Monthly Archives: September 2006

Probably The Best Birthday Present In The World… EVER!

You’ll never believe this. I can barely believe it myself. It’s, well, unbelievable. But it happened – and I’m still in shock. In a GOOD way, though. A very, very, very good way…

I stayed up until 3am last night watching the first episode of Supernatural‘s second season. Then I spent until 4am watching it again because it was so utterly fabulous that once wasn’t enough.

At 9.05am this morning, a mere three minutes after I’d opened my eyes, I had a phone call from my friend Thomasina, who’s currently on the loose in Vancouver.

“Hi Jayne! Are you awake?” she asked.

“Yes, just about,” I replied. “How are you? How’s the trip?”

“I have someone here who wants to speak to you,” she announced. A man’s voice suddenly came down the phone.

“Hey,” said Jared Padalecki. “Happy birthday!”

Well, bugger me.

In case you don’t know, Jared Padalecki plays Sam Winchester, the guy on the right in the above picture.

The star of my favourite television show was on the phone wishing me happy birthday as I was lying in freakin’ bed in my jim-jams!

I was able to speak English again after roughly 30 seconds (quite an achievement, I thought, given the circumstances). I spent another 20 seconds or so stammering out variations of, “Oh my God, hello!” before shifting to the equally-as-eloquent, “How the…? What the…? But how…?”

“We have a mutual friend,” Jared laughed, meaning Thomasina, who I swear to God is now officially the best friend a girl could ever have.

And that was when I realised it couldn’t be easy for anyone to talk to a complete stranger down the phone when said stranger is babbling and giggling like a star-struck loon, so I pulled myself together.

A little bit, anyway.

I told him I’d been up all night watching Supernatural and that I’d loved the latest episode to death; he sounded pleased. We had a quick chat about how the second season is coming along, I said lots of nice things which I hope didn’t sound too gushy and he laughed, wished me happy birthday again and called me “doll”. (I still can’t quite believe he did that.)

Then he handed the phone back to Thomasina, who listened to me saying “thank you” over and over and over and over again until she decided she really had to go. I was still saying “thank you” after she’d hung up.

I’m not sure what freaked me out the most: getting the phone call in the first place, or the fact I spoke to Jared while I was lying in bed. I mean, come on… icing + cake, anyone? And what a nice guy for agreeing to chat with me! How embarrassing must a phone call like that be to make?

Oh, and Thomasina? There’s so much good karma comin’ your way you’re gonna have to buy a wheelbarrow to cart it about. Don’t worry, I’ll pay for it! I think I owe you. Again…


(Thanks to supernatural.tv for the scan of the People Magazine ad!)

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Grape Expectations

So I’m walking down a corridor at work and I hear a commotion. A group of guys are standing around a small green grape lying on the carpet. One of them is holding an absolutely enormous ball made entirely from rubber bands, the size of a Jack Russell dog. He’s holding the ball in the air a few feet above the grape.

I watch, completely fascinated, as they count down from three and release the ball.

The grape is utterly obliterated.

Later, I can’t figure out if what I saw was hilariously funny or merely an evolutionary experiment on the part of the men, like the bit in 2001: A Space Odyssey when the apeman uses a bone as a tool for the very first time.

Either way, I felt sorry for the grape.

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WARNING: Serious Profanity Ahead

I’ve just started watching The Wire. If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s a gritty urban drama series showing the two sides of the drug war in Baltimore: through the eyes of the dealers on the streets and the detectives trying to bust them. I’m only a few episodes into season one (I think it’s up to its fifth year now) but I’m already angry it’s taken me so long to find it because The Wire is, quite simply, brilliant.

It’s also very funny. The following scene made me laugh so much I’ve decided to transcribe it for your reading pleasure. It may lose something in the translation from TV screen to computer screen but, hopefully, you’ll enjoy it. Bear in mind all the subtle and delicate nuances of the actors’ performances have been completely lost, but you’ll get the gist.

The set-up: Detectives McNulty and Moreland are revisiting a year-old crime scene to see if they can learn any new information about the murder of a young woman. Let the hilarity ensue…

Moreland (staring at crime scene photos of the dead woman): “Aw, fuck.”

McNulty (looking over his shoulder): “Motherfucker.”

Moreland (laying pics on the kitchen floor to recreate the murder scene): “Fuck, fuck, fucking fuck.”

McNulty (looking at coroner’s report): “Fuck.”

He looks at the entry and exit bulletwounds and frowns.

McNulty: “…the fuck?”

McNulty (pulls out his tape measure and promptly cuts his finger on the edge of it): “Fuck!”

The two detectives then try to recreate the bullet’s angle of entry… and fail.

Moreland: “Aw, fuck.”

McNulty (on his knees, hunting for bulletholes, seeing nothing): “Oh fuck.”

Moreland
(staring at a photo of a bullethole in the window glass, realising the shooter must have fired through the window): “Motherfuck! Aw, fuck. Aw, fuck.”

McNulty (realising bullet must be in opposite wall): “Fuckity fuck fuck fuck fuck. Fucker.”

Moreland: “Aw fuck. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.”

They look at a crime scene photo and see fragments from the fridge on the floor next to the dead girl. The bullet must have hit the fridge.

Moreland (surprised): “Motherfucker!”

McNulty (opening fridge door, finding bullethole): “Fuckin’ A!”

McNulty (he pulls out the bullet): “Mother… fucker.”

Moreland: “Fuck me.”

Well, I never said it was a family show.

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City Glow, Mountain Whisper

The posters have been all over the Underground for weeks but I only saw it for myself today: “City Glow, Mountain Whisper”, Chiho Aoshima’s art exhibit at Gloucester Road Station.

I really hate girly fantasy art that simpers and tries to be twee. However…

Alright, so it’s not the best picture (stolen from Wikipedia, apologies to the photographer). Here’s another photo of an ever-so-slightly different piece, “City Glow”:

Aren’t those smiley skyscrapers just adorable?

Oh god. I’ve gone hideously girly. Soon I’ll be carrying a tiny dog in my handbag.

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A Wee Story

Overheard earlier today in the ladies’ toilets at work:

“Oooh, that was a lovely wee.”

“Really?”

“God, yes.”

WTF?

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Lying To Strangers

Things returned to normal this week after my little adventure the other day. By “normal” I mean I did a live interview for BBC Radio Wales on Wednesday morning (about Star Trek being 40 years old) and a TV interview for BBC4 on Thursday afternoon. Which wasn’t live, thankfully, and will be shown in the autumn as part of a series they’re doing, though I won’t watch because I hate seeing myself on TV. I did ask them to film me from the head up because then I won’t get that whole “the camera puts 10lbs on you” thing, but sadly they didn’t listen.

I had to talk about Star Trek (again), Buffy, Futurama and, best of all, David Niven’s fabulous 1946 movie A Matter Of Life And Death, which was why I did it in the first place. Unfortunately the filming took place in a room as hot as a sauna, I had a sore throat and all the questions about that film took place at the end of the 90-minute interview when I was tired, croaky and probably a little sweaty. Still, as long as I sounded enthusiastic, I s’pose…

Onto stranger matters:

A few days ago I was approached by a woman tugging a huge suitcase behind her outside Baker Street station. She was flustered, upset and loud, demanding to know how to get from Baker Street to Marylebone Station. I told her I was walking that way and she followed me, complaining the whole time about the lack of a sign anywhere to tell her where to go.

“I mean,” she grumbled, “what kind of stupid place doesn’t have a sign pointing to a train station? How would I have found it if I hadn’t asked you? What a stupid city London is!”

I don’t know if it was because she was being rude about my home town, but a wild madness overtook me.

I started to lie.

“There used to be signs,” I explained, politely, “but they’ve been stolen.”

“Stolen? Who’d steal a road sign?”

“There are some crazy people in this world.”

“But who would do that?”

I thought quickly. “Sherlock Holmes fans.”

She stopped on the pavement and stared at me. “Really?”

I should have felt guilty, but I didn’t. “Yes. They all come to Baker Street on a pilgrimage to his house, but then they don’t want to leave empty handed, so they steal street signs. The council keep replacing them but they just keep vanishing. They must have gone through hundreds.”

The woman looked amazed. “That’s crazy! I’d never have believed it!”

If only she knew, I thought. But I couldn’t stop myself now. “I know,” I said, trying to look outraged. “It always makes me angry. I mean, Sherlock Holmes was all about solving crimes and upholding the law, wasn’t he? So all these people stealing in his name… it’s against everything he stood for. He’d have hated them! I really don’t understand why they don’t realise that.”

“Yes,” said the woman, firmly. “He would have hated them. Well… That’s very interesting. I feel a bit better about there not being any directions now.”

Later, when I got back to the office and guiltily told one of my colleagues what I’d done, she replied: “I’m lovin’ your work.”

I’m so bad.

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"I feel sullied and unusual." – Jack Sparrow

These last four days have been terrible and wonderful all at once. “Terrible” is rather an understatement, actually. “Wonderful” is a considerable understatement, too. Hell, “surreal” is probably more appropriate, although my life tends to be quite surreal at the best of times.

First, the bad stuff:

In my previous blog entry I mentioned having an ear infection. I was prescribed antibiotics to clear it up (it’s almost gone now, thank you for asking) but they made me horribly sleepy, so I spent last weekend in bed as a result. Which then gave me a bad back. You can’t win sometimes, can you?

On Thursday morning I woke up feeling dreadful, stiff and sore and achey, so I took two aspirins. Then I hobbled into work and, forgetting I’d already popped some pills, took a prescription painkiller too. Which, as I discovered 45 minutes later, was THE KING OF ALL BAD IDEAS.

Later that day my doctor told me I’d taken an overdose and that I should never, ever do it again. Like I’d even consider it after what happened…

The hour and a half spent sitting on the (thankfully clean) floor in the ladies’ toilets at work was bad enough. Being utterly sick and losing the ability to move my legs wasn’t too nice, either. But the worst part – the very, very worst part – was when the sickness wore off and all of a sudden, as though somebody had snapped their fingers, I was completely ecstatic.

I started to giggle. I didn’t stop for two hours. I slurred my words, fell over (several times) and talked complete nonsense, right up until one of my marvellously practical and caring co-workers had the sense to call a taxi, throw me into it and get me home sharpish.

Apparently, according to my friend Sam (whom I seem to remember hugging before squealing into his ear, “I’ve taken an overdose – wheeeeee!”), I was just like Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean. And I think I probably was: I must have looked absolutely pissed as a newt! I couldn’t speak properly or stand upright and I’m sure I wasn’t far from saying, “You’re my best mate, you are,” to everyone walking by. Or, failing that: “I feel sullied and unusual… where’s the rum?”

Oh God! I don’t want to go to work tomorrow! I’ll never live it down!

It WAS kind of funny, in retrospect, if you ignore the fact I was so sick before the giggles started. And if you ignore the fact that I was sick again that night: really, really sick, the kind of sick that has you whimpering into the toilet bowl, “I need to be dead now, please!” I’ve not felt right all weekend, either.

Drugs are BAD, m’kay? Just say no, kids.

However, here’s the good news:

After spending the most godawful night of my life thinking I was going to die, I managed to wake up feeling moderately okay on Friday morning, which was the just most amazing thing that could have happened because Friday 1 September was probably one of the most incredible days of my life.

The reason? I travelled to a beautiful 17th-century manor house and spent the afternoon sitting in the sun by a lily pond interviewing the author who made me want to become a writer when I was a little girl. Her name is Victoria Clayton – nee Walker – and her books (The Winter Of Enchantment and The House Called Hadlows) were the most important things in the world to me when I was a child.

This is all part of a long, long story featuring Neil Gaiman, the power of the internet and a quest I can’t quite believe is at an end. I’ll be writing about it in an upcoming issue of SFX magazine so I won’t go into detail here, but I would like to say that meeting Victoria after 22 years of searching was possibly one of the most magical moments of my entire life. And, blissfully, she lived up to the hype: what a marvellously warm and lovely woman she is! From pointing out the wet moorhen footprints drying in the sun by her pond to showing me around her garden and teaching me that phlox smells like pepper (who knew?), she was a delightful host and a wonderful interviewee. She was everything I wanted the favourite author of my childhood to be. I wish my 11 year-old self could have seen me chatting away to her…

Victoria’s books will be back in print soon thanks to Vanessa Robertson at Fidra Books (www.fidrabooks.co.uk), who knows a classic or two when she sees one. It’s taken 30 years and I can’t quite believe it’s finally happening!

What amazes me is that I was so horribly poorly both before and after the interview (I had to lie down across three seats on the train home, which got some funny looks), and yet for the entire duration I was absolutely 100%, as though my body refused to let me feel ill while I was doing something so important. It’s the same thing that happened a few months ago when I met Sean Bean with a streaming cold; it completely vanished when I was with him. I think this kind of healing power should be investigated by doctors and scientists.

In the meantime, I’m so grateful I was well enough to meet Victoria that I don’t know which God to thank first, so instead I’ll send my gratitude to a small ginger cat called Mantari. Which will mean nothing to anyone who hasn’t read those books… but everything to those who have.

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