A very busy Wednesday

9:00 – Alarm goes off. Theoretically, get up now and have breakfast in order to start work on essays and programme notes at 10:00

10:00 – Get out of bed. Theoretically, now have the postponed breakfast and get on with your day.

10:30 – Having finally left your bedroom, rejoice in the knowledge that you’ve definitely checked tumblr half a dozen times. That’s an achievement and a half, eh?

11:00 – Bloody hell, does breakfast always take this long? Never mind, you’ve got essays to do and not a lot of time to do them in.

11:05 – I can’t possibly do my essays with the washing up making eye contact with me.

11:07 – But then again, who really wants to do washing up? not me. Maybe I should put a load of clothes in the washing machine. As well all know, a full hamper means a terrible session of essay-writing.True story.

11:08 – I know a lot less than I thought I knew about Parisian polyphony.

11:09 – My music degree is, for some reason, allowing me to study Gothic architecture. Well. At least I know all about arches now.

11:30 – The first 100 words were easy enough. If I could just find another damn reference…

12:00 – Wow, I’m amazing. 200 words in an hour. Bloody hell, that rate of typing is flipping inspiring.

12:01 – Now, onto my next task. Writing the programme notes for one of my pieces

12:05 – According to the internet, this piece doesn’t actually exist.

12:07 – And the composer only has a paragraph bibliography on wikipedia

12:09 – Shit

12:15 – Shit

12:30 – well done, you managed to waffle some absolute bullshit about how the guy was born to a shoe-maker. Good job. Now, you’ve got 10 minutes to get everything out of the washing machine and hang it up on clothes horses before you go to midweek music.

12:45 – Good joke

12:50 – No, seriously, leave now.

12:55 – Why – so – many – stairs? This – is – what – I – get – for – living – on – a – fucking – hill  – stop – judging – me – other – pedestrians – this – is – steep

12:56 – Oooh, a flat bit

12:59 – More stairs? 😦

13:15 – The glorious music is so gloriously musical. It’s just a shame I have to write a review about this. Let’s see… “the music sweeps in gloriously high sweeping melodies. the melodies are melodic. the choir turned up, so that’s good”

13:46 – Yeah, we’re all enjoying it sunshine, but you’ve run over now. Let’s just stop so we can go home.

13:48 – The organist is singing to his friends to show them which bits he did wrong. I feel you, friend. I also thought you made a mistake.

14:15 – Write up the review. Do it.

14:20 – Stop using the words ‘glorious’, ‘rich’, and ‘melodious’

14:40 – It’ll do. Now, another 200 words and you can stop doing sodding Parisian polyphony for one afternoon.

15:20 – The essay is such an absolute load of shite I’m glad it won’t have my name attached to it. Now, I’d better get ready for orchestra later. If I make my lunch now it’ll have time to chill before I leave

15:21 – where the actual fuck is my bassoon

15:22 – fuck fuck fuck fuck

15:25 – OK it’s at the practice rooms. So I guess I’ll just have to take a detour via the practice rooms to get it and then continue on my merry way to the station.In the opposite direction. Fan-fucking-tastic

15:30 – In the meantime, speed cooking! And then speed washing up

15:50 – There is so much water in this rice it’s a wonder it’s not still swimming around like tiny white fish. FOCUS

16:10 – I am almost 100% sure this hill only exists to taunt me. YES RANDOM STRANGERS I AM CARRYING A MUSIC STAND THANK YOU FOR NOTICING

16:30 – No, I’m not following you, we’re just going the same way. It’s a university. THERE WILL BE OTHERS TAKING THE SAME PATH AS YOU

16:31 – If you don’t move quicker I will hit you with my stand. I can’t overtake, this isn’t a road.

16:40 – Well, I’ve just missed the bus to the station. Now to wait at the stop like a cool bro and not look completely self-conscious.

16:41 – Ah, the age old question. To put the bassoon down or not to put it down? Putting it down will take ages and may end up with someone getting hit over the head (me), but not putting it down will mean getting on the bus takes longer

16:42 – Ow

17:00 – The bus should be here in 7 minutes. Better check my watch pointedly to make sure everyone knows I’m on it

17:02 – Still on it

17:05 – Still on it!

17:07 – In the moment I dropped it, the bus arrived. IS IT THE RIGHT BUS? Nobody knows.

17:08 – The driver knows. It’s the right bus.

17:23 – The train is here. If I get this train, I’ll be something like half an hour early. Better catch the slow train and be there on time!

17:45 – I hate the slow train good god

18:20 – I hate the train I hate everything I hate the universe and I especially hate YOU, man who tried to push past me but then fell onto one of the seats. Karma.

18:30 – It’s a good thing I’m patient or being crammed onto a tube like a sardine would be torture

18:40 – why is there a queue for the escalator

18:41 – Oh good god

18:45 – If I have to queue to get on this carriage I will scream. Internally. And on the outside look calm and polite as ever, because it’s important not to randomly scream on the underground

18:55 – stairs??????????????????/

19:00 – I’m hungry but I also hate the food I brought. this was a mistake

19:30 – “we’re starting on time tonight”

19:40 – start

19:42 – MAYBE I SHOULD HAVE LOOKED AT THE MUSIC???? OR LISTENED TO IT?

20:00 – oh good we’re playing something else now

20:01 – AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH

20:00 – my face hurts and my eyes hurt and my head hurts and I am thirsty

20:30 – “ten minute break guys” yep, sure. I’ll just be over here with my hot chocolate and my iced gems and feel sorry for myself

20:45 – “ten minutes”

20:50 – OH GOD ANOTHER THING I SHOULD HAVE SIGHTREAD

21:00 – ??? what is this why am I playing the cello part??? and on my own with the strngs??? Liszt, were you high?

21:30 – um, are we done? we have like 30 minutes left

21:31 – THIRTY MINUTES TO PLAY THE WHOLE THING OVER AGAIN HEY HO LET’S GO

21:45 – be free from this place 15 minutes early, ducklings. be free

22:00 – Arrive at the station. The possibility of catching the 22:20 train is approximately 1 in 1000000

22:20 – as we’ve only just arrived at Waterloo, the 22:20 train may be tricky

22:30 – What platform is the next train?

22:35 – ?

22:40 – ???????

22:41 – sprint sprint sprint gotta get a seat

22:45 – oh god it’s the ‘is he drunk or does he just ramble on like that all the time’ game?

22:46 – Maybe if I read I’ll stop being a potential target

??:?? – Book finished, where the flippity-flop am I

23:15 – ugh, 15 minutes left. time for some hardcore sudoku

23:29 – oooh, almost there. better disembark or something

23:40 –  OH GOD NO OTHER PEDESTRIANS DO NOT USE THE DRIVEWAY OF SOMEONE’S HOUSE AS A TOILET I IMPLORE YOU

23:45 – it’s always nice coming home and having NO-ONE ELSE BE HERE. YEP, JUST ME AND THE LAUNDRY

00:00 – bed? nah, jokes.

Mock Recitals, with weirdly blurred vision on the side

Last Friday I performed in front of a very small group of people. It might even be accurate to say that the small group of people was in fact approximately 10 people, possibly even less. In fact, a reasonable estimate would be half a dozen. Still, it was a recital, of sorts. Everyone taking the solo performance module is required to perform in one lunchtime recital over the course of the year, and mine was last week. So, naturally, having had two terms to prepare myself and many weeks to get in touch with the accompanist, I chose to give the accompanist my music on Tuesday and practice for the recital for twenty minutes on Thursday. My middle name might as well be ‘Well Prepared’.

Yeah, OK, maybe that’s not actually very well prepared but you can’t tell me what to do, lecturer! 

As it happens, the recital thing went reasonably well. Apart from one tiny panic in the middle where I thought we were going to have the world’s shortest concert at 15 minutes (yeah…), the whole thing went swimmingly. Until the moment when I tried to stand up (to bow), realised I couldn’t get my right eye to focus at all, that I had a sharp pain on the right side of my head, and that things were a bit blurry on the right side of the room. So I sat down again. Anyway, long story short, the pianist was eventually able to persuade everyone that there was no more music to be had (at all), and they all left. All 6 (7?) of them.

I wouldn’t have thought any more of it, except that the same thing happened today when I played in the solo performance lecture, and apparently I looked a lot like I was going to faint???? And of course, the same thing happened at the beginning of term.

SO, Science Side of the Internet: ????????????

Update: Having talked to various medically up-to-date relatives (i.e. my mother), we’ve come to the conclusion that this was probably an example of a Lightning Migraine (which is less cool than it sounds). Fucking migraines. And I’m allowed to swear in this case because they are pretty flipping inconvenient.

Cheffing With Charlie: Chilli (maybe?)

OK, first all all, I have done enough of these damn things to warrant their own sexy little category. So, here we go: sexy food time. (dear god, someone stop me). Today we’re making… chilli (con carne)! I think it’s chilli con carne anyway, it’s beef and chilli things so who even knows. It’s delicious anyway. Today’s prices sourced from…. waitrose! I suspect everywhere else will be much the same, if not cheaper. You’re welcome.

You Will Need:

500g beef mince (£3.29)
1 can of chopped tomatoes (50p OR if you buy in packs of 4, 37.5p)
1 can of mixed beans in a spicy tomato sauce (£1.00)
Splash of Worcester sauce (negligible)
Stock cube (like 10p?)

Total: £4.665, or more sensibly: £4.67

Method (serves 5):

1. Put all the ingredients in the slow cooker. If you’re a fusspot like me, blend the tomato first and then chuck it in. If you’re not a fusspot, don’t bother.

2. Leave the whole glorious mixture for 2-3 hours on high.

3. That’s it!

4. Serve with, rice (probably adds around 60p per portion) or those funky taco shells – you could get creative and use those stand and stuff ones (which are super exciting, let’s be honest)

If you don’t have a slow cooker, you could probably just lob it all in a big sauce pan and then just cook it for about half an hour or so. Have fun, kiddlingtons!

 

 

Cheffing with Charlie: Venison Meatballs

OK, picture this. You’re on your own in the house. You’re hungry. The only ingredients you have on hand are a packet of meatballs and enough vegetables to sink the Spanish Armada. What do you do?

Well, first you ask yourself: why do I have nothing else in the cupboard? Once you’re done having a weird existential crisis, you can get on with dinner.

Venison Meatballs and Assorted Vegetables

I hope I’m not the only one who reads that as veggie-tables. (yes? no? maybe?)

You will need (serves 1):

3 venison meatballs (I guess you could substitute any meatball depending on what was actually in your fridge. Or even chopped up sausage, to be perfectly honest)
1 carrot
1/2 a sweet potato
4 mushrooms
A handful of frozen green beans
A dollop of frozen peas
A handful of spinach

Method

1. Peel and finely slice your carrot and sweet potato. Seriously, the finer this gets sliced the better for your cooking efficiency. At the same time, chuck the frozen veg in a microwaveable pot with some water and microwave for 4 minutes

2. Lob the carrot, sweet potato, and meatballs in a well oiled (the veg will soak up a lot of oil, so be generous. plus you can just drain it if you need to) saucepan. I say saucepan because then you can put a lid on it if you want to stop oil spitting, which is always a sensible thing to do. Set the timer for about 12 minutes. STIR THIS REGULARLY

3. Drain the now not-frozen veg, and set aside. Slice up your mushrooms and if you’re feeling a bit weird you can chop up the spinach too, but it’s completely unnecessary so maybe don’t bother

4. If the veg in the pan stop cooking, or start burning, throw some more oil in and stir it so everything’s nicely coated.

5. As the timer wends its way to 3 minutes, throw the mushrooms and previously-frozen vegetables into the pan. Poke the carrot to make sure it’s nicely tender. The carrot is the tricky one, but check the sweet potato too. They will be your limiting factor in terms of cooking time.

6. Once all the vegetables are cooked to your satisfaction, throw the spinach in and stir around a bit. Leave for a minute or so to wilt.

7. Hey presto, you’re done! You could drain everything to get rid of the oil with a sieve, if you feel so inclined. Otherwise, plate up and eat! (and hopefully enjoy)

The Mystery of Nerves

I think it’s safe to say that I’m a very anxious person; I get anxious when I have to talk to people about things, I get anxious when I have to send emails to people, ringing people about things is something I have to literally practice beforehand. So I think it’s interesting that when I’m performing as part of a group I don’t really get nervous at all. Oh, I might get a bit tense if I happen to have a solo, but on the whole I’m calm as a cucumber.

The other day I was recording for an orchestra that I play in. We were essentially recording for about four or five hours followed by a concert in the evening. Weirdly, I was more worried about the recording than I was about the live performance in the evening. At least we could go back and redo the recording if I made some enormous destructive mistake, whereas in the concert if it’s not perfect then there’s nothing you can do about it.

I don’t really know for sure why some concerts make me more anxious than others. Maybe there isn’t really a reason.

Travel

I have a minor confession to make. I really like train journeys. I don’t really like long tube journeys, because they’re just short enough to not let you really relax and think but they’re always too long to just stare, unblinking, at the door – because of course accidental eye contact on the tube is the absolute worst thing that could happen to you.

Whereas proper train journeys are great. You just plug yourself into an mp3 player (stops people thinking you want to touch up their necklace or even, heaven forbid, talk to them) and away you go. If it’s a journey you don’t take very often there’s some merit to just looking out of the window and drinking in the scenery. Look! In every house is a family, every car has someone inside, all those pedestrians have their own lives, and your life will probably never intersect with any of them. Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t it astounding that there can be so many people so close to you who you will never meet or even talk to? Even on the train itself – if you’re feeling brave – there’s the opportunity for some surreptitious people watching. Like the man sitting with a group of his friends (they all got on together) but not talking to any of them. Why? Or the man who fell over in the toilet and is now harassing the guard for a free ticket on his connection train – isn’t that weird?

Of course, if you’re on a familiar journey that’s where things start to get interesting. You could take the opportunity to read a book. I always like reading on trains because it feels like I’m being productive without having to do anything – I’m reading, but I’m actually going somewhere at top speed. Or you could have a quick meditate. Admittedly, this might work better if you’re in the quiet carriage but I’m sure you could pull it off if you were determined. Another option, and my favourite, is to put on a playlist, unbuckle my imagination and just drift off into my own head for half an hour. I may look like I’m sitting in a seat on a train, but I’m actually wrestling a dragon, or negotiating a peace treaty with aliens, or in a cafe meeting my future imaginary spouse.

Sometimes I’m even disappointed when the train pulls into York.

And now, something a little more cheerful

My last few posts have been a bit of a roller-coaster (to say the least) in terms of mood, so I thought it might be nice to put up something a bit less sad. And here it is: a post about comics! Basically, I’ve taken the opportunity to order both more of my shampoo (it’s important that my hair be ludicrously soft) and, while I was there, a couple of volumes of comics. The first volume of both, rather than getting all keen and ordering loads.

the movement

This is the first one. It’s called, as you may have gathered, The Movement. I heard about this through tumblr (!) but I was really interested in reading something with such a diverse cast. Essentially, the premise is that a group of teenagers called The Movement use a range of superpowers to tackle corruption in Coral City. The comics are supposed to incorporate lots of social movements and are meant to be a commentary on power dynamics and hierarchies. So it sounds like a pretty interesting concept, if nothing else. AND there’s an aroace (main!) character so that’s pretty exciting.

miss marvel

And this is the other one! You may already know this, but me writing it down fills out a bit of blog space so it bears repeating. This is the fourth character (as far as I know) to be called Ms Marvel, and her RL name is Kamala Khan. She’s a Pakistani-American, and her powers – shapeshifting – come from having a particular Inhuman gene etc. Basically, I don’t know a lot about the background of this one, but with my trusty google companion anything I don’t know I can veery quickly find out. There’s been a lot of positive reviews of this one, so we’ll see.

I’m sure I’ll do a followup review or something so you’re not left wondering forever ‘how good were they?????’.

Mitchell out.

Music Dinner

I have a bit of a dilemma on my hands. You know that music dinner I mentioned? The one that I bought that super awesome dress for – which I went and collected from the tailor today and fuck it looks good – and that I’ve been looking forward to for a good month now? Well, I’ve just discovered that something else is on the same day, and suffice to say it’s not something I’m looking forward to in the slightest.

It’s my nan’s funeral next Monday.

I don’t really know what to do. I’d like to go to the dinner, and I think it might be nice to do something cheerful to perk myself up a bit. But on the other hand, I don’t want to go and spend the whole evening being sad because having to socialise with people isn’t really necessarily what’ll be good for me. So I’m torn.

The thing is, I almost never go to these things. I ducked out of the dinner and the boat party last year, and I didn’t go to the end of year thing, so I kind of want to go just to make up for that. I’m umming and ahing and I don’t really think I’m likely to come up with an answer any time soon. That’s ok though. It’s not the end of the world if I don’t go, I guess.

Maybe I’ll just have to see how I feel next week or something.

Bloody Valentine’s Day

This Saturday, as I’m sure everyone in the entire universe is aware, was Valentine’s Day. St Valentine’s Day if you’re being super fancy, but I just prefer The Abomination.

This year I ended up playing in orchestra rehearsals all day (woe is me) so I didn’t have any time to dwell on my inevitable singleness. I say inevitable, but I guess it’s possible that one day I might have a significant other who doesn’t mind my being aroace but THAT TIME HAS NOT YET COME (and coincided with Valentine’s Day). But when I got BACK from orchestra, stuffed a burger down my throat and prepared myself for a hot chocolate filled evening/night of lying around and feeling generally sorry for myself.

I do that very well, as a matter of fact.

Anyway, just as I was settling in for an excellent evening (House + a cup of G&B hot chocolate, so not as bad as it could have been) my friend Evey (I think she spells it Evey but it might well be Evie. oh well) invited me over for commiserating over a bottle of cider and generally being inane.

(The inanity was shortly followed by a pretty intense conversation about politics and sexuality, which was interspersed with me gently falling off the sofa and putting myself back on it. and then the rolling across the floor happened because I had to demonstrate how soft my jumper was and how good my log roll was)

All in all, not a terrible day. Items required for a successful Valentine’s Day: One (1) friend with broken foot, two (2) bottles of cider, one (1) super soft jumper, and the ability to slide off a sofa while continuing a line of conversation.

The Element of Surprise

I used to think I liked surprises; a surprise hug, a cup of tea  you weren’t expecting, an unusual birthday present five months early. Those are all acceptable forms for surprise to take, being all reasonably pleasant and involving the acquisition of nice things. (unless the hugger has BO or something, but that’s by the by)

These days I have less of a taste for surprise. More accurately, I have less of a taste for suspense. When something unpleasant is going to happen, but you don’t know quite when, it leaves you feeling on edge. That’s alright for a day or so, but when you feel like that for a week or even several weeks, there’s a feeling of being poised on the edge of a cliff, waiting to tumble down into the sea below. A kind of lurching feeling, like that moment when you’re held in suspense on a roller coaster just before a plummet. It’s not a very nice feeling. I would quite happily be without it if it’s absence didn’t mean that the terrible thing had happened.

I am of course talking about my gran who is unwell at the moment. What a word, unwell. As though she might at any moment spring from her bed and be well again. At this point that is impossible. So here we are, waiting for the inevitable. And in the meantime, does life go on? It does, because it must. But every moment that passes is tainted with the constant knowledge that time is passing and can never be undone. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and do things differently. The last conversation I had with her while she was awake, for one. Or maybe I could go back before that and… what? Visit her in Bolton somehow? I don’t know. But it haunts me. The trouble with regret is that there is often absolutely nothing that can be done about it.

In the immortal words of Owl City: this isn’t the end.

I can’t work out if that’s a comforting thought.