The 100ml rule

This weekend was spend in bonny Scotland, hence my absence from the blog. This absence could have been prolonged if my friend Sura had managed to get herself arrested. It had all started so well…

At the end of last year Sura and me actually planned ahead and booked tickets to see our lovely friend B. We had decided to fly as a 5 hour trainride seemed a bit of a challenge. This would turn out to be a bit of a saving grace with all the snow, even the fact that we flew to Prestwick which isn’t even near Glasgow turned out lucky as all other flights to Scotland were cancelled. So far so good.

As it was just an hour flight and we were just staying for a long weekend, we decided to only take handluggage and save ourselves the £20 that bloody Ryanair seems to charge for every bag you check in. It was going so smoothly: what could possibly go wrong?  Ah. Now.

Let’s put it this way:

Since 9/11 we have had to deal with the 100ml rule: you are only allowed to take 100ml of fluids in containers  which you need to carry in a clear plastic bag.  Sura has a half-full 200ml bottle of make-up remover and takes this to the security check.  Spot the mistake.

Funnily enough she was allowed to decant the branded make-up remover in a clear 100ml bottle and take the 200ml bottle with her. This obviously doesn’t make sense but as we were expected on the other side of the flight this was not followed up upon until…the flight back.

So now as part of an experiment, she tries half filled 200ml bottle  again, no she is not allowed to take it: she has to decant it. Sura does this with glee in front of the man and this is the point where I can smell what is coming. Because she is again allowed to take the empty original bottle, so she takes it to the other side of the scanner and starts to re-fill the 200ml bottle. Now, this is Prestwick – I hadn’t heard of it either – on a Monday night 10pm. We are the only ones going through security. My friend is blond, Caucasian and beautiful. Yet the female officer isn’t having it: Sura is not allowed to decant it back because this would be a security risk. The man who initially let her through is now backtracking, claiming she wasn’t allowed to take  the 200ml empty bottle even though he was happy to let her through 60 sec ago. Everyone is outraged, does she know what damage it could do to a plane? Erhm make-up remover? No never really thought about it, could they explain? That was not the point!  What if everyone did the same thing and took 10oml of make-up remover in a 200ml container? She could mix it with anything in that 200ml container, god she should really hand it in…. Lalalaaa…. After a couple of minutes of utter inadequacy security side who didn’t even confiscate the potentially dangerous liquid, Sura relents and starts to slowly pour everything back into the 100ml container…The female officer even brings some tissue as she is spilling a few drops on the side. I can see the glint in her eye, I tell you she has a strange sense of humour.

We walk through security with unlabeled clear liquid in our clear bag and spot all kinds of ‘containers’ we can buy tax free to mix and match any dangerous chemicals in. From drinks to cosmetics, all these things we can pour down the toilet ( or drink so not to waste anything), pour our unlabled 100ml liquid in – of which we can take up to 10 bottles of that will make 1l ladies and gentlemen and take on our flight.

Sura was still muttering away as we sat down in the departure lounge and she opened her handluggage to put away the clear plastic bag. There, on top of her folded clothes, lay the actually accidently forgotten bottle of cough syrup – arguably the most chemical liquid we had between us- in an opened bottle of 120ml.

Safety first kids.

I can’t help falling in love

My first love wasn’t the boy who I stalked through primary school to secondary school when he finally gave in and gave me my first kiss – that was just a project (and in the end just proof of stamina.) It wasn’t AJ from the Backstreet Boys, though that did turn into a strange obsession ( I personally blame youth). It also wasn’t John Lennon whose music and writing I grew to love. No, my first love was Elvis Presley.  If you don’t believe me, you should see my childhood bedroom and admire the pictures and the calenders on the wall.

This Friday Elvis would have been 75. There is 49 years and 11 months between us, which would have complicated a relationship as well as the fact that when my infatuation started he had been dead for over 20 years. Still I loved his voice,  the way he laughed ( I had a CD with outtakes that never made it to previous records because he started having hilarious laughing fits) and the way he sang. I had never seen him on film when I first heard his voice and I was sold.

Because first love never dies I decided to watch the special that the BBC broadcasted earlier this week: Elvis, by the Presleys. It was an interesting and very candid portrait pictured by his friends and family; specifically his ex-wife and his daughter. Priscilla who still looks scarily young, which she is – yes mother I agree 65 isn’t old- and Lisa-Marie who is just the spitting image of her dad in female form discussed the part that Elvis played in their lives.

What struck me most is how unlikable the husband Elvis was, especially to a 21st century woman. He was old-fashioned, liked his women pretty and quiet; he very much controlled his wife, whilst hanging out with the boys enjoying the bachelor life. Priscilla was still in her teens when she came to live with him and he was ten years older. She clearly adored him, very much stepped  into his life and had to go with his flow. There is one part where Priscilla explains that Elvis also had his vulnerable side away from the  crowds and his friends, the  so-called Memphis maffia, and it was that side she loved. ( The fact they had baby-talk and she wanted to mother him really was a little TMI – somebody should have talked to the editor.) Overall their life at Graceland was described as one big party: his party.

A portrait is made of a nice young man, who did well and who shared his wealth generously with people he cared about. He could be silly, vulnerable, searching for the meaning of life but he  mostly hid it behind the tough guy exterior – hanging with his boys and seeking new thrills in speed, guns and other women. He was also constantly looking for reassurance from his fans. He wanted or needed to be top dog.

According to Priscilla, the lack of her own life – she pretty much led his, Elvis’ selfishness, defensiveness and lack of responsibility for his actions led to their divorce, even though she still loved him. You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone and Elvis came back to her, calling her, visiting her at ungodly hours of the night telling her he missed her and his daughter but…. This is where you have to admire the woman who spent most of her adult life adoring this superstar, married him, who gave birth to his daughter, who probably did everything she could to keep him happy, even she admitted: Nothing changed. He didn’t change. Nicely illustrated by a clip of  Elvis laughing mockingly ( dude- it is you who is wearing the jumpsuit!) when asked what he thinks of women’s liberation on a 1970’s pressconference and he has ‘no comment on those kind of social issues.’

So did this program leave me crestfallen to see a man from a different angle? Not really, it made him more human. No man, no person is black and white; personally people can be different than professionally and things that initially attract you to someone can turn into the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The program did show me a different side to Priscilla who always seemed a bit of a push-over and who is still kind of syrupy sweet. I guess being married to Elvis and divorcing him cannot have made you very popular so to still protect his name and legacy with love is admirable. Cynics might say calculating, keeping her image up and her in the money. Sometimes I do wonder if she doesn’t have a little bitchiness behind her very smooth pokerface- come on, how do you keep all the other women out and you as the one he comes home to?! – and the fact that she has made her own career, making her a very successful entrepreneur. Still I like to give her the benefit of the doubt.  For me Priscilla managed to paint something recognisable, despite all the flashy cars, the superstar whims and tantrums: they had a relationship, a life together and they loved each other in all its complicated ways. I want to believe in that, plus I mean it is not like she split up the Beatles or something…

Anyway moral of the story: Don’t do drugs kids – they are bad for you.


In the midst of the Is Sherlock Gay or Not ( Really does anyone care?) I was reminded of the buzz about Robert 

copyright wireimage


Downey Jr that went through the office before the film opened. Who was this man and could we make passionate love, have his offspring, raise a family, grow old and die in his arms of happiness; if not we still would. ( Ah yes, I work in a female environment – though I am sure some of the boys would too. Think about it Ms Plunket! Also think someone might be winding you up…) 

Robert Downey Jr. He is seen as a little bit of gentleman rough, apparently a feat appealing to all ages.  Luckily having a sister who is on the ball waaaaaay before anyone else is ( see previous post), I was introduced to Bob years ago.  My sister used to follow the cult-hit lawyer show Ally McBeal; it was genius and insane. The dialogue in the unisex toilets, the impromptu dance routines and the sing alongs during post-work drinks.  In the series Robert played Larry, Ally’s love interests.  On this show Robert showed his skills as an actor and as a singer/ musician ( mostly exhibited during the post-work drinks; duet with Sting anyone? and one schmaltzy Christmas episode. Years later he has even made an album The Futurist filled with jazz like songs which I would highly recommend.) 

My personal favourite  is Robert as Charlie Chaplin in Richard Attenboroughs Chaplin (1992) His physicality is stunning, especially considering what he had to live up to.  it got him a well deserved Oscar nomination, unfortunately followed by the inevitable years of shite. You know I mean, well chosen roles in quirky/edgy/fringe films or such in order to step away from the soul destructing capitalism that is Hollywood… I actually prefer him selling his soul: Ally was great, Iron Man  was a hit, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was actually quite amusing and Tropic Thunder was… well different but got him his second Oscar nomination now resulting in bigger and better roles. Again consider what he had to work with: as a Caucasian he played a black man! Unthinkable in our world of PC ( not Mac – joke) let alone in America where people are sueing the likes of God. Why? Surely God might be a little bit too busy to show in court… 

Despite all his achievements, Robert has proven he wasn’t God or too busy (shamelessly contrived bridge- apologies to reader) During his Ally years he also saw the courtroom from the wrong side. He was arrested a couple of times on drug charges and consequently imprisoned for it.  I remember feeling sad seeing the tv images of him standing in an orange overall and shackled – not in a good way…  

Still: the rough edge of the artiste! So wrong and yet according to unofficial popular office poll, so right! Is he a complicated man or just a thesp with a knack for addication- who knows, who cares.  His demons are for his wife to worry about ( Sorry Mrs Downey Jr- I sure hope you know what you signed up for)  for the rest of us; we can but hope that the mainstream devil’s got him by the throat.

Perfect First Day

It was close to midnight and the pre-emptive textmessages and phone calls came trickling in… Well wishes from London, Antwerp, Dublin and Paris. People partying in cool bars, fancy restaurants, or snuggled up on the sofa with partners, or playing boardgames with friends, taking time to contact me. It just showed how friendship comes in different shapes and forms; friends do not need to be near you to still be close.

Still as the clock struck twelve I knew I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else than around the campfire just outside a small town with that great group of friends around me.

Happy New Year Everyone! Bring on 2010!