Tuesday 30 November 2010

The Jumpsuit Blues

Last night, I went round to Steve's after we had curry last night (he found my Madras a little hot, so I laffed at him for being a Southern git) and he produced my pink jumpsuit as it had arrived earlier that day!

If you are unfamiliar with these jumpsuits, you have not lived.

But not to GIVE to me yet; they had mistakenly sent the extra small size instead of just small, so he wanted me to try it on to see if he had to try and get it exchanged before Christmas. I put it on, and instantly felt like some kind of awesome, snuggly, highly camp astronaut. Luckily it fitted fine (if it was any bigger it would probably have been a bit TOO ridiculous - this is, of course, all relative), which was good until HE MADE ME GIVE IT BACK UNTIL CHRISTMAS!! Sad times... It's the weirdest thing ever! It can zip up all the way over my face for no apparent reason (SHUT UP!), and has a mad number of pockets. The only thing missing is a proper old-stylee longjohn buttflap, but I'll forgive it that one omission. I miss it already, and am looking forward to Christmas when I can get rid of all my other clothes and take to looking like a retarded-but-harmless descendent of Buzz Aldrin once more...

Friday 12 November 2010

The Return of American Express...

American Express called the company I work for again today. If you are unsure of the significance of this, please see here.

ME: Good afternoon, [COMPANY NAME], how can I help you?
ME: Is this American Express, by any chance?
ME: My spirit guide told me it would be. It also says you should watch your back tomorrow.

Monday 1 November 2010

Further reasons why I am a... you know what, I'm bored of typing this title

13) I can't see a puppy without devolving into some sort of squealing melty idiot-woman. Puppies actually make my heart hurt. I am supposed to be educated and at least vaguely mature. Which is clearly total shite.
14) I secretly sort-of don't hate pork scratchings. Which I call 'itchy pigs' in order to try and put myself off. I actually refuse to allow myself to openly like them.
15) I sometimes buy magazines called things like 'Murder Monthly' to read on the machines at the gym to discourage awkward treadmill conversationalists.
16) I only like salad if bacon is involved.
17) I own a couple of pairs of shoes that I will NEVER be able to walk in successfully, but I keep them at eye-level for when I'm on my sofa because they are pretty.
18) Sometimes young children are openly delighted by my hair, and ask their parents if they can have their hair bright colours too. The parents' looks of utter horror are highly amusing to me, and can literally make my day.
19) I think it is absolutely fine to wear my swimsuit in my flat for no reason. I waited ages on a waiting list for the bastard thing, and I will not allow a lack of outdoor opportunity prevent me from wearing it!!! (PS - it is completely fabulous)
20) It is my firm belief that gin is an acceptable form of dessert.
21) I have several t-shirts with variations on 'Your Mum' jokes on them.
22) I have actually spent this long thinking of things about myself to write here. Narcissism, meet thy most devout champion!

Thursday 28 October 2010

Reasons Why I Am a Total Freakin' Loser

1) I enjoy grocery shopping alone. I actually look forward to it. This way I can get excited about a new type of cereal without being judged.
2) I always linger in the kids' section of IKEA; not because I am a paedophile (I'm not, just so you know. Apparently women can be paedos too though, yay equality!), but because I wish the tiny cartoonish furniture was also made in grownup sizes so I could build my own Minnie Mouse-type dwelling.
3) I love it when the Oyster-card-inspecty-people get on the 207 and I have actually paid for once. This holds a similar appeal to the times when I was a schoolkid and someone else got in trouble for a change.
4) I check www.yesterland.com regularly to see if any rides have been retired at Disneyland.
5) I am still angry that the Star Tours ride is being replaced.
6) I alter the lyrics of songs so that they are about how stupid/fat/ginger/cute my dog is, and then sing them to her. She's deaf, so there is literally no point in doing any of this.
7) I like to make passive-aggressive comments VERY LOUDLY right at people who have pissed me off by talking during a movie as they get up to leave. Makes me giggle.
8) I start informing people that 'it's my birthday soon' about 2 months before my actual birthday. I am not under the illusion that my birthday is that important to others; I just really like to annoy people.
9) I used to occasionally go into goth/alternative chatrooms and proclaim my love for Nickelback just to watch everyone get angry.
10) I like to sing inappropriate songs in the style of Meatloaf while showering. I mean that I sing them while I'm showering; I don't know what Meatloaf sounds like when he's showering.
11) I occasionally wear aviators and listen to AC/DC while driving to my office job, so I can pretend that I'm some sort of badass. I also drive round corners slightly faster than I probably should to enhance the effect.
12) Sometimes I repeat advertising slogans from the television in a bad Russian accent for my own amusement.

This is not an exhaustive list, but I have to go and stare at the wall or whatever it is I'm paid to do now...

Wednesday 6 October 2010


A deserted loading dock. Midnight. Heavy rainfall, slightly muffling the sound of stilettos on concrete. She throws a brief glance over her shoulder, suppresses a shiver and hurries to the centre of the dock, where he is waiting. Stopping about two feet's distance from him, she avoids his gaze for a brief moment. She is shaking, her fists clenched at her sides. Then, with a sudden cry, she lands a stinging slap across his face. He remains still, allows her to compose herself. Breathing still a little ragged, she finally brings herself to look directly at him.
"Why didn't you tell me sooner?" She asks the question, already fearing the answer. "Why couldn't you just be honest with me from the beginning?"
"I didn't want to hurt you. But I can't change what I am."
She nods, the fight drained from her. Her tears mix with the streams of rain coursing down her face.
"What am I supposed to do now?" Looking into his face, imploringly.
"You must forget all about me. This can never be..." Even as he says it, he knows she will not listen. She is reaching into the pocket of her coat, and he trails off, intrigued. Her hand trembles slightly as she reveals its contents; a miniature, cellophane-wrapped pork pie. His reaction is instant and terrifying. A guttural cry escapes his lips as he lunges for the morsel, consuming it in an instant; cellophane and all. Suddenly filled with horror and revulsion at his involuntary action, he backs away from her. Her eyes are wide with fear, yet still she takes a step toward him. Then another. Placing a soothing hand on his shoulder, she gently tilts his chin so that they are face to face. With surprising firmness, she speaks:
"I don't care. It doesn't matter to me that you are completely obsessed with pies, you fat bastard! I need you." They embrace as the rain continues to pour. In the distance, a coyote howls.

Thursday 30 September 2010

Some Stuff that Happened

OK, so I was on my way to work (I drive now, which means I can more easily avoid contracting 207-HIV) when I noticed that my petrol was getting low. To avoid having to drag my car to work using a skipping rope and a lot of muscle-power, I pulled into a petrol station immediately. As I was filling the car up with fuel (the best thing to put in that part of the car, incidentally), another car pulled up to the pump next to mine. A guy dressed entirely in black got out, and started fuelling up his car. I thought he was a bit odd, as he had his hood pulled right up (it wasn't raining) and had sunglasses on, despite the fact that it wasn't sunny. Well, actually the sunglasses part wasn't so odd, except for the fact that we weren't in Kentish Town (where pretentious unnecessary wearing of sunglasses is common among the large Twat community). He seemed a bit on-edge as well, which caused me to continue covertly observing him by squinting awkwardly at him out of the side of my face in the manner of Popeye. Suddenly, he popped the petrol cap back on his car, jumped in and started driving off without paying. 'Aha!' thought I. So that's why he was such a shifty git then. Then, the next interesting thing happened. As he was about to drive out of the petrol station exit, STEPHEN FRY suddenly leapt out of another car nearby and ran in front of the moving vehicle!! Quick as a flash, he held out his hand and STOPPED THE CAR, causing it to grind to a halt and buckling the metal of the bonnet at the point of impact with his hand. As I was struggling to take all of this in, he deftly flipped open the bonnet of the car and ripped out the engine in one smooth move. Throwing it safely into a nearby disposal bin, Fry calmly locked eyes with the shocked driver of the car, and boomed 'I'M STEPHEN FRY, AND IF I HAVE TO PAY FOR MY PETROL, YOU JOLLY WELL SHOULD TOO!' The police then pulled up and began to arrest the man, during which time Fry sauntered back to his car as they waved their gratitude. I distinctly heard one of the policemen say 'Thanks again, Stephen!' as Fry drove off into the mist. Well, you don't see that every day!*

*Some or all of the above may be a lie

Saturday 18 September 2010

Beatles Poetry. Or, 'Shut up, you self-important cow'

I dearly hold all I have known
In friendship or in love,
I cannot fault their offerings
Of olive-branch or dove,
However I can fully say
Of all the ones held true,
They simply cannot take the place
Of the hated Meanies Blue.

I love those dear Blue Meanies,
Of whom are not thought well,
They hate that Paul McCartney
Who's honestly a bell
-END of the story here must be
In spite of what is due,
I finish my discourse with love
Me do, sir please don't sue

Monday 6 September 2010

Letter to Self

Dear Ellen,

I am writing to politely suggest that you SORT IT OUT! It is not acceptable to wear pink tights with a red skirt just because you couldn't be arsed to do laundry last week. It is also not acceptable to cut down to one meal a day because you can't be arsed to go food shopping either. You seem to find ample time to arse around making sure your hair stays pink, and to Facebook stalk plenty of people. Therefore it stands to reason that you could find a spare minute of your day to OPEN THE DAMN MAIL! Seriously, it is just unnecessary to have FOUR newsletters from your former school hanging around your kitchen counter. If you don't care what the school is up to these days, PUT THEM IN THE BIN!! I am writing this to you for your own good, as it seems that you have lost track of what is important. Although drinking beer and laughing hysterically might seem important at the time, you spend more than enough time doing both of these things already, and can afford to cut back a bit. Also, stop lying to people; clear nail varnish DOES NOT FIX EVERYTHING, and sometimes it's better to throw something away or use ACTUAL GLUE to fix it. It's just misleading to keep insisting otherwise. Although if you do invest in any actual glue in the near future, try to avoid gluing your hand to a porcelain model of a bus this time.

Another important point to address is that eye-creams and green tea are NOT a substitute for sleep. You actually do have to close your eyes occasionally to avoid looking like the cryptkeeper.

And stop accepting Jaegerbombs on work nights!! It never ends well!

Yours disapprovingly,


Thursday 2 September 2010

Poetree, or 'shut up, you pretentious bitch'

I would dearly love to write poetry
But I can't, for I have not a brain
I can sing, I can cook and can argue
But I try to compose rhyme in vain
I wish I possessed such a talent
To allow me to pour out my soul
But alas, I can find no such whimsy
For my heart is as vital as coal
Oh I wish I could write lovely poetry
My ev'ry thought captured with it
But unfortunately I am fated
To write this unbearable shit

Monday 23 August 2010

Bloodstock video

Hier ist eine kleine video of Neonfly at Bloodstock... not sure who that pink git on the far end is though...

Friday 20 August 2010

Plugging someone else's blog... how selfless of me!

U2's manager attempts to claim that music piracy directly benefits internet service providers, among other retarded things: "Free content has helped fuel the vast profits of the technology and telecoms industries." Twattery such as this has not been seen in quite some time... read this blog post from Simon at 'No Rock and Roll Fun' to see the argument get royally shredded!

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Isn't it glamorous to be a musician??

On Sunday, I got up at 5.30am to get ready to drive myself, the lead singer and the other backing singer (performing with Neonfly) to Bloodstock festival in Derbyshire. Now, I don't actually remember the last time I saw 5.30am, so this would have all been very exciting and magical if it wasn't for my continuous swearing under my breath as I somehow managed to get into the shower the right way up. After a while, being vaguely ready, I then fell into the car and drove round to the tube station to pick up the lead singer, and then on to a bus stop to collect the other backing singer. Once the car contained its full quota of vocalists, I hooked up the Spongebob Squarepants satnav and we were on our way. (I must point out that, as much as I love Spongebob, his voice is possibly THE WORST THING EVER at 6.30am).

I had decided not to wear my studded, fingerless leather gloves for the drive, as it is impossible not to drive like a badass with them on. Driving with those gloves on makes me sort of like the product of Steven Tyler and Billy Idol somehow managing to have a baby, which then failed its driving test before earning several DUIs. So in the interests of health and safety, my hands drove nude.

We managed to get to the festival with only one service station stop (Yes, it is acceptable to have a cheeseburger for breakfast when you're a total rock star like what I am. What is less acceptable is then failing to finish it, but taking it with you for later and designating a particular glove box in your car as 'the burger box'. I'm not telling you which one it is in case you're in my car, stealin' my cheezburgers). I managed to somehow get the festival staff to allow me to park my car right by the stage instead of moving it to the car park, which was a ten minute walk away, like I was technically supposed to. WELL, IT WAS MUDDY! And my boots are super-nice. And my car doesn't like to be parked with normal-people-cars, it prefers the ambience of VIP parking.

Having raided the backstage area for as much free bottled water as I could cram into the car (to go nicely with the contents of the burger box), we were ready for Neonfly's set. The guys went on and played the first four songs, then it was backing singer time! The set went really well, energy was high and there was an impressive-sized crowd, especially in view of the fact that it was 11.15am! We took some pictures and then said our goodbyes, at which point the Vocalistmobile was ready to set off for London again. With a well-judged stop for a massive Starbucks double-shot Americano (falling asleep at the wheel is frowned upon in polite society), we had a pleasant and direct journey home.

After that nice little addition to my CV, I'm sure you can imagine my delight and honour at this unrelated conversation last night:

Guy in the pub: You should come on our tour! We need groupies!
Me: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA (Translation: I'm sorry, I think that's when I'm planning to pull out all my fingernails individually, so I'll be too busy. But have fun!)

Tuesday 10 August 2010

Twits of Telephony, part deux

See the first part here...

Today's answerphone message was as follows:

"Hello, I would like to get my car serviced with you. Please call me back on [phone number]"

Now, as any reasonable person would do, I decided to service this woman's car. I fully plan to show up in full onstage regalia (picture what you will, I suggest a sequinned catsuit with bovver boots and a stetson) and bugger about with the mechanics of the car before charging £1,240 for 'labour'. I think the customer will be satisfied. What worries me is that, having heard my answerphone message in its entirety before leaving her details, this woman thinks a repair garage is called 'Ellen Gallagher'. I think an IQ test should be mandatory before lifting the receiver. Jus' sayin'...

**UPDATE** Got home last night, checked my landline's voicemail. I haven't lived in this flat for very long, and the telephone number there is entirely new to me. There was a message...
"Hello, I'm trying to reach Alexander..."

Friday 6 August 2010

Sexually Transmitted Insurance Company

The year is 2008. My friend, the props manager, is industriously making signs for our stage production of Thoroughly Modern Millie. Many scenes from this musical are set in the lobby of the Sincere Trust Insurance company

Me: Nice signs.
Him: Thanks.
He continues emblazoning his fourth giant piece of board with the letters STI
Me: Bwahahahaha!
Him: *Silence*
He tilts his head slightly and studies the sign
Him: Oh crap!!

Wednesday 4 August 2010

Cocktails To Give To People You Hate

I have decided to publish a list of some of the awesome cocktails that myself and some co-conspirators invented. We did not actually make or drink any of these, as to do so would probably lead to severe gastric problems. But it's the thought that counts...

Partini: Parsnip martini
Dirty Partini: Same with a sausage shoved in the top
Onion the Beach: Basically just a whole bunch of onions over ice
Bacon the Beach: Same as above but topped with whipped bacon
Screaming Floorgasm: Any cocktail that has first been chucked on the floor and then scooped back into the glass. Preferably involving either radishes or bleach.
Long Island Iced Pea: Basically just really cold pea soup. In a fancy glass.
Strawberry Smackquiri: Smoothly blended strawberries and liqueur over ice. Taken with a large hit of smack.
Shite Russian: I think you can probably guess this one...
Mai Thai: Green curry. Must be drunk through a straw. Challenging.
Man Hattan: For the cannibal connoisseur only

I will probably remember more of these, and might be arsed to post them up here later...

Monday 2 August 2010


I have now added icons to this blog so you can easily share the content via email or social networking. If you want. But you totally should. Jesus wants you to. But if try to lead anyone to believe that my eloquent rantings are your own, He will know about it. And you don't want to see Jesus when he's mad...

Also suivez-moi on Twitter :-D

Thursday 29 July 2010

Fan Mail

I recently received this message from a friend of mine via facebook, or MyFace, or FailSpace or Witter or whatever they're calling it these days...

Him: Dear Ellen,

I have recently taken to perusing the current (albeit long-lasted) fad of online diary keeping, colloquially referred to as "blogging". I wish to inform you that I find your blog to contain within it traits with which I can only describe as pure, unadulterated randomness! Congratulations! Of the untold millions, perhaps eve...n billions, of blogs in existence I have actually deemed yours worthy of that utmost of honours, "My Attention". So, congratulate yourself this evening and know that officially your rantings and pedantism are not legitimately "of interest".

Me: Dear [name],

Thank you for your comments. It is sincerely awesome to hear that someone occasionally reads that shite what I write. In case you did not know, 'blogging' is short for the term 'web-logging', although what it has to do with lumberjacks is somewhat beyond me. Please do keep up your reading, young fan, as I hear it is the best way to avoid jail time.

Yours ambiguously,


Me: PS this is totally going on the blog


Him: Dear Ellen,

I am glad that mine own ramblings have helped add to the creative 'pot', I too am somewhat confused towards the need for lumberjacks and was completely unaware of the correct teminology. For this I whole-heartedly thank thee. Per...haps 'web-logging' is in some way a playful jibe at lumberjacks on the basis that their days of employment are numbered, for as we all know; the internet is virtual reality not requiring paper and therefore the tree's need not be cut to provide the raw materials. The may continue to stand proud and tall as the planets pubic regions, rather than shaved and crass like a middle aged hooker, too ugly to be a milf, too young to be a granny, and too old for anyone to want.

Him: PS. Thank you for the tips on how to avoid prison, until now I had merely been hiding in drainage holes and stealing in to my 'neighbours' homes for internet access.

Me: Dear [name],

Who said anything about pot?? You keep your drug-addled ramblings to yourself, young sir!

I feel that your insight on the subject of the origin of the term 'web-logging' is potentially enlightening. Or perhaps the ravings of a reality-starved cretin. Who knows?

I am glad that my worldly wisdom can be of use to you in terms of prison avoidance. You might run into Lindsey Lohan if you go to prison, and nobody wants that. I hear she can give you crabs from across the room...

Yours frivolously,


Him: Dear Ellen,

My initial thoughts of a pot, were in fact a reference to a "tea-pot" (http://www.stonesoup.org/design/cauldron.gif) wherein the 'pot' is a device to collect ingredients and cook. With the basis being that, that which is produced is greater than the sum of it's parts. As such, I was commenting on my desire to help you with the creative process, and felt the term 'muse' (not the band, just to clarify) to be somewhat reminiscent of fat bottomed pre-Raphaelite women. Although your immediate leap to drugs speaks loudly by itself.

I shall do my utmost to avoid capture and the potential crabs Lindsey Lohan is capable of producing. I have been similar stories in the past, and must confess my heightened desire to not catch crabs, to this end I have determined to avoid beaches at all costs!

Finally, I believe it safe to assume that mine own musings have added greatly to the potential material for your 'blogging' and as such my insights may be considered the spouting of enlightened wit reaching Oscar Wildian proportions!

Yours humbly,


Me: Dear [name],


Dear Jason Derulo...

I have noticed your song, 'Ridin' Solo', lately. I have noticed it because it is on Galaxy radio approximately 5,240 times an hour. Every day. I would like to draw your attention to this fact, so that you can make another song. While I appreciate your need to relentlessly inform us of your desire to bang Harrison Ford, the sad fact is that your pathetic and reedy vocal is slowly forcing me to the edge of my already-tenuous sanity. If you were to make a new song, perhaps called something equally meaningful such as 'Wet Lettuce', at least it would be a change. Still godawful audio tripe, but DIFFERENT godawful audio tripe nonetheless. Now, you might ask why I don't just change the radio station to one that does not incessantly force your 'song' down my ear canals. Good point, and I would totally do this if the radio would ever pick up any station other than Galaxy or some mad Polish one. I much prefer the Polish one, as at least its insane method of song selection defies all logic and repetition (Aerosmith followed immediately by Britney Spears on one occasion). But sometimes we can't get a good enough signal for that, and it appears that I'm not authorized to turn the radio off altogether. My ruse of pretending to need quiet for a phonecall has been marginally successful, as I've taken to turning it down until the volume is so low that I can pretend something good is actually playing. And then 'forget' to turn it back up. But plans like these can only work for a short while, until someone notices and turns the drivel back up again!

I hope you will consider my request, and by 'consider' I mean 'act upon immediately, or preferably just shut up'.

And if you see Justin Bieber, tell her she needs a haircut.

Best regards,


UPDATE: The Polish radio station just played the Muppets version of Bohemian Rhapsody, which is possibly the most bizarre thing ever when you can't actually SEE the Muppets. It's pretty bizarre if you can, but a totally insane thing to put on the radio! One word: WIN.

Monday 26 July 2010

No. Just... No.

It seems to be a common practice to use the word 'action' as a verb in the business world. For example, 'Ellen, please take this file and action it today'. Sentences like that actually make me want to smash things. It's incredibly difficult to follow an instruction at work when it doesn't actually make grammatical sense. Yes, I know what it MEANS, but that does NOT mean that I can hear it without grinding my teeth and experiencing a facial spasm!! It’s also very tempting to reply 'Of course, and then would you like me to computer the results?' NO! JUST NO!

Friday 23 July 2010

Telemarketers beware, I have a slight hangover and have run out of green tea...

ME: Good morning, [COMPANY NAME], how can I help you?
TELEMARKETER: May I please speak to Mr [NAME OF MY BOSS]
ME: May I ask who's calling?
TELEMARKETER: This is American Express.
ME: Would this be a sales call?
TELEMARKETER: [PAUSE] We... wouldn't be selling anything over the phone...
ME: Ah, so it is a sales call.
ME: Yes it is.
ME: I'm afraid I am not authorized to put this sort of call through
TELEMARKETER [HUFFILY]: What do you mean, 'this sort of call'?
ME: Calls from American Express.
TELEMARKETER [BLUSTERS]: And who told you that you are not authorized?
ME: Our company director.
ME: Yes. Except that isn't his name. But good try!
TELEMARKETER [SOUNDING UPSET]: And when did he tell you this?
ME: Several months ago, around the time that he found out his girlfriend was having an affair with an American Express executive.
ME: Oh yes, it was very traumatic. It was a female executive actually, so he's had that to deal with as well. I think he thinks it was his fault somehow. He's now having major issues with gender confusion, but he's working through it with his therapist.
TELEMARKETER: I hardly think this is appropriate...
ME: Oh it was VERY inappropriate. They had just opened a joint account when she left him, with American Express actually. So it was supposed to be a serious relationship...
TELEMARKETER [IMPATIENTLY]: Can you PLEASE just put me through to Mr [NAME OF MY BOSS]
ME: Oh, you got his name right this time! Well that's better. But he's still not interested in taking this call. Not after all the trauma. If he so much as hears the words 'American Express', he breaks out in a rash and gets vertigo.

Friday 18 June 2010

There's bad things, and then there's BAD things...

Although I'm still cheerful, I've had a slightly stupid day today. My shoe completely disintegrated on the way to work, forcing me to stop on the way in and buy new shoes (for £3, win!) and be late by about half an hour. Then I got a ninja paper-cut on my finger (that's the type where you don't notice it until you see it, then it's like AAAAAAAARGH!), so now writing with a pen without pulling a weird face is impossible. Also, I got my foot stuck under my desk somehow, and was slightly too embarrassed to admit it, so I had to act like I was too busy to get up and answer the entryphone when it rang. My foot is now free, but has a scratch on it to match the ninja papercut. Also, the ice-cream van keeps driving by my place of work, loudly taunting me with its songs of liberation and joie de vivre. I have been called 'Eleanor' 4 times on the phone, and received one obscene email. I have also been proposed to by a tramp through the medium of song. All this in one day, and it's only the afternoon!

However, I can only imagine that things will get worse later if England don't win... I imagine the inhabitants of Acton (Crackton) don't take kindly to sporting defeat, especially since a healthy majority of them love sports so much that they wear the clothing in spite of a total lack of participation...

Thursday 27 May 2010

Twits of Telephony, or 'NO! I AM NOT ALEXANDER!!'

Today I have decided to change my landline number. I am moving to a new flat soon, and had been toying with the idea of trying to take my phone number with me so I wouldn't have to get used to a new one. I am now distinctly not toying with that idea. That idea is now been firmly locked in the toybox, with ten padlocks and a fat Rottweiler sitting on top. This is because I have recently received a deluge of answerphone messages from people clearly under the impression that they are leaving a message for someone who IS NOT HERE. Often, said messages are in interesting languages or accents, but are thus indecipherable and therefore simply require immediate deletion.

There was the mad old Irish lady who rambled on for a good five minutes about wanting to close her building society account (at least I think that's what she was saying; I'm pretty sure she was drunk, too). I felt quite sorry for her, as she'd obviously poured out everything she wanted to say to the building society in this message, and it was never going to be heard by them. To be honest, it wouldn't have been much use even if she had got through to their voicemail instead of mine, as she wittered on so much that she forgot to leave her name and number. It was like some sort of tragic romance of missed connections. 'The Old Drunk and the Building Society'. Very Mills & Boone.

Then there was the woman who was trying to call someone named Robert Ayre. I've had a few calls for this guy, so I assume he's either lived here at some point in the past, or he's gleefully handing out a fake number to people he doesn't want to talk to, and it just happens to be mine. Perhaps I was unwittingly employed as his own personal 'flirt divert'. Either way, this one woman called, asked for him, and politely apologised when I explained that she had the wrong number. She then instantly redialled the same number, and got me again. I explained her mistake again, and she apologised a little more impatiently, and hung up. At this point, most people would have realised that the number they had written down was not correct, and either given up or resorted to one of the many other avenues of communication that technology has granted us. But not this lady. She knew who she wanted to speak to, and she had written down this exact number, so she was going to keep calling it until Robert Ayre had the decency to drop by and answer it, goddamnit! I ended up explaining to her that, no matter how many times she called this number, Robert Ayre simply wasn't going to pick up. And politely asked her to stop trying, as it was buggering up my Michael Cera marathon. And nobody should EVER obstruct the watching of Michael Cera movies. The phone rang again two minutes later. I picked it up and immediately hung up again.

I'll never understand the tenacity of people who are convinced that your phone number belongs to someone else, with whom they need to get in touch. I used to get a very old woman calling me at around 3am, asking for Alexander. I don't know why she would repeatedly call Alexander at 3am, but I don't blame him for giving her a fake number if that's what she's likely to do with it! Even more than the antisocial hour, I was more pissed off by the fact that, after I answered, she'd always begin her call with 'Is that Alexander?'. Do I bloody well sound like an Alexander?? I know I don't exactly have a chipmunk voice, but I was a bit offended that she'd hear my voice and instantly think 'Ah yes, clearly a bloke'! I had to work hard to stave off the potential tranny-voice-complex that she could have sparked off there. Anyway, I explained on about six separate occasions that she had the wrong number, and ended up almost begging her to stop calling because I had to be up early in the mornings! After that, I just did my instant hang-up trick, and that seemed to finally get the message across.

Today's answerphone messages (the inspiration for this post) struck me as being particularly silly. I had two messages, presumably left while I was at work, from a woman who seemed to think I was an office of some kind. She was trying to speak to somebody named 'Ian'. Obviously she saw through my ruse of setting up an answerphone clearly stating YOU HAVE REACHED ELLEN GALLAGHER, PLEASE LEAVE A MESSAGE AND I'LL GET BACK TO YOU AS SOON AS I CAN, and realised that I am in fact a business office with an employee named Ian. That doesn't answer its phones during business hours and instead lets you go to answerphone. Twice. Dang, I hate when people see through my attempts to disguise my secret business as a private address!

**UPDATE** Part 2 of this insanity here

Thursday 20 May 2010

Disney and Marvel - odd or fabulous?

Don't worry - no spoilers for Iron Man 2 here. I am just examining a tiny plot detail that does not give anything away!

I went to see Iron Man 2 yesterday evening, and thoroughly enjoyed it at least as much as I expected to. Not only was it fast-paced and witty, but the visual effects were stunning and (mostly) excellently crafted. And Robert Downey Jr isn't half yummy for an old bloke!

I also greatly appreciated the scenes featuring footage of Tony Stark's father, Howard Stark. These seemed to be a direct homage to the televised speeches of the futuristically-minded Walt Disney, right down to the model 'city of the future' that was so clearly modelled on Walt's plans for EPCOT. For non-Disneyphiles, EPCOT is an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow. Much like Stark senior, Disney firmly believed that technological advances and a new take on city structure would lead to an amazing and bright future of ease, comfort and peace. Although EPCOT is now a theme park with interestingly eclectic (but rather bizarre) selection of zones. Among these, one can explore an 'Innoventions' pavilion, which is focused on the future and latest, or next, technological advances. Or a short stroll away, it is possible to wander through eleven different (miniature) countries in a single afternoon. However, Walt Disney's plan for the land was to install a real town, where people could live and work, and take advantage of the latest technology in public transport and domestic convenience. He planned to lease out the living quarters, and then kit them out with cutting-edge appliances. In order to do this he hoped to partner with the manufacturing companies. They would use his model town as a sort of large-scale showhome, where their products could be demonstrated and admired in action. They would then come in and replace the items for the tenants as soon as something new and better came onto the market, and so the inhabitants would live in a permanent, idealistic state of futuristic comfort and ease. Whether this would have worked cannot be seen, as Walt died before his plans could be put into action, and his successors decided that an odd but interesting theme park would be a better use of the hub-and-spoke based layout. If you're interested in Disney theme park history, or just want to know what happened to rides that are no longer there, I strongly recommend that you visit Yesterland.

Click here to see Walt warmly discussing his vision of the future; if you've seen Iron Man 2 you'll know what I mean. Right down to the colour saturation in the film, and Howard Stark's groomed, neatly mustachioed appearance; this is a subtle but excellently executed reference. I assume that it is intended as an homage rather than anything more subversive, as Disney recently completed their acquisition of Marvel Entertainment (read the official announcement here). This means that they hold the license to all of Marvel's characters, including Iron Man, of course. The deal took at least the best part of a year to complete, and so it is logical to assume that Iron Man 2 was made with this in mind. The Disney logo appears before the film in the movie theatre, and Disney stores have begun to market Iron Man merchandise. While some would see this nod to Disney's vision as a despicable bit of branding, I was actually quite touched by it. A reference point considered widely recognisable (although most would relate to it subconsciously) in popular culture was used to convey a sense of history and familiarity. Even if the movie-going public do not instantly make the connection (as many Disney nerds surely did!), the image and cadence of 'Uncle Walt's television appearances have been so omnipresent since the middle of the last century, I believe that one cannot help but feel nostalgic during these scenes. Although Howard Stark is portrayed as a driven and serious businessman, his vision of the future is just as safe and pleasant as Walt's.

Of course, there the analogy begins to break down, as Walt then went and ruined his lovely image (to a modern observer, at least) by shopping several innocent animators to the House Un-American Activities Committee of Congress because they were involved in unions that got in his way. He also went a bit mental and claimed that the Screen Actors' Guild was a communist organisation. I think it's safe to say his lovely future vision did not include communism then...

Monday 17 May 2010

The Independence of Woman, otherwise known as 'Shut Up Whinging and Make Me a Sandwich!'

Right, I feel it's time that I briefly discuss what it means to be an independent woman in today's world. No, shut up, I mean it. I've just listened to some Aretha Franklin, and am a proud owner of no Y chromasomes, so I feel at least partially qualified to wax lyrical on this subject. I bought all my own hair, and am capable of building a damn fine shoe-rack unassisted. I can bake a cake, and yet also wire a plug. And yet, despite all of this, I think some schools of feminist thought are swiftly becoming unhelpful and irrelevant. Of course, there are many parts of the world where women are still downtrodden and marginalized, and I feel especially fortunate to have escaped such a life by mere virtue of my birth location and upbringing. I also think that the gender pay gap is unfair and archaic (although it is thought to be gradually narrowing).

However, I have often witnessed women in my own society whinging on about the lack of chivalry in this world while simultaneously holding the belief that women should be treated equally to men. WHAT?! Seriously, ladies. You can't demand equality in one breath and superiority in the next without seriously undermining both of your arguments. That's like wearing massive baggy y-fronts under a micro-miniskirt - it's all convenience and comfort until somebody inevitably notices and calls you a moron. I personally like to hold doors open for people because THEY ARE PEOPLE and cannot walk through a closed door without banging their noses. It's polite. Therefore, the only reason you'll find me getting annoyed at a bloke, or indeed a woman, for letting a door slam in my face is because it is RUDE, regardless of my own gender or theirs. Larger and more serious gender arguments aside (which I'll leave to those more learned and eloquent than myself), I think many women concentrate on the wrong things when they think of women's rights. They focus on what would be slightly more convenient to them rather than what is important. Of course we should have the right to vote, to wear trousers as we please and get paid the same amount for the same work as a man. We have the right to be indignant if a man lunges at us in a bar with no invitation. But conversely, we do not have the right to get all pissy if we randomly lunge at a man in a bar and he isn't particularly thrilled. Oh no, the word 'lunge' has now got an image of Richard Simmons in my head...

When it comes to clothing, I personally relish my femininity when it suits me, and yet also own a pair of massive, very manly boots. I'm not above wearing said boots with something pretty, just because I can. But I do not expect to be placed on a pedestal by society at large because of my propensity to own skirts and glitter. I know plenty of men who own skirts and glitter, and brandish both with aplomb, but face a brutishly unfair potential backlash for doing so. People who believe that men shouldn't do that make me think 'SHUT UP! A Christmas tree isn't generally thought of as female but you put flippin' jewellery all over that with glee!'

If we all just try our best to do the right thing by one another, no matter whether we are male, female or a bit of both, I think it's a bloody good first step toward equality. Which has got to be much better than a whiney-ass 'ME FIRST!' kinda world.

Monday 10 May 2010

And so it begins...

Welcome to my new blog. It begins as a result of a friend's suggestion that I stop clogging up everyone's Facebook newsfeed with my lunacy and instead confine it to a more containable forum. Well, that's not how she put it, but then again she's a lawyer and we know how often they say what they're REALLY thinking...

I'm going to jump right in with a lovely story. It's called 'Oh For The Love of All That is Sacred, Please Shut Up'. It begins on the 207 to White City, on a Monday morning that was both bright and cheery (stop interrupting, yes it was). All was going well for the gentle commuters, as a soft breeze was playing through the open window and there were actually enough seats for everyone, for once. Some peacefully read books, others watched the world go by through the (fairly) clean windows. The pervading atmosphere was of calm and contemplation. Until the bus pulled into The Stop of Doom. Now, I'm not sure if it's just me that has noticed this stop as particularly portentous of calamity, but I will add the detail that it's VERY close to a very cheap off-licence. That opens weirdly early, it seems. Or they don't mind who they sell nail-varnish remover to outside of licensing hours. Either way, there is often some sort of interesting character waiting at this stop; part of me would like to believe that they lie in wait for my particular bus to pass by so that they may enliven my morning (the alternative is to accept that there are actually enough of them around for there to be one on every bus). Today was no exception. A woman the size of a generous futon lolloped aboard, greeting the startled passengers with a genial wordless bellow. She shoehorned herself into the nearest seat-and-a-half, much to the delight of the girl attempting to sit in the half a seat beside. Having taken a couple of stops to catch her breath, she began humming to herself loudly, and sort of shuffly-dancing with her feet. At this point, I began to wonder if she couldn't help her unusual bus-entering caper. However, at that point she yawned, and melted the eyelashes off all of us sitting within 10 meters of her. Ah, so this was 70 per cent proof, self-induced crazy then. As I was absorbing this fact, and trying to find a facial orifice out of which it was safe to breathe, she suddenly lunged forward and tapped the shoulder of the bloke in front of her. He was attempting to listen to some music, and so it took her a couple of seconds to get his attention, by which time she was quivering with excitement. 'Yes?' said our intrepid businessman, pulling an earbud to one side. 'ILIKEYOURSUIT' came the reply. 'Pardon?' 'ILIKEYOURSUIT, BUTYOURHAIRISGREASY!!!' The man looked blank and said 'Uh, thanks for that.' I inwardly applauded his succinct response.
The woman amused herself for the rest of the journey by reading a magazine and telling the air about her personal life. 'YOUDON'TWANTTOMEETMYBROTHER!! HE'STRYINGTOGETMARRIEDBUTHEHASATEMPER.' Then an article in the magazine would catch her eye 'CHEATING ON HIS WIFE??! FOR F**KING WHY?!!' I was quite touched at her indignation for the unknown wronged woman, until I noticed she was holding the magazine upside-down. Ah, so that was just the crazy talking, then. She also began an argument with a man who had sat beside her, and who had and become understandably irritated with her constantly nudging him in the side as she completed some sort of interpretive dance. The argument ended with her accusing him of being a child-abuser, at which point he quietly moved to a seat far away.

I left the bus during her rousing rendition of 'Everybody was Kung-Fu Fighting', complete with tuneless, high-pitched screech where the instrumental riff would usually be. And several racial slurs that certainly weren't in the radio edit.

Oh well, at least it wasn't a boring commute...