Guardian Girl

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.
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Jumping, fair trade

Posted in Fashion, Recipes, Uncategorized by guardiangirl on February 22, 2010

Steak salad, fairtrade cake, jumping in a pink minidress. That was the weekend for me. Wasn’t it for all Guardian readers?

Today I took the day off work and went to the Nicole Farhi show, being sure to take a packet of Mini Creme Eggs in my pocket (see this week’s Measure). I found it a curiously pleasing experience to eat chocolate while watching those coppices of bony thighs breeze by. It was like watching The Snowman in front of an open fire.

I also popped into Jigsaw and tried on the drape-front cardigan that gets the thumbs up this week. It was lovely and soft, a good colour and a great shape. But I still couldn’t make myself spend £79 on it.

Tonight, fried pineapple and ice cream. Happy times.

Mango, avocado and steak salad

Mangled avocado and steak salad

Shorts stuff

Warthog

Banana chocolate cake

Bedraggled chocolate cake

Conclusion:

• So far, the week is good and the food is great. The fashion, notsomuch.

Ten years, ten looks #5

Posted in Fashion by guardiangirl on October 21, 2009

A classic get-it-a-bit-wrong day. All the component parts are good, in my book, but put them all together and you get a mad old farmer’s wife. Or a mad old farmer, to be a little more modern about things. Imagine: you encounter this figure hobbling down a country road in the autumn dusk. You say a friendly hello. The old hag looks up from underneath her straw hat to reveal a hideous, gurning apparition with empty eye sockets and wormholed skin.

I’m not the biggest fan of the totally full-on boho look but at least the model’s outfit is consistent.

I love this straw hat I’m wearing – and the skirt, which my granny made in the 50s. But I think both should be worn on a beach or in a field, with a tan. I’ve never been too sure about long skirts in winter – unless it’s done in an Edith Holden sort of way, which takes commitment. I’m quite content being at work in this outfit and I won’t feel wrong wearing it out for dinner later, but I’d never have put it together this way if it weren’t for the Guardian.

The boho boom

The boho boom

 

The bozo boom
The bozo boom

Hmm. Now I look at the photo again I’m thinking: you’re watching TMZ. A drunken Sienna Miller stumbles out of the Ivy trying to shield her face from the paparazzi. You’re watching on widescreen.

Conclusions:
 
  • Two consistent obstacles to getting the fashion right: proportions and textures. You need the biggish brim and the floor-grubbed skirt with the slim hips and the long top. You need the felty hat and suede boots.
  • That’s why all this is such an expensive lark. You can’t just have a pair of boots – you have to have suede boots for one skirt and leather boots for another. You can’t just have a nice hat – you have to have a straw hat for summer and a felt hat for winter. You can’t just cut your hair into a bob, throw on your old Sienna Miller get-up and expect it to look as boho as it did with rib-length hair. It’s all too tiring. No wonder so many people choose a style that suits them and stick with it until several decades later when a ‘friend’ from work calls up 10 Years Younger and Channel 4 forces them to cower helplessly around Brighton Beach while the general public vox-pop dates them at 95. “Let’s bleach the old crone’s teeth! We can get her down to at least 70!” Terrifying.

Resurrection

Posted in Fashion, First impressions, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on September 28, 2009

When I started this blog I decided to pretty much keep the whole thing quiet, bar telling a few friends who helped me take photos or directly asked me what the hell I was doing after walking in on me photographing myself in a bikini with a walking stick between my thighs. Rather than fabricating some phoney story about Hannibal Lecter for the post-gendered/neo-hiking era (I don’t know at all what I mean by this but it sounds like a joke, which is half the battle)  I told them what I was doing and gradually developed a small but loyal following of regular readers with whom I enjoyed sharing my adventures in Guardianland. A few other people happened upon it while searching for Dan Lepard recipes (poor souls didn’t get much help here), Andy Pandy (again, sorry folks) and female humiliation (probably not what they had in mind) .  Some of them kept coming back, and I decided the rest of the world could do without seeing it really.

But a few weeks after I decided to jack the whole thing in I posted the link on Facebook, since it was sitting there all finished with, which then led to something to do with Twitter and something to do with Stumbleupon and some other things I can’t quite get a grip on, which then led to bemusing amounts of people actually asking me not to give it up, while on their knees with tears on their faces. I have always felt it was my calling in life to sacrifice my personal dignity, large amounts of cash, my physical health and all my spare time in order to provide mild entertainment to friends and acquaintances. So it is with a heavy heart, a light wallet and an ambivalent smile that I’m resurrecting Guardian Girl.

My first post back should really be an extra special one, but it isn’t. It’s not even spectacularly unsuccessful. Just an unflattering photo of me in a checked shirt and a fairly insipid but I suppose satisfying rice and meat dish.

On Saturday morning I went off to buy the paper, accompanied by the slightly jaded cousin of my old sense of trepidation.

I sat on a bench and cracked open a can of Special Brew followed by Weekend.

I thought:

Food: same old, same old.

Lauren Luke: Christ alive, no offence to her but she looks like a burns victim this week. Bronzing is supposed to be SAFE.

The interior design bit: hilarious for reasons I’ll elaborate on later.

Fashion: more shirts and trousers.

Not much had changed while I was away – except that they’ve started putting some of their fashion pictures online! Hooray! This makes life much easier as you can see in high-def the look I was aiming for. Maybe I’ll even be able to stop taking rubbish-quality photos of the magazine pages soon.

The Measure was more interesting. I instantly clocked that I wouldn’t be able to afford anything by Dries van Noten but that Topshop was on the list too. Astley Clark jewellery – possible. The Reiss belt is lovely, and in fact I packed myself off to Angel that very day and bought me one, which cost an eye-watering 60-odd quid and made me feel extremely guilty. It’s not that lovely after all – it looks a bit Dorothy Perkins when you combine it with most of my other clothes. That 1971 collection is very nice, a bit Dallasy and a bit Suzi Quatroey, but when I put that sort of jangling stuff on I just look like I’ve been doing guilty trolley dashes down Primark again (which I usually have).

On Sunday it was time to face reality and get back into the cookery properly again, so I tackled Hugh’s first recipe of the week, which was something called Maqluba.

My actual-genius friend Jesse came to dine and ate the food happily but seemed relieved when she found out it was a Guardian recipe, as it was licence to come clean with the truth – that it “could do with a bit more salt”. I quite agreed, especially eating it cold the next day when this kind of dish is usually extra tasty. I perhaps should have used more than one stock cube. Also I chopped my herbs way too big again – bad gal. I forgot to cut them with scissors like a helpful commenter on this blog told me to do months ago.

Coming up soon is the first photographic evidence in a long while. Hold your breath.

First of all a little bonus (I wouldn’t get too excited): the old piccies that damaged the camel’s back last time around in August before The Break.

Strike a pose

Strike a pose

 

Completely fail to strike the correct pose

Completely fail to strike the correct pose

 This makes me wonder about my brain functioning. You can imagine what I’m like in an aerobics class – windmilling around in Studio 2 while the rest of the class is doing press-ups in Studio 1. I think I just forgot to look at the original picture properly. Or at all.

I have also uncovered the last recipe I cooked, weeks ago, to say thanks to the cat godfathers for looking after My George while I was in Hamburg living the unfettered life. It was a lime pie, one of Dan Lepard’s, and it tasted kind of nice but I burned the pastry so it went black and crumbly. Also I made the tragic error of purchasing these squidgy golden kiwi things – a different type from the usuals. I really don’t recommend them. Luckily I also had a packet of bog-standard kiwi fruit (how globalised consumerism has moved on since the rationing era) and they turned out to be enough to cover the pie with.

Kiwi tart

Kiwi tart

It's a start

It's a start

 

Right then, with that out of the way, here’s last night’s dinner (and today’s lunch):

Maqluba

Maqluba

 

Maq-loser

Maq-loser

 

Mine lacks lustre doesn’t it. I overcooked the tomatoes intentionally to try to destroy some of their innate evil. It sort of worked. I also ate most of the delicious toasted flaked almonds I was supposed to scatter on the top before serving, as they were just too tempting and too close to hand to ignore. Altogether it was a pretty drab dish for something that involved so much preparation and so many flavourings. Where did they all go? Stolen by the force of heat.

So on to the moment I’ve been dreading – today’s outfit. I’ll be frank with you; the past six weeks have not been kind to me. I have reappeared in cyberworld looking like a shadow of my former self, if shadows were larger, paler and messier than the original, which would make the world a very different place wouldn’t it? I do hope to return to form at some unspecified point in the future. In the meantime please bear with me. I am ‘everywoman’ after all, it’s all in me.

Get shirty

Get shirty

 

Get surgery

Get surgery

 That really is a hideous return to the project. Nevermind.

My head is going the wrong way because I still have very fragile connections between brain and body even after that half a chapter of The Alexander Technique for Dummies I read seven years ago. And despite photographer-Cari shouting: “Spread your legs wider!” repeatedly at me as I slumped on the sink outside a cubicle in which another colleague was trying to do a quiet wee, I preserved my dignity over getting the picture right. Obviously if I’d been wearing white silk bloomers there wouldn’t have been a problem.

On a happy note, please admire the snazzy bathroom in which I pose for these photos. We moved offices at work, so it’s bye-bye tampon machine and hello clean grouting from now on.

Conclusions:

  • Hugh slacked off a bit on taste this week. Also did you know the recipe called for holding a plate over the pan of boiling meat and rice and turning it upside down? Have you seen the level of success with which I am able to copy a very simple seated pose? Put the two together and you’ll see why I didn’t attempt this – I just used a spoon.
  • Topshop sold out of that amazing UFO dress ages ago, apparently.
  • Reiss does do wonderful accessories but who’d pay £60 for a belt? Oh.
  • Lauren Luke’s make-up gives her the appearance of a Marbella-dwelling ex-pat and makes me look like a sweaty grub.
  • It’s good to be back.