Monday, 22 February 2010

Bloomin' Boomerangs: A New Generation of Kidults

Did you know that there is actually a phrase for adult children living at home?

“Boomerang Kids”

I like, how it suggests something that you try to chuck away which inevitably pings back at you. And sometimes hits you in the face.


The fact is that, out of all the friends of mine who are in London since graduating, the only two who live away from home are the ones who aren’t from London, and therefore didn’t have a family fold to return to.

The rest of us have swallowed our pride and attempted to cram pots, pans, beanbags and other paraphernalia accumulated at university back into our childhood rooms, and are once again back in a routine of dinner times and making the bed.

The result is a network of commiseration amongst said “Boomerangs” which usually revolves around a familiar pattern:

You will meet up with a group of friends amongst whom there will be a number of Boomerangers. You will perform the usual round of “what are you up to,” “how’s the boyfriend / lover / sex life”, and then one will turn to the other and say,

“How’s living at home?”

Cue world-weary sigh from the friend and understanding looks of condolence from the speaker.

“Fiiine.” The head will loll to one side, the shoulders will hunch. “You...?”


And then the story will erupt. Parents cross that their adult-child-Australian-throwing-device aren’t home for dinner. Boomerangs waxing lyrical about the long-lost freedom they had at university. Eventually more drinks will be ordered and the conversation will subside, but the thought still dwells under the surface that your living situation is less than ideal.

I would like to add a disclaimer here that I am far from ungrateful. I am incredible fortunate to be in a position where I can come back home: I have returned to my beautiful childhood home, I have no bills to pay (I kindly am exempt from paying rent), and as The Father (or My Mother’s Ex Husband, as she prefers him to be known) has decided to leave the familial home in favour of a fat American woman with five children (“living the dream,” evidently), it is just me and the Madre. Who is...most of the time... a delight. Although watch this space to read about the OCD tendencies which are leading me to a slow and painful death.

But this still doesn’t negate the fact that there is a certain amount of compromise which has to be met, and I do long for the days when I could go into the kitchen and chop an onion without being watched like a hawk for mess, or being offered marigolds and a knife and fork to do the deed (read: OCD tendencies).

In fact, I fear that I am regressing back to my teenage years:

Madre: Are you in tonight?

Me: [Grunt] dunno. Might be going out with Daisy.

Madre: But are you in for dinner?

Me: [sigh] I don’t know. We don’t know what we’re doing yet.

Madre: Well what will you have for dinner if not?

Me: I don’t care. I’ll make something. Cereal. Lemmealone.

Hours later, shouting from the top of the stairs.

Me: Muuuuuuuum. What’s for dinner?

Not exactly the sophisticated urbanite I like to picture myself as. Oh well, maybe when I get a job...

Sunday, 21 February 2010

All in the Name of Research

Being an unemployed English graduate begs the question of how to put your skills to good use.

I could be a journalist, but I care very little about politics. I consider myself a lax conservative, but this, like which football team I support, is more due to the sway of parental pressure rather than a profound knowledge of inheritance tax or ID cards.

I could be an English teacher but I dislike school children. And teaching.

One day in November the idea came to me: I shall write a book.

And no, this blog is not a shameless attempt to get published (although if there's anyone out there who wants to do so, sweet) - the subject of said book is entirely unrelated to the subject of my blog. My book is about the 1920's.
Barberight (b): this is my own drawing anyone who steals in will get a punch in the face.

I have always had a fascination with the 1920's. The carefree spirit, the wild parties and, of course, the spangly outfits all suit my sensibilities perfectly. So I thought, if I love something so much, why not write about it?

I am in an intense period of research at the moment: I have Waugh coming out of my ears (although am steering clear of Vile Bodies to stop it influencing me), Mitford lingo peppering my speech (Hons and Debs, daahling) and a dash of the Fitzgeralds (Anyone who hasn't read Zelda Fitzgerald's Save Me The Waltz must put it on their reading list now) to shake things up again.

But the best possibile opportunity for research came last night, at the Prohibition Party. This event was so fabulous, so decadent, so utterly thrilling that I simple have to write about it, without of course, disclosing too much information as the event was "strictly hush-hush, what what."

Having convinced three of my nearest and dearest girlfriends that this was an unmissable event, we spent a good four hours primping and preening, finally arriving at the location, which was only revealed two weeks before the night.

And boy, am I glad we put in the leg-work. The place was a seething mass of feather boas and sequins, and even the "chaps" seemed to be good sports - decking themselves out in braces and spats. The atmosphere was sublime: a pop up bar, casino tables (for which we were given "money" on entry) and the glorious pleasure of a live band, donning fez hats and crooning twenties tunes like nobody's business. The highlightof these was a rendition of "Oobedo, I wanna be like you-o-o" (think Jungle Book) which got the whole crowd moving.

The best part of it was that everyone was totally in to it. There was not a single person in "civvies" and it was certainly the friendliest bunch of people I've ever met.

That said, there was one moment of "beef" in which I thought I was going to have to get out the old guns.
You know the scenario: a crowded space, groups of girls dancing in a circle, one bumps into another and a subtle game of elbowing ensues. A charming young lady behind us decided to initiate this game by repeatedly elbowing my friend in the back. Unfortunately for her, she picked the wrong person to deal with. Ellie doesn't take shit. She's Northern.

Thus, Ellie began to do the "backward back nudge," an age-old retaliation manouvere which involves shimmying one's upper body into said opponent's general vicinity. Always one for a fight, I decided to join in, but the funny thing was, my interchange seemed to occur only with the opponent's friend, in a sort of non-related version of a "Yo Mamma" slinging match. Sample:

Moi: Eh, could you kindly ask your friend to stop elbowing mine? Thanks
Opponent's Friend: Hey, tell your friend it's nice to dance, but not into someone.
Moi: Maybe you should tell your friend that
O's F: Maybe your friend should back off
Moi: Your friend clearly has an attitude problem


Ok, so it didn't get that far, and things calmed down before there was any physical violence, which I'm quite glad about, because I have a height complex where I believe that I'm actually the world's tallest women, until I look in a mirror and realise I'm roughly the size of a ten-year and could probably be stepped on fairly easily.

Hardly in the spirit of night, but it's all in the name of research, right?

Friday, 19 February 2010

Intern Eats Free: Guerilla Burgers

Ok, so technically my blog should be work-experience-related, but as I am an undeniable foodie, and as I have had an experience interesting enough to blog, I thought, "What the hey." It's my blog, so I get to make up the rules.

Working for no pay, I clearly have no money. Neither did most of the friends who came with me last night to the launch of Guerilla Burgers in Marylebone, who included 1 law student, 1 MA student and 1 Mphil student. Hence, the free tit bits offered to us were like manna from Heaven.

And the place wasn't too bad either.

Let me start by saying that I am not a fan of burgers. I don't eat red meat. Just the thought of McDonalds brings me out in hives. I don't do fries.

But, in the interest of all things new and shiny, I decided to give Guerilla Burgers a go. And reader, I'm glad I did.

Having spoken to the lovely Vikki via Twitter, I secured a place for my nearest and dearest at 8pm. I know, I know, what has the world come to when we meet people online before face-to-face (indeed, this was how my father ended up having an affair, but that's another story for another time).

As soon as we opened the doors to Guerilla Burgers, we were hit with a blast of atmosphere. The red, white and blue graffiti-d decor was fun and so new you could smell the paint, and the 'choons were so loud you could barely hear yourself think. In a good way. In true burger-shack style, much of the seating was booth style, and the tables were set with cute condiment-filled buckets. I felt like I'd been transported to some beach-side dive in Southern California, and kept expecting to see surfers coming in covered in sand, which is an indication of how good the "theme" was, as I was in the middle of London and it was pissing it down outside.

Indeed, our waiter seemed like he'd swallowed a good few mouthfulls of seawater in his life time - an ageing hippie type with a top knot and bushy ginger beard. And of course the requisite surfer dude accent (I'm hoping this wasn't just put on to fulfil my fantasy). We were immediately offered drinks - a fair choice of beers, cider, wine and soft drinks which I was more than happy with, having expected it just to be beer, and I still can't get over the fact that beer tastes like wee.

On to what I'm sure the bit you're all waiting for: The Food. I had been prepared not to be able to eat anything due to my fries and red meat aversion, so was pleasently surprised to be offered a turkey burger alternative, as well as the choice of both sweet potato and crinkly fries.

For the meat eaters at the table, a plate of "skaters" arrived: mini burgers with a choice of spicy tomato or tarragon dressing. I personally think skaters are a fab idea and a unique selling point: they go with the fun, laid back attitude of Guerilla Burgers, as well making the experience very interactive. The crinkly fries arrived, fat and piping hot, and I was assured by all that both they and the burgers were "eeexcellent" (said in Bill and Ted voice).

Obviously, I can't vouch for these, but what I can tell you about is the turkey burgers and sweet potato fries. Served in a little metal dish, the burger meat was juicy and tender, and I loved the seeded-ness of the bun (I'm sure that makes it healthier, right?). But oh my goodness, the sweet potato fries! I think they were on our table for about 5 seconds before the table devoured the entire bowl and begged Surfer-Waiter for seconds. They were un-greasy, well salted and thick, with just the right amount of crunchiness to them. Just thinking about them is making me hungry, which is surprising, as I've just had breakfast. The salad that came with the burgers didn't go down as well as the others, possibly due to the conncotion of ingredients: beetroot, tangerine, apple and walnuts seemed an odd combo. If we were paying, I probably would have sent it back, but then I probably wouldn't have ordered it in the first place, so no harm no foul.

The whole experience was fun: we definitely outstayed our welcome and were in danger of eating them out of house and kitchen, as we kept ordering more food until we were gently and politely told by Mr Surfer that it wouldn't be fair to the other customers if they gave us more than anyone else.

The best thing about Guerilla Burgers, aside from the food, is its strong brand identity, which is full-on without becoming gimmicky. Everything fits from the menu to the decor to the music, which is so important in a market so saturated with mundanity. The one comment I would say is that not all of us were big fans of the "House Rules":

Obviously just a bit of fun, but one friend pointed out that it's not great to have negatives like this on a menu.

Having said that, we left feeling sated and happy, with the definite promise to come again to try their whole menu, and this, I can safely say, makes Guerilla Burgers a success in my books. Maybe now I'll be a burger convert...

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Run Rabbit, Run Rabbit, run run run...

So, for the last week I have been running for a film company. Probably one of my least favourite jobs. And when I say "job" a place I turn up to from 10 - 6, for which I am given travel and lunch expenses.

See, media companies are very savvy, especially in "these credit crunched times" (I had to get that expression in somewhere, it's like a global tick, along with "the state of the economy"). What they have realised, is that (a) young people need a way into the industry, (b) if they are told that the only way to get this "in" is by schleping around and doing the jobs no one else will do, they are happy to this for no money. Factor (c) is that these companies like to waste as little time and money as possible, and so a runner is a cost-effective way of having someone for free to post letters / get their lunches / wipe their arses.

I find the Indian expression "Chai wallah" a succinct sumation of this role. It means "tea-bringer." See The Ancient Art of Tea Making.

Runners, like their Olympic equivalents, must be in peak physical condition: a lazy runner is an oxymoron. So, here are my top tips for runner success (cue theme tune from Rocky):

1. Always have breakfast
This may be the only meal of the day you have until you collapse, quivering, back home. Runners don't get lunch-breaks. They are too busy getting everyone else's lunch. So in case it's one of those days where it's 4 o'clock before you get the chance to sit down, it's important to prepare yourself properly for the day.
It's an old adage, but my personal choice is always porridge: so stodgy that it is sure to coat your stomach and prevent any rumbling tummies. And tea. Good to get the caffeine in early, and plus by the end of the day you will have made so many cups of the stuff you'll be sick of the sight of it.

2. Vitamins
Along with breakfast, I like to start the day with a potent cocktail of Reddoxon Vitamin C and Berocca. It makes your pee bright orange, which I think makes you part super hero. If that's not enough, I like to chomp my way through a packet of Lucozade or Dextro tablets. If you don't like the feeling of you heart beating so fast you think it'll pull an Alien, I find Red Kooga a more gentle solution. However, if this is the case, I would like to add that you are a pussy, and should probably just quit while you're ahead. And no, I am not being endorsed by Boots, they just happen to stock all the good shit.

3. Weight Training
Yes, you may laugh, especially if you know that I am particularly small for my age (i.e. an adult), but I like to think that I have guns of steel (the operative words here being, "I like to think"). You will be asked to carry things you have never considered carrying in your life. I was once asked to carry a television from the depths of Holborn to Covent Garden; at the time I had to decline, knowing that even I didn't have the upper body strength to do this, but if I had upped the weight training, I could have totally done it (she says, looking in optimistic hindsight). If you don't have time to go to the gym, here's my solution: at some point in the day, you will be burdened with a load of plastic bags, filled with goodies for the execs: use these to your advantage, my friend. Simply places the handles across your hands, palms facing down, bags towards the floor, and there you have it, an instant biceps crucnch. And lift, and down, and lift, and down. People may look at you funny, but hey, you're serving a higher purpose.

4. A Fully Charged Ipod
It goes with the territory (and the name), that as a runner you will spend a large part of your day walking around. This can get boring. The music helps. Plus, if you put on some loud, obnoxious music you can (a) drown out the pain of your feet, (b) walk faster and get the job done quickly (c) pretend you're in the movie of your life, and this is your soundtrack. At least that's what I do.

5. Clothing
Dress in layers. You know that feeling when you've been wrapped up against the cold, and then you get inside and the frostbite suddenly makes you feel like it's a hundred degrees? You're going to get that a lot. Dressing in layers can alleviate this problem. I always like to wear a t-shirt or top of some variety (or dress, I do like dresses) with a thin layer like a cardigan for inside, but always have a hoodie to put on under my coat when going on a run. If it's cold, a scarf and some kind of hat can help, and plus if it suddenly starts snowing (no joke with the weather at the moment), more of your body is protected. Ditto for gloves, and plus they shield you from the cutting pain of plastic bags. And girls, don't bother with nail polish, your nails will be a mess by mid-week, either from the endless washing up, or from the habit you will develop of biting them down to the nail-bed with nervous energy (see Vitamins)

I hope some of this helps any potential breakers-into-the-industry. If this puts you off, I'd say don't do it: the only way to get through being a runner is to keep your head down, rise above, and look forward to that glorious day when you have your very own runners to feed and water you.
Only joking. I will never do that.

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