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A nineteen year old with a camera in rural Norfolk. http://rosajoy.com

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Sun, Sea, and Celebrity

Yesterday we all packed into the cars and headed for the coast. I swam in the Mediterranean Sea with E, felt very much like the only celebrity I admire*, sunbathed on the sand, and finally managed to call England. (At home, when I answered with “It’s me!”, Mum’s reply was: “Who?” My call to K, however, was more receptive: “Omigod. How weird. You’re practically in Spain, looking at the starry ocean, and I’m sitting here in Norfolk. *pause* I really hate you sometimes.”)

And yes. It was a rather wonderful day. Marred only slightly by my irrational fear of foreign driving (as implied here). We ate mussels in a restaurant, and then drove home for after midnight.
Parfait.


*The term “celebrity”, in my view, has a very small spectrum. Writers, authors, poets, JB, (most) musicians, and artists: these are not celebrities. (And, ergo, I look up to a great number of them.) By “celebrity”, I mean Hello and Ok! fodder. The people who appear in those big, televised award ceremonies. Mainstream.
Although Evangeline Lily does her best (it appears) to stay out of the paparazzi firing range, she still gives interviews for Glamour and More. And thus, she achieves the infamous title of “Celebrity”.
But even so, I do admire her.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Deep Psyche

Last night I dreamt E and Mr M had a long conversation about Liszt at the airport. I bobbed along behind, chiming "I like Liszt!" every now and then.

There's deep psyche in there somewhere.
I'm just not sure where.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Spousal Pressure

I told E about Mystery Companion earlier. He demands now that I tell the interweb certain things.
Top of his list?

That today, while I was still in bed and at my request, he made me three different types of toast.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Sticky Fingers Vs Forgetful Shop Assistants

It has to be said, I am a bit of a scrounger. Food off L’s plate? Yup. Hand-me-downs from K? Yup. Those little pens from Argos? Oh yes. I think it comes from my mother, who can be found every Sunday at the bakery aisle in Tesco, snapping up the reduced pastries faster than the Tescee can put them on the shelf.

So when the party had finished and I’d done my time serving Sangria and punch on the lawn and fluttering around with champagne flutes – while avoiding E’s second-cousin-once-removed’s drunken calls to sing “Danny Boy” again – I decided I deserved some left-overs.

As the expats and the villagers mingled by the wine table, E and I snuck out the back, laden with crates of fruit juice, a bag of baguettes, and a bottle of two of sweet champagne. On my third trip to the gîte, just over the lane from the village hall, with two bottles of rosé under my arm, a group of party-goers disturbed my escape. “Where are you off to with those bottles?” one called, good-naturedly.
I paused. E’s thrifty relatives were on the prowl, and I needed a swift retreat.
“Monsieur?” I replied, “ Parlez-vous français?”
As I had hoped, the man hesitated, and then waved his arms. “Sorry!” he shouted, louder than was necessary, “My mistake! Goodbye!”

But, it wasn’t until I was on my final assault, weighed down with a plate of assorted cakes and a tub of homemade ice cream, that my harmless scrounging took a less-than-legal turn.
“Madamoiselle! Il y a un problème avec votre robe!”
“Moi?” I looked down.
“Oui! Il y a une étiquette de sécurité sur la jupe. Avez-vous elle volé?!”

Aah crap. The till girl had indeed left the security tag on my dress. And now I was caught, red-handed with stolen goods from the freezer. This was going to be hard to explain…

Friday, 24 July 2009

Handle with Care

The gîte is beginning to remind me of a Year 11 trip to the Opal Coast. Today I went to open a door, and the handle fell off.

The Opal Coast trip was pretty good. We sampled Northern France at its finest: village markets, chocolateries, the infamous patisserie with its incredible cakes, and even a sea life centre or two. But there was one element which made the holiday unforgettable; and that was l’hôtel.

The night we arrived, I found our bunk beds dismantled(/broken) and the now-single beds jammed into a room not much larger than my wardrobe. A flick of the lightswitch proved a lack of electricity, and showers were postponed until somebody could fix the hot water. The following morning, after our deputy head had recovered from a fit brought on by defunct risk assessments, and after I had discovered a leak in our ceiling, the electricity was restored. Eager as ever, my friend A plugged in her hair straighteners –
and the plug socket promptly fell off the wall.

Ok, so it’s not quite that bad here. The cold water is a bit dodgy, part of the outside wall is crumbling because of the shutters, and now, apparently, we have issues with door handles. But the point is that these things matter very little in the grander context. In fact, they actually provide some light entertainment.
E: “What have you done?”
Me: “I broke the door handle…”
E: “Oh. I thought it was only toiletries you were allowed to steal from these places…”

Two ways to deal with a Mad Axe Murderer: or, The Effects of Vin Français

Last night, E’s relatives held a family barbeque. After a night cooking charred meat and watching the effect of alcohol on expats (which, incidentally, appears to involve a lot of singing – mostly about how fantastic the English upper class are. Cue awkward silences from E and I, who may as well have been wearing red for all our politics stood out), I returned to the gîte with The Boyfriend in tow. It was early in the morning, and we’d both had a glass or three, so finding the door wide open and what E disproportionately describes as “debris” littering the front step was a bit of a shock.

“Bonjour?” I called out, thinking my attempt at the native language would so impress the Mad Axe Murderer that he’d pause in the middle of his murderous plans to congratulate me.

E hushed me – perhaps seeing the flaw in my logic, but more likely (French wine is very nice) because he’d heard a noise from inside coming out way. We both screamed, as from the darkness there emerged…
The farm cat. It ran off into the bushes, looking sheepish.

Still, Mad Axe Murderer could be hiding just round the corner. We ventured in, tentatively, and turned on the light. All was as it should be, but, perhaps to reassert his masculinity after the scream-at-the-cat incident, E grabbed an enormous knife from the kitchen counter. In a move not unlike one seen in a James Bond remake, he lifted a finger to his lips and raised the knife above his head.
“What the hell are you doing?” I asked, incredulously.
“Stay here,” E replied, manlily.
He began to creep up the stairs, knife aloft. Sick of having been assigned “flower arranging” and “cake decorating” duties all day, I followed.
“Bonjour?” I tried again, stomping around and turning on light switches. E waved the knife at me, dismayed at my lack of subtlety.
With Mad Axe Murderer yet to make an appearance, I left E to check the cupboards and satisfy his Jason Bourne-esque fantasy, retrieved the clawed biscuit packet from the doorstep, and went to bed.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

My organisation obsession

is being well cared-for. At home, I drive everyone round the bend with my need for Order and Neatness. I’m not (generally) one of those who needs her pens lines up in alphabetical order, small to large, categorised by brand – but the mess in my room is a distinctly organised kind of mess. The kind of mess, I like to think, that a set designer might be asked to make for Int: Teenager’s Bedroom. A choreographed clutter. And at school, I thoroughly enjoy a free period spent organising folders. Some people just don’t see the pleasure hidden between those (newest-to-oldest, sub-topic specified, subject colour-coded) pages.

In any case, my organisation obsession is being well-cared for here. This is mostly due to the fact that E’s great aunt and uncle have left it to the relatives (and me) to organise their party.

Parties are fun. Especially the organising part. There was nothing more joyous in the world when I was younger than organising my annual Halloween party. And then, when I grew too old for that, organising them for L. But this is a bit of a bigger challenge.

Even so, I have found my niche. First, I’ve made labels for the food dishes en Anglais et Français. With pretty downloaded fonts and coloured paper.
Then, I’ve designed the table decorations around a sunflower theme. As you’re dying to know, it’s a white table cloth with a yellow runner, with yellow citronella floating candles at either end. The salt and pepper shakers may or may not have sunflowers on them, but I haven’t made up my mind yet. And the napkins are yellow or sunflower patterned. (The pattern alternates down the table, and… Yes, I’ve absolutely lost your interest.)

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to walk up the hill to the little church and make flower bouquets for the pews. And put vases of foliage outside the doors. In fact, I may just make a list of all the things I need to organise before I go.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Ten


I first met E when we were 10, and I’d just moved from London. Nowadays he’s adamant that he was “love struck”, but I, naïve in these things, went on to befriend his best friend (in turn severing their tie), and thoroughly disapproved of the boy who always had his nose in a book and pushed me off my chair when I tried to play “Snake” on the computer.

We ended up going to different high schools, and – except for one attempt as I was getting off the bus one afternoon – we never heard from each other again for five years. Although, apparently the week of his Year 11 Prom, his grandparents suggested he invite me as his plus-one.

Last summer, the day I received my GCSE results, a friend invitation on Facebook led me back to him. And today, we’ve been together for ten months.

We had a picnic at the top of the hill this evening. Watched the Mediterranean sunset, and ate salmon, and drank too much wine. And talked about things.

I love him very much.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Flies

We have an infestation.

At least the gîte owners have a sense of humour.


Monday, 20 July 2009

Three Weeks in Aude:

The Startling Adventures of a Girl, and Boy, and a dSLR

E and I are off to the South of France for three weeks. His relatives (great-uncle and his wife?) are holding a huge party to celebrate their silver anniversary, and they just so happen to live in a tiny hilltop village in the Aude province. E’s family were invited, at which I was invited, and they are staying a fortnight. Then, my parents decided a holiday was in order and booked the same gîte for the week after E’s family leave. Thus, we get three weeks in the Med.

That’s the background. Just so you know.

Today ran rather smoothly. Mum drove E and I to Stansted in the early hours, and we met E’s family (mother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousins X2, grandma. Check.) Sent off luggage and passed through customs – E was surprisingly not frisked by the burly security guard, for the first time ever – and sat in the boarding lounge during Ryanair’s complimentary one-hour delay.

By the way, I found this question while checking their website. It made me laugh.

Boarded the plane, sat in terror for a couple of hours, bounced (not once, not twice, but) three times on landing, collected bags. Then came finding the hire car/Vehicle of Terror, and the journey to the supermarket, and then through the hills to the gîte. This included a half-mile drive backwards, up a mountain, avoiding the sheer drops on either side when faced with a combine harvester coming the other way.
And then, we were here.

The gîte is charming, but – with one shower, six beds and a double futon – not really meant for nine people. I foresee a privacy issue. Also, the nearest town with anything other than houses, cats, and a Catholic church, is 15 clicks away. And no, there is no bus.

Cazalrenoux it is, then. Just me, E, and a camera. Plus, come Saturday, 120 English people. Now, where’s the pool?...

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Backblogging

I hate it. It’s such a pain, on both the blogger and the bloggee’s parts. For starters, every post has to be typed up from a dog-eared, biro-defaced notebook, and then you end up trawling through ten posts at once when you know there are far more important and worthwhile things you should be doing. Saving starving children in Africa. Or homework.

I know. I’ve been there, sat for an hour in front of the screen, scrolling through page after page, ignoring the little clock in the right-hand corner. Fifteen minutes, my conscience says, I can allow myself fifteen minutes of indulgence a day on such delights as “Izzy’s Blog: The Life and Times of a London Receptionist”, or “SHOCKERS! Your daily dose of celebrity scandals”.*

* I don’t really follow these blogs. But they do exist. If you don’t care about starving children in Africa, click and see.

But, bad and immoral and neuron-eating as this may be, I AM OK. Because I only allow myself fifteen minutes. And yet, now my morals are being put to the test. Here, with all this backblogging, I am faced with temptation. All those pages of posts, possibly funny, potentially interesting, just a click away.

And yes, I succumb. An hour later, and I am still there in front of the screen – not here, but here. I am the lowest form of life. I feel worse than the time I spent seven hours watching back-to-back re-runs of lost. Tomorrow, I know, I will have to ease my conscience by donating my sock draw to Bernardo’s, and signing up for the New Year’s Eve shift at the Norwich soup kitchens. I’ve forfeited the beginning of next year for ten pages of drivel.

I hope you won’t make the same mistake. Move your mouse to the little x up there, and click. Or better still, click here.

But if not, if the children in Africa have discovered an oil field below the refugee camp, or if you’ve finished all your homework (and that extra reading you were set), then I suppose it wouldn’t be irresponsible to direct you here.

Just, please, whatever you do: don't click the titles on the right hand side...

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Friday, 17 July 2009

Sunny Thunderstorms

Nothing much interesting happened today. Except, I remembered that some more of these had come through the post. My favourites include:

"Mario's amazing singing"

And lots of gorgeous group shots, like:


and...


and...


Flicking through the CD, I couldn't help but notice there are a lot of me with my camera. No, I mean a lot.



See whaddeye mean. Hmm. Obsession, much?


Anyway. They all made me smile, despite the thunderstorms and torrential downpour outside. AND: only two-and-a-bit days til sunny France.

I lied, by the way. Lots of interesting things happened today. For example, I went to see Harry Potter numero 6 with K, Lo, and E, and it was fabulous. We laughed in inappropriate places, smuggled in far too much chocolate, and Lo produced a first-rate scream at the scary bit. Also, I spent too much money on clothes for France (this, and a nicer version of this), and had a productive, if husky, singing lesson. And, to top it all off, my certificate for Gr7 finally came through.

I am, most definately, feeling sunny.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Views From a Bicycle

On the last day of Year 11, K and I went back to hers. I had my music exam the next day, and she was already stressing about maths. We'd decided earlier that we'd buckle down once we got in, and do some revision. Instead, we found ourselves flopped in front of the TV.

It was a really glorious day, the epitome of summer. We were still in uniform after the official assembly in the morning, shirts scrawled with messages and oh-so-hilarious handprints. "Revision" certainly wasn't happening, unless I could find anything vaguely musical about a Friends re-run. And so I suggested we go for a bike ride.

I think ever since that day, it's been very much a Thing We Do. Which was how I found myself pedalling down country lanes this morning, yelling at her to bloody slow down.

There's something about our bike rides which is strangely uplifting. I think it stems from the one we went on, on a whim, that day in Yr11. To be able to suddenly decide that all you want to do is cycle for miles and miles, without a destination or a curfew, in the middle of summer. It's pure freedom on a couple of wheels and a dodgy helmet.

Today we made it to Litcham in just over an hour and sat around on the green moaning about our sore legs until the afternoon, when L had her Sports Day. Not-so-surrupticiously, we set up camp in a corner of the playing field, kindly berated my former music teacher over the temperamental sound system, and waiting until we could cheer for our old Houses. Ironically enough, when I was at high school I managed to wiggle my way out of every Sports Day I was ever supposed to compete in (good old dance exams do have their uses I suppose...)

It was a lazy afternoon, which was legendarily topped off when K and I decided to have a wander round the old corridors while the entire school was up on the field. Cycling across the deserted tennis courts, whooping as loud as we possibly could, we completed our walk down memory lane on bike-back with a lap of the playground - and then homeward bound.

Hmm. These last few posts have all been rather reminiscent. Perhaps it's just something about this time of year, or the fact that I registered with UCAS on Monday, and suddenly feel very old. Here's to the good times past, I guess. And here's to the future, too.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Bittersweet

leaves a taste in your mouth that's hard to get rid of.

L did fantastically, of course. I realised I was mouthing the words along with her, as though by some fluke my own memory would stop anything going wrong - but she didn't need me. Her first solo, and I couldn't be a prouder sister.

But it was Sherman that got me. This legend of a sax player came back to do an impromtu improvisation in the middle of the programme, after explaining his route from high school to college, and then to his music degree to become a teacher. But all I could hear in my head was my old music teacher, when he used to say to me, "When you do your music degree", or "When you'll get to university, you'll need to know...". That was what I was going to do: a degree in Music, and then a teaching degree, and then I'd find myself in a rural comprehensive with a rowdy year 9 class and the world at my fingertips. But dreams change.

And I guess I just want his blessing, some kind of forgiveness, that what I'm going to do, what my head wants to do, is English Lit. I love English. I love reading. I love books and writing and it's what my head says I should do. But my heart, without turning this into a cliché, wants everything Sherman, and his saxophone, are on their way towards. Tonight just brought that back to me, I suppose.

Back to Litcham tomorrow; a bike ride with K. I miss it.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

The rain in Spain...

...Falls mainly over the Norfolk countryside. Helpfully, at just the moment K and I were on our way home. Good old Lowepro protected the camera, but I can't say the same for my poor trainers. It seems that those loyal friends, bought for £5.99 in Primark for three days at Bramely Lakes, have had their day.

It's quiet tonight, and still light. At K's, with a laptop and a pen, thinking about tomorrow. Haircut and L's summer concert at Litcham and things. ("Short For Summer"? I'm tempted. You'd be forgiven for mistaking my hair for a mop at the moment.)

Hope the rain holds for Thursday.