Tuesday, 27 August 2013

A Book to Read When You're Flathunting

Posted By Daisy
MY CURRENT flatmate isn’t really working out. I haven’t know her for very long but she shares a place in Baron’s Court with three others, and they have a small spare room where I’ve been staying. But after a few weeks of putting up with her annoying habits, I’m tempted to start leaving yellow Post-It’s around the house, in the manner of a true psycho flatmate.

Her issues are many and varied:

·         She often drinks all the milk in the fridge and never replaces it.

·         She gets all the attention when we hit the town together.

·         I’m (admittedly) a bit jealous of her good looks – as my mum said admiringly when she met her: ‘She hasn’t a line or a wrinkle’.

·         She often passes out on her bed after drinking. And not just at weekends, either.

·         Sometimes I hear her vomiting in her en-suite after dinner.

·         She never cleans up after herself – when she’s finished eating, she just leaves the food lying around.

·         Some nights I hear her crying herself to sleep.

·         She starts making a racket every morning at 6:30 a.m.

·         She always has a piece of dried green snot stuck somewhere on her face.

Yup, my baby niece, L, has a lot to answer for. She celebrated her first birthday last week by vomiting up a warm river of chicken and carrot all over my new cream shirt and crying late into the night, before finally falling asleep beside me in my bed. However, when I felt a dimpled baby hand being flung across my face at 4 a.m.,  I had to squash my face into the pillow to stifle my laughter at the damn cuteness of it all.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent every evening trudging around London flatshares with my sister (in whose house I'm currently staying). She has a well-tuned weirdo-radar, which I lack.

Some flats were lovely, others less so. There was the fantastic shared 2-bed in Earl’s Court for £1300 per month. For that price, I’d have to sit in for the rest of the year. And the huge bedroom in a grand 3-bedroom house on Gloucester Road– the only problem was that there was no sitting room and just a microwave in the tiny, smaller-than-a-galley kitchen. The young live-in landlady told me ‘We don’t really see each other at all, but if you want to organise some sort of social get togethers, you could try it'– I pictured myself crying into my solitary macaroni and cheese every night, perched on the edge of my bed, trying not to drip melted cheese on the duvet.
There was a gorgeous en-suite double room at a great price in Earl’s Court, except it was located over a pungent recycling facility. I don’t think I wowed the two girls there anyway, as I got a case of verbal diarrhoea. As we walked back down the stairs to the exit, my sister asked me if I was feeling a bit nervous because I had told them my life story. Drop the Irish gombeen act, she advised, they don’t understand it here. After that, I kept my mouth shut.

Other places were itch-inducing – a filthy top floor flat with falling down wallpaper, a bare duvet flung over the back of the couch, and (incongruously) a pristine Ralph Lauren wearing flatmate.

But the worst was this ad:

‘Looking for someone to share a double bed with me in a one-bed flat in Putney. I could ask for twin beds but it’s doubtful I’ll get them. I have three rats and I also work late. Rent: $650 per month.’

Luckily, I had a second interview with the two (seemingly normal) tenants of a lovely apartment earlier tonight. I wore my heart on my sleeve, made my intentions clear, and asked them were they seeing anyone else. They simply sat on the corduroy couch, smiled non-committedly and told me they’d be in touch. Am I in or out? Fingers crossed – I’m jaded.
Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern
My brother-in-law loves non-fiction and so I’ve been reading lots of his books lately.

Elevator Pitch: This is a read-in-one-afternoon book based on the Twitter account of the same name, started by 28-year-old Halpern when he moved back in with his parents after breaking up with his girlfriend. His fathers' welcoming words are: 'All I ask is that you pick up your shit so you don't leave your bedroom looking like it was used for a gang bang. Also, sorry that your girlfriend dumped you.'
It’s Tuesday’s with Morrie meets South Park.

I love the shouty father, Sam, in the book – he’s so strict with his sons, yet is always trying to make them feel good about themselves.
'THERE’S NO ONE OUT OF YOUR LEAGUE’, he thunders, after one of his sons (who lives at home while working as a dish washer at Hooters) arrives home from a date with former model-turned-doctor, and announces that he thinks she’s too good for him.




Saturday, 10 August 2013

A book to read after you've had an epiphany

Posted by Jenny
I had an epiphany last night. I realized that I had reached a milestone. Daisy and I went out to a lovely wine bar, because she’ll be leaving for London soon. By choice, I hasten to add! She’s taking a year out to do something different. I’m delighted for her, but I’ll miss her terribly….

Anyway. Wine bar! She had some sort of bubbly wine, which name I don’t know how to spell. Not that it matters because they wouldn’t pay me for the advertising if I got the name right. I drank cappuccino. I got a biscuit with it, that I ignored and we ordered a cheese platter. We hadn’t seen each other in a while, so it was lovely to catch up before she takes off.

Daisy doesn’t have kids. I do. So does her sister. This is where my epiphany lies. She was telling me about how her niece and nephew were doing. They’re a good bit smaller than mine and absolutely adorable. (I’ve never met them, but I’ve seen the photos) Incidentally she told me that her sister was due to go back to work and was looking forward to being able to have lunch BREAKS. And it hit me like a ton of bricks!

My hubby and I were recently able to take all three to the cinema without one of us having to leave half way through because number three wouldn’t stop vocalizing her displeasure for being expected to sit for longer than five minutes. Instead she enjoyed the experience!

I realized that I don’t feel like Mumzilla all the time anymore. I still do on occasion, but it is no longer a permanent state of being requiring constant suppression. I no longer blame my husband for him not being the one leaving the hospital with his private parts stitched together.

I am able to sometimes make blue pancakes because it’s fun. I no longer have to rely on Peppa Pig or Scooby Doo to be able to go to the toilet. Mind, I still at times have a screaming three year old trying to break down the door “MUUUUMMMMMYYYYY WHERE ARE YOU!!!!!” (she knows damn well!) My reply: “I’m on the moon.” Silence – a giggle: “No you’re not.” Then she makes a decision “You’re silly.” See! I can think outside the box again!

Conclusion? It gets better. Counting to ten gets easier! I remember realizing for the first time that I hadn’t had an imprint of a little mouth on my skirt in a while. Or that I didn’t have to return home in a panic because I forgot a spare soother.

I went home yesterday feeling a little elated. Although it could have been the two cappuccinos I had.

And on that note, I am not recommending a book. I am recommending a newspaper! I haven’t read a newspaper in a long time. I am going to sit in the living room on the couch. During the day. With a cup of tea. And I am going to make an effort to read the whole thing and finish my cuppa!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

A Book to Read When You Realise that Writing Really is a Muscle

Posted by Daisy
I am a slow writer. Sometimes I would rather stick a needle in my eye than write. I love researching, meeting and interviewing people – it’s the scribing part that I find difficult.

After I broke up with Tall Guy with Glasses in April, I threw myself into work. I accepted every feature commission going, and spent at least twenty hours a week writing (on top of my day job).

However, as the months passed, something strange began to happen. One night, having faffed about all evening as usual – I had a nap, went jogging, ate dinner -  I finally sat down at 9 pm to begin to write a feature for a next day deadline. I fully expected to be bug-eyed at 3 a.m. tap-tapping away on my bed propped up by three pillows.

But two hours later, the piece was finished. Was I getting complacent? Maybe I hadn’t worked hard enough on it? Somehow, it didn’t seem as difficult as before. And my editor seemed to like it.

This began to happen with the next few features too. It simply became easier and faster to churn them out. And their quality was the same as if I’d spent ten hours writing instead of three.

The Revelation: Writing gets easier.

I never thought I’d see the day.

(However, having not written any features for the past few weeks, I’m assuming I’ll return to the 3am-blood-sweat-and-tears method with my next piece.)
'Me and You' by Claudia Carroll
Having spent the past week packing up my apartment, finding dirt that I’d never seen before, handing over the keys to my new tenant and moving back home (it’s actually lovely for the two nights I’ve been here so far – nice dinners every night, and chats with my mum over the papers, mugs of tea, Ready Brek and bananas every morning), I haven’t read anything in a while.

I bought 'Me and You' today and can’t wait to start it. I love Claudia Carroll’s books and recently had a great chat with her over the phone for this blog. However, the notes are now packed up with all the other journalist notebooks from the last six years, in the attic of my old apartment. Clever, huh? Claudia told me hilarious stories about online dating, gave great encouragement for beginning writers, and said she loves living near RTE in Dublin because her actor friends from ‘Fair City’ pop over for lunch whenever they’re free.

‘Me and You’ is about a best friend who vanishes. It looks great. Review to follow.