When I was growing up, as a teenager, these are the sort of boys I went to school with and grew up with. They were daft lads, dodgy geezers, nutters, skinheads, radgy gadgees, workie tickets. At school discos, they only danced with each other, and they only ever jumped up and down at the edge of the dance floor, and they never, ever, danced with a girl.
In the 80s they softened. Some of them even wore eye-liner. And for this, some of them got beaten up.
And I look at the boys on TV now, the soft boys, the crying boys, the wearing their heart on their sleeve boys. The boys who dance with girls. The boys who have girls for friends.Who talk for hours on the phone. The insecure boys who bleed all over Facebook, unafraid to show the world that he's got feelings too. And I think to myself, I wish to myself, if only that sort of boy had been at my school disco.
There's not many recipes I've got that I'm willing to share as cast-iron, can't go wrong ones. Regular readers will know I'm not that great a cook so when I come across a recipe that works - and works well - I'm only too happy to share it. Here's a favourite recipe for making nachos, they come out right every single time. Actually, they don't come out right. They come out fantastic.
This is a picture of it before it went in the oven today.
Ingredients: Big bag of your favourite tortilla chips, small tin of refried beans, small jar of salsa / taco sauce, about 4oz grated cheese, paprika for dusting, chillis (either fresh or pickled depending on your taste and what you've got in the cupboard).
1. Thinly spread refried beans on each tortilla chip and lay them slightly overlapping on a baking sheet. This bit takes a while to do and it's a job best done between two people otherwise you'll get bored.
2. Put a dollop of salsa / taco sauce on top of each tortilla chip, now smeared with beans.
3. Bung on a decent layer of grated cheese.
4. Give the whole thing a dusting of paprika all over.
5. Put a thin layer of pickled or chopped fresh chillis - depending on how hot you like it, over the top of it all.
Bake in a hot oven, approx, gas mark 7 for about 10-12 minutes until the cheese is nicely browned how you like it.
When it's cooked and out of the oven, just pull the nachos off the baking tray to eat hot. Grab a beer and enjoy.
And here's a picture of it when it's just come out of the oven.
My brother once had a CB radio and if I caught him in a good mood and gave him 50p, he'd let me play on it too. This was back in the late 70s and very early 80s when yours truly was a teenager and I was well into this new mode of communication. It was different and new and more fun than ringing schoolmates from the phone at the bottom of the stairs by the cold and draughty front door, while my dad yelled through the wall: "How long are you going to be on that thing? I'm not made of bloody money, you know!"
Anyway, I became a dab hand on the CB and had the lingo down pat. It was all ten four good buddy and er, stuff like that. I can't remember any of it now apart from my handle being Evil Edna, after the cartoon character. Anyway, Evil Edna struck up a CB friendship with a young lad going by the handle of Wonderhorse. It was a friendship that developed over the airwaves for weeks. He knew my brother and so one day he told me he'd pop round to see me, we'd meet. We'd meet? No, actually we never would. But he did pop round. He knocked at the front door and my mam went to anwer. Here's how the conversation went.
Mam: "Hello, son."
Wonderhorse: "I've come to see Evil Edna."
Mam: "Eh?" and then, shouting up the stairs to me, because I was, as always, in my bedroom with my books and LPs. "There's a Wonderhorse at the door for you!"
Me, shouting down the stairs, mortified and terrified. "I'm not coming down."
Mam: "She's not coming down, son."
Wonderhorse (who I like to imagine was in tears by this point). "Oh. Ok then, tara."
Mam: "Tara, son"
So, if you're reading this and you are Wonderhorse, all I can say is I'm sorry for not coming down. But thanks for popping round.
It's that time of year so I shouldn't be too surprised that I've gone through it again. I blog about it every year too.
In Mid-November I have a hissy fit and go into bah-humbug mode about not wanting to get caught up in the commercialism and cynicism of Christmas.
And then, before you know it, it's almost December and I've done all me shopping and planning to go out and buy a tree up this weekend.
It's like I have to go through that grumpy patch to get to the good stuff. Mind you, I still hate the commercialism and could well do without it. But I do love the good stuff, the family stuff, the food and the drink stuff, the watching telly stuff, going out stuff, being off work stuff. And it's all that I'll concentrate on this Christmas, as always.
Giving this a blog plug as my brother is Director. It's Alan Ayckbourn's must unusual and funny play - Awaking Beauty. And it's being shown in Sunderland every Saturday and Sunday during December 2011 at the Infinity Theatre Restauarant - well worth a night out to support local theatre.
Join us for a brilliant night of festive entertainment. A Christmas three course dinner, and an excellent musical show written by Alan Ayckbourn.
Ever wondered what happened to Sleeping Beauty as she was woken up in the 21st century? Come along for a brilliantly fun entertaining evening. Tickets cost £24.95 inc. show and 3 course meal
WARNING - NOT SUITABLE FOR YOUNG CHILDREN.. CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE AND SEXUAL REFERENCE
◦A scrumptious 3-course Christmas dinner
◦An entertaining festive show, (Tue, Wed, Thu: “Selection Box” – Fri, Sat: “Awaking Beauty”)
◦A star prize for one lucky ticket holder on the night (prizes inc. a PS3, X-Box 360, Nintendo Wii, Mountain Bike, iPod, etc.)
◦Special offers on drinks
£24.95pp for a super night out including a 3-course meal!
It's coming up to Christmas and the telly ads have started. I have a sort of love/hate relationship with Christmas telly ads. Not the ones for sherry and chocolates, for jumpers and games. It's the ads for perfume and aftershaves I have the problem with. Both sell a hyper-realistic femininity and masculinity that only ever appears in ads for scent, and only ever at Christmas. A flight of stairs and a wind machine are usually involved.
So let's cut the crap and tell it like it is. Perfume and aftershave won't make you more desirable, even at Christmas. If you're lucky, they might make you smell nice, that's all.
Anyway, while Googling for an image to use on this post, I came across a facebook group I'll blog here too. It's called "Angered by Christmas Perfume Ads" so I guess I'm not the only one who feels this way.
Just back from a week in the sun where in between some quality sightseeing, lazing, eating and drinking I got through a few books.
I love autobiographies because I enjoy reading about the private lives of public people. Therefore, I especially bought for this holiday a book that I'd wanted to read for a very long time. It was Bill Tarmey's autobiography, Jack Duckworth and Me. The Coronation Street actor's book wasn't what I expected, however, and I've blogged about it in depth at the Coronation Street Blog.
Another light and fluffy life story I read was Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel-Horwood's autobiography, All Balls and Glitter. Quite interesting but nowhere near enough backstage gossip from Strictly as I would have liked (and to be honest, what I bought the book for).
Onto more weighty work with the release of a hidden gem from 1928, Patrick Hamilton's Twopence Coloured. It's been released by Faber Finds and if you've read any of his work before, then you must read this one too. It's about a young woman from Brighton who tries, succeeds and then fails, in her quest to Become Someone on the London Stage. Wonderful book.
And then I read The Slap by Australian author Christos Tsiolkas. This is a book that I'd picked off the shelf in Waterstones loads of times, reckoned it was going to be middle-class angst over whether one should or not slap a child, and then I'd always put it back on the shelf, dismissing it. But this time I didn't put it back and it was well worth a read. The Slap of course, isn't what the book is about in the end and as it's set in Australia was a great deal more interesting than I had first thought it might be. A good read.
Finally I started on Skippy Dies by Paul Murray which I'm still reading now and enjoying a lot. It reminds me of John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meaney in it's style, so far, and it's set in a boy's boarding school in Dublin. So far, so good.
Very interesting TV programme last night about Tripadvisor reviewers who 'destroy' the livelihoods of small hoteliers and resaturanteurs by posting damaging reviews.
I watched and enjoyed the programme because I'm a big fan of Tripadvisor and have used it for many years, reading and writing hotel reviews each time I go on holiday or a short break. But although I watched and enjoyed the programme I didn't agree with it all. It tried to give Tripadvisors a bad name but there are hundreds of thousands of us who use it responsibly and what exactly is wrong with putting an opinion online when you're paying hard-earned cash for a business service you deem to be lacking?
But anyway, I try always to use Tripadvisor responsibly, For instance, I have recently stayed in two mediocre B&Bs, which were run by their owners. I could have nitpicked about both of them on Tripadvisor but because I knew that they were small places, livelihoods of their owners, I didn't post a review on Tripadvisor at all using the adage that if you have nothing good to say, say nothing. I could have put a snarky review about both B&Bs as neither of them were great and there was room for improvement in both, but it would have ben very unfair to the owners, whose life depends on getting customers in. I just won't go back or recommend them to friends.
However, last week I stayed in a big, posh hotel where the service was abyssmal and I did post on tripadvisor about that one. Big, corporate hotels are fair game, especially when they're charging up to £200 per night and offering all sorts of promises on their website that they fail to live up to, and indeed, this one came mightily close to helping ruin the most special day of my life. It was the first negative review I've ever posted to Tripadvisor and I actually felt guilty afterwards but it had to be done.
Anyway, I really do like Tripadvisor and will continue to use it, always, responsibly.
I've long been a fan of Strictly Come Dancing, having watched it from the second series onwards. I enjoy it more than a woman my age, with a life, really should. I love it. I love the bling, the frocks, the make-up, the hair, the dancing, the judges' professional comments and bickering between themselves. Mind you, I could do with having Arlene Phillips back as a professional judge and Karen Hardy as my favourite dancer, but I still enjoy the programme a great deal and never miss it.
However, without wanting to sound like a pervy old granny, there's another reason why Strictly Come Dancing holds such appeal. Where else on mainstream TV can straight women get the chance to enjoy watching blokes in tight clothes, sometimes stripped to the waist, jiggling their hips and strutting their stuff? And it doesn't matter if the male dancers are gay or straight. What matters is that in SCD the men are there to be looked at, to be enjoyed as much as straight men enjoy the short skirts, cleavage and long legs of the female dancers and celebs.
The appeal of the male dancers hasn't been lost on Cosmopolitan magazine who have published this pic ofdancers Artem Chigvintsev and Robin Windsor.
To the newly restored and quite beautiful Theatre Royal in Newcastle-upon-Tyne last night to see Tracie Bennett as Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow.
I was absolutely blown away by Tracie's performance. The acting, singing and energy of the show, which was basically a one-woman show, was incredible. It's one of those shows that's going to stay with me for a very long time. I haven't enjoyed a theatre event this much in years, and as you know, if you're a regular Flaming Nora reader, I enjoy going to the theatre a lot.
At the of the show, the audience didn't give Tracie a standing ovation, it was more of a group leap from seats, clapping wildly and cheering. Bravo! Bravo, indeed!
I'm a latecomer to the US TV show Six Feet Under, having only started watching it from Season 1 when it was repeated on Sky some months ago. It ran in the US from 2001.
We're now well into Season 3 of the show as Sky has run it pretty much non-stop once a week and I'm as hooked on it as I was with The Sopranos and Mad Men. It's top quality TV - a drama about a family who run a funeral parlour. It's funny, it's quirky, it's dark and disturbing. It's wonderful and I can't rate it highly enough.
I've just returned from summer holidays here and while whiling away the hours by the pool, got through some cracking books, as below.
Below Stairs, by Margaret Powell.
A 1968 autobiography of a woman who worked as a kitchen-maid and then a cook in service in the UK during the 1930s and 40s. The book's been re-released on the success of TV shows like Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs and is well worth a read. Very good indeed, I'd give it 8/10.
Mary Ann in Autumn, by Armistead Maupin.
What's to say? If you're a fan of the Tales of the City books, like me, you'll love it, and it'll have you in tears at least once.
Excellent. Unmissable. 10/10.
Zero History, by William Gibson
Another cracking novel from the man who termed the word 'cyberspace'. Who wouldn't want to be the coolest heroine in a novel this century, Hollis Henry? Wonderful, 9/10.
Player One, by Douglas Coupland
Interesting, intriguing and it makes you think. Another good one from Coupland. Very good indeed, 8/10.
Reelin' Back The Years, by Mark Radcliffe
Good and enjoyable but sometimes a bit anoraky about the music - I skipped pages of Genesis and Yes. Otherwise a great read, easy. 7/10
Spent the first day back from holiday drinking lashings of tea (because they don't make it properly over there) and catching up with Coronation Street. Oh, and uploading the holiday photos to flickr for public consumption.
Just back from a wonderful two week holiday in Spain. The resort we stay in is robustly Spanish, with only approx. 5% of the visitors being English, so it's little surprise that restaurant and cafe menus aren't translated into English. It's half the fun of the holiday sitting over a vino tinto or cerveza trying to decipher the Spanish menu into English with the help of a dictionary. But some of the cafes do try to make an effort and in one of the very few that had the menu in English, we came across this rather odd translation. Well, it's not really odd as the English word for the Spanish "pijama" is indeed, "pyjama". And so if anyone knows what Pjyama With Cream actually tastes like, I'd love to find out!
And this second picture was taken for the very simple reason that Farton is a funny word in English. Well, it made me laugh and of course I had to try one. I can therefore confirm that a Farton is a soft, sweet, stick of pastry that you poke in your horchata.
To The Customs House at South Shields last night to see Willy Russell's comedy, Stags and Hens. It's a cracking venue, can't recommend it highly enough and had dinner before the show in the Bistro, which was ace. An excellent night out and my first chance to see canny lass Corinne Kilvington acting on stage as Maureen.
When you're a woman of a certain age (and by you, I mean me) and you hardly ever wear make up, knowing you're going to be photographed and gawped at for a whole day next month finally propelled me into the make-up artist's chair for what they call a make-over. I call it slapping on a load of gunge and trying to grin and bear it, but whatever floats your boat. Call it what you will.
One of the professional make-up artists on a TV show I'm familiar with advised me to go to Bobbi Brown. I'd heard of them, so that was a start. I schlepped over to Newcastle with my sister in law for moral support and to look after my handbag. Well, you never know. The make-up artist was the same age as me, so that was a promising start, and to be fair, she didn't once try the hard sell, which I was expecting.
She explained in clear and easy terms what she was going to do, what she was doing, and what she'd done. She encouraged me to hold and use the mirror to see exactly what was happening every step of the way. She concealed things that needing hiding, corrected things that were deemed wrong, and laid a wonderful base of mortar and cement for the colour to go on the top. I was impressed but also, I looked somewhat blank.
Ok, so she'd taken away the redness from that bit on the end of my nose that's always, always red. But she'd also taken away any colour in my cheeks. I was a blank slate ready for the colour to go on. And go on it did. I had red rosy cheeks, which we had to tone down as I felt like I looked like an Aunt Sally doll. But the best bit of the makeover was the way she did my eyes, all smokey and grey with black eyeliner in places I've never worn it before. With lips all done, I was ready after about almost an hour. My sister in law kept nodding encouragingly and the final effect was rather lovely, I have to admit.
But after I'd slid off the chair and done a bit of shopping, the heavy foundation started to 'melt' and every time I caught sight of myself in a mirror in the shopping centre, all I could see was a drag queen looking right back, and by 'eck, she wasn't happy.
The make-up came off as soon as I got hom. Or at least, I tried to take it off but the eyes wouldn't change. The mascara remained, the eye-liner stuck and it was mid-day of the following day when I finally felt like I had a clean face.
I'm not knocking Bobbi Brown, I just don't think it was the right kind of make-up for my kind of skin and for the kind of look that I had in mind. The make-up artist was excellent and I was very impressed with her knowledge, caring attitude and expertise. And another good thing about Bobbi Brown, which I shall most definitely be using, is their YouTube How-To videos.
Makeover number 2
Walked into Boots this morning to be met by a very young woman at the No. 7 counter who looked like she was fresh out of school. But boy, did she know her stuff.
I told her what I wanted and that I was familiar with No. 7 cosmetics as I'd used them all my life and that all I wanted was her advice on colours I should use. I was hoping to cut and run without having to suffer another makeover all over again. But she really was good, encouraging me to sit down and giving me the full going over. I was putty in her hands. She brushed, she painted, she put stuff on, all stuff that I've used before in the past, that I knew worked for me from a brand that that had covered up my spots and blemishes, painted my face since 1978.
She choose my colours carefully, and the end result was a much more natural look than I'd had at Bobbi Brown. It was still slightly heavier than I would have liked but at least I know what to put where now, what colours to use, what to do when. The plan now is to practice with all my new toys - yes, I did end up buying the make-up and brushes, spending more in one transaction today than I've spent on make-up in the last 12 months. And with practice comes perfection, which isn't the look I'm aiming for on my wedding day. I just want to look like a really nice me.
I've blogged about Nigel Slater before and I'm about to blog about him again. His spinach and mushroom lasagne has proved to be a dream, easy to make and delicious to eat. And for someone like me who isn't that great in the kitchen, he even tells you when to expect black smoke to billow from the pan so you know you're actually not doing something wrong, the food's supposed to do exactly that.
Nigel Slater, eh? If he didn't already exist, you'd have to create him.
I had my first ever make-over today. Not one to usually wear make-up, I found the experience unusual, to say the least. And although it was done by a professional in an upmarket make-up concession of an upmarket department store, I still came out feeling that I looked like a drag queen on speed. Which wasn't really the look I was aiming for.
To the flicks this week to see the new Pedro Almodovar film, The Skin I Live In. I'm a huge fan of Almodovar and have seen all of his films either at the cinema or on DVD. The new film is fantastic, absolutely wonderful and I can't rate it highly enough. My lovely man has blogged about Almodovar on his own blog here and it's most definitely worth a read.
To the Newcastle 02 Academy last night to see Toots and The Maytals. Cracking gig but my gig etiquette is cruelly outdated.
So, gig go-ers, just what is the etiquette here? You're at a gig enjoying yourself, dancing your socks off and singing along and some person right in front of you decides to take pictures on their phone and puts their phone right slap bang in your line of vision so all you can see is their phone and not the gig for a few minutes.
Is this normal and to be expected at gigs these days or is it ok to move their arm and phone out of the way and say 'Oi! I can't see' - which is what I bloody well did?!
Or am I just turning into a grumpy old woman? Answers on a postcard, please.
If, like me, you don't often wear a dress, then it's hard to know what suits and what will fit and look nice. So all you do is go into a shop, pick something off the rail that looks pretty and is about the right size and then you try it on.
And that's when you realise that dresses are made for teeny, tiny little women. Not women with long limbs. Not women without a waist. Not women with a bosom. Not women with hips. Not women like me.
If you're a long time visitor to Flaming Nora, you'll have noticed the new layout and er, um, the ads. I hate them as much as you do, believe me.
But I find myself in the rather unfortunate position of being in-between jobs (aka desperately seeking work) and therefore ads on the the blog provide a tiny little amount of money, without which I can't go out and boogie. Hope you understand and I also hope it's a temporary blip and I can remove them soon.
Not so much of a blog post, more of a brain dump so excuse me if I prattle on but if this thought doesn't get out of my head it just might start making me, ooh, quite cross.
You may know I run a Coronation Street fan website at the Coronation Street Blog. It's popular, it's successful and it's a not for profit site. There are a few Google ads on there as I wondered if putting Google ads on a website made it go up the search ratings any and it seemed to do the trick and so the ads stayed.
There's a team of us Corrie fans working on the site, I'm the editor and it's 'my' blog if you like but I can't take the credit for making it as popular as it is. I just steer it and guide it and encourage Corrie fans to join in if they can write well and take the blog in a direction I like, as its founder and editor. It's irreverent, funny, sometimes scathing about the show we all love but we never disrespect Corrie and love the show to bits.
But because the Corrie blog is now so popular, and its feed goes out to as many places as I can possibly send it, it's being used as a news source itself. National online media companies and tabloid newspapers are using us as a news source without giving us credit. One hugely popular soaps writer with an enormous following online emailed me once to say thank you for the blog; without it she couldn't write her monthly soaps column for a national paper. And the soaps editor of the UK's most popular entertainment website emailed me to say the blog was so brilliant, he'd be mad not to use it a source for Corrie news.
Yes of course I'm flattered. But it rankles. All they, and others who use the site as a news source, have to do is put a link from their work to our blog.
Less of a problem (because it's so poor) but something else that rankles nonetheless is that a for-profit Corrie blog run by a limited company keeps their eye on us too, following our lead, trying to do what we do. They're not a fan site but pretend that they are, they're set up to make cash, a business, but have no acumen apart from rising from bankrupt ashes yet still owing their bloggers hundreds of pounds. They're also good at copying and pasting and stealing ideas, and not just from us. Shame on them.
Anyway, we're not asking for payment from the media who use the blog as a source. I don't need the money and I don't want the Coronation Street Blog to be ripped full of ads. I've always thought that if there's an ad on your site and a user clicks on it, you've failed. The job of a website editor is to keep the user on the site, keep them informed, entertained, interested not clicking on an advert for a new phone. I joined the internet back in 1993 in the days before adverts, before commercialism took over online. I was a riotgrrl and there's a part of me that still is.
There's a certain flattery I guess in being used as a news source, it confirms what we know - that we're good, ahead of the curve and that's what makes us so popular with Corrie fans worldwide. We have up to half a million views per month, so I know we're doing it right. I also know ITV keeps their eye on us and allows us to exist in the way that we do. We're like an online Coronation Street fan club and I love what I do. I just wish those who used us, took advantage of us, had the decency to admit that they like us too. As I said above, all they have to do is put a link in to the blog from their online or printed work.