Royally Good Advice

As I’m sure everybody is aware by now, I am incredibly classy. Therefore it will come as no surprise to anybody that I spent the first evening of the week kickin’ it with my friends in the royal box at the opening night of a new production by the Royal Ballet. My ticket sources must be kept top secret, because the secrets of my high-flying lifestyle (*cough*I won a competition*cough*) are all part of the mystique.

The scene of my pacing and snarling, only this time seen from above through a haze of house wine and appreciation at the punctuality of my cohort.

The scene of my pacing and snarling, only this time seen from above through a haze of house wine and appreciation at the punctuality of my cohort. Sidebar: All London views are improved by a white van in one corner, and portaloos in the other.

It began in classic ‘evening out with Nicola’ style. I was over keen – dragging myself and Fiancé to Covent Garden miles too early – and then pacing up and down outside the front door, snarling about how all of my friends are useless and never arrive anywhere on time. ‘On Time’ in my vocabulary meaning half an hour before the actual time we agreed on. But I was dressed for the ballet, so at least I was pacing and snarling stylishly.

I was pleasantly surprised when everybody arrived on time (which they pretty much always do – I don’t know why I have such a complex about punctuality) and the evening went off without a hitch. And now, as an experienced person, I present to you my newly-tested advice for how to behave at an incredibly posh event:

1) Realise immediately that if it’s a nice place you won’t be able to afford to eat, so find a restaurant nearby that sells £4.50 burgers and £4.50 cocktails in a rainbow of unnatural colours, and can have you in and out in 45 minutes. Not only will this mean you can finally untwist your knickers about being on time for the show, but you will achieve a record for completing the full ‘restaurant activity’ checklist. For the uninitiated, that’s basically a sly perve on at least three waiters, and being a bit mean about the people at tables around yours. Because you are classy.

2) Upon arrival at the ballet, saunter through the building to the royal box, flashing your tickets to every single person at every possible opportunity, while loudly complaining that you’d never be able to afford to pay £7 for a programme.

3) Stop dead in the corridor outside the door to the royal box in order to Instagram the sign on the door that says ‘royal box’. Yes, it is just a piece of paper that’s been jaggedly cut out and framed, but it’s also so much more than that. It is a way to declare your status to strangers on the internet and that cannot be undervalued.

What? IT@S BECAUSE I'M FANCY.

What? IT@S BECAUSE I’M FANCY.

4) Enter the royal box (smutty) and immediately demand that somebody take a photo of you doing a royal wave in the general direction of the serfs who had to pay for their tickets.

5) Get told off by your friends several times for not keeping your voice down when describing everybody in the stalls as ‘peasants’. Apparently it’s not so noisy in the auditorium that they can’t hear you. Feel surprised at the breadth of your own vocabulary – it turns out you know a lot of different ways of calling people poor.

6) After the first act of the ballet, leave a respectable gap after the applause stops and the lights come up (probably three seconds or so) before you say ‘well, I had no idea what was going on. Did you?’ Repeat after second and third acts. Other acceptable topics of conversation include ‘I can’t believe how muscly those women are, they look amazing’, ‘If I could get my leg up that high I’d be so much more popular’, and ‘Is that Angela Rippon?’.

Fancy people take pictures of fancy windows. I don't know why, we just do.

Fancy people take pictures of fancy windows. I don’t know why, we just do.

You are so lucky to have me to guide you through these precarious social situations. Now, go forth and impress.

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Reasons ‘Cats’ made me cry

I think it’s wholly unnecessary for me to say that Cats is an amazing show (which I happened to see at the weekend) because a) I can’t stand people who feel compelled to give their opinions on the internet because nobody cares and b) I think it’s been said quite enough in, like, every newspaper. And that’ll do the trick. At this point I’m not exactly going to help ALW’s seat sales because I’m pretty sure there aren’t that many left to sell. So, instead, please find below a list of all the reasons Cats made me cry because, ooh, it was emosh:

1. I last saw it as a 6-9 year old (all children look the same to me so I have no idea how old I was, but suffice it to say that it was somewhere between my birth in 1989, and the show closing in 2002). What have I done with myself since then? All I’ve really managed is to get too old to still be living like I do, and become a very mildly successful internet comedy person. I don’t think 6-9 year-old-or-possibly-older-or-younger me would be thrilled. Where the fuck is my mansion, my parrot, and my paediatric career (I do not know why I wanted to be a paediatrician when I was still very much in the remit of somebody who would go to one herself, but I think it says quite a lot about my perceived superiority at the time…)?

2. I skipped the gym that morning. And most of the previous week. And the 18 months before that. Seeing super-fit ‘cats’ in skin tight lycra, whose legwarmers are fatter than them and whose ankles can touch their ears, works wonders for the self-esteem.

3. Ooh, the music.

5. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE TOUCH NICOLE SCHERZINGER?! It’s so easy to leave her all alone with the memory of her days in the sun. But if you touch her you’ll understand what happiness is and she might stop tugging on my heartstrings for half a minute. Bawling.

6. I definitely cried when I reenacted the role of Grizabella while in shower later that evening. Because I get very method in the bathroom. I also cried when I kicked a high shelf during my version of one of the dance scenes. It was partly out of relief that I could still get my leg that high, and partly because of the internal bleeding. Either way, not a dry eye at the sink.

As a former Front of House person of many years, it hurt me to the very core of my being to take a photo in the auditorium. But apparently I'm just a maverick now. Somebody stop me.

As a former Front of House person of many years, it hurt me to the very core of my being to take a photo in the auditorium. But apparently I’m just a maverick now. Somebody stop me.

 

Happy Monday!*

*Lies.

 

It’s Getting Hot(el) in Here

Sometimes you find yourself in the situation where you just know you’re a fish out of water. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but at the same time you just know you don’t belong where you are and at any second you could be found out and promptly thrown out. This happened to me last weekend when I went away to a fancy hotel, only to realise it was a really fancy hotel, with the kind of fancy people I don’t know how to behave around. With that experience in mind I thought it was a good idea to set out my tips for how to behave when you’re out of your depth in a posh hotel. Because one day we’ll all be there.

Posh building full of posh people. Huge potential for awkwardness.

Posh building full of posh people. Huge potential for awkwardness.

Tip #1: The second you open the door to your room, begin charging from one side to the other (since it’s a nice hotel with large rooms, this may take you a while) and exclaim really loudly about all of the things. “Ooh, look at the size of the bed!”, “Look at the size of the TV!”, “Look at the size of the shower!”. It’s what all the other guests will definitely have done, because rich people don’t have giant widescreen TVs and king-size beds either.

Lots of space for running around and yelling inappropriately because you just can't be cool.

Lots of space for running around and yelling inappropriately because you just can’t be cool.

Tip #2: When, after five minutes of being there, you realise you’ve forgotten your hairbrush, don’t panic. Do spend the next fifteen minutes frantically trying to comb it with your fingers, putting it up and trying to convince it to stay there, and inventing new scarf-or-hat-based hair coverings so that nobody sees the really obvious sign that you don’t have your shit together.

Tip #3: Similarly, when you realise you’ve forgotten to bring your razor, you should know that it’s such a nice place they’ll probably be able to supply you with one, but choose not to phone the desk, because you don’t want to admit you’re a mess. Trousers it is, then, for the entire break. Here’s hoping you don’t spill your dinner with your usual frequency.

Chillin' on a bridge. Purely because it was there.

Chillin’ on a bridge. Purely because it was there.

Tip #4: Use all the facilities. No, you don’t usually go to the gym, but do it just this once. Even though you’re probably just going to bounce up and down on an exercise ball in the corner and eyeball the men lifting weights. It’s included in the price of the room, therefore you must spend time there. Also make use of the sauna. And if you happen to end up in a man-sandwich with an elderly Italian and a camp man in tiny trunks then so be it. Style it out like you know what you’re doing. And where you should look. And how long you’re supposed to cook yourself.

Tip #5: Suddenly get into reading the papers. All of the papers. Because they’ll provide them for free and just think of all that litter tray lining you’ll be able to do when you get back!

But this is all just my two cents. What would you do to make sure a fancy place didn’t find out that you’re really a peasant? I’m always looking to up my game…

Happy Friday!

 

Dim Sum: A Sum-mary

With their shared seating, communal food, and insistence that tea should be served in an eggcup from an iron thing that weighs about as much as a kettle bell, the dim sum restaurant is a social minefield. Fortunately, I am here to clear that minefield, guiding you to safe passage and stress-free, steamy dumplings. Which, let’s face it, are the only kind of dumplings worth hearing about.

 

Not gonna lie, I got through nearly my whole meal before I thought 'I should be a good blogger and take a photo'. These are my last ones. I am not a natural food blogger.

Not gonna lie, I got through nearly my whole meal before I thought ‘I should be a good blogger and take a photo’. These are my last ones. I am not a natural food blogger.

#1: Sit with your companions for at least forty minutes at the start of the meal while you all awkwardly try to bring up the fact that you don’t want to share. Fail miserably. End up sharing and secretly despising each other.

#2: Pretend to read the menu even though you know you’re getting the same thing you get every time.

#3: Join in enthusiastically with a conversation about how great all the steamed options are, even though you know you’re getting the fried stuff.

#4: Talk to the people you came with for 10 minutes and then spend the next three hours ignoring them in favour of eavesdropping on all of the other people at your table. That’s what shared tables are for. It’s to save the restaurant having to provide entertainment.

What? It's modern art...

What? It’s modern art…

#5: Make such a mess of the order sheet that even you don’t know what you asked for. When the waiters try to help decipher it, nod along with whatever they say. And then enjoy your prawns. You hate prawns.

Skillz.

Skillz.

#6: If you drop food down yourself because you’re bad at using chopsticks it is perfectly acceptable to have a subtle feel around in your lap. When you find a big, sticky lump, sneak it into your mouth when people aren’t looking. Then hope to god that it is, indeed, food.

#7: Snatch the order sheet away from the waiter as they offer to take it away because your food’s arrived. You know you’ll want seconds. And by ‘seconds’, I mean ‘fourths’.

#8: Try not too talk too much about how badly you’d like to have a nap inside a char sui bun one day.

That's mine on the right. And only my seconds. Food = love.

That’s mine on the right. And only my seconds. Food = love.

#9: Hold your head up high when your individual stack of baskets is three times taller than that of the family of four sitting on the next table. That is just because you are cultured, and a culinary adventurer.

#10: Steal the tiny pencils they give you to mark off your order. Because if it weren’t for dim sum restaurants and Argos, nobody would ever own stationery.

So now you know. I hope that you can go forth and dim sum with ‘sum’ more confidence. How many times can I talk about steamy dumplings before it becomes inappropriate?

Happy Friday!

Green Juice is “Awesome”!

Mmm... Green...

Green juice is amazing1. It’s become a trend over the past year2, and with good reason3. The sheer variety of vegetables4 you can sneak in there is staggering5. There’s a whole load of different recipes out there6, and ferocious7 debate about what the best method is to get the good stuff in you – shop bought8? Blender9? Cold-press juicer10?

Once that decision is made, you’re well on the way to enjoying11 all of the benefits that come from downing12 glasses of the good stuff. These include anti-ageing effects13, increased energy14, and clearer skin15. It’s a fantastic way to start your day right16!

And not only does it do all of that, it helps you live longer17!


 

 

1 It is amazing how one container can hold so much digustingness.
2 Because people need something on Instagram that balances out all of the cakes and coffee.
3 Everyone is a show-off.
4 As long as they are green and only green.
5 Staggering in how ineffective it actually is to try and hide any vegetables behind, like, a squeeze of lime and a prayer.
6 Each one grosser than the last.
7 Or as ferocious as people can possible get when they’re running on watered-down snot.
8 If you’re made of money.
9 If you’re made of money.
10 If you’re made of money.
11 This is physically impossible, so don’t feel too bad.
12 If you can down this, you must have a non-existent gag reflex and, not to cast aspersions, be very popular.
13 The facial exercise you get from pulling involuntary disgusted faces is invaluable in toning the muscles.
14 It’s amazing how fast you can suddenly run when someone offers you a grassy beverage.
15 You’re basically drinking a face mask, after all, and it tastes like every bit of it.
16 SO is this:

A pile of delicious bacon.

A pile of delicious bacon.

17 I, for one, choose early death.

Cuppa Soup For Hipsters

Being a savvy and experimental office worker, I try to vary what I have for lunch as much as humanly possible. By which I mean, I often make a lunch to take with me and then forget it, so I have to improvise when I get there. Fortunately, by way of a gift bag at a posh event, I recently came across a product called ‘Miso Tasty’. It’s basically a cuppa soup for hipsters.

So many instructions, so little soup.

So many instructions, so little soup.

The steps are many and complicated, opening the maker up to ridicule from colleagues in their tiny work kitchen, and perfect for the kind of people who would generally describe themselves as Foodies. Of which I am not one.

Looks deelish.

Looks deelish.

To begin with you squeeze the a small tube of paste into the bottom of whatever vessel is being used. For me, that resulted in a stage I chose to call ‘dump in a mug’.

After adding water, you stir for exactly 5 seconds. No more, no less, on pain of a slap on the wrist from the instruction fairy. You then add the sachet of various (non-dodgy) powders and teeny green bits and leave for exactly 1 minute. Instruction fairy again.

All the cool kids can get by on 37 calories.

All the cool kids can get by on 37 calories.

After which you can sit down and enjoy your steaming mug of 37 calories, safe in the knowledge that you’ve already burned twice that while making the thing, and looking forward to an afternoon energy slump in all of twelve and half minutes time.

Then comes the drama. I’m not sure who else has read ‘Day of The Triffids’ (Don’t get me wrong, I know loads of people have read ‘Day of The Triffids’, but I just mean I don’t know how many people who are reading this have also read that) but these humongous plants appeared out of nowhere. I was innocently stirring my hipster potion when I noticed giant green things on the spoon. I did not add giant leaves at any point, so where the effing hell did they spring from? At that point I cried ‘witchcraft’, decided I didn’t want to get Triffided at my desk, and dumped the rest down the sink. Of course, the giant and continuously-growing green bits did not go down the sink prompting mental images of myself freeing the world from our plant-y overlords once they truly take hold. I’m ready, folks.

The instructions *did* say something about a thing called 'wakame' 'unfurling'. I frowned a bit and ignored it because I'm a bad person.

The instructions *did* say something about a thing called ‘wakame’ ‘unfurling’. I frowned a bit and ignored it because I’m a bad person. But seriously, are they TARDIS leaves? Because there was nothing anywhere near that size that went in and I’m still having nightmares.

I am a wuss, and I will never be a hipster foodie. Though before shit started unfurling and trying to climb out of the mug and take over humanity (slight exaggeration, but only slight), the soup was quite nice.