Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Front bottom or back bottom?

A few nights ago, a friend and I were talking about the films we had just seen and were getting quite heated when discussing the length of these films. Why oh why are these films so damn long? 

Theatre has had the right idea over the last few years... Many contemporary plays have taken out the intervals and you are left with a snappy, exiting production of an hour or so. Perfect. 

The film world seems to have done the opposite though, producing marathon epics. After two hours, you are left dry-mouthed and numb-bummed, surrounded by fidgeting neighbours and wondering how much longer you can put off going to the loo. 

Recently I saw Life of Pi. A brilliant film but still 120 minutes long, and for me, two hours is a long time to sit still. But I was fine, I went for a wee before the film, took only small sips of water and coped admirably. 

Next was Les Miserables at 157 minutes. That's just over two and a half hours... watching a pretty miserable and depressing film. I'm not the biggest fan of musical theatre and being sung to for that long slightly grates, so were it not for the very handsome faces of Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman and Eddie Redmayne, I might not have made it. My friend Mark summed it up brilliantly by saying "Why do they have to sing everything? Couldn't they have just spoken some of the lines?" I'm with you there but it just slightly defeats the purpose of a musical! Two hours into the film I had already started to feel uncomfortable below. I also had cried about five times so needed more tissue... but still, I persevered. By the time the last note was sung I was sprinting out of the theatre, almost rugby tackling my neighbours in order to get to the loo first. However, five hundred women, cross-eyed and cross-legged, had got there before me and so we had to make a dash for a nearby coffee shop and made it just in time. Phew. 

The final straw was Django Unchained, at an eye watering 180 minutes. Yes folks... take water, food, and any other emergency supplies because its three hours long! If you have a weak bladder you haven't a chance. I knew I didn't have a hope in hell and so I had already prepared my date that I would have to probably sit by the aisle in order to escape for a quickie (no, not that sort!). Unfortunately, it was open seating, and by the time we made our way in to the theatre, all the good seats and more importantly, the aisle seats, had gone, and we were left with the choice of front row (neck ache) or back row, 8 seats in. Oh dear. We opted for the back row and I muttered a silent prayer, hoping that for once, my bladder would magically not exist and I would be able to go the distance. 

No such luck. Around the 100 minute mark I needed to go. I tried to undo my belt buckle to relieve some of the pressure, but that got a very strange look from the guy on my left, not my date, I hasten to add... That would have been indescribably awful. I waited another ten minutes, immersing myself in the Tarantino bloodshed on screen, but it was no good, I needed a wee pronto. My second dilemma then arose... How to squeeze past 8 people, not fall down the steps, find my way to the loo in record time, not miss too much of the film, and find my way back in complete darkness without tripping or being tutted at. That was a challenge. 

There are many obstacles in getting out of your row alone... 
Inserting your foot into a discarded popcorn box: inadvertently stepping into the loop of a handbag strap, dragging it through piles of coats and scarves until it is rescued by its angry owner: treading on toes and getting angrily 'shushed' as you quietly try and apologise: losing your balance and putting your hands on inappropriate body parts of strangers. It's an absolute minefield. But the worst thing... the most embarrassing part of going down a tiny row of people, is the dilemma of wether to face them with your front bottom or back bottom.

If you try and sidle passed with your front bottom facing, there are two possible outcomes. The first is when people remain in their seats, swivelling only their knees to let you pass. In this situation there is a high risk of grazing your breasts against someone's face as they simultaneously reach down to try and clear their things from your path. The second outcome is that people try and stand or half-stand to let you pass. In this case, you are likely to brush more than one body part together or head butt them. Neither is good. 

The other approach is to try and exit your row, back bottom facing. There are also a few hazards here. I have been known to knock a mans glasses off with my rather large posterior as I swept passed. I have also taken out people's drinks, a hot dog, handbags and a flat cap. Other possibilities when facing this way is that you stumble and end up sitting in someone's lap. This has happened to me more than once and it is just the most unbelievably embarrassing thing ever. The most unsexy lap dance in the world. 


On this particular occasion, 100 minutes in, and with a first date on my right, I opted for front bottom facing. I whispered "I'm so sorry I have to go to the loo". Luckily my date was a gentleman and not only stood up, picking up all my things and all of his things off the floor so I wouldn't trip over them, but I managed it all quite elegantly. Everyone else in the row half stood as I smoothly brushed passed. I didn't head butt anyone, I didn't touch anyone's body parts, no one tutted, I didn't trip over anything, I made it down the stairs and out to the loo in under two minutes so I didn't miss much of the plot, and my return journey was equally successful. I sat down in my seat and let out a really big happy sigh and got a really filthy look from my neighbour. You can't win!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Resolutions so far.

How many people keep their New Years resolutions, do you think? One friend - who's resolution was to abstain from alcohol for the month of January - has already had a 'cheeky glass of red, while cooking', which she honestly thinks doesn't count. I have been guilty of letting my resolutions slip in the past but I have embraced 2013 as the year I will keep them all. 

It's started off fairly well... 

I have signed up for my Italian course and start in 'due' (that's Italian for two) weeks time.

I have bought my 'Guitar for beginners' book but have yet to get it re-strung. 

I have lost only one pound in weight but am sticking to my plan of exercising a minimum of 3 times a week. One bike ride, 45 minutes of swimming, aqua aerobics with the local old age pensioners and an hours Pilates last week. I'm exhausted. I have to be careful though, it doesn't leave much time for dating! 'Una tragedia!' (sorry, I promise I wont keep doing that!) More of dating later. 

My knees are still awaiting consultation in February. 

I haven't booked anything yet but I have looked into flights to Copenhagen, sailing holidays in Croatia and a visit to Havana. I don't think I can do all three now because of money, but two out of three will make me very happy. In a strange link to dating, I have just discovered that the tallest men on average (6'), live in Denmark, Norway, Croatia and Serbia. Another excuse for visiting because I would really like to go out with someone taller than me (5'9") and unfortunately the average height for a British male is only 5'9". 

Finding a boyfriend is hard work. In fact, I've discovered quite a few things on my quest to find a man. Internet dating is cut throat. You can be looked at and rejected about 20 times a day. Last Sunday my profile was viewed 26 times but not one of them was interested enough to send me a message. Two weeks ago, I spent three hours reading through profiles of men that were 'matches' for me (meaning that the computer works out your compatibility based on your answers and then calculates a percentage). I sent 18 messages. Each man I wrote to, I was apparently a 100% match for them. I didn't base it on looks but they did have to look fairly normal. I was witty and charming and flattering in these messages. Men like that. How many do you think replied? 6! Out of those 6 replies, 4 of them wrote messages that were witty and charming and flattering and so things quickly progressed to setting up dates. 
As I said last week, I had dates set up with a council worker, a politician and a businessman. Then a 4th date appeared in the form of a property developer I 'met' online, a few days ago. Four dates in my first week, all very promising I thought. 

The council worker. It wasn't his fault but the first thing I noticed about him was that he had a very sweet face but didn't seem to have a neck. It was very disconcerting because it looked like he was disappearing into his shirt. His interests on his profile were playing tennis and watching tennis. Now, I love tennis too but I don't live and breathe it. I quickly found out, that was all he was interested in. I asked what he would do with his spare time if he couldn't play tennis, and he said, with a completely stricken face, 'I would eat chocolate'. I thought that was hilarious but he was being quite serious. Then I found out his job was in health & safety. Sweet man but nooooo! NEXT!

The Politician. Possibly one of the strangest dates I've ever had. The first problem was that I recognised him from the television. I had seen him maybe five years ago on a News programme, getting quite irate with the interviewer, his eyes bulging slightly as his tufts of ginger hair quivered. He hadn't changed much. He was 25 minutes late, for which he did not apologise, and when the cafe we were in, said they didn't serve alcohol, he said he wouldn't have anything to drink at all then, very sulkily. Weird because it was only noon, hardly cocktail hour. The worst thing though, was his superiority complex and constant oneupmanship. 

We began talking about the Lake District and I started to say "I've been lucky enough to have spent a lot of time up there, my family own a beautiful..." And he interrupted saying, and I quote, "Yes, my grandparents owned a stunning property in the Southern Lakes. I would say I am quite an expert on that area of Britain actually. In fact, I would go so far as to say, if I was dropped from a helicopter in dense fog anywhere in the Lake District, within five minutes I would know where I was." Haha. It was such a bold statement that I began to be highly entertained.  I started to plant little seeds to get him to do one better. If I had seen a play, he had seen it twice, and knew the director. If I had gone to the opera, he had seen the same one, but in Vienna. If I mentioned a restaurant, he was friends with the chef. And another brilliant one, was when I said I liked buying sausages from this butcher at Borough market... he said 'Well of course, I know the stall holder and he shoots me anything I ask for. Yesterday I picked up two grouse and a hare'. I am not exaggerating. It was quite extraordinary. Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, he abruptly said he had to leave and then tried to kiss me on the lips... In broad daylight! I managed to swerve it and got a wet one on the cheek! For Gods sake! NEXT!

The businessman. Canceled due to illness, so it has been postponed. 

The property developer. Emailed me on Friday night, after we had spent ages planning where and when to meet for brunch on Sunday, cancelling the date saying 'It was a bit far for him to come for only a few hours, and he was going to wait until I could spend longer with him'. I pointed out that two hours seemed fine for a first date, that I didn't want to spend the whole day with him! I was trying to be funny. Obviously it didn't tickle his funny bone and I haven't heard from him since. Oh dear. 


Next weekend I have dates with a writer for the Economist and a charity worker. It's certainly broadening my horizons. 

Saturday, 5 January 2013

New Year's Resolutions

1. Learn Italian. 
I should really improve my French and Spanish first but I'm a hopeless romantic and Italian sounds just so so beautiful. It also justifies my idea of living in Rome one day, being the muse of a passionate artist and riding around on a Vespa. 

2. Learn more than two chords on my guitar. 
There are only so many songs you can play with two chords before it gets really irritating. Also, I must re-string my guitar. It's very possible that the sound will be better with more than three strings. 

3. Lose two stone. 
This will be done with exercise rather than food. I am a foodie and will not give it up. I eat well and healthily most of the time but have infuriating thyroid issues and slightly overindulge at weekends. It can be done. 

4. Get knees fixed. 
Surgery nine years ago temporarily fixed thinning cartilage and dodgy misplaced kneecaps. Now I have other problems. Not caused by weight, I am assured by my orthapedic surgeon, but it would definitely help recovery if I was lighter, hence number 3. 

5. Go to Copenhagen with my two girlfriends. 
We have tried to plan a long weekend away for the last 2 years. It's time girls. 

6. Travel down the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. 
Croatia is set to join the EU mid 2013. It would mean hiked tourism, commercialism, it would be more expensive and it might just ruin it a wee bit. I want to see it before that happens.

7. Visit Havana. 
Cuba has been slowly changing over the last few years, really since Raul Castro took over from his brother Fidel. Raul has loosened his communist grip, and as a result many people have better lives. But as he lifts restrictions on Cubans leaving the country and Obama lifts travel restrictions for US citizens visiting the country, more money will start to flood in, tourism will reach crazy levels and the faded 1950's Hemmingway-ed face of Havana will be no more. 

8. Get a boyfriend. 
It is the first week of January, I have joined an Internet dating site (again) and I have 3 dates arranged for next week: a council worker, a politician and a businessman (it sounds like the start of a very bad joke doesn't it?). This time, I am being very positive and pro-active, and have significantly lowered my standards. My search requirements are no longer: a 6'4" ex-rugby player who is university educated, good looking, charming, chivalrous, funny, well mannered, who loves the arts, can read a map, drives a Landrover, has a black Labrador called Monty and a house in the country. My new search is simply: a man, between the ages of 42 and 52. Wish me luck.