The Day I Met Miss Aimee…

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Reef Bags

I met Aimee on the same day that I first saw Orbital (well, in reality, or some other reality, we had actually met at a house party some time before, but the less I mention about that, the better.).

It was supposed to be Orbital’s last ever gig, then they were playing at Oxygen the next day and then they played a gig in London, so it turned out to be their third “last ever gig”. Having been a fan of theirs, I was a happy chappy at the fact I would see them before they split up. Well, they’re brothers so I guess not split up, just stop making music together.

When I met Aimee, it was the Sunday of T in the Park, and I had enjoyed my Saturday with several of my friends, including Chet, Pete the Hat, John Petrie, Paul “Mr Festival”, among others. My flatmate, who I had went along with had buggered off with her then boyfriend and I ended up spending the Saturday night in the tent alone, miserable and a tiny bit scared for my life – T in the Park can be terrifying if you don’t have someone to tell you that the nutters next door aren’t going to set fire to your tent with you inside it. Of course, when you DO have that friend, nothing matters and you would actually encourage some arson, all in the name of fun! So the Sunday morning I woke up from my limited sleep and stumbled around until I found myself at the main stage watching Goldie Looking Chain. Good gig. Apparently one of the members had got in a fight the night before with some T bams and broke his leg, but he seemed to enjoy the performance, no doubt helped along with a lot of prescribed, and probably non-prescribed, medication. (Incidentally, as one of only around 30 people who were up and about and watching this gig on the Sunday morning, I later found out that Gary, my husband-to-be and partner in crime was also standing watching them, no more than about 10 metres from me. We never knew each other existed then…).

So, Sunday. I was feeling a bit worse for wear, abandoned by my flatmate, and kind of wanted to just go home. The thing about festivals is, and it’s something I’ve always had a bit of anxiety about, is that once you are there for the weekend, you can’t really go home early, without much fuss. I would have had to find my flatmate, explain to her I was leaving, take my things from the tent, try get a bus home, she probably had my keys… a lot of effort for a festival that I had spent a lot of money getting to). So, luckily I bumped into said flatmate, who, obviously wanting to continue her adventures with her boyfriend without me, took me to where his friends were, quickly introduced me to them and swiftly left.
I was 19 years old, Aimee was 21 and lying on the grass looking cool as a cat. Sunglasses, check, big chunky trainers, check, stripy socks, check, BIG red dreadlocks, CHECK, smile, CHECK. ¬†I won’t go into the conversation that we had, but within about four or five minutes we had declared ourselves BEST FRIENDS. It’s funny how people click when they are into the same debauched games as each other…… ūüôā My hangover was gone, my misery gone, I was introduced to Kevin and Kidman, who I thought were a duo called Kev and Kev-man (for about three weeks). The four of us decided to go for a bounce to Orbital, but when we got there the tent was closed off because too many people were already there (inbetween I think we saw Franz Ferdinand and Scissor Sisters, but we were preoccupied with things that will remain unknown to notice much). Orbital was CLOSED OFF! F*CK THAT! And so, in order for us to see the mighty Hartnoll brothers, the four of us mustered up some energy and ran straight for the barriers and jumped over, pushing our way through the dense crowd (dense in both manners of the word, in a lot of cases – these were propaaaa ravers maaan!) and into the middle, where we were washed with some of the most beautiful electronica and techno known to man. IT WAS GLORIOUS! We never spoke a word to each other during the gig, just danced like nutters.

Walking out, there was a massive queue for Snow Patrol, and as smug as could be, we shouted some techno abuse at the hundreds of waiting yawners, and walked to see Massive Attack.

WHAT A DAY!  That was coming up seven years ago now. Aimee now lives in Japan with her baby girl, Anna and her boyfriend Kaz and I live with Gary, in Glasgow.  Orbital got back together two years ago.

They never even really split up.

Tomorrow tickets go on sale for their gig at the Glasgow ABC, and I will be going to see them for my fifth time on April 7th, three days before – my brother and his wife are due to have their baby! (More on THAT another time). Orbital remind me of happiness. That is just one of the few stories I have about them, and it’s quite a pivotal moment for me, as it shaped who I am now, gave me the life and friends I have now and soundtracked a LOT of great moments.

Thanks Phil and Paul! Thanks LOADS!

xxx

 

P .S Just in case anyone is wondering, the person who my flat-mate deserted me for was Graeme Park, the handsome cowboy who, at that point, some people – not including myself – thought looked like Stuart from Big Brother. My flatmate looked like Michelle from BB. GP is a handsome devil, and without his silly and in retrospect, his funny love affair, none of this would have happened. Mon the fish.

Excerpt from “Lunar Park” by B. E. Ellis.

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The following words are not my own. I have paraphrased slightly from the original paragraph that can be found in the book “Lunar Park” by Bret Easton Ellis (changing the tense in the original words to current as opposed to past). ¬†I wanted to post them because I found them particularly significant to the world today, and also because I love the book a great deal and thought that maybe one or two people might decide to read it also after reading this excerpt.

“The newspapers keep stroking my fear. ¬†New surveys provide awful statistics on just about everything. ¬†Evidence suggests we are not doing well, ¬†Researchers gloomily agree. ¬†Environmental¬†psychologists¬†are interviewed. Damage has “unwittingly” been done” There are “feared lapses”. ¬†There are “misconceptions” about potential. ¬†Situations have “deteriorated” ¬†Cruelty is on the rise and there is nothing anyone can do about it. ¬†The¬†populace¬†is confounded, yet don’t care. ¬†Unpublished studies hint that we are all paying a price. ¬†Scientists peer into data and conclude that we all should be very worried. ¬†No one knows what normal behaviour is anymore, and some argue that this is a form of virtue. ¬†No one argues back. ¬†No one challenges anything. ¬†Anxiety soaks up most of peoples’ days. ¬†Everyone has become preoccupied with horror. ¬†Madness is fluttering everywhere. ¬†There is fifty years of research to support this data. ¬†There are diagrams illustrating all of these problems – circles and hexagons and squares, different sections coloured lime or lilac or grey. ¬†Most troubling is the fleeting signs that nothing can transform any of this into something positive. ¬†You can’t help being both afraid and fascinated. ¬†Reading these¬†articles¬†makes you feel that the survival of man doesn’t seem very important in the long run. ¬†We are doomed.” ¬†[pages 81-82, Picador 2005]

Although written in the style of an autiobiography of his own life, Bret Easton Ellis switches from reality of his own childhood, and starting out as a very young and outrageously successful author, to a fictional murder mystery, in which his most well known book “American Psycho” becomes the inspiration behind a real life psycho-killer, who seeks out people with the same names and lifestyles as the characters in his novel and kills them. ¬†It seems his words are coming true, and he is unable to stop them from doing so. ¬† At the same time, he writes as though these events are a true fact of his life, whereas they are entirely fictional. ¬†Ellis seems to fear reality in the book, preferring to drink and indulge in copious amounts of cocaine and prescription drugs, and although at the beginning of the book he tries very hard (or maybe not so hard as he pretends to himself) to become a good father and husband to the mother of his two children, he is unsuccessful in his mission and, as demonstrated in the paragraph above, becomes paranoid and very weary of the world around him.

Is it his own failings and laziness that draw him to the conclusion that we are all doomed, or is his own self destruction a result in the world around him almost definitely coming to a disastrous end, and he is merely just reacting to this? 

Is the world doomed?

Does it suit him if it is, indeed, doomed? Perhaps this gives people the right to be lazy, to be selfish, to indulge and not care anymore about what is happening around them.

If the world is not doomed, then why do so many people behave as though it is?

We’ll have to wait and see.

Mmmm… Pesto!

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I’m a fussy eater, it has to be said. The older I have gotten, the more food I have tried and the less fussy I have gotten, but compared to many I’m pretty scared of certain types of food.

Italian, however, is my absolute favourite kind of food to eat. I have always been a pasta fanatic, and I love the herbs and flavours that make Italian food so delicious. I can smell Italian food a mile away and so, when asked by my mum if I fancied checking out a new Italian restaurant that had only this week opened in Glasgow, I jumped at the chance.

So, yesterday me, my sister, my cousin, my two aunties and my mum all descended on Pesto, situated across from All Bar One on St Vincent Street, within walking distance of both Queen Street train station and Central Station.  Walking in, I was greeted by friendly looking staff who showed me to the table where some of my relatives had already been sitting.  The decor is gorgeous, very light and airy, beautiful earthy colours and lots and lots of space! I was stunned by how big it was, and later found out that it had three floors with spiralling staircases leading to each one.

I had a look at the menu, as I hadn’t had any breakfast and was mega hungry, and while waiting for the rest of the group to arrive I ordered a¬†cappuccino, which was perfectly made, as I would expect from an Italian restaurant.

Finally! My mum and sister got there and we all had a good look at the lunchtime tapas menu Рany three items from the very varied menu for £6.95!  This menu can be found here -> MENU.

I chose the Arancini, which was deep fried balls of saffron risotto rice with¬†mozzarella¬†(v), a Pepperoni Pizza (5″) and Pane ai Formaggi (Toasted garlic¬†baguette¬†with cheese and basil).

We were served by a very polite and friendly young woman named Viola who made sure we were all happy and our water jug was full throughout our meal, and we also got to speak to the chef, Euan, who told us just how much every one of the staff had been working to get the restaurant open and to the standard that it is. Ten weeks training for each waitress, and it showed.

So, back to the food, the risotto balls were by far my favourite of the three dishes, and after checking the website, I will try to learn how to make them myself because they not only cook absolutely beautiful food, they share their recipes on their website! Despite it being called “deep fried” they were not in the slightest bit greasy, they were beautifully crisp and when I sunk my fork into them the crumbled open to reveal the fragrant saffron risotto and melted¬†mozzarella. ¬†This was my food heaven! The pizza and garlic bread were both extremely tasty also, and the three dishes filled me up to the brim. At my table there was almost complete silence when the food came out, and as a bunch of talkative women with too much to talk about, this is a rare thing in my family. We all happily tried each other’s dishes, and ate until we were fit to burst! ¬†I should also add that we were given freshly baked bread (white and olive bread), two bowls of olives and balsamic vinegar, to keep us going while they cooked our food. ¬†The food was served in great time, I don’t remember thinking to myself “where is my food?” as I happily ate the bread and drooled over the menus that were available, planning my next trip to the restaurant before I had even eaten my lunch!

When the bill came, we worked out that it was only around £12 per head, including drinks, coffee and tea!  We were all pretty surprised at how little such a tasty and filling meal cost, and began planning our next lunch date!

I would wholeheartedly recommend Pesto as a place to go for either lunch, dinner, or even just for some after work drinks as it was so friendly, and the quality of service and food was outrageous, considering the great prices on offer!

I now have somewhere I can take Gary out on a date without worrying about the price or the menu! There is definitely something for everyone, even those who are fussy, like myself!

Smack My Kids Up

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Yesterday, the Channel Four news ran a story regarding the re-introduction of the cane in schools. ¬†It focused on a survey conducted by the Times Educational¬†Supplement, and its’ results showed that half of the parents questioned, and a fifth of the school pupils questioned said that they would be in favour if such measures being re-introduced. I ended up in quite a long, and¬†repetitive,¬†debate about this subject, with most people responding that it would be a huge step back in time if corporal punishment was once again allowed to be used on wild children in schools.

First of all, I don’t really think there is much to debate, as I don’ believe it would ever be allowed to happen. The Court of Human Rights would stop such a move taking place as soon as it was brought to their attention, because their aim is to protect and keep the rights that people have gained throughout many years of change and progress (something which, it seems, the Tory party, don’t seem to get into their heads).

It might surprise you that, although caning was banned in state schools in 1986, it was allowed to continue taking place right up until 1998 in non-state run schools until Don Foster, Liberal Democrat, and the education spokesman at the time, asked that it be made illegal for all schools to use corporal punishment in any circumstance.  As to be expected, the move was applauded by the Labour backbenchers and booed by many Tory MPs.

So, here we are again, with a Tory government, and here we are being asked again “should we be allowed to use physical violence within the school to discipline unruly children?”. ¬†AKA Should we use scare tactics, bullying and physical violence to try tame our misbehaving children, while giving a huge amount of power back to school teachers who, in my opinion, should have absolutely no right to touch our children.

School is a place of learning, a place that children are sent to prepare themselves for when they are no longer living with their parents and when they need to be their own person. A place to socialise themselves with others, with children their own age, those older and also with adults.  I believe that if teachers were handed a cane and told to use it at their own discretion we, and the children at the end of the cane, would face multiple problems:

  • Poorly trained teachers would use the cane to terrorise their classes, rather than learning better ways in which to control or contain unruly classrooms and pupils. ¬†Frustration could take over and people, who might never normally have used violence, could turn to the cane as a means of support and in the meantime, the quality of teaching will be reduced. ¬†It may also attract a certain type of person to train to become a teacher, those who enjoy the thrill of power over the smaller people (I don’t imagine many teachers caned any pupils physically bigger than themselves when it was allowed!) – on the other hand it could deter very good individuals from training as teachers, as they may feel they might be forced by head teachers or other parents to use this form of discipline in their classrooms.
  • Violence begets violence. ¬†Children who are caned, in many cases, will not be deterred from behaving badly. Instead, they may grow up with the view that they can act violently towards others who offend, hurt, annoy or are simply not liked.
  • It could breed high levels of resentment towards adults, when, at this time, there is already a problem of respect between youths and adults, only being made worse at this time of change in Britain, where parents are facing job losses, benefit cuts and general hardship; this frustrates not only the parents, but is passed down to the children of these parents and causes a general feeling of¬†disjointedness¬†from the establishments that are supposed to be helping and supporting families. ¬†Add being caned to this and we will be faced with an even angrier and more resentful bunch of youths.
  • Teachers are there to teach. Parents are there to teach children right from wrong. If caning is re-introduced it might encourage lazy parenting, where they can sit back and lay the blame for their own children’s behaviour firmly on the doorstep of the schools that their kids attend. It is up to the parents to make sure that their own children are taught how to act in day to day life, and it is down to the schools to teach them maths, physics,¬†English¬†and the rest of the¬†curriculum. ¬†The cane would cause a distraction from such subjects and schooling, and be a frightening aspect of youngsters’ lives each and every day.
  • From stories heard by people who went to school back when the cane was allowed, there are hundreds of stories from people who say they were caned for menial “crimes” such as talking during class, being late for a class, and also people who were so scared by the threat that they became nervous and distracted to the point where they would wet themselves around teachers who were slap-happy with their cane.
Times have moved on, and there is a huge difference between children 30 years ago and children today, but to take such a leap back in time to a place where institutional violence was common-place, is not the answer. These children are facing different problems than those before them, they are more aware of the world, they act differently, and their acts of defiance in school are shown in a completely different manner. It is up to the government, along with schools, parents and pupils, to sit down, speak openly about these issues and try and come to a new agreement as to how we must deal with unruly children. We can’t tar all with one brush, introduce shock measures and have innocent, perhaps silly, children being hurt daily by teachers who don’t know how else to deal with the pupil. ¬†There has to be different ways of dealing with differently behaved kids, and this can’t involve violence. Otherwise, let us see in ten to fifteen years time the violent behaviour that is¬†in borne into the pupils who are at the other end of a daily whipping. I think then, we would have a much bigger problem on our hands.
Although it is difficult for all children to experience love in the home, school can help with this. Teachers who are positive influences on children will reap many benefits, and can show children who maybe don’t receive the levels of love needed in the home, that they are not forever on a losing streak. School’s can save children, not batter them down into even more resentful violent and angry adults.
I know there are many aspects of this subject that I haven’t covered, but I just wanted to get this down while I remembered.

Fawlton Towers

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A lot had happened since I last posted.  It seems like the end of August/ beginning of September was one big emotional ice-cream swirl.  I got slightly overwhelmed by it all when I realised how much was happening in such a short period, but I have came out the other side and I feel GOOD.

JOHNBOY UK TOUR 2011

First of all, my brother John and his wife Mariessa came over from Brisbane to visit, which was absolutely brilliant. ¬†It was so great having my brother back, for the short time that he was here. ¬†Obviously, we ended up arguing within about an hour of seeing each other, full on shouting and bawling (my wee sis, Maria was also involved, however, on MY side this time rather than the two of them ganging up on me like old times)… my mum ended up sitting with her hands covering up her ears trying to block us out. It was over 9/11 and how John believed that anyone who thought it wasn’t just as it appeared was “paranoid”. I called him a Tory and an idiot. Fun times! I do love him loads, I wish he was always around to fight with. ¬†It wasn’t all fighting obviously, he was only here for 6 days and we had some truly lovely family days. I saw a lot of my cousins and aunt’s and uncles. My dad, auntie Anna and cousin Marie ran the half marathon at the Great Scottish Run, and my sister and cousins ran the 10k, so we had our yearly pasta party and breakfast and post run dinner at our auntie Pat’s where we all got together and ate ourselves into oblivion. ¬†Sadly that was the Sunday, and as I had to sign on on the Monday I had to say my goodbyes at the end of the evening. ¬†It makes me sad that it has taken me until John and Mariessa have decided to live in Australia to make me realise just how much I love them, but I guess that’s how things go. It was the same with Aimee and Anna, and it’s something I can’t change, so I am happy for them that they have found their own little heaven in Brisbane, with new friends, good jobs, a lovely apartment, weather to die for and some of the most beautiful scenery just a drive away. ¬†I admire them for getting their shit together and getting out of Scotland.

MR AND MRS OTTAWAY 2011

 

Smoochy smooch!

While John and Mariessa were here, my two very good friends Gillian and Crissy got married. ¬†It was a lovely day, and, the emotional wreck that I am, I was in full on tear mode while they said their vows. They are two of the most in love people I have ever met, their love is apparent to everyone they meet. Crissy has a teenage son, who Gillian absolutely loves, and seeing the three of them become a family was beautiful to watch. Thankfully Gills burst out laughing during the vows just as I was about to fall about in a heap crying, because she noticed a tear in Crissy’s eyes, so I ended up in hysterical laughter in the end. Thanks Gills! I love love, and was ridiculously happy to be spending their day with them. (And just to add, Gillian’s dress was STUNNING!)

Nae tongues!

 

BESTIVAL 2011

Even just the thought of an outdoor festival knackers me. All that travelling, packing, figuring out what to take and leave behind, what drink to take, whether it will rain or not, whether to risk not packing for rain, how much spending money will be needed, all that WALKING. It’s knackering! Not least when you have to travel by National Express bus to Southampton, walk to the docks, queue for an hour, get a boat, queue for two hours, get a bus, queue for an hour, get wristbands then walk for about 45 minutes then realise it is gale force winds and you have a six man tent to put up and only two people to do the job.

So, needless to say, by the time me and Gary got to Bestival this year, it was 20 hours since we had left our flat, and we were utterly pooped.  We had a wee walk around the site, saw the main stage and The Big Top, got out barings, sort of and headed back to the tent to relax and get some sleep before it kicked off the next day.
Then Friday hit and Lucy showed up. Tequila in hand. I have a great big memory gap from Friday, apart from seeing Brian Wilson, which was, in my mind, legendary. I have waited since I was about 15 years old to see him live. I used to listen to Pet Sounds repeatedly when I was younger. It made me feel happy and summery and alive and young. That was when my mini-disk player was my best friend in the world. ¬† To see all of those songs, and more, live was life affirming. I felt young again, he transported me back to when I was at college doing my art portfolio, to school when I wanted to run away and never return, to when I was eternally on buses going to and from work in Braehead, to the snowy winter the year after I left school when I listened to it to keep me warm. To a few years later when I met Ama and Aimee and we would listen to God Only Knows on repeat and sing it as loud as possible at parties, when people would look at us like they wanted to kill us… so many memories in one album, and I finally witnessed it live, with Brian Wilson sitting in front of me, old and weary, with his keyboard and microphone, singing the words that made me happy for so long. I can’t really describe how the memory of seeing it live made me feel, but the feeling has stayed with me since Friday and I hope I never lose it.

The same goes for The Cure, which was kind of the same, but different. ¬†I never really shared The Cure with anyone. The Cure really was a private obsession. I made tshirts, wrote their lyrics everywhere I could, cut out photographs and collected The Cure merchandise like a psycho Beatles fan in the 60s. And when Robert Smith came onto the stage on Saturday night with Plainsong, I lost my mind. I totally lost it. ¬†I was shaking and screaming. He never said a word, he just walked from one side of the stage to the other, looking at the crowd with a strange smile on his face. The intro to Plainsong is a long and beautiful one, and it teased me to the point where I was desperate to hear him open his voice and sing. Then he did, and for the next two and a half hours I witnessed what might be, apart from Radiohead, the greatest gig of my life. I haven’t really processed it properly, so I can’t really write about it, but here is a link to one of the songs from the gig:

Inbetween Days live @ Bestival 2011 

I reckon I might talk more about it later… once I get over the fact that Robest Smith stood 100m away from me.

There were a lot of other fun things that happened at Bestival but I’ll save them for my own memory. I got home on Tuesday, and life is going back to normal. ¬† I have a job interview tomorrow, which I am beginning to feel nervous about. ¬†I’ll just go and do my best, it’s not for a job I particularly want, but I need money and to be a normal human being for a while so I’ll do my best and see what happens. When I told my mum and dad I had an interview the first and only thing they said was well done, make sure you dress appropriately. ¬†I think they think I will go along with pink tights, orange skirt, blue top and purple hair. Luckily my hair is blonde at the moment… and I am not a moron! ūüôā

Long, boring post, but I thought I’d fill you in on the goings on in Meggychop’s life.

I’m reading Tony Benn’s Diaries 1991-2010 so hopefully my next post will have a little more substance to it!

Lastly, I was complimented on my blog by an old friend before I headed to Bestival; you know who you are, if you got this far in today’s post, so thanks for the encouragement wee yin!

Peace and Cheese,

Meg

Calm before the storm.

Pre-tequila and sunburn.

Being Unemployed

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What does it mean to a person to “be unemployed”?

I find myself labelling myself as “unemployed” when people ask about me. As if, getting it out of the way, I won’t have to let people’s opinion of me down when they eventually find out.

I find it mortifying.

I hate saying “I’m unemployed” – usually it’s followed by the question of how I became unemployed, which is something I no longer wish to talk about. I dealt with that at the time, and it took a lot out of me. And it has left me in this position.

I spend hours every single day scanning the same old websites, checking for a job that I might not have already applied for. I ask on Facebook for help, feeling like I’m repeating myself over and over, and making a big deal out of being unemployed. But I’m not, I just want people to keep me in mind if a job comes up that they find out about.

I have come to hate my own company, but I also feel slightly uncomfortable in the company of others. ¬†When I’m with others I always feel embarrassed, especially when they talk about work. People come home tired from work, when I have sat in the flat all day on the internet. ¬†I have no reason to be tired, yet I’m always tired. ¬†I don’t have anything to be proud of, or anything to talk about at the end of the day. ¬†I watch as my friends and family achieve things, while my bills add up and get out of hand. I spend hours on the telephone to premium phone numbers trying to sort out my housing money, or council tax, or setting up a payment scheme for the telephone bill or gas and electricity.

I’ve forgotten why it is that someone would want to employ me.

I wouldn’t employ me, at this moment in time.