I’m relieved to say that the trips to casualty have stopped, but any party that I throw is almost always fated to go horribly wrong.

The most recent disaster was our house warming party back in December. My housemates and I went to different schools and different universities so we thought that this would be the perfect occasion to mix everyone together. In theory, this was an ingenious idea, in reality it was a catastrophe.

We’d invited an equal ratio of girls to boys, but about 90% of the people who turned up were girls. We’d set a lame theme, and the brave people who turned up in costume were made to feel humiliated all evening. Small groups of people assembled in separate corners of the flat and made no effort to talk to any of the others.

I helplessly drifted between the groups trying to muster some sort of chit-chat but it was a pitiful effort and a pitiful party.With nothing better to do, I resorted to gulping down everyone’s half empty glasses. This really was agony.

In  an effort to ease the deadly atmosphere I logged on to Spotify hoping that the website would create a hip playlist. How wrong I was.

Several hours later when the party was at its flattest and only a few loyal friends remained our doorbell rang. The previous night I had attended a raving house party hosted by some impossibly cool French students. As I was thrown across the kitchen, dancing ‘Le Rock’ with a very attractive boy, I casually mentioned that I was throwing an equally cool party the following night. I then went home, went to bed, and did not think anymore about it. That is until the doorbell rang.

As I gingerly opened the door, I was greeted by two Gallic hunks. If only I could have run away and hid, but I was forced to take the two boys up to our flat. By this stage the Spotify playlist had slowed down to some more mellow beats, and as we crossed the threshold, our ears were greeted by Cliff Richard singing The Lord’s Prayer. It was like walking into a Bible bashing cult.

Needless to say the beaux garcons did not stay for long. Needless to say, I never heard from either one again.

The only redeeming feature of the whole painful evening was when my friend Karen stated:

That was the best lame party ever!

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Well I’ve been lucky enough to attend some highly original parties of late, but when it comes to hosting them myself, I’m still quite a novice.

Despite the best intentions, my parties always seem to go slightly wrong. This isn’t just a recent conundrum, sadly this dates back to childhood.

On my fourth birthday party – my friend Catriona fell off the monkey bars, broke her arm and ended in  casualty.

On my thirteenth birthday party – the innocent idea of a paint-balling party resulted in my friend unconscious in casualty with concussion.

On my seventeenth birthday – too much booze was consumed and my friend Freddie slit his wrist on a broken plant pot. Guess where he ended up? Casualty.

A dinner party is something I’ve always associated with grown ups. The idea of having a select group of people sitting around a table just seems so sophisticated and dare I say it – stiff. But over recent months, my entire impression of dinner parties has changed.

One party that really helped to change my mind was ‘The Fast Candlelight Dinner.’ This wasn’t just a casual get-together, this was a formal event with a formal invite. Ladies were informed to wear: “Fast Cocktail Dress,” Gentlemen: “Racing Blazer.” It all sounded slightly ominous.

The date of the party loomed and as I headed to Knightsbridge, donning my ‘Fast Cocktail Dress,’ I was ever  curious to discover what the whole thing was all about.

The night kicked off in serious style with oysters and champagne. But things took a surprise turn when the host marched us down the Brompton Road to the local McDonald’s. This is where the ‘fast’ dinner party continued… Our creative host had hired out the bottom room of the fast-food chain, pushed all the tables together, and thrown a long white table cloth across to form an impressive trestle table. He then decorated it with antique candelabras,beautiful porcelain plates and heir-loom cutlery.

The fourteen of us then proceeded to eat Big Macs and drink milkshakes whilst the rest of the McDonald’s clientele looked on at us in pure astonishment. We may have looked hidiously pretentious, but the idea was uniquely genius. Minimum effort, but maximum effect. Who say’s you have to follow the rules to have a good party?

I’m a true believer that if a fun opportunity raises its head, you should always take it.

2 months ago, a great mate of mine – who is particularly mischievous – set about improving my love life. Whilst at a dinner party with some of her university friends, she sat next to a boy who she thought would be a perfect match for me.

The following morning I received a somewhat hyper, giggly phone call. After a glass of vino too many, my dear friend had set me up on a blind date. As I mentioned before, I’m always game for trying something new, so after a slight waver, I decided to go for it.

That very evening, I received another phone call, but this time from a mysterious number. On answering, I was greeted by a distinctly foreign voice. This was the boy I’d been set up with.

The first few minutes of our conversation were about the most awkward I’ve ever had on the telephone. What do you say to someone you’ve never met – but you are supposed to go on a date with? It was toe-curlingly embarrassing. Luckily however, we got passed the awkwardness  and started to have a fairly decent chin wag.

I decided that the disembodied voice belonged to an interesting, fun and excitingly foreign person. This was someone that I would be keen to meet. So after a series of further conversations, our date was arranged for the following Friday.

Friday night arrived and I tottered out of my flat in impossibly high heels. I had no idea if the blind date was going to be deliciously tall or vertically challenged? If he was the former, then I would happily bare the agony of the shoes. If he was the latter, then I’d readily welcome reclining on a chair all evening.

As I approached our rendez-vous, I received the following text message:

Seeing as you won’t recognise me, I’m the one with the white wooly hat.

This was almost a little too blind for comfort. Nevertheless, I located the white wooly hat to find a smiling new face and our evening took off.

When I think of all the dire things that could have gone wrong, I don’t thing that it went too disastrously. It can’t have been that bad, as a brief romance followed.

Whilst briefly dating the foreigner, I ate Mc Donald’s in a cocktail dress, I drank Gin and Tonic from a cup and saucer, I took photographs of swans and I got an insight into the crazy world of banking.

So although it ended somewhat abruptly, it certainly was an eye-opener. It also injected a bit of fun into the grey, grim depths of January and February.

(Turns out, that kitten heels would have been the better option.)

I’ve just noticed that my last post was well over a month ago.

All I can say is that in the interim, I was seeing a boy.

That’s all over now, ’nuff said.

From now on communication will resume as normal.

I’ve had some good news. After months of franticly applying I’ve finally secured myself a decent internship. I’m now working in the weirdly wonderful world of theatre. It’s not quite where I thought I’d end up, but so far so good.

Now I’ve not had that much experience of the corporate world, but I like to think that I’ve got a vague idea about working in the real world.   nothing could have prepared me for the chaos of working in theatre. On my very first day I was thrown head-first into proceedings and sent out on a ‘business meeting’ with the Marketing Manager.

Emerging out of Pimlico station, we marched past a row of majestic mansions, then hurried through a rundown estate before we found ourselves in a dingy church hall. This was the location of our meeting.  Barely briefed on what the meeting was about, I was taken by surprise at every turn.

Once we had walked through the threshold of the church hall, we left London behind and entered into another world. Hobbits were running around everywhere, Gandalf was pacing up and down, and the silhouette of Smaug the Dragon was ominously flickering in the background.

No, I was not dreaming, this really was Middle Earth. Or at least a mocked up version of it. We had come to meet the producer of the stage version of ‘The Hobbit.’ The producer was wonderfully theatrical with wild curly hair and a rasping RADA voice and was accompanied by her overtly homosexual assistant. This really was quite a fascinating introduction.

Now I always try and make a respectable first impression, but I truly struggled to keep a straight face in my first ever marketing meeting. Although I was meant to be focusing on advertising budgets, I couldn’t help but gawp at dwarfs practising their break-dancing moves.

The most baffling fact of all was that everyone else felt like it was entirely normal to have mythical creatures dance around us as we discussed sales figures. As I struggled to suppress my smirk the Marketing Manager remained completely composed.

Gosh, I’ve got a way to go before I coul ever be that professional. But I have a feeling that I will enjoy this new job.

Last night I was out celebrating the birthday of my dear friend Paddy. Despite having a super evening, I woke up this morning with my mind made up. I hate Mexican food.

Considering that most of our evening was centred around a Mexican meal, it’s a miracle I had such a good time. But as I sat in our mock ‘Cancun’ restaurant and stared at the tediously long menu, it struck me that every Mexican dish is exactly the same. Whether you opt for a burrito, a tortilla or even a chimichanga you’ll be faced with the same greasy dish and it will almost certainly be laden with melted cheese.

Underwhelmed by the prospect of bland black beans and oily chicken, I decided to spice things up and opted for the extra hot  chilli. What an error that was. I spent the majority of the evening panting in a corner, with my mouth literally on fire. Not even a chilled Corona could soothe the burn.

So to sum up – Mexican food is either deadly dull or deathly hot. And I don’t like it.

Image credit: Flikr

After a bit of reflection, I’ve located the source of my violent hatred for Mexican food. It all comes down to my stint as a ‘serveuse’ in a Tex-Mex restaurant in Paris. Although I had intended to work in a quintessentially Parisian cafe, I ended up serving cheesy nachos in soulless American chain. It wasn’t quite the Amelie dream. And it was at Cafe Indiana that my Mexican grudge began.

It’s common knowledge that French kitchens aren’t the most hygienic of places but Cafe Indiana pushed the definition of hygiene to new heights. In addition to the infestation of cockroaches, Cafe Indiana had a serious problem with rodents. It was on more than one occasion that I saw a long tailed rat scuttle through our kitchen, and it seemed that mice used the restaurant as a breeding ground. Whenever a paying customer saw a mouse (which was fairly frequently) we were told to shut them up with a free coffee. Needless to say, we lost clientele on a daily basis.

So it was in this filthy environment that I became familiar with the ins and outs of Mexican food. Is it really a surprise that I hate it so much? And two years down the line, no amount of Corona or Tequila will change my mind. Lo siento, but nothing compares to a German sausage.

Whilst jogging around Hyde Park the other day, I took a much-needed pause and poked my nose into the Serpentine Gallery. Its current exhibition – Design Real – is fresh, minimal and exuding in nonchalant style.

‘Design Real’ touches on new ground for the Serpentine. It’s the first show that the gallery has dedicated entirely to contemporary design. The show consists of 43 examples of tangible products that have all been created within the last 10 years. Everyday objects are displayed throughout the gallery and are given a one-word generic description such as: table, chair, robot or computer.

It’s a curious thing to show everyday items in a gallery but it forces you to reflect upon the nature of objects that are designed for our use. The show had such a profound effect on me that I started to speculate whether each object was good, bad or ergonomically sound. I’m not quite sure where my fountain of Design knowledge sprouted, but I felt like I knew what I was talking about.

It’s not just a chair, it’s a feat of ergonomic engineering!

When you go into a bedroom, a bed is just a bed, but when a bed is hanging on the white wall of a gallery space, you can’t help but see it differently. There I was, standing in my SweatyBetty Lycra, and I was admiring the springs on a double bed. It was ridiculous yet wonderful.

I started to admire the most banal of objects, loving them for their functionality of design and even for their beauty. If you’re prepared to look past the ordinary you’re guaranteed to see the extraordinary. Even a book-end can be cool.

It really is quite an achievement that an exhibition can make a double bed, a pen and a pop-up tent visually inspiring. But the exhibition’s greatest achievement is that it makes you realise that when a good designer gets it right, our lives are improved.

The result of last year’s Turner Prize winner came as quite a surprise. In the past, winners of the coveted prize have impressed the judges by elephant dung and erotic ceramics, but it seems that 2009’s winner changed the record.

Richard Wright ‘s winning gold leaf mural can only be described as beautiful. It didn’t try and make a comment about society nor did it have an underlying political or moralistic message. Wright’s golden masterpiece was purely intended to provide the onlooker with a pleasurable visual experience. And it did. Quite spectacularly.

The tragedy or perhaps the brilliance of the work is its temporality. The ethereal beauty of Wright’s wall mural no longer exists – a great big roller brush, laden with white glossy paint, has covered it forever.

Art has nearly always been commercial. As human beings we are obsessed by placing value on objects and experiences, but Richard Wright, in his stubborn, Glaswegian way has tried to break this consumer mould.

Damien Hirt may have sold his work at auction for a sharp $125 million, in August 2008, but Richard Wright’s work can never make it to auction. Each example of his work has such a short life span, that it will have already disappeared before some art dealer can give it a price tag. In a sense his work is priceless.

Wright wants his art to be compared to a musical performance, something that will exist in the memory of the creator and the audience, but something that cannot be owned, sold of moved. The winning mural is like a sparkling jewel, a thing so precious that it will never get the chance to fade.

Despite competing against a strong shortlist, there was never any doubt in mind that Wright would be the winner. His subtle and inoffensive gestures remind us that we don’t have to buy something to enjoy it – a vivid, beautiful memory will serve us just as well.

As I’ve lamented at length… I’ve been unemployed for a good few months now. Whilst it’s all very good moaning on, I sometime loose sight of the luxury of being in control of one’s own time.

In the months before Christmas, I attended a veritable orgy of art exhibitions. Many of the shows have closed to make way for the new Spring ones, so I thought it should remember the highlights:

SOPHIE CALLE

My first encounter with Sophie Calle happened when I read Paul Auster’s novel Leviathan.

On the first page of his book Auster inserts a personal note: “The author extends special thanks to Sophie Calle for permission to mingle fact with fiction.”

It took a little bit of detective work on my side, but I eventually discovered that Paul Auster was thanking Sohpie Calle for allowing him to ‘steal’ her personality. Calle’s character is applied to one of the pivotal characters in his book – to the weird and wonderful Maria Turner.

“Maria was an artist but the work she did had nothing to do with creating objects commonly defined as art. Some people called her a photographer, others referred to her as a conceptualist, still others considered her a writer, but … in the end I don’t think she could be pigeonholed in any way. Her work was too nutty for that…”

On finishing Leviathan, my curiosity concerning Sophie Calle had not been fully satisfied. When I discovered that Sophie Calle was exhibiting in London, I practically knocked down the doors of the White Chapel Gallery in my eager anticipation.

The exhibition Talking to Strangers was an impressive one-woman show that not only exhibited the highlights of Calle’s thirty year career, but it premiered the English language version of Prenez soin de vous (Take care of yourself), a highlight of the 2007 Venice Biennale.

The idea behind Prenez soin de vous was initiated when Calle received an email from a lover ending their relationship. Instead of lamenting her loss, Calle set about making copies of the email. She then invited 107 women, from a ballerina to a lawyer, to use their professional skills to interpret the email. The poignant, amusing and at times poetic results form an enormous muti-media installation.

Interpretations of the email include photographs, videos, songs, letters, essays and even fashion designs. It’s hard to believe that one email was such an explosive catalyst of talent.

It would be easy to label Calle’s ambitious project as an aggressive act of feminism fuelled by bitterness and revenge, but the beauty of Prenez soin de vous was that it transcended the personal to provide a statuesque monument to the numerous women involved.