Bouquets, Boys & Barbershop Quartets

Flowers for a fella?

Flowers for a fella?

Nothing says I’m sorry like flowers. Or at least that’s what I thought. As it turns out, a little floral something can make things a whole lot worse.

Interflora-Ho!

Last week I was bang out of order with Monsieur P. A big fat apology was in order. I’d already said I was sorry. I’d followed that up with a proper tail-between-my-legs text message too. What was needed now was a grand gesture courtesy of Interflora.

Boy’s Bouquet

It started with me scouring the internet for an arrangement that fitted the crime. I was on the hunt for something that said I’m genuinely sorry without being OTT – granted I’d been a bit of a prat but I hadn’t invaded Poland or anything. I had to find a masculine-looking bouquet. And I was fairly pleased with what I managed to unearth. The flowers were subtle not showy, in neutral shades, not My Little Pony pink.

Reactive Reaction

Three hours later I got a text message from Monsieur P. The eagle had most definitely landed…

“Are you stupid?! Don’t send me flowers to my office. It’s so embarrassing. I had to walk through the office past all my colleagues with a bouquet. Do boys even send flowers to boys?”

Not exactly the reaction I’d been hoping for.

Guilty As Charged?

For the rest of the day I was dreading coming home. I was convinced I was about to go up against a firing squad. As it turns out though, Monsieur P was very cheery as he walked in the door. It was as if nothing had happened. So I decided to broach the white elephant in room.

“I’m sorry about yesterday – and the flowers.”

“Oh don’t worry it’s all forgotten.”

“Erm, maybe you should think about the sentiment, though.”

“The sentiment was that you felt guilty.”

“No. Well yes. No. But…”

“What’s for dinner, anyway?”

Flipping The Bird Barbershop Style

And right there I learned something new about our relationship. Monsieur P is very of the moment. He likes to sort issues out there and then and then move on. Me, on the other hand, I like to think about things and process them. I guess I can chalk up the whole thing as a relationship learning curve. But one thing’s for sure, I’m glad I am a processor and didn’t act upon the advice one of my colleagues gave me…

“Oh, send him another bunch of flowers. But a really big pink bouquet this time. With a card that reads ‘F*ck You’. Or better still, send a barbershop quartet.”

Okay so help me here people. Is it okay for fellas to send fellas flowers – especially when said fella is your fella? Answers on a postcard, please…

Curly Kale, Objets d’Art & Loo Brushes

I say! A farmers' market!

I say! A farmers’ market!

Jesus Christ on a bike. I’m turning into one of those smug-married, middle-class tw*ts that I used to despise so much. Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t be that surprised. After all, I am the boy that’s so Home Counties I thought the word ‘turd’ was spelled ‘terde’. I kid you not.

Yummy Mummy Territory

Anyhow, last weekend I sank to new middle-class lows. I found myself mooching around the Saturday morning farmers’ market in leafy West Hampstead. So there I was, a still-dusted-with-flour baguette stuffed under one arm, a copy of the Guardian under the other, chatting to a Starbucks-swilling yummy mummy about the virtues of sun-blushed baby plum tomatoes as I waited in line for some venison and leek sausages. I even bought some curly kale. I wouldn’t mind but I haven’t got the foggiest what curly kale is yet alone how to cook it.

Kale and other posh stuff

Kale and other posh stuff

Middle-class Mecca

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the next day I could be seen swanning around that Mecca of middle-classness, Habitat. Reason being, I was on a mission for ‘objets d’art’. Since moving in to my new pad with Monsieur P, I’ve felt like we’ve not really put our stamp on the place. For weeks now, our home has felt a bit cold and unloved.

Bargain Hunter

While I’m still in denial about my trip to Habitat, it did unearth an interesting dynamic between me and Monsieur P. When we first arrived in the store, he instructed me to only buy items in the front section of the shop. I couldn’t work out why browsing frontiers had been set but then the penny dropped. Dangling above our heads was a sign emblazoned with the message ‘25% Off’. I should have realised – Monsieur P is a bargain hunter extraordinaire. If there’s a deal to be had, he’ll sniff it out with that French hooter of his, trust me.

The Habitat evidence

The Habitat evidence

More de Gaulle Than Gaultier

Suffice to say I ignored his directive and proceeded to pirouette around the shop, sweeping up as many over-priced vases as I could. It wasn’t long before I had a shop assistant in tow, ferrying my selections back to the cash register. At this point, Monsieur P realised he was fighting a losing battle and so retired to the comfort of a showroom sofa to play Candy Crush. Now, despite being a Frenchman, my fella isn’t the most artistic or creative of souls – he’s more de Gaulle than Gaultier – and so was happy to defer the interior design choices to me.

Two Fingers a la Loo Brush

After I’d gone around the ground floor like a carp gulping in, well, just about everything, I figured it was time to ascend the grand staircase up to Bathrooms & Bedrooms. I suggested to Monsieur P that he may wish to decamp to one of the cushion-plumped beds on the first floor while I devoured the next wave of goods. He graciously declined and instead suggested that I send him a photo of anything ‘expensive’ to his phone for verification purposes. This irked me greatly so I proceeded to send him a picture of a loo brush.

My Habitat-Matalan Objets d'Art

My Habitat-Matalan Objets d’Art


Matalan Wake-up Call

Fast forward to Monday back in the office. I recalled my middle-class weekend to one of my colleagues who was aghast at just how middle England I’d become. “I know exactly what you need”, she said, and proceeded to frog-march me to her car. Before I knew it we had pulled up in front of a shop I never even knew existed – Matalan. In case you’ve never been to one, it’s the homeware equivalent of Primark. To say I went wild in the aisles is an understatement. For the same price as two Habitat vases, I had kitted out my flat with more objets d’art than I knew what to do with.

Old Habitats Die Hard

Me being me, though, I transferred said objets from my cheap and nasty Matalan carriers into, yes, you’ve guessed it, Habitat bags. I mean, what would the yummy mummies of West Hampstead say? As the old adage goes, you can take the boy out of the Home Counties, but you can’t take the Home Counties out of the boy.

Exasperdating | Mr Wet Lettuce

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Exasperdating | Mr Wet Lettuce

Age: 39
Height: 5’10″
Build: Toned
Hair: Grey
Eyes: Brown
Job: Teacher

Lettuces

Lettuces

I’ve always had a bit of thing for fellas with salt and pepper hair. Granted, this guy’s barnet was more on the salty side, but it just made him look all the more distinguished. And the fact he was a piano-playing music teacher was a big plus point, too. I’ve always been in awe of people who can tinkle the ivories (learning to play the clarinet at school was a major-league error on my part – it’s really hard to sing along at the same time).

Now, I should mention something quite important at this point. When I spotted this guy’s online profile, I couldn’t help but think ‘I know you from somewhere’. I actually asked him outright if we’d met before, but the closest we could get to crossing paths was that we used to go to the same nightclub years ago. Anyhow, the date had the potential to be good – a riverside walk with takeaway coffees on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

However, it wasn’t long before I realised this guy was a bit beige – he really didn’t have much to say for himself. Our rendezvous finished rather bizarrely with him taking me to a Marks & Spencer food hall. I had to follow him around while he loaded up his shopping basket for his dinner. Hardly the stuff of a romantic encounter.

Just before we parted company – somewhere near the cucumbers – I had another I’m-sure-I-know-you moment. “So you used to go to Ghetto nightclub?”, I quizzed. “Well, once or twice. And not really through choice. A guy I dated used to drag me down there.” All of a sudden the supermarket shelves melted around me, my insides churned in exam-style panic, and an invisible film camera whizzed down the aisle towards me for that penny-dropping close-up. OH. MY. GOD. This guy used to go out with my best friend! How could I have forgotten? Fair-dos, it was really going back some, but it was me that had branded him Mr Wet Lettuce.

Leotards, Lace Gloves & Pointy Bras

Madonna

Madonna

Our Glorious Leader

OGL turned 55 yesterday. In case you don’t know, OGL stands for Our Glorious Leader. And no, that’s not David Cameron. He’s more of a KBL – Kinda Beige Leader. OGL does, of course, refer to Madonna. And, despite her pillow cheeks, crow-like hands and continued dabblings with Kabollocks, she’s still the undisputed Queen of Pop. Last year alone, for example, she scored the biggest-selling tour, her MDNA album went to No.1 in 50-odd countries and her performance at the Superbowl halftime show went on to be the most-watched show in the history of American TV. This level of continued success is no mean feat given the increasingly disposable culture we live in. ‘Sticking’ in today’s fickle material world is easier said than done. But if anyone can pull it off, I guess it’s the self-proclaimed Material Girl.

Soundtrack To My Life

Like so many people, I’ve grown up with Madonna. In fact, it’s fair to say she provided the soundtrack to my childhood, teens and even my early adult life. And now, as a 30-somethinger, she’s still figures heavily on my playlists. Not bad when you consider she and I started out together on vinyl over 3 decades ago. What’s more, M has managed to survive in the ever-changing landscape of music while most of her contemporaries have all fallen by the wayside. The triumvirate of pop that was Prince, Michael Jackson and Madonna is no more: Prince disappeared up his own backside while poor old Michael went from genius to grotesque before finally popping his clogs. These days, Madonna stands alone as the last of the true mega-stars.

Genre Shifting

So what’s the secret to her success? Well, there’s that oft-quoted phrase, ‘she constantly reinvents herself’. While it’s a total cliche, it also happens to be true. Madonna realised early on in her career that in order to remain relevant you have to embrace change – or go one better and lead it. As such, she became a master of transformation, rooting out happening producers, keeping a close eye on club culture and continually updating her sound. Leaf through her back catalogue and you’ll see she’s ticked off just about every genre going: pop, dance, electronica, techno, folk, country, gospel, R’n’B, funk, power ballads, acid rock… hell, she’s even had a crack at Sondheim and Lloyd Webber. Admittedly, some of her musical outings have been more successful than others but one thing she cannot be accused of is being ‘safe’. While she’s always got into the groove, she’s never got stuck in one.


Style Icon

Each aural escapade has also been accompanied by a different look. The woman’s like a chameleon, having morphed from a lace glove-wearing punk in the Eighties to a high-kicking granny in a leotard in the Noughties by way of a conical bra-ed superwoman in the Nineties. And that’s before we’ve even thought about her stints as a geisha, a cowgirl, a gangster’s moll, a flamenco dancer, a freedom fighter, a bride-to-be and, oh yes, a hitchhiker in the buff. My personal fave was when she performed Vogue at the MTV Music Awards back in 1990 as Marie Antoinette, complete with powdered wig and bustled gown. Again, no-one can say that the girl doesn’t try to shake things up.

Long Live The Queen

For me, it’s this fusion of new sounds and styles that has ensured La Ciccone‘s longevity. Each time she’s released an album it’s as if she’s reborn as a totally different pop star. It’s a clever strategy – reincarnate yourself so people never have enough time to get bored of you – and certainly one that pretenders to her throne, like Britney Spears and Lady Gaga, have all tried to emulate. One thing’s for sure, I still love Madonna as much as I did all those years ago when I first listened to True Blue with my Sony Walkman clipped onto my belt. So happy birthday Madge – long may you reign.

Exasperdating | Posh Doc

I’m reblogging this Exasperdating tale as I’ve had a few comments from people that it got a bit lost in yesterday’s post about the new Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi. So, just in case you missed it, here’s my story about the Posh Doc

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Exasperdating | Posh Doc

Age: 27
Height: 5’9
Build: Slim
Hair: Black
Eyes: Blue

Job: Doctor

Doctor! Doctor!

Doctor! Doctor!

I’m munching on a Granny Smith as I pen this installment because, as the old saying goes, ’an apple a day keeps the doctor away’. And trust me, after this encounter, I’m steering well clear of men in white coats.

The Posh Doc wasn’t a one-off date. We’d kind of seen each other for about a month and a half earlier in the year but it had fizzled out. He wasn’t my usual type at all. While looks-wise he ticked all the right boxes – blue eyes, dark hair, a bit of stubble and geek-chic glasses – on the personality front, he was a bit too ‘rah’ for me.

Case in point: he had a nasty habit of saying ‘maaarvellous’ in a terribly high-pitched, horsey-teethed way that only people who’ve gone to private schools seem able to do. Plus he lived in a super-posh flat in an extremely exclusive part of London which I swear mummy and daddy had set him up in. Talking of which, and given that he was a doctor, you would think he’d have kept the gaff a bit cleaner. Frankly, some Cillit Bang wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Anyhow, fast forward six months and, out of the blue, he invites me over for dinner. One fish supper and two bottles of rioja later and we were, well, getting ‘reacquainted’. A couple of days later I dropped him a text to say I’d had fun and would he like to go out for drinks. To which he replied, “I’m a horny drunk. Sorry.” Now, while I may not be a doctor, I think this guy’s self-diagnosis was off the mark. Horny drunk? No, I think he was actually suffering from a nasty affliction called Complete Wankeritis, for which I’m pretty sure there’s no cure.

Capaldi, Copycats & (Tenuous) Exasperdating

My geeky Dr Who T-shirts

My geeky Dr Who T-shirts

Well thank Gallifrey for that! After weeks of speculation (which even included Dame Helen Mirren being thrown into the mix) the identity of the new Doctor Who has finally been revealed.

Tah-dah!

Sunday night saw the BBC spill the beans as to who will play Doctor No.12 in a slightly spangly – and dare I say it, naff – one-off show. To be honest, Doctor Who Live seemed to have more in common with a brand launch than a casting announcement. And to top it off, it was hosted by that most dedicated and famous of Whovians, erm, Zoe Ball.  But I digress…

Star Appeal

The good news is that Peter Capaldi will be taking the helm of the Tardis when the present incumbent, Matt Smith, bows out on Christmas Day. I’m over the moon with this choice of actor. Anyone who’s seen Capaldi in The Thick Of It as the potty-mouthed spin doctor Malcolm will agree that he’s super-talented. His CV includes a BAFTA and an Oscar scoop.

Copycat Docs

Impressive credentials aside, I like the fact that Capaldi’s an older guy. Since Who’s return to telly in the noughties, there’s been a propensity to plump for younger actors in the lead role. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against younger actors playing the Time Lord – after all, my childhood Doctor was a then fresh-faced Peter Davison – but recent casting choices have, in my opinion, resulted in a blur of twenty-something, overly-similar Doctors. When Matt Smith took over from David Tennant I felt there wasn’t enough ‘difference’ between them. It’s as though the Beeb had found a winning formula by way of Tennant and so ran with it again…

WANTED!
Young and slightly gawky-looking foppish geek.
Must wear Shoreditchy outfits and have quiffy hair.
Love of running around quarries a distinct advantage.
Apply to BBC Drama.

Total Antithesis

I believe you need to have a break with the past to be truly memorable. Peter Davison’s Doc is a case in point. The main reason his incarnation worked so well was because it was so fundamentally different to what had come before. Davison’s portrayal as a preppy older brother stood in complete contrast to Tom Baker’s more bohemian-broody figure. The production team of the day knew that replacing Tom Baker with Tom Baker Mark II just wouldn’t work – instead there needed to be a real rupture. So fingers crossed the powers-that-be have got it right this time around and we’ll get a real shift when Smith regenerates into Capaldi later in the year.

Who’s Who?

Here’s the roll call of actors who’ve played the TV Time Lord over the years – it comes in handy at pub quizzes, let me tell you!

1) William Hartnell (1963-1966)

2) Patrick Troughton (1966-1969)

3) Jon Pertwee (1970-1974)

4) Tom Baker (1974-1981)

5) Peter Davison (1981-1984)

6) Colin Baker (1984-1986)

7) Sylvester McCoy (1987-1989, 1996)

8) Paul McGann (1996)

9) Christopher Ecclestone (2005)

10) David Tennant (2005-2010)

11) Matt Smith (2010-2013)

12) Peter Capaldi (2013 – ?)

Date With The Doctor

In (slightly tenuous) honour of Peter Capaldi’s unveiling as the Doctor, here’s an Exasperdating tale about a rendezvous I had with a real-life doctor…

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Exasperdating | Posh Doc

Age: 27
Height: 5’9
Build: Slim
Hair: Black
Eyes: Blue

Job: Doctor

Doctor! Doctor!

Doctor! Doctor!

I’m munching on a Granny Smith as I pen this installment because, as the old saying goes, ’an apple a day keeps the doctor away’. And trust me, after this encounter, I’m steering well clear of men in white coats.

The Posh Doc wasn’t a one-off date. We’d kind of seen each other for about a month and a half earlier in the year but it had fizzled out. He wasn’t my usual type at all. While looks-wise he ticked all the right boxes – blue eyes, dark hair, a bit of stubble and geek-chic glasses – on the personality front, he was a bit too ‘rah’ for me.

Case in point: he had a nasty habit of saying ‘maaarvellous’ in a terribly high-pitched, horsey-teethed way that only people who’ve gone to private schools seem able to do. Plus he lived in a super-posh flat in an extremely exclusive part of London which I swear mummy and daddy had set him up in. Talking of which, and given that he was a doctor, you would think he’d have kept the gaff a bit cleaner. Frankly, some Cillit Bang wouldn’t have gone amiss.

Anyhow, fast forward six months and, out of the blue, he invites me over for dinner. One fish supper and two bottles of rioja later and we were, well, getting ‘reacquainted’. A couple of days later I dropped him a text to say I’d had fun and would he like to go out for drinks. To which he replied, “I’m a horny drunk. Sorry.” Now, while I may not be a doctor, I think this guy’s self-diagnosis was off the mark. Horny drunk? No, I think he was actually suffering from a nasty affliction called Complete Wankeritis, for which I’m pretty sure there’s no cure.

Boutique Greek | Mykonos

Little Venice, Mykonos, Greece

Little Venice, Mykonos, Greece

Here’s a link to a travel blog I wrote about the island of Mykonos…

Boutique Greek | Mykonos