Posts Tagged ‘friends’

He’s got a sweaty back

Emily at The Waiting has told me to write something again. So I must. I must do what she says. She says I should write about ‘the time we almost melted.’ So here goes.
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My first memory of extreme sweatiness is always the day two friends and I walked to the market in Laos. We were in Vientiene, the capital and travelling to Vang Vieng in a minibus in the afternoon so we decided that in the morning we would walk to the market. This journey turned out to be the most ridiculously hot journey I’ve ever taken in my life.

We walked and we walked and we walked. And we sweated. Boy, did we sweat! My over-the-shoulder bag strap was pressing my t-shirt tight onto my skin so that there was a bag strap shape in sweat when I took the bag off. That day was the first time I’ve ever felt sweat gather in the crease between my bum and my leg then break free and run down to my knee. I’ve never felt so disgusting in my life.

When we got to the market, I bought a new t-shirt because the amount of dry patches were so few it was embarrassing.

Later that same trip, the three of us were in a little cafe in Lopburi near the monkey temples and this man came in and sat down. Now, the three of us can get pretty childish if left to our own devices and this poor man had the same problem I had in the Laos story above – when he took his backpack off, the shape of the backpack was printed on his t-shirt in sweat.

Well! It was too much, we couldn’t contain ourselves. You know that Justin Timberlake song, Sexyback? It just so happens that singing Sweatyback instead fits perfectly and is much much funnier. So we sang it. Then we giggled uncontrollably. Then he stood up and left without having ordered anything.

I think he heard our song.

Last but not least, my most recent melting episode was on Monday, my first day in Ham House. I was wearing a top that wasn’t very breathable. It was yellow (I should have gone with safe black or white, given the high chance that I might be sweating) so I was quite clearly overheating for everyone to see.

I just had to ignore it and keep on like nothing wierd was happening and I didn’t feel like my organs were being cooked on a barbecue.

Just a normal first day on the job. Sweat and awkwardness. That’s me.

I can see now, why they wanted me on board.

In conversation with my 18 year old self

Ok, 18 year old me, I’d like you to calm down a little bit. Just…. calm down. You’re a bit crazy and all over the place. You’d do well by scaling it back a bit.

Also, I don’t want to ruin the dream but that ambition you have, to marry Michael Jackson… That’s, um, it’s not going to happen unfortunately. I won’t tell you why. The other ambition, to see him in concert, also doesn’t come true. He does plan a tour in England but, um, he doesn’t make it. Again, I won’t tell you why.

Also, your expectation that you will have a terribly meaningful and world-changing role in life… yeh, turns out you’re a bit ordinary, like everyone else. What a thought, hey?! After all that time being convinced of your own superiority and differentness.

O, and your thing about being ‘boring’, you hate that idea, right? Hate it. Urgh, imagine being boring, that would be the worst! Well, you’re not that bothered anymore. You enjoy the simple pleasures in life – cooking, being outside, growing vegetables, seeing other countries, having lunch with nice friends. Just calm down about the ‘boring’ thing. It’s going to happen. Get over it.

You know how you love going out dancing? In a few years, you won’t really ‘go out’ at all. You hate the idea of being squashed in next to a load of sweaty strangers, actually. You dislike the drunken nonsense that you talk and that other people talk to you. In fact, in about ten years, you’ll barely consume alcohol at all, a few times a year maybe. It’s better that way, trust me. We both know what we get like with a drink in us.

And you don’t wear make up at all. I know, after all that time poking your eyes out, trying to work out how to wear eye liner. No, you don’t wear anything now. You’re too lazy. Sorry to break it to you but you’d rather spent the time in the morning having a cup of tea and blogging than poking your eyes out.

Yeh, you’re a ‘blogger’ now. You’re mad for it! You’re one of those. One of those sad people who thinks others want to read about the minutae of their everyday life. Yup.

And tea is very important to you. Very. Important.

You’ll run off to Africa soon, little Laura. And it will be fabulous. You’ll be enthused. You’ll be good at something. You’ll be in your element. For the next ten years after your gap year, you’ll refer back to it as a time of excitement and adventure. Just a few words of warning though – don’t get too excited by your new friends who take you in on the first night, they’ll drift away in a few months; also, please try and eat better – a plate of rice with some sweetcorn mixed in does not constitute a real meal, unfortunately; another thing, you’re going to mess up the article for the Namibian Independence Day by sleeping through the celebrations, shame on you.

And now, last but not least, F. Scott Fitzgerald still rocks your world. That fact is unchanged throughout your life. They make a new film of The Great Gatsby with Leonardo DiCaprio. I’m going to let you watch it for yourself and make your own mind up….

Madame Forager and friends survive the mushrooms!

Ok, guys. Let’s get to it. It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

The unveiling of the first harvest of my home grown mushrooms.

Let me remind you how they looked on Tuesday morning.

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And this is how they looked on Tuesday evening.

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I cut the biggest ones, split them in half and threw in a few shitake mushrooms I found in the fridge to bulk it up a little as there were five hungry mouths to feed. I fried them for about five minutes in a little bit of truffle butter and a splash of olive oil, until they had softened and started to sizzle. I fried for a few seconds longer then sprinkled a little truffle salt over to serve.

As there were only a few of the mushrooms, I didn’t want them to get lost in a bigger dish of vegetables so we had pea and mint soup to start, then the mushrooms were like a little post-soup novelty feature – just a small bite, given a space of it’s own in the evening’s dining. We all ummed and ahhed and made the appropriate noises to make sure all the weeks of growing had been worth it. And they were actually tasty (helped by the hints of truffly goodness). 

Then we had our main meal, a parmigiana with loads of greens on the side. More umming and ahhing and my self esteem shot through the roof. For, as I have previously mentioned (and anyone who loves cooking for and feeding others knows), it’s the praise for our food that makes us feel it is also praise for us. We feel loved when someone compliments our courgettes or enthuses about our endive.

All in all, it was a successful evening and a successful mushroom course, I’d say.

And no-one got mushroom poisoning (unlike the woman who picked some mushrooms from her garden to add to a can of mushroom soup and died).

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Well, that’s me for today. I’m off to Ham House in a mo to get my 17th century scullery maid groove on.

Danda and the cinema

When Danda was younger, there was a cinema club on Saturdays that the young kids could go to. They’d watch a film together in the morning and they even had their own song:

“We are the boys and girls well known as the minors of the A! B! C!
And every Saturday all line up,
To watch the films we love and shout aloud with glee!
We like to laugh and have a singsong,
Just a happy crowd are we,
We’re all pals together,
The minors of the A! B! C!”

When not engaging in this fellow cinema-goer love, Danda spent a significant portion of his childhood sneaking in to the cinema by the side door.

The stories are plenty. There was the time when their friend went to the toilet during the film and found the box with the main electrics. Inevitably, he needed to test it so he turned everything off then on again before returning to his seat and asking Danda and co if anything had happened. They said that the whole cinema had been plunged into darkness and the film had gone off. The friend thought this was the funniest thing he had ever heard so got ready to make another trip for some mischief-making.

Unfortunately for him, the first blackout had alerted the cinema staff to the presence of a group of young boys who had not paid to get in. In came one of the staff with a policeman (they were pretty unoccupied in those days) to get those naughty boys.

The naughty boys, however, had noticed the arrival of the policeman and hotfooted it out via the fire escape. Conveniently enough (some might say it had been planned ahead), a bucket of water was on hand and while closing the door behind them, the bucket was left balancing precariously on the top.

They retreated to a safe distance and watched. The policeman charged through the door, followed by the cinema staff member, both of whom got drenched as the bucket fell. The boys laughed and laughed! In the confusion which followed they ran as fast as their little legs would take them, out of the cinema and off to a good hiding place.

There was the time they got bored during the film and went for a wander and ended up on the roof of the cinema.

There was the time they sneaked in to the box and worked out how to turn the film off.

Ah, the joyful exuberance of youth!

Figure this one out!

I had a slightly mental dream again, everyone. Get your dream analysis heads on and figure this one out.

So I was doing a dissertation in the dream. It was about migration and what encourages it, or something like that. I had printed the subject of the dissertation in big purple letters then cellotaped it into a lined pad that I was taking notes on.

Somehow, by who-knows-what genius on my part, I had organised an interview with Prince William and Prince Harry for my research. I met them in a little pub somewhere with one of my friends, I don’t know who. This friend had brought along one of her friends who just wouldn’t shut up, basically. She was rabbiting on about the environment and the state of the country and what were the princes going to do about it and didn’t they have a responsibility and blah blah blah.

At first I let her go on and on because I was hoping she’d give me a go. Eventually I just stopped her and got all stroppy. I was like, “Ok, could you give it a rest? I don’t know if you realise but I arranged this meeting. I’ve got a dissertation due and I need to interview them as part of my research. I mean, these guys don’t have very much time so could you let me get on with my stuff now, please?!”

Suitably admonished, she stopped talking but laughed at me a bit. The princes looked a bit surprised at my outburst but told me to start with my questions.

So I flipped to the page in my notepad where I had cellotaped the title of the dissertation and I couldn’t find it! It was my turn to talk and I couldn’t find, nor remember, the dissertation title! I knew it was something about migration.

I kept trying to ask them stuff from memory, I was going, “O, it’s about migration and how we encourage it in this country.”

They were going, “Immigration? O yeh, and the benefit system?” The loud mouth sitting next to me kept saying things about immigration and immigrants.

I was getting all annoyed but trying to be polite about it, given that I was chatting to the princes. I was going, “No. Not immigration. Migration. It’s not about immigrants as such, it’s slightly different.”

The princes were waiting for me to tell them what it was about but I was flipping through and through my notepad and couldn’t find the dissertation title.

Then they had to go and Prince William took out a notepad and jotted down his expenses, paying for everyone’s drinks, then they left.

And then, on the floor, in a pile of papers, I found the dissertation title and I realised it wasn’t specific enough. It didn’t really have a clear focus. I started to worry about the deadline being in April as it’s March now and there’s not much time and I didn’t have anything written yet.

I text my friend Sophie (who was in the last crazy dream) to ask the due date then I heard someone calling my name and it was another friend Bianca, by some chairs. She waved me over and everyone I went to uni with was there, plus one girl I went to school with. Everyone looked a bit upset and sniffly as it was our last day at university but I just kept thinking about how my dissertation didn’t have a focus and what on earth could I write about.

By the chairs but a little way off was a policeman looking stressed. I started imagining his thought process and decided to write my dissertation like a diary of the policeman’s thoughts. Then I realised that’s more a story than a factual investigation. I played with a few more ideas but couldn’t settle on any.

Then my alarm went off. For the first few seconds, I thought about what I could write for my dissertation. Then I remembered I finished studying last year, there was no dissertation. Phew!

Wierd.

Any ideas, people?

Some of my friends have blogs too

Yes, my real life friends. Friends I knew outside of my blogging life. They have now started blogging and entered my blogging world. Which is a bit nerve wracking as I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever written about them….! Anyway, they are lovely people with lovely blogs. Check them out…

Ex-colleague and fellow cake-lover, Abbi, at blogthehousedown.com:

“I’ve been counting the calories and even hired a personal trainer. Yesterday was my first session with her.
‘Ah this will be easy,’ I thought, “I’m not in that bad shape.”
Well, I was wrong. Today I woke up and muscles hurt that I didn’t even know existed!…
After hobbling around the bedroom for most of the morning I decided to do something productive that required minimal moving, and so I decided to try out a recipe I found for courgette muffins…
So off I hobbled to the kitchen to embark on my healthy bake…I grated courgette, I measured the skimmed milk, mixed everything together and the little things came out looking pretty good…”

Beware, though, the tasty looking courgette muffins. Pop over to her blog to find out what happens when she tastes these babies!

Next is a friend I’ve known for years through a legal charity we’ve both been involved with at different points. This blog is brand new and full of all the things I spend time thinking about too.

“More 20somethings need to talk about the fact that this can be a terrible decade, discuss why, and throw out some life rafts of useful hope so that we may all survive until our 30s come to the rescue.

The article above – while acknowledging some of the problems of being in your twenties – is a classic example of The Great 20s Myth. This is the myth that your 20s are the best years of your life. Never, we are told, will you be more beautiful, thinner, look better, have more of a wonderful time, have more sex, have more great sex, and meet more wonderful people.

Waldman’s piece is, of course, just one of many things floating around about being in your twenties at the moment. You needn’t read all of the article, just look at the photograph and you’ll see what I’m talking about. It is the doorway to the deception that your 20s are one long sun-drenched, hazy day full of sexy and formative ‘fun’. A group of beautiful, tanned, bambi-limbed friends jumping in the air fuelled, presumably, just by the sheer joy of being alive. They are having the time of their life – of course they are! They’re in their twenties!

No.”

Another blog I enjoy reading is that of two friends that I worked with once upon a time. After we no longer worked together, we remained friends and they recently jetted off for a life under the Colombian sun. Not before a trek across Spain though, stories from which are to be found on the blog. This extract is from a wonderful post about a visit to Anthony’s uncle:

“We walked on further, trudging through the mud. Up in the mountains of San Juan de Rioseca it rains a lot.

‘Look over there,’ he said. ‘That’s the Rio Magdalena.’ The sun caught it at a bend, sending a brilliant flare of light from Colombia’s mighty river to my iris.

We continued walking through the cloud forest, flanked by jungle, toward my uncle Julio’s farm. On the way we passed a tiny, tidy construction site and met Viktor. He was wearing a broad-brimmed hat, wellington boots and a shirt and jeans dirty from the jungle path. A machete hung from his waist. He greeted us with a broad smile. After explaining the plan of the house he walked with us futher into the jungle.

Eventually we arrived at a small house, built by my uncle Gildo and members of the local community 15 years ago. It was there that we met Julio, my unbelievably fit and healthy seventy-nine-year-old uncle, his wife Rosa and perhaps the happiest person I have ever met: my cousin Feniz, who is married to Viktor.”

Next up is an old uni friend, the one we used to call Mum because she took care of us. Her blog is typically her – fashion-conscious and ready to offer food! Check out this snippet from one of her recent posts (I shall need to sort my legs out soon…):

“Now onto some fashion. I am glad that Spring is on it’s way (so they say). With it’s arrival will come some pretty colours and fabrics and less of these harsh, masculine lines we always tend to lean towards in winter.

Ladies! Be proud, be feminine and embrace the fact that the sun is coming out. Only problem is, we will have to up our game with regards to defuzzing our legs…winter hair can be excused, spring hair can NOT! Haha

Enjoy wearing the pastels and bright colours, experiment with layering different fabrics and textures, find a feminine look that suits your personality, I do believe that this look is not just for the “girly girl”.”

Next up, a friend with whom I share a love of honey, funny how little things can get you chatting. He has flown to greener pastures now (East London) but writes fabulously and I can fully recommend his blog. Check it out:

“The first wave of the spring’s sun had come and gone, transforming the landscape into a bleak and seemingly barren prospect as it left. The pull of the river was strong and I was faced with a choice of another day stuck inside grey walls freezing or be under grey skies freezing. A stiff cup of freshly brewed coffee gave me the push I needed. Thirty minutes later I was standing, rather being blown about, outside the Royal Festival Hall. Rain was tickling my face, annoyingly. My mood was being coaxed into better spirits by the wind. The mood was doing it’s best to ignore it. I made my way along the Thames path towards the gate that leads to the steps to the beach by Waterloo Bridge.”

Lastly, a friend who has recently returned to his home country, Ghana. He’s Ghanaian. And he’s Lebanese. And he’s been living in the UK since forever. But… Wait a minute… He’s…. No…

His blog is partly about this identity crisis. Here’s a taster:

“My family decided to take a trip to spend quality time together. We picked a little eco resort close to the Ivory Coast boarder of Ghana next to a town called Axim; I joined them a day after they left by taking a 20 minute internal flight to Takoradi where I was picked up by my brothers.

Upon arrival, I made the short 5 meter walk from the plane to pick up my bag and exit the airport. I flashed my ID to the immigration officer and he waved me through. ”Wait. Stop!” Someone yelled from the back of the office. Here we go.

“Where are you from?”. It took a while for me to realise, amongst all the eyes staring at me, who was speaking to me. It was the head of immigration. “Ghana”, I responded irritatingly. My usual spiel was useless. Everything I said to him was thrown back at me. I am not black and he has never heard of a Ghanaian person with the surname “Mouganie”.”

A dream I had last night

I had a strangely long and obscure dream last night. It went like this.

My friends, Sophie and Jay, and I were in Australia. We were travelling and having an adventure type of holiday. I remember us going to a shopping arcade place which had those cloth bag things which are brightly coloured and part of the general attire of people who have recently returned from a gap year. At one end was really expensive stuff so we never went to that end.

Suddenly it was our last day and we had to get our flight home at 2.15pm. It was only a few hours off and I started to panic. Sophie and Jay didn’t seem too worried and next minute, we were doing that thing I’ve seen on TV, where you have suction pads on your hands and feet and you climb up the side of glass buildings. I had the hand bits and was climbing up and when I got to the top, Sophie and Jay were already there somehow.

When I started looking for the suction things to climb back down I couldn’t find the feet bits and I started to panic again because I thought we’d miss the flight. I really didn’t want to miss it because if we had to buy tickets to get the next flight it would cost at least £70 (!).

Somehow we were back down the side of the building and it was 1.15pm and we rushed back to the hostel where we were staying and asked the people at the desk there if it would be faster to go by train or taxi. They said taxi so I ran to the room to get my backpack. The other two already had theirs with them even though they hadn’t gone to get them. Such is the way of dreams ….

When I came back to the reception, Sophie and Jay weren’t there. They had gone for lunch somewhere. I panicked. I saw their bags but there was only an hour til the flight. I didn’t have time to wait for them! I ran outside, flagged down a passing taxi and jumped in.

I got to the airport with ten minutes to spare, yelling at them to hold the plane. I checked in and started to run to the gate but it was really just one big room with one gate. So I just stood there and one side of the building was glass so I saw a small plane come in and land on a grassy area right next to the building. The other passengers and I marvelled at its smallness. There were only about twelve seats.

We walked out to get onto the plane but suddenly there was a swampy bit we had to cross so we got wet up to our knees. I also realised that in my rush I had forgotten to check my bag in so hoped no-one would notice it.

As I got on and sat down and strapped, Soph and Jay were there too and Jay was pregnant. She had been pregnant the whole time, I think, but I had been unaware of it for some reason. And Sophie was saying to me, “I can’t believe you left us,” and I was going, “Well, I looked for you all over. If you two were going to be stranded in Australia, there was no point me being stranded there too, just for the sake of it.”

They seemed especially annoyed that I had left them with Jay being pregnant.

We were just strapping ourselves in and having this discussion when my alarm beeped and when I opened my eyes, I was genuinely surprised that I wasn’t on a plane.

Strange.

Analyse that, psychologists.