Sunday, 13 May 2018

Eurovision and Pastel De Natas ...

Forgive me for not rambling much this week - cue simultaneous explosion of party poppers - but my editing schedule has gone up the wall. Plus, I've run out of clean knickers. I'm sure Alan Whicker and Judith Chalmers had the same problem. Anyway, while I sort all that out, I'll leave you with some pictures. Here's my eye-witness, first-hand account of my Eurovision 2018 experience. 

I'd planned to capture the true nature of the event and bring a personal insight that the BBC just can't manage. But I tended to take photos when I'd had a drink so the results were 'haphazard'. Also, I kept forgetting. Hey ho, enjoy the pictures that did make it. Needless to say, the whole shebang was off-the-charts epic and I was quite the giddy goat from start to finish.

Pre-Match Build-Up

It started at the airport taxi queue. Sail-like banners announcing the 'All Aboard' theme of the event. It did not make the queue go any faster but it was lovely to see.
Spotted amongst the guide books in the hotel. Mostly full of adverts, but still. Gamely representing what the majority of Lisbon visitors were concerned with, last week.
Beautiful Lisbon. But squint through the arch, and what have you got?
That's right! It's the Eurovision village! An enclosed area with a stage/screen for live events and broadcasts. Beer, food and merchandise also available. 
The merchandise queue was lengthy.
But I made it! 'That'll be a United Kingdom scarf - By the way, I don't want Brexit - a fridge magnet and a wrist band please.'
I saw a bit of the Orchestra of Lisbon, and Voces Caelestes Choir. They were good!
Hoardings were covered up by previous winners and host countries.
And another one! I took photos of all my favourite years (I'm looking at you, 1992) but you get the drift. Let's move on.
You can't tell, but I'm sitting in my favourite restaurant in Lisbon - Grapes and Bites. 
You can't tell, but minutes after this photo was taken, Israeli Eurovision winner, Netta (and entourage) walked in to eat. She was lovely, even though we all gawped a lot because we were in the midst of celebrity. (I imagine it was the energy of my subtle yet consistent gaze that spurred her on to win three nights later.)




You can't tell, but I hoovered this plate up, no mess.

The Big Game
The queue to get in to the Altice Arena for the 2nd semi final. 
Waiting for it to begin. I think they're supposed to be waves.
Scott Mills is in one of those commentary boxes. I know! The glamour!
I was in touching distance of Jon Ola Sand! Well I would have been if there weren't security guards in my way. He was in deep concentration throughout the voting. It. Is. A. Serious. Business.

Post-Match Analysis
Reality hits. Back to a dreary tarmac and not a pastel de nata in sight. 

A paused screen from BBC4. It's like Where's Wally - can you spot me? Quote from my brother-in-law - 'You look so happy, Nicky' Quote from my brother - 'Like a kid in a sweet shop.'
Yeah, so it turns out I managed to buy an Icelandic scarf rather than an UK one. (I already owned the red one.) Hmmm.

I mean, it IS pretty similar I suppose. Here I am trying to style it out with a face like an emoji. I'm not sure which emoji. But definitely an emoji.


I could go on and on, posting photos to depict the aftermath of my favourite week of the year. But it's over. I need to let the adrenaline slump kick in and get back to sorting out my washing. All that is left to say is, twenty years since Dana International won in Birmingham, congrats to Netta and Israel. Here's to next year! 

Have a lovely week, folks.
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Monday, 7 May 2018

Heading to the Portuguese Front...

Happy Bank Holiday Monday, everyone! By the time this 'drops' I'll be sitting on a jammed A-road attempting to leave Wales, along with vast swathes of roof-racked, luggage-laden families. It's a legal requirement after the shenanigans of a UK mini-break. Hey ho, I'll hopefully get home soon.


2009's themed Eurovision buffet.
I particularly like the bowl
of sauerkraut gamely
representing Germany.
Indeed, I need a prompt return from my hols. In two days time, I'm gallivanting again. I know, who the frig do I think I am? What kind of international event could be taking place that means I up sticks so soon after a weekend of family fun? What on earth is going on? I think everyone of good conscience knows the score. The date's been in our diaries for months. I don't even need to say it, do I? After three, let's shout it together. One, two, three... IT'S EUROVISION!!!!!!!!!!!!

 2011. The BBC's party
pack was utilised
that year. Big time
.
It's been four years since I attended the Eurovision Song Contest. Copenhagen 2014. I can say (and without a hint of sarcasm) that it was the best night of my life. I'm not joking. It was utterly epic. After decades of watching the contest at home, I was actually there. Surrounded by like-minded, lovely strangers, all happy to dance, wave their flags and cheer the night away. Despite being six hundred miles from home and sitting in a revamped Danish shipyard, everything felt reassuringly recognisable. Charpentier's Te Deum opened proceedings as usual. It gives me giddy goosebumps when I'm on my sofa with my score pad, so hearing it at the actual contest was beyond words. Then Kasper Juul from Borgen rocked up as one of the hosts. Seeing his face was like spotting someone you vaguely remember from school. It was strangely familiar but took a moment to place. And then there was Graham Norton.* In his commentary booth, looking down on us all, like a lovely uncle overseeing proceedings. Everything would be OK as long as Graham was in the house. The winner that year was Conchita Wurst with Rise Like a Phoenix**. It would have been my all time favourite Eurovision winner had I been in my lounge at home - it was a cracking song regardless - but watching her win in the flesh, was spectacular. 

The message I sent to the family
WhatsApp group on 5th May 2014.
Reminiscent in style (but not so much tone)
of telegrams from the Western Front.
I have the best memories of the whole event. It was an amazing night in the middle of a great holiday, but one I've never tried to replicate. I know that as experiences go, it can't be beaten. It was unique. From the host city, to the eventual winner, to my disposable income, to the fact I'd been bingeing The Bridge and Borgen in the months leading up to it - the happy set of circumstances all aligned for Copenhagen 2014. I've positively reminisced ever since, whilst staying firmly at home. My Eurovision routine is set. I have themed-snacks, a variety of European spirits and a night of live tweeting to attend to. I've no time to leave the country this days.

I feel like Charlie Bucket
with a golden ticket.
(Mine's on Tesco economy
printer paper, though.)
Until now. Yeah, you heard. Until now! One of my 40th birthday presents was a ticket to the second semi-final! Having thought I'd only ever cheer along in front of my TV, I'm going to be in Lisbon to soak up the Eurovision week atmosphere. I cannot wait. If it's anything like Copenhagen, it'll be reminiscent of when the Olympics hit town. A lively mix of people from everywhere, all converging on one place to have the ultimate party. And I get to be there! What is particularly lovely is that I'll see the Thursday evening semi-final, and be back in my gaff for the Saturday night main event. My live-tweeting action will not be compromised. My Polish vodka will not be undrunk. My well-established routine for my favourite night of the year, remains in place. I'll just have some cracking first hand knowledge of the Portuguese vibe while I watch.

I drink a shot
whenever Poland
performs. Stocks
are low.
But for now, I'm still trying to get back from Wales. Will I ever make it from behind this camper van with the bikes attached? Will I ever see the Runcorn bridge again? Check back next week where I hope I'm awash with Eurovision afterglow.

Have a lovely week, folks.


*I've added a link for Graham just incase his show isn't broadcast in some of the far flung locations whose bots click my blog. But it feels daft. Without giving it much thought before, I listen to him significantly more than I do members of my own family. Between Friday night TV, Saturday morning radio, and the fact he commentates on my favourite night of the year, his presence, like breathing, needs no explanation.

**I was sitting on the left of the stage for that performance. Electrifying doesn't come near to describing the atmosphere in the arena when Conchita sang that. 

Monday, 30 April 2018

Seaside Fun Imminent. Bring Coats...

It's countdown to another Bank Holiday, folks. This time next week, we'll be in the final throws of a three-day weekend. (Apologies to non-UK peeps who don't get to experience such fun. We have to get our kicks where we can these days.) 

As I've mentioned before, the Family Bond has a regular jaunt to Wales each May - the first Bank Holiday of May. Returning to a caravan park of our youth, we load up our respective cars with the basic necessities required to survive a cramped, often rainy weekend alongside a mish-mash of family members. This boils down to beer and wine. Beer, wine and blankets. That's what's needed to get through. As I type (whole days before the event) the weather at home is bright and breezy. I have no doubt that the second we arrive for our Welsh weekend, the sky will have greyed and the rain will fall. It will fall for as long as we're there. But that's fine. It's what we expect. 


Skimming stones, a couple of years ago.
Who needs swanky luxury with that horizon.
There is an additional frisson of excitement this year, though. I imagine that's been obvious as you've been reading this. I'm sure you can sense how I'm fizzling with anticipation. Are you ready to be put you out of your misery? Excellent. Well let me explain. For the past decade, the grown up Bonds have holidayed in the caravan park that we used to visit in the early to mid-90s. I was a young teen. It is...and I'll whisper this quickly... a tiny bit scruffy (shhh!) but it's set on cliffs overlooking the beach, so regardless of a lack of gourmet restaurants, and some unsightly water-stained buildings, it has the sensory pleasure of crashing waves, swooping seagulls and the twinkliest night's sky on the walk back from the pub. It's lovely. But....


What the new management said to the old
management. Probably.
Yes, there's a but. This year the caravan park has had some sort of take over! There's 'new management'. I know! I imagine the phrase, I own 51% of this company has been been shouted Alexis Carrington-style at a board meeting at some point. Everything we know is up in the air and as a result of this, DISASTER has struck.* The office has not been able to take our booking. We've held on for a while, wondering if they'd get themselves sorted in time for our set-in-stone, annual jolly, but it seems they could not. We've had to find somewhere else. 

Now here's the thing. Bonds don't like change.** It has to be in the same area, with the sea nearby, on a caravan park, with a club offering children's entertainment, and two disabled-friendly caravans in close proximity to each other. There can be no variation to any of this criteria. It has to be the same every year. Happily, despite only sorting it mere weeks ago, my brother - who takes responsibility for this gig - found somewhere that met our needs. And now THIS is where my excitement comes from. 


Tethered to a washing line
LIKE A DOG. I'll be 

retrospectively ringing 
Esther Rantzen.
Grabbing a crisp with my 
bowlhead while
couple does a slowie 
behind me.
Bonds on Tour is trying somewhere new. Except, not really. It's not actually new. We've been there before, like a million years ago. It's the caravan park we went to when I was a really little kid. 1980 was the first time, and we returned repeatedly throughout the decade. Whereas the younger member of the family buzzed off the nostalgia of the boardroom-chaos caravan place of more recent years, I had earlier memories of the one a couple of miles along the seafront. It's the holiday destination that is linked to my sense memory. Whenever I smell chippy chips, the ozone, suntan lotion or beery pub fumes, my mind turns to this particular location. I am giddy that I get to go there again.***


It's cold, or my Dad's 
not beach body ready. 
Zipped up cagoules for
a mother and daughter

 day at the beach. 
I've already looked through old photo albums at previous visits. There's lots of me on the beach, several of me with an ice-cream, and a few sitting in the caravan eating sandwiches. It was all go in the 80s. Next week, I'll no doubt be doing those things again. Along with the beer, wine, and blankets. If you want to see drunken shenanigans and sibling seaside banter, I'll be adding photos to Insta****. I'm called @bondiela. But for now, I hope everyone has a great weekend, whether you're wallowing in childhood nostalgia or cracking on with your usual routine. 

Have a lovely week, folks.


*Obviously disaster didn't strike. Some people have real shit to deal with. It was just a hiccup. But still. 

** #notallbonds 

***More randomly, my mind goes back there whenever I hear the Pet Shop Boys' song, It's a Sin. The lyrics were published in my holiday copy of Smash Hits and I learnt them in the car, en route to the caravan. Sometime around 1987.

****I believe that's what the kids call Instagram. You're welcome.

Monday, 23 April 2018

When Legal Jargon Meets a Creative Mind...

You've caught me in the midst of a frustrated tizzy. Can you feel the irritation seeping from me? Can you picture the taut vocal chords as I keep calm with clenched fists? Can you feel me fume? If you haven't guessed it already, yes that's right, I'm attempting to do something technical. God, it's hard.

Not to get all rules and regs on you, but I'm trying to make myself GDPR compliant. I know. Who do I think I am? I can't even say it without thinking of East Germany but that's just my current, flustered state. Obsolete geography aside, I've become increasingly aware of the new EU data privacy laws that are coming into force on May 25th 2018. I'm not a lawyer or a data privacy boffin. I just know that for a while now, I've been receiving emails from any website with which I've ever interacted, asking me to confirm whether I'd like to keep hearing from them after May. Bar some niche exceptions, the answer tends to be a solid NO. But that got me thinking. As Writer's Ramblings subscribers know, I tempted you with my sign-up box, happily took your personal information (in this case, your email address) and you've been the excited recipient of a Monday morning email ever since. This shit applies to me too. Oh the responsibility!

This cat is stealing your data.
Naively, I assumed the subscription service* I used would sort everything out. I mean, I'm the creative one here. I have no understanding or skills beyond typing up character traits and building dramatic tension. What use am I when it comes to understanding legal jargon and tinkering with merge tags? It's all too hard. It seems however, my subscription service of choice have taken their merry time creating GDPR compliant tools and templates for mere mortals like me. They added information on their website just over a week ago. So now I am trying to decipher techy-terminology and jargon-heavy paragraphs whilst being aware of the looming deadline. If you know what you're doing it's probably a breeze, but as I've pointed out on numerous occasions, I haven't got an igloo. The trouble is, the law is coming whether I like it or not. I don't think a defence of, 'I don't get it, so I haven't bothered' will wash. 

For people who have more of a clue than me, here's something interesting to read. I even understood bits of it. I started to follow it's instructions. Then it got all code-y, and I glazed over and made a sandwich. Or if you want something specifically from my email provider of choice, here's what they put out last week. It's definitely the most helpful thing out there so far, and I'm working through it, along with googling every term used that I don't fully understand. 


But here's the important part. I will be GDPR compliant by May 25th. That means you can specify exactly what marketing and contact you want from Writer's Ramblings. (Before the 25th May, current subscribers will be receiving an email, asking them to re-consent their permission to be on the email list.) I've already updated this blog so the subscribe box is a double opt-in style. The reality of that is a weekly email, containing a link to the latest blog post. No third parties have access to your data. As soon as you want to stop receiving these emails, click the 'Unsubscribe' button at the bottom of the email, and they'll stop.

Phew, it's all a bit of a head-frig. I'm getting my brain around it slowly, but once again, I'm battling with the thought that I wish I had been born twenty years later so I'd come out of the womb swiping and double clicking (except then I'd have missed Spandau Ballet and that would be a travesty.) But look, I'm getting distracted. The subscribe box on here is now GDPR compliant. So if you want to start receiving these posts via email every Monday morning, feel free to sign up in the box. Your data will be treated like a King. 

Have a lovely week, folks.

*I'm not trying to hide this info in the small print. It's just really dull. The subscription service I now use is Mailchimp. Initially it was Feedburner. When that became unreliable, I exported all subscribers' email addresses to Mailchimp and deleted them from Feedburner. Mailchimp store subscribers' email addresses securely in the US, and comply with a variety of laws that are all legally above board until May 25th 2018. They explain it better below, which is taken from this document, should you want further details. 


After May 25th, Mailchimp accounts (and everyone else dealing within or with people in the EU) need to be GPDR compliant, and by doing so, will continue to operate inside the law. 

Monday, 16 April 2018

The Perfect Accompaniment to Mascara Application...

Let's revisit some over-sharing I've done in the past. Bear with, there'll be a logical explanation in a moment.

Sharp-minded memory champs may remember that despite being a feministic woman of the highest order, I also spend a chunk of the day covering my face in coloured grease. Often when I'm in the house alone and planning to see no one but the postman. (I never plan to see the postman, but the fruits of my late night eBay habit kick in with a knock on the door, every few days or so.) If you want to reacquaint yourself with that particular ramble, click here. Alternatively, be assured I settled this conflict of interests happily enough, with the declaration that I like putting on make up, and the process is relaxingly creative. It takes away none of the 'Smash the Patriarchy' undertones to my personality. 


So why bang that drum again? Why revisit past paragraphs. Well, I'll tell you. It occurred to me why I enjoy putting on make up so much. Yes, it's creative, and yes, I like playing with different products and trying new effects (I'm all about the 'bad girl smoky eye' at the moment) but there's more to it than that. I've realised it's one of two times in the day that I get my own choice about what I watch on TV*. Every morning, as I emerge from the bathroom, towel-clad and dripping (easy now) I sit in front of the mirror, turn to the Netflix app on my phone, and continue to watch whatever it is that I've got on a loop that week. I don't have to compromise or bargain. It's pure 'me' time. It's not the place to watch the latest must see TV series I'm bingeing at night. It's not the time for Swedish killings and Danish subtitles. It's not where I can give something my full attention. No, it's the time when I watch repeats of things I know backwards, or where I play something that only needs to be heard to be understood. While I'm concentrating on poking soft black pencils near my eyeballs, I need no cause to turn my head for a visual gag or dramatic yet soundless reaction to a plot-twist.

So for now, let me fill you in on the shows with which I share my make-up application time. What am I listening to, that sets me up for the day ahead, whilst taking away none of the concentration I need for creating flicky eyeliner? Let's take a look through the round window.


1. Schitt's Creek
I've talked about it before, but this comedy is perfect. Watch it for real first, then repeat aurally with a visual memory of the characters' facial expressions and mannerisms. The episodes are short, with plenty of 'laugh-out-loud' and 'ahhhhh' moments every time. Series Four is currently being shown in Canada and the US. I cannot tell you how irritating it is to see GIFs, comments and outpourings of love for the new episodes that I can't yet see. I'm frustrated beyond belief. As we speak, I'm repeating Series Three for the dozenth time. I've seen it...a lot. I could probably perform it as a one-woman play. One episode lasts as long as it takes to throw on my slap, dry my hair and get dressed. It's spot on. I've also worked out that I have all the social awkwardness of David Rose when I'm sober. It's uncanny.


2. James Acaster
Because I am old and watch repeats of Canadian sitcoms every day, I know little of new comedic talents breaking through. But somewhere at some point, James Acaster entered my life. I think I first became aware of him on an episode of Would I Lie to You. (Click here to see him totally outshine everyone else in the 'This is My..' round.) Now, ages later, he's popped up with his own stand up special on Netflix. I tested the waters this morning. I sat down, pressed play, and reached for my foundation primer. Reader, I can confirm that you do not need to see James Acaster to laugh hard at his comedy. He has a couple of visual gags, but he mostly talks and you LOL with gusto. Another winning companion to my morning routine.

3. Serial
We're moving onto podcasts now. Yes, I know Serial has been out for years but I am late to the party. I listened to this because every article about 'Must-Listen To Podcasts of (Insert Year Here)' referred to it like the grandmother of everything that has come after. For me, time flies when I'm absorbed in a story. And being able to use my hands and get on with life as I listen is a big win. Serial gripped me, yes even Season Two. It also opened up a world of True Crime that until then, I'd given a wide swerve. 


4. Missing Richard Simmons
A really random but intriguing podcast, not without controversy. The not-that-famous-in-the-UK fitness guru, Richard Simmons, apparently dropped out of public life a few years ago. This podcast makes what could be a complete non-story about that retreat, seem engrossing and interesting. It's 6 x 30 minutes so it covered a full week (Sunday's don't count) of cosmetic augmentation. 


This is the only GIF of Mark Kermode
I could find. It makes no sense . Sorry.
5. Mark Kermode's Film Reviews
Here's what happens when I watch a film. At some point after it's finished (and for the purposes of this list, it's often the following morning as I slap on the slap) I go to You Tube and type in the name of the film and 'Mark Kermode'. That's all. That's all it needs. Then, like magic, his well-thought out and considered review of the film pops up, filling ten minutes of my morning. I don't always agree with him but I always enjoy hearing his thoughts. I feel genuine sadness when I search for a film and it's been reviewed at a time he's taken a holiday. I am sure the people standing in for him are marvellous, but I feel something's been taken away from me. The best thing is saving up two or three reviews to watch at once. That fills up my entire daily beauty regime. Good times.

So there we are. Some suggestions if you ever feel like experimenting with make up or audio-entertainment. For now I'll carry on fuming that Schitt's Creek Season Four hasn't yet come to the UK, I'll keep seeking out engrossing True Crime stories to keep me guessing, and I'll definitely continue to plaster on the black eyeliner on a daily basis. Oh, and I'll smash the patriarchy too. It's good to keep busy.

Have a lovely week, folks.

*The second time in the day where I'm in full control of what I binge, is when I do my power-walk. Yes, that's right. I'm power-walking now. Or as I like to call it, walking. 



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Monday, 9 April 2018

I'll Take the Pethidine Now, Thanks...

There's a common trope in writing circles. It gets trotted out all the time, is massively overused, and is something I've resorted to a few times myself. It's the idea that writing a book is like having a baby. 

It seems writing a book is like... a  painful, 
bloody, dog-eat-dog, dystopian world?
As a happily child-free grown up, I'm in no real position to understand whether there's any merit to this comparison. But I've seen it made so many times, by women and men with kids, as well as by the likes of me, that there must be something in it. Lazy and oft-repeated though it may be, there has got to be some stock in comparing the creation, delivery and world-reception of a novel to the conception, birth and rearing of a newborn person. It's just easier to sit down on publication day. That's all.

So whilst recognising that this metaphor is far from original, I'm going to run with it a bit longer. You see this week is a big deal. This week, my beautiful, bouncing book-baby is one year old.

It seems only yesterday I was working out the juxtaposed timelines of 1996 and 2016 for the split-story narrative. It seems only yesterday I was converting the PDF doc and tearing my hair out when the spacing wasn't right. It seems only yesterday it went on sale and people actually bought something I'd written. But there we go. With the speed of light, we are here. One year later. My baby - also known as Carry the Beautiful, (available at all good online retailers) - has been in the world for a whole year. It's my proudest achievement to date, as well as the hardest thing I've ever done. It caused no end of stress at times, and then the giddiest, most joyous of feelings at others. I have buzzed from reading the reviews on Amazon, and like a Mum at parent's evening, I've been chuffed to bits when a stranger has seen something good in the kid that I invented. I've even loved it when I've been taken to task over plot twists. My neighbour was incensed by the ending. She had to tell me how much she wanted it to go another way. It made my day that she'd read it and that she cared. 


A canvas of Child Number One -
a birthday present from my siblings.
And now I've got past the midnight feeds and mustard nappy stage, I'm ready to do it all over again. I've forgotten the stresses, I've glossed over the frustrations and I've disregarded the headaches. I'm only remembering the good bits and I want them all over again. I'm done with promoting Carry the Beautiful now. That's in the past and I'm looking forward to what's next. My new book - title to be confirmed - will be out in Autumn. I've been focusing on all that entails for quite a while now. Carry the Beautiful, AKA Child Number One, is on the back burner. But this is where the baby metaphor breaks down. Is this is what parents feel during their second pregnancy? Is Child Number One, old news? (As my own family's Child Number One, I am very keen to hear feedback on this.) Perhaps it's time to ditch the pregnancy links once the first book is out. Maybe it's time to talk solely about writing and publishing and leave the contractions and the stitches alone. Book Number Two is simply book number two. It cannot be compared to anything else. 


Nah, let's milk every last drop of this tired old analogy. It's almost time for the three month scan. Pants are getting a little tighter and the queasy mornings are still in full flow. OK, OK, I'll stop there as I literally don't know what I'm talking about. But I do know I'm whittling down the list of potential titles. Once that's locked in, I'll be getting in touch with the cover designer. Then I'm going to be sending it to the editor. That's where we are at the moment. Book Number Two is gestating. And the good thing is, I've done it all before so I know when it's going to hurt and when it's going to feel marvellous. I just have to remember to breathe.

Have a lovely week, folks.
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Monday, 2 April 2018

One for the Word Nerds...

I read something the other day that made me think. It was one of those inspirational/philosophical memes that pop up on Facebook all the time. Usually I scroll past like the virtual wallpaper they are, but I remembered this one. Forgive the paraphrasing but it went something like, 
'Don't tease someone for pronouncing a word incorrectly. That just means they read it and didn't hear it.'
I'm not going to pretend this was some mind-blowing, earth-shattering truth that made me see everything in a whole new light. It wasn't and it didn't. It just made me think for a minute. 


There are a few words in my head that make me pause before I say them out loud. I know what they mean but I'm entirely sure how they're said. Nomenclature. That's one. I've literally never said it aloud, but I have read it.* I would go as far as to say I would avoid having to use it so I don't make a show of myself. (This is not a hardship, by the way. It doesn't tend to crop up over a beer with friends.) Likewise the term 'GIF' is something I stumble over. It was always GIF with a hard G. And then out of the blue, the inventor of the damn thing said it was pronounced JIF. But not everyone got the memo. Or maybe people just decided that the inventor was wrong. I hear GIF far more than JIF. But I also know that it annoys me when people get my name wrong so I don't want to insult the GIF inventor by getting the name of his creation wrong. When I have to use it in a conversation, I tend to say, 'Did you see that funny GIF/JIF whatever it's called, on Facebook yesterday?' See what I did there? 'GIF/JIF whatever it's called', is how I pronounce GIF these days. Every single time.

And then there are words that I know how to pronounce but I don't have a clear dictionary definition of their meaning. This is definitely a by-product of reading books. When you have a feeling of a word rather than a clear understanding of when it should be used. When you know of a specific character or scene where you saw it used but you can't apply it to any other situation out of that context.

One of my favourite words falls into that category. Languid. Yeah, I know. Languid. It's a word I tend not to use because I don't have a clear definition, but it's a word I really like from its sound. I like words that have that specific U sound. (English Language students will have all sorts of technical explanations for what I mean.) Words like mellifluous, superfluous, fortuitous eloquent, and yes...languid. It sounds nice to hear and feels nice to say. Then there's the vague understanding I have of it. I think it means elongated, stretched out, drawn out and relaxed. I see it as a good word. Long summer days spent languidly under blue skies. Or something. I remember it being used in The Great Gatsby to describe someone. I can't remember who but it's definitely in there. 

My non-grasp of languid peaked the other day. I had been given the DVD of Call Me By Your Name for Christmas by my brother** and I finally watched it last week. Aside from the story of young love, the film was a sensual feast, depicting a whole summer of free time, balmy evenings and good weather, with nothing else to do except shag your parent's house guest. (It's much more beautiful than that in reality. I've done it no justice there, whatsoever. Honestly, it's gorgeous.) As I watched, the word languid screamed out at me. Constantly. So much so that I thought it was high time to acquaint myself with the correct definition of the word. So I did.
Languid  
'Having or showing a disinclination for physical exertion or effort.'
Now the thing is, Call Me By Your Name is chock-full of physical activity. (I'm not even trying to make a rude joke there either.) There's swimming, cycling and dancing from the start. Clearly I've had the wrong end of the stick when it comes to what languid means. Also, I think that definition makes it sound like it's a negative thing to be. The 'dis' of 'disinclination' sounds like behaving in a languid manner is bad. And that's a real shame because that definition pretty much sums up my entire personality. Especially on a Sunday. Hey ho. I'll embrace my languidity even if it's bad form or not the done thing. I'll embrace it on a weekend when I've ditched the shower in favour of whatever Netflix series I'm currently binging. I'll embrace it as much as my apathetic, lazy personality allows.

Meanwhile, inspired by Call Me By Your Name, I've been planning on dusting off the garden chairs and being languid outside. When it's a touch warmer, I'll honour the film by drinking wine and eating fruit by the back door. I'll have no bother eschewing the physical exertion that kept cropping up on screen, and instead I'll sit outside and ponder life as the sun sets. I'll pretend I'm in rural Italy, instead of just off the motorway on an A-road in Merseyside. I'll make it my mission to ensure that the world knows what languid means and sees it in all it's chilled-out, laid-back, horizontal disinclination of effort. 

But for now the Easter weekend is virtually over. The four-day holiday ends tomorrow and it's time to get back into the usual routine. No more time-wasting on linguistic streams of consciousness like this. Ooh. Linguistic! Another word with the U sound I like.

Have a lovely week, folks.

* Actually I have said it aloud. A mate once asked me how it was pronounced and I realised I didn't know. He had a colleague that said it one way and my mate said it another. I am still none the wiser.

** My brother got me Call Me By Your Name  - I think - because he knows how much I love an intense connection between two characters, and how the discovery of a soul mate can be the most gripping of narratives. See Before Sunrise, or Chapter 17 of Carry the Beautiful which is my own homage to the concept.