London &... A Competition

26 Jan 2015

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I was challenged by Huawei to have a £100 day out in London, to promote the launch of their new smartphone, which retails for under £100. Along with Sam and Thom (AKA, my people) here is what I did: Went to the V&A, listened to Sam give a very convincing audio tour, tried on a huge and unflattering hoop skirt while she gave a vintage tie a go. Went to China Town, ate all of the food in the world, drank passionfruit and mango bubble tea, marvelled at a really bad smell as we all stopped to take selfies. Took a casual stroll up Baker Street, taking a detour through the Tussaud's gift shop on our travels (yay for snow globes!) Went to watch the sunset on Primrose Hill, watched in disappointment as the world simply went dark around us. Went shopping in Camden Market, took some truly awesome photos in a truly creepy photobooth, ate donuts. Home. Tea break. And then... Sam and I met up with a good friend, Alex, had some wine, did the pub quiz, WON THE PUB QUIZ! Home. Bed.

London is exhausting, and we pretty much traipsed across the entirety of it yesterday... It was a great day.

Three more ideas for London based activities: Go to Pillow Cinema. Go to the theatre. Go to Madame Tussaud's.

And this is where you come in: For the chance to win a brand spanking new Huawei smartphone (which is a great little phone, FYI) of your very own, simply leave a comment to say how you would spend £100 in your home city, with a way to contact you. Competition closes Friday 30th January 2015, and the winner will be contacted by Huawei directly.

Good luck!

"We Should Get Married!"

21 Jan 2015

Once upon a time, I knew a beautiful 5’6 man. He went by the name of S (or by a name beginning with S, anyway) and he was my assistant manager. S was adorable, and ticked the two main boxes you need a man to tick when single in London: The ‘straight’ box, and the ‘available’ box.

(Background check: I worked briefly in a pub last year. I was the only girl that worked there. On the bar there was myself, S, A, W – you’ll hear about him later – and JK. I loved and hated said bar in equal measure. I mean, can we get a hells yeah for free wine please ladies? And a hells no for sexual harassment please lads? The struggle is real.)

S and I met when I was dating JK. He was informed of my existence by JK, the night following the "can I spoon you?" incident. From what I’m told, the conversation went a little like this:

JK: “I’ve met this girl. I like her. We’re going on a date. I don’t know what to do with her. What do you even do on a date?”

S: “I have no idea.”

So we were off to a good start.

Very quickly, I became a regular at the bar S worked at – and later became a bartender at that same bar - and so, naturally, we ended up becoming friends. We would hug hello, we would smile at each other with orange peel over our teeth, and I would regularly make offhand comments that made him blush, along the lines of:

“Looking good in your double denim there S, brings out the blue in your eyes. You have lovely eyes... Don't worry, I’m not hitting on you.”

And...

“Your beard is perfect, you have a perfect beard, you must really put some work into that beard” - followed with “are you joking? My god man, you’re beautiful,” when informed that the beard simply grew in that way. (Seriously dude, bravo on that front.)

This continued for a couple of months, by which point JK and I were deep into the horribly depressing phase of our none relationship. Feeling downhearted on that front, I began to notice S, and succumbing to the light flutters in my stomach each time he was nice to me started to feel like a good idea.

I consulted my friends, who agreed S was a good sort, and so – after a Saturday night shift together – I ramped up my efforts.

I ramped them up hard.

Sitting next to S in the staff booth, I struck up a conversation about his love for DJ’ing, and my love for something that wasn’t DJ’ing (Harry Potter would be a good guess) and then the following happened...

Sitting back in my chair, I said: “Do you think I’m pretty?”

Leaning forward in his, S said: “Why would you even ask me that? Don’t be stupid. Of course I think you’re pretty.”

Taking a sip of my wine, I said: “You’re very handsome you know.”

He blushed.

He shook his head.

He said: “Don’t say things like that, I’m not very good with things like that.”

Agreeing to only ever tell him he was hideous from then on, we continued to drink and have general merriment, until at one point I looked down and realised he was holding my hand. A noticed at the same time and, grinning, started shouting in his intoxicated state “WHAT’S GOING ON WITH CHAR AND S THEN?”

What indeed?

Laughing, I said: “S and I are getting married.”

That escalated quickly.

Caught in the rapture of my own good(?) idea, I sat up straighter and said: “We SHOULD get married!”

Seriously, escalating.

Looking thoughtful for a moment, S studied my face and then, smiling sweetly and swinging my hand, said: “Yes! DEFINITELY!”

We continued to beam at each other like absolute idiots as the crowd observed us warily.

A mere five minutes later, S realised we may have just gotten engaged. He proceeded to have a mild panic attack right there at the table, culminating in: “Char, I’m so sorry, I can’t do this, we’re too young!”

He dropped my hand in horror.

He stared at me, open-mouthed.

And I shrugged, not really bothered either way.

We had a quick dance, and then parted ways, relieved to have had such a stress free break up. (Ha ha.)

Our romance wasn't thought of again until a couple of months later, when we rekindled the flame.

It was a Wednesday this time, and we were out for a drink with the usual crowd. The football was showing, and after a two second chat we established that his team was playing against mine. Handing me the wine he had bought for me, we stood together alone at the bar as we watched the scene play out.

At half time, he told me he liked my dress. I thanked him, and asked him if he liked my shoes. He said that he did, and I asked if they made me taller than him – his height was something I mentioned each time I’d had too much vino, for some reason it was endlessly fascinating to me – he informed me that they did not.

He then said, out of the blue: “Charlotte, girls don’t like nice guys do they?”

Looking across the bar to where JK, who was also out that night, stood, I said: “No S, they don’t. They think they do, but then they stick around for the ones that will break their heart.”

We looked at each other sadly, cheers’ed, and changed the subject.

From what I remember, we had a lot of fun that night. We laughed. We flirted. And we generally enjoyed each other’s company until, after taking a hat from an intoxicated Scotsman (standard) we went on to another bar.

That was where we kissed.

And here’s where it gets complicated: I have absolutely no recollection of that kiss.

Happily going about my days, I spent the next few weeks wondering what it would be like to make out with S, completely oblivious to the fact that I already had.

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, and we carried on as usual, orange peel smiles and all.

Then came a night in which I was incredibly sad. JK had, the night before, gone out of his way to hurt my feelings, and I needed to rant.

S was there and, thinking nothing of it, I poured my heart out to him.

He talked me into an absinthe shot to cheer me up.

He looked uncharacteristically p*ssed off.

He mumbled something about having to go and, with a refusal to hug me, he left.

Confused, I said to W: “What’s wrong with S?”

Amused, W said: “You don’t remember kissing him do you?”

I was mortified.

Feeling both deeply guilty and horribly slutty, I vowed to apologise the next time I saw him, and attempted to convince myself that it really wasn’t so bad.

Before I had the chance to deliver my apology, however, S broke his leg, and was signed off from work.

I tried to call him. He didn’t pick up.

I sent him texts. He didn't reply.

And when he decided not to come back to work after his 6 weeks of leave were up, I knew that our friendship – much like our almost marriage - was over.

It's a sad ending to a beautiful tale, but everyone has to have at least one 'one that got away,' and perhaps my almost husband was mine.

So long, S, you beautiful bearded creature.

You truly were one of a kind.

The Theory of Everything

19 Jan 2015

The Theory of Everything film review, Felicity Jones, Eddie Redmayne, Stephen Hawking, Jane Hawking
There should be no boundaries to human endeavor. 
We are all different. 
However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. 
While there's life, there is hope.

I finally watched The Theory of Everything last night, and I can't get it out of my head. Based on the book 'Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen' - a memoir by Jane Hawking - the film follows the relationship between Stephen Hawking and his first wife, Jane, from its very beginning until its very end. A truly beautiful piece of cinema, the development and transformation of the characters is nothing short of mesmerising, and the subject matter nothing short of devastating. But that's not what got to me. In fact, the thing that really struck me about this story - aside from the (very upsetting) portrayal of the tragic condition that threatened to end Stephen's life - was the quiet determination of Jane. Jane Hawking, a person that, unlike her former husband, could go by unnoticed. But a person that deserves to be recognised for her achievements nonetheless. For her stubborn, steadfast support of the person she'd chosen to spend her life with, even when things were at their most difficult. For her courage and her selflessness in giving herself so completely to another, and in her resolve to stand by the man she so blindly fell for, and who she gave up a huge part of her life to be with, even when everyone was telling her to walk away. If the Oscar worthy performance of the brilliant Eddie Redmayne, and of the ever fascinating Felicity Jones (who I have been a little bit obsessed with since Like Crazy) wasn't enough to draw you in, the true story of one woman's - dare I say extremely British, stiff upper lip what what! style - love and compassion for her increasingly difficult husband should. It's the most heart-wrenching thing I've seen in a long time, and you have to watch it. Just be prepared to ball your eyes out... I was basically inconsolable by the time the credits rolled. 

More of the women behind great men: Hadley Richardson. Edie Sedgwick. Jean Shrimpton.

And in less serious news: I spent most of this weekend in the arms of Thom's boyfriend pillow, which I bought him for Christmas, and have now legit fallen in love with... His name is Phil. This 'cat birthday party' is the best thing on the internet. And here is a picture of me looking cool on the Northern Line. Because #YOLO.

On Galliano & Fashion

16 Jan 2015

Galliano, Fashion, London Fashion Weekend 2014I read this article - copied with kind permission from The Reference Council - today, and found it to be extremely thought provoking. Concerning the return of formerly disgraced designer, Galliano, to the world of fashion, the piece raises the question of whether we, as a society, willingly give a free pass to bad behaviour in the name of creativity. Whether we are allowing Galliano, a man convicted for anti-Semitism, to continue his reign as one of fashion's darlings simply because he has the ability to create things of beauty.

Personally, I'm unsure on what I think. While awful behaviour is inexcusable - especially in such an overtly aggressive and needless manner - should it determine whether someone's contribution to the world of creativity is acceptable or not, potentially depriving others of the pleasure they garner from the art created? I'm not sure. On the other hand, should we really offer such praise to those that behave in such a damaging manner to begin with? And are we involuntarily saying that it's OK to disrespect entire sections of society by welcoming Galliano back into the fashion fold? Again, I don't know.

Either way these words offer food for thought, and I'd be interested to hear which side of the argument you fall on.

Happy reading. x
***

It has been dubbed “Margiela Monday.” On the 12th of January, just a few short days away, a new chapter will begin in the story of one of Paris’s most illustrious fashion houses. The clothes, for many, will probably have little significance, with the welcoming of disgraced designer John Galliano back into the fashion fray acting as the main point of interest. For proponents of the idea that fashion holds a mirror to the world – accentuating its beauty and commenting on its flaws – Monday may be a watershed moment.

A darling of fashion’s high profile names, Galliano enamoured audiences with his seductive creations for Givenchy and, latterly, Dior. He brought a sense of spectacle to an industry which many felt took itself all too seriously. But things went awry for the English-born designer in 2011 when he was arrested and later convicted of making anti-Semitic remarks in a Parisian bar. He would later blame drink, drugs and stress for his racist outbursts – a similar excuse to that employed by UKIP member, Kerry Smith, at the tail end of last year.

Galliano has since been forgiven by the fashion community and, in subsequent commentary, it has been painted as some sort of one-off, slip of the tongue. And who hasn’t advocated the gassing of the Jews when they’re stressed? Yet, Galliano’s arrest also coincided with the release of a video by a French news website recorded a year earlier in which he berated two females, ranting, “I love Hitler… People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers would all be fucking gassed.” Not only was this an example of his abhorrent racism, it showed that it was not a one-off. It would not be illogical to assume that there were more cases of Galliano racism than the one caught on film and the incident that resulted in his arrest.

There are few, if any, in the upper echelons of fashion that would deny the industry’s power extends beyond what is taken from the runway and sold in stores. Consumerism aside, fashion’s vanguard would argue that the discipline is part of a wider intellectual discourse – an integral aspect of contemporary culture which informs aspects of western life. How we dress and, therefore, how we help define our ideas of identity extend into wider social and moral issues. And those who champion this idea the most, tend to be at fashion’s very core.

On Monday, however, the fashion world will send a message, that racism is ok – as long as you possess a degree creative brilliance – and in doing so, chip away at the ideal that fashion deserves a meaningful voice. As the likes of Anna Wintour and her burgeoning league of disciples have shown through their embracing of Galliano, any power that fashion holds in commenting on issues outwith its own little realm is fast becoming a fallacy. It is not only through the designer’s forgiveness that this has been highlighted, but in the manner which his return has been reported. In the days which followed Margiela’s announcement of their new creative director, much of the commentary from fashion’s leading journalists centred on the fact that Galliano was the antithesis of the company’s founder – not that a man who had declared his love of Hitler was being ushered back in to a position of power, and more gallingly, influence.

If we truly wish to declare that fashion has power beyond the runway and, therefore, its main protagonists have influence – how can we reconcile this with the fact that we’re giving an anti-Semite one of the biggest platforms upon which to communicate? Forgiveness, perhaps? But that can be achieved without giving Galliano a far-reaching voice. Monday will communicate a wider message to those not enamoured with the view that fashion holds a greater power – the message that we are aloof, uncaring of wider issues and ready to ignore any sense of morality at the drop of a lace-embellished hat.

For each person that stands and applauds Galliano’s inevitably tearful bow on Monday, the cultural gravitas of the discipline is diminished in the eyes of the wider world. And with so many high-profile figures clamouring to do so, maybe it’s for the best.
 

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