I received an interesting and rather unsettling letter the other day. It turns out that someone wants to give me huge sums of money - for no discernible reason. I can't believe my good fortune. I've left the letter as it appeared, but my return comments appear in blue. We are in talks at the moment.
I assume you and your family are in good health.
(Yes, we are, how did you know?)
I am the Foreign Operations Manager at one of the leading generation bank here in Burkina Faso West Africa.
(Gosh, Foreign Operations Manager! What an important job. I am already feeling a little unequal to your amazingness up here, being a simple stay at home mum on an island in little old Canada. I don't even know where Burkina Faso IS)
This being a wide world in which it can be difficult to make new acquaintances and because it is virtually impossible to know who is trustworthy and who can be believed, i have decided to repose confidence in you after much fasting and prayer (I feel compelled to point out that prayer shouldn't make you do things like this. I mean, you don't know me at all, yet you are allowing fasting and prayer to nudge you into contacting me. I know it's a wide world but I do think you need to have a snack and think a little more about this plan. Your blood sugar must be low or something. Go on, go have a piece of chocolate or something. I will too, in solidarity. If you really want, I'll let you pay for it afterwards...)
It is only because of this that I have decided to confide in you and to share with you this confidential business. (oh dear. Please don't do this. I will do silly things with your money. I really will. I am not to be trusted.)
In my bank; there resides an overdue and abandoned huge amount of money. (Since when does money become overdue? Don't you find this curious? I think you need to examine this concept further) When the account holder suddenly passed on, he left no beneficiary who would be entitled to the receipt of the amount. For this reason, I have found it expedient to transfer this currency to a trustworthy individual with capacity to act as foreign business partner. Thus i humbly request your assistance to claim this amount. (Well, if you insist. I hope you don't think I'm going to share this with you in any way. I really don't think it's a good idea that we share this sort of fortune. I mean, we'll just get mad or something and then what will come of it all?)
Upon the transfer of this amount in your account, you will take 45% as your share from the total currency, 10% will be shared to Charity Organizations in both country and 45% will be for me. (Wait, what sort of charity organizations are we talking here? Mine? or yours? This might be a deal breaker for me)
Please if you are really sure you can handle this project, contact me immediately for details of the amount involved. (Well, alright. I will contact you, but only because you have evidently spent so much time thinking about this project. I admire your work ethic)
I am looking forward to read from you soon. (I can only think you mean HEAR from me soon. Unless you are one of those oh-so-literal people who really DO mean to say that you will be reading my return reply)
Your Good friend, (Is that really your name? Do I call you Your? Or Good? Or Your Good Friend? I'm getting a little confused here, what with all this fasting and prayer. Do tell me what to do. You haven't given me a bank account number to reply to. Or is this the moment at which I give YOU my bank account information?) Thanks, Your Good Want To Be Friend
While I'm inordinately fascinated reading what Sali Hughes has to say about makeup ("hardcore handcreams...illuminating powders...the best of budget makeup") each week in the Guardian, my fascination is based more on the fact that I don't quite understand what she's talking about. It's as though she's speaking a foreign language. A part of me, just in terms of female solidarity, wants to know what's going on here, even if I don't participate as enthusiastically as some. But, sadly and perhaps inevitably, it's still a foreign language.
Case in point — name the purpose of each of these things:
Do I have lash fibres? Am I supposed to buy some? How about highlighters - what exactly on my face do highlighters highlight? Say I don't want that item highlighted? And what about serums - do I drink them or pour them on my face?
In the end I turn to Hadley Freeman, because while she too talks about makeup, she embellishes her fashion advice with an edge and a wit that has you feeling that even if you don't quite speak the same language, you know you're both finding enormous amusement about the same thing. Read this column on fashion shows as a case in point. She's funny AND informative. I like that in a column.
Then, yesterday, out of the blue, I got this letter:
What does your beauty routine look like?
I think I need one but I'm not sure where to start.
While I think it was decidedly misdirected, as I've never once written about wearing makeup, I decided to answer it. With my own inexpert opinion. Experience from the unwashed masses, you might say, although I feel compelled to point out the fact that I DO wash.
First off, you are not lacking a beauty routine; you do have one, you just don't realize it. Do you do any of these things each morning (and evening): brush, floss, clean your face? That's your beauty routine. The question is, do you want more of a beauty routine?
Tell you what. How about I show you what my beauty routine looks like? And I mean that in the most literal of senses. Let's walk through my Morning Routine Station. Together. Arm in arm. Follow me.
First off, you need somewhere to store everything. I use a shelf in the bathroom. Anything more and you'll feel compelled to accumulate. Trust me, accumulation is not always a good thing.
Besides, this way you'll be encouraged to throw out old makeup. Contrary to what your mother or your best friend told you, makeup does not keep indefinitely. I once glued my eye lashes together with some 4 year old mascara and let's just say that I won't be doing that again any time soon.
Then you'll want some lighting. Ideally you want Above Lighting,Below Lighting, and Sideways Lighting. And yes, those are technical terms you can employ at any makeup counter.
Mine is, I'll admit, rather inadequate. I use a flashlight for the tricky bits.
Next you need a work space with a mirror. It should have a large flat expanse on which to place your implements of beautifying. A sink is useful in case you have a sudden compulsion to wash off any of those beautifying materials. Soap wouldn't go amiss; I've got a little squirt bottle of Dr. Bronners peppermint. Gives the eyes a nice sharp tingle.
If you can swing it, additional space always comes in handy, even if it's just for balancing the odd thing. As you can see, I use mine to hold my hair styling accessories.
I've situated it right next to the disposal unit. That is another essential for the well kitted out Makeup Routine Centre.
If you really like to multitask, add in a portable news reader. This way you can check the headlines while you're brushing OR flossing. The mind boggles a bit, doesn't it?
So there you have it, Lacking, this is my own personal Morning Routine Station, well, minus ME, lol.
Just remember: Get the basics right there in front of you, clean your teeth and brush your hair, and you can't help but feel a teeny bit omnipotent.
I'm not entirely sure why it creaks and I'm not sufficiently compelled to find out exactly why, but it's enough of a creak that I think carefully before putting it on. I sometimes wonder if other people can hear my creaking bra while I'm out.
If I were to claim some "bad luck with _______" credits for my live thus far they would for sure be in the bra department. I do not have any fortune, skill, or Happy Purchase Memories whatsoever in the acquisition (sometimes wearing) of bras. As a result we share an uneasy relationship with each other. I wear them; they torment me in a vague but persistent way. They either have straps that slip off my shoulder on one side no matter what I do or the elastic wears out at the speed of light or they feel like a safety pin squeezing me tightly or, worst of all, they itch.
And right now I'm sitting in a creaking bra.
The chicken all have spring fever and Fern is getting seriously good at flapping over the Keep Out You Maniac Chickens! fence. She's a stealth fence getter overer too: she knows enough to hide in the artichoke bed and do most of her damage there before anyone spots her. Why is this so irritating? you ask? It's because chickens have long sharp talons, like a giant scary garden fork. With a beak that is just as persistently sharp (and scary). Fern can shred the asparagus bed in less than 4 minutes. Don't ask what she did to the last of the white sprouting broccoli because I can't stifle the sobs when I talk about it. It's like she has a homing signal on them.
On the plus side, I transplanted more tomatoes (than I think we can usefully plant in the garden) today and not a single one drooped. What I lack in the Bra Luck Stakes I recouped in the Green Thumb Club. In fact, the entire garden, including the stupid Bishop's Weed I can't get rid of, is doing really well. Mason bees are out, the nectarines are blossoming, daffodils, primroses, pulmonaria, and dandelions. We're a little late to the peas-in-the-ground phase. I tell myself that it's rained a lot and I probably would have had the lot rot. Yeah, right. Keep telling that to yourself, Sheila.
And look what Richard E Grant sent to the funeral of Richard Griffiths this week. I love this.
There was no review in my local newspaper today about last night's Billy Bragg concert, so I'm going to write my own. Shame on you, local newspaper.
First off, thank GOODNESS I went to this concert with someone had a newish cell phone. Not me, I hasten to add, my cell phone is too antiquated for such innovations. There was a sticky moment when the person sitting next to the person taking the photo expressed her disapproval that the person with the cell phone was taking photographs. "It's wrong," she said, with a look. Fortunately, our need to document the moment prevailed. Me, I don't think it's wrong at all: I think of it as free publicity for Mr Bragg and his Marvelous Musical Tour. Who knows, maybe the sight of that lovely set (in what was once a Methodist church) will spur people to snap up tickets for the concerts soon coming their way.
Which they should.
I suppose I should preface this review by saying that while I have long had a crush on our man Bill, and even own several cassettes (CASSETTE: a rectangular box with magical tape that plays music) and CDs of his music, I do not know the words to every single one of his songs. Last night I wished I did, because at several points he offered up the mike to the audience, who, being nice polite Canadians, obliged as much as they felt able (softly and very politely at first, later getting a little more courage to sing louder).
While we were waiting for the concert to start my cell phone mate and I discussed which songs we'd like to hear (me: Life With Lions, The Great Leap Forward, Valentine's Day Is Over, The Boy Done Good; him: The Short Answer, The Price I Pay). Richard amused himself with his Billy Bragg London Accent imitations, which I find charming but which drive Max nuts ("Why does Dad keep DOING THAT?" he says to me). We shifted around a lot in our pews in the balcony, which got hotter and hotter as the night wore on. There was even A Moment, 45 minutes after the concert should have started, when some of the nice polite Canadians started clapping, rather pointedly and hopefully, but being nice polite Canadians, soon stopped in case they offended someone.
Then Billy came out, to enormous applause. He was, like his audience, a little older and a little greyer, but it was obvious that we were the Emma Thompson to his Love Actually: We love him, and true love lasts a lifetime. He sang, he chatted, he appeared bemused by the presence of the Queen on our currency, he swore (I was heartened to see that he liked saying "fuck" and "shit" as much as I do), he made pointed remarks about a soccer player-turned-manager in England, he told a funny story about the Queen ("there are not very many things I've done in my life that impress my mum"), announced the demise of the goatee and the resurgence of the full beard ("my beard is a middle-aged face lift...hiding a multitude of chins"), and generally charmed the socks off everyone in the theatre. We even cheered when he mentioned the fact that he was drinking Throat Coat tea to soothe his throat (told you we were nice and polite).
And along the way he complimented us in the way we like best: by telling us that Canada is markedly different from America (we're more European AND we know how to make a decent cup of tea). We didn't get to hear Life With Lions but we did get an updated version
of The Great Leap Forward ("One leap forward, two leaps back, we've got
to free Pussy Riot!"). We also got a brief lesson in how alliteration trumps grammar when it comes to song writing, before he launched into Nobody Knows Nothing Anymore.
And when he said goodnight we stomped and clapped and hooted until he came back and gave us a few more songs. Then we all walked smiling into the night. Be still my beating heart.