Friday, February 27, 2004

Vanity, all is vanity

Last stop on the London tour for February was my long overdue expensive London haircut. I went to the Vidal Sassoon Advanced Hair Academy, handed over the tiny amount of £9.50 and sat in a chair for four hours getting my hair cut as a model. Thankfully curly hair is far harder to turn into a 'David Beckham', a 'femullet', or an asymmetrical style, so I did not walk out with a trendy and high maintenance haircut as the other models did. The students that day were a group of thirty something hairdressers from ... St Petersburg! As soon as they walked in you could tell they were from Eastern Europe, blonde hair, razor sharp cheekbones and the most divine boots *squeak* Half the entertainment was watching the towering blondes listen to the translated instructions of the diminutive gay brit flitting around instructing them.

My stylist Tanya was straight out of ABBA; dead straight white blonde hair and leopard print top. And I must commend the little gay brit for making her work for those four hours. My hair was divided into three different sections with each section cut in a different style and then Tanya was made to spend two hours hand rolling each of my natural curls, drying them, and then carving each curl down to a third of its' size. At the end of the four hours I had Russian hand-carved curls – definitely the best haircut I have ever had.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Why I Am Afraid Of The Claire

Quite apart from the fact that this piece is about me and the well documented Look, this is just very funny.

Monica sent it to the usual pub quiz suspects the day after the quiz at which a photo was taken - Monica's headband broke and the first thing everyone thought was 'we can make them into horns for Claire ...'


Why I Am Afraid Of The Claire - by Monica White.

Claire is small, granted. There's a formidable intellect there and a fierce streak. All fine and well, but I'd usually tell someone like that to bite my kneecaps if an argument wasn't going my way.

The Claire, though, has one weapon that chills my blood.

The Look.

This is reserved for those times when words would be utterly superflous. It's usually aimed at me when I say something of a particularly stupid bent. I watch myself around The Claire.

For Claire's calling (not unlike Buffy) is to be an assistant to the supernatural. 'Nothing new,' you may say, 'I've seen her rustle up a group of friends from apparently thin air to make a fab Friday night. I know she's in league with the dark forces.'

Ahh, but this is different.

The Claire is actually PA to Satan himself. She organises his diary. She screens his calls. She gets him hot lava (red with one).

I thought I'd share this with you all. I think it may save one of us someday. Sort of like knowing you're in a bad teen horror flick and following the rules (don't answer the phone, don't wander off by yourself, don't be the stupidest bimbette with the least lines).

Failing that, I think hogwarts.com might have some protection spells.

I actually inspired Monica to create quite a bit of poetry and rap in our time ...

Sunday, February 15, 2004

My True Love for Valentine's Day

Being footloose and fancy-free in the boyfriend department, and the proud owner of a ‘Friends of the British Museum’ card (a brilliant present from Kim), I spent the weekend of love with my greatest love – HISTORY. Thus my first visit to the British Museum was on the Buried Treasure weekend that included gallery talks by BM curators, displays of ancient crafts by re-enactment societies and guided tours around the Buried Treasure Exhibit itself.

As a young ‘un I wanted to be an archaeologist, and throughout changes in career I have never lost my desire to find historical treasures in the ground. I still have a battered crucifix, with the body of Jesus broken off, that I found in the sheep pens on our first farm. And of course there was that dinosaur bone in a rock that I picked up at the base of the cliffs at Yallingup, which Mum threw away after three years gathering dust in the shed – Claireosaurus: Lost Forever.

The Buried Treasure Exhibit displayed the Hoards (ie collections of coins and precious objects found in the ground) uncovered by amateur metal detectorists and members of the public (usually farmers) across Britain. I was never so eager to get out into the countryside and start crawling around on hands and knees with a shovel than I was after I saw the gold displayed. I felt like a Viking at one point, leaning closely and jealously against the glass that separated me from great wealth. Pillage … sack … pillage … *ahem*

One of the highlight of the exhibition, for me, was one of the smallest pieces in the exhibit – including the toy frying pans from Victorian doll sets and the tiny manicure sets from Roman Britain – the badge of the Gloucester Boar, the sigil of Richard III before he was King. As a Richard III groupie of long standing I nearly left a nose print trying to get closer to the tiny piece of metal that would have been hugely missed by its owner.

In the time of the War of the Roses, the power of a Duke such as Richard Duke of Gloucester rested solely in his retinue, and you were a member of his retinue by virtue of the Badge you wore. Finding such an important piece, especially considering how much it would have been searched for and just how tiny it was, was extraordinary luck.

Apart from my gold lust, the talks by the BM curators were brilliant, bringing back memories of university, but with the added glamour of listening to the foremost scholars in their fields. I was a bit of a groupie of the BM’s Ancient Britain curator and went to three of his lectures and toward the end we were sharing history jokes.

Monday, February 09, 2004

The Carnival of Claire

Well, the birthday was a rather fabulous affair actually.

It kicked off with drinks in town on Thursday.



I invited all the best friends – most of whom are regulars at the Pub Quiz each Tuesday. Once everyone was there the night really took off. I was bought Baileys all night and they changed from singles to doubles without me noticing(!) and that is when I got VERY tipsy. Towards 11 o’clock I was very happy and there were many hugs, declarations of love for London and my friends in it, and all such things. Great friends as they are, some enterprising ex-perthites even tried to freak me out by setting up a random man in the bar to say he had met me at the Cott and we had *ahem* locked lips! At first I thought that I was starting to forget faces, but as soon as he tried to claim tonsil hockey I smelt a rat … never done THAT in the Cott.





I was rather blasé about my lack of headache the next morning, and all involved in the buying my drinks scam were a little miffed. There was an amusing flurry of emails from the guests when I told them so:

ORIGINAL MESSAGE – FROM CLAIRE

Fi, Howard, Jacinta, Kim, Matt, Monica and Sue

Thank you all so much for the fabulous night. Thankfully all your combined evil plans failed ...

#1 I may have been a little tipsy but I don't have a headache

#2 I did not believe that phoney 'snog at the Cott' man

#3 I got home without having any embarrassing episodes with night buses, firemen or penguins

I was forced to reign in the more enthusiastic of them:

ORIGINAL MESSAGE – FROM CLAIRE

I pose the question - who needs enemies when you have friends like these?

*slightly strained grin*

MONICA:

Extract from Email 1: I still say we have to try harder next time. Less milk. More alcohol. A funnel.

Extract from Email 2: This stuff'll be ready for next year's Claire-intoxication mission.

Extract from Email 3: And more convincing (and less lecherous) "snog at the Cott" men...

HOWARD:

Extract from Email 1: Can't believe it, no head ache?!! You have now set down a challenge. he he he!

Extract from Email 2: Kim > "Claire is now feeling the effects"
Yes! big cheer! Challenge completed in record time, well done Kim!

KIM:

Extract from Email 1: damn ... next time we'll get you triples. :-)

Extract from Email 2: I can proudly declare that Claire is now feeling the effects from last night. She may not have had a headache earlier, but we just had lunch at the local "boat pub" with the fire brigade rescue boat speeding past creating some nasty waves. Claire left looking a little pale...

Friday night was SUPPOSED to be quiet but I was feeling so good Jacinta, Kim and I headed out to inigo in Clapham, my favourite club in London. I was completely sober but danced until I wore holes in my shoes.



The three of us met up in town again Saturday night intending to see a show and instead got to see the New Zealanders celebrating Waitangi Day and halting all the traffic in Parliament Square with the haka.



Browsing through the cheap tickets booths we decided to give the show a miss and go drinking. So we went to an Aussie bar in Covent Garden and proceeded to indulge in the £7.50 jugs of cocktails.



7 jugs and 14 drinks later we were excessively hammered. We talked to some very nice boys … hmmm … can’t quite remember …







What I do remember is Kim going home and Jacinta and I going on to a club and having a very good dance in a very skanky club until the wee hours!



Sunday was the last day of the Carnival - Kim and I took the train out to Cambridge.



We did a lightening tour of the colleges, which were so different to Oxford as to make them just as good, and then we had a mini pub-crawl, including ostrich meat burgers, Baileys hot chocolates and cake – what else does a girl need?



I slept for 12 hours Sunday night. A great birthday all up.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Confirming the Stereotypes

I helped at a press conference run by the Media Consultancy team at the EA for the launch of an art exhibition in St Paul’s Cathedral. The exhibition featured works from some of the foremost artists in Britain at the moment, including the controversial Tracy Emin, so the media interest in the story was considerable.

The journalists had shoes with worn heels, flapping grey or beige overcoats and assorted bags and notepads - the reporter from the Times was a perfect Hollywood journalist with his lean height, thin blonde hair and harried look. The photographers were, to a man, dressed as if ready to hop on a plane to a war zone somewhere; the khaki fatigues, pocket-covered safari vests and the pure amount of gadgets draped around necks and flourished in their hands. Most had two mobile phones, one to send photos and one to receive calls, as explained by the guy I actually spent most of the conference in deep discussion with. He was a photographer from AP, a news agency of the size of Reuters, who regaled me with stories from war-zones and his year as paparazzi. He told me some fascinating stories of a paparazzi he knew who was one of the top five in the world and got, and I quote, ‘those Dodi and Di photos’ which are now still earning him money.

Journalists and photographers aside the artists were the best show. There was a young one, about my age, with my taste in red accessories – the shoes, the bag, the hair baubles. A tall thin gentleman with grey windswept hair in bright red trousers, sky blue shirt and grass green knitted vest. A tiny woman dressed in biker leathers with short wild hair and eyes that made her look like Madame Hooch from the Harry Potter films. The man with the handlebar moustache and Russian Revolutionary hair topped with a leather airman’s cap that matched his sheepskin lined leather vest, Billy Childish I believe. Those without a coherent look were draped in green paisley silk scarves, bulky plaid wool scarves and had hair in various stages of artful disarray

The exhibition was in the Cathedral and it was my first time at St Paul’s and what a fabulous building. Though I must admit that while I am a huge fan of the architecture of this city, I sometimes assume that EVERYTHING old is medieval. St Paul’s was far more modern than I was expecting.