Category Archives: Culture

Yet Another Career Calls

A very good evening from the Lifestyle Support Guru! This evening I wish to offer advice on new careers for the older woman, but advice which will also be relevant for the younger woman, since it can be stored away for future reference. My numerous forms of employment have included shop assistant, tour guide, travel agent, teacher, quiz setter, proofreader, as well as packer of plastic toy Jumbo Jets into cardboard boxes and packer of Rizla cigarette papers into smaller cardboard boxes. And now, a new career beckons … actor!

How has this happened, I hear you ask! Quite by accident, you will hear me reply!
Next-sibling-down and I replied to an advert by the University of Derby asking for volunteers to read parts in plays written by students on the MA in Writing for Performance course. (Actually, they used the word ‘actors’, but I loosely interpreted this as ‘volunteer’.) We were duly accepted and were sent our scripts – no need to learn any lines since the whole exercise would consist simply of reading the allocated parts for other students to evaluate and comment on the plays themselves. Easy peasy! After a little confusion, I eventually got the right script – a play for just two characters: a mother who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and her alcoholic daughter whose husband has recently been killed in a car crash shortly after their marriage. A cheerful little tale, you will agree. Next-sibling-down was given parts in two plays (he always has to go one better!), one of which included a woman who cuts someone’s tongue out – I’m not sure that the younger generation is growing up entirely happily and I blame it mainly on the Daily Mail.

Anyway, my reading took place this afternoon and seemed to go well – the woman who played my daughter (ha! I bet you thought I’d been cast as the alcoholic!) really threw herself into the part and almost burst into tears when I told her I was dying. I hope it was because of the emotion I put into it (‘I’m dying’) and not because of the emotion I didn’t (there’s not really much you can put into two words, even if they are ‘I’m dying’).

I think she’d done some ‘proper’ acting before, but so have I, although playing the part of the Fat Fairy in a village pantomime may not have offered quite the same depth and range of required emotion. My theme tune was ‘Nobody Loves a Fairy When She’s Forty’, which is quite a moving song when sung with the right level of poignancy and feeling.

After the reading, a thirty-something man came and sat next to me and introduced himself as what I first thought was Darty, but it turns out was Dhaithi, pronounced Dahee, an Irish name – I’m pleased to say he had similar problems with Rhian, so he referred to me instead as Muriel, my character’s name (Muriel!!). He asked me if I would be interested in auditioning for a film that some of his students would be making in the autumn, a story of an older woman (typecast already!) who meets an older man and they form a relationship – if I get the part, I shall make it clear that I will not countenance any nudity.
So, in future, when you hear older actresses complaining that there are no parts written for older women, just point them in the direction of the University of Derby.
Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, eat your hearts out!
Sleep well, dearest devotees!

Eating Out

A very good evening from the Lifestyle Support Guru! Whilst I realise that it is not too long since I offered good advice on watching football and gardening (and hiring a slave to tell you that you are only human and to pour your wine), I felt that I had also learned some other useful lessons this week which needed sharing. These ‘extra-curricular’ nuggets of knowledge have been earned the hard way – by eating out. This activity is something in which I indulge purely for purposes of research, as you know, because I care about you, beloved believers, and because YOU’RE WORTH IT!
DAY 1 – LUNCH
Meet with a friend (I’ll call her Debbie for the sake of anonymity) for lunch and find that there is a mutual friend lunching in the same pub. His reason (who needs a reason for eating out????)? ‘SHE’S gone out for lunch, so I’ve decided I’M coming out for lunch.’ All this is stated in a very defensive tone. Lesson? If SHE’S gone out for lunch, she’ll be more than happy that YOU have, too – it means she won’t have to worry about cooking for you when she gets home (and PLEASE, devoted devotees, don’t reach for the ‘casual sexism’ button – you all know what I mean, and the roles can be just as easily reversed!).
DAY TWO – BIRTHDAY MEAL

dancing octopus

dancing octopus

Meet with some friends to celebrate the (belated) birthday of one of them (of course, the birthday wasn’t belated, but the celebration was, but how could the LSG write ‘to belatedly celebrate…’ and thus split an infinitive, which would break the LSG’s pedantic heart, but I digress …), arriving at the restaurant before the friends do, thus giving you the chance to study the other diners, a favourite activity of the LSG because it affords SO many opportunities for humour (or ‘taking the ‘p—s’). Couple in their mid-thirties, probably trying to recreate their recent holiday to Greece, have ordered Greek beer and wine (nothing wrong with that) and, when the owner pours their drinks, the male (although he – or she, or they – could just as easily have been trans, cis, questioning, whatever you like, demonstrating that I am fully inclusive, diverse, and non-judgemental) half of the couple says ‘Yamas’ (Greek for ‘Cheers’) and raises his glass, to which the owner replies ‘Yamas’. ‘Oh,’ exclaims the LGBTQI (for I have decided that I must now include all possibilities), ‘do you speak Greek?’ This is asked in all innocence in a restaurant called ‘Steliano’s and Sappho’s Greek Restaurant’, with posters of Greek islands, a menu consisting of purely Greek items, a drinks list of Greek wines/beers, and an owner who could only be Greek, based on accent and looks alone, and a notice telling customers that this is the ‘oldest restaurant in Derby, going strong for 33 years’ (I feel, however, that the Dolphin Inn of Derby may dispute that claim, since it says it has been around since 1530 – or is that 15.30? Whichever, the food must be getting cold.).
DAY TWO, cont’d
The friends arrive and you decide that you may now take your jacket off (since you wished to look a bit ‘dressed up’ for the arrival), but it is WITH HORROR that you realise that, although you ironed the jacket (linen, so a necessary evil), you completely forgot to remove the labels – this was in case you decided to return it after ironing and trying it on. THANK GOODNESS, the friends were so absorbed in removing their own items of clothing (only the outer ones, of course) that they didn’t spot the labels on your own items. (I should just like to point out that the linen items were bought in a SALE!)
DAY THREE
Another lunch – the sacrifices I make simply to write articles to amuse and entertain my adoring acolytes – and all I have to say is that it was GREAT FUN! Everyone should LUNCH! (I know this makes me sound like a Tory MP who’s never travelled beyond the M25 – believe me, I’m NOT!) Lunch is WONDERFUL! Lunch is for EVERYONE, even if it’s just a sandwich on a park bench or a Pot Noodle on a rainy Wednesday afternoon – LUNCH makes the heart feel lighter!

PS I still haven’t removed the labels!

Be Prepared

A very, very good morning to all my Beloved Believers and Faithful Followers! It’s unusual for me to write a post in the morning, since much of my inspiration comes from tuning in to life in the pub, as you know – not because I enjoy the drink, you understand; I go to the pub simply to find out more about what ordinary people are thinking so that I may help you, Dearest Devotees, live your life as fully as possible in the style of the Lifestyle Support Guru, although you know that you will never quite achieve such greatness.
Today, I wish to advise you on how to deal with the aristocracy, should you happen to meet any. Of course, I have an instinctive inner knowledge of how to behave in the presence of those of both high and low birth. I shall explain.

I had been invited by Radio Derby to go on Ian Skye’s morning show as a ‘Loudmouth’ (following a recommendation by a former student, which may say a lot about my style of teaching…), so I duly turned up at an unearthly hour of the morning (8.40), ready to voice my opinions on young people and Meghan Markle’s father (not together, I hasten to add).
I was shown into an empty waiting room and, shortly afterwards, another person was shown into the room. He came over to me, hand held out, and introduced himself as ‘Richard FitzHerbert’, so I introduced myself as ‘Lifestyle Support Guru’. He seemed suitably impressed… 
Two minutes later, a young chap came into the room and greeted the latest arrival with a cheery ‘Good morning, Sir Richard.’ SIR Richard!
Of course, I maintained my composure, merely contenting myself with a quick curtsey. Sadly, I couldn’t doff my hat because I wasn’t wearing one, but I have learned a sharp lesson – always carry a hat with you in case of the need to doff it. Be Prepared!
I have since learned (via that trusted site, Wikipedia) that Sir Richard Ranulph FitzHerbert, 9th Baronet, of Tissington Hall (well dressings on this week – all welcome) was once a wine merchant – this must be why I felt an immediate affinity with him! 
The programme itself was interesting, especially when a listener – I’ll call him Alan for the sake of anonymity – phoned in to offer his twopenn’orth about young people being ignored by politicians and other such charlatans. He sounded rather old and the conversation went something like this:

Ian Skye: Good morning, Alan. Do you agree that young people’s voices are being ignored?
Alan: Of course, they’re being ignored. They gave their lives in the First and Second World Wars, the young generations.
IS: So, you think they have a fair point?
C: Yes, because of the young generations that gave their lives in the First and Second World wars. They aren’t listened to. They join the army and then they’re sent off to be killed in war, so they’re not listened to.
IS: Thank you very much, Alan.

There was a long, puzzled silence in the studio – even Baronets and radio presenters don’t understand everything – but, as the LSG, I understood fully where Alan was coming from and showed this insight with my comment: ‘I’d like some of what Alan’s been on.’ I had, of course, recognised that Alan had started his royal wedding party celebrations five days early and had clearly broken into a bottle of Lambrusco a little too early in the morning. It’s all about pacing yourself, Alan – believe me, having been on rugby tour weekends, I know what I’m talking about!

I have been invited to be a Loudmouth on a future occasion – put June 21st in your diary! – so I shall Be Prepared for ANY eventuality this time: I will have a hat with me, for doffing appropriately; I may also wear a dress, since it is easier to curtsey in a dress – holding out the sides of your trousers doesn’t have quite the same effect; and, finally, I may have a small hip flask of gin and Dubonnet with me, because I understand that this is the Queen’s preferred pre-lunch tipple and if it’s good enough for Her Maj, I shall certainly make an effort myself. Apparently, she also likes wine with her lunch and champagne in the evening – I may have to up my game…

Enjoy the sunshine for the rest of the day!

Another Career Move

A very good Bank Holiday evening to you all – I hope you have made the most of the sunshine and fine weather. One of my local pubs has already made the most of it by running out of the ‘reassuringly expensive’ lager that next-sibling-down enjoys, even though there’s still another day of the holiday to go, so we have had to repair to the next local along. Luckily, both places stock Sauvignon Blanc, so the Lifestyle Support Guru is not suffering at all.
Tonight, I wish to tell you about my ever-growing CV – quiz-setting, lunching, proofreading, lunching, making people smile (sometimes), lunching, annoying male siblings by talking too much, lunching, and now… MODEL! Yes, I have added MODEL to my list of accomplishments. And it didn’t take a lot of effort or practice to be a model MODEL – to some it just comes naturally and the LSG is the perfect example of that.
I shall set the scene, as usual:
– being a community-minded sort of person, I belong to a couple of local committees (‘community-minded’ is a lie, really – I only belong to them because they meet in the pub), and one of these committees decided to run a charity fashion show (at my suggestion, I’m pleased to say – yet another self-sacrificing suggestion, because, as I’m sure you realise, a fashion show wouldn’t really be to my taste at all…). Volunteer models were required, so, in my usual self-effacing way, I put myself forward as a possibility, along with four or five others. To say that the offer was snapped up would be an understatement, and I like to think that it was because of the LSG’s natural aptitude for modelling rather than through a lack of other volunteers. I also like to think that I was offering to be representative of the curvier end of the modelling spectrum – and this same thought was also clearly reflected by another volunteer in the following conversation:

Other Model: I’ve waxed my legs and put some tanning lotion on them ready for the show.
LSG: Really? I wasn’t thinking of going to those lengths. I’ll just be grateful if they’ve got clothes that will fit me.
OM: Oh, they’re bound to have some that will fit – they need all sizes of models, from ‘C’ over there (pointing to a tiny, incredibly slim committee member who normally wears a size SIX!!) to me and ‘R’ (pointing to herself and the wonderful, amazingly enthusiastic Rachel, who is the Chair of the committee) who can cover the normal/medium sizes; they’ll be bound to have your size and shape as well.

I took a large gulp of wine and smiled sweetly, whilst thinking evil thoughts. Other Model, do not think that you will get away scot free by making such underhand comments…

On the evening itself, there was a HUGE audience – thank goodness I am used to appearing in public and am not fazed by such attention. We were allowed to choose our own outfits, although one of these had to be a dress, a type of garment I haven’t worn since I retired over 7 years ago, but I am prepared to sacrifice my principles for a good cause (and the right size). I sashayed out onto the catwalk, displaying a broad grin (and an even broader behind, probably) and that was my next career launched!
It seemed to me that the most popular garment sold on the night was one that the LSG had modelled – a pink and white striped tunic, which looked lovely with a tan, and in the case of the LSG, a REAL tan, unlike the OM’s bottle tan (which didn’t really show up anyway – she’d left it too late for it to have any impact). Conversely, I didn’t notice lots of people rushing to buy the OM’s choice of dress, although I did persuade her that it looked absolutely delightful on her and she decided to buy it – but sometimes I don’t always tell the WHOLE truth…
Kate Moss, eat your heart out…

(On the plus side – my size! – the evening raised over £600 and the LSG added to her wardrobe, including a rather nice pink and white striped tunic which looks lovely with a tan, but which every other female in the area may also well be wearing!)
Enjoy the rest of the Bank Holiday.

A Tourist Guide to Cyprus, Part 2

A convivial ‘kalenikta’ (or perhaps that should be ‘Ay oop, me duck’ now that I have returned to more familiar shores) from the Lifestyle Support Guru to all Devoted Devotees (which is what ‘devotees’ should be – devoted) out there this evening. I know there will be many of you waiting with bated breath to hear more about the LSG’s adventures on the beautiful island of Cyprus. However, before I do that, I should like to say a little bit about the Greek language. Many believe that Greek is a difficult language with an incomprehensible alphabet, but the LSG hopes to demystify the whole issue with this handy guide – please feel free to cut it out and keep in your wallet/purse ready for any excursions to Greek-speaking areas of the world such as Athens, Rhodes, Cyprus and Melbourne (Australia, not Derbyshire, although there may be a large Greek-speaking community in Melbourne, Derbyshire, for all I know). All you need to remember is:
b=v; p=r; Λ= l; x= th; Π=p; H=I; and so on – Easy-peasy, lemon squeezy, or ‘Εασυ ρεασυ, λεμον σκυεεσυ’, as the Greeks might say.
Anyway, now that you have a working knowledge of the Greek language, I shall continue with my tourist guide to Cyprus. A coach trip to the north of the island is worth the effort, especially if the coach ‘population’ is split between British and Russians – the English-speaking guide was VERY discreet, pointing out RAF Akrotiri, but with no mention of the RAF taking off from there to be part of a recent bombing raid on Syria. However, I have no idea what the Russian-speaking co-guide said – she may have been insulting the rest of us and exhorting the Russians to persuade Putin to press the red button, for all I know!
My main disappointment was finding that my newly-acquired knowledge of Greek served no purpose in the north because it’s Turkish-occupied and, therefore, Turkish-speaking! However, it’s quite exciting going through the UN Buffer Zone and finding yourself in a country which doesn’t officially exist!

Quad and buggy rides offer another means of entertainment, especially if the day out includes an (unplanned and unexpected) off-road visit to Adonis’s Baths and Waterfalls (a sort of Ancient Greek equivalent of a power shower) – all I can say is that, if Adonis had to go all that way to have a bath, and Aphrodite’s Baths were several miles away the other way, I’m surprised they got together at all!

Segway – what can I say? I took to it like a duck to water, of course. I wasn’t the one who had to be guided by the rather gorgeous Dmitri (who was actually from Hull), one hand steering his own Segway, his other on the guiding handle of the Segway of some large, wobbly woman who appeared incapable of balancing properly and seemed to think she was going to fall off at any moment; and when she did get off at the halfway point, she almost fell over because her toes and calf muscles were so tensed up with trying to keep her balance that they almost wouldn’t hold her up (the positive side was that Dmitri had to help her stand up properly). But IT WASN’T ME, of course – it was some other very silly woman!

And my final piece of advice? Try not to go to the same places as Kate Moss – by ‘places’, I mean methods of transport which require you to wear a seat belt – aeroplanes, coaches, quad buggies and suchlike. I find it SO bizarre that, whenever I have to use a seat belt, I always seem to be sitting in the same seat that Kate Moss or a travelling stick insect had occupied previously. But LIFE is full of such strange coincidences, isn’t it, Beloved Believers?

And on that thought, I shall leave you and wish you all a very good Σάββατο βράδυ.