Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Am currently staying, for the first time, at the Marques de Riscal hotel in the Rioja region of Spain (see photo). More detail to follow but in the meantime, happy new year to all!

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Merry Christmas, all! I have to say that it's very hard indeed to do something for the first time on Christmas day, as it really is the day for doing the same old traditional things you do every year. I'd go as far as saying that every year I try my hardest to recreate the same old traditions, which usually involve dancing around the living room with my sis to some cheesy tunes, and then falling asleep on the sofa. But today, of course, I had to do something for the first time. So I dragged myself out of the house (I know! On Christmas day!) and had a game of football in my Mum's garden with my tiny son. A new tradition - and one where I realise that I am no longer the child. Just as well, at 35 years of age! He's clearly a star in the making as well... (although he preferred the boxes to any of his presents - see photo).

Happy Christmas to all.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Now, here was me thinking that having a baby had rendered me about as cool as Cliff Richard. Or liking The Feeling. Or putting lovehearts instead of dots above my 'i's when I write. You get my drift. But actually, I could not have been more wrong. My celebrity spot count has been vastly improved by said motherhood state. First of all was Bobby Gillespie from Primal Scream in Coram's Fields the other day, playing with his two boys (and yes, they are exactly as you'd imagine, long hair, skinny etc). Then a celebrity spot which I thought could not be topped - at George's Tuesday music group (which involves walking around in a circle and singing Grand Old Duke of York and Hokey Cokey and is the very epitome of uncool) I bumped into Julian Baratt from The Mighty Boosh, with his partner Julia Davis and their twins.

But today - the spot of all spots. The master of the spottery. DH and I went to Giraffe for lunch. Giraffe is an establishment which you can only frequent if you have a small child in tow, otherwise your head would explode. It specialises in high chairs, balloons and crayons with meals, you get my drift. But as we sat down DH whispered urgently: "One of your all-time heroes is sitting behind you!"

I almost died. Jarvis? But no - for the first time ever (drumroll) I had the pleasure of being literally 6 feet away from Brian Molko, the lead singer of Placebo. Now I know many of you will say - what? who? - but that just goes to show how cool I am, frankly. If you look at the photo, you'll see he is one of my usual types - dark, gangly, geeky. I love that man. One of my best nights ever was seeing Placebo at the Brighton Concorde II a few years back - it was the music equivalent of wanting to run away to join the circus. I just stared at them all and thought: "I can't ever do a normal job again...." (although, dear reader, of course I did).

Anyway, there he was. Looking as androgynous as ever. With partner and small son - and here was me thinking that he was gay and all - the make-up is clearly just a front! My Brandon Flowers effect kicked in of course and I was completely unable to say anything to him, which is just as well, as he got to enjoy his chicken burger in peace. Joy to the world!

Saturday, 20 December 2008

My lovely followers, let me apologise. I left for the deepest darkest Cotswolds for a week without forewarning that I would be unable to post for a week. I couldn't even get mobile phone reception for goodness' sake. And I'm off to France on Monday but will try to do my best to post from there. So many fabulous first times this week:

  • Stayed for the first time in a fabulous modernist house in the Cotswolds (see photo of our living room!). View from the living room to die for. An on-site spa with two amazing swimming pools. It's roughing it in the country, but not as you know it.

  • Swam outside (yes, outside) in the wonderful outdoor swimming pool. It was minus one degrees outside and it was just bliss.

  • Had my first ever accident with George which was my fault. Entirely. Took me days to get over it. It involved him falling onto a stone floor while I turned away for a second. I know it's a rite of passage but that doesn't make me feel better, thanks.

  • Drinking lovely English pink champagne for the first time. Yes, I know you thought you'd never see all those words together in the same sentence.

  • Going to Cotswolds Wildlife Park and being chased by a goat. Lost a shoe. It's a long story and one which my dignity could not entertain disclosing.

  • Went to Paris on my romantic one-day only date with lovely DH. We went for the first time to Le Train Bleu for lunch. I cannot recommend this restaurant enough. It sounds unpromising: a brasserie in a station. It is utterly incredible. Painted vaulted ceilings - and suddenly you're dining in the Sistine Chapel. Glamour central. Indulged in one two many 'Train Bleu' cocktails. Ever want to impress a new love? Take them here.

  • Bought three scarves over the last two days. This is from the woman whose attitude is usually "cold, what cold?" - I have a new addiction to cashmere.

And those are just the highlights. And we have found a new home to rent. Works on our current house start in January at last so prepare yourself for some 'shouted at an electrician' or 'fell out over wallpaper' first times soon... Hope I can post again before Christmas, but if not... Happy Holidays to everyone. Love to all. x

Friday, 12 December 2008

Today for the first time, I shed a tear over something on the internet. Now, those of you who are closest to me may well say that this has been coming for some time. Yes, we are talking about the same woman who had tears in her eyes at the Whitney/Tony storyline on Eastenders the other night. The same woman who used to read reports of torture without blinking an eye has officially cried at (imagine this being said in a whisper) ... a thread on Mumsnet. About Secret Santa...
Now here's a heads-up for those of you who are blissfully ignorant of what on earth that means:

  • Mumsnet is my all time favourite website ever. It carried me through pregnancy (the 'due in September 2008' thread), it deals with all my child-rearing issues (the 'Parenting' thread) and makes me laugh out loud every single day (the 'Am I Being Unreasonable?' thread)

  • It's a website for Mums, where we get together and chat. I have no idea who anyone else is, as we all have natty monikers. No of course I am not telling you mine, that would totally defeat the purpose.

  • At Christmas every year, Mumsnet organises 'Secret Santa'. You can either be the giver or the receiver. It means that Mums who have had a hard year financially can receive presents for them or their kids from fellow Mumsnetters.

  • I gave this year. For the first time. I sent a parcel off last week (it's all anonymous of course) to someone's family I had been matched with. Now I don't tell you this to make me sound like a lovely person, although of course I am.

And today I got my response on the 'thank you' thread. Here it is. "To the lovely lovely lovely person who has sent me ... today in the post, I cannot believe someone would be so kind and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. THANK YOU SO SO MUCH, you restored my faith in the human race!"

I actually cried.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

The culinary delights continue... yesterday I had my first ever ovenbottom muffin. To be more precise, a ham salad ovenbottom. Now, before you make any sarcastic (or even plain rude) comments, I know that to most people in the world, "muffins" are little cakes filled with chocolate or blueberries. There's also what Americans call "English muffins", which is just silly, because they are little round bits of bread rarely seen in England itself.
However, real muffins are apparently Lancashire Oven Bottom muffins. These are bread rolls with a blackened ring on top. These delicacies are still only available from market stalls in Lancashire. These days, they apparently also make wholemeal ones as a gesture towards healthy eating, but as you may have guessed from yesterday's entry, there's really there's no place for such healthiness in Lancashire's lard and stodge diet in my view!

Monday, 8 December 2008

Ooooh, so many first times, I don't know where to begin. I'm up in Blackburn, Lancashire. Today, I went to find lunch at a little café down the road from where I was working. The bakery/café was full of things I had never heard of. Pie and peas? Butter pie? (Butter pie?) Lancashire hot pot with oysters? All for thr princely sum of £1.13 each. Each! Genius. I went for the Lancashire hot pot with oysters and was surprised to find kidneys, yes, kidneys, amongst the oysters. I refrained from commenting.

People are really friendly, I discovered. More culinary discoveries to come...

Sunday, 7 December 2008

This weekend, for the first time, we went to the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. We got there at 10am to avoid the masses - just as well. As we left at 11.30am, it was already horribly busy. George went on a carousel which he adored and I am pleased to report that he became one of these glowing mothers, watching their tiny one beam with happiness as they go around in a little car/horse/fire engine. I don't think he'll be denied many of these rides in his life. George was also fascinated by the ice skating (mobbed) and loved the big wheel, which weirdly had one 'VIP' box, painted black. Who goes in there? Hyde Park is simply stunning at this time of year, despite being overrun by the buggy brigade(of which I am now a fully paid up member).

Tonight, I have to go to Burnley for the first time.I'll refrain from being rude until I've actually been there...

Friday, 5 December 2008

Today I found out that a friend is very seriously ill. For the first time ever, it made me think seriously about mortality. For ages, I have just put these thoughts to one side and I readily subscribe to the theory that death really is the last taboo. It's made me realise lots of very obvious things: that friends and family are the most important thing, for example, but it's also made me think about lots of less obvious things like which songs I'd like played at my funeral (I think anything by White Lies at the moment). Also for the first time ever, I think my blog entry may have not a hint of sarcasm or cynicism in it. And that really is a first!

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Over the last couple of days, I have, for the first time since I started earning my own living, reigned myself in financially. Now I'm not having a moan about money, I assure you. But today I was meant to be going to the Nicole Farhi sample sale, which is a once a year thing, where I delight in buying Nicole stuff at very good prices. But today, as I headed in its direction, I felt guilt. Yes, can you believe it? I turned around and didn't go. Yesterday I refrained from spending money on a necklace I really really wanted. Credit crunch? Having a baby? Works to the house worrying me? Who knows. But miracles can happen, clearly.

Monday, 1 December 2008

We'll always have Paris...

It may not have been quite Carrie's trip to Paris for the season's finale (and I don't think I would have looked good in that stripey outfit she wears to meet Alexander's first wife - would anyone? Let's face it, it's true) but it was mine and I loved it. Lots of first times. Too many to mention. So here's a list of my favourites:

  • First time visit to L'étoile du Nord theatre, where my sister was performing in a play

  • First time visit to Les Jardins du Luxembourg (which close at 5pm - is there a war on or something?)

  • First time to the fabulous vintage shop across the road from the hotel from which was purchased my new hat: it's not real fur, right!? (see photo)

  • First visit to Indian restaurant with lots of extended members of my family (including new partners of both my parents)

  • Having a bath with George in a massive jacuzzi bath in the hotel.

My sister is an actress. I'd like to say that it's always a pleasure to see my sister in a play, but it's not actually true. True enough, she's always disconcertingly fantastic, and trust me, I'd say if this wasn't true. What's stressful is waiting beforehand - Is the play going to be awful? Will I have anything nice to say about it afterwards? Will other people like her? She's in a play about (get this) a man who is badly disfigured in a war, who has a face transplant and ends up in horror films. He dies at the end - sorry if you were going to see it, by the way. Didn't sound too promising, was brilliant. She is unrecognisable and I say that in a good way.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Today, for the first time, I am taking George to Paris. Yes, Paris, the city of lovers, with a 14-month-old. And no lover (he's got to work all weekend). Passengers of first class on the Eurostar, beware. If one single person tries to give me a dirty look - yes, there are people who think children shouldn't be allowed in first class - you're absolutely right, but tough! So off we go, on our voyage of discovery. I think George will love le Jardin des Tuileries. And crepes. And all the Christmas lights. See you on Sunday. x

Thursday, 27 November 2008

I'm getting old. Last night, I headed off to see Jarvis Cocker in concert, and all was well with the world. I love Jarvis. This blog is named after him. He's my one and only icon. I don't want to marry him, it's just not that kind of love, and anyway if I ever tried to speak to him, I know that I would just clam up (must tell you the now-famous story of how I reacted when I met Brandon Flowers of The Killers once). He's just the one. He always will be. But he's grown a beard. Not a little ironic one, but a full 0n, Peter-Sutcliffe-eat-your-heart-out creation. And for the first time I felt my love wane a little. What? - I hear you cry? How can you stop loving Jarvis? Loving Jarvis is part of who you are! You've loved him forever. He wrote 'Babies' and lots of other songs which are the soundtrack to your life. Of course you still love Jarvis! And of course, you're right. Maybe this is one of my very short-lived first times, never to be repeated...

And whilst we're on the theme of shallowness (see Andy Warhol) he'd written a new song called' I Never Said I was Deep', a work of utter genius. It made me think: is being superficial the newblack? I do hope so.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Lots of first times this weekend. I'll tell you about three of them, in a vain attempt to start catching up with all the first times missed whilst my internet access had decided to go on holiday for a week or so...

First and foremost, for the first time, I found out more (much more) about a modern icon - Andy Warhol. Now until yesterday I knew about as much as the next guy in the street about this man. If on Friday you'd asked me about him, I'd have said "Andy Warhol? You mean the guy who did neon versions of Marilyn and painted tins of soup? Kind of white hair and glasses?' and that would have been it. But now that I've seen the Andy Warhol exhibition at the Hayward Gallery I've realised an important thing about my lack of knowledge. He really would not have minded. I learned lots of things about the said Mr. Warhol for the first time this weekend. He didn't just do lurid pop art. He designed packaging. He designed album covers. He had a TV programme. He lived in and loved New York. Most beautifully, he filmed lots of incredible short films - my favourite was one of his lover (John Giorno, a poet) sleeping. Hours and hours of film of this man sleeping.But perhaps most importantly I learned that he didn't care whether people knew about him or cared. He believed in himself and that was all that mattered. He described himself as wholly superficial. For me this is the most wonderful thing - maybe he was. And that gives us all hope!

I highly recommend the exhibition, by the way. It is massive, laid out beautfully and there is a room full of silver helium balloons to play with.

Also this weekend, I went to a wine growers fair for the first time (drunken behaviour mandatory) and to a great installation at the Barbican which George obsessed over - a light/radio thing which cast giant shadows of yourself on the wall. Spent many a happy hour in there.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Back online, hurrah!

I promise to catch up all my first times...

But today, for the first time, I realised how important new (as well as old) friends are. I made a new friend. He is my friend for the first time. He is the man who owns the Portuguese café by Oval tune station. I learned all about making custard tarts and ate three today. More on him later.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Please don't give up on this blog! Experiencing technical meltdown. Back soon with catch up... Lots of first times to report.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Yesterday, I became a pupil supervisor for the first time. For those of you who have no idea what that means (and far less the old-fashioned term, a pupil mistress), this means that I am now officially qualified to take pupils, i.e. to have a trainee barrister sit in my room for 3 months at a time, shadowing me and learning what the profession is like. It's an important role and I had to attend two hours of training, during which they encouraged us to think in advance of what we expected of our pupils, what we had enjoyed about our year as a pupil (nothing, was my initial thought) and most importantly, what we would tell them in advance about what it was like sharing a room or office with us. So today, I sat down and analysed what it means to share a room with me and what I would tell my first pupil in order than they begin to understand me, and here it is:

  • I spend quite a lot of time on the internet. This does not mean that I am shopping for clothes on Net A Porter or planning my next holiday, oh no. It means that I am looking up the finer points of a difficult legal argument.

  • Yes, I do spend quite a lot of time enquiring about the well-being of someone called George. He's my son, and yes, I do spend a disproportionate amount of time discussing the cuteness of said person.

  • I do have quite a lot of sweets in my desk/bag/drawer. If you're having a low sugar moment, I will reliably have piece of chocolate somewhere to hand.

  • I will never expect you to make tea for me, but if you're making one, mine's white with no sugar.

  • I love what I do, but it's not always easy to believe that I do it well. Dropping in the odd 'you were brilliant in court today' will gain you unlimited Brownie points.

  • I love this job. I hope you will too.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Lots of first times this weekend! First, continuing on the theme of public humiliation, I actually sang out loud (and shed a tear) at a football game for the first time. Now I must admit, I am prone to a little mumbling at Hamden Park when the Scottish national team are playing - there's something special about the national anthem "Flower of Scotland" somehow. And how many countries can boast a national anthem which (a) started life as a pop song; and (b) was written in the 1960s? Anyway. I watched the mighty Arsenal beat Manchester United this weekend - hurrah! At the start of every game at Arsenal, they play an old tune - 'The Wonder of You',which I love. Hey, I thought, I am going to belt it out today. So I did. Tunelessy, I bellowed along "I guess I'll never know, the reason WHY, I love you like I do... that's the wonder, the wonder of you!" - genius. I actually shed a tear (must be hormones). I really love my team.

Also this weekend, I went to the Union Chapel for the first time. The Union Chapel is a stunning church which is used for pop concerts sometimes. It is a phenomenal space, and when a band is performing they light it with coloured lights and candles. Brilliant. Anyway, DH and I rocked up a little late, and we saw the end of the 'Cage The Elephant' set (a band so New York that they can't possibly actually be from New York) and the whole of 'White Lies' - absolutely brilliant. And the headline act, Glasvegas, my current favourite band, who played a few of their hits and did a brilliant acoustic version of 'Daddy's Gone' and a very Glaswegian version of 'Be My Baby'. At the end of the set, Glasvegas thanked all the other bands and said "Hey, but the greatest thanks must go to The Killers, who played first on the bill tonight to launch their new album...!". I hope that you Feel. My. Pain.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Yesterday, for the first time, I went to La Forchetta, an Italian restaurant near where I live. Why is it that I have managed to eat in places which are 12 hours on a plane from where I live but I'd never ventured into my local Italian? I went with my good friend S, and we had one of those girly-squeal-with-laughter-dosed-in-red-wine evenings which are at the root of any good friendship. My scampi diavolo arrived, and I realised that I had ordered a dish that was bigger than the size of my head - cue more squealing - I'm sure the staff loved us. There's something very fabulous about discovering a new place near to your home.

And today, I tackled an important first time - classic English embarassment. Now, I'm not actually English. But as you know, they're a pretty reserved bunch; complaining in public is generally frowned upon, as is saying anything embarassing in public. I live in fear of being publicly embarassed. So today, I was in a bookshop buying a book for a friend. It is a book about Pregnancy. Could I find it? Of course not. So I went up to the Information Desk and whispered at the weasel-faced bloke behind said desk: "Do you stock the Rough Guide to Pregnancy and Birth?" Now I appreciate that this was said at a volume so low that a microphone wouldn't have picked it up but he bellowed - "What?" and sneered. And then it came to me - for the first time ever, who cares what people think? Who cares if people think I'm buying it for me? Who cares if the cool guy currently flicking through 'The Life and Times of Nietsche' looks at me with disdain? Who cares if people do think it's for me? And I practically shouted:

"I'm looking for THE ROUGH GUIDE TO PREGNANCY AND BIRTH!" Classic. Everyone turned around and I gave a massive smile. Has been making me smile ever since.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

I simply don't think I could let today go past without noting that today for the first time, the US has a (rather fantastic) African-American president. Now I know that this isn't my first time. But it is the first time that I've taken so much interest in an election in a country other than my own, the first time I've bounced up and down on my bed when discovering the results of an election (despite the chest infection, very brave of me, I know) and the first time that I've taken a deep breath of relief as to the future in this way. This morning, I danced with George around the room, singing 'Obama! Obama!' which George thought was hilarious. I'm so delighted and I was genuinely touched by the sincerity of McCain's concession speech. I can't claim this first time as my own, but thank you, all Americans who voted, for such a fabulous first time. I can't ever hope to top this one.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

This is the second day that I have been really ill. Yesterday I went to see the doctor, as I have been unable to sleep through coughing and it's just miserable. He announced that I had a chest infection and that as usual, I had been overdoing it. Since I had George my immune system has been really low and he recommended a complete break.

"Is taking tomorrow morning off work a complete break?" I asked. Given the look he gave me, apparently not. "No", he said. "I mean a complete, all-expenses-paid-trip-to-the-Caribbean sans baby kind of a break". Is he insane?

But given that I have basically been ill for about two months non-stop now, for the first time, I decided not to ignore the doctor. Now, don't get me wrong, I have the greatest respect for doctors. But they have no sense of reality. It reminded me of being very ill a few days after George was born. "Rest up completely" said the doctor. Yeah right. Because been woken up every 45 minutes in the night by a newborn is a complete break. But I decided that enough was enough and my poor body has to recover. So I took the morning off work (pretty much unheard of). I did go in at lunchtime but remembering that I was supposed to be listening to the doctor for the first time, I went home again, sat on the sofa all afternoon and watched my V-plussed Britannia High episodes - a TV programme aimed at the 12-25 age range and therefore perfect viewing. Watch this space for more relaxing first times.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

What a horrid miserable weekend to be in London: drab, rainy and we all had colds and coughs. Still, two great first times. First, George and I headed off to a foodie shop I'd been dying to try. Very proud of myself on this one, as it is one of my aims of this blog to discover more foodie shops. Now, call me set in my ways but I hate posh foodie shops, you know who you are, Ottolenghis of this world. I hate the overpriced nonsense, I hate the customers ('ooh, YaH-zmin, these hand crafted banana and creme fraiche mousse tarlets are to die for!') and I really can't be bothered. So instead I headed to The Olga Stores, a local deli on Penton Street which sounds like it should sell Russian caviar but is in fact a down to earth Italian. I bought fresh mortadella, bacalao croquettes, fresh asparagus pasta and the most delicious fat Italian sausages. All for £10! As I left the shop, I realised that George had managed to shoplift a lemon, so I had to go back to pay for it and the lady (Olga, I presume) smiled at him and said 'for that smile, it's worth the price of a lemon'. I love Olga and her shop.

And today, my first time was going to a shop to have my firstborn fitted for his first ever shoes. He walked around the shop in them doing giant moon steps (hello Bertie!). This isn't a blog about motherhood so it is sufficient to say that the memory of him and his Daddy leaving the shop wearing matching shoes is now imprinted in my mind for ever.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Last night, I went to the most phenomenal concert. I went to see Antony and the Johnsons at the Barbican Centre. Antony was performing with the London Symphony Orchestra and it was without a doubt one of the best events I have ever been to (and that's saying something). Allow me to wax lyrical for a moment. Antony's music is hard to describe. He has one of the most unusual, beautiful and arresting voices I have ever heard. He is 37, yet dresses and looks like a middle-aged woman - all diaphanous silks and draping fabrics. His songs are unashamedly poetic and free from cynicism, and he spends much of his time singing about love, the tragedies of life or dead people (his best songs include all three). Now, I know. You're thinking - dearest, that doesn't sound very cool. A man who dresses as if he shops at Hampstead Bazaar, singing about clichés, supported by an orchestra? Doesn't sound like the usual Sex Pistols and new indie bands soundtrack to your life...

But there was something which glued me to it, somehow. He stood there and sang about dead boys and starfish and rivers of sorrow and the violins swooped and I felt like the bottom had dropped out of the world for a while.

And today, for the first time ever (and I've been to hundreds of concerts in my time and consider myself a bona fide cynic generally) I have been unable to get this concert out of my mind. It feels a bit like when you've been out for your third date with someone and suddenly you've realised that you're falling love; you have mentionitis, you think of that person all the time, you start daydreaming all over the place. So - I've (horrific cliché alert!) officially fallen in love with an event which can never be repeated.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

This afternoon, for the first time, I tried to arrange a visit to Santa's Grotto. This is what having a small child does to you. I got a helpful email from Selfridges, telling me that 'booking was now open' for this special event. I laughed and almost deleted it (it's October) and in many ways I wish I had, because I could have avoided much of the heartache which followed. But I didn't. i thought - hey, I have a lull in my day, I can book tickets for this now! So I went online. Every single ticket for a Saturday and Sunday had been sold, already, ten minutes after the email came out. OK, I thought, I'll check out Harrods, they must have a grotto too, right? They do. It sold out months ago apparently. All the slots sold out months ago. Is this madness or what? So in a panic I clicked back on to the Selfridges website, only to see that by now, about 75% of the slots had gone .... a whole 15 minutes after the email came out... So in a panic, I booked a random weekday slot.

Is this just London? And I know this is a treadmill I can't get off. It's called Having a Child in London. Welcome to my new life.

It's been a very busy few days, not without its share of first times though. Last night, I trooped off (wearing all my clothes at once - what is this 'first time there's been snow in London since 1934' phenomenon?) to watch Arsenal v Spurs at the Emirates Stadium. For those of you who are less than familiar with the implications of this, let me give you a heads-up:

  • Arsenal and Spurs play football (soccer for Americans). You know, the type David Beckham plays (or used to, before he got all into developing his own perfume, wearing Calvin Klein underpants, living in LA and being a squeaky-voiced bona fide celebrity).
  • I support Arsenal. I have a season ticket. They dress in red and white.
  • Arsenal and Spurs fans HATE each other. The whole night consists of singing songs such as "Stand up if you hate Tottenham" and "Maybe next year, maybe next year, Tottenham in the top four [places in the league] maybe next year" (and these were just the polite ones). I love Arsenal songs. They've always got a funny new one. Arsenal have a striker called Adebayor. He's African - and hence black. When Steven Gerrard (Liverpool player) was having paternity issues about his latest offspring, the song went: "Adebayor's. Adebayor's. Gerrard's baby - it's Adebayor's." Genius. I digress.
  • Arsenal v Spurs is always a fabulous occasion. The fans sing very loudly and when 60,000+ fans are singing, it makes for a good night.

Anyway. So Arsenal were winning 4 goals to 2 in the last minute of the game. Spurs had played terribly. Half the Spurs fans had left the ground. I was packing up to go home. Three points (for a win) were in the bag. The Spurs side then scored in the last minute and the score was 4 goals to 3. The Arsenal team literally fell apart and in injury time (time added on), Spurs scored again. For the first time ever - and this is not in my nature - I swore profusely and actually walked out of the ground before the final whistle in a strop. I stood outside muttering technical terms such as 'totally lost their shape'; 'totally inappropriate substitutions' until DH came to collect me. I almost cried on the way home and had to be consoled by the purchase of a warm pie. Who says it's just a game? I shall lamp anyone who says that to me today.

And the other first time? Well, got home to find a package addressed to me. Opened it to find a present from my lovely friend A. Opened it up and what is it? A tube of Estée Lauder Marzipan lipgloss. This will make sense if you have been reading the blog. For the first time, I shed a tear in the name of friendship. Who needs Arsenal when you have friends?

Monday, 27 October 2008

DH and I are about to start major building works on our house. Whilst the major works are being done, which will take a year or so, we want to rent a house in the area. Amazingly enough, a house for rent has come up on our street, three doors down from us. So I had to go to see it, living there would be too good to be true. So off I went. It was only when I headed out to the garden that I realised what my first time would be - seeing my home, which I've lived in for a few years but hopefully many more, from a completely new angle. From this garden, it looked like a giant brick monstrosity (which it is). It dominates its neighbours. It's unneighbourly. It's given me real food for thought.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Lots of first times this weekend to report, including a look at the £1.5million gold statue of Kate Moss in the British Museum (at the entrance to the gallery where the Elgin Marbles are displayed - can you think of anything more strange?). Oh and while we're on the Elgin Marbles, my view is that the Marbles should be returned to Greece - I know that they say that they wouldn't exist if it weren't for the UK but isn't keeping them is a bit like saying that a foster family shouldn't return a foster child when her mother has shaped up? Anyway.

As usual, I digress. That wasn't the first time I wanted to tell you about for Saturday. On Saturday afternoon, as one does, I went to the supermarket. Big mistake of course, the worst day to go. As I stood in the queue for an age, I decided that my first time for the day would be a very non-London thing - I would actually attempt a conversation with someone in the queue. So picked the lady in front of me, on the basis that she was the least likely person I would usually pick (there was quite a good-looking man behind me, for example) and I am so glad that I did. She was 80 years old. She had a fantastic Italian accent, so I asked where she was from - she said that she was born in Italy but had married a Scottish man and moved to the UK. He was a coal miner, she explained, who died after he got coal dust on his lungs for many years. She was full of praise for him and said that he was the best husband a woman could have. She was delighted to hear that I also had a lovely Scottish husband. I asked if she had any children, and she said 'no - the bambinos never came' with a wistful look in her eyes. I loved her. She said she was quite alone, but had her friends at the Italian Church. I've given her my number, so hopefully she will call me next time she goes shopping.

On Sunday, George and I headed off, for the first time, to the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. This will mean nothing to those who have no children, but is a space of utter genius for small (and big) children. George, who has decided this weekend to walk for the first time, scooted around it, playing in sandpits, looking at light displays and dressing up in bunny ears. Total result for his endless-photo-opportunity Mummy.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Today, I decided to challenge myself in respect of that most important of daily choices: lunch venue. It's all too easy in the job that I do to grab a sandwich and to eat it at your desk. Today, as I was lunching with a friend who has recently been appointed a High Court judge, I decided to try somewhere new.

We went to Edokko, an authentically rickety Japanese restaurant on Red Lion Street. It was like stepping into Japan; shoes off, tables positioned so that you sat cross-legged on the floor and waiters who generally had no idea what you were saying. An exceptional find, as the sushi and salmon teriyaki I had were just fantastic. If I'd been in Japan, not that I ever have been, so here follows a really useless comparison, I'd have been delighted.

Lunching with a High Court judge is an eye opener. I asked him how he had found the transition between being a barrister and now being a judge. The bank balance is different, he said. True enough. But apparently all judges meet once a week for a 'judge's tea' - how wonderful to imagine them all sitting round in their wigs, drinking tea out of patterned china cups, discussing the laws of England. It's undoubtedly not like that but it's made me think that maybe a judge's life isn't so lonely after all...

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Ooh, I have two first times to catch up! Yesterday, my first time was hearing my son, George, saying his first distinct words. Yeah, you say, he has been saying mama and dada for months, get over it. But this is the first time I have heard him say something distinct. So here it is. Itsy. Yes, you read that correctly. And before you say 'that's not a word' - it so is. Itsy Bitsy Spider? I was reciting said Spider tale to him as he came out of his bath and then there it was - a perfectly formed Itsy. He then said it 17 times in a row and this morning, as I lifted him out of his cot, he beamed at me and said it again. It-sy. Does this mean he will grow up to be a spider-collector? I am so impressed by this first time (which admittedly is someone else's first time, but I'm his Mum so whatever) that I went online and had him printed a tee shirt which says Itsy. I'll have it framed when he's bigger...

And that online voyage made me think of my first time for today. A sad story, this one. OK, I know that in the light of credit crunches, wars and famine it's not that sad at all, but I think you'll sympathise.

On my wedding day, 2 and half years ago (don't get me started on how perfect that day was, you'll never stop me) I wore a lip gloss which I loved. It is called Marzipan by Estée Lauder and is just perfect - a sparkly yet neutral shade which looks good with everything. I'm not usually a lip gloss girl but when I put this on, it makes me feel happy and reminds me of that day. Anyway. A few weeks ago, I ran out of said gloss. I put the empty tube in the bin and felt quite sad. So off I went to a make up counter to buy another one, so that I could again relive that happy day next time I put it on. But horrors of horrors the Estée Lauder Lady (and why do make up ladies always wear so much foundation? I digress.) told me that it had been discontinued. WHAT? - I cried. And not just discontinued in that store, but discontinued worldwide. Oh yes. I have to say that I almost shed a tear.

But anyway. Today, as I indulged the ridiculous urge which entailed buying a tee shirt printed with my son's first word, I decided to look online for the gloss. Not available anywhere in the UK. Not on ebay. And then I thought - why don't I - for the first time, throw caution to the wind disbelieve the expert and try calling a store in the US? So I did. I rather disproportionately called a store in New York and it has NOT been discontinued there and they have posted me a tube of it! Genius. All is well with the world.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Over the course of yesterday and today (so you'll forgive me if this first time is shared over two days) I organised my first romantic trip away with my DH since George was born. I know that this is outrageous and that it's very important for couples to retain a sense of identity, fun and independence when they have a baby, blah-de-blah-de-blah, but just you try combining motherhood, full time work and, er, serious TV watching! Oh and it is so romantic and wonderful and special. We're getting the Eurostar, first class (credit crunch, what credit crunch?), to Paris. I've take a day off work. We're spending the day there. Together. Alone. No buggy. Just before Christmas. I have teed up a romantic lunch, some romantic ice-skating and of course some romantic shopping - what could be more romantic than seeing your loved one's face light up as she finds the perfect pair of shoes, huh? See the Galeries Lafayette's Christmas make-over and die, as they say.

And it's all thanks to this blog. I'd never have done it otherwise.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

So can you wear teenage fashion when you're over 21?

Today, for the first time, I wore footless tights. Out of the house. And I'm 35 years old (get over it). I even went out and wandered around for 3 whole hours in them. And I had a ball. I managed to ignore my inner voice, telling me that Lindsay Lohan wears them and certainly no one over the age of 21 looks good in them. DH looked at me questioningly as I came down the stairs, but that was it. No hordes proclaiming 'hey - are you a Ting Tings reject?'

I have chosen this photo because my outfit looked remarkably like this one, and there is no way that my photo of my actual outfit is making it onto the web (until I've got braver).

I have now embraced the whole teenage fashion thing. Peaches Geldof, eat your heart out. I'm going out tomorrow to buy some blue tights and pink tights for winter. I'm going to buy more footless tights. I'm going to buy some shoe boots. If I can't dress teenage now, then when?

Saturday, 18 October 2008

London is full of wonderful gallery spaces, so today, I decided that my first time should involve seeking a new one out. George loves galleries, as they are usually large enough to walk around in, he loves looking at new things and he always seems fascinated by new spaces. So this morning we perused the listings and realised that there was an exhibition of Richard Serra's sculptures at the Gagosian Gallery near Kings Cross. As arty-silly-interesting-specs as this may sound, pre-George, DH and I saw his sculptures exhibited at the Guggenheim in Bilbao and had been really blown away by them.
So off we went, in the autumn sun, and found this gallery, a mere 5-minute bus ride from our house. As we arrived we realised that lots of people were also heading for this tiny gallery; people arriving in taxis, people generally wearing black polo necks and interesting glasses (I know it's a cliché but it's true). Thank goodness George was wearing one of his coolest outfits, I thought.
Richard Serra's sculptures are very hard to describe. They are giant steel sculptures, 12 or 15 feet tall. They are large enough to walk in and for the most part, evoke feelings of discomfort and even panic as one walks inside them. One man emerging from one caught my eye and took a deep breath: "thank goodness for that", he said.
George of course took everything in his stride, walking around and inside the sculptures, staring at them occasionally. Some people smiled at him and others looked at me as if to say "Hey! A baby? Shouldn't he be at the park or something?" - but there's no accounting for people's prejudices...
Very highly recommended. Richard Serra, Gagosian Gallery at 6 Britannia Street, WC1X until December 20th.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Some of you may know that I work in the law. I'm in the middle of a big case at the moment, which involves the Oval Cricket ground (as my last post might have indicated....). This makes it supremely difficult to fit in any really exciting first times - although I do have some crackers lined up. As I came home tonight, I thought long and hard about whether I had done anything for the first time today. I bought a pasteis de nata from the local Portugese café, but I've bought them before (although I envy people who've never had one before. What a treat they have in store). I got the tube to work, which I never do, but I've clearly been on the tube before. And then I realised - I learnt a fascinating new fact today, for the first time, which I'm going to share with you.

  • On the pitch at the Oval, there are two small darker patches of grass. One is just in front of the Pavilion and the other close to the wicket. The first (larger) patch is where people who wish to have their ashes scattered at the ground come to rest. The groudndsmen are under strict instructions never to dig up the turf there. And the second (small) patch is where each and every one of the Oval's eleven cats have been buried. Again, they never dig that area up...

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

There's something a bit manly about my first times so far, and I'm beginning to worry if in my heart of hearts, this whole endeavour is about becoming a bit more brave? But anyway...

Today I went on a guided tour of the Brit Oval cricket ground. For those of you who've not had the privilege of going to the Oval (or indeed who have no idea what on earth I'm talking about), the Brit Oval is the second largest cricket venue in the country. Cricket? That very English obsession with wearing white clothes and hitting a small ball with a large bat in a very dignified manner? The current England captain is actually South African? Anyway. Quaint English thing. To cricket fans, this is a bit of a Mecca, with test cricket having been played there for the last 120 years.

A guided tour is a rare event. I love cricket and was delighted as wewent all around the ground, looked at the stands, went in the executive boxes and marvelled at the proximity of the iconic gas holders immediately next door. I was really disproportionately excited and as my excitement grew, so did the pitch of my voice. It's funny how an inside look at a public place can do that to you.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Today's first time makes me sound like a country bumpkin. I'm not. Just for the record, I've had sushi and sashimi in all forms, soft shell crabs eaten whole, papaya and mangosteens; I've eaten fried bugs in Thailand, snails in France, random lard crisps in Brazil and I'm usually up for trying every foodstuff at least once.

But today for the first time, I ate a fresh fig. I realised that for some reason, my palate had been denied this pleasure. I hate fig rolls and with my blinkered creature-of-habit ways, had always resisted the fresh fig. Well, no more. I ate one. It tasted very subtle and sweet. And that's all for today, folks.

Monday, 13 October 2008

So this weekend, DH, DS and I went off to Brighton for the weekend. The weather was wonderful; we spent a lot of time on the beach, lazily trying to persuade George not to eat stones (but Mummy they look like sweets). You might think that going to a new place is fertile ground for first times, but Brighton is my comfort blanket - I love it, I have been there many times, and each time I go I want to do my old favourite things. But the aim of this blog is to challenge me, so I did two new things for the first time.

Firstly, I persuaded DH that we needed to visit the Brighton Museum, which contains lots of things about Brighton in it. Tucked behind the Pavilion, this is a museum which I've never had the urge to visit because it just sounds dull to be honest. But the urge was upon me: we need to do something new today, I cried. So off we went. The first thing to note is that it's free and secondly that it has the most amazing collection of Louis Poulsen artichoke lights I've ever seen. Six. In a row. Genius. I decided that lying on the ground to see them better was a good move, which made George laugh and try to lie on top of me. Not sure the museum staff were impressed.

On Sunday, I decided that Saturday's first time was not nearly challenging enough. So I took a big leap of faith and went on the rollercoaster at the end of Brighton Pier. This is the first (and only) time that I have been on a rollercoaster. As those who love me best will testify, I'm the person who holds everyone's loose change when they go. As a teenager I would rather have asked a boy out that go on one. It was awful. I waited in line with a group of Spanish teenagers wearing emo tees. One of them tried to blow bubble gum in my hair (although I was later rewarded by seeing her crying as she came off the ride - ha!). WHY do people do on these things? Oooh how great it is to feel like I'm going to crash into the ground? I don't think so. First and last for sure.

So today my first time is making a list (for the first time) of the first times I actually want to achieve over the next year. Ones I think will challenge me rather than terrify me. Ones which will become small achievements in themselves. So here they are:

(1) Learn some Japanese (secretly) so that when I go to Japan with DH, he will be exceptionally impressed

(2) Sign up for some charity work of some description and actually commit the time to do it properly

(3) Actually figure out how to use an iPod and downloading etc.

(4) Go to see something I wouldn't actually ever do, like an opera (maybe not) or flamenco dance (I'd rather give birth).

(5) Go to see lots of galleries, and parks etc which I have never been to in London

(6) Discover lots of new yum foodie shops.

Anyway, that's just for starters.

Friday, 10 October 2008

I stayed up late last night reading Mapp and Lucia and finished it. It's fab. Dickens next (maybe not).

Today, for the first time, I am wearing my new eternity ring. It's called a Marguerita, it's the size of one of my fingernails and it sparkles like there is no tomorrow. No, it's not a diamond, it's an aquamarine.

This is a special first time, because I will be wearing it every day for the rest of my life. This ring was a present from my husband for having our son and is engraved with my son's name. I'm unofficially calling it The George Ring as a result. It got me thinking - how many material things in life do you really hang on to for life? Your home is likely to change, your clothes change, even once treasured items seem to fade in importance somehow.Even shoes fall apart (well, apart from my small collection of Pradas which will be with me for eternity - except that they're still in a box from the last move 2 years ago and still I can't find them).

Points for making me stare at my finger all day instead of concentrating on difficult technical evidence I was meant to be staring at today: 3.
Points for making me feel very lucky: 6.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

I live in London. Fertile ground for a first time blogger. So today I decided that I'd better get a new look at my city.

Today was the perfect day for this excursion. A bright, sunny autumn day with perfect skies. I got the train to Woolwich Arsenal (fell asleep on the train, and almost missed my stop, which almost usurped the subject of today's post by almost being the first time I did this, in general terms I'm just too organised to miss my stop).

Anyway. Reached Woolwich and got the lift to the top of the Greenwich Council Offices on the river, in advance of a meeting I had there. The view from the top is breath-taking: right down across the river, with a stunning view of the Dome, Canary Wharf, City Airport and most beautifully the Thames Barrier, which controls London from flooding. Actually I have no idea what it does so, mental note to self, I must check out its visitor centre sometime. It looks a bit like lots of tiny Sydney Opera Houses, floating on the water. Check it out for yourselves.

I spent about 20 minutes watching the planes take off and land from City Airport, just across the river from where I was. In order to avoid hitting tall buildings, they take off steeply and serve in a most unnerving manner. Stunning.

So: points for thinking 'London really is gorgeous' for once, instead of my usual 'Jeez! Why is London so busy? Why are people so rude? Why do the National Slow Walking Championships always take place when I am trying to get down a street quickly?' etc. : 8.

Points for being able to watch planes for a while without actually having to get in one (hurrah!): 7.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Right. Day 3. Today, I decided that my 'first time' should actually involve some change in the way I usually do things. In my humble opinion, there's nothing more 'first-time-ish' than doing something old in a new way. I'm not saying that I'm a creature of habit (although clearly I am) but even people whose views of things are just plain right sometimes need to try something new, right?

OK, so today I needed a new book to read. This is a very regular occurrence. There's something about having a small child who needs to go to bed every night at 7pm and therefore being confined to the house, which is very conducive to reading. And eating chocolate - but that's another story. So, I went to the bookshop and decided that I wouldn't go with my usual comfort zone books. I only ever read foreign, modern novels. The more obscure the better. Mainstream is fine too. But I don't do British and I certainly don't do historical. I am proud of never having read Dickens. So today for the first time I decided to try something completely new.

I've just spent my lunch hour with the results. Oh and what results they are. I considered Dickens, but I bought 'Mapp and Lucia' by EF Benson. It's British and it was written in the 1920s. Now, this blog is not about book reviews, so I'll spare you. It's enough to say that it's about two old ladies who compete for supremacy in a small English town and that the character of Lucia has given new joy to my life. She is funny, mean, scheming, and so well-written that I can't believe that EF Benson was (a) very much British and (b) not alive in my lifetime (you see - this first time hasn't changed me or anything).

The best thing about this first time was that I had that rush you get when you discover a new author you love and then you realise that the back cover says "this author has published over 80 books". Hurrah! New reading for months and months.

So yes - a great first time. I recommend Lucia very highly.


Points for making me fall in love with a character: 8 (this hasn't happened in a long time either)

Points for embarassment when asking the man in the bookshop what the 'most traditional British historical novel' was: 7

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Today's first time is far more exciting than I had thought possible for the early days of this blog, I have to say. In fact, I'm sure that I'll be accused of making this up. Today, for the first time, I went off-roading in a 4x4 with no less than three Colonels in the British Army. Yes, I actually climbed into a jeep, wearing the most impractical skyscraper heels and the thinnest denier tights, and was bounced around at high speed around Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, surrounded by men in camouflage uniforms. And to think that I'd promised no salacious first times... Salisbury Plain is a beautiful but eerie place; a large area of wilderness with huge craters and a tank graveyard. It's a bit like the moon really.

Thoroughly recommend it. Especially the men in uniforms.

I think it's time to create a rating system (out of ten, naturally). So:

Points for this 'first time' making me feel like a small child again: 9.
Points for this 'first time' being lots of other people's fantasy: 9

Monday, 6 October 2008

Well, here it is. My blog.

The concept is very simple - over the next year, I'm going to attempt to do, or try, something new every single day. I'll try to include photos when I can. Hopefully this will culminate in my husband making good his promise that our small family can go to live somewhere new for 3 to 6 months (all suggestions welcome) so that we can try something completely new every single day.

I'm not trying to life-defining or inspiring, I'm doing this just for me. Let me try to explain my own inspirations. First, there's that advert, you know, the one with the elderly lady who takes a helicopter ride for the first time? The tagline is "When was the last time you did something for the first time?" - it gets me everytime. Secondly, I'm inspired by one of oldest friends, Mel, who recently started a sassy and fabulous 'single gal in NY' blog which makes me laugh every morning. And finally - but most importantly, becoming a Mum. I promise that this isn't going to turn into one of these slushy blogs about how wonderful motherhood is. Becoming a Mum has made me somewhat sad about the things that I miss and I am determined to life to the full.

So here it is. I'm sure there will be occasions where my 'first times' will be very minor (new type of sandwich at lunch) but hopefully there will be all sorts of exciting ones too. No salacious first times either, I'm afraid.

And so for today - my first 'first time'. I've started and written my first blog. Here's to all the first times. And thanks to Jarvis Cocker for the name.