Fan of the Right Light

There are right lights, wrong lights, lowlights, left lights (there aren’t but wouldn’t it be lovely for left handers, of whom I just so happen to be one, to get equal parity with those infuriatingly superior rightists? I’ll climb down from this hill for the time being, I’ll die on it some other time). Oh, you want specific examples in order for me to prove that right light is a thing we should all be familiar with? How empirical of you.

Photography. There you go. A decent picture is all about the right light. No matter how dishevelled and bloated I may appear to be whenever I make the mistake of glancing in a mirror, I can take comfort in the knowledge that I am in fact a beautiful goddess. All it takes is a lengthy and practiced application of makeup (i.e. not done by me), a glossy haircut and an hour or so alone in a basement with a professional photographer. I swear it’s not as seedy as it sounds.

What I mean is, under the bright lights of that studio, I blossomed into my totally natural beauty. So it’s definitely there, somewhere. And is an excellent example of the power of the right light. But there’s a lot more to the topic than mere photography.

How about flowers and plants and that? Without daily soakings in the rays of the sun they wouldn’t be able to grow and manufacture the food that manages to make most of what we eat so delicious (cows wouldn’t be half as tasty if they didn’t spend their lives munching grass). And I believe that lasers depend on light or something like that. I’m totally not running out of steam or anything, I’ve just become that much more convinced that I don’t have anything in particular that I need to prove to you.

Song choices courtesy of: Joyce Grenfell, Ramin Djiwadi, Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers


When the Fog Rolls in to Take You Home

Everyone’s moaning about the weather. We’re British, it’s kind of our thing. It’s far too cold, I’m still wearing my scarf as I type (plus other clothes, honest, I wouldn’t dream of trying to give you a wholly unsavoury mental image). There’s still snow, not quite enough to justify the country running to a standstill but a sufficient amount to go on about dodgy driving conditions (still haven’t crashed once. Did have a slightly precarious moment on a patch of ice but I’m definitely still alive).

We really ought to be grateful for those instances when the weather actually does something interesting. It gives us that much more reason to talk about it at endless length, analysing various meteorological patterns and tripping up on pronouncing the word meteorological (let alone spelling it). In these uncertain times, we cannot help but cling to our stereotypes like barnacles crossed with exceptionally needy koalas.

But the capricious winds of weather aren’t quite done with putting on a show. The fog is coming. Not like the kind out of a hacky horror film where it turns you inside out or some such (I may have taken that from a Simpsons joke rather than any pop culture knowledge of my own) or even that famous San Franciscan kind (all you have to do is watch a few Charmed establishing shots and you’ll see it before too long).

No, this is helpful fog. It’ll shroud you all the way home. Because, if other people can’t see you then there’s simply no way they can harm you in any way. If they were to plough into the space around your approximate location, then the fog will absolutely protect you. That’s how physics or whatever works. May all your journeys this festive season be terribly jolly and wrapped in the bubble-wrap like shroud of fog.

Song choices courtesy of: Train and Frank Turner

How To… Give the People What they Want

Right, I’ve got a specific bone to pick and I don’t especially care how much jiggery pokery I have to do in order to make things fit (you’ll know already but it’s probably going to have to be a how to). Obviously, with the variety of reach and influence I have, it’s important that I select my targets extremely carefully. I don’t want to take down the little guy unfairly. And so, my beef is with Hollywood, possibly Stephen Spielberg but definitely Hollywood in general.

It’s about a particular song. One that wouldn’t necessarily have been brought to my attention were it not for YouTube adverts. All I wanted to do was to watch my Judging by the Cover video in peace but no. A certain song came on and it got my hopes up. I’m sorry to have to tell you that Anyone Who Knows What Love Is belongs to Black Mirror, not to Jurassic Park. They’ve done it at least twice.

I’m sure they thought they were doing a clever nod. They’ve already got Bryce Dallas Howard (she was in the first one – see, I’ve actually done research for this. I do some occasionally. For the really important things) so it was an excellent way to link two very different types of thing. Maybe they’re even angling to get a slice of the lucrative niche sci-fi audience. Hollywood blockbusters are so hard up these days when it comes to viewing figures.

But I got my hopes up. I thought they’d got a vaguely rugged Chris Pratt for an upcoming episode. I was surprised they’d been able to keep it quiet. No, it was a cheesy caper about rampaging dinosaurs. Highly disappointing. I’m sure they paid handsomely for the use of the track in question but they’re simply not allowed. These things shouldn’t be allowed to cross pollinate. I expect a written apology and a free ticket for an alternative film of my choice.

Give the people what they want – O’ Jays

The Terrible Martyr

You wouldn’t think that it’s actually possible to properly muck up becoming a martyr. As far as you’re concerned, as long as someone or other winds up either dead or pilloried, all is right with the world. There’s then an obvious symbol for any resistance movement to utilise. Boy oh boy would you be surprised then to learn of the various hideous instances when people have singularly failed in their journeys to martyrdom.

For starters, it’s important that you’re not doing it for the sake of your own standing in the annals of history. If you’re overly concerned with what people will think of you rather than the cause in and of itself it’s probably not going to end quite as well as you think. Once you’re dead you won’t be able to enjoy the glory or otherwise you’ve visited upon your name so best to make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.

I should start plucking examples from my sack of not at all fake news as otherwise we won’t have time for a proper debate regarding who precisely should be thought of as the terrible martyr. Well, there was whats-his-name who wanted to promote the cause of votes for women (highly admirable) and followed the movement’s trend of chucking himself under a horse. He should probably have paid attention to the time he lived in as this was Britain in the 1960s, universal suffrage was already there to stay.

And it’s also worth remembering all those poor souls who don’t actually mean to wind up as martyrs. There’s any number of would-be poisoners who accidentally quaff from the wrong goblet and end up being branded faintly moronic. And anyone who martyrs themselves in the name of bringing back a beloved television show (naming no titles) isn’t doing their franchise any favour in the age of many reboots.

Song choices courtesy of: Murray Gold and Rusted Root

I Met up With Something Awesome on Top of the World

I know it’s snowing right now (it might not be snowing where you are but there are definitely flakes fluttering down from the sky in and around my approximate location). So yes, the weather outside is frightful (and in this modern house I live in, there isn’t even a hint of a fireplace) meaning that I wouldn’t even contemplate going outside if I didn’t absolutely have to (and I nailed Christmas shopping yesterday so I’m good to stay inside for all of Sunday).

But I can justify my self imposed hermitage by the incredible adventure I went on. All by my little self, and in record time, I made my way to the very top of the world. It would be giving too much away if I were to tell you where that is (almost definitely a mountain). The views were breathtaking, to the point that I really wouldn’t be doing them justice if I tried to describe them.

That’s not even the notable portion of this anecdote. People climb to the top of the world every day (probably), you wouldn’t be impressed to hear them go on and on about it so I definitely won’t. It was what I met up there that’s really and truly remarkable. I could have kicked myself for forgetting my camera. And autograph book. This one would have really augmented all the Disney characters currently in there.

Well, the individual in question was delightfully snowily furry. At first, you would forgive me for assuming that it was a yeti. It definitely had the feet for it. Perhaps it was Father Christmas doing his exercises in preparation for his big night of the year? Obviously not, he’s in grottos up and down the country spreading hope to the little girls and boys. Of course it was Brian Blessed. Who caused the avalanche he was ultimately buried by. So majestic.

Song choices courtesy of: First Aid Kit, Murray Gold and Imagine Dragons

If I Were a Violent Pariah

It’s a very big ‘if’. We all know incredibly well that I’m a fantastically beneficent button of social certainty. I’ve never felt isolated during a party and it would be wholly out of character for me to lay an angry finger on absolutely anyone. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. So glad that we managed to get that out of the way before we descended into the realm of the hypothetical.

If you were to find yourself unceremoniously chucked towards the outer limits of civilisation it probably wouldn’t be all that much of a leap for you to become defensive about how you got there. Indeed, once you’re that far into the mean streets on the edge you’re well within your rights to defend yourself against those who would wish you ill. Being friendly didn’t exactly help you all that much in the first place. So violence and the status of pariah probably go hand in hand.

So, let’s skip the part where we have to devise the various steps in a scenario that leads to me being ostracised by everyone else around me (you know there had to be alcohol involved). You know that once I get there, however, it might happen, I’ll prove that I’ve got one hell of a right hook.

Because that’s the thing I’ve been taking so long to say (mainly because the thought only just occurred to me), it’s not ok to hit. There are very few situations in polite society where you can get away with punching someone else, no matter how much you may feel they deserve it. But when the tables are turned and you’re on the outside, the gloves can come off. So when you see me by the side of the road, hair dishevelled and a cricket bat nestled in the crook of my elbow, keep moving and hands off my bindle of beans.

Song choices courtesy of: Beyonce and Ramin Djiwadi

It’s All About the Bubble Wrap

Face it, you’re never quite going to nail this present lark. If you ask whoever it is what they want then the element of surprise has vanished, never to be recaptured. Even if they give you a selection of potential gifts, you can’t win. There will inevitably be one they want more than the others and you won’t choose it.

Then there’s the minefield of going rogue, selecting something independently and hoping that the unexpected factor will push it over the edge. But you may very well end up proving that you don’t know the person as well as you thought you did, or buying something they already own or, worse, inadvertently copying someone else’s bright spark of an idea. If the person on the other end of your largesse has to grin and bear it when in fact they’re just not happy you’re all going to feel simply awful come Christmas day.

And then, by some crazy stroke of luck, if you manage to get something just right there will be an entirely separate issue. Present giving is a reciprocal business. If you surprise your other half with a one in a lifetime trip to see their favourite band or prove that you were listening to their absent minded fantasies by buying that thing they were talking about six months ago, it’s not going to go over as well as you thought it would when they give you in return a weight loss DVD or a coupon for a free hug.

So just accept that it’s all going to end in tears. Or, and this is very much a best case scenario, in a batch of indifferent smiles that don’t quite reach the eyes. There’s only one way to salvage the situation that is already careering into disaster: bubble wrap. Whatever you buy, be it a scarf or a tank, wrap it in copious amounts of bubble wrap. In fact, why not get them a ream of their very own, swathed in yet more bubble wrap? Just to keep it safe.

Song choices courtesy of: Weird Al Yankovic and Thomas Newman