Guardian Girl

Back after all this time

Posted in Fashion, Food, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on June 27, 2011

I have barely thought about Guardian Girl for the past year or so. Recently, though, I keep bumping into people I haven’t seen for a while who ask me if I’m still doing it and why I stopped. I always tell them it cost too much money, freedom and vascular health, any one of which would be a good reason to stop a blog. Yet despite repeatedly going over the reasons why this is such a stupid idea, just thinking about the subject planted evil seeds of temptation in my mind.

On Saturday I finally got to thinking that it really has been too long since I’ve had a legitimate outlet for my third-rate puns and crushingly unflattering photos. I used to think that reading blogs was only for idiots, so I had no idea of the benchmarks when I first started doing all this business. Since I’ve been away I have read quite a few, which has allowed me to realise that blogs are rubbish, bloggers are morons and I don’t actually have to worry about being a good writer, saying anything clever or having any sense of dignity at all. This realisation has spurred me back into action.

So, here we are.

Happily for posterity’s sake, we begin again with pies and swimwear! As you will shortly see, not that much has changed in the past year.

(We actually began with soup, but my photo of it has got stuck on a different camera, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say that making soup out of salad ingredients is actually nice, even if you still can’t be bothered to chop vegetables small and therefore end up with an actual salad floating in some hot water.)

Glade tidings

Forbade hiding

Forbade hiding

A bad start on the formatting. A bad start full stop, maybe. I did put a skirt on before I left the house. Don’t really know what the caption means – is meant to capture a general feeling, I think.

So that’s swimwear covered for the day; now on to the lard.

I should mention at this point that in the time I’ve been away I have managed to shack up with a man whose appetite for a good pie matches – and possibly even exceeds – the indiscriminating gusto with which I cook them. This is a great relief because although eating two portions of pie for dinner isn’t ideal for a person, eating four is very much worse.

Mackerel and lovage tarts

Mackerel and lovage tarts

Mackerel: a lovely start

Mackerel: a lovely start

It hurts to be so positive, but this really did come out good. A great recipe Hugh, ta mate. I used cheat’s roll-out puff pastry obviously, and ready cooked and smoked mackerel. Most of my potatoes had turned green and sprouted like so many limited-edition Shrek Mr Potato Heads (? quip too forced? and also why use ‘so many’ like an american when you from england?) so I chucked those out and just used the remaining couple that were just squidgy, not deadly. Are you supposed to save green potatoes to polish your silver and clean your windows with? I need to ask that woman with the big weird plait who turned out to have buried her stillborn child in a park. Anyway I am digressing into offensive territory here. The pie was delicious, all agreed.

Second outfit of the week and it has been a sweltering day. Needless to say, the blanket only stayed on briefly while Miguel (photographer of the day) took this distracted iPhone shot in which I can’t even keep my eyes open. That’s being wrapped in blankets for you. The rest of the day I resorted to the most pink and blanketlike dress I own, which is just a pink dress.

The wrap

The wrap

The Mummy

The Mummy

Measurewise, I have got on the case in astoundingly conscientious fashion and purchased myself some leg make-up, so as never to stray into the sheer-infested territory of Pippa M’s fashion mishaps, and a collected works of Jane Austen so I can understand what this whole Anna Wintour parallel gag is about. Totally with her on the smileys though.

I have neglected to purchase any Stella McCartney eveningwear (guess why), drink a G&T with cucumber (taking it easy on the booze at the mo) and am not yet sure what I’m going to do about this issue of the Orrefors crystal tumbler or HBC modelling for Marc Jacobs.

Will update.

Off to cook courgette and not-lovage pasta now. Has anyone managed to track down any lovage this week?

Conclusions:

  • Too hot for blankets, too public for bikini bottoms
  • Hooray for pie sharing
  • Salad soup, who knew?
  • Sorry about blurry and malformatted photos etc. One day I will neaten all this up.
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Unbold, unsmoked, untasselled

Posted in Fashion, Recipes, The Measure, Uncategorized by guardiangirl on April 27, 2010

Yesterday’s outfit was tempered for the office and then reconstructed when I got home and had access to my housemates’ wardrobes for photographic purposes. Strictly speaking this is cheating, as my rules are that I must wear my own clothes where possible, and that I must wear the outfits out and about like a brave person, not just piling them on for the photos and immediately casting them to a corner of Room 101 when the lens is put away. However on this occasion I knew my housemates to own the perfect garments for the job and there was no way I was going to tramp through a rainy day in Nin’s beloved Opening Ceremony wedges and Jess’s vintage Stephen Marks ikat jacket. Come to think of it I didn’t actually ask the girls if I could wear them for the photo either, but I know it’s OK. I really know it’s OK. If either of you is reading this, I hope it is OK.

The posing is very difficult when no one’s in, as the iPhone camera has no self-timer and using a reflection is tricky. The result is altogether buffoonish.

Tread lightly

Tread lightly

Unsightly

Unsightly

I worked late last night so dinner was actually cobbled together from the vastly expensive shop next to the office and eaten at my desk, meaning Hugh’s mackerel roll had to play the part of a bedtime snack instead. A rather indulgent snack, admittedly, and not home-smoked in the least. But why smoke it at home when Sainsbury’s had done such a great job of smoking it for me? It was their Taste the Difference kiln-smoked stuff, which I’d never tried before – unbelievable, I promise. I do seem to sound like a Sainsbury’s ad sometimes, which I’m not proud of at all, I can tell you.

Hot smoked mackerel sandwich

Hot smoked mackerel sandwich

McSmoked mackerel sandwich

McSmoked mackerel sandwich

And now I turn my attention to The Measure, whihc has already caused me untold heartache this week. And to think it’s only Tuesday.

For logistical purposes I tend to divide up the various tasks in The Measure and assign them to different days of the week, partly so that I have more chance of being able to achieve them, and partly to give myself an excuse for wriggling out of something if I don’t really want to do it. Saturday was a case in point. I YouTubed the band Hurts as suggested and found them to be pretty brilliant. Their song Wonderful Life is amazing and I can’t quite work out how they’d passed under my radar. The video did make me scoff a bit but black and white stuff usually does, especially if no one is smiling or moving, especially if there is a girl doing pretty dumb dance moves. They seem like funny chaps in their interviews anyway. After watching all this happily it dawned on me that The Measure hadn’t mentioned just their music, but their hair. By my rules, whatever The Measure says, I am supposed to copy. There was no escaping it – this meant going out and getting a crew cut.

Reader, I couldn’t do it. I simply didn’t have the gall. I’m not proud of my head shape at the best of times (too flat at the back, and other complaints no person other than my own self would bother to spend much time noticing), my jawline is not looking its best at the moment, what with still being less distinct than it once was after the previous run of baking adventures, and my skin, sadly, could never be described as ‘best’, ‘better’ or even ‘good’. It seems to me that these three things are the key deciders in whether a woman looks good with a crew cut.

It’s all very well bravely cutting off your hair for a blog and making it all into an interesting experiment. But what if you change your mind about the blog a few weeks later (as has been known to happen) and end up spending all summer in tears, and a wig, incapable of looking anyone in the eye, particularly members of the opposite sex, and dear God what if you are thirty now and are supposed to be becoming more confident in such situations.

So in the end I let the mental debate drag on until I could tell myself all the hairdressers would be shut and the day was over, meaning the task didn’t have to be done after all. My chest is constricting just thinking about it.

Today I am experiencing yet more heart freezing. The post office nearest my office, despite being in Primrose Hill, doesn’t stock French Vogue. However I managed to find the Measure-beloved curtain tassel-wearing Vogue interview on a website so I could see what I was aiming for. Fine, I thought, these tassels ain’t that crazy, they make kind of good accessories, I’ll go for it. So I logged on to the Guardian’s suggested source of such items, Pret a Vivre, selected the recommended tassels… and discovered that my order was going to come to £88 plus £12 for delivery. That’s £100 on tassels.

I have just spent 15 minutes grappling in genuine anguish over this matter. It might seem like a nobrainer but I promised myself this time I would give it a proper shot, keep the project entertaining, be subversive about it, play it unsafe. But I also promised myself that, as ever, I wouldn’t sacrifice my own physical health, financial stability or personal relationships in the process. It seems this is already proving an impossible combination. I looked at the tassels. I looked at the checkout total. I looked at the tassels. I looked at the checkout total. I decided I’d spend £100 on a nice bit of jewellery, at an enormous push, so why not on the tassels? I filled in my details. Then I thought of my mum reading this blog (as she often does, to keep up with my news) and I imagined her discovering I’d spent £100 on curtain tassles to put around my waist and neck, and in my mind’s eye I saw her shoulders sag under the weight of responsibility for having spawned this tortured beast and I heard her exclaim “Ohh, Jody!” with saintly exasperation. And I decided not to buy the curtain tassels.

My heartbeat has just about returned to normal.

Is this simple purchase anxiety? It might be, but there is definitely an extra level of torture added by the fact that I don’t even want the ridiculous curtain tassels anyway and I’m only even considering spending my money on such an absurd outlay because the Guardian told me so. But presumably there are legions of people out there who buy all sorts of things for exactly thast reason, although it might be Grazia or Glamour instead of The Guardian. To me it almost feels more guiltifying to buy something you like instantly. It seems too easy. Is this a wider psychological phenomenon or is it just me? I’m not sure.

Cripes almighty, I’m going to make a cup of tea.

And so, with tea drunk, here is today’s outfit, looking nothing like the picture. It is now very late and I must literally run home to cook a duck.

Floral dance

Floral dance

Awful stance

Awful stance

Conclusions:

  • It’s all just a blur of tassels and heartbreak and flaked mackerel and dramatic shadowy music videos and Oh! I am all a-faint.

Brow beeten

Posted in Recipes by guardiangirl on March 1, 2010

Dressing in unexpected ways can produce some real delights; new hairstyles and garment combinations I’d never have thought of myself. It can also produce disasters so heinous that I risk causing myself actual physical harm through delaying toilet visits, too self-conscious to leave my seat and trek past a room full of people in that day’s foolhardy get-up.

In fact the psychological damage has relatively little to do with the outfit itself and more to do with the fact that I don’t feel comfortable in it. Friday’s skirt, borrowed from my housemate Nin, no doubt makes her look like a ravishing Thomas Hardy heroine. It made me look like a market-ready swine trussed up in a hessian sack. The fact that I also got the shoes wrong and chose an unflattering top tipped me over the edge, I’m afraid. I managed to get over it while walking around the office during the day but, when it came to after-work drinks in the pub, my confidence totally failed me and I had to go home and sob without paying a visit my old workmate’s leaving drinks elsewhere (sorry Lucy).

For the next three days I have worn my own choice of clothes, probably no different to anyone else’s eye but much more favourable in my own fragile heart. I also excused myself from cooking duty on Saturday in order to go to Photographer Cari’s birthday meal. So it has been a rather unGuardianlike few days. The lack of Measure in this week’s bumper fashion issue enabled me to spend a bit of cash on a proper pair of trainers with shock absorption and anti-pronation support (if you’ve ever had a metatarsal stress fracture these words will hold some meaning), which will surely benefit my wellbeing far more than any posh handbag.

I did achieve one Guardian-related venture this weekend though: Yotam Ottolenghi’s candy beetroot with lentils and yuzu recipe. Only without the candy beetroot. And without the yuzu (no kidding).

Candy beetroot with lentils and yuzu

Candy beetroot with lentils and yuzu

Standard beetroot with lentils and you-must-be-freakin-kidding-me-mate

Standard beetroot with lentils and you-must-be-freakin-kidding-me-mate

Very defeatist – I was in town on Sunday seeing the beautiful Irving Penn exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery and I’m sure I could’ve tracked down some yuzu nearby, especially since Yotam had kindly explained all about the stuff. A cross between lime and mandarin sounds delicious but in the end it started pouring with rain, time was ticking and I decided to go for the lime substitute instead.

The salad was disappointing. I used extra beetroot and leaves to make it go a bit further and realised there was no maple syrup in the cupboard so used manuka honey instead. But even if I had got it right, I can’t imagine it being that much tastier. We ended up putting vinegar on it for a bit of kick. Maybe it was the prepacked beets that were the problem. Anyways Phoebe had been excited about this since she opened the mag on Saturday, and I’m afraid she left with her heart broken. If only I’d been less flippant about the yuzu!

Conclusion:

  • Rather than mooch around feeling sorry for myself all weekend, a short break seems to have been a far more sensible solution. Back to fashion dictation tomorrow.

Back to (un)reality

Posted in First impressions by guardiangirl on November 16, 2009

Well, I’ve spent a week at my new place of work and it all seems very great. Unfortunately I haven’t yet mustered the courage to ask my new colleagues to accompany me to the park and photograph me perched on a branch, which is top of my list of tasks this week since I’ve decided to return to Guardian Girl proper.

Let’s be honest about it – this blog became pretty sub-standard when I tried to get reborn as Independent Woman. It just ain’t me. And, as actual-genius Jesse said at at the weekend, The Independent isn’t the same – it doesn’t have a visible halo of sub-culture surrounding it. It just tells you the news, really. Even the recipe pages lack the secret whispers that if you only baked a potato cake on Wednesday you’d be part of This Crowd. The fashion doesn’t lure you in by repeating themes week in, week out until you find yourself wearing your hair in plaits or tucking your scarf into your belt because it suddenly feels like the obvious thing to do. All in all The Independent doesn’t boil down in the same way to a sort of politically conscious Grazia. I still haven’t managed to work out exactly how the Guardian manages it, but it does, and I’m back riding the bandwagon for the foreseeable future.

The other blogly misfortune of my present life situation, besides being the shy new kid on the work block, is that I’ve busted my foot proper. It’s been sore for a while but on Friday night I turned it over on a curb and spent the night causing mischief in A&E. My foot now looks like a hairy plum (sadly I can’t put my lycanthropic toes down to the injury – I have only my lax personal grooming to blame) and hurts a lot. I was given crutches, which made this week’s shopping quite a task, since they leave no hand space for baskets. Luckily my friend Tom was willing to help me out, so I managed to buy my crumpet and farl ingredients despite the gammy foot, but by the time we’d done the shopping and had a few pints of beer and a burger to celebrate, it was too late to rise crumpets. I’ll do my best to cook them tonight, although I must pop by Liv’s on my hobble home and ask her to take my day’s outfit photo. Every time I have a necessary holiday from this godforsaken experiment, I forget what a logistical nightmare it is.

On Saturday I took my crutches to the pub via the newsagent and had a look at what was on the cards for my first week back again, in the company of the as-ever-bemused-by-the-whole-concept Disco Dave. He just looked at me as if I was a complete idiot while I flicked through the fashion pages (“I know a few Mickey Mouses, you could cut their ears off and stick them to yer ‘ead”).

I tried to be patient looking at those ears (you’ll see the photos on here soon if you didn’t buy the paper) but I have to say I felt some degree of exasperation. I instantly knew I’d be substituting a headscarf – or an alice band at the very most.

The recipes look kind of nice in a let’s-pretend-our-bedsit-is-a-cobhouse kind of way. My favourite fantasy, that is. I really like the look of the massive omelette extravaganza Yotam’s done this week, although buying the 15 eggs made my arteries demand I have a friend over that evening, and Dan Lepard excels himself once more by writing a nice cake recipe and then telling you to pour rum/melted chocolate/butter/evaporated milk/liquid calorie over the top of it for good measure. All right, I will.

The life, the universe and everything pages seem to make sense and I think I’m going to practice being angry and enjoying it all week. So watch out. Even the home pages look kind of nice and simple-ish.

Yeh, never mind the crutches, I’m going to do the best I can this week and we’ll see what happens. Photos to follow as soon as I can transport myself labouredly to some familiar photographers (oh Cari how I miss you!), crumpet-ring retailers and Jude-Law-trainer-replica shops.

I’m back, there’s just not much evidence of it yet. Wish me luck.

 

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