Silly Skills I wish I had

Lock-picking, with which I mean the hairpin-lock picking kind. How cool would that be? So useful too, if not slightly illegal. Imagine: drunken night out, can’t find keys, not a problem… until you find yourself in the wrong house. Oops. Still would like to learn, they just don’t seem to advertise these courses…

Speaking Arab or Chinese, not silly per se as this is where the future lies apparently. The latter would also mean that I would disappoint less people with the East Asian appearance but lacking East Asian substance! Arab just sounds impressive.

Play the piano. Well. Play the Piano well. Not the Frere Jacques variety. I just know I don’t have the patience, should the Play Piano Well App be invented I would kick principles aside and buy the phone. Just for that.

Make Meringues/Pavlovas. Theoretically possible, in practice this resulted in a very sticky kitchen and 24(!)over-beaten egg whites. I love Pavlovas: this made the event double sad.

Take on any accent. As some photographer once told me, it doesn’t matter what you look like : you can be any girl-next-door if you speak the language of the street.

Understand how the stockmarket works and have the guts to do it. This would help fund the next silly skill below.

The ability to walk on stilettos because they are beautiful. Like assistants, with a pair shoes you get what you pay for. Unfortunately certain people tend to pay the equal amount for both… which really only works out for you if you are an assistant to the very well heeled!

With the glasses, in black and white and a slight age difference: we still would.

Shoot a gun, Atticus style of course. Like lock-picking really, also not advisable in drunk state. I think it would be a useful skill to have, like driving a car. Which reminds me…

Parking a car decently. I am unfortunately still the female stereotype, but this is actually a skill I’m hoping to improve. Here’s hoping.

Swim properly. I can swim enough to hopefully never pull a Natalie Wood but I also don’t really like it. Maybe if I were good at it. Then again maybe not.

Have gorgeous handwriting, you know the kind that stands out. Currently it is fairly mediocre middle of the road girly round lettering.

Fly an airplane, but might have a problem trying to land the damn plane… (see parking).

Plait, Boy George Style

Make a French plait – now my arms just cramp up and my hair stills look silly. I am also worried that I’m going to have a little girl who wants to have French plaits and I am the only mother who cannot do it. Mortifying. God, I am so not ready for any alpha-mum competitions at the school gate. (Boys would be even worse – pee up standing?! How do you teach him that? He can’t even reach over the bloody toilet… Can’t they  just sit down and be less messy? I might not be allowed to become a single mum to boys, I might get sued for child abuse or end up shelling out for therapy.)

Be a wine expert. Expensive hobby but good party skill. Have a feeling this would also lessen the hangovers.

Enjoy doing nothing. Would reduce worrying and lower anxiety levels, would lower blood pressure and prolong my life with a couple of years.

But what is the use of that if you haven’t done anything?

Sunday morning 10 am

Everyone else seems still asleep.

At the table I am reading an old magazine and sipping freshly made coffee.

I have no big plans for today.

Outside the scouts are out in their little boats, complete with helmet and life jackets.

They make me think about the little boy who sat behind us in the theatre of the Barbican last night.

Totally mesmerised by the spectacle of Peter Pan by the National Theatre of Scotland.

At one point he got up from his chair and leaned so much forward I thought he might fall in my sister’s lap.

Untouched by social etiquette he  still ooh’d and aaah’d out loud at Peter’s flying antics and wondered at the little flying fire that represented Tinkerbell the Fire Fairy. ( “Is that Real Fire mum? Is it really real?”)

It was evident that he had read up on the story as you could hear him mumbling comments on the characters and actions. Perhaps this would have been annoying with anyone else but the best part was that he didn’t even seem comment consciously or to anyone in particular. He was just sucked into the story.

Nobody seemed to mind, and I noticed more than a few suppressed sniggers in our row when he cringed even louder at Mr and Mrs Darling’s celebrating a happy ending (” Eew why do they have to kiss? It’s disgusting!”)

When the play ended it was nearly 10pm but his eyes were aglow.

Last night magic happened for seat 16 row G.

Back to coffee and magazine.

I am considering putting a DVD on but perhaps not.

Maybe I’ll enjoy the silence for just a little bit longer…

Happiness – A Myth?

A couple of nights ago I saw Hans Teeuwen in the Soho Theatre. For those unfamiliar with Hans: he is a Dutch theater maker who has an absurdist kind of stand-up comedy , who is also a very accomplished piano player. His sense of humour is crass, rude and sometimes borderline wrong. It is not for the faint-hearted or easily offended.

Watching him do his show, I laughed a lot, cringed only a couple of times and mostly admired his work. He is a strange man: at times crude and harsh in his words, then he will happily skip and push his longish hair back behind his ear. He sings, he pretends not to be able to play the piano and out of chaos emerges his genius.  He plays with words, his physicality; he rolls over the floor gets himself stuck in chairs, loses his microphone; makes a joke at the expense of the technician who comes to save him and carries on.

Sometimes I find him a little too crude; getting a(n uncomfortable) laugh is just too simple. Still there is no denying it: that man is a great entertainer. Why is he good at what he does? Because he stands there unapologetically. He completely stands there showing us his craft, no doubts no awkwardness. His whole body, his whole being knows he stands there in front of an audience and he knows he is good at it, you can see he believes in it. The fact it is all an act is only revealed when he gets up from the piano and bows. Briefly he drops the entertainer part and enjoys the recognition as a man with talent.

His performance showed that despite art being subjective, quality is not; you might not like his style but he is good at what he does. Still, success is 10% talent and 90% hard work and he has definitely put his hours in. I realised that real hard work is only done when you really want something and I had to remind myself that it is ok if that something is wanting to be a writer and a performer.

Let’s face it, it is not going to save lives and I will not make a significant mark on the world per se. It is also not easy to get into and I have become used to the fact that I can pay my rent every month. With this wonderful dream comes a lot of insecurity (and yet: also that tempting freedom.)  I have had a million conversations with my mother on this subject and last week at home she admitted that despite her motto over the years: Just Believe In Yourself, ironically enough she doesn’t actually believe it herself. She doesn’t think that an unfaltering self-believe alone is going to cut it. She pointed out that there are so many other factors that play a part in succeeding, it might not be for my own lack of trying – it might just be other things that prevent success from happening. She also didn’t understand why I always had to keep aiming for the stars, only to end up disappointed over and over again. Couldn’t I just join an (amateur) dramatics group and enjoy playing with them? Keep it on the side, maybe in time things could grow from it. Whilst I appreciate her sentiment and I guess need or want to protect me, I find her philosophy hard to accept.

In fact: as much as I love my mother, I feel that this time around she is wrong.

Happiness is not a myth, I can see it around me in other people every day. Wanting to do something with your life other than it just happening to you, is not a sin. Aiming for the stars is not wrong, why should I settle for a mediocre version of own my life if it has potential for so much more? Self believe is not futile as the aforementioned conversation shows: literally no one else will do it for you.

This is my life, it is my dream and though I might still not know exactly how to get there: I am tired of apologising for it.

Plane Crash Politics

One day after the new British PM has been announced, the (wannabe) pundits come out of the virtual woodworks. Perhaps it says a lot about the people in my circle that Labour is lamented en mass on my Facebook home page.  People are shedding a tear over Gordon Brown’s final goodbye, reminiscing over his legacy (“Well, he wasn’t that bad really, he didn’t actually cause the recession.” “Ooh those little boys were so cute!” ” He was a better chancellor than PM, he seems very smart.” etc etc.) The ones who voted LibDem are cursing The Clegg for making a deal with the Devil.

People are worried everything will go back to Maggie’s days though I could not really comment on this as a) I was six when she resigned as PM and have no real collection of any event before 1990 – though my very first memory is pre- younger sister and dates from 1987 and b) being foreign my parents/family/neighbourhood has not passed down the legendary evil that this woman apparently bestowed upon the UK.

So as politics is about to change life as we know it in the UK and all the outrage we feel after a democratic election that has proven us a minority, spare a thought for a little Dutch boy.

His story is pushed below the massive picture of a solemn-looking Nick and Cameron waving outside Number 10, his story is not even mentioned in the headline or in the blurb underneath. On his way from South Africa, (Maybe on holiday? Was he excited to see where the World Cup would be held? Did he think this was the best half-term trip ever?) on his way to London Gatwick via Tripoli the plane crashed in Libya. All the other passengers died, leaving him aged 10 the sole survivor.

Emc2 my friends: life might be changing, but at least ours still goes on.

Lunchtime worries

Summer’s approaching ( though you couldn’t tell from the weather) and all the magazines headlining with your 3 week bikini-plan as well as the best bikinis for your shape. I have just returned from a week at home, where I just ate every bit Dutch food I could get my hands on, I don’t really miss it when I am in London: it was more because I could.  (My sister also describes it as the only entertainment in our small town.) So instead of dieting – which i don’t believe in (see previous entries under ‘food’); I decided to eat more sensibly.

You see I eat very often, almost or very much like grazing. I defend myself by saying I don’t eat a lot at the same time, but somehow all the little bits must add up… So come lunch time I have usually consumed breakfast as well as several pieces of chocolate, biscuits and on a bad days a packet of crisps has been known to have come my way before noon.

Lunchtime itself brings its challenges. (Let’s just note that the best thing to do is bring your own lunch in. I agree, but life just doesn’t always work that way ok?) Thus lunchtime is an endless choice of food. What to choose?

Do you go for soup and bread – cheap option, but does it actually fill you up? You might just end up snacking an hour later – and I will. I also don’t like soup that much – I prefer food you can chew: soup not a favourite.

Salads: better, as you have to chew it and you can glam it up with some tuna or chicken. Big bags of salad do mean you eat it for the rest of the week ( I also get easily bored.) and it tastes so healthy the chocolate machine beckons come 4 pm.

Sandwiches: Ah. Yes. If you look at the calorie and fat content of ready made sandwiches you’d be amazed. Mayo, butter cheese and your tiny sandwich all of a sudden contains near 600kcal. Which is 25% of your recommended daily Kcal intake. Same goes for ready made salads really, which are even sneakier: some have the calorie and fat  for a portion on them. A portion being half or even a quarter of the pack. Whilst you would really eat the whole pack because they are tiny!

Then there are the other pitfalls of food decisions:

5-a-day fruit and veg – Who really gets 5 a day every day? You really need to make a conscious effort here – maybe I should try to snack on fruit before lunch.

by photobucket A Tasty Way to Your 5-A-Day

What about the fructose content though? Doesn’t that count as sugar? (Answers on a postcard please!)

3 -a-day dairy – see above. Who thinks of these things. How much do you need to eat to get everything you need? (Does chocolate count as dairy?)

1.5 l of water a day – on top of tea and coffee? You end up going to the bathroom all the time but it makes you feel fuller and hydrated. (All very paradoxical really.)

Chicken – I read Two Caravans last week. In this book a part of the chicken-industry is described, especially chicken used for ready made meals. It is enough to make you a vegetarian if I believed in such a thing. I don’t.

Then there are all the other things you can worry about: the sat. fat, salt content, carbs, toxic light  products, organic/ non-organic, carbon footprint.

I even considered  following the yogi in India who claims he hasn’t eaten for 70 years, how amazing would that be!

[pause for thought]

Then I heard a voice in my head: “It probably means that he also hasn’t had sex for 70 years.”

God, who would have thought: the voice of reason sounds like my friend Sura.

Bittersweet goodbye

A long long time ago, in galaxy far far away, a guy and a girl both just 20 decided to write a play together. In order to do so and to make everyhing a bit more official they set up an official foundation. They pretentiously called it Dic Cur Hic? Latin for: Say, Why Are You Here? It is registered, paperwork done, website made all very official thank you very much.

How ambitious we were. The plans we made to write plays, perform them and sell them again. We wrote one play together: TRIO or survival of the fitness [no typo] Centered around a couple that has to deal with cancer when the husband gets ill, we interviewed a lot of people: hospital, patients, nurses, family members. Then we wrote our play based on the interviews. Not necessarily verbatim, but hopefully truthfully and recognisable (we were twenty! We were invincible!) In any case we learned a lot. About how press works – you cannot sell the story to a small paper, because then the bigger paper doesn’t want it anymore. About deadlines – always too tight no matter how well you plan them! About budgetting – if you spend money you don’t have, you will still have to pay for it when the profits don’t add up. About communication and working together – shouting things at each other that you cannot take back, does not help the working together. About friendship – that it is too precious to squander over ambition. ( Though I have to admit the last point took awhile.)

Because over the six years, the boy still placed a couple of succesful projects under the foundation, making back the money they put in, the girl couldn’t see what she would do with it but also couldn’t let go either.

All things come to an end, as the boy grew up and has his own company and the foundation lay gathering dust. This afternoon in a very official meeting with the treasurer and secretary, thank you very much we tallied up the money, wrote down our very last notes and took a vote: Dic Cur Hic? is no more. Official part over we had lunch and laughed.

Bittersweet are the memories, the steep learning curves and the letting go of a remnant of a life that seems a life time ago.