Friday, 24 September 2010

Notes from a Greek Island

The rate at which this year is flying by is alarming me somewhat. Is it alarming you? I seem to have blinked and missed August and all its charming weather, now forever lost to me, much the same as my Internet for most of that month as Mr A-S-A-K had cancelled our Internet without telling me (hence the lack of musings) and took the TV. So here we are, September is almost at an end and there’s a distinct chill in the air. Before you know it our Supermarkets will be lined with all things Christmassy and I’ll be searching the Internet for New Year’s Eve happenings as am determined not to spend it in some Sutton dive this year.

August was something of a blur, as I spent much of it wrapped up in some wonderful happenings, mostly traipsing across London in search of dream home with housemate-to-be Lovemenot. As with most things, it turned out to be harder than we expected.

I believe finding a new flat can really correlate with taking those first tentative steps with a new boyfriend. First of all, you are always told that you will simply ‘know’ when you find the right one (doubtful, in both cases), you need to find somewhere you can ‘be yourself’ and feel ‘totally comfortable’. I guess mostly you want to find somewhere/someone you actually want to come home to each day. See the correlation? It’s really not easy! I have one tip for those house-hunting in the London region – I would hazard a statistic that about 98% of London-based landlords are bastards, so be aware, don’t play fair and, if you see something you love straightaway, for God’s sake don’t mull it over with a Yaki Soba and side order of Gyoza Dumplings! Get your deposit in and your Van Man booked. We made that mistake, more than once. Yes the pull of a local Wagamamas led us to query our hasty decision making and, consequently, lose many a perfectly lovely house (including one with an actual real life Pug)! Then, on one unsuspecting Wednesday evening, when we had all but given up hope, there it was, snuggled in between Hackney and Islington.

It had been a long day for us; Lovemenot had battled with the alarm system whilst covering another store whilst I had battled not drinking too much free bubbly at our company brand day. I wasn’t hopeful at first glimpse of future dream flat, but the first signs of clean laminate flooring and excellently sized rooms and we were sold. So fast forward a few weeks, plus a whole lot of boring, TV-less, packing evenings and here you find us, centrally located and sprawled out on my bed with laptop, Elle and ITunes. You can even see The Guerkin from the High Street, we have officially arrived!

August was the also the month Dream Boy came back and blew my mind away. They were brilliant, they stole the show and so on and so forth with all the gushing. Only this time things were different. There was more Becks on his part and more double G and T’s on mine, which culminated in some stage waving, a bit of sexy machismo, loss of inhibition and beckoning him over like some sort of abandoned puppy. This was followed by lovely conversation and cuddles and kisses on cheeks (or on hair as it were, the damn thing’s going to take someone’s eye out one day there’s so much of it). Not to mention the promise of a future evening out all together on their next visit to London (I may add this was suggested by him and not me)! All in all the stuff my dreams are made of plus a photo to remember the moment too. And to think he spent the last two occasions seemingly avoiding my gaze at all costs. Am of course now even more smitten than before having all but written his surname with a ‘Mrs’ all over my diary…until next time Dream Boy.

The aforementioned ‘Serendipity’ trick I resolutely stated I would be implicating isn’t really working either. Not because I’m trying though, but because I’m not trying at all and have, once again, given my number out to a lovely young man with the promise of an evening out after a short conversation in a Shoreditch bar. Have never heard from him since, when will I learn? Have benchmarked this implication as a top priority upon my return from Greece, where I will no doubt give my number out to a lovely Englishman after a short conversation in a Greek bar!

My most poignant memory of August though, will be the day I played Bridesmaid for one of my closest friends, Chappers. It’s always the happiest and saddest of times when someone gets married. Happy because it’s all lovely and we’re there to celebrate the love and a bright and wonderful future for two perfect people. But sad also, sad because it’s another step forwards for us all and another acceptance of things changing. Never one to pine for the old times, it’s still sometimes shocking to think how things change in such a short time. Nevertheless, I wish my beautiful Chappers, the one who always wanted the white wedding, all the very best. May your marriage to lovely Mr C be filled with more happiness and joy than you could have ever wish for. And I’ll probably still call you Chappers, even though that’s not your name anymore.

So all in all, I was more than ready for a holiday. Work was getting busier and more demanding and my head didn’t quite feel like it fitted on my body after the whirlwind of the previous month. I was reluctant to say good bye to the dream shoes I had just purchased as a wardrobe staple for the upcoming season, but they were to sit obediently in their box for a whole week awaiting my return. Cue Goldie, Soltan’s 2 for 1 offer and a bloody long night travelling to Gatwick to begin our week in the sun, our Grecian adventure.

We all know queues at airports can be tedious at the best of times, so it should come as no surprise to you that, after severe lack of sleep, I had several musings/gripes during my hideous wait to both check in and then board. Namely why can’t check-in queues be straight as opposed to snake-like and confusion-inducing? Why is there no Starbucks when you desperately need one and why should I be expected to submit to a Costa latte? And why (and I thank my lucky stars that I can count on Goldie to back me up in this) does Tie-Rack still exist? It nearly put us off our pancakes, the very thought that such a shop that encourages tassles on horrendous pashmina designs amongst other, cheap, fabric goods would feel the need to open at 5 am at Gatwick not to mention the sad people who would choose to shop there at that time.

As we’re polishing off the almost-regurgitated pancakes I spot one of the most painful and familiar sights airports have to offer; one woman trying to inconspicuously tow a suitcase in massive espadrille wedges.

Now I’m one for personal grooming at the best of times. I don’t believe in being caught short, you never know who or what may occur on that quick trip to the newsagents for milk and Elle. I once managed to prove my darling Mummy Musing wrong during an impromptu visit to Wagamamas in my past life in Bath after she questioned my need to top up the face before a brisk walk down for dinner. Well within twenty-five minutes of High-Beaming the cheeks, who do we bump into? My senseless, beautiful crush of the time. If ever there was a defining moment in my life to forewarn me of the consequences of not ‘arriving stunning and impossibly fresh-looking’, it was this one. But, despite this, I cannot help but wonder why why why you would wear any kind of heeled or wedged footwear en route either to or from holiday? What is there to prove? That you can carry a suitcase that weighs the same as a pregnant horse and look sexy at the same time? I have news for you espadrilled-travellers out there, IT DOESN’T HAPPEN. And that airport scene in Sex and The City 2 is not akin to real life. The only people you are fooling are yourselves.

Even Jane Shepherdson, one of the most innately glamorous women of this day and age, wags the finger at heels during travel and suggests a decent cashmere scarf (for emergency pillow needs) and a pair of Converses. Admittedly I am biased; being an employee of the company Jane is CEO for, but the woman talks total sense. Yes arriving off the plane in a state of unchartered glamour is important; yes there is a slim chance that David Beckham may be arriving at Gatwick at the same time as you. But, to be frank, I would rather be seen casually rolling my suitcase along at a normal flat-heeled pace as opposed to falling on my arse whilst tottering along trying to negotiate both the slow-walking statuesque people on the travellators and the steps either up towards or down from the plane. Holiday musing number one, there is a time and a place for sexing it up and elongating the legs. The airport and all its inherent dangers is not one of them.

Rant over, my eyelids are getting heavy, I’m about to board the plane and attempt to make like a contortionist and fold myself into a plane seat where I am hoping to hear nothing but the sound of my own breath combined with Mumford and Sons for the next three hours. Plus am finding it increasingly both hilarious and ironic that the woman next to me in the departure lounge is reading Dawn French’s ‘Dear Fatty’ whilst munching on a grab bag size of Sensations. Once aboard the Ipod goes on and we are encouraged to watch the video depicting in-flight emergencies etc. I can’t help but find it slightly disturbing that I now have a bunch of cute kids explaining emergency procedures to me via the mode of video, what are the airline staff paid for these days? Not the entertaining choreography routines to demonstrate the emergency exits, that’s for sure.

I think I sleep, there was some definite dreaming involving cigarettes and The Clash and, as far as I am aware, neither of these is on the plane. The weather feels warmer and any British-based troubles and strife are several thousand miles away suffering under damp skies. We had arrived at Zakinthos.

I’ll skim over the baggage reclaim procedure, nobody likes baggage reclaim at the best of times but especially not after nearly 24 hours with no sleep. Our bags managed to be some of the last I’m sure so, after yet more hanging around plus a rickety five minute coach ride to the hotel, the prospect of a bed in a room with a beautiful view was perhaps the most attractive thought I had had in a long time.

Cut to a week of sun, sea and spirituality (strangely enough). Goldie and I managed to do both a lot of drinking and soul searching that holiday. There were beach trips to the crystal-lined Old Kalymaki, poolside reading times and a wealth of restaurants complete with free drinks from swarming waiters. You know the types, they come inclusive of all holidays involving small groups of girls. There were nights out, lie-ins, Antonio the gammy dog, tarot readings and crystal therapies, not to mention a LOT of talking. It was truly unforgettable, my holiday with Goldie. Well there was one night I’d rather forget…

Laganas…the stuff dreams are made of apparently…a small ocean side town just along from Kalymakis, where we are staying, which boasts God knows how many 18-30s holidays a year. If you breathe deeply, you can smell the petrol fumes they try to pass off as shots for miles, there’s usually a group of gypsy children ready to steal from the drunk and sell to the passed out and you can’t move for the amount of ‘tramp stamp’ tattoos on display. My idea of hell in fact. So imagine my excitement when we were invited out on a bar crawl with our hotel rep (twat) and a few of the other guests (unfriendly). That’s right, wild horses couldn’t have kept me away. We went, we saw, we got dragged into games and we near enough ran away from each bar before downing too many of the free ‘shots’ that were on offer.

Bored of the evening already, Goldie and I try to hammer up our enthusiasm levels by creating new ‘Chav’ personas with suitable names, occupations (usually none, unless on parole) and ‘boyfrund’ troubles (this never gets old); whilst I am starting to notice that, from some angles one of the party (unfortunately attached by the hip to GF) does resemble a cleaner cut version of my Tattooed crush. Later as we head towards the bright lights of the Venue karaoke bar, it becomes evident that he is also just as easy to flirt with, I make a mental note to steer clear as this could get problematic.

The Venue bar, I should add, became our second home during our holiday. We came, we sung, we couldn’t care less. We made some lovely friends there on holiday from Birmingham, Luke and Dave. Many a night was spent tearing up the microphone (Back to Black was a classic of mine though I did manage to pull off ‘Feeling Good’ the Muse version) and trying to fend off the Salsa-obsessed druggie despite all his efforts to intervene our cosy little group.

Anyway, I digress. The Rep was there, falling over himself trying to sing an extremely poor version of The Zephyr Song, dressed in some sort of appalling homage to the 70s (not in a good way, he was more Jim Robinson than Jim Morrison). He had spent the evening trying to work out who I was texting, asking if I was ‘missing him’ so when I told him there was no ‘him’, he did what all drunk, ginger tosspieces do and assumed I was backhanding his advances due to being a lesbian. I was actually texting my Mum and I would assume that anyone who has either been in my company or read my blog is probably aware of my blatant preference for the opposite sex and all their intricacies. So another G and T and a burst of ‘Mercy’ by Duffy I was starting to feel a more than a little tipsy. I have a confession to make fellow musers, I snogged Twat Rep. I snogged him and felt repulsed afterwards. I don’t know what made me do it, he was Northern, that’s the only justification I can use in this horrible scenario. All I can be thankful for is that he is now thousands of miles away and I never have to speak to him again. We left, only to return the following evening (plus lovely Birmingham lads, minus Twat Rep who I had spent most of the day avoiding like a Primark sale) for our farewell performances before our flight home the next day. I felt at ease on holiday and nervous about what to expect on my return to Blighty (the tarot reading had messed with the head a bit I suppose), which left us unable to sleep so, delirious from both that and what seemed like endless intoxication of cheap cocktails, we found ourselves wide awake at 3am trying to ignore the sound of an over-zealous cockerel crowing by drawing our favourite musicians in animal form;

Goldie: ‘Why am I drawing a pig in a vest?’
FM: (erupts into hysterical laughter) ‘That cockerspaniel is uncanny’.

So it was with a heavy heart that I waved goodbye to the calmness of Greece, but with the pace of a cheetah that I nabbed my suitcase and boarded the coach to avoid ever looking into the eyes of Twat Rep again. For the record, offering to carry my suitcase down a few steps does not make up for being the world’s worst kisser, I would frankly rather eat my own pancreas than ever have to go through that again. At least it gave me some clarification, unless you really like a man there really is no point or reason to kiss him, so save it for someone who you have dreamt of kissing and who wants to kiss you.

Back in Blighty you now find me somewhat snowed under with work whilst Goldie was enamoured to be reunited with her lovely beau, the one she may well move up country for, which works for me! Lovemenot, well done her, has been promoted so we won’t be working at the same store anymore which leaves me with staffing issues and a potential 16 days in a row coming up. According to my tarot reading October will be an exciting time for me, specifically the 2nd. Will keep you posted…am off for well needed rest and moisturisation, plus my new Book Club EP arrived in the post this morning so am off to hammer that one to death, oh I do hope our two new housemates love a bit of Northern Indie Rock….