The Business of Friendship 

Today has turned into a bit of an impromptu nostalgia fest; part fuelled by the fact I can hear my housemate watching Spiceworld through the wall, but mainly because of the ‘How Much Of A 90s Girl Were You’ quiz doing the rounds on Facebook.

Just in case you were wondering, according to Popsugar, I had my 90s pop culture and trends down. Oh yes, from my Kappa Jacket and chunky platform loafers to my Coffee Shimmer lipstick – I was as 90s as Mr Blobby wearing a Fat Willy’s t-shirt.

That’s right, I can still remember a time when Samantha Janus was capable of facial expressions. I don’t think I’ll ever love a man with the same overwhelming intensity that I projected onto Drazic from Heartbreak High. And if I’m being completely honest here, I fear I may always mourn the death of the Global Hypercolor t-shirt; an item of clothing that not only encouraged sweating, but celebrated it with a rainbow of human secretion.

All very useful baggage for a 31 year old woman, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Click-bait quizzes of this sort do a great job of convincing you that you were a typical teenager. An edited flashback of a life where all that mattered was swapping nail varnish and discussing the latest Friends episode like it was world politics. As we’ve discussed before in a previous post, it’s only now through the magic of hindsight that I realise that I was anything but a typical teenager.

In fact, I wouldn’t class any of my friends in our little gang as archetypal teenagers, and that’s probably why we gravitated towards each other. It’s only in hindsight that I realise that some of the things we did were perhaps a little odd for girls of our age.

One prime example being that me and my friends had business cards. A group business card, no less, with all of our home phone numbers listed proudly in black and white. Lord knows why, this was in the days before pre pubescent YouTubers were topping rich lists and as far as I can remember we only had a paper round between us.

‘So, what business were you in?’ I hear you ask. If I had to hazard a guess, I would say we were in the business of trying to pull boys we met on the bus.

We built an acronym out of the combined initials of our names and called ourselves “ACKBW”, which we set in a bold typeface across the top of the cards, with the following written underneath:

             “The Rebels”

               “We Rock” 

We were savvy enough to include a clip art picture of a sun wearing wrap around shades to reinforce just how inexplicably cool we really were, yet completely oblivious to the fact that a gang with business cards is the very antithesis of anything cool or rebellious.

 

One could argue that what we developed was an early prototype of Tinder. Just think, if you’d been the lucky (or unlucky) lad that found one of our alluring business cards slipped into your hand on the 256, then you, Sir, would have had a 1 in 4 chance that one of us would be interested. The odds would’ve been very much in your favour.

But one wouldn’t be so bold as to make such a claim. Nor is one sure that our cards ever left our own hands or tiny leather backpacks, despite the fact we could already recite each other’s home phone numbers off by heart.

Nearly 20 years of friendship, marriage and mortgages later, and I can still recite those old phone numbers off by heart, because those childhood friends you meet in your formative years are some of the most special bonds you’ll ever make.

They’re the ones that know all your awkward moments, your struggles and heartbreaks, because they lived them with you.

Even when you did that weird thing with your hair.

They’re the ones you want standing next to you at the school reunion when you lie about inventing Post Its.

And they’re the ones that have more ammunition on you than anyone you will ever know, so be nice to them.

Always
.

Because they probably have photo evidence too.

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My Not So Funny Valentine…

I’ve celebrated Valentines Day only once, when I attempted to cook a romantic meal for an ex. It was a pretty big deal for someone like me, whose signature dish is egg in a cup, or tomato soup with crisps as croutons – and I was keen to get everything just right. 

Valentines Day wasn’t and still isn’t something I’ve ever truly been fussed about, but I was in a new relationship, it was exciting and unfamiliar and my head was filled with romantic clichés. 

I wanted the moon to hit my eye like a big pizza pie as much as I wanted to go all Lady and the Tramp over a bowl of spaghetti – and I was willing to pull out all the stops to get it. 

We’ve all heard the saying that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, right?

Wrong. 

Oh no. What I discovered that night is that when they say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, they don’t mean instantly. 

The way to a man’s heart is not through the toilet door, shouting down the hall for more bog roll.

The way to a man’s heart, is not asking him to turn the TV up so he can’t hear you retching. 

It’s not a table covered in heart shaped confetti and a three course meal peppered with salmonella. 

Nor is it writhing uncomfortably in your seat with glazed bloodshot eyes, trying to pass off your feverous sweaty brow and shaking hands as nervous romantic trepidation.

Shouting about how annoyed you are that you’ve basically spent £35 for the pleasure of sitting on your own toilet, re-reading the instructions on the back of a shampoo bottle all night. 

Discreetly lighting another scented candle to “make things cosy” because you know full well that digging the Glade Plug-In out from under the sink would be the final fragrant nail in the coffin of this nightmarish evening. 

No, in my experience the way to a man’s heart is not through his stomach at all, and if you ever find yourself on a date that ends with a last minute dash for Dioralyte instead of Durex, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

    

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Birthday love for the Big Man

On the 8th January, hundreds of  thousands of people were celebrating what would have been Elvis Presley’s 80th Birthday. A special day for many and one that has a special relevance for my family because it would also have been my Dad’s 60th Birthday. He too was a King of sorts, to us, anyway. Only his crown was a floppy canvas hat, or a pair of pants tied around his head when he needed to protect his bald spot down the beach.

To my shame, I’d forgotten that Dad shared his Birthday with Elvis. He’d always been very proud of that fact, because Elvis was his favourite singer. When I saw it being covered in the news I was completely mortified that I’d forgotten that little fact about him, but then I realised, it’s been a long time without him reminding us.

2015 marks the 15th year that he’s been gone, which means he’s been out of my life for as long as I ever knew him – and to be honest, that’s a thought that I struggle with. Sometimes, I worry that I never really knew him. I was still a kid when he passed, and so the role he played in my life was largely that of authoritarian. That’s not to say we weren’t close. We were very close, perhaps a little too alike in so many ways. But I don’t think you ever truly appreciate your parents as ‘people’, with lives and loves and experiences beyond you being the centre of their universe, until you’re much older. Until you can appreciate all the struggles and beauty of life. The sacrifices they made, and the joy that simple pleasures such as long walks and listening to music with loved ones can bring.

Every Sunday, we would be at home and Dad would play his favourite LPs. He loved 60s music, and so many of the songs from the era hold a special place in my heart. I guess it’s fitting in a way that I would go on to work on a specialist 60s music radio show. The same part of me that used to dread being asked to change Dad’s records, for fear of scratching his precious collection with my fat clumsy fingers, now longs to be able to sit with him and go back through the countless sleeves and introduce him to the new songs I’ve heard.  Every day, I’m sad that I don’t get to talk to him about the music we’re playing, the things I’ve learned and talk to him about his memories of that time. Not just as Father and Daughter, but adult to adult; friend to friend. Every day, I wonder if he would be proud of me. I think about what an amazing Grandfather he would have been to my niece and nephews. I wonder if my life would have turned out differently – and sometimes, I still worry if there’s a slim chance I’ll go bald like he did. (I’ve done a lot of research, and it’s more likely that straighteners will be the ones to steal my hairline from me, not genetics.)

Every time I’m at a wedding, I feel a pang of guilt when it comes to the speeches, and this little flicker of jealousy and sadness rises up inside me when I realise that I’ll never have that. I’ll never know what it feels like to have your Father walk you down the aisle and embarrass you with stories about what you were like as a baby.  I’ll never know how it feels to see his eyes swell with pride when it dawns on him that his scratty haired little girl has grown up to be a scratty haired woman.

As I’m sure many of you who have been through such loss know, the pain never really goes away, you just numb to it and learn to muddle on through life with this empty little pocket in the corner of your heart.

But it’s ok, because I’m lucky in the fact that I know he loved me and would have done anything for me. I’m lucky that I had him for the time I did, and that he and my Mom gave us the best start in life that they could. I’m lucky that I can see so many wonderful traits of his in myself and my relatives, so I know that although there may be the odd little memory of him I forget, he will never truly be far from my mind.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

“POOYEE!”

Love always, 

Kaz

xx

dad

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Searching for Zihuatanejo…

Have you ever wondered what it’s like trying to re-build your life in London when you’re drowning in post graduate debt? Of course, I can’t speak for everyone, but I can provide a glimpse of what it’s been like for me. Take this evening for example, I’ve just done a 30 mile, 3 hour round trip after work so that I could get an extra 20 quid in my pocket and as you can imagine, that laborious journey gave me plenty of time to sit and mull over my circumstances. The only way I can describe it is by likening post grad life to that scene in The Shawshank Redemption, where you discover that Andy Dufresne has been chipping away at his secret tunnel from his cell. Just, bear with me…

Day after day, year after year, you wake up in your little rented room and quietly and determinedly scratch away at the wall of opportunity with your little tiny rock hammer, dragging your limp, tired body through tunnel after tunnel of shit, with nothing but the faint glimmer of hope of a better life to keep you going.

Only, you didn’t realise how bad the shit would smell, it’s starting to burn your eyes and every time you try to come up for air, you hit your head off the steel pipe and it knocks you back down again. You think about turning back, or changing direction, but you can’t, because there are a thousand other people crawling up the same shit tunnel behind you. So you get your head down, hold your breath and keep on going, praying to God that when you do get to the other side, you’ll still be young enough to enjoy your life, house prices won’t have tripled again – and all of your family isn’t already dead.

That’s my Zihuatanejo.

Sure, I might be being a tad melodramatic, and some of you are probably wishing you hadn’t accepted the invite to my little pity party – a few of you might even be wondering if I’m on the “blob”. Well, I’m not, and you should watch your mouth, because i’m the one that’s holding a rock hammer, remember.

God that felt good.

As you were.

Kaz

x

ShawshankRedempt_198Pyxurz

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My 5 minutes with Rik Mayall…

I am so, so sad to hear that Rik Mayall has passed away. He has been a comedy hero – and all time crush – of mine since I watched my first episode of The Young Ones with my dad as a kid. He’s one of the main reasons that I have a childish, sometimes mischievous, often inappropriate sense of humour and find getting my friends in a headlock or calling them a filthy name a much better option for expressing my affection than any traditional term of endearment expected from a lady.

His comedy genius can never be overstated. There is so much of his work that is instantly quotable and a bank of sketches that are as vivid in my mind today as the first time I saw them. He was one of those people that even if he said nothing, just a simple flare of the nostrils & the flash of a cheeky glint in his eye could have you in stitches.

I think this candid video sums up his character perfectly for me, and the point i’m trying to make.

 

 

Of course that would be his natural reaction to spot that he was being secretly filmed in a crowd, of course. I’d expect nothing less.

Even today, i still find myself grinning like a naughty schoolboy when I think of the end credits of Bottom and how much we used to mimic Richie and Eddie’s slapstick silhouette fight as kids.

 

 

And that’s before I even begin to turn my attention to some classic moments from the programme itself.

 

 

One thing i’ll always remember about Rik, and I think any other fans who are of a similar age as me will too, was his episode of Jackanory where he read and performed ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’. This was like worlds colliding for me; my favourite comedian, reading one of my favourite books by my all time favourite author, Roald Dahl. I hated Jackanory, hated it with a passion. So much so, that I’m actually mentally scarred by an episode hosted by Sandi Toksvig where she recounted a Norwegian Viking story that seemed to last an eternity. I genuinely felt like it was never going to end. I remember sitting there thinking, i’m going to die, watching Sandi Toksvig tell the world’s most boring story without even getting to eat my tea first. It felt like I was being punished for something I didn’t understand.

Looking back, I don’t know why I didn’t just turn the telly off and go and find something else to do.  And yet, that episode with Rik had such an impact on me, that I wish I could get hold of a copy of the original broadcast so that I could share it with my own children one day, and rescue them from a world where Kym Marsh is employed to read your kids a bedtime story on CBeebies.

 

 

I was lucky enough to meet Rik when I was interning at Smooth Radio in 2010, and it’s a moment that I’ll never forget. It was one of the coldest winters we’ve had in a long time, where it snowed almost continuously from December until about mid February. The kind of winter that puts the willies up the inhabitants of Westeros. He’d come to the station to record a voice over, and I was so awestruck that I think i did a Patrick Stewart style quadruple take before my brain could actually compute what was happening. Rik Mayall. THE Rik Mayall was stood right in front of me. Not on a tv screen. This was Rik Mayall in the flesh, just a metre away from me. Everyone else in the office seemed indifferent to him being there, they’d met him before, and it’s quite common to have a number of celebrities popping through the doors at a busy radio station. No big deal.

But for me, it was like Lord Flashheart himself had come bounding through the doors thrusting his pelvis at me, shouting ‘WOOF!’ right into my face.

 

I stared at him for ages and frantically confirmed with the other staff that it was indeed Rik Mayall stood in the same room as me, Karen Bevan of Dudley, and I wasn’t hallucinating due to the onset of hypothermia.  I quickly realised that this was the only chance i was ever going to get to meet him, and so, like a creep i followed him out as he left the building for a quick fag. I can’t smoke. I didn’t even pretend to smoke. And i didn’t even lie when he offered me a cigarette, I simply replied: “I just followed you out here because I really want to talk to you so i thought i’d come and keep you company.” And I’m so glad I did because he just smiled, laughed, and immediately picked up on my accent and started mocking it. He told me how his family were from near Bromsgrove*, and that he loved the accent because it reminded him of home, he briefly spoke about how ill he’d been after that awful quad bike accident, and there was a slight miscommunication where he said something about Ade Edmondson being on the road with Lenny Henry, and I thought he said Lenny Henry had aids.

Rik Mayall is probably one of the few celebrities outside of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, where a miscommunication about aids at a first meeting is still fair game.

They say that you should never meet your idols because you’ll always be let down. Not so. Rik was everything i’d imagined; he was erratic, flirtatious, engaging, dangerously charming and a true gent; with just a hint of Richie coming out when he laughed at a dirty joke.

As we walked back into the office, he stopped, took both of my hands in his and said: “What did you say your name was?” Then he kissed my hand gently and signed off with a huge infectious smile: “Karen, i’m Rik, it’s been a pleasure to meet you.”

The pleasure was all mine Rik, the pleasure was all mine.

R.I.P you wonderful man.

WOOF!!

xx

* He either said they were from there or lived near there, my memory is sketchy at this point because I was too busy staring into his devilish eyes. Apologies for any inconsistency.

 

 

 

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My Well Adjusted Guide To Online Dating

Apparently, the festive gap between Christmas Day and the New Year is one of the busiest for people to sign up to online dating sites. No doubt fuelled by a cocktail of loneliness, 40% proof alcohol, carb induced self loathing and a plain old vomit inducing Richard Curtis cinematic atrocities – people all over the world flock to their computers and settle down to write one of the most difficult paragraphs of their entire lives; their dating profile.

For some of us, it’s the hardest thing we’ll ever write. Harder than trying to find a way of saying ‘going to the pub’ that makes you seem dynamic and employable and not at all a social burden in the hobbies and interests section on a job application form. Harder than fretting over the ‘How many units of alcohol do you drink a week?’ question on a doctors registration form, before settling on a well rounded, sensible 10. A doctor would only have to take one look at the yellow of your eyes to know different, and that’s the same with dating profiles. You can say what you want to potentials online, but the minute they meet you in person all of those lies are going to unravel like Michelle McManus in a corset. From a distance, you look good, but the closer you get and the more lies you tell, the tighter the corset becomes until you’re completely suffocated by them and great big flaps of deceit come flopping out of the edges like a tsunami of flesh.

Obviously, the best thing to do is ‘be yourself’. But, come on, how likely is it that you’re going to get a date if you say that sometimes you have a couple of drinks and can get a bit obnoxious and sweary. Or, that you’ve lost entire weekends watching episodes of Come Dine With Me on More4, picking crisps out of your bra and reading all 52 obituaries of the victims of the July 7th bombings?

Not very likely…trust me.

I know it has worked wonders for some, but I personally am not a fan of online dating. I once set up a profile for a radio feature and understand all too well how difficult it is to write one. Here’s a small example of my attempt to make myself sound like an exciting potential companion:

“As you can’t tell from the head shot, I have your typical two up, two down. Please note that, that is not a reference to my living situation. I do not own a house, but I do have two of everything you would expect on a woman; like Noah’s Ark, but made of skin.”

You see, what I managed to do here, is subtly point out that I am able bodied, have breasts and eyes, but am a little poor and most probably a bit awkward in social situations. Not my finest work, but as it stands it was a surprisingly successful mating call for every filthy weirdo within a 40 mile radius. In all fairness, it was for an experiment and on a free dating site which might as well have been the Costa Del Sol of the internet. Overall, it was a vile experience, but provided me with plenty of material.

The second time I set up a profile was with a two week trial on match.com because my friend was doing it, and I didn’t want to pay. This time, I did a much more serious attempt to my profile, but at the very end I said:

“….but if you’re not into Pandas, you can fuck off.”

Nobody seemed to get the joke and I got a lot of people writing to me commenting on how they liked how passionate I was about Pandas, one guy in particular who said I should work in Panda conservation because my passion would go a long way there. He still didn’t understand when I told him I couldn’t do it because there’s just no job security where animal extinction is concerned. Further still, I actually managed to convince him that it was Hitlers fault Pandas were verging on extinct anyway, because the two things he hated most in life were Pandas and Jews. He was a bit of a lost cause to be honest. Long story short, before the two weeks were up I met a French man who could write in perfect in English, but couldn’t really speak it, hated women who drank pints and gambled and took me to M&M world. Basically, my worst nightmare with some stilted conversation about tiny multi coloured chocolate and shit cartoon t-shirts thrown in for good measure.

What I’m trying to say, is that when it comes to writing a dating profile, what I’ve learned is that sometimes, it’s good to bend the truth a bit. As the old saying goes, you can’t polish a turd, but you can roll it in glitter. You just need to jazz up your wording a bit.

I think I’ve come up with the perfect way to help any lovelorn beauties write their dating profiles. Whisky. Just steal quotes directly from Whisky reviews, and you’re golden.

See how on paper, I evolve from being an acquired visual taste, and perhaps just a little bit common, to:
“Striking packaging that places great emphasis on its roots”

My gobby but always well meaning tendencies become:
“Confident, well made blend with a distinctly malty heart” – Doesn’t that make me sound lovely and earthy, like Felicity Kendall?

My often debatable mental stability transforms me into something “pleasingly complex”.

Issues with emotional intimacy are cleverly masqueraded as:
“Must be given time to reveal its many fine qualities”

And “It’s difficult to keep a whisky this old from going over the edge into an undesirable oak-fest. If you can afford it, try it!” Which, I think means I’m fun. But also makes me sound like a bit of a prostitute. That one needs some work to be honest.

Basically, you’ve got to pick and choose them carefully and jiggle them about abit, but if you’re struggling this New Year, there’s definitely something in feeding your profile with Whiskey reviews. And if all else fails, just feed them in real life with Whisky* instead.

Happy New Year, y’all
Kaz
xx

*or Whiskey, if you wanna get all regional about it.

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Educating Dudley: The Deleted Scenes

Ever since I spotted the grinning brunette, proudly announcing that she’s shaved all her eyebrows off on the advert, i’ve been looking forward to watching Channel 4’s new documentary Educating Yorkshire.

Today, is that day and I genuinely couldn’t be more excited. I’ve only seen 15 minutes of it, and I already have a strange affection for all of them, especially the wrong ‘uns. And i’ve got a bit of a crush on Mr Burton. Although, hilarious TV viewing as it may be, I can’t help but think that some of these kids are going to be cringing when they see what they’re like on sceen. I have to take my tiny little top hat off to the teachers & kids alike for opening up their gates and their lives for our entertainment.

We do stupid things when we’re kids.

We say stupid things when we’re kids – and oh boy, do we look stupid when we’re kids.

That’s why i’m so glad they never made a documentary about my school, otherwise the entire nation would have seen some pretty embarrassing character defining moments in my life.

For your amusement, i’ve compiled a short-list of my Top 5 Things The Nation Never Needed To See, below:  

  1. The time I proudly drew a massive can of Coke all over my essay about The Industrial Revolution, because I genuinely thought that’s what they meant powered the trains back then.
  2. That I used to get all of my P.E kit from the lost property box, and even had a favourite pair of lost property trainers that I used to hide in a cupboard so no one else would claim the rotten things as their own.
  3. The time I asked Mrs Foxall for a threesome.
  4. Every single mufty day that ever existed where I thought wearing a fake Spanish market Adidas tracksuit with two stripe jogging bottoms and a pair of loafers was a good idea. Or, failed to realise that I looked like Pauline Quirke in my brother’s denim shirts and my sister’s green chequered trousers.
  5. The strange phase I went through of pouring cans of cherry coke into empty pump sprays from the Body Shop, because I thought I looked cooler spraying fizzy pop into my big fat mouth instead of drinking it – but all that happened was that I was just really bloody thirsty all the time and everything tasted like Vanilla Musk.

In my defence, I was in character for #3, during a very surreal drama lesson. But it still doesn’t make the memory any less painful.

So there you go. That’s just 5 things that C4 producers missed out on by not commissioning Educating Dudley. And we haven’t even discussed the fact that I looked like Waynetta Slob from the age of 10 to at least 21 – OR the rest of the ridiculous things that my friends and other school mates did.

And we definitely haven’t mentioned the time my brother accidentally walked to school with one of mine & my sisters training bra’s hanging off his backpack.

Ah yes, that was fun.

The best days of your life, indeed. 

 

Image

kxx

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