desperate diner plea of all; ‘I still don’t know what I want… I’ll go last’?

Once again it’s down to The Leader to bring things into line. They do this by decreeing who shall be the first to place their order, by saying a name in a questionning tone.

For example: ‘Gemma?’

And so, as they go round the table, like a teacher with a register, it is ensured that all this wayward group shall eat tonight. The Leader is a hero.

All that leaves is the tricky ‘water’ conversation to be negotiated. It’s up to The Leader to specify that you’d like tap water rather than bottled water, but in a way that suggests a communal environmental conscious as opposed to sheer cheapness. Once this is done, you can all breathe easy until the food arrives.

But by then, at least 40% of your group will have forgotten what they ordered, which rises steadily to over 85% if you are in a restaurant which uses a foreign language.

‘Pizza fiorentina?’ barks the nice man holding the giant plates.

Once again his sudden appearance creates confusion. The blank faces around the table suggest that being presented with food in a restaurant is the last thing that was expected to happen. And so begin the discussions of who the fiorentina belongs to.

Whose is the fiorentina? What is a fiorentina? Is it a flower? Where are we? What was the question?

If Alzheimer diagnoses were based on menu choice recall, it would suggest that there are many young dementia sufferers amongst us. But don’t worry. The Leader will rectify the situation by embarking upon a spectacular directorial performance.

‘Right, the fiorentina has got an egg on it. Who ordered the pizza with an egg on it? Liz? That was you. And Sam and Matt, that’s your spaghetti with and pizza to share. Juliet, you’re back on Weight Watchers, that’s got to be your salad…’

Before long, everyone will be tucking in happily. You have nearly made it through the whole evening. But there is still the last remaining hurdle. The biggest of all.

The splitting of the bill.

When it arrives, the little silver tray is passed around like a crap game of pass-the-parcel. But instead of music cueing the stops, its journey only ends when The Leader pulls out their phone and opens the calculator app. (Along with losing memory skills in a restaurant, it’s also mandatory for people to loose all sense of basic maths. Even The Leader can’t be expected to calculate 12.5%.)

After eight separate card transactions (no one ever remembers to bring cash) and the printing of sixteen bits of paper, all that’s left is for one or two people to quietly whinge to no one in particular because they paid the same as Gemma who had a steak, and then the whole experience is complete.

The Leader leaves content, happy in the knowledge that when needed to, they stood up and were counted.

Everyone else leaves thinking,

‘What is Dave’s problem? Bossy prick.’

ELLIE ENTERS BRICKGATE

We’ve all read the Samantha Brick article by now. The one where the Daily Mail writer explains how life is terrible for her because she is bone crushingly reallyreallygoodlooking and has therefore suffered awfully throughout her beautiful yet tragic existence. I believe as things stand, total reads of the offending article online have hit over twentyseventyfiftytwomillion. Approx.

Some people say that we shouldn’t fan the flames of this whole debacle, because it’s obviously just one of the below:
1) A ploy by the Mail to drive up the price of their online ad space.
2) A deliberately provocative piece written by a journo who fancies being interviewed by Schofe on This Morning.
3) The work of a genetic hybrid created in a lab out of pearls and Hobbs casual-blazers by Jan Moir in order to offer a new Mail hate figure to the UK.

Whatever the true aim of the article, what has gotten my goat about it all is how some people have written off the whole backlash against Samantha Brick as simply ‘women being bitches’.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I know ‘bitch’.

I have laughed at dodge haircuts. I have pointed at bad shoes. I have called my sister’s engagement ring ‘sweet’.

Like I said, I know my ‘bitch’.

But me thinking that a person (who writes about how they cannot wait for old age to come and gobble them up into invisibility so they can at last gain some respite from the bottles of champers incessantly being sent to their table) IS A BIT OF A TIT, is not bitchiness.

In this case, it is good, solid fact.

Me thinking she’s a tit, is not me-as-a-woman, bitching about her because-she-is-another-woman.

Me thinking she’s a tit is me recognising that there are some people in the world who should think before they write articles in national newspapers where they come across as a BIT OF A TIT.

My distaste for her conceit and the resultant sympathy she bizarrely tries to elicit has nothing to do with both of us having ovaries and everything to do with her being a PERSON who is A TIT.

It isn’t hard to imagine that the reason she hasn’t ever been asked to be someone’s bridesmaid is nothing to do with the jealously and fear that she suggests her friends bitchily harbour against her, but rather because her friends, like 95% of everyone else, also think, that as an actual HUMAN, Samantha Brick is A BIT OF A TIT.

She is a woman yes. But first and foremost she is a tit. And this, THIS my friends is why she is being picked apart. So you can take your lazy dismissal of ‘bitchiness’ and shove them up your bum.

Unless of course you are so blinded by my own crippling beguiling cotequettishness that you fancy buying me my train ticket, cos if that’s the case you can call me what you want. Those travelcard badboys are priecccccey.

ps- sorry for the overuse of CAPS LOCK and the word ‘tit’.
Tit.

My Week

I’ve started filming ‘Snog Marry Avoid?’! Hurrah! I’m having a hoot!

It means I’ve spent a fair bit of time lately meeting the brave folk of Britain who want to challenge POD for a ‘makeunder’. They have, without exception, been great fun to chat with, but as you can imagine if you’ve watched the show before (i.e., ALL OF YOU) pre-overhaul, 90% of them look like they’ve rolled around in furniture varnish before jumping into a well of glitter (in a manor very similar to preparing a breaded chicken escalope).

For the palest Essex girl this side of Romford, this has been somewhat of an education.

It’s actually proved a little shocking to me how so many of these girls and guys seem to be dependent on their tan and eyelashes etc to make them feel presentable and then in turn, actually able to leave the house. It’s become a pattern that some of them just can’t seem to break out of, so I’ve been intrigued to catch up with them all to see for myself if they have been able to keep their new, more natural look.

When they have, and they tell me how the experience has impacted positively on their life (and the colour of their towels and bed sheets) I have been genuinely chuffed.

Gosh, that was serious wasn’t it. Sorry. Quick, I’ll lighten the mood. TITS. WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH TITS, HEY?

The production team I’m working with are super good craic and I’m learning lots about telly. Like, the sound-man has told me that if ever I need to mic up people doing nude ice-skating, just whack the mic pack in their hair. You couldn’t BUY that sort of knowledge.

With all the travelling I’m doing for the show, I’m also learning how to make myself feel at home in hotel rooms very quickly. This is achieved by losing my eyelash curlers immediately and drinking tea while listening to Dolly Parton on Spotify.

I have also started rating hotel rooms on how luxurious I deem they are. I’m thinking of setting up an accommodation guide to rival the AA’s. Although I think I need to raise my 5* rating requirements as so far I only have ‘Must offer a shower cap and room service staff who don’t judge harshly when they deliver a guests starter and main course, that is actually, two puddings.’

Home is where the Arrested Development/Heart is…

On Saturday night I spent the evening at a friend’s house gossiping about boys, eating takeaway pizza and watching Take Me Out. At 1030pm, my dad picked me up in the car and asked if I’d had a nice time.

It was at this point that I realised I appear to have stolen the life of a 14 year-old girl. I imagined that somewhere in the country at that very minute, a very confused teenager must be in the midst of an ironic game of table tennis in a overpriced bar in East London, as someone called JJ asks her how much of a dent she’s made in her student loan repayments.

This game of Freaky Friday has happened because I have moved back into my childhood home. I’ve been there since Christmas because my partner decided that our relationship was clearly going so well, that the only option he had was to take things to the next level. No not by proposing, but by moving to Russia. ALONE. Such larks.

But as one of my friends said to me, ‘Russia? A land full of predatory prostitutes and limitless vodka; what could go wrong?’.

So out of the nice flat in London and back to the mother ship I have come. It’s weird timing, what with me diving into the comedy world. On one hand it’s a terribly exciting bit of my life, full of potential work projects and tantalising grown-up meetings, then on the other hand, rarely has a day passed in 2012 where I haven’t heard ‘ELEANOR. Small bowls go in the BOTTOM of the dishwasher.’

In fact, I have learnt that the dishwasher is a crucial part of family life in a way I hadn’t appreciated before I left home. After a thorough scientific study, I have learnt that my mother’s mood is directly proportional to how loudly she unloads the crockery from the depths of its wiry skeleton.

Two or three bangs of china on china: proceed with caution but so long as you don’t interrupt The Archers, you should be OK.

Four bangs or more: RED ALERT. YOU SHALL NOT PASS. DISASTER HAS OCCURED (90% of the time, the disaster is Sky Plus related. Incomplete recordings of shows about fat people, or shows about dancing prove to be the most disastrous. If it’s deleted something about fat-people-dancing , RUN LIKE THE FRICKING WIND).

So it’s taking some getting used to. Not because my parents are anything other than wonderful housemates (Sky Plus dependent of course) but basically, because it’s not normal for 28 year-old people to live with their mum and dad. Unless you are an Italian man. And I am definitely not an Italian man, because I hate both olives AND infidelity.

So here I am, a grown woman trying to work out exactly what I want from life all in this strange domestic setting of arrested development. But I have promised myself that I will not let this odd happenstance affect my progression through life. No, I will strive forward to independence, soldiering a path on my own two feet towards a future full of fulfillment and success! I AM WOMAN. HEAR ME ROAR.

…But not right now, ‘cos Dad’s just said dinner’s ready.

Driving Myself Mad (again, such a clever title)

Since 2002 I have done many, many things. I have graduated university. I have lived in eight houses. I have tried Yorkshire pudding with golden syrup. But what I haven’t done in that time however, is drive on a motorway.

‘Wow Ellie, you must be a hoot at dinner parties with interesting nuggets like that,’ you may be thinking. But, with all due respect dear reader, up yours. Cos a comic never driving on a motorway, is like a new member of a university rugby team never having to put a cherry up his arse and run naked through campus, yelling ‘I’VE PUT A CHERRY UP MY ARSE!’ It is a necessary right of passage.

Read any life-story of any comic and they’ll mention late night drives back from a gig in Hull via their favourite Little Chef on the A1, or how the Watford Gap Services South Bound have really improved over the last few years.

So due to a combination of a lack of motoring anecdotes in my autobiography (working title ‘No, I’m not Steve Tyler, I Just Have Big Lips’) and also because I now live in the silly suburbs, I had no option on Wednesday but to motorway it for the first time in ten years . No more trains for me. No, the only way I was undertaking this perilous journey through country riddled with savages, namely, Rochester, Kent, was by car.

To prepare, first, I created a mental list entitled ‘How I will attack this journey head-on’. But ‘head-on’ seemed like an unfortunate choice of words, so I changed it to ‘How I will get to Kent without causing death/ grievous harm/the voiding of my parents car insurance’.

The list was as follows:

1. Buy sat nav
2. Drive awesomely to Kent and back

The reality was more like this:
1. Buy sat nav.
2. Change sat nav voice to an Irish man called ‘Daniel’ who sounds like he has good geography but also twinkly eyes.
3. Plug in destination and watch demo of journey .
4. Start panicking when Daniel says I have to go over a big bridge.
5. Turn panic into crying when Daniel mentions entering a tunnel .
6. Shout loudly (using a niche child’s song reference) ‘I just want to go on normal roads! Why do I have to go over things and under things? What is this? A FRICKING BEAR HUNT?’
7. Realise I have to leave immediately to get to gig in time.
8. Tell mum I love her. Get in car.
9. Pull onto M25 with heart pounding at a rate only previously experienced during the climax of the ‘The Cube’ McFly special.
10. Notice I have been driving for 20 minutes and haven’t died.
11. Relax and find myself overtaking a lorry and saying ‘Well, hello fifth gear!’.
12. Realise I am a bellend.
13. Get to gig and tell everyone about my accomplishment.
14. Realise no one cares, so do gig, drive home and write a blog about my adventure in the hope that in written form, it will be more impressive.
15. Realise ‘Driving to Kent’ probably isn’t going to fill up a chapter in my autobiography.
16. Put sat nav in cupboard and book train tickets.
17. Think about how much I’ll miss Daniel’s voice telling me to ‘Perform a u-turn when possible’.

Getting a lot of Flack

Well everyone’s having a right go at Caroline Flack, aren’t they? All cos she’s 32 and doing rudies with 17 year-old Harry from One Direction. Assuming of course, that they really are doing rudies and Harry didn’t just stay at her house so she could sign the consent forms for his paint-balling weekend with JLS.

But let’s go with what the cynical press are saying, that she is in fact, tapping someone so young that he will have no recollection of when Ant & Dec were rapstars or what it was like to use a landline.

People are saying ‘She’s a ruthless predator, praying on an innocent young boy-band member. Imagine if Dermot O’Leary was having pajama parties with Cher Lloyd. We wouldn’t be so accepting then would we?’ And I would say to that:

1. There is no such thing as an ‘innocent boy-band member’. We all made that mistake with Mark Owen. Never again.
2. As if Cher Lloyd wears pyjamas. She sleeps in a light gauze made entirely of dry shampoo and mascara.

I wonder  if all the tutting about this fling has anything to do with the fact that Caroline Flack is undeniably hot, and the usual stories where one party is older than the other, tend to involve reasonably unattractive old blokes with a pretty young girls. For example:

1. Jay-Z and Beyonce
2. Charles and Diana
3. Hugh Hefner and anyone he’s ever dated

Yeh. Evidence both exhaustive and damning.

In my opinion this blossoming relationship between Cazza and Hazza may be a little unconventional, but in the grand scheme of X Factor related weirdness, there have been far weirder stories. It’s no worse than ‘MP and a Cheeky Girl’ for instance, or ‘Sinitta’.

I reckon that so long as both parties in this controversial liaison are happy, consenting and not being taken advantage of, then let them carry on with their late night Xbox and soggy biscuit sessions. It’s nothing on the 85 year-old Duchess Alba (below) who recently married her lover, 25 years her junior.

Some people say the Duchess’ fella only married her for the money but I would say, ‘Look how voluminous her hair is! He simply loves an older lady!’. After all, I hear Harry really digs Caroline for her dip-dye locks. That and the cheap over 30’s car insurance she can get.

(Pass)Worts and all (…once you read the post you’ll realise how clever that title is)

This week sees the end of an important chapter in my life. As one passport runs out, it’s time to apply for a new one. (This isn’t a shite metaphor by the way, it’s what I plan to write about.)

This particular passport (yeh, seriously) has been part of my life since I was 17. It’s seen the inside of hotel safes on some of my seminal trips abroad.

From the obligatory post-A-level adventure to Kavos/Magaluf/Malia (delete as appropriate. I would personally recommend deleting all three from the face of the earth), to my gap-yah that was two months slumming-it in such third world locations such as Las Vegas. (The slave labour problem there really opened my eyes to the plight of others – I heard the tale of a woman who had been locked in a fake amphitheatre for over four years. Celine something.)

Then there was my transition to grown-up-executive-lady where Mr. Passport allowed me to leave on my inaugural business trip, where, clipboard in-hand I learnt all about corporate hospitality (it requires surprisingly few morals and an ability to drink an amount of alcohol that Judy Finnegan would think excessive).

I’ve been on family holidays with it, romantic mini-breaks with it and have used it to prove that despite speaking like Helena Bonham Carter (what), that yes, I really was born in Bas Vegas (the hospital, not the Festival Leisure Park).

And so I wish my passport a fond farewell and thank it for the memories and all that international border crossing.

HOWEVER, what I won’t miss about it, is the absolute ABOMINATION that is the photo of my face that has also travelled around with me for 10 years, which I put before you in the spirit of transparency (and proof of birth location):

I have blocked out my details because I think it’s what Dominic Littlewood would advise

Some have said I look like a crystal meth advocate.

Some have said I look like a night walker after a heavy one.

Others have just said, ‘OH MY GOD ,WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR FACE?’.

And I would say that all three are valid. The scariest thing about this picture is that I obviously looked at this photo at the time and thought ‘Wow, what a nice snap. I’d love to use this to represent myself for the next decade’.

Tyra Banks famously once got a modelling job from her passport picture alone. The only thing I have gotten from mine is a guaranteed guffaw every time I go through passport control. And the name of a reliable dealer.

Hello Late Twenties, Goodbye Yoof

Today I went for an unprecedented lunchtime trip to Wagamama. Yaki Soba at LUNCHTIME. It’s crazy, it’s maverick, it’s like cleaning the bathroom and THEN having shower.

The reason for such frivolity is due to it being my birthday week. But as I have decided to organise no actual festivities, friends are resorting to taking me for daytime noodles in order to bid farewell to my mid twenties.

For it’s true. As of 4th November, I lose all chance of ever joining the cool ‘27 Club’ that people always bang on about. As of Friday, I will indisputably be in my late twenties. Not that I really want to join the ‘27 Club’ anyway. It’s a bit snobby as far as I can tell, what with the mandatory death and stuff. I bet it hasn’t even got a pool. Shoreditch House has a pool.

So 28 here I come. I am telling everyone I am quite excited about it. I think I actually am. It means I have a handle on what exactly I want from life and the time frame that I will achieve it within. In a day-to-day sense this means that I now know for sure that…

*I will definitely never like white wine because it tastes of poo and headache

*I will never have really neat handwriting unlike my friend Liz whose current money making scheme is to sell her perfect script to Microsoft as a new font.

*I will never be the hot 27-year-old that Gary Barlow falls head over heels for because she can do a shit hot harmony to ‘A Million Love Songs’.

I think that list is extensive enough to make my point. I am older, wiser and exceptional at ‘Take That’ Singstar.

So bring it on, age 28, for if you are as interesting as age 27, the year I learned how to make poached eggs (you break an egg into BOILING WATER) then holy shit people, strap on in for the ride of your life.

Chirpy Musings from a Scottish Graveyard

I am writing this whilst on a train back from Dumfries in Scotland. I have about three and a half hours left to go and am rationing my supplies. I’m like a Chilean miner. “Two Kit Kat fingers down, two to go,” as Jose famously said.

Dumfries was  nice. It’s where Robert Burns the famous Scottish poet lived. I had some free time so after hitting all the major tourist attractions like River Island and Londis,  I checked out some of the more obscure ones like Burns’ grave, cos that’s what you do to deceased famous people, you stare at their burial plot. I once heard of someone’s elderly mother who was making an exceptional trip down to visit her daughter in London, on the proviso that they could go and visit the graveyard where Jade Goody is buried because “she likes a celebrity grave”.

Whilst in the graveyard I noticed that in the 16th and 17th Century  gravestones were massive. Some were the size of single beds, others were approaching proportions of an Ikea King complete with headboard. Clearly it was a status thing. I can only compare it to today’s society where the amount of gadgets you own by Apple are directly proportional to how important you are. (On this note, I am typing this on my massive laptop that looks like something from The Early Learning Centre. I fully expect it to start playing ‘Pop Goes the Weasel’ whenever I turn it on. I have however stuck an Apple logo over the Acer sign on the cover to make people think I am cooler. This only works if the people are at least 20-feet away or have poor vision though.)

But back to the churchyard, where I also noticed how gravestones in the olden days used to feature people’s occupations. This means there are engravings that began ‘Here lies, Gabriel Richardson, Brewer for the town’ and ‘Robert McCracken, Collector of Excise for Dumfries’. I think we should bring back that custom. I like the idea of my grandkids wandering around graveyards in the future seeing headstones that read ‘Here lies Peter Hills, Digital Marketing Manager specialising in Search Engine Optimisation’ or ‘Janet Biggs, She Did Something To Do with Auditing’.

There were also a lot of headstones that featured the graves of whole families, many of whom included numerous children. There was one that particularly struck me which was from 1804 that featured a mother, a father, two teenage sons lost at sea, and then a line that said ‘And their other children John, Elizabeth, John, Elizabeth and John who all did in infancy’.  Now I know kids died a lot in those days, but I didn’t realise it was cool to use the same names over and over again like you do with hamsters. Unless the man who engraved the stone got his chisel stuck on repeat.

Anyway, I found Robert Burn’s mausoleum. There was a sign outside saying that when they interred the body of his wife in there with him after he’d been dead a long while, they used this ‘opportunity’ to take a cast of his skull. Now, I’d argue that his cannon of work appreciated the world over was probably legacy enough but hey, if you think seeing a mould of the famous poet’s  skull will help you enjoy Auld Lang Syne that little bit more, then Dumfries has it covered.

So that’s the end of this macabre post. Well it is near Halloween after all. BOO! Totes scary, right?

Ok,  time to sacrifice my last two Kit Kat fingers to the alter of luke-warm tea as I plunge into some great literature. By that, I mean, I’m about to watch ‘Avatar’.

‘8 out of 10 Cats’ like free jellybeans

On Wednesday, for the first time in my whole 22 years of life (why are you laughing?) I wangled my way into the BBC Centre in London. It was just how I’d imagined it would be, although I was sad not to see any of those hippos swimming in a circle. Maybe they were rehearsing for Strictly.

Because the Beeb hire out their studios, I wasn’t actually filming anything for Auntie but instead the Channel 4 show ‘8 out of 10 Cats’. It’s safe to say it was *quite* an exciting day for me. In fact, if you re-watch Wednesday’s ‘The One Show’ on iPlayer and listen very carefully at about three minutes 43 seconds in, you’ll clearly hear when I arrive in the building as there is a faint squeal followed by,

‘OH MY GODDDDD! THIS DRESSING ROOM’S MASSIVE! ARE THOSE PACKETS OF JELLYBEANS FOR ME? ALL FIVE OF THEM? AND THE COAT HANGER IS MINE TOO? BUT IT’S NOT EVEN A WIRE ONE!’

My dressing room. As you can see, it was big and had interesting cushions on the sofa. Sadly the coat hanger is out of shot .

My room was next door to one of the other guest panellists who was the lovely Irish comic David O’Doherty. I am a big fan of his because I saw a show of his in Edinburgh where he made some delightful observations about penguins whilst sporting a cracking beard. So I told him these thoughts, and then in the interest of fairness he let me see his dressing room. He had a table and chairs which I didn’t have, but I didn’t mind. He still had the beard so I figured he deserved something extra. Plus, I was still riding high on the wooden coat hanger euphoria.

And then after a quick dab of make-up and hair faffing I was walking into studio six with Jimmy Carr, Jon Richardson, Sean Locke, Craig Revel Horwood and Rick Edwards in front of a massive audience most of whom were disappointed that I wasn’t Sarah Millican. And before I knew it, the jokes had been told, the goading of Revel Horwood had been done and it was all over.

Once stripped of microphone I went straight to the green room for some swift wine and roasted cashew quaffage to debrief with Team Taylor. The consensus was that my eye make-up didn’t look ‘too’ tranny and that all in all, it had been a great show. How much of that was down to Craig Revel Horwood wearing the tiniest bowtie in the world remains to be seen.

So in summary watch Friday 7 October, Channel 4 at 1030pm. Or on 4od if you are reading this in the future. Or if you can’t be arsed, just accept my word for it that I was terribly pilthy and humorous.

Ps- before you ask- no I didn’t nick the coat hanger… because I was far too busy consolidating my efforts of clearing out the mini-fridge. My balcony pots of lemon thyme are rejoicing in their daily Evian dousing.

Hands Free Wee

Over the last week, two of my friends have sent me Facebook messages saying that they have accidentally dropped their phones into toilets and need my phone number again.

Now, I think that begs the question, why are so many people conducting phone-based activities on the toilet? Are we, as a society, that short of time that the only possible window of opportunity to text your mum or take photos on Fat Booth comes whilst toileting? (I like creating new verbs.)

Or is it just clinginess where by we can’t be without our phones for one-three minutes (any longer, see a medical profesh) in case that hottie from The Walkabout rings?

If that is indeed the case, just relax… he isn’t going to ring when you’re in the loo, you big mental…. because in most cases, he isn’t going to ring AT ALL. Tough love. (Hands up who just watched ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’? Yeh, that’s right, I have a DVD player)

I think it’s all unnecessary. There is no need for all these tragic and slightly gross phone drownings. I have never for instance, taken a sandwich into the bathroom and for that reason, have never once lost a sandwich to the u-bend.

The only thing that should go into a toilet cubicle with you is a bladder/colon at maximum capacity. And perhaps a copy of the Reader’s Digest if you need some company. And maybe a nice young man if you are George Michael. Or a nice young lady if you are Boris Becker. (Or was that a cupboard?) Or maybe a security guard if you are in the vicinity of Cheryl Cole.

And with those achingly topical references, I shall leave you… *inserts Bluetooth earpiece and wanders towards the WC*

That was the week that was…

I’ve had a lovely few days. I’ve played some fantastic gigs, got to wear pretend glasses on Channel 5 AND discovered a new type of cereal fronted by the Honey Monster. I can’t remember a more thrilling week since that time back in 1992 where I met John Leslie at the Royal Tournament whilst abseiling in my Girls Brigade uniform.**

My recent gigs have ranged from a smart corporate one where the audience were called thing like Socrates (seriously), one in trendy East London where heckles of ‘Where’s Paul Daniels?’ were as strange as their choice of satirical footwear, and then there was a swanky one in a private members club where I got very drunk and shouted loudly into the ear of someone who looked like Jon Culshaw, ‘You look like Jon Culshaw’, only to find out that it was Jon Culshaw.

Then I was on Big Brother’s Bit on the Side on Channel 5 which was dead swanksville because I got a lift there in a Prius and then got to hang out in a ‘green room’. Green rooms are ace ‘cos they are filled with free stuff you are allowed to have loads of. This one for instance, had Twiglets, Diet Coke and Vanessa Feltz’s boyfriend. I don’t think Vanessa Feltz’s boyfriend is a permanent fixture but the snacks and Coke are. Actually, I may start demanding Vanessa Feltz’s boyfriend to be a staple on my green room demands list, like what Mariah Carey does with pink kittens.

Me on BBBOTS adhering to the 'school' theme. Freckles were added by my own fair hand using a biro (which may have belonged to Vanessa Feltz's boyfriend)

After the excitement of the free Twiglets I thought it was only fair that I go and visit my parents in Essex to make sure I stay grounded. I did this by watching Downton Abbey and eating some phenomenal apple crumble whilst Mum told me not to get crumbs on the sofa and dad fell asleep in the ubiquitous ‘Dad chair’ which is basically my idea of contentment.

I also played with my little nephew who has just started doing animal noises. It’s literally the best thing he’s done aside from being born. My favourite is either ‘oink oink’ for a pig (he really commits to this one) or ‘raaar’ for a lion (which he does in an eerily quiet manner- very advanced). He also does one for ‘zebra’ but I think that’s just his parents taking the piss.

**true story and a contender for the name of my autobiography.