Tag Archives: england

Life was easy when it was boring

1. The stuff I used to do as a kid amazes me now. I climbed things. I jumped off things. I auditioned for things. I signed up for clubs and lessons. I skied and swam and did gymnastics. These days you wouldn’t catch me dead doing anything involving any sort of public performance, and a brisk walk is about as physically active as I get. Where did that fearlessness and enthusiasm go? Woe is me, for I am so crotchety and embittered.

2. FYI, reading Raymond Carver short stories is a terrible idea when you’re undergoing a Series of Romantic Misadventures. Happiness is transient! Connection is illusory! Life is a series of small tragedies! Pass the whisky!

3. I’m watching a show called Mafiosa. It isn’t great, but it’s French, and it’s hard to find stuff to watch in French, so. It’s about a Corsican crime family that is taken over by (gasp!) a woman, and the description of the show on ITV’s website is “Godfather meets Sex and the City“. What? The show is like 100% explosions and guns and vendettas and undercover agents. Literally the only resemblance I can see to Sex and the City is the fact that there is a female central character who sometimes wears high heels. Dear ITV blurb writer: get fucked.

4. La Femme are the most interesting band I’ve come across all year, and I’m itching to force them on people. Sometimes they’re all frantic electroclash, sometimes they’re sort of coolly retro-futuristic like Stereolab, then there are elements of twangy spooky surfy carnival-psychobilly…and of course they’re French, so add an automatic fifty cool points right there. Go listen to Psycho Tropical Berlin. Go now. I’ll wait. It’s all on YouTube, so you have no excuse. Start with these, though:

5. So. Fucking “Brexit”. (The fact of it having such an annoying name makes it worse.) I’ve never felt relieved before that I have the option of leaving this country. I’m ashamed of the UK right now. They’ve had to send round a mass email at my work because some fuckers have started harassing the Eastern European employees since the referendum results. This is LOATHSOME.

This tweet made me laugh and cry, which is a big ask for 140 characters or fewer:

‘Kings & Queens’ – printable collaged playing cards

1. So the Jubilee occurred. All through May I kept forgetting about the whole thing, then all of a sudden Union Jack bunting popped out all over St Ives like a rash and I was like, “Is this for the Olympics? Must be for the Olympics” until Simon set me straight. But the levels of giving-a-shit-ness were truly amazing to me. Every shop window in town had some sort of homage to the Queen going on. My favourite was the St Ives Hearing Centre (Eh? What?), which boasted a magnificent three-tier display including a plastic crown and a framed photo of Herself flanked by two plush corgies. People went to serious trouble, and it was adorable. On the day itself, the market square was totally packed, rain be damned, everyone all waving their little paper flags. It’s just…do people actually, actually care? For real?? Like, hey, the current token governmental figurehead still isn’t dead! LET’S PARTY! I fail to comprehend. I enjoyed the extra-long long weekend, but summoning up genuine emotion, good or bad, about the Royal Family is beyond me. I am missing the give-a-shit gene.

2. I watched The Skin I Live In. Have you seen this? If not, and you are planning to do so, the following section contains SPOILER SPOILER SPOILERS. This movie is strange. So very strange. Random pop quiz! If your daughter is sexually assaulted and commits suicide, what do you do to the perpetrator?

a) Initiate legal proceedings against him
b) Beat the hell out of him
c) Grieve, but eventually move on with your life and try to forget him
d) Kidnap him, forcibly give him a sex-change operation, and have sex with him

If you answered d) then CONGRATULATIONS. You are a fucking weirdo. And Antonio Banderas plays you in a film.

3. Which brings us to the ‘new stuff’ part of the post. I quite like these if I do say so – Victorian men and women collaged as vintage playing cards. Available now on Etsy – click here to view. Probably will be available through Zazzle soon also.

Zombie Victorians – new postcard and collage sheet

Always funny to my North American mind: in England, you don’t see ‘Detour’ road signs. Instead, when there are road works, you see one of these:

QUICK! CREATE A DIVERSION! It makes me think that a couple of Looney Tunes characters must be scampering off the other way.

And now, some Zombie Victorians. First, a new postcard, available in my Zazzle shop – a pretty lady from a Victorian painting lovingly embellished with decomposition and blood spatter. Click here to view on Zazzle.

…And for crafters, here’s a digital collage sheet of 3.8″ x 3.8″ images – perfect to transfer to coasters. Click here to view on Etsy.

UK vs Canadian English, part one million

Things I have learned the hard way since moving to England:

To “knock someone up” actually means to knock at their door and wake them up. Not to make them pregnant! Weird.

When you break plans with someone, you “blow them out”. Saying “I blew them off” will result in a lot of irritating nudge-nudge banter from your English friends.

I want to compile a proper UK English/North American English dictionary. When I arrived on these shores I thought I had it down: elevator=lift, fries=chips, chips=crisps, truck=lorry, sidewalk=pavement, second floor=first floor…what else could there be to know??? SO MUCH, dude. It’s like a whole different country over here! I had a proper initiation by fire at my first job, in a noisy and slightly scary Manchester nightclub. That’s where I learned, by being screamed at repeatedly in angry Manc, that a ‘lager tops’ is a pint of the cheapest available lager (that’ll be Fosters) with a splash of lemonade (which is like 7-Up, I guess? No bar in Canada offers fizzy lemonade as a mixer). Not getting a tip even when I got the drinks right was another valuable introduction English culture. As was not seeing a single rain-free day for the entirety of the three months that I lived in Manchester before fleeing to the south coast. (Those months were June, July and August, for the record.) And yet I still live here! What can I say – English accents are just so damn cute, even when they’re screaming abuse.

I’ve got a new collage sheet of GOTH CHRISTMAS tags coming up, which I’m having a lot of fun designing (skeleton reindeer!), but which I’m getting a bit anal about so it’s taking me ages. I’ll post it tomorrow, I hope.

It’s just not on, I tell you

I will admit to being perversely glad that Bonfire Night was rainy and miserable and cold. HA! Serves you right, ENGLAND, for passing over the awesomest holiday of the year in favour of a random celebration of something that happened five hundred years ago. Or rather, something that didn’t happen. “Hey, isn’t tonight the anniversary of some guy in stockings and bloomers not blowing up Parliament? Let’s go hang out at a fun fair in the rain and watch some crap fireworks!”

Stupid England.

In other words, my Halloween was pants – PAAAAAAAANTS! – for the sixth year in a row. I should be getting used to it by now, but for reals, Halloween was always my super-number-one favouritest day of the year. I never imagined that I would move to Europe – or, That Place With all the Castles and History and That – and find NO formal celebration of ghosts and witches and spookiness. Didn’t the whole Halloween tradition, like, originate in the British Isles?? WTF???!!!!??1?

We didn’t even get a single trick-or-treater. We had to eat all that Haribo OURSELVES. And I tried to download Let the Right One In from iTunes, but it didn’t work. MY LIFE IS INTOLERABLE.

At least I’ve got The Walking Dead to look forward to. (Please don’t suck please don’t suck pleeeeeeeeaaaaaase don’t suck.)

And here are some new collage sheets. Click here or click here to buy them or whatever.


Owls on Vintage Text


Postcards from Winter

Folksy Friday: autumnal tones

My assimilation continues apace. I have now experienced one of the defining elements of English culture: a Carry On film. I sat through about half of Carry On, Matron – which is more than enough to get the idea. I saw Babs get her baps out, Sid James doing his gravelly laugh, and Kenneth Williams…well, being Kenneth Williams. Quite astonishing, really, the English twelve-year-old-schoolboy attitude to sex (“Look! BOOBIES!”) and all the chasing-round-the-desk stuff, or as we would call it these days, ATTEMPTED RAPE. (What could be funnier??) Inevitably, the plot required one of the male characters to spend most of the film dressed as a woman (whilst being chased round a desk). To the English, nothing but NOTHING is more side-splittingly hilarious than a bloke in a frock.

Which brings me to the next point on my Assimilation To Do List: a panto. Pantos are very strange to outsiders: cross-dressing, B-list celebs, fairy tale-inspired storylines, audience participation (“IT’S BEHIND YOU!”); all ostensibly for kids but with plenty of winking double-entendre for the parents…in England, this means Christmas. Ours is not to reason why, I guess.

Here’s a Folksy Friday treasury for you in autumnal golds, greens, reds and oranges…

Naturally Dyed Gold Silk Triangle Scarf, by Lissi Corduroy & Floral Corsage/Accessory, by DarlingPretty Maze of Sparrows Screen Print, by Kate McLelland Book Purse, by Bookity Resa Smith Maxi Dress – Zest, by Resa Smith Yellow Leather Pocket Book, by Marcade Arts Press

Folksy Friday: sepias and neutrals

And so, England’s World Cup dreams are dashed once again. I used to get all sad every time England let yet another World Cup pass them by, but lately I’ve decided to start thinking of the national side as an amusingly reliable disappointment. Oh, England! You’ve done it again, you scallywags! If you think about it, it really is quite incredible how a group of such individually talented players manages to form such a totally inept team. It’s an achievement not to be sniffed at.

And anyway the English aren’t happy unless they’re miserable. It brings out the best in them. I was out and about in St Ives in the deathly silence following the match, and came across a couple who had stopped to look at a very freshly dead pigeon on the pavement that looked to have bounced off a window only minutes earlier. “Must have seen the England match,” remarked the bloke.

We participated in a barbequeing/football viewing type event on Saturday, which was very enjoyable, even after I performed my party trick of getting a sunburn in minutes flat through several layers of suncream. Ta-daa! We watched the tail end of the US/Ghana match, and I will freely admit to experiencing shedloads of schadenfreude at the sight of the US team shedding tears after their defeat. I’m sorry. It’s just that I’m Canadian, and for me, seeing the US occasionally get creamed in a sporting event is basically the pinnacle of human happiness (similar to how the Scots felt watching England get Das Booted last week, I should think). G’WAN GHANA!

And speaking of Canada, yesterday was Canada Day, and I’m proud to say that my streak of forgetting about it every single year since I left the country remains unbroken. I was only alerted to the fact by a Canadian colleague, who noted the occasion by bringing in homemade Nanaimo bars. Holy shit, dude, I had forgotten about Nanaimo bars. So much buttery icing. They manage to be simultaneously delicious and disgusting. My colleague and I discussed this strange paradox and comisserated about the foodstuffs we miss most. Weirdly, whenever I talk to a fellow North American emigré about this, Kraft Dinner is always the first thing mentioned. I have not met an expat yet who doesn’t have Kraft Dinner shipped to them by their relatives (my mom always sends me a half dozen boxes at Christmas). If you describe Kraft Dinner to an English person, they will look at you in disgust (of course I brook no culinary criticism from a country that actually considers Scotch eggs to be edible). It’s hard to explain what’s so addictive about it, but MAN do I miss that lurid orangey goodness. Send more please Mom!

Here’s my Folksy Friday treasury for the week…

Remember This – Vintage Style Handmade Scrapbook Embellishment, by CraftyPagan Natural Leaf Coasters, by Charlotte Hupfield Ceramics Book Lover 8x8 Print, by Lola’s Room Retro Wind-up Robot Cufflinks, by FluffsStuffs Paper Wreath – Pride and Prejudice, by Bookity Amber Butterfly Patterned Brooch, by Julia Smith

Reasons I Love Britain Nos. 16,354 & 16,355

No. 16,354: Is this getting press anywhere outside the UK? Every year in Britain there is a publicised battle for the number one Christmas hit single, as judged by sales. For the past several years, the battle has been easily won by the winner of the X Factor. This year, one couple got so sick of Simon ‘Twat’ Cowell’s merchandising machine that they started a Facebook campaign encouraging people to go out and buy ‘Killing In The Name’ by Rage Against The Machine instead of whatever dreck the X Factor happens to churn out. You remember ‘Killing In The Name’ – it’s the one with the repeated refrain “Fuck you! I won’t do what you tell me!” Awesome. And as of right now, Rage Against The Machine are beating [X Factor schlock-monger whose name I can’t be bothered to look up] by 60,000 singles. OH YEAH. I am SO buying a copy. Fight the good fight!

No. 16,355: When the credit crunch hit, Radio 4’s flagship Serious News Programme, ‘PM’, introduced a daily segment about the current financial situation. They invited listeners to suggest names for the new feature, and the winner, awesomely, was ‘Upshares, Downshares’. They even started playing a bit of the ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ theme song to introduce the segment.

At some point, some listener sent in the original version of the theme song, which was played on that evening’s programme. Then someone sent in another version, or their own version, or something – this was also played on the air, with a comment from Eddie ‘Sexy Voice’ Mair saying thanks very much, but please stop sending in new versions of the theme now.

Being the contrary sort (see above), this lit a fire under the British public, and the homemade versions started pouring in in their thousands. The BBC conceded defeat, and now every day they feature a new listener-contributed interpretation of the theme (keep in mind this is the Straight-Faced News Programme, during which Eddie Mair REGULARLY causes experienced politicians to stutter in desperation during interviews). Recent styles have included retro-futuristic disco synth-pop, mariachi, traditional hand bells, and a lovely rendition tonight on an Irish bouzouki (different from the Greek bouzouki in having a flat instead of a rounded back. Apparently). This coming Monday the programme is featuring an interview with the composer of the ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ theme, in which they will play him several of the versions sent in by the listeners.

How utterly, delightfully bonkers. THIS COUNTRY.

More gift tags…see my Etsy shop for details…

The Great Snow Crisis

So, we’ve had a bit of weather here. There is actually, as we speak, a layer of snow in my garden that has been there for three days. Three days! This is unheard of! Apparently it’s the worst snowfall in Britain in eighteen years. Predictably, the entire country has flown into a panic. On the first day of snow, there were no buses running in London. None. Not one single bus could navigate the treacherous Iditarod of London streets under an inch of snow. Schools were closed; half the country didn’t bother showing up for work; cars were abandoned in their thousands.

And the news coverage has been relentless. You’d think aliens had landed, or that we were under nuclear attack, or that we were under attack by nuclear aliens, rather than being, as we are, moderately inconvenienced by some unseasonably inclement weather. The up-to-the-minute reporting hasn’t stopped. First came the EXTREME WEATHER WARNINGS, then came the ground-zero reports of stranded cars, then came the statistics about all the missed work and its effect on our poor economy…and then, inevitably, came the moaning. The English are not happy unless they have something to complain about. Hours of phone-in shows were taken up by disgruntled oiks bitching about their roads not being gritted quickly enough. Boy, and they say the Palestinians have it rough, eh?

Amusingly, this led to unprecedented levels of media attention for Canada, as everyone kept pointing out that severe snowstorms happen in Canada every year and cause barely any disruption at all. Some folks used Denmark as the comparison, but overall Canada seems to be the snow-defying nation that springs first to people’s minds. Hey, at least we’re getting noticed for something, even if it’s just our tolerance for bad weather.

Of course, all the folks eager to blame Britain’s government for the ‘inadequate’ response to the Great Snow Crisis failed to take one thing into account. Namely: the reason that Canada is so good at coping with snow is because IT SNOWS IN CANADA ALL THE TIME. So we tend to prepare for it. We prepare for it by paying an enormous amount of money for snowplows and gritting trucks and snow tyres and heated garages. If Britain paid the same amount of money for these services, there would be an amazingly quick response in the event of a snowstorm, which, as mentioned earlier, tends to happen about once every eighteen years. In the intervening seventeen years, you’d have a bunch of snowplows and gritting trucks sitting around at the ready, doing nothing and costing a fortune. Which the exact same people would ring in to call-in shows and complain about. Dear General Public: please get a sense of perspective.