Let us Talk Turkey

November 6th, 2012 by Jacq

I know you don’t want to hear those fateful words, but channelling the spirit of Andy Williams I’m saying them anyway…it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas people!

And guess what I love it. It has become all too fashionable to moan about the festive season, the cost, the queues, the cold, but I love it. Every bank balance back breaking second of it. I just don’t feel the need to be too cool for school.

I love winter. There are bonfires, I start drinking red wine heavily, the nights are dark, I wear leg warmers, it’s the pirate’s birthday, then it’s my birthday = presents. ‘Elf’ is on telly about four times, and that’s all before Bad Santa even thinks about making an appearance.

It’s also the time when families (mainly mine) start to stress. In my mother’s case it’s what should she buy? Will her daughter in-law use an ear massager or should she stick to getting a dressing gown two sizes too big so as to upset her for the rest of the year. In my father’s case, he just needs constant reassurance that his dinner will reach him in a timely ie super quick fashion and no later than 3pm.

The day starts with the Pirate and I running around to get ready, me trying to apply falsh eyelashes which often end up like caterpillars on my cheek. We zoom in the Pirate van to visit nieces and nephews, exchange gifts then drive to the other end of the city to visit the family for dinner.
Christmas dinner is a serious business.

There is no messing about with Christmas dinner with my pops. He doesn’t want a dinner that aspires to the middle classes. He is a no nonsense man when it comes to food. He wants it hot, he wants it cooked properly and he wants the following, which note, is the same dinner he’s had for the last thirty years.

Glass of fizz (it used to be Mateus Rose but he has moved on..he’s not a total dinosaur).

Home Made Soup( made by the man himself)

Prawn Cocktail(prawns, chopped tomatoes, baby gem, occasional cucumber and marie rose sauce, a lot of sauce.)

Move onto the Red Wine.

Turkey Dinner. This is the most essential part of the meal for Mr C. Two years ago he was going to his daughter-in-law’s for Christmas dinner and he was so stressed that he wouldn’t have left over turkey that he had an actual nightmare three days before Christmas.

My mother was so worried that she rushed to Tesco on Boxing Day to buy him a frozen turkey in the sale. Disaster averted.
There is no lingering over courses in our house, dinner must be served in a super quick ‘Yo Sushi’ fashion.. As soon as the soup is done, he wants the prawn cocktail in transit.

We finish with chocolate gateau of the Black Forrest variety and usually a sherry trifle. There is no Christmas pudding in our house, nobody likes it and I myself only tasted this mystical pudding for the first time at 29, it was talked of with such scorn.

After dinner, we slump on the couch having a few drinks, eating our body weight in chocolate, watching crappy tv and my father and I slag off those who in his opinion have brought this fine country to its knees. Cilla Black, Bruce Forsyth, Jim Davidson (I agree on that one) and his most prevalent focus of dislike, Jimmy Tarbuck. Mention him in Mr C’s House at your peril. We debate why Jimmy of Tarbuck is even on telly, and then have a wee laugh about Tommy Sheridan for good measure.

Then one by one everybody falls asleep where they sit,…except the Pirate who sits resentful that my parents don’t have Sky or wifi and questioning why my whole family seem to have year long narcolepsy.

And that’s why I love Christmas

Jacq x

All That Glitters Is Not Gold

June 8th, 2012 by Jacq

Made in Taiwan. Three words that are all too familiar to us and three words which on the whole, don’t exactly scream quality.

Unfortunately, more often than not, when you see this stamped on something it usually indicates that a crudely made product imitating something better will follow. Caution though, you don’t need to travel to Taipei to come across rubbish.

I think that’s what I’m annoyed about today – poor imitations, poor ideas, poor design, usually being punted by people who mistake having a little technical knowhow for creative ability.

Here is where they make the mistake… Creativity can’t be nicked, learned or emulated. It’s just something that some people have.

Yes, people can recreate a concept or follow on the path that someone else is going down, and let’s face it, anybody can call themselves a designer these days(and they do). But it’s never quite as good is it. It will always be an imitation, a gimic and gimics and longevity don’t tend to go hand in hand.

Don’t get me wrong. Some imitations are value for money. The well known supermarket who sells a rip of the “Guess Who” game called “Whose That” or ‘Non Jovi’ the yes you’ve guessed it, the Bon Jovi Tribute Band. There’s also of course my mother’s version of “I’m a Celebrity – Get me out of Here” that she seems to have re-christened “I’m stuck In the Jungle – get me oot!”…Genius.

Some of you will know that the Degree Show Exhibitions are happening this week and next. If you have never been to one before…go….You will instantly be immersed in real design, creativity and talent. Graduating students who make work because they love making work, not churning out rubbish because they are trying to make a quick buck.

In Scotland, we have some seriously talented people trying to make a go of it. And at the risk of sound like I’m up on my soapbox, please try and support them. Sometimes things cost a little more, but trust me it’s worth it, and nobody had to work in a badly light, un-ventilated room with no union representation to make it. Jacq xx

What Happened when the Pirate met Mickey

March 20th, 2012 by Jacq

Ever since I was a wee girl I’ve loved the fairground. Dodgems, ‘The Sticky Wall’, eating candyfloss, making (as yet un-mascarad) eyes at the greasy but exotic man on the waltzers to ensure he pushed you round the fastest.

School trips to Butlins, squashed ‘quartered’ chopped pork sandwiches and wee plastic bottles of Irn Bru gently warming at the bottom of my school bag under the spare set of clothes my mammy would pack for me in case I fell in water(and I always did).

My memories of fairgrounds and holiday camps consist of the non-stop fun of Pontins in Morcombe, the Mexican hat in Ayr and the town that never sleeps….Burntisland. We had no foreign holidays, spent the summer holidays at our Uncle John’s in Ardrossan and thought that Newcastle was the most exotic place in the world…….they didn’t sound like us and we liked it!

This weekend, the Pirate and I decided to relive these glorious moments of our youth, in the days when he was young and I was good looking….Yes, we went to Disney!

For four days we stuffed our (now chubby) little faces with hot dogs, wine, freshly baked croissants, cakes that resembled works of art(I suspect very few come to the UK and take pictures of the jaffa cake donuts in Greggs) and ate our body weight several times over in goats cheese.
We went on so many roller coasters that I think my vital organs now look like a game of ‘Operation’ with my hair acquiring a bouffant that Nancy Reagan would have been envious of.

It was amazing.  Despite being surrounded by more children that I have ever seen accumulatively through my entire life, we didn’t let that stop us. Being an adult in a child’s world has it’s advantages.

You make a horrible face, they get frightened and move out of the way, this results in you getting further and further up the queue to meet Mickey Mouse. Also, because they have short legs, they can’t run very fast so you always get to the rides first. They are smaller than we are and don’t reach the counter in shops, this means the assistants can’t see them and always serve you first….. What’s not to love.

Whilst taking a picture of the Pirate in front of the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ ride, a wee girl came up and naturally assumed that the UP with his untamed locks was part of the attraction.   A child has now gone home with a picture of the big yin in her Disney album….poor wean.

To those who shudder at the thought of spending a weekend away from the real world surrounded by 80,000 children, men trussed up as Chipmunks and a woman in a Minnie Mouse suit constantly warbling “it’s just like we dreamed it”…I say go….I beg you to go and give your inner child an airing.

My Mammy

March 14th, 2012 by Jacq

Pontins Holiday Camp sometime in the early 80's

AAhh….so it’s Mothers Day this weekend….Time to show our mammy’s how much they mean to us. A time to shower them with affection, with daffodils stolen from the park and a box of soft centered chocs. A time to reflect on everything they have done for us over the year.

In the case of the Pirate and I, we are more than a little spoiled on the mammy front. Shamefully we still have an arrangement with my wee mammy Jinty to do our laundry every week.

It’s not laziness you understand, but in addition to the fact that we are very busy people, the Pirate (as those of you who have met him will know) is practically a giant. I challenge any of you to try drying several pairs of 6ft 6” trousers on a standard domestic clothes horse….no matter how tough, they all eventually surrender under the weight of his mighty breeks.

Jinty on the other hand is a professional, a laundry expert..She knows how to approach challenges such as giant trousers, that my friends is why she’s the mammy and that is why Hallmark named a day after her.

She’s a wonderful woman, she’s small, not much taller than Willie Carson actually but she makes a mean pot of soup.
She can tell a story whilst laughing hysterically at the same time and when Caroline Quentin comes on Telly, she declares how much she hates “that Victoria Wood”.

She once threatened to divorce my father if he didn’t stop watching CSI Miami which she refers to as “ that CIS rubbish” “ full of lassies who go aboot flicking their long hair and picking up bits of fluff in corridors” You, like me have probably never heard forensic science described in this way.

She still does football warmup exercises despite never having been a footballer and thinks I’m the “cheekiest woman on earth”.

She’s probably right. According to close family members, I’ve been a nightmare since age 5. I suspect that all those evenings when she claimed to be working back shift in a sausage factory she was taking special forces training at the local community centre…all in preparation for when I hit puberty and actual hormone madness.

You may think me brave for revealing such things but fear not…whilst she still thinks CEEFAX is king, this blog will remain a mystical thing never to be read.

So that’s my mammy….the original and the best and I wouldn’t swap her for anything..not even a signed Wham album.

Happy Mothers Day to my wee Jinty xx

Ring a Ring a Roses

February 17th, 2012 by Jacq

Banksy Rap Rat

I wont even pretend that this blog is anything other than a shameless promotion for The Real Mary Kings Close in Edinburgh.
To those who have never wandered those dimly lit history steeped corridors,….get there, it’s awesome.

The Urban Pirate massive (ie Dave and I!) visited Auld Reekie last night for a wee soiree at the Close which was thoroughly lovely (thankyou Lucy, Nigel and Co for the invite !).

We were treated to an incredible tour led by the fabulous Robert, who took us down through the dark dungeon like areas. Once housing thousands of people and now built over and hidden away under the unsuspecting feet of the thousands of passing folks on the Royal Mile.

In the days before Detol and Dustin Hoffman, It was once home to many of those poor folk who had succumbed to the plague and was a sort of ghetto if you like to try and contain the epidemic. Not exactly a youth club really.

The close is said to be haunted by many among which the ghost of a young plague victim Annie who has appeared in one of the rooms.

Thankfully the scariest sight I had to behold last night was the sight of the Pirate making his way awkwardly in the almost darkness and imagining his pitiful wounded cries when smacking his head on the extremely low ceilings….Some call it 17th Century Architecture…I like to call it Karma.

The tour has been awarded five starts from Visit Scotland as a visitor attraction and trust me it doesn’t disappoint. I’ve been to a number of so called “tourist attractions” in Scotland, some sadly more like the Craggy Island Gala Day than I care to remember, however this isn’t one of them AND it’s worth the 3 million pound peak train fare through to Edinburgh to get there!