Saturday, April 28, 2012

It's real! It's all real!

Firstly I must start with an angry rant as I am slightly annoyed this morning. You know when people post something on facebook and you shouldn't let it bother you, but then you do and then you feel like an idiot because it's only typed words, but then it's typed words that everyone can see and it kinda hurts because even thought you don't see them that much you still class them as a good friend and in that case friends should accept you for who you are and not insult you and make you out to be some complete moron? And breathe. That must be a contender for longest sentence in the world....surely.

Well anyway, I'm sure you know what I mean. It's just really annoying. I expect comments like that from enemies and nasty people, none of which I have as friends on facebook, for that very reason. But when people are just elitist and self righteous and uber condescending I think they definitely deserve a punch in the face!

So, I will try to calm down a bit now and tell you about my truly magnificent day yesterday at the Harry Potter Studio tour, Leavesden. To say I was giddy was a true understatement. Various squeals of delight could be heard as well as the obligatory mini jumps in the air and the occasional welling up from being completely overwhelmed.

Outside Watford station when you see the Harry Potter bus for the first time, you know its gonna be a good day! Sadly not a replica of the knight bus as I'd hoped (sorry for those of you that are not HP fans, the knight bus is a triple decker bus used by stranded witches and wizards and features prominently in the opening of HP3. It has beds instead of seats and is purple and of course is invisible to muggles.) but still it was very exciting. What made me laugh was that most of the people were my age or older. There was the odd child and a couple of students but the mean age was about 30. And it was ace because you didn't feel like an idiot, you just felt amongst like minded people, though actually A pointed out that many of the couples were well dorkier than us. He he. We were actually borderline cool at this thing. That's never happened before.

It is in the middle of nowhere but everything about it makes you forget that and I guess it's rather fitting when you think you're being transported to a magical world. THE magical world where the visuals for these wonderful films were made. And I think my British pride definitely came out several times in the day, as there were so many purely British things and so many of the cast, crew, directors (the director from HP 5-8 was born in St Helens) and producers were British. And it all had this very British feel to it. It made me really proud! (Don't worry I vote Lib Dem not BNP...ha ha. NO really, I've already sent my postal vote off for Mayor of London and all the rest of it.)

When you enter the building the pictures of the main cast, spanning all 8 films, greet you. And it really sets the scene. The one of Gary Oldman as Sirius Black was particularly fetching. I do love Sirius Black. YUM!

So many giddy adults in one place, I'd never seen before. And an equal spread of men and women. And luckily because most kids were at school, only a tiny mount of kids. Handy tip: It is worth buying the souvenir guide book as it is really a nice keep sake and to be honest everything in the shop is astronomically over priced. So unless you're loaded I would suggest just getting the guide, taking hundreds of photos, taking your time going round and just soaking it all in.

You enter and there's a guy trying to get everyone going, but as most of his audience are adults, they were a little reserved. I gave the odd woo and hoo, just 'cause I felt sorry for him. Now, I don't want to spoil things for people that haven't been yet but I will point out some of my highlights.

You enter J Stage first which has all the interior sets. These are the actual sets used in the films complete with all the original props.  I will give you a tip here: Don't just look in front of you. Look up. There are so many hidden treasures that they don't signpost, that are just dotted about. You really have to look for them, but some people blasted through and missed so much. Ha ha. More fool them.

There is an opportunity to do some green screen stuff. Now, I was a little sceptical, but A was well up for it. SO we queued for about 35 minutes, not too bad. You can be in the car from Chamber of Secrets or you can ride a broom. We chose to ride a broom, of course and you got to wear a Hogwarts robe too. In all honesty, the closer we got to the front the more and more I didn't want to do it. Everyone in the queue gets to watch you, not only on screens but as you do it. It's extremely embarrassing. Although you cant help but take the piss out of people as they do it.

I said to A, "I want to be good, but I know I'm gonna be shit."

To be honest I don't think I was that bad. There were some really grumpy people that didn't move or anything. I mean why bother doing it if you're not gonna try. There were also a few older women (probably in their 40's) that were having a lovely time and really getting into it. I gave them a clap. Needless to say, I'd already decided the gift shop was too expensive and so I bought mine and A's photos of us hovering above Hogwarts on our brooms. Cheesy yes, but come on, that'll probably be my only time on a broomstick, so you gotta relish. (So: If the queue ain't too bad, do it, but don't worry if it's really busy because it ain't that great.)

Once you leave J Stage you come to the back lot where they have a lot of larger items and outdoor sets. You can also purchase butter beer and a few refreshments and have a sit down. To be honest, at this point we'd already been in about 2 and a half hours and I was dehydrated to the max. So I gulped down a whole bottle of water, plus some butter beer and really enjoyed the outdoor sets. Awesome!

Then you enter K Stage. (Get it J and K Stage. JK. Ha) This is AMAZING! This has the creature workshop where they make all the animatronics, masks, prosthetics, life sized models of cast and all the nasty horrible bits of HP. And it's truly amazing. What you don't realise in the films is that half of what you think is CGI, is actually not. They made so many custom built stuff especially for the films. It's freaking genius!

Okay. Diagon Alley is......mind blowing. I didn't want to leave. And I won't say anything except use your powers of observation here. There are so many little things to see.

Then you get to see how they conceptualise from pencil sketch, to blue print, to white paper model, to scale model, to the real thing. It's breath taking. Especially the original art work, most of which was never actually used but is so wonderfully dark.

The final surprise I will leave a surprise because it really makes you feel like it's all real. A magical magical journey. I am so grateful that they have done this. It's a real pleasure and so much better that you can take your own pictures.   (I think the only downfall from the Studio Ghibli museum in Mitaka, Tokyo, was that you couldn't take photos in side.) And it's lovely that you can see it in Britain and not have to go to bloody Florida. (Though that can;t be anywhere near as good.) You get to understand some of the inner workings of how films are made and you just soak it all up.

I literally couldn't stop smiling the entire day, but I was exhausted on the way back. Not used to getting that giddy about something. It really takes it out of you. Ha ha.

So, in closing....GO. IT's MIND BLOWING! If you're not a fan, then fine, don't go, but don't take the piss out of your friends for going. Everybody is a geek about something. Just go with it and celebrate your differences, they are what makes life so interesting!

I am writing this blog from a train zooming from St Pancras to Nottingham to see some wonderful wonderful people, that I haven't seen since Christmas Eve, so we are long overdue for a catch up. Can't wait J and T and P.

Oh and thank you C for calling yesterday for an old school chinwag on the phone. So much communication occurs between email, text, twitter and facebook that you forget sometimes how much hearing someone's voice whilst  you communicate can be so nice.

Have a great weekend everyone and try not to insult anyone on facebook unless it's ridiculously obvious that you're joking. It can really make people angry.
Thank you


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Aaaaaarrrrrrggghhhhhh! Blogger has changed it's interface.........der der derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
Oh no. I just thought I'd try and get a blog in as A is delayed on the Eurostar and then I log on to this.....I don't know where anything is. Eek.
Well, after pressing only a couple of wrong buttons I seem to be able to write my blog again, so that's fine. And now I'm over the initial shock I can see that it's pretty much the same, so really I should just shut up and get on with it.
Hi all. What a week. Since the day of no words, I have had another 7 days filled with words and am still sticking to the positive thinking, though it definitely slipped to around 80/20 last Friday as an evil dragon attempted to take me down and shatter the wall of positivity I'd managed to hastily erect around me. (I realise it was built fast and with little skill, so I knew it wouldn't take much to take it down, but this was such a sudden, unexpected blow that it ripped a hole right through me.)

The dragon in question is actually a dentist in Kentish Town. I'd registered after many years without seeing a dentist at all (yes I know this is a very silly thing to do and I completely regret it now and I will never do it again, I promise) mainly because a bit of my tooth had chipped off just before Easter and obviously I needed to get it checked out. So I go there, fill out my form and wait..........

A lovely dental nurse, all smiles, totally gorgeous (why is it that most - and I say most, not all - dental nurses are bloody gorgeous? Is it a pre-requisite of working there? You have to look good to make up for the fact that the dentist is going to poke you with sharp things and rip your mouth apart? Who knows? But anyway, she was totally lovely and asking me questions.) led me into the room and I started to relax. Surely this can't be as bad as I'm thinking it will be?

Oh no, it could be so much worse. I walk in and the dragon says: "Okay. Sit down." With such an abrupt manner. She had no time for me, that was obvious. I mean, she didn't even introduce herself. I didn't even know her name. So I sit down, the lustre of the nice dental nurse swiftly wearing off. She asks me some very short questions, questions that required the shortest of answers, so she didn't actually have to give me much attention. 

I should have bolted then. I could see the dragon scales beneath her scrubs, but still I thought I must stick it out. She's a professional. She knows what she's doing and surely I must be in safe hands. Though when she started to breathe fire, I began to doubt that.

Within ten minutes of a supposed 30 minute consultation, she'd taken a look at my teeth, decided one, possibly two of them had to come out, had taken me for x-rays, yelled at me, treated like a piece of shit on her shoe and asked me to leave, saying I had until Friday (27th April) to make a decision on whether one or both of the teeth were coming out.

To say I was shell shocked was so far from the truth. I walked out of the room with several sheets of paper. I'd heard her say something about signing some sheets but I literally didn't have a clue what I was signing. It could have been giving up my flesh as her Sunday roast (I'm sure Dragons love a good Person Roast with all the trimmings.) So I sort of floated out in a haze of ......haziness and I dumped the papers on the reception desk.
"I think I'm supposed to sign something." I murmured weakly.
She'd sucked all the life from me. She'd made me feel so small. Like nothing. Like I was the skankiest person alive. Like I had the skankiest mouth and I should just be put down.

And as I was signing away my money and god knows whatever else, I really had to force back the tears. I was angry at myself for not visiting the dentist. Angry at myself for not shouting back at her. Angry at myself for not sticking up for myself and more than that, I was feeling sorry for myself. All in all, I had to fight to keep the tears back. I don't cry very often (as all who know me will vouch) but especially not in public and not at the hands of a bully.

I realised that I now had to make a decision about two different things none of which had been explained to me. One: why did my wisdom tooth have to come out? I had no pain and all she kept growling at me was the "Angle of the tooth." She pointed at the x-ray and yelled, "Look at the angle on that. Of course it has to come out." Oh yeah, because we're all frickin' experts on reading dental x-rays. Yeah, I took it as an additional module at uni. (Latin percussion followed by dental x-rays.)

What a penis! And two: I had to decide if the tooth that broke was worth fixing or if I was to have that out as well. Again she just pointed at the x-ray yelled a few times in dragon. (I'm not too familiar with that particular tongue). And so I left having no idea what to do about anything because she'd yelled at me and treated me like a piece of shit. I made it about four steps out the door before the first tear fell. Dammit! I tried so hard not to let it get to me, but it just felt like the minute I got things on track with my writing and I was happier and more productive and enthusiastic and even enjoying work more......then something had to go completely tits up, and this was it.

Of course the day didn't end there. I couldn't go crawl into bed and watch a marathon of depressing TV shows. I had to go straight to work and be in charge because my manager was off. Now there's something I really wanted to do.......

I had a stress nose bleed on the way to work which was lovely. I then broke down in the toilets, stopped myself, cleaned myself up and then went out to face the world. Ooops. It was way too soon, I should have stayed in there a bit longer. As soon as I came out, Soph asked me how it went and I broke down again. Hastily she dragged me off into the office and gave me a cuddle. (By the way Soph, I'm very much appreciated of this. I don't have many melt downs and normally when I do there's no on there. But it really helped to have someone to talk to about it and of course grab a cuddle. Thanks dear.)

Once we'd slagged off the evil wench a little, I did feel better and I made it into the classroom. The kids, picking up on my less than usual mood, were very cute and gave me loads of additional cuddles. Much appreciated. So, if you're going for a melt down, do it in an environment with children. They're great at bringing you back to life.

So, then followed days of paranoia on my part. Nightmares. Thinking constantly about my teeth and how they were going to all fall out. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't concentrate and poor A, I could barely hold a conversation. Everything I put in my mouth (I realise the sexual connotations, but please behave, I'm losing my mind here) I was panicking about. I'm not enjoying food. I'm just really freakin' out. 

Cue A and his wondrously calm personality. He arranges me an appointment at his dentists for a second opinion and manages to keep me from tearing my hair out. In the mean time I've bought new mouth wash and floss and am cleaning like a bitch! So today I got to talk to an actual dentist. Not a dragon. I had things explained to me in a courteous manner and I was actually treated like a human being. So that was nice. And whilst the outcome was pretty much the same, I had explanations for why things were happening, what needed to be done and the different options available to me. And that, is all I wanted in the bloody first place.

So despite the fact that I will still be saying goodbye to two of my teeth (one not my fault - an impacted wisdom tooth and the other completely my fault due to no dentist in about 8 years) I am happy that I know more about it and I understand there is no other option. The dragon may be a competent dentist but she should never be allowed to speak to people. No body deserves to be spoken to like I was. It's unprofessional and downright disgusting.

On a more pleasant note, the Orchestra case study that I mentioned last blog has me retaining my celebrity status at the Crowndale Centre in Camden. I had three emails via work today, telling me how amazing it was and that they can't wait for me to present it at the meeting in May. So in between teeth stressing I got a bit of a boost. Much needed.

I've learnt a valuable lesson over the past few days. I'm not quite as invincible as I first thought. Just because I'm not in pain doesn't mean I'm fine. So, you can guarantee I'll be getting doctor's appointments just for a general check up and regular dentists to keep on top of things.

I've always struggled to ask for help with things and this northern notion of being able to cope with anything, can back fire quite heavily. So maybe I'll embrace a bit of help, from professionals only (no dragons) and I can prolong this northern lady.

Thank you for reading.
Harry Potter Studio Tour on Friday. Giddy doesn't even cover it.

Happy Lord is it only Tuesday.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

The day of failure: No words......

A sad day. 18/4/12. A break in the flow. Today there were no words, except the hastily scribbled notes for this blog that I wrote on the tube journey home. A sad, sad day.

After 7 days of positive productivity, courtesy of Simon Whaley's wonderful book and of course my god damn hard work. I've written 14,600 words towards my second novel; a blog of 1055 words, element 3 of my music syllabus which was 303 words and a letter to the parents about our new Space topic which was 316 words.........(take a breath).............With a grand total of  16, 274 words. IN A WEEK! Whoop! (and I was working 4 of those days!)

But then tragedy struck.  There were no words yesterday. And I am sad! And mad actually. Mad at myself for being good at my job and for actually caring about stuff. Sometimes I just wish I was slightly shitter at my job. Then I wouldn't feel that niggle of guilt if I even contemplated not meeting a deadline.

After a lull of 3 weeks or so, I'm now being bombarded with SENCo stuff again (Special Educational Needs related stuff) which as much as I love all my kids, is a real ball ache. Reams and reams of paperwork, meetings, reviews, formulations, and possibilities for all these activities and work cycles you can do, if you had extra staff and 93 hours in a day. Urgh! Why does it have to be so hard??????

Oh, realised I just sounded like a whiney kid. I really do spend way too much time with them..........ha ha.
Actually last week was lovely, what with the bank holiday and then my manager giving me the Friday off as time owed. Working 3 days was a real eye opener and obviously helped towards my ridiculously high writing output. And it kinda got me thinking...........Maybe I could ask again to cut my hours. I asked last summer when the numbers of children went ridiculously low, but they said it would impede on my duties as a room leader. But I think if I go in there and throw a hissy fit and complain about all the additional work I do and how long I've been there and all that jazz, then I might be able to persuade them. I could do it just for the summer and then when the numbers went back up I could go back to 5 days.

Working 4 days instead of five could mean an extra 5,000 words a week and when novel writing is what your heart, mind, body and soul is craving, then you just can't ignore it! Although, it'll probably take me a month to pluck up the courage to ask. You know what I'm like.

And not only is it SENCo stuff but it's Orchestra case studies. You really don't get anything for free! Ha ha. We had some players from a London Orchestra come to play for the children and by Friday I have to have sent them our complete case study evaluating what happened, what we did to prepare and if the children, parents and staff enjoyed it. Sounds fairly straight forward. But no. If you're Helen (and unfortunately I am) then you have to have the best, most bright colourful, lengthy (I don't do brief) and most fantabulous case study the World has ever seen. Even though once we've handed it in and had our meeting about it with other settings in Camden (Yes, another meeting!) it'll probably be shoved in a filing cabinet and never see the light of day again. I can't help it though. I can't do things half heartedly. If my name is on it, then I want it to be great!
Man, I'm a pain in my own ass!

Urgh, I had a hair in face moment on the tube, and not my hair. Eeek. Nasty! This girl had her back to me and anytime I moved it was like stroking my face. But if I tried to hold back then I was bumping and grinding against the guy behind me. I couldn't choose the best of two evils, so I accepted a bit of both and then thankfully she got off at Euston.

Am I the only one in the World (or at least Britain) that is enjoying being back in my thick coat, hat, gloves and scarf???? Yes? Thought so. I just love being wrapped up and cosy and the weather makes me think of Autumn, though it's lacking the mesmerising colours. Anyhoo, I'm not complaining too much, but the kids a little restless due to not always being able to go outside and play in the garden. Still, I'm getting them interested in the clouds and weather again. Muhahahahahah. I'll make them all into musical, cloud obsessed geeks if it's the last thing I do! Muhahahahahahah.

I am not sleeping well at the moment. And I don't know why. I'm not going to bed ridiculously late, or getting totally trashed (alcohol for some reason keeps me up, probably the dehydration), but I am having trouble turning my brain off again. Sometimes I wish there was a silence button, where your thoughts could meander around but didn't whisper to you the whole night. Or one of those hibernate buttons that you have on a computer, to save energy but still be on. That could work too. Either that or I'll just have to borrow Dumbledore's pensieve. I'm sure he wouldn't mind. He he.

N.B Trying to write a blog with three people talking around you and talking to you and talking in another language, is very distracting. (Love you all but I can't concentrate).

Whaley's book) and something that I am heading towards, but just beware, if you come in between me and my writing I may just rip your arm off and use it as a wrist rest whilst typing. Yes, I can make that work.

And enough of scary psycho me. As much as I am sad about yesterday's lack of writing output, I think my weekly total gives me a bit of leeway and I am already cracking on today with whatever my blog total comes to. So whoop! I'm back on track.

You see, this is what you can achieve if YOU WORK HARD! And all that other capital, underlined and bold printed bull shit. But it did work for me and if I carry on this way, I'll have a second novel written before my October holiday, as well as many blogs and hopefully other writing projects.

Thank you for listening to me rant. I think I'd explode otherwise.

Oh and I keep forgetting to get excited about the Puppini Sisters gig tomorrow at Shepherds Bush. Whoop! It's gonna be full of insanely amazing outfits, sexy strutting and some spectacular harmonies. I cannot wait!!!!!
Do be do whop!

Happy wet, grey, Thursday!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Positively Pessimistic Writer

My alarm was going off and I'm thinking to myself, what the hell is that?

It's 6.05am and time to write my blog. I could have just turned it off and taken another few minutes in bed but that would make me a lazy writer.


That's what my new book says. Perhaps not in so many words. Ha ha. It is great but also hilarious. It's called The Positively Productive Writer by Simon Whaley. A got it me, of course. I don't think I could ever reasonably pick up a book with a title like that, being an eternal pessimist. But.......I am pleasantly surprised.

Despite all the patronising pleas of YOU CAN DO IT, in capitals and sometimes bold print, there are some interesting strategies. And just taking them on board in the last 2 days has enabled me to write 1600 words towards book 2 of The Last Imagining trilogy and begin the drudgery that is: editing book 1, again!

I seem to be slowly getting back into the frame of mind I was in a couple of years ago, when I wrote the first book, which is much needed. I hadn't really done any writing this year what with being buried under 13 key children's portfolios (bearing in mind they have 2 each and are mostly full and heavy). But now I have only one left to update and I can feel the pressure of that stress dropping off me, leaving my head clearer. Allowing those thought processes that I need for a jolly good writing session. So watch this space......I could be asking some of you to read through re-edits or read through some book 2 stuff.

I have even been contemplating an MA in Creative Writing and have done a bit of research and found one that could be perfect for me, and you can do it part time in the evening so I could still work....Mmmmmmm.
But this is just a pipe dream at the moment and may never materialise.

What's weird is that all these things are POSITIVE. Does that mean the book, (and I'm only half way through it) is somehow brain washing me to become more positive. To achieve my goals and discipline my time more effectively? Does that mean no more pessimism????

Yeah right. Come on, I can find the negative in any situation, but if this slight change in attitude could get me further along with the books then so be it. But don't worry, I'll probably read through what I wrote yesterday and decide that it's a load of crap and that I'm useless and I can't write for shit! Which means I'll have been positive for a grand total of 48 hours. To be fair though, I think it could be the longest time on record....if I don't cave before then. He he.

And now for something gravely distressing.........My hairdresser has left the Kutt Zone. (Gasps of astonishment). Daniele-magic-hands can no longer cut my hair.Which means that I can no longer have my hair cut. End of story..........

Okay, maybe that's a little drastic but really, who can I trust now?

I was so shocked when it happened. I went in to book an appointment.I should've known something was wrong really. They'd had a revamp to the salon and all the prices and stuff were now displayed on the window and........change is never good. I went to the desk and said: "I'd like to book an appointment for later in the week with Daniele."
"I'm sorry he doesn't work here anymore. He's gone back to Italy."
AHHHHHHHHH. My brain went into shock (literally) and I became a bumbling mess. I couldn't get my words out.

I was like "Oh. Right. Okay. Erm....."
And she had her sales face on. "Well there are lots of other great stylists."
Ha! She has to say that. But they're not him.
I bumbled on for another few seconds before saying, "I'll have to think about it and get back to you."

Pathetic I know. But I can't cope with change and it took me 27 years to become comfortable at a hair salon. If I have to wait another 27 years, not only will I be 54, but I'll be in the Guinness Book of Records for having the longest and shittest looking hair.

Okay, enough melodrama for one morning. How was everyone's Easter? I'm hoping the Bank Holidays were kind to all. Or to most.

I got to meet up with some lovely old friends from when I used to work in a nursery in Manchester. I also went to see H and J's new flat in Salford which is a stone's throw from where I used to live. Oh the memories. And I met up with Charl, E and A. Oh, and my friend from Denmark came over to visit his dad, which was great! Me and mum spent most of Sunday and Monday looking through old photos for a top secret event  and my brother and his girlfriend came for a roast on the Sunday. So all in all it was a busy but lovely weekend.

And what's even better is that some kids are still on holiday, or off with chicken pox, or just not turning up to school, which is fab! Because there are much less children in. In fact yesterday there were 15 instead of the usual 25. Whoop! I've actually quite enjoyed my last two days at school. I know. The shock........

I bet it's that bloody books fault. Ahhhhh. It's making me positive in all aspects of life. Bollocks!

Well, we'll see just how long that lasts.........

skank. I never buy new stuff. I just wear the old stuff until it actually disintegrates. Which means I should easily get another 5 years out of these.)

Oh and awesomely, my manager gave me tomorrow off as I've done so much over time recently and we don't get paid for it. So she said she'll give me 2 days off. One tomorrow and we'll arrange another one. Woo Hoo!
So I'm thinking perhaps.....A WHOLE DAY OF WRITING! Yippee!

Have a great Thursday and remember YOU CAN DO IT. (Whatever IT may be for you.)