Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Jumpsuits for shorties

I've never even considered wearing a jumpsuit before. It never even crossed my mind. I mean, I've been aware, for the past year at last, that they are making a comeback, slowly trickling down from the top notch designer labels to the high street, but I always thought they were too 'high fashion' for me.

However, when I saw this beauty of a jumpsuit in this month's Marie Claire, I fell in love with it, and went on to include it in a fashion article I wrote for The Yorker. Whilst researching this article, I began looking for alternatives (at £145 reduced, this is out of the price range of the student target demographic of the piece), and became utterly convinced that I needed a jumpsuit in my life.

And so mission jumpsuit began. I wanted something plain (therefore probably black), sophisticated and elegant. Not being the most slender of people (a generous size 12, and on the short side), I really wasn't convinced that I would find a single jumpsuit that looked good. I knew I wanted something with long legs, rather than a short jumpsuit, as I would be wearing it with heels to make up for what nature forgot to give me (height). Also nothing too flarey in the leg-Aladdin is so last year.

Cue frantic internet research followed by an eventful trip into town (York city centre)

I wasn't overly impressed by Topshop's online offerings; the only one which appealed to me was the 'Premium Jacquard Jumpsuit' and even looking at it online I knew it would be too long for me. Seeing it in store only served to confirm this.

Next stop New Look. Things were looking marginally better. I really liked this halterneck jumpsuit, however, bearing in mind that the model on the internet was 5ft8, I didn't think I stood a chance.

To be honest, just going into Whistles was scary enough (although it was out of my price range, I wanted to try the Camille jumpsuit anyway, for comparison-and if anyone reading this was wondering what to get me for Christmas...) I'd never been in there before and imagined it as the Devil-Wears-Prada of the retail industry, with immaculately presented sales assistants looking down their noses at my Primark handbag.

Into town I trotted, first stop Whistles. Deep breath and in I go. Unfortunately for my wardrobe (but perhaps fortunately for my nerves), they didn't seem to have the Camille jumpsuit in stock (and I wasn't hanging around to ask). They did however, have a similar jumpsuit, but in a deep red and with a  halterneck collar. It was lovely, but one look at it told me that it wouldn't fit-the legs were up to my boobs! Cue quick exit from Whistles and onto New Look.

Despite several playsuits, the only jumpsuit I could find in New Look told me in one glance that it would be too long again. I had the same problem in every shop I went in, I didn't need to try them on to know that they would be too long. One day I will venture into town again and try some playsuits, but Christmas shoppers got the better of me on this particular trip.

Mission Jumpsuit: failure.  So if any buyers/designers for High Street stores are reading this, here's something for your 2012 to do list: Jumpsuits for shorties.

PS. Can someone explain to me why 'jumpsuits' are categorized under 'dresses' on the websites of several fashion retailers? I understand that they are alternatives to each other, but so are skirts and trousers and you rarely see those categorised together.

Zookeeper (Coraci, 2011)


From the release of the first trailers for this film, it was either going to be really good, or really, really bad. There were mixed reviews about it; some people had said it "wasn't great", but they didn't say it was terrible, so a mountain of turkey sandwiches and some pig-awful Boxing Day TV later, I found myself sitting down to watch Zookeeper.

I had two big issues with the opening scene:

  • He was batting WAY above his average with her
  • WHY would you not want to marry a zookeeper? I would. Not necessarily that particular one, but if the right zookeeper came along...

So yes, a few dodgy hits in the opening scene, and I was dreading what was to come, but I was pleasantly surprised. It may not have the strongest storyline or the most convincing characters, but it is an entertaining way to wile away a lazy couple of hours. There are several throwbacks to Dr Dolittle, and even King Kong, with a the gorilla heroically climbing his way to the top of a bridge to let the zookeeper get the girl. The plot was highly predictable from about 10 minutes in, but so are most Disney films, and people don't complain about them.

Had my stomach not been lined with a couple of cheeky glasses of Buck's Fizz, I may not have been so keen, as I normally can't stand unrealistic films with animals talking and whatnot (my imagination is not as elastic as it used to be), but it managed to raise a few laughs, which is all you need on a lazy Boxing Day.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Ways in which I've grown up in 2011*

  • I wasn't excited about Christmas this year-this means I now have a mental age of more than 8
  • I wasn't excited about the post-Christmas sales this year-I now have a mental age higher than a teenager
  • I've spent more money on food than I have on clothes
  • I've spent more money on alcohol than I have on clothes food
  • I didn't have an advent calendar this year
  • I finally learnt to eat pizza the proper way, rather than crusts first
  • I now understand some of the jokes on The Inbetweeners
  • I know what some of the buttons on the washing machine do.
  • I now know that you don't have to spend money EVERY time you go in Disney Store (although I still tend to make up for it on alternate occasions)

*Mentally/emotionally only; physically, I'm the same 5ft1 I was at the start of 2011

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Christmas specials that never were

When I was a kid, my favourite part of Christmas, other than the presents, was the Christmas specials on TV, especially the comedies. I remember the days (I feel like I should be stroking my beard and looking wise whilst writing this) when, after Christmas dinner, you would sit down to the My Family Christmas special, followed by The Vicar of Dibley Christmas special, then Only Fools and Horses. Those were the good days (another stroke of the beard*). These days, there are no decent comedies on TV on Christmas Day-the only thing I'm looking forward to is the Ab Fab comeback, and I've a feeling that will be bitterly disappointing. Combine that with the doom and gloom of Walford, Weatherfield and the like, and we might as well give up any hope of Christmas cheer right now.

So, I've come up with my own Christmas specials of pre-existing shows, featuring characters past and present. Some of the shows have done Christmas specials in the past, while others haven't. Enjoy


Rachel organises the Santa's Grotto at work, but her Santa drops out last minute so she needs a replacement. Joey steps in, but due to eating Monica's turkey on Christmas Eve, Joey falls asleep and nearly misses Christmas, so Chandler has to step in as Santa, during which time he inadvertently makes some inappropriate comments towards children and nearly gets arrested.

Phoebe tries to cover for Joey by buying a new turkey, replacing it in Monica's fridge where the old one was...but leaves the feathers on.

Rachel and Ross go on a break, during which time Ross remarries.

Waterloo Road

Some major disaster in Rochdale (Janeece's left boob exploding, perhaps?) results in the school hall being used as a shelter for the rough and ready residents. Ruby's elaborate 12-course Christmas dinner is used as ammo in a food fight between two rival estate gangs.

Rachel, the ex-headmistress, turns up in a Sexy Santa outfit, touting for business (turns out it didn't work out with the chef, so she's back to old tricks.)

Ronan Burlely flogs a load of dodgy Christmas crackers, which turn out to have real explosives in.

For the first time, we see footage of Grantly Budgen smiling. Oh, sorry, false alarm, it was just gas from one too many mince pies.

Desperate Housewives

Santa's sleigh crashes into Wisteria Lane on Christmas Eve, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake (I'd be willing to wager that the idea came up in at least one production planning meeting). The reindeer cut loose and munch their way through Bree's roses. This, combined with Bree coming second to Susan in the Christmas cake competition, results in Bree having a minor heart attack and ending up in Fairview Memorial hospital.

People notice liquor beginning to go missing from their houses and blame Carlos (it's been a tough year), until it is revealed that it is in fact the ghost of Edie who is responsible.

Linette, naturally, is pregnant.

Gavin and Stacey

Nessa wins the X-Factor and shacks up with Simon Cowell, who makes a guest appearance for Christmas dinner at Gwen's (turkey omelette, of course). Her hit single "What's occuring" becomes No.1 in many middle and far-Eastern countries. Brin assumes role of her stage manager and refuses to let anyone speak to her unless they consult him first...until Christmas Day. Gavin and Stacey buy him am Iphone and he becomes so impressed with it and convinced that he can conduct his whole life via this one piece of technology that he refuses to leave the house for two whole weeks, until he realises that he cannot use the Iphone to clean the Picasso.

Pam indulges in some lip surgery, which goes wrong and results in her being known as 'Fat-lip-Pam'.

The Vicar of Dibley 

The Coca Cola truck gets lost on its tour of Britain and ends up in Dibley. Owen tries to seduce one of the Coca Cola tour girls. Hugo and Alice, neither having ever left Dibley, perceive the lorry to be some sort of giant cow and begin 'milking' it, to get Coca Cola to give to their children. The 'udder' turns out to be the petrol cap. That one doesn't end happily.

*For anyone who doesn't know me, I don't actually have a beard.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

M and M's world

Bright colours, flashing lights, loud music, you can't miss it!
Famous the world over for highly coveted film premieres, Leicester Square is used to bright, flashing lights and overbearing presences. But even here, the newest attraction should probably come with some sort of warning label;  "May cause epileptic fits, regression to childhood and extreme bankruptcy"
M&Ms World has only been open a couple of months, and is already extremely popular with tourists and Londoners alike. Even if you haven't seen the shop, you have probably seen people clutching the bright yellow carrier bags that state "I'm a mug, who spent a mug's amount of money on a mug". Well, they actually say M&Ms World, but once you get there, you realise it's a synonym.

Making your way through Leicester Square towards M&Ms World, it seems like the safe haven at the end of the proverbial tunnel, an escape from the bustle of central London. Well, until you get inside, and the madness hits you.  Bright, flashing lights, cheesy pop music and a London double decker bus parked in the entrance, not to mention the poor cleaner clearing the vomit off of the rug at the door after some child had one M&M too many.

The staircase up to the top floor houses the first hints that this is trying to be more than just a shop. An entire portrait gallery consisting of M&M characters posing as quintessentially British figures lines the walls. This was taken so seriously that a sign placed upon a podium asked visitors not to touch the portraits. SORRY, forgot this was akin to the Louvre.
Portraits of Robin Hood, Guy Fawkes and Boudicea

This attempt at, ahem, class continued on the top floor, with collectible ornaments, ranging from £130-£700 in price. To an untrained eye, they seemed to be made of little more than resin, although of course they were kept under lock and key as if they were the crown jewels.  It's unlikely that Lawrence Lleweyn Bowen or David Dickinson will be snapping one up anytime soon.
A drop in the ocean at £700 odd. At the most it was 40cm in height.

<<In case you were so overcome with the joy of it all at this stage, that you felt like celebrating (because of course, who wouldn't?)

Just when you're thinking you've seen everything that could possibly be branded, you'll arrive in the kitchenware section. A set of M&M measuring spoons. And even worse, M&Ms spatulas. One in every M&M colour, naturally.

Who wakes up and thinks "Today, I'm going to buy and M&Ms spatula. Because, y'know, no other ordinary spatula will do the job"? You'd have to either really love M&Ms, in which case hey presto, you're in the right place, or really love spatulas. In which case, I don't think there's a right place for you on this earth, my friend.

I know what you're thinking. They've missed a trick here. No M&Ms chopsticks. They could have made a killing on them. Wrong. M&Ms are one step ahead of you>>>

Shower curtains? Check. Soap dish? Yep. Duvet cover? Duh! It's highly likely that every item you use on a day to day basis exists somewhere in this store.

M&M golf ball? Of course.

<<What is this I see? M&Ms golf balls. But only in green. Is this the equivalent to racism in M&Ms world? As if yellow, or blue, or red are simply not good enough colours to constitute being whacked with a metal pole by a man in a crazy jumper? On second thoughts, they probably had a lucky escape.

Below: Dog travel water bottle. I never knew such things even existed, let alone M&M branded ones. It was certainly an eye opening trip.

No need for Fido or Moggy to feel let out.

And there another horror caught my eye. Wedged between the satchels and the umbrellas in the yellow section (because, of course, the shop is arranged by the colours of the characters). M&M underpants. Not even subtle ones.
Mmmmm Schexy
If anyone I know ever wore these, I'd certainly have a new use for the umbrella.

Despite the many nods to the Britishness of it all (the portraits, the plentiful union jacks), M&Ms World has quite clearly held onto its Stateside roots. The whole place oozes an American atmosphere and it wouldn't have been out of place for one of the 'associates' to say "Have a nice day" with that honey sickly grin that Americans wear so well. It's hardly surprising considering the other 3 M&Ms Worlds all hail from the USA.

One ingenious piece of equipment they had were the wet umbrella pockets at the door. Similar to one of those flower bags you get at the supermarket, they were for shoppers to put their umbrellas in as they wombled round, avoiding the annoyance of second hand rain dripping all over the floor. If more places had things like that, everyone would be happy!

If you are a particular fan of M&Ms, or overpriced tacky merchandise in general, this is definitely
worth a visit and you could probably spend a good couple of hours here. If not, it's not really worth a visit unless you're in the area anyway. Some people rave about it whilst others have never heard of it. My mother still thinks I went to a shrine for a rap star.

I apologise for the quality of the images throughout this post. At first I wasn't sure if photos were permitted, so felt like I was running some sort of clandestine operation, trying to subtly snap away whilst pretending to be SO SO interested in all the products. Then I realised everyone was as it, so got snap happy.

Pssst...Another review I wrote of M&Ms world is available here. Y'know, in case you haven't had enough of me yet.

For more Scribbling Lau London happenings, click here.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Lucky Charms

For anyone who read and enjoyed my blog post about Froot Loops, you’re probably going to enjoy this one too; it’s the same, but with the king, no, in fact the god of all American cereals. Lucky Charms! (If you didn’t read my Froot Loops post, take a couple of minutes now to familiarise yourself with it.)

Done? Good. The aim of the previous post was to see whether Froot Loops really are as good as I remembered when I was a kid. Truth be told, I’ve already been here a little bit; I had Lucky Charms when I was about 12 or so; looking back now I realise I was still a young whippersnapper, but at the time I was convinced I was a real-proper-grown-up-adult, fondly taking a trip down memory lane to when I was a kid. If I’m truthful, it was a disappointing experience. A bit like going to bed with Owen Wilson and waking up next to Wayne Rooney. Better than nothing, but not satisfying on a surface level. You still get that happy after feeling though; just knowing you had Lucky Charms for breakfast is a good way to put a bounce in your step. There weren’t as many charms as I remember, which was sad. For the uninitiated, I realise I should explain; Charms are the marshmallow bits (think marshmallows, but on a really good day), shaped like rainbows, stars etc., the rest of the cereal is just whole grain pieces, which taste a bit like Cheerios, but old school Cheerios, before they took most of the sugar and good stuff out.

These are the infamous charms. Not sure where the lucky part comes in. You may need some help identifying them:
Top left- Bottom right                                                                    
Shamrock sack                                                                                
Shooting stars (they come in more colours too)                        
Heart (disappointingly, the only one in the pot)
Not entirely sure; a pot of gold, perhaps?

The picture on the right is a rainbow. It is pictured separately because I only found it halfway through.

Whoever cuts and colours the charms has certainly got more slapdash in recent years (or perhaps my ageing imagination has a lot to answer for).

I will also be addressing another question today; do Lucky Charms make a good breakfast after a heavy night out?* I already think I know the answer to this one (no), but we’ll see.

The result? They were gooood. I was pleasantly surprised by how many charms there were. A bit of trial and error eventually led me to believe that one charm to ten wheaty pieces (which probably are still charm shaped but it’s hard to tell) is the optimum ratio. That way, the marshmallow lasts right to the bottom, and the cereal doesn’t get boring.**

So yes, they were good, but I have to confess, I preferred the Froot Loops. Even writing that feels like I’m turning my back on my entire childhood (every time we went to America, we ended up smuggling Lucky Charms back in a suitcase, just so that my holiday could last that little bit longer). That said, I'm still feeling pretty good after eating them. Not the best morning-after breakfast I've had, but nothing a fried egg brunch won't cure.

PS. I feel the need to reiterate again just how good the marshmallows are. They’re no ordinary marshmallows. They’re kind of crunchy, but in a good way, and when the milk hits them, they begin to go soft and dissolve. As with all cereals, there is a science as to when is the optimum time to eat them; you have to wait for the milk to do its’ work on softening them, but leave it too long and it’ll dissolve to nothing.

Also, apologies for the way the photos get shakier as the experience goes on. It’s definitely because of the sugar rush, and is nothing to do with the after effects of last night.

*Note: this question wasn’t planned, but I woke up with a dirty great Willow stamp on my hand this morning. Any York people reading this will know what I mean.
**   Disclaimer: This applies to the little snack pots only. I would be willing to wager that the ratio would be much less satisfactory in a real cereal box packet.