Only One Man Would Dare Give Me Raspberry…

So my blog’s rapidly approaching its first birthday (first post March 1st ’06) and since Rob’s just finished doing a lot of work moving it from one server to another and tweaking various settings I thought it would be a good opportunity to thank the man for all his hard work, to remind him how grateful I am to even have a blog, and for all his patient advice. So here’s a big thank from me for all the Jam!

The Weekend That Landed (And Then Took Off Again…)

Jip in Human Traffic goes wild about the potential of the coming weekend, dizzy at the prospect of having 48 hours off from the world and the chance to blow steam out his head like a screaming kettle and the Milky Bars being on him, and it’s fair to say that I felt pretty much that way for every second of the 3rd and 4th of Feb 2007. The Year of the Pig is very much on its way (haven’t read anything about it yet – except a bit of blurb in ‘Nuts’ about piglet racing in a few of China’s provinces to usher in the new year…) and things are picking up nicely. I’d had an invite to Ms Davenport’s birthday on the Sunday afternoon so had planned to gad about the capital and make the most of the opportunity to see things, and to see them with my eyes. It was a cold start on Saturday, and so it was onto the train for a glaring and brilliant dart through Glos, Oxon, Berks and into Greater London before racing to The South Bank for a bite to eat and a catch up with Benj and Ros. After food and a brisk stroll around and a brush with Industrial Strength Café Mocha and Gruyère I wended my way to Richmond to meet Rae and watch the delightful and resounding thrashing of Scotland by Wilkinson and Co in a wonderful pub called The Sun in Richmond that was stuffed with people which made you feel Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box but lended the proceedings such a pulsating and rowdy atmosphere (whilst at the same time being quite gentile). We were actually entrenched by be-kilted Scotsmen who were great sports and bought us a drink by way of a forfeit. One of these guys (who was actually called Scot), who had been trying valiantly to chat up my sister throughout, was decked out in a solid black kilt. Rae was convinced it was a girl’s gym skirt but Scot The Scot tried to convince us that it was to do with the Jacobites’ battle dress at The Battle of Culloden and a clever form of camouflage for nocturnal skirmishes. The idea of a Scots ninja was hit upon seconds before my third pint (a cider by this time, that had had WKD Red added to it for a laugh, like) was upset by The Celtic Assassin who then proceeded to look very embarrassed before claiming that ‘…[his] work here was done…’ and shuffling off. I had no dinner plans beyond getting back to Reading, to stop over, through such romantic holiday spots as Feltham and Staines so I left Rae to her pre-planned girls night out and hopped it. This gave me the chance to meet Rae’s housemate of more than a few months, Aussie Dave and my sister’s new buddy Helena (who will be following Dave into the spare room in March when he moves on). A great Chow Mein was had and my trousers were relieved of their cider/alcopop sheen. Dave and Helena looked after me well.

Sunday saw me laze around before I got back to London and had a good stroll about, passing through Kensington Gardens, past The Albert Hall, through Notting Hill and along Portabello Road enjoying my tunes and togged up in chill-discouraging gear before I got myself over to Canada Water for the party. Now the invite had said (1987) after the title/announcement. This puzzled me because Alex was born in 1980. Turns out this was to be her seventh birthday all over again and one was to feel free to come along decked out in dress of the era (certainly we were treated to such musical delights as Living In A Box, T’Pau and Rick Astley). The sophisticated spreads that Alex and Co are renowned for (that usually include 7 different types of humous amongst other mouth watering delights) were radically altered and included crisps (KP Skips), chocolate bars and a bewildering selection of sandwiches that involved wafer-thin sliced ham and chicken fillings and the candy hundreds-and-thousands sort (which had apparently been a staple of Davenport children’s parties of yore). The food was actually terrific and just what was needed after my ramblin’ – the vodka jelly was particularly lethal however. Turns out we needed to be good and drunk because the party games followed. We had to pass an orange around from between one person’s chin and chest to the next, whilst simultaneously moving a balloon around from between one person’s thighs to another. Pin-the-lipstick-and-eye-shadow-on-the-face was another good one; I was blindfolded and had to tart-up a poor unfortunate. Finally there was time for a few heated rounds of Chubby Bunny before racing to Padington for my train home – or to Worcester, at any rate, as the train refused to go any further. Thanks for putting me up, Marc. I owe you a meal at some point soon, mon ami!

Bizarre Love Triangle

Naomi and I went to see Treats at Malvern last week. I’d wanted to see this production ever since I found out that Little Billie Pipsqueak was in it and that I’d get to be in relatively close proximity to her. Sigh. Didn’t really know very much about it but was interested to see what Ms Piper would be like on stage and as she was to be joined by Kris Marshall and Laurence Fox I was keen to see the three of them lock horns. The trio worked very well together and the dynamic was good over throughout the duration. The story concerns Ann who has used Dave’s (Marshall) recent trip to abroad to get out of what, for her, must have been an oppressive and chronically demeaning relationship and she has kicked him out of her apartment and installed well-meaning and amiable but wholly-inadequate Patrick (a fantastic Laurence Fox). Now, Dave is an absolute bastard. Adopting the divide-and-conquer approach he proceeds to be aggressively nasty to Ann and genial to Patrick (after having announced his return by punching him squarely in the face and apologised by bringing him flowers).  It’s clear that Dave knows he must win Ann back or face some sort of oblivion and the recurring theme was not so much his behaviour but that he knew it was an essential strategy he must employ. The continuing issue of Ann only responding to varying amounts of emotional blackmail, slander, verbal abuse and physical violence was the most disturbing (and compelling) aspect. Ann has the choice of Patrick’s sensible, if indecisive, and optimistic behaviour vs Dave’s self-loathing, sociopathic and spiteful tactics. Both men clearly do love Ann but it is clear that Dave needs her in a way that Patrick is not capable of. Certainly Ann tries to go it alone after she realises that she is only with Patrick on the rebound yet she still allows herself to be bullied back into the relationship and although it was depressingly predictable, you can’t help wishing she could find another way. The title referred at one point to break-up sex but also to the actual process of negotiating getting back together. I hadn’t realised, because I’ve never actually read it, but Christopher Hampton wrote ‘Treats’ while working on translating Ibsen’s ‘A Doll’s House’ (which I finally picked up a copy of recently). It seems Hampton felt that the issue of women (maybe men too?) trapping themselves in oppressive and hopeless (not to mention abusive) relationships was just as relevant in the 1970’s as it had been a hundred years previous and that maybe Ibsen’s play was too subtle and not shocking enough. Except that the wife leaves the marriage in Ibsen’s play which is arguably what was so exciting about it. This made me think of Joe Penhall’s play ‘Love and Understanding’ (again two guys and a gal) where despite the happiness of the couple at the outset (perhaps ‘contentment’ is a better word) and the obviously self-destructive personality of the third party the girlfriend is drawn to sleep with the newcomer as much by his manipulations as by the inability or unwillingness of the boyfriend to react in the desired way. Or was she? We all crave excitement and if things have gotten stale (read ‘stable’ or ‘predictable’) then you might well start looking around or, at any rate, become susceptible to being lead astray. In ‘When Harry Met Sally’ Harry is discussing his recently failed marriage with a friend. His friend nods sagely and says “Marriages don’t break up on a count of infidelity.  It’s just a symptom that something else is wrong.” Harry replies, “Oh really?  Well that symptom is fucking my wife.”