Discover my sagas and cosy crimes

Monday, April 30, 2007

Spider, RIP

A moment's silence, if you will. Regular readers will know we've had a really big, but quite cute, spider living in our bathroom for months. I've blogged about it regularly here. Well, the spider is now no more. It has spun its last web and deceased, expired, kaput. It's dead.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


To Brixton Academy on Friday night to see James. A fab night, a brilliant gig and a mad sign by the stage depicting No Crowd Surfing which made no difference whatsoever to lead singer Tim Booth. A great gig. PS: I'm not sad enough to take my phone to gigs to take pics, I found this online. People were searched going into the Academy for drugs and such. If only mobile phones and video cameras could have been confiscated too.

Coronation Street podcast

I have now podded my latest cast. Yes, the monthly Coronation Street podcast has gone live over at The Soap Show. It’s called Word on the Street, involves a chat about the latest storylines and reveals some upcoming spoilers. You can have a listen to it here.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Entertainer

To the Old Vic this week to see Robert Lindsay and Pam Ferris (the woman from Darling Buds of May who wasn’t Catherine Zeta-Jones) in The Entertainer. It was an excellent piece of theatre. I raise my hat to Robert Lindsay who, apart from being gorgeous, whilst acting on stage and delivering dialogue, someone’s mobile phone went off in the audience. A lot of people laughed, I didn’t. Robert gave the audience member a stare and carried on. He should have threatened to walk off stage, like Richard Griffiths once did.

A return to the Old Vic this summer is on the cards as they’re running Gaslight (aka The Murder in Thornton Square) by Patrick Hamilton. I’ve read all his novels, you know.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Desperate Housewives

Now then, I thought this was funny but my sense of humour fell flat elsewhere in our house when I laid these kitchen knives out on the bench. Which US drama series does this picture remind you of?
Disparate Houseknives. I'll get me coat.

April in the garden

The garden is a froth of delight at the minute. There's all sorts of stuff up and loads more either ready to flower or peeking through the soil set for summer delight. The apple tree looks like its in a cider commercial showing off its blossom (the tart) while the tulips are screaming 'look at me'. It is absolutely beautiful.

Alice in Sunderland

The only comic I’ve read since being a kid is Viz, so I wasn’t sure about buying a comic book even if it was about the city I call home.

When I first saw Alice in Sunderland advertised it was on a poster in a window of a central London comic shop. I went inside to find out more but as soon as I got through the door I knew I’d never find what I was looking for.

The first thing that hit me when I entered the shop was the stench of sweat from the sort of men who wear heavy long black coats on a hot day and biker boots when they don’t own a bike.

I was the only woman in the shop, my first time ever in a comic book store and what a cliché it was. Yes, I can confirm that comic store guy from The Simpsons is alive and well and living in London. I pretended to browse the books without having a clue what I was looking at, all the while clocking my fellow shoppers.

Most of them were greasy geezers with an intense gaze and a whiff of BO. There might have been a ponytail or two. I scuttled out, amused by the cliché of the comic shop guys but disappointed that I couldn’t find out more on the book.

I forgot about it for a few weeks until a sparkling review in Time Out pointed to an exhibition of artwork from the book at the Cartoon Gallery in London, so off I went in. And when I came out, I’d bought a signed copy of the book, it’s fantastic.

What makes it so special?

To a Mackem, it’s the history. The sensitive and generous way Bryan Talbot has covered the city from back then to now brought a lump to my throat more than once. Who’d have thought a comic book could have moved me so much?

You don’t need to know anything about Sunderland to enjoy this book because it’s also about the artwork, the journalism and extensive research that’s gone into making this one of the most special books I know I’ll ever own.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Lady gardeners

Regular readers of this blog will know I like gardening and that’s why I think this woman is a star. Never mind giving her half an hour once a week on telly, we want Christine knighted (well, I do). With the exception of the delectable Monty Don, women gardeners are so much better to watch on TV than their male counterparts. Women gardeners don’t mind getting their hands dirty, nails snapped, knees muddy. Women of the soil like Christine, Carol Klein and that posh woman who gardens in her skirt and old shoes, I salute you, although I’m still reserving judgement for Charlie Dimmock.

From Twinkle to My Guy, my life in women’s magazines

I hate women’s magazines. I did read them once, I used to love them, swear by them and subscribe to them, but not any more. There was a point when I was flicking through the latest Eve or Cosmo or Red or whatever it was and I faced up to the fact that nothing these mags could tell me was relevant to my life any more. I knew myself better than a mag-hag hack would ever do, so why let someone in an office dictate how I should feel, look and aspire to be? Besides, I figured there were better ways to spend a couple of quid than on pages of adverts. Am I cynical and frumpy in not liking women’s mags? No, I just happen to think they’re full of advice I don’t need or want and they focus on celebrities I have no interest in. I also fully believe the glossies are less truthful than the real-life women’s mags aimed at a different demographic, these I applaud wholeheartedly. You know the ones I mean, the supermarket mags – Take a Break, Real Life, Chat, Have a Fag.

Before I turned my back on women’s mags, I was a long-time devotee always keen for a fix of my favourite glossy or weekly. And so come with me now, if you will, on a stroll down memory lane for a look at my life through women’s magazines.

The very first mag I ever read was a comic and I can vividly remember my mum bringing in Twinkle from the shops, just for me. I must have been under ten years old. From Twinkle I graduated to reading, greedily, both Bunty and Mandy each week and absolutely loving and taking delight in the wickedly subversive Blind Bettina comic strip. There's a fab woman here called Mel Gibson (yes, really) who did her PhD on girls' comics.

Next, it must have been Jackie which became my bible for a few years, getting all the advice from Cathy and Claire that I never knew I needed. Oh, and then came the biggest leap of all. From Donny Osmond and David Cassidy pinups in Jackie I stepped up to My Guy, the magazine I had to hide from my mother because she didn’t approve. It was racy, was My Guy, it had snogging and girls on the pill. I learned a lot from My Guy, believe me I did. And then through my late teen years and early twenties I was heavily into music magazines so women’s mags went by the wayside as Smash Hits, Sounds and NME became my reading material of choice.

And then something exciting happened, Company magazine was launched as a magazine for the younger sister readers of Cosmo. Company magazine fired up my imagination, I copied the clothes, the make-up, I even knitted up some of their patterns in the ‘80s. I especially remember a fantastic black mohair jumper with batwing sleeves and buttons up the back. It went a treat with black knickerbockers, back-combed black hair and pixie boots. Company magazine even published an article of mine back in 1987, my first ever piece of published writing since getting a poem in my parents’ local Sunday paper.

The logical step up from Company was Cosmo which I’d only ever read – in pop-eyed shock at what women could and did do - in the hairdresser’s while waiting for my mum who was under the dryer with curlers in her hair. I invited Cosmo into my life for a few years although not in the way I had enjoyed Company earlier. Cosmo was glossier, more self-aware, more self-promoting and it carried more advertising. I think I knew then that my love-affair with women’s magazines was coming to an end but when I lived overseas I still had the English Cosmo sent to me on subscription each month, preferring it to any of the no-brainer women’s magazines aimed at the Southern California market. Back in England, Cosmo and I parted company. Part of this was wanting something real, down to earth again after living in the candy floss of La-La land. Cosmo was too candy floss. New women’s magazines had sprung up while I’d been away and Real, Red and Eve became my reading of choice until they too stayed on the shelf in the shop after I realised that I was of an age and opinion now that nothing these mags could ever say to me would be something I’d want to read.

Becoming a mature student on a journalism course involved spending time analysing print media where women’s magazines came under the academic microscope. The more I studied their appeal to the masses of misses, the more they repelled me. I don’t touch them any more, I just said no. Well, ok, that’s not entirely true.

There’s one women’s mag that I do still read. I’ve subscribed to it since Issue 1 and was lucky enough to interview its original editor as part of my degree a few years ago. It’s Mslexia magazine, a specialist journal that comes with a tagline of “for women who write”.

Now, if only there was a mass market magazine “for women who think”.
[Originally written by me for Dollymix]

Monday, April 16, 2007

Bint of the week

I'm priviliged, nay, honoured to have been voted Bint of the Week on Infomaniac's blog. It's a long post and I'm right at the bottom. I'm chuffed - even if Bint is mis-spelled in a very rude way!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

When I am Queen

When I'm Queen I'd open up Buckingham Palace, free of charge, for anyone who wants to come in and have a look around and take tea in the gardens, wearing whatever they blinkin' well like. No hats, no pomp, no circumstance, just fun - and a good nosy around my London home. When I'm Queen I'd ban all reality TV shows involving plastic surgery and/or Simon Cowell. I'd get rid of Page 3 girls, lads' mags and the Soccerette slot from Sky Sports' otherwise brilliant Soccer AM show. I'd insist on confidence building and assertiveness training classes for all school children, girls and boys, starting from primary school up. I'd make yoga classes free of charge, up and down the land. I'd make Kathy Burke Prime Minster. And finally, I'd abolish the monarchy, sending out various members of my family to do an honest day's toil on a factory floor.
[Originally written by me for Dollymix]

Marks and Spencer’s pants

Does anyone remember the advert for Richard Shops? If, like me, the thought of it rings a bell way back in the depths of your mind, didn’t the song in the ad go something like this:

Richard Shops are filled with all the pretty things
Soft and lovely pretty things to wear
Come now, pretty things, make the world a prettier place
Come prettier, come buy your clothes at Richard Shops

I hadn’t thought about Richard Shops in years, not until the new ad for Marks and Spencer aired the other week. You know the one I mean, it’s got Itchy Coo Park as the soundtrack, and a pre-pregnant Myleene Klass in her knickers as the USP.

It’s also got Twiggy and a bunch of air-brushed lovelies floating around in pretty things to wear, sitting in a field having a picnic and generally being too girly for their own good. But I don’t want adverts for pretty things, floaty dresses, pointy shoes, floppy hats, things I’ll wear once and never put on again. I don’t want Myleene Klass’ knockers on my telly. What I’d like to see are adverts for proper clothes worn by proper women. You know what I mean. The pair of jeans that last for seven years, the out of shape jumper you never want to take off, the t-shirt that hugs your bumps in all the right places, the shoes that give you super powers. The sort of clothes that aren’t precious, are for every day, hard working and funky. And that’s something a floaty dress and a floppy hat can never, ever be. [Originally written by me for Dollymix]

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Robert Elms

Robert Elms is a name perhaps more familiar to those who live in London rather than those who live out. He does an excellent show on BBC Radio London and pops up as a paid talking head on loads of shows about London too. He's also a journalist and was one of the major New Romantics back in the '80s. I've just finished reading his book A Life In Threads: The Way We Wore and recommend it highly to anyone - by which I mean everyone - with an interest in clothes, music and youth culture but particularly and especially, to anyone (like me), who used to dress like this.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Coronation Street women

As well as being a Corrie fan and all round good blogger here at Flaming Nora, I’m also writing for women’s blog The Dolly Mix. Corrie fans might like to have a look at my latest musings on the Women of Coronation Street and why I find them compelling viewing. You can have a look at it here, but only if you’d like to.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Just Julie

It’s not usual that I have either the inclination or time to read a book from start to finish in one go but I did it this weekend. It was Julie Goodyear’s autobiography Just Julie, a cracking read. It was hard to tell where Julie’s life ended and Bet Lynch’s began but after 25 years of Julie playing Bet on Corrie, it’s no wonder. Julie doesn't come across as luvvie in the same way that this other fab ex-Corrie actress does but her book is worth reading for loads of Corrie gossip from the old days especially the bit about her upstaging Pat Phoenix, who played Elsie Tanner.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

April in the garden

April in the garden and all is bright and flowery. Went to our local garden centre this morning to get some seed potatoes and spotted Mackenzie Crook (from The Office and Pirates of the Carribbean) in there buying bags of compost and plants. I've ticked him off the list of celebs I've spotted since moving to London. The garden centre's in a part of north London close to Muswell Hill and Crouch End where the moneyed media people live. Me, I live on t'other side of the tracks.
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