Friday, September 29, 2006

Smear

About 10 years ago, a friend of mine that I knew at university died from cervical cancer. She was 28-years-old. I wasn't with her in South Africa when she got so sick, but my friend Andrea, who was very close to her, was. Months of severe abdominal pains had gone misdiagnosed, and when they eventually found the cancer, it was just too far gone to treat. It was a matter of months between diagnosis and her death, the end of which sounded very painful and devastating.

At the end, she had unhealed holes in her upper thighs from an operation in Germany that was unsuccessful, and these needed to be washed out by friends who were bathing her. She was skin and bones, and losing great chunks of hair when she tried to comb it. It was such an enormous tragedy that this vibrant, outgoing, beautiful young woman died in such a terrible way. It was also a sharp reminder to me and everyone else that knew her, that you MUST have cervical smears regularly. Yes, they are unpleasant, and (as I experienced this morning) somewhat painful at times, but a lot less unpleasant and painful than dying from cervical cancer.

When I heard the news of my friend's death I went and had a cervical smear pronto, and guess what? They found abnormal cells, or cells which were 'turning.' It's not cancer, but cells that are possibly becoming cancerous, and an early sign of danger. As soon as the test results were in, my surgery acted fast, and I was scheduled in at the hospital to have these cells lazered away.

That experience, along with the Brazilian wax I had a few months ago, and right up there with having my teeth cleaned by my hygenist Ingalena, was probably one of the most horrible physical experiences in my life. The doctor wasn't particularly, how should I say, sympathetic, and I guess he did that sort of thing all the time and had other people to see, so he was all business. For me, I was terrified; I had my legs spread, a lovely nurse holding my hand (god bless the nurses at Ealing Hospital), and my first experience with an injection directly into my cervix. As much as some men have this thing about seeing blood on their penis (castration phobia), bring a needle or any sharp object near a woman's vagina, and it is frightening beyond description. That injection was bloody painful, but necessary to numb the area so he could lazer away those cells.

The whole process felt like hours, but it was probably half an hour or less, and they successfully managed to get rid of all the bad cells. For a few years following the proceedure, I had to have cervical smears every 6 months to keep an eye on things. Fortunately I eventually got the all clear and went back to only having to have them once a year. The recommendation is that women have them every 3-5 years, but personally I think, especially if you are sexually active, it's worth getting things down there checked out once a year.

This morning was no different in the unpleasant stakes. The nurse, a lovely young woman by the name of Susanna, did the honors. We tend to chat and makes jokes to take my mind off of things, but I still hate having it done. I always feel a bit violated by the process, and sometimes it's actually a bit more painful than the normal 'uncomfortable' they say it will be. But then I think of Nicole's death, and I count myself lucky.

For more information on cervical smear testing, see here.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

No more crazy rumours ok?

I hope this recent picture puts a definitive end, once and for all, to all those wild and ludicrous accusations that Victoria Beckham's breasts are fake.

Photo c/o wwtdd.com

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

7.20am

On the (very) rare occasions I wake up before 7am, or worse, actually have to be on the road at that time, it always amazes me that there are people who look, well, functional, and in some cases even happy at this hour. I'll be semi-conscious in the backseat of a taxi on the way to an airport or something, my eyes and face swollen from sleep, the indent of pillow creases still visible on my cheek, and there will be some guy in a van looking ship shape eating a Yorki, singing along to the radio. Or a woman in a suit with perfectly blow-dried hair and applied makeup, talking on her cell. Who the hell eats a Yorki at that time of the morning. Rather, who can eat full stop? And blow drying hair? That takes some co-ordination and skill, both of which I lack normally, let alone at that ungodly hour.

I've never been a morning person - ever, even prehangover years. My mother would barely manage to get me into the car on time for the journey to school, and then passing cars would be entertained by the site of me getting dressed and trying to fix my hair. To me, that ride to school was invaluable getting ready time, why waste an extra half hour at home when I could be sleeping? My sister Chantell, born a neat freak, and whom I disastrously shared a room with for a time, was disgusted by my behavior. By the time we were ready to leave for school she looked pristine, and her side of the room resembled an army barracks pre inspection.

This morning, in the midst of what I remember to be a vaguely unsatisfying dream (probably unsuccessfully trying to find a shade of liptsick or fighting with the devil), our doorbell rang. 7.20am. Seven bloody twenty am. I don't care what anyone says, but if you work from home and don't have to get ready to be public facing, or have to travel, you're going to get up maybe half an hour before you start your working day. For me, I start at 9am - 9.30, but then I'll also sometimes work till 11pm or so if I have a deadline. Why get up any earlier? Anyway, 7.20am and the doorbell goes off. I get up and drag on my yukata (a Japanese dressing gown/house coat resembling a kimono), chance a look at my hair in the mirror which resembles Don King's, and go to the intercom. It's John Lewis with the delivery of our wedding presents.

Yay wedding presents! Boo 7.20am delivery. The guys (two of them) came in with big grins on their faces. Perhaps they were chuckling at my hair and dressing gown, but I think they actually got a kick out of the fact that they woke me up. Evil bastards.

Anyway enough complaining - I've got some lovely wedding presents to go through and our thank you cards to write, which are already long overdue. Oh, and there's a set of barbells - my first set of privately owned barbells - a dream come true.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Just browsing

I'm gutted. I got to see the (recorded) final Britain's Next Top Model episode tonight, and Abi lost to Lianna. Great, that's exactly what the fashion industry needs - another stroppy, moody drama queen. Jeez. How could they choose Lianna over Abi? Yes she's beautiful, but the girl cries at the drop of a hat - and it seems a lot of hats get dropped when she's around. Anyway, Abi has star quality (and was the star of the show in my opinion), and I've already seen an opinion article by her in Closer magazine, and a photo spread in OK! And despite those unfortunate cocaine photos, I reckon she's around to stay.

I had a day off today and took myself to go and see the new Almodóvar film, Volver. I really enjoyed it, but as good as Penélope Cruz was, I'm just not sure I bought her as an impoverished mother, who does cleaning jobs for a living. She's just so hauntingly beautiful. Maybe I've just been too exposed to her paparazzi and red carpet photos of late, and have that image of her stuck in my mind. As good as the film was, I don't think it quite lived up to Todo sobre mi madre or Hable con ella, but still worth seeing if you're a fan of Almodovar's work or indeed Spanish cinema.

I had an annoying experience later at John Lewis, with a severly made-up elderly sales lady that just didn't get the meaning of the phrase "Thanks, I'm just browsing." Yes, I planned on buying, but I knew the brand fairly well (a fact I expressed to her on a number of occasions), and just wanted to see what new stuff they had in their range. She was following me around like a small dog with attachment issues, and then if I even blinked in the direction of something, she grabbed my hand and smeared it with the product in question. Eventually, my stock of politeness was dangerously close to running out, and I was gearing up to say, "Listen lady, I said I want to browse, so fuck off," but fortunately she found a new victim and left me to my own devices. It's one thing being a good salesperson, but quite another being pushy and annoying. Two more minutes of her and I was ready to leave without buying anything.

And in land of fugly celeb clothing, what is it with Victoria Beckham and those frilly tutu-style dresses she's been wearing lately? With those skinny legs, they make her look like a stick of candyfloss. And what the hell was Kelle Bryant thinking when she wore this nasty nasty little number? Man, don't these people have friends who tell them?

Chinese Whispers


If you were on the celeb news sites last night, you'd have thought David Hasselhoff's daughter had attempted suicide. All this because, apparently, Hoff's eldest daughter called him (he was boarding a plane at the time) and told him her younger sister had been scratched by the cat (and was bleeding). He in turn called 911 telling officers his daughter had cut herself.

I visited one of the breaking news links on the story last night, and all these people were pontificating how the child's attempted suicide was clearly a desperate cry for help, how tragic it was with her parents divorcing and all, when in actuality she was probably trying to dress up the cat in Bratz clothes.

I'd link to the original suicide story, but it looks like TMZ have taken it off. Oops.

Can you imagine that poor kid going to school today? Well, she'll probably be considered cool by the Goths at any rate.

Photo: c/o usmovies.1.yimg.com

Update: The latest buzz is that the Hoff did in fact call it a suicide attempt to get back at his wife:
Now Pamela Bach tells TMZ that her daughter never attempted suicide and that David knew it. Bach claims David used his daughter as a pawn, telling Bach, "You're going down. I'm calling the police." More here

Monday, September 25, 2006

Enjoy your wedding

I received a concerned-sounding email from our South of France wedding planner Miguel, who reads my blog. Was I happy with our wedding there? Did it go according to plan? Reading my last entry it does sound as though I was complaining doesn't it? Well I wasn't. Let me clarify.

The difference between our wedding in the South of France, and our wedding party in London was based on the formality of the occasions. As with any wedding, that is traditional, you have to go through a series of practices, and these put a lot of pressure on the bride and groom. You are being observed by family and friends for most of the day, and are expected to behave in a certain manner. Having spoken to all of my married friends, the general consensus is that you never enjoy your own wedding as much as you should, because of the performance anxiety element. This has got nothing at all to do with how lovely the rest of it is, and in the case of our wedding in France, it truly was our idea of beautiful and perfect.

The party in London, was just that - a party. No formalities, and therefore a lot less stress - naturally. And in France, yes, there were one or two tiny little things that weren't 100% perfect, or more specifically, were absolutely fine but not what I had in my head. But they never are going to be. And as I said in my previous post, that was more my fault for being so anal rather than anything inherently wrong on the day. And with future events I know to relax more.

For our wedding in France, we exchanged our vows in the gardens of the
Chateau de la Chevre d'Or, in the late afternoon of Friday the 1st of September. These gardens sit on the side of the Eze village cliff that overlooks the sea below, and at that time in the evening it was quite simply breathtaking. Afterwards we had champagne and canapés on the hotel terrace, and had a chance to catch-up with everyone. The string quartet who played during our ceremony continued to entertain us up on the terrace.

After that, two busses took guests down to our reception venue which was at the
Villa Kerylos. When I nipped inside to take a look at the table settings, I was absolutely delighted. Everything was as we discussed, and it looked even better than what I had imagined. Guests had more champagne outside and then entered the villa to a series of James Bond theme songs. The table names were also named after Bond villains. Robert and I are fans - sad I know.

The food and wine was stunning and I'm just sorry I was such a ball of nerves and wasn't able to eat past a few forkfuls. Again I hear very few brides are actually able to eat on their wedding day. Then our cake! My god what an entrance those guys made. It was such fun, and the highlight of the evening for me I think. Speeches were funny and wonderful, and we had the world's best MC in the form of Greg. In fact I think he has a future business in it - a born natural.

Robert and I opened the floor to 'All Time High' by Rita Coolidge (lots of gratuitous snogging) and were soon joined by friends (for the dance that is). A lot of people didn't really dance during the evening I thought, and chose to stand outside and catch-up, drink, smoke that sort of thing. My friend Zoë said to me, "That's what happens when you choose to have your wedding in such a stunning location." Indeed, the view outside the villa (which was surrounded by the harbor) was filled with some impressive boats and yachts, and if you are in the part of the word, you can visit it during the day as a museum. The weather was also so beautifully warm it was tempting to stay outside.

Robert and I left the reception at around 1am and I hear everyone else partied on until 2 and then hit the beach with a bottle or 3. God I was jealous! We got back to our hotel and slumped into bed exhausted and wired. What a day.

If you are interested in having your wedding in the South of France, I can highly recommend the following people:

Wedding planners:
Golden Star Events (Miguel or Marc). These guys are essential in that they know the best venues and people - caterers, florists, etc, and they speak French. So you don't need to spend months trawling around on the internet, or sending emails using Babelfish. From wedding officiants to hair and makeup people who come to your hotel, they have this info at their fingertips. They are very affordable and more so, I was able to barrage them with hundreds of neurotic emails, and they answered each one patiently and didn't get fed up with me. We also traveled to the South of France on a few occasions and they were always very happy to meet up with us, and take us to see the various venues and to meet the people who were part of our day. They also took care of things like transport (busses for guests), and can also refer you to good value hotels in the area etc. Their service is comprehensive, warm, and personable, and by the end of it all they felt like a part of the family.

Food: Look no further than
Mr. Brian, an English gent based in Monaco, who was also referred to us by Golden Star. He hates the term caterer and is a real foodie, and takes it very seriously. There's none of this reheating business - food is made on location and each plate is made up meticulously, and beautifully presented. He does food from small dinner parties to bigger events, and his chief chef owned a Michelin starred restaurant before joining him. Brian knows his stuff, and if food is important to you as it was to us, he is your man.

Music: We didn't have the time or the money to trek back and forth to France to listen to bands, so we thought it would be a safer option to use a DJ. Miguel recommended Mark from
Caroline South, and he was brilliant. I emailed Mark a selection of the sort of thing we were interested in, and left the rest up to him. Again, another very friendly and warm Englishman based in that part of the world , and someone with a real feel for what to play next and to read a room. He was open to requests, but I don't think that was necessary - judging from the fact that those people that did dance didn't venture off the dancefloor much.

Flowers: Our florist was Alex Mache based in Nice. He's very inventive, though needed specifics in terms of what we wanted - which is to be expected. I don't speak French so we resolved this by looking at photos of his past work and used Miguel as translator. I was very pleased with the flowers he did on the day - really stunning.

Photos: We chose Paris-based Studio Cabrelli. The photographer was with me when I was getting ready, covering everything right up until our first dance. Their approach is more of a photojournalistic one, which is why we opted to go with them. I'm expecting the photos this week from Miguel and I'll write a review then.

All of these people are contactable through
Golden Star Events who do weddings in the South of France, Paris, London, Barcelona etc.

What I would say, but this really goes for any wedding even one you arrange yourself: Keep an eye on costs. Golden Star were very good about checking things with us before ever booking them or making a purchase on our behalf. But you do really need to be quite anal about checking things and sometimes finding alternatives to suit your budget. Wedding planners are creatives and in some cases, they are used to dealing with huge budgets, so it really is worth having a discussion at the start of the process outlining just how much you want to spend on things.

Have a plan. Outline exactly what you want to happen and roughly when. Most thing will take place anything from half an hour to an hour later than what you initially had in mind, but it's a good idea to make sure the key players (planners, MC's, bridesmaids, best man, dj etc) know what is happening and when. It takes a lot of stress off of you to have other people in the know and to take care of things for you.

Be flexible: I learnt this the hard way. No matter what happens, and how carefully you plan, some things will be different on the day - that's life. My friend Andrea arrived at her reception to find her flowers were a completely different kind and colour to what she had agreed. Something to do with a last minute availiblity issue. Shit happens, and at the end of the day, you have to let it go. Saying this, in the case with the florist, I would have made sure I didn't get stuck with the bill for something I hadn't paid for, and made sure we worked out the difference.

Have a drink: Have a drink when you are getting ready (just one mind you so you don't slur your vows) and then at the reception. It's your day, so relax and (and try to) enjoy, despite having jaw ache from posing for all those photos.

Official wedding photos will be up later this week.

Dear Prudence

I love the agony aunt/advice columns, specifically the 'Dear Prudence' one on Slate - there are a lot of great stories in there. 'Prudence' hands out her opinions and advice in a generous, witty, at times sarcastic, and mostly well researched manner. It's definitely worth a read during your lunch hour while you work your way through your Pret sandwich, if only to know that you are not alone - there are a lot of other neurotics out there too. Well, it makes me feel better.

I was having a look this week and catching up, and came across one that literally made my mouth drop open. It's the stuff nightmares and indeed movies scripts are made of. Herewith I cut and paste:

Dear Prudence,
I have fallen in love with a woman I knew from childhood and ran into again after not seeing her for 20 years. As kids we hardly noticed each other, but when we met again after all these years we felt an immediate attraction. The problem is that when I was 12 years old I did something terrible that caused an accident that killed her father. No one ever found out it was me and I've never told anyone after all these years. I feel horrible about what happened, but it was a long time ago and I've gotten on with my life. But now what? Should I tell this woman that I caused her father's death many years ago? I'm afraid it would ruin our relationship and we love each other a great deal. The accident occurred when I was in a cornfield at night—we were throwing corn at cars when they drove by. We couldn't see the cars because we were hidden in the field. An ear of corn I threw went through the open car window and struck her father in the head, causing him to lose control of the car and crash into a tree. I ran from the scene and was never implicated.
— Guilty and Confused

See here for Prudence's response.

Really. Simple. Very. Polite.


On Saturday night we had our London wedding party. Our friends commented that we were just eking out this whole getting married business for the presents. And their point is???

Seriously, it was good to see a lot of people we haven't seen in a long time and we really felt able to let our hair down, without having to worry about when to cut the cake, hair and makeup for the official photos, staying sober for speeches, and opening the dance floor etc.

If planning a wedding for 70 people in the South of France has taught me anything it's this: The more precise you are, the more perfect you want things, the most specific you are about your vision, the more disappointed you will be. As wonderful as everything was on the day, some things weren't as we wanted them, and other stuff cocked up a bit. Truly minor details, and I doubt anyone noticed, but we (or I) did, and it's entirely my fault. The operative word here being details, and indeed getting caught up in them.

Someone, somewhere, once said a good party consists of having the right people and plenty of booze, and the rest just happens. And it's true, you could put people in factory with a few bottles of wine and they'd find a way of having a good time. Andy Warhol did it.

Much like life itself the more hung up your are on the details, the less open you are to the very wonderful unexpected spontaneous nature of it. Some of the best nights happen when you're least expecting it. You're sitting on your sofa in your jammies, your face full of Cearasil, ready for a night of TV and pizza, and your friends drop round and drag you out for a few drinks. In fact, this is how a friend of mine met what would become the love of her life and husband. And, according to her, she had a scrunchie in her hair. A scrunchie for goodness sakes! Like John Lennon sang, 'Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans.'

Saturday night was an opportunity for us to party with friends, family, and colleagues that weren't in France with us, and we had a blast.
A brilliant jazz band 'Sax in the City', (highly highly recommended), a beautiful venue and delicious food (ditto on recommendation) and some wonderful friends. The general plan was to serve champagne on arrival, food at 7.30, and have the band start playing at 8. No more or less complicated than that, and it was one of the most stress free, fun things I've ever organised.

A few people didn't turn up, nor did they let us know they weren’t coming - not even a text message. I understand that people get sick (it's happened to me), or have to work, or something last minute comes up, but you also have to appreciate that someone else is spending time and money on something, and the polite and more so considerate thing is to let them know you cannot come. It takes five minutes. With functions of this kind you pay per person for catering (ahead of time) and if people don't rock up, you still have to pay. I think it's only when you host something yourself do you really appreciate this. And even if you aren't spending money and just meeting a friend somewhere, you'd want to know if they weren't coming.

So that's it now. No more weddings or wedding parties. Now we can get on with the business of being married, which, if I'm honest, doesn't feel too different from when we were engaged. Which is how we both like it. My mom worked with a woman who had been living with a man for 12 years or so. Eventually they decided to make it formal and got married. They were divorced a year later. Apparently she said he changed and started having certain expectations, and I imagine he said the same thing about her.

I'm no expert but personally I'd feel cheated if Robert suddenly changed and started acting like some version of 'husband' he had in his head. I know for sure, that whether we like it or not things will change (dramatically) and hopefully not too badly when we have children. That's just what happens when you invite a strange dictatorial bald midget into your life that makes demands on your 24-7, and leaves you very little time for yourselves. But until then, our life is no different and nor should it be. The nice thing about being married is that it's official and it feels good to be a part of a team, and to look forward to a (hopefully) long and happy life together, and at some point, planning for the invasion of the midgets. There is something to this which is hard to define, but is just a lovely kind of feeling, and has you quietly smiling to yourself at odd moments in the day. Oh yes, and then there's those presents.

Photos from Saturday night now up.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The origin of Suri Cruise


Firstly the rumors were about whether or not Suri Cruise actually existed, and now it's whether or not Tom Cruise really is the father. I came across the following today. Thanks to the lovely Becky for the tip.

The story goes that when Katie Holmes split with her ex-boyfriend Chris Klein in March 2005, she may or may not have realized she was pregnant with his baby. She started dating Tom in April, 2005, and according to this tale, when Tom found out she was expecting, he not only didn't MIND, but he insisted on taking credit for the pregnancy. They abruptly got engaged in June 2005. Since the baby was scheduled to be born too soon into their relationship, Tom and Katie faked the birth date. She actually gave birth months EARLIER than the announced birth. She wore padding for the last few months after the REAL birth, and made sure she was photographed. In case you don't remember, Suri's announced April 18 birth was oddly undocumented - there were no hospital records or specifics. Where WAS Suri born? Tom and Katie didn't want their baby photographed because it would be apparent that Suri wasn't newborn.

After a few months it's not so easy to recognize a baby's exact age. Have you noticed that Suri has uniquely slanted eyes like Chris Klein? Plausible?

I guess the rumors have their basis in something I myself heard a few years back, which is that Tom Cruise is unable to father children because of some sort of accident or illness he had as a child/teenager rendering him sterile. According to the rumor mill, this is also why he and Nicole split up, because her pregnancy (and subsequent miscarriage) indicated an affair on her part.

But despite what anyone says, I think this little girl looks like both her parents, and the Chris Klein thing is pushing it. And yes, it's true that even adopted children can look like their adoptive parents, so a resemblance doesn't necessarily mean she's his. But, in response to this latest theory, both Tom and Katie do in fact have slanted down eyes, and Chris Klein doesn't (I googled and checked!) - so it's a poor justification for a very far-fetched theory. I mean, if you're going to come up with a story, at least make it plausible.

I know Tom Cruise is barking what with all that Scientology business, but as long as he is a good father to the child and indeed wants to be the father, who cares whether or not she is biologically his? God knows enough men (and women) walk away from the responsibility, so why shoot the guy down for wanting to do a good thing?

Capote and Suri

There's a new Truman Capote film coming out called Infamous, and I can't wait. As much as I thought 'Capote' was excellent, having read his biography by Gerald Clarke, as well as George Plimpton's book, I wanted to see more of the man; the bitchy queen, the liar, the genius, the alcoholic. He really was quite a fascinating and talented person with an extraordinary collection of social contacts, and you just didn't really get a sense of that in 'Capote'. For me it was too narrowly focused on the 'In Cold Blood' case. Anyway, Vanity Fair reckons 'Infamous' delivers all those missing bits and more, with a stellar cast. I'm looking forward to it.

And speaking of Vanity Fair, everyone's probably already seen the photos of Suri Cruise on the net, but I went one further and bought the last remaining copy in my corner shop. They really are stunning photos, and once again Annie Leibovitz shows just why she's my favourite portrait photographer. If I had the cash, I'd love to have my portrait done by her - preferably wearing a Napoleonic outfit astride a horse. You know, it's one thing having delusions of grandeur, but quite another having them captured by Leibovitz.

I've got ants in my pants having been stuck in front of my computer all day working, which is admittedly how most people spend their days. But the weather in London is gorgeous and I feel I'm missing out. I think I may go for a walk and pick up a Starbucks just to suck in all that beautiful almost autumn air.

But before I go, the latest is that Michael Jackson wants to open up a leprechaun theme inspired amusement park in Ireland. God help us.

Photos: Toby Jones as Truman Capote in Infamous, c/o imdb.com
Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes and Suri Cruise by Annie Leibovitz c/o Vanity Fair, October 2006

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Snow Cake

Everyone's talking about the new Alan Rickman/Sigourney Weaver movie, 'Snowcake', and for good reason. I was fortunate enough to go and see a screening of it last year, and even then in it's slightly unfinished state, I thought it was great. My sister Mags edited it, so you'd think I'm being biased, which is likely (I genuinely do love her work), but fortunately it seems most of the critics share my opinion. The film was incredibly well received when it first screened at the Berlin Film Festival, and since being publically released the good reviews just keep pouring in.

Despite a plot outline that looks depressing on paper: "A drama focused on the friendship between a high-functioning autistic woman (Weaver) and a man (Rickman) who is traumatized after a fatal car accident. (imdb.com)," this is a beautifully uplifting film and definitely worth seeing.

Official site

Picture c/o channel4.com

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Wedding photos

Our official wedding photos will (hopefully) be with us around the 27th of September, and I'll stick those on for everyone to see. In the meantime, I formatted mine using Photoshop web galleries (with appropriately cheesy backrounds), and stuck them on my server, because it would have taken me about seven years to upload all of them to Flickr.

These include
photos taken by friends and family on the night using disposable cameras we provided (so the image quality isn't always great), and some taken by me of friends and family in the South of France the day preceding and following our wedding.

I've deliberately not retouched or cropped any of the disposable camera photos, because I think the pics have a nice snapshot quality to them, which is what we wanted. Hopefully they will also be big enough to right click, save, and print, for those of you who wish to do so.

A big thank you to my brother-in-law Craig, and our friend Nixta for their contributions too. If anyone else wants to send in their photos or links to them, please do. A CD with the large versions in the post would be really really appreciated too. Really! :-)

Herschel

I've won loads of lotteries in the last year - the Australian one, the Dutch one, and well, so many others I forget the petty details. The other day, while I was having my diamond encrusted nails buffed by one of my many personal hair and make-up people (while lounging by our indoor pool), I also invested wisely in some amazing deals that those naughty American soldiers are doing with the abundant bounty that is literally pouring out of Iraq at the moment.

Indeed - thanks to my email address, I get sent notification of all these wonderful little goodies daily - and all this despite never purchasing any of the aforementioned tickets or even registering for them online - ever. Naturally I had to hand over my bank details, passwords that sort of thing, but when it comes to making millions, who cares about the little things?

Then today, just as I was firing Juan the gardener for not misting the orchids properly, I came across a rare gem. Lucky for me a chap called Bob Gillahan got me and a man by the name of Hershel's email addresses mixed up. I mean, what are the chances of me stumbling across a once in a lifetime top secret stock deal thanks to such a lucky mishap? I can see how easy it is confusing: lucille@coolnina97.com with Hershel Elmore's equally short and easy to remember address: tkuimbvsauxdpeuvgqe@cartimex.com. It happens to me all the time dahlings.

The only thing that confuses me somewhat, is that the email 'accidentally' sent to me for Hershel's attention, appears not to have been sent by Bob, but Herschel himself.

But let's not focus on such trivialities - herewith, because I'm generous and believe in sharing the love, is the email:

Hello Herschel,
I hope this is your email. I received some inside information from Garry Lompard(General Instruments INC). Buy CRSVF. CRSVF is going to explode. Don't tell anybody about this opportunity.

Alert:
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
________________________________
Company:
CAPITAL RES CANADA LTD
Ticker: CRSVF
Current Price: $0.25
Target
Price: $2.42
Recommendation: STRONG-BUY
Buy: "STRONG"
Expectations:
Max
________________________________

When this Stock moves - WATCH OUT! This is your chance to get in the low. Out CRSVF on your radar's now and reap the benefits early.

John, you can also look the latest news for CRSVF. Don't invest more then 100000$ at once. Better invest 10000$ each trading day. After first day you will see a significant increasement of the stock price and volume.

Don't waste that opportunity. Make a right decision now. I can spell the stock symbol for you. C R S V F

Waiting for your response

Sincerely,
Bob Gillahan

Yes folks, significant increasments await all of us, so don't delay. And remember - you didn't hear it from me.

S & Hmmmmmm

There I was thinking I was going to another terribly civilized and quiet poetry evening at Home House, care of the lovely Derya, and the next thing I'm stumbling in drunk at 1.40am. I'm not sure if this is how a newly married woman is supposed to behave or not, but it's pretty much how I behaved (on occasion) before I got married, and both Robert and I weren't big on changing once we tied the knot.

So, the poetry evening: wonderful, entertaining, and educational - as always. There's a bunch of really creative people, and it's a chance to drink a glass of wine and listen to their work, and to read out something yourself. I look forward to these evenings immensely.

By the end of the poetry reading, however, we were all a bit tipsy, and instead of being sensible and going home like I should have, I got a drink, and then another, and then suddenly, it's 1am and I'm sitting next to a doctor (GP to the stars he says) and he's asking me, wouldn't I like to have a man to lick the heel of my shoes, run me baths, give me foot massages, sleep on the floor, and then wave me goodbye as I go home to my husband or boyfriend. "Husband", I clarified.

Now, being an open minded girl, I've heard about this submission business in the past, and it’s intrigued me, mostly, I guess, because I'm so not a submissive person. If someone told me to kiss their shoe or sleep on the floor I'd get my coat. But this chap couldn't get enough of the idea, and as he explained these scenarios to me (which became increasingly colourful, and painful) his face lit up with a lustful expression. I asked him (in the interests of journalistic enquiry, of course) what he got out of all of it, because it certainly didn't sound as though he was getting any sex - what with all the running of baths, wearing of chastity belts, and sleeping on the floor he was doing. He smiled beatifically and replied it wasn't about the sex - he derived pleasure from the submissive acts themselves.

I must have chatted to him for about 20 minutes and I still can't quite say I get the appeal, though, if I'm honest, all those foot massages don't sound too bad. He kept looking at my high-heel shoes, not unlike the way a dog looks at a steak, and asked me if my husband wouldn't like me to walk on his back or chest in them. I imagined making this suggestion to Robert, him looking at me like I was quite mad, and suggesting I stop taking whatever drugs I was on - pronto.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Back to blogging

I saw some of my girlfriends at Zoë’s hen night last night, and there were a few grumblings about my lack of blogging lately. Come on girls, how many times does a girl go on honeymoon??? OK, don’t answer that.

I'm actually very hungover today, thanks to a brilliant time last night. It was so good seeing all of the girls, and Zoë was an excellent sport about all the naughtiness and nonsense we threw her way. I drank like a maniac, and spent this morning nursing my hangover by eating chocolate chip cookies, cereal, and catching up on recorded episodes of Britain's Next Top Model, while ensconced on the sofa in my dressing gown.

What makes the show so addictive, well, for me that is, is watching the group dynamics unfold between the girls, and admittedly, there’s the bitching, which is morbidly fascinating. Also, I have to say, it makes for an excellent study in how women relate to each other, which is more often than not, badly. Embarrassingly so.

There is one character, Lianna. She's a beautiful girl, but terribly insecure, and moody to boot. She goes around with a long face and blanks people the one minute, and then gets all teary when the girls react angrily at her treatment of them. She doesn't seem to make the connection between how her moods effect people around her. In her view, she's complicated and I guess she just expects people to understand her strops, but the fact of the matter is you can't blow hot and cold with people and not expect them to react. Also, she has an incredibly negative editing device in terms of what people say and what she hears. One of the girls mentioned that a hair and makeup person got annoyed with her because she was talking too much. She turned around and told one of the show's judges that what the girl had said was that no one was interested in anything she had to say. I'm sorry, but there's a world of difference between these two things.

I think a lot of people, especially those of us that are hard on ourselves, do this, and it's a really bad habit. We take something and twist it into a version which reflects our own poor image of ourselves, and it does us no favours.

My favourite is Abi - Peter Crouch's ex (or is it current?) girlfriend. She's bubbly, fun, and full of personality, and she's direct. Although the camera loves her, I'm not sure if she's edgy enough to do editorial work. But she really gets the whole modeling thing, whereas a some of the girls that are still in there (now four), don't. It will be interesting to see how it unfolds.

There are a ton of things I want to write about including: how much better the Italian over-night trains are compared to the French ones we took, a small review on Capri, as well as how pleased I was to come across a recent photo of Liz Hurly which showed she had cellulite on her bum and legs. This may sound incredibly bitchy, but this is a woman who has had her share of digs about larger women in the past, and once said she'd kill herself if she was as fat as Marilyn Monroe. No-one disses Marilyn and gets away with it dammit.

Also, briefly, because it's already been done by everyone and their uncle, I just wanted to say I was very sad to hear of Steve Irwin's death. Above and beyond the fact that he was a great character and indeed a much loved and valued conservationist, he was also just a vibrant young man with a very young family. It's a great tradgedy.

The cat. The bag. The big deal - or is it?

So last night, the legality of our wedding in France comes up at my friend Zoë’s hen night. And, yes, there's a question (accompanied by a few winks) about the fact that we may have got married in London ahead of it at a registry office. God, and we thought we were so good at keeping a secret! I guess there's no stopping a piece of juicy info like that from spreading like wildfire. Who knows how it got out, but I guess the truth must out.

Robert and I viewed our ceremony in France as our wedding. It was a chance for us to exchange our vows and proclaim our love for each other in front of family and friends, and make our commitment to each other public. The last time I checked, that's pretty much what a wedding is.

In order to get 'legally' married in France you have to be a resident there for 30 days first, and then there's the whole thing about being married under French law and all that that entails. We viewed it as laborious and complicated and therefore chose not to do it. So we were 'legally' married in England ahead of our wedding. Yes it's true *gasp*.

We didn't invite any friends or family to that as we viewed it as a legal necessity - paperwork. We had colleagues as our witness's, didn't personalise vows, do readings, any of that stuff. It doesn't mean we didn't respect the importance or seriousness of it, but we really saw it as formal legal process ahead of what we viewed as our true wedding. We didn't even tell people about it, because we didn't want to be in a situation where they may ask to attend, and then it's a matter of who do you invite and who don't you invite, and before you know it, you effectively have another 'wedding' which we didn't want.

The parents are all totally OK with it (I checked - phew), which is important, and I like to think that other family members and friends understand and respect our intentions. Personally I don't really see the issue (if there is one), but then I've always felt that something derives its importance from the value you ascribe to it, rather than having any inherently.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Ciao Capri

It's our last full day in Capri, and having had a wonderful, relaxing, and girth enhancing time, I can honestly say I'm ready to go home. There's only so much beautiful weather, lack of pollution, delicious and inexpensive food, and friendly townspeople a person can take. I mean, come on, seriously, who could put up with all that indefinitely?

We've seen the sites, done the touristy thing, and have even become friendly with a few of the local people here who own restaurants. They seem to like the fact that we can't get enough of their seafood sphagetti with loads of olive oil and garlic.

I'm hoping our wedding pics will be at home upon our return, if only so that I can cringe at my shiny T-zone, and lament the fact that I didn't spend more time applying Clinique double matte face powder, instead of wondering around worrying why more people weren't dancing. Also, when I've had time to settle back into London life, and all the work that awaits me (three new websites!), I might brave a more comprehensive wedding post - with all the details.

There's a few people who have taken photos at our wedding too, and I'll do a good old mass linkage post to to all their stuff on my return.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

"Too skinny? You aint modelling in our show", sez the Spanish

So I've gained weight these past three weeks. Well if you stop running around the park like a maniac three to four times a week and spend most of your days reading by the pool, and switch from a low carb diet to eating pasta, cheese, and ice-cream, it's kind of inevitable really. I know I'll lose it when I get back home but no one likes to gain weight.

I still fit into my smallest jeans, but it's a tight squeeze, so I reckon the damage stands at around 3 kilos or so. Still, there I was getting into a funk about my new girth right before going to a very nice restaurant for dinner, and then I saw this, which has cheered me up no end. I've always liked the Spanish.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Onward to Pompei

We visited Pompei yesterday which was a wonderful experience, though, not as I had imagined, littered with ashen corpses frozen in the last throws of death. Our guide, a good humoured mahogany coloured Italian called Antonio, told us that any such bodies decomposed ages ago, and what exists today are models made by archeologists by injecting liquid plastic into the impressions their bodies made in the hardened ash.

We only saw two of these models, which reside in glass cases in what used to be the local gym and bath house - the others, of which we were told there are many, as well as any other items such as pots and pans, goblets etc, can be found in a museum in Naples. The site is more of a bare bones sort of place in terms of walls and streets, and ironically one of the very few buildings that still has any sort of remaining visible frescos (and rock hewn beds!) is one of the brothels. Much like the trade of prostitution itself, it survies to this day. Antonio said proudly, "Pompei was the Vegas of its day!" and told us there were 24 brothels in this thriving commercial city - complete with (still visible) carved phallus-shaped arrows in the walls and streets in case you needed directions. The few remaining frescos show couples in various sexual positions, and not unlike the rest of the city with its bars and shop-lined streets, it just goes to show that despite a two thousand year gap, very little has changed in terms of how people live.

The day before yesterday we went on a 2.5 hour hike around the island of Capri, affording us breathtaking views of the lighthouse below, as well as some of the small local farms. Seeing all that beautiful fruit and veg made me realise just why the food here has been so good - it comes straight from these farms, without having been frozen and stuck on a ship and then truck, and then pawed by shoppers in supermarkets before you get to it. The tomatoes are so red, juicy and delicious, I can see myself harping on about the lack of anything comparative when I get back home.

Earlier in the week we decided to try out the local tennis club, and arrived to find a small Peruvian-looking man watering the grass court wearing an enourmous sombrero. "For the sun," he said when we complimented him on it. A few minutes later a small, muscled, slightly pot-bellied man with expensive sunglasses arrived, and the sombrero'd chap addressed him as 'Maestro.' This, it turned out, was the local Capri tennis pro, and also the chap who runs the club. Thinking it was 5pm and therefore a cool time to play tennis, we soon learned the error of our ways and nearly died from the combined excess of our frenzied and unskilled playing and the immense island heat. When we packed it in after our hour was up, the Maestro chuckled and remarked, "You finished already?" He had been coaching a young girl in the blazing heat for the same amount of time without a hat on, and aside from a few beads of sweat, looked perfectly unphased.

Having been to Sorrento yesterday, I think we picked wisely in terms of staying in Capri. It is by far the prettier of the two places, if, like me, you like a more rural quirky experience. Sorrento, though no less beautiful, is a lot more of an established Italian city, and not quite as charming.

Today it rained and we spent it quietly reading our books plotting our next excersion, which at this point looks as though it will be Ravello and Amalfi.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Letters from Capri

After the whirlwind that was our wedding, mostly a good whirlwind mind you, we are now well and truly into the swing of Capri life. Specifically, we are staying at the top of Capri, known as Anacapri - a place reachable only by a narrow winding road that is at best perilous. Clearly it was designed long before anyone dreamt up cars, and the result is a dangerous road with no sidewalks, and tooth clenching overtaking on the bends. In the town this afternoon we saw a family pack their grandmother into the back of a car, with her potplant on her lap surrounded by a myriad of bags. As they waved her goodbye I noticed her cross herself, which seemed a perfectly reasonable thing to do given the hazardous nature of that road.

Our days follow a lazy sort of schedule; breakfast at 9.30 or 10, a walk or visit to a local place of interest in the morning, lunch at 2, followed by some reading at the pool and dozing, dinner at 8 and a walk back from the town to our hotel. We have made a point of eating our lunch or dinner at a different place each time, and I have never ever stayed in a place where the food is so unanimously good irrespective of the price. I am getting fat on calamari and Italian icecream, it would seem a crime to do otherwise.

Yesterday we visited the San Michele, which is the most magical place in the world. I imagined leaving my London life behind and living there so I could write, but think I would most likely become an alcoholic from overindulging in the delicious local wines, and whittle away the rest of my time sleeping in the beautiful gardens. Although this place inspires a sort of mystical creativity with it's Roman ruins and vineyards, it also creates a desire to do absolutely nothing other than be.

Tomorrow we are off on a walk to discover La Guardia and La Migliera, and on Friday we have a guide taking us to Pompei.