Sunday, 5 February 2012

valentine's, shmalentine's?

It's nearly upon us.  The one day 99% of singletons dread.  Or maybe you're not single, but you still hate it.

That's right - Valentine's day falls on the 14th of this month.  But you already knew that didn't you?  Of course you did.

It seems as though you can't escape Valentine's day, even if you want to.  What was once a card and bouquet of flowers occasion has now become a diamond necklace, kinky undies and champagne affair.  It's true - Valentine's Day is the latest victim of Americanisation, alongside Halloween.  I remember when I was a child, trick and treating for penny sweets satisfied me, but now October 31st is now all pinatas, taffy apples and pumpkin pie.

When V day comes along, shop windows are awash with sickly sweet displays of teddy bears clutching onto hearts bearing clichéd messages, stacks of ribbon-wrapped boxes of luxury chocolates, "I <3 U" balloons and mounds of annoying fluff.  Apart from making the singles amongst us feel a mixture of impending doom/jealousy/anger/nausea, it makes those in a relationship sweat, as they feel obliged to buy for their beau.  After all, if you don't get them a present, they'll think you don't love them, won't they?

I remember when I was about 11, a boy from school gave me a single white rose on Valentine's day.  I was overjoyed, I was flattered by the attention - even if he did push a note through my door the next day saying "It only cost 50 fucking pence anyway" after I told him the feelings weren't reciprocated.

The fact is, people are no longer satisfied with small gestures on Valentine's day.  If your boyfriend/girlfriend doesn't shower you with gifts it must mean they don't love you, mustn't it?

So, if we now expect presents from our other halves, why oh why do they get it so wrong when it comes to choosing something that we like?  It almost makes us doubt they see us as their "soul-mate".  For someone who you spend so much of your time with, you think they'd know you inside out.  But nope, their presents say otherwise.

Sorry, if I sound like an ungrateful bitch, but it seems as though most men are incapable of present buying.    If they're going to spend their money, they may as well buy something you'd truly appreciate.  So if you'd like your BF to buy you something you really want, leave this page accidentally-on-purpose open, hoping they'll have a read and take the hint...

N.B- Fellas, below is a simple breakdown of the mistakes you make when buying presents for Valentine's day.  If you want to be in your girlfriend's good books, take note.  It will pay off.  Yes, in that way, you dirty minded scoundrels.  


WHAT MEN BUY US: Something lacy and racy (and maybe crotchless)

WHAT WE REALLY WANT: Pretty silk pyjamas

For some reason, men are attracted to tacky underwear like moths are attracted to light, like bluebottles are attracted to dog poo.  We've all experienced walking past an Ann Summers' window with a BF.  Their eyes are instantly glued to it, and you all of a sudden feel extremely inadequate next to the mannequins (who aren't  even real women) with  their perfect breasts and pert bottoms, all trussed up in babydolls and fuck-me pumps.

If you were a foot taller and two stone lighter, you may not feel so much hatred towards kinky bedroom attire.  The facts are, you are 5 foot nothing and enjoy chocolate far, far too much.  When you try it on, what looked like sexy enticing negligee on the hanger, ends up being a fancy bit of string which effectively cuts through your pale sun-starved flesh like you're a piece of human cheese, barely covering your nipples.

At least if you could save the thong to use as an eye-patch if you ever went out as a pirate for fancy dress?  Hmm.  Maybe not.


WHAT MEN BUY US: Britney Spear's "Fantasy" perfume (or any other celebrity fragrance come to that)

WHAT WE REALLY WANT: A haute-class eau de parfum
OK, I have nothing against Britney's perfume.  As far as fragrances go, it ticks all the right boxes.  Or should I say it ticks the one crucial box- it smells pleasant.  But, Febreze smells nice doesn't it?  Same goes for Fairy washing up liquid and freshly baked pies.

The truth is, what we really want is a special perfume.  One that comes in packaging so gorgeous, we refuse to throw it out.  We even refuse to throw the bottle out when it's empty just because it's so pretty.  One we can use sparingly and on special occasions - the perfect finishing touch to go with a beautiful party dress, making us feel like princesses as we waltz out the front door, like a ballerina walking on feather light clouds.

Yes, a 13 year old would be ecstatic with a bottle of Britney, but we were thinking something more along the lines of Jimmy Choo, Chanel or Viktor + Rolf.  Not the first perfume you see on the special offers stand in Boots.


WHAT MEN BUY US: A box of Cadbury's Milk Tray

WHAT WE REALLY WANT: A gourmet selection of chocolates in cute packaging

Just like a pleasant perfume, good chocolate has one defining feature.  It should taste nice, and to us women, all chocolate tastes nice, really.  Even really cheap chocolate.  Freddos were only 10p and they tasted amazing.

But rocking up on Valentine's day with a box of Cadbury's Milk Tray, is well just, disappointing.  The one day in the year you can really spoil us, at least make the effort to find something we wouldn't normally buy for ourselves.  Because, let's be honest, we'd buy ourselves a box of Milk Tray when we're enduring PMT.   Actually, we'd probably buy ourselves a box of Thorntons.  

Push the boat out and be adventurous.  Find us a box of chocolate with exotic, unusual flavours - don't just pick up the first box you see on the section in ASDA dedicated to February 14th.  Crème-brulee, twice roasted coffee bean, champagne truffle, summer berry torte.  You get the picture.


WHAT MEN BUY US: A bunch of daffodils grabbed last minute from the garage

WHAT WE REALLY WANT: A dozen red roses

The worst possible present to get your girlfriend.  

Not only does it show us you haven't put much thought into our present, it probably shows us you forgot it was even Valentine's day until your girlfriend text you "cant wait 2 c u tnite babe, happy valentines day gawjus xx".  Shit, better run to the garage.

If there's one present to give that proves romance isn't dead, is a bouquet of beautiful flowers.  Forget the wilting and sad looking arrangements in Aldi - what we'd really love is a dozen roses from Interflora.  Red.  Wrapped in pointless cellophane and tied with a red silk ribbon.  Soppy message attached.  Delivered to our house, or even to our work if you want us to feel extra smug that we have such a thoughtful, loving boyfriend.


WHAT MEN BUY US: Anything from Claire's Accessories

WHAT WE REALLY WANT: A simple, classic piece of jewellery

Perhaps the most embarrassing present to give your girlfriend.  Not only would you have looked extremely strange looking through jewellery in a shop for pre-pubescent girls, you pick something we wouldn't dream of wearing.  

Neon loops - do you think we are living in the 1980s?  Faux-silver and gold chains which go all knotty and green after the first wear, complete with chihuahua pendant - you do realise I'm 21 and not 12?  Belly button bar - I don't even have my belly button pierced!!!!

However, a dainty, inconspicuous box containing a simple piece of jewellery is sure to impress.  Even if it's a pair of gold studs, we'll be overjoyed you've taken the effort to choose something we can cherish forever.

Happy Valentine's day shopping!

Peace + love


Wednesday, 1 February 2012

i heard that you like the bad girls, honey is that true?

There's no surprise really, that on Monday, the one thing on my list of priorities (apart from prolonging my lie-in for as long as possible) was going onto itunes to download a copy of Lana Del Rey's eagerly anticipated debut album "Born To Die".  

From the second I discovered her, flicking through the music channels one rainy day, I became instantly transfixed by the haunting beauty of "Video Games" (below) as well as developing a penchant for the crazy Miss Paz De La Huerta after her cameo in the video.  For those who don't know who Paz De La Huerta is, youtube her.  She's a drunken hot mess and I love her. 

And so, like a junkie I've been fiending to get another fix of LDR.  Much safer than a fix of LSD, I'm sure you'll all agree. I am officially a Lana Del Rey enthusiast.  Read enthusiast as stalker.  And with 15 meaty tracks, "Born To Die" certainly does not disappoint.   

Lana Del Rey, real name Elizabeth Grant, is a 25 year old New Yorker who doesn't hide the fact she had an extremely privileged upbringing - she wouldn't be out of place amongst the Blair and Serena's of the world.  

She has been described as a "self-style gangster Nancy Sinatra" (and aside from the fact she's drop dead gorgeous and wouldn't look out of place on the cover of a 1960s Vogue, all dough-eyed and pouting in her sex-kitten fashion) Lana brings a well needed touch of old-school class and theatrics to an industry drowning in a sea of auto-tuned, carbon copy mannequins.  Imagine the best parts of Nancy Sinatra, Kate Bush, Paloma Faith and Lykke Li crammed into one perfectly presented package, and you have Lana Del Rey.

Opening the album is the title track, which does a pretty good job of showing how the album means to go on.  Bold orchestral soundtracks with melancholy harmonies strung over hip-hop influenced beats, peppered with bitter-sweet lyrics of love lost, ill-fated romances and times gone by, all whilst being sung alternating between a voice with the ability of being seductive husky in one breath and bone-chillingly sad in the next.  Not to mention the fact the whole album is so well produced, reminiscent of Kanye West's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy", almost too well produced; it's rich in emotion, jam-packed with stringed instruments and brimming full of killer lyrics.  

LDR is guaranteed to strike a chord with the melodramatic and the souls amongst us who have experienced heartache and break.  I'm not ashamed to say I'm one of them.    Listen to  "Summertime Sadness", "Dark Paradise" and "Lucky Ones" at your own risk, you could end up in tears.  Especially you know, when it's your time of the month and a clip of a hamster getting put down on Animal Hospital can leave you emotionally bereft.  Slow indie-pop ballads with a retro feel seems to be what Lana does best.  

"Off To The Races" is a slightly macabre number with obvious sexual undertones, which could well be the musical interpretation of Vladimir Nabokov's infamous Lolita, with the opening lines of the book being recycled as lyrics- "light of my fire, light of my loins".  LDR's own nymphoesque contribution of "I'm your little scarlet, starlet, singing in the garden" paints a rather seedy picture in your mind of a very young girl desperately lusting over an older (perhaps creepy) man.  Perhaps what is more disturbing is that LDR sings in a way which is unsettlingly child-like, something which is prominent throughout the album, most notably on "Lolita" (surprise, surprise) and the beloved "Video Games".  

The glamorous lifestyle Lana has always known has been a blatant inspiration.  In between the melancholy and despair, we're given lovely delicious little slices of the opulent and hedonistic lifestyles lead by the privileged upper-class, even if it does feel slightly arrogant.  The best examples of this are in "Radio" ("my life is sweet like cinnamon, like a fucking dream I'm living in") and "National Anthem" ("money is the reason we exist, everybody knows it, it's a fact").  All this is done whilst injecting a satisfying dose of wholesome Americana in the form Western style guitar and banjo, putting LDR in very good stead if there ever was another Bond Film; I can imagine her penning the soundtrack, or even starring as a Bond girl.  Imagine Shirley Bassey's "Diamonds Are Forever" and "Goldfinger" with even more attitude, an added hip-hop beat and a little brashness.  

For £9.99, the deluxe edition was well worth the money.  So, if you've read this and think you'd enjoy, get yourself on itunes.  If you don't want the whole album, the tracks are available for 99p each.  I've put together a mini-listing which I think best encapsulates "Born To Die."

Video Games
Born To Die
National Anthem
Blue Jeans
Off To The Races
Lucky Ones

Overall, the album will no doubt allow Lana to make significant impact on the mainstream music industry.  One criticism of the album is that there doesn't seem to be any tracks which feel genuinely positive or uplifting - however, all tracks are moving in a sad, brooding kind of way.  I would have loved to have heard more hip-hop rhythms and synths, but otherwise, a cracking debut which has already earnt it's place amongst my most played on itunes.

Rating: 4/5

1000 page views! and free gelato...

Hello all,

Sorry for my absence and lack of posting :(  I have been rather unwell with a bladder infection and anyone who has ever experienced one will know how painful they are...but I'm feeling on the mend now and have an album review lined up to be posted tonight.  

But on a more positive note...

My blog has had over 1000 page views!  Thank you so much to all who read, I hope I keep you entertained even it is only for a fleeting moment...


Today I got the most amazing phone call from the owner of the Lickety Split creamery  in Seaham, which I posted about a few weeks ago.  They loved my blog and the review I done so much they've said I can come down and have any sundae off their special Valentine's menu for free!  Just looking at the Valentine's menu is making my mouth water:

Available from the first to the 20th of February, a selection of sexy sundaes to share or enjoy alone (£10.95)

Cream Dream (2 to share)
Pure Indulgence (2 to share)
Sticky Fudge Split (2 to share)
Rockin' Rose Love Boat
Champagne Citrus

If you live in the North-East, and you haven't visited Lickety Split...make sure you get your ass down there ASAP.  Of course I'll be taking my camera again and will report back to you all how delicious my sundae was!  And who will I be taking to share the sundae with?  Well...that's for me to know and for you to find out ;)

Love + kisses