Monday, 28 November 2011

Catering for Zombies

Ok so if you read this blog you are probably used to the surreal (and the downright ridiculous) but even I (after many years of living with 'this life') sometimes pause and look back at the day in hand and think 'huh? That's not for real right?'.

But it always bloomin well is.

Last week I had tickets to a gig to see two bands play quite a long way away.  I was taking Badger Girl. She had her outfit sorted and everything (I have a feeling of loss that I will never see it).

But the day before she called me (just as I came off a 12 hour shift and was stood in the neon glow of the doorway of the only Chinese Takeaway in town open on a Tuesday night).

Badger Girl: 'Stick?'

Me: 'Who else?'

Badger Girl: 'Stick you OK?'

Me: 'Yeah I seem to be losing my voice but it's OK - the world will rejoice'.

Badger Girl: 'Stick, I'm really sorry - there's something I've got to tell you.....'

Me: 'It's Ok, don't worry, whatever it is it doesn't matter' (I already know she can't come and it's fine, I'm really not worried, it's no big thing).

Badger Girl: 'I can't come to the gig because we've got to do the catering for a Hollywood Zombie Film being filmed somewhere in the countryside near Shepton Mallet. It's got Corey Feldman in. COREY FELDMAN! Though I've looked him up on the internet and he's gone downhill since I had him on my wall. I think it must have been drugs. It said he'd been through 'difficult times' - that'll be drugs right? I think he's demanding too. That's probably also the drugs.  I think he actually will be demanding.  Oh and also there is the kid in it who was the kid in Terminator. You know the one out of Terminator 2? The film with Arnie? Well anyway he's gonna be there.  In Shepton Mallet!! Only he's a grown up now. Obviously.

Me: 'Hmmm (whilst eyeing the Chinese menu through the window and trying to work out whether chow mein or special rice is better value) that is kind of crazy'.

Badger Girl: 'Anyway we've got to do all of them breakfast, lunch and dinner and it's nuts and we have to get up at 3am every day and go to bed at midnight and it's a lot of sausages to prep....;

Door opens - anxious looking man asks if he can help me. I tell him I'll let him know.

Me: Erm, it's Ok.  Really it is OK (thinking to myself - I love Badger Girl.  I really do love her. For all she brings to my life and making me feel sane. Every single week. And who knew? Really who knew that Zombie's were running wild outside Shepton Mallet but still need 3 meals a day and prefer paella to human blood).

We hang up.

I go into the Chinese. Strangely drawn by the Formica and odd photographic calendars and pictures of pandas and bamboo and wipe clean plastic and the way it all attaches itself to several decades of 'life as we have known it'.  Despite being supposedly foreign it's about as familiar to parts of life as you can get it.  And it's not about to change. I appreciate that.  The lack of change.  When everything else changes, your bog standard local Chinese tends not to.

I order two random dishes and sit down to try and glean something interesting from the local free paper (a past time which we all know is fruitless).

And then I wonder what I'm going to do about the gig. I text my brother but he's busy with work.  I deduce that the best thing to do is write it off and not go.  Not much lost.

But then the next day - hours before my supposed departure I wonder what my dad would have done and realise he would have said 'book a last minute hotel, get on the bloody train and enjoy yourself'.

And so I do.

I stay in a rather odd hotel with curtains that appear made from the pelts of Teddy Bears and a 7th storey toilet with a floor to ceiling window looking over the city (which is great until you realise, mid-flow, all the other buildings are several storeys taller and people can, literally, look down on you as you go about your business).

I go to the gig and sing along and don't even get squashed or hit or molested or covered in Carling. This is a first.  Clearly I should travel alone more often.

But then I wake up in the night and discover 3 things:

1. The Teddy Bear Pelt/Panoromic Poo View hotel room has no actual heating. Yup NO heating and it's COLD.  Beyond cold. I'm shaking all over.

2. My throat has swollen shut and there is drool running down my chin because I can't swallow.

3. My throat really has swollen shut and I can only emit a feint 'eek eeek' noise - not unlike a hungry guinea pig. I can not talk. At all.

By the morning the situation had worsened.  I check out via a series of clicks and eeks - like a Killer Whale informing his brotherhood to destroy a seal pup.

The receptionist looks highly alarmed and draws me a map to the nearest pharmacy whilst frantically pointing at EXIT.

And thus - quite some walk later - I find myself in a BOILING hot branch of Boots in a foreign city carrying a heavy bag and wearing a heavy coat and holding two bottles of coke and queuing at the pharmacy.  There are a dozen very old and very frail people ahead of me and one pharmacist...... The wait goes on.....Sweat is running down my brown...... My head is fizzing.......People are talking about the weather..... I need to take my coat off but I can't work out how.... I need to put down my bag and this coke....but I can't seem to get there.....Wooo hhhhhhh oooooo aaaaa....


I hear a bang and see my coke bouncing across the floor. At eye level.  Hmm I am on the floor.  It appears I've fainted.

I try to get up, quickly, but hordes of otherwise bored and quite ill people have found their new distraction  And the problem is - I can't speak.  I can't just say 'oohh sorry folks! Oh how embarrassing! Let me get up a minute!!'.


 So as I'm asked 'are you OK?'....'do you want us to call anyone....?' 'can you get up?'.... all I can do is 'eek'.

Gesticulating wildly I flap whilst people recoil in horror.  'Do you need an ambulance?' one of them carefully mouths.

It is by now clear that I am not just on the floor. I am obviously on the floor and have bigger problems than even that.  And I might even be drunk. Or on drugs.  Or foreign.  OR a drunk, drugged up foreigner! Whatever it is I need to be spoken to VERY VERY SLOWLY WITH BIG MOUTHS. Coz that always helps.  Doesn't it?


Anyway by sheer brute force I finally managed to make enough sense to say I'd got too hot and after an enforced 'time out' on a chair I'm allowed to skip the queue and purchase some throat medicine.

And a few hours later I'm home with one child watching freight trains on the internet and the other one sporting a face like raw meat where he's 'fallen over' at school to the point where he's had to be collected.  Again.

And I sit there and think 'huh? Did that all really just happen? The Zombie Film? The chow mein? The curtains? The throat? The floor in Boots? The being stuck at a signal light somewhere outside Weston Super Mare?'.

But it did.

And if you see the grown up kid out of Terminator in a Zombie film any time soon you can at least say that you know someone, off the internet like, who knows the person who served him his bacon butty and that the friend (not the one who served the bacon butty) fainted the very same day.

Fame at last......but I think I'd rather stay at home with the freight trains.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Strand Tests are for Wimps

Many years ago this blog started with me searching the internet for ways to save cream coloured cushions from a tsunami of red wine - I think I ended up soaking them in litres of milk - so it seems quite fitting that several years later history was pretty much repeating itself, only this time I wasn't scouring the internet for red wine/stain solutions but red hair/stain/I look like Sharon Osbourne solutions.

Some people get their thrills by partaking in adrenaline pumping sports.  Some people escape via the X Box. Some people get drunk and start fights (please, don't mention Birmingham). Some people leap off tall buildings attached to parachutes or plunge from cranes attached to pieces of elastic.  Women like me stuck at home with small children on a damp cold evening seek out that illusive thrill, that sense of 'what if?', that stepping into the void by.......

... well by dying their hair without doing the strand test.

Apparently 98% of callers to 'Hair Dye Manufacturer's Help Lines' answer 'no' to the 'but did you do a strand test question?'.  The other 2% are either lying or gaining background history for their 'My Hair Dye Caused My Face to Explode Like a Pumpkin' story in Take a Break.

Anyway needless to say I've never done a strand test in my life. Just as I never read instructions properly or terms and conditions or put the butter in the fridge or put my driving glasses on until it's dark.  And hey, you know, it's only hair! It's not like it really matters....

My hair first got dyed when I was about 14.  It was Badger Girl that did it (Quelle Surpise). I was having a sleep over at her house (only they weren't called sleep over then - it was just 'staying at your mate's house') and she'd bought a box of dye and between her and another girl they bullied me into it, killed themselves laughing as they refused to let me wash it off for about three hours and then - when her rather cross mother rescued me - insisted on washing out over the kitchen sink with jugs of warm milk (she lived on a dairy farm).  It was downhill from there.  Before you knew it was I was stealing fabric dye from Textiles lessons and turning bits red (it came out in the rain) and then it was Jiff Lemons to 'lighten' it and then, before you know it, I'd started on the Sun-In.

I'm not really sure what happened next. I know when I was 16 I let a budding hairdressing student perm it in the college common room. I say 'budding' - she never actually reached the blooming bit...... I've still got the photos of me grinning like a loon with the rollers in.  I'm sat on a gas heater and she's leering over me with a fag in her mouth.  I'm not quite sure what my mother thought when she picked me up at the end of the day with rampantly curly hair but I think by that point she'd stopped asking too many questions.  The perm fell out in about a week so we did it all again 'for a laugh' and then I think my hair started to fall out so we stopped.

On to University and I wanted 'highlights' (once perms are old school you go for highlights because their more grown up and 'posher') but highlights done by a proper trained professional (rather than some student who leaves you like a gloriously stripped autumnal badger) cost about the same as an entire term's cider budget so we did them ourselves.  With a shower cap we poked holes in and a needle to pull the hair through.  This could potentially have worked if I'd had short hair and wanted that fabulous '80s retro Michelle Fowler off of Eastenders' look but sadly my long hair was soon being ripped from it's roots by my well meaning friend so we took the cap off and just  put bleach through 'some random bits'.

And then I got a job and had more exciting things to do than mess about with my hair.

And then I had kids and didn't have a well paid job and didn't have anywhere to go in the evening so the fiddling came back.

But despite my lack of strand tests I have never had a disaster. I've always used permanent 'potential for disaster is immense' dye and never ever felt any sense of regret.  In the summer I went bright copper and have been happy with it ever since.

Until last week.

Last week I decided to be 'sensible' and refresh the 'copper tones' with a non-permanent 'more healthy for your hair' type of dye.  A gentle, non risky, Amber glow so I would look nice and shiny like a well nourished dog, for the reunion I'm going to with Badger Girl on Saturday and my graduation photos next week......

Tra  la la la la - dye on - wash off - dry hair........


Amber my arse.

More like Puddle of Mud.

It was BROWN.  With this awful type of artificial old lady reddy sheen.

It certainly got my heart racing.  Racing with the fear of having to go out with hair like Sharon Osbourne.

But it's OK right because this is NOT permanent. Yeah? So I just have to wash it out as quick as I can.

So I searched the internet for ideas.

1. Fairy Liquid - washed it twice in this - no freaking difference. Other than I'm covered in bubbles.

2. Bicarb of soda - washed it twice in this - guess what? No difference. Other than I'm covered in white powder.

3. Warm olive oil - bunged it in the microwave for a minute and poured it on my head.  Ow.  Turns out 15 seconds is all you need.  No difference other than a burnt scalp, rivers of oil running down my body and all over the floor.

4. White wine vinegar - I don't have this, only cider vinegar - but guess what!? NO FREAKING DIFFERENCE.  Only now I'm covered in olive oil AND vinegar and stink like a Greek salad. Chuck some croutons and a few olives into the mix and dinner is served.

By this point it's 1am.  The adrenaline is starting to leave my body so I go to bed only to be woken at 4am by a howling child and lie there in a confused state wondering why all I can smell is salad dressing and where all the white powder came from.

6am get up and hope the hair has 'grown on me' or magically gone back to copper.

Nope.  It's Dawn of the Freakin Dead looking back at me.

Take children to my mums.  She comments my hair is 'very shiny'. Yes mum that will be all the olive oil I can't wash out of it.

Decide it's too oily for work but can not face one more minute of hair washing (having washed it about 19 times in 24 hours) so put talc in  it to soak up the olive oil.

I now have volume to die for but on the other hand you could turn me upside down and deep fry my hair as Tempura batter.

TRY to live with the hair for 2 more days.  Someone at the hospital compliments me on the way I've matched my hair to my BROWN top.   It still looks like Puddle of Mud with 'berry' tones and then I see Janet Street Porter on TV and realise I'm potentially channelling her look and freak.  Borrow my mum's Vosense (possible the harshest shampoo in the world) and wash it twice more...... Nope - I've had tattoos less permanent than this hair dye.

So after a whole week of excitement I give up and strip it with proper stuff from a shop rather than ideas off the internet.  This involves spending an entire afternoon walking round in a bin bag and shower cap smelling of rotten eggs only to then have to spend 30 minutes under running water.  I never want to wash my hair again. Ever.   Some people will do ANYTHING to avoid housework......

And after all that my hair is.....exactly the same colour it was before all this ridiculous carry on. Back to a sort of Auburn blonde.  Like my Scottish grandma.

My mother was right all along - I should never have messed with it in the first place.  But since when did anyone ever listen to their mother?

Maybe I need to take up Base Jumping?