Friday, 27 February 2009

Last night, I went to the NME Big Gig show at the O2, featuring (amongst others) Franz Ferdinand and the Cure. Franz Ferdinand were very slick as usual - and I loved their set, probably mostly due to two facts: (1) I have forever had a little tiny crush on their lead singer, Alex Kapranos. Very tall, very Scottish. Don't ask. and (2) I think their new single, Ulysses, is a work of incomparable genius. And they played a really heavy version of it. But The Cure were truly underwhelming and I left early. I love the Cure, but er, guys? Note to you all: people have come to see your hits. I don't care if you think a funk jazz odyssey is the way forward, it isn't. But sitting through their (dismal) set did have one major advantage, I was able to think back to all the truly wonderful gig experiences I have had in my life and for the first time, I narrowed them down to five - I know! A totally male 'list'! Here they are and they are so in order.

(1) Placebo at Brighton Concorde II - about five years ago. Now this really was a gig the truly magnificence of is unlikely to ever be repeated. As you may know from previous posts, I love Brian Molko and they performed at the tiniest venue. He dedicated a song to Britney Spears. I can't really explain the irrational, but this was the best gig ever.

(2) Prince at the O2. Now I don't do big gigs, but this one involved the front row, being nine months pregnant, dancing, being six feet away from Prince and then being given his plectrum by the roadies afterwards with a message from the small man himself.

(3) Pulp at T in the Park. OK, picture this. France are playing Brazil in the final of the world cup. Yes, my team. I have tickets for T in the Park for the same day. My favourite band in the world (Pulp) are playing that day. The dilemma... I decided to attend the festival and watch the match on a big screen. Disaster. The game clashes with Pulp being on stage! I watched the first half, bombed it down to the stage only to have Jarvis announce that France has won the world cup....Does life get any better?

(4) Grace Jones at the Roundhouse a few weeks ago. See blog entry. Just for the jaw-dropping hula-hooping.

(5) James at the Queen Margaret Union, sometime in the 1980s. Oh, just a fabulous occasion. All of us sitting down during 'Sit Down'. Being out later than allowed. Having a crush on someone who later turned out to be gay (you know who you are!).

Oh and I've posted a random photo of my new Dries van Noten dress (it's the one in the middle).

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Well, I wasn't expecting this one. Today for the first time, I appeared in the High Court with no wig and no gown and no bands. I have attached to this post a handy little before and after illustration which shows what I mean, although can I say that I clearly wasn't wearing a horrid shapeless nasty-looking grey suit. The judge I am appearing in front of decided that he hates these things and asked us all to unrobe (no, not that sort of unrobe). I hate it! I paid good money for my wig and gown! They make me look more senior. And it means that tomorrow the pressure is on - what on earth am I going to wear? Not that it matters, as when the judge left the court tonight he said 'good evening, gentlemen' (I was the only woman in court). Great to see that the good old days aren't over, hey?

On a more serious note, I need your help. Please write in with your offers of first times I can experience. Seriously, does anyone work at a magazine where I can spend a day? Does anyone have an interesting hobby I can try just the once? Please add a comment (or email me at, and if it's offensive, I'll sue. Ha!

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Now, I've always considered myself a bit too cool for school (on the inside!). To you can imagine my surprise myself when I found myself this week, for the first time, not only enjoying a musical I attended, but (look away, all those who don't want to see my cool-tag ripped away for all eternity) actually shedding tears and then giving a standing ovation at a West End Musical. I don't do musicals. I hate the false-cheeriness, unless it's a really old-fashioned one, like The Boyfriend, which is a true great. Don't get me wrong. I love cheese. But not tug-at-my-heartstrings, oh-look-he's-flying-over-the-audience, Lloyd-Webber-laughing-all-the-way-to-the-bank kind of cheese. But this one, I (whisper) ... loved it. I'm not sure I can mention what it was (Billy Elliott). I would try to explain why I loved it but none of my reasons make rational sense to me and some things are just inexplainable and we need to move on ...

I've had such a wonderful week for first times as well. On Sunday I went for the first time to Sunday UpMarket off Brick Lane, which immediately got promoted to my favourite market in London. It's like Spitalfields used to be; edgy, full of great food and quirky fashions. Sad lawyer that I am, with very little creative flair, it was brilliant to meet young designers. I bought a toy frog for George, who was holding this messgae: "Not many people do, but I like a rainy day". Bless. I also bought a cool fascinator (and learned what that actually means!) for the impending QC ceremony I have to attend.

But my best first time this week was going to Manchester for the first time. The new civil justice centre there is a feat of architecture and the modern architecture nerd in me could wax lyrical for hours, but I won't bore you. But what's not to love about a city where Harvey Nichols and Selfridges are literally across the road from each other? I stood outside and hummed and hawed and eventually chose Selfridges (not being a west London girl at heart). And there I had one of my best ever first time experiences. Two words: personal shopping. Oh my word. I explained that I needed a fabulous dress for an important ceremony I was attending. The wonderful lady misheard my budget requirements and soon I was trying on D&G, Victoria Beckham, Roland Mouret, you name it, the full Cheryl Cole experience. Oh how fabulous. I tried on all the outfits pictured and it was too fabulous for words. I eventually chose an understated (not) Dries van Noten creation, spending more that it is appropriate to disclose. But what an experience...

Thursday, 19 February 2009

I've had the busiest week, doing all sorts of first things and lots of old things too (and sometimes the old things are definitely the best). Now, first of all, I have decided that Valentine's Day is definitely the most retro cool event of the year. Those old fusspots who proclaim that it is too commercialised, or (and they think this one is a killer) that couples should be romantic every day are missing the point completely. What's the problem with a day of celebrating love? Or the fact that you've found someone you love having sex with? Or the fact that someone has accepted all your flaws and still wants to be with you? Or with celebrating a day whose primary colour is pink? I had a truly excellent Valentine's Day which involved lots of first times - no, not those sorts of first times, you salubrious lot. I went to the new Mark Hix restaurant (very meaty), stayed in a rooftop room at the Zetter (funky) and had a cocktail called Make Me Happy (I lie. I had several. And then was almost sick. Whilst shouting "come on, let's have another one, you girl!" at my lovely DH who still manages to love me and put up with me).

Oh and speaking of my lovely DH, he found out yesterday that he has been appointed a QC. This means, for those of you who don't know, that he has reached the top of his profession as well as being very good-looking and nice and good at knowing when I've had enough cocktails. He's also now entitled to wear this lovely wig (as opposed to the smaller ones we barristers usually wear). So for the first time, I am married to a QC!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Hello blog fans! I've been so overwhelmed at work over the last week that it's been hard to blog... but here I am, thanks for bearing with me. Actually, today I had what I think was my best every victory in court - but that would involve me blowing my own trumpet and I'm not going to do that (too obviously)... it's probably enough to say that it involved the Court of Appeal and my miracle turn-around arguments. Days like this, hey, shucks, it's cool being a barrister.

Two particularly notable first times this week. The first was a visit to the Design Museum to be acquainted with a fashion designer I had never heard of - Hussein Chalayan. He's Cypriot and designs clothes which are cutting edge in terms of their futuristic design and, in my view, their sheer ability not to pander in any way to the desire of the wearer. Comfort? Whatever. Flattering cut? Whatever. Suffice it to say that it's not going to surpass Prada on my coolest designer ever list. The coolest design on display was however this laser outfit. I think George would have paid serious money to take this away - what is is with babies and light?

Also this week I went for the first time to a baby shower. Now, this does not mean that I have no friends (or no friends with babies). It's just not really done much in the UK but my friend A was holding one and so I attended. Fabulous and horribly under-rated. The cakes! The hand-knitted toys! My competitive streak revealed (during party games)! Loved every moment and I can't believe how small A's bump is. Will be thinking of you, A and can't wait to meet the new arrival...

Oooh and one more thing - my Phaidon Atlas of 21st century architecture arrived, so prepare not to hear from me again for weeks while I swoon over the best modern buildings in the world... I love the architectural nerd in me!

Thursday, 5 February 2009

For the first time ever today, I attended the RTPI awards ceremony - held this year at the Park Lane Hilton. Yes, 600 planners in the same room. The Oscars of the planning and regeneration profession. Now, the cynics amongst you will undoubtedly assume that this was the most boring event ever invented, and that awards must have included 'award for the most innovative water feature in Bradford 2008', and you'd be partly right (there was an award for a golf course) but actually mostly you'd be wrong. Normally, I wouldn't be seen dead at this sort of event and I'm a Grade A cynic about such things. I loathe marketing and networking with a passion, mainly because last time I went to such an event two separate sweaty fifty somethings cornered me for the best part of two hours, trying to talk to me about a new document they loved, called Manual for Streets (which actually won an award today, but that's a separate story).
Today I was involved in presenting the 'Infratructure Project of the Year award' (yes, I'm that cool) which was won by the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and as I mocked (internally of course) I suddenly realised what a difference the Channel Tunnel - which runs between France and England and has obviated the need for ferries between the UK and the rest of Europe - has made to my life and those of countless others. The romantic trips to Paris which now take 2 hours! The visits to the Lille Christmas market which took less time than a trip to Birmingham... And I also realised how hard everyone who worked on the project must have worked. And how infrastructure and regeneration schemes totally transform the way we and others see the UK. And suddenly I was up there clapping with the rest of them.

And anyway, what's the problem with celebrating the area you work in? Not everyone can win an Oscar (and anyway don't get me started on my usual rant of WHY it is that actors are revered as they are anyway. Especially as most of them have zero talent) and it's lovely to see your work rewarded. OK, rant over...

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Hello and Happy February! So many of my first times are snow-related this week. It's definitely the first time I have seen so much snow in London ever - and this is true, as they say that London hasn't seen this much snow for 18 years. So I took full advantage (all in the name of this blog, of course).

Thanks to encouragement from my friend Ben, I decided to do a snow angel for the first time; you know, lying in the snow with your arms and legs out to make an angel shape in the snow? This was a brilliant feeling and would have been more brilliant if I had not (a) been wearing glittery open-toed shoes which soaked my feet - but hey, a girl's got to look good no matter what the weather, right? and (b) forgotten that I was wearing my fur hat (see Paris posts) and thereby created a very un-angel like head shape; and (c) done this in front of the middle class Islington intelligentsia who frequent the garden square I chose to undertake this activity in. I swear, London is so prudish - they all thought I was insane and didn't get into the spirit of it at all. One man actually said 'at her age, as well!' ...
Oh and I bought cashmere socks for the first time. Never let it be said that I'm middle aged and middle class!

I also said hello to lots of people on the way into work on the first day of the snow. This never happens in London. No one says hello - it's a criminal offence. There were no cars on the road and everyone was sliding on icy pavements and saying hello and for once there was solidarity. I think they call it Blitz spirit.

Also for the first time, I had to deal with chickenpox. No, not mine, but George's, who came out in the most ridiculous number of spots and currently looking like he is going through an EMO teenager phase (complete with bad hair, but that's a different story). I tell you, men and illness just do not work. Ever. 16 months old or not.