Walking the walk

In January my Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s doing really well, but it was obviously quite a shock. Soon after, my sister suggested that we do the Moonwalk. No, not the Michael Jackson move, the charity speedwalking event that raises money for the Walk The Walk breast cancer charity. Now, if you know me, you’ll probably know that I’m not the most sporty person, so sponsored race type events are not generally something I’m drawn towards. My gut reaction was therefore one of ‘this probably isn’t going to be for me’. However, due to the personal association with the cause, I didn’t want to dismiss it without good reason, plus my sister seemed really keen and I didn’t want to let her down. I read through the online description of the event and although it was outside of my general comfort zone, there was nothing that made me feel like I couldn’t do it. In fact the more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a positive challenge. It’s specifically a walking event – no running allowed – which was the biggest draw for me. I’ve never been able to run – I get out of breath insanely quickly – but walking I can do. I enjoy walking, which is just as well as I don’t drive! I’m also a fast walker, so this seemed like the perfect event in that sense. The other defining characteristics of the Moonwalk are that it’s at night and you have to walk it in a decorated bra. These were the more out-of-comfort-zone elements in that I need my sleep and don’t have a particular desire to expose that much flesh in public. However, I realised that the Half Moon (half marathon distance) wouldn’t finish too ridiculously late at night, so I’d still get some decent sleep, plus you can decorate the bras in a way that makes them feel a bit less exposing. Plus I quite like the excuse to be crafty and imaginative – maybe I have untapped skills in bra pimping! How else will I find out?

Initially we were planning to do the walk in London, but as it’s the night before (and the morning of) my niece’s birthday, it wasn’t the most convenient for my sister (plus I later realised it’s also Eurovision night, so I would have been gutted to miss that). Instead we’ve signed up to do the Scottish Moonwalk, which is in Edinburgh. I’ve only been to Edinburgh once before, for a Cerys gig in 2006, so other than the Liquid Rooms, a Subway (only significant as I’d never been to one before, didn’t totally get how they worked and ended up with an insanely dull and dry sandwich), some pubs and a bit of time in a park, I haven’t really seen Edinburgh properly, so going back was an appealing prospect just on its own.

The walk itself is now only a month away, which hasn’t quite sunk in yet. You’re provided with a training plan which I’ve been sticking to as closely as possible. At the time of starting it, I was feeling quite unfit. Previously I’ve always had decent walks to and from work every day, to maintain some vague level of fitness, but in October I started a job that’s literally around the corner from where I live. Although the convenience is great in a lot of ways (I love being able to pop home for lunch), I’ve definitely felt the effects of the lack of exercise. I would sometimes contemplate doing other exercise, but it’s a bit too much like hard work isn’t it? Walking’s like a stealth form of exercise when it’s also a necessity. I’m therefore weirdly looking forward to moving further away from work at some point. Anyway, despite being quite out of practice, the training’s been going well and I’m feeling slightly less decrepit, which is always a bonus. The element of it that I’ve found most uncomfortable, probably weirdly, is going out in public in exercise clothes. Initially I was able to avoid this, as it’s not so necessary for the shorter walks, plus the weather was cold enough that I could generally get away with wearing a long coat over the top of my leggings. Like I said, stealth exercise! However, there have been a couple of occasions now when I’ve had to bite the bullet and head out in leggings and a t-shirt. Even when I wore leggings back in the ’90s I wore long t-shirts and jumpers over them (ah, the ’90s). I’m not sure what it is that feels so exposing about going out in just leggings – I think it’s because they’re just a step up in opacity from heading out in a pair of tights. I feel like I’m not properly dressed; like I’ve forgotten to put a skirt on. I’ve found that taking a hoodie and tying it round my waist makes me feel a bit less naked, though that might become a bit odd if this good weather persists. I’m not sure why I feel so self-conscious about people knowing that I’m exercising. PE was never my thing at school, but I had no particular hang-ups about it either. I hated swimming (I can’t swim) and hockey (too much mud and ankle bashing), plus running of any kind (as previously mentioned), but otherwise I was fairly ambivalent. I quite liked netball, tennis was all right, rounders/softball/baseball type games could be quite fun (despite my ineptness at actually hitting the ball), belly baseball was awesome (was this something that just our school did?), most athletic type events (running aside) were pretty bearable, volleyball was quite good… plus I went dancing outside of school (my Mum had her own dance school), so I was fairly active and fit… I guess I just haven’t seen myself as a ‘person who does exercise’ since I was at school, so I feel like a bit of an impostor or something. Like other exercising people can sense I’m not one of them. I might have some issues with paranoia… Hey, I’m an X-Phile. Trust no-one. Anyway, despite the awkwardness at exposing my leggings-clad bum in public, I’m generally enjoying the training. It’s often an effort to make myself go and do it, but once I’m on my way, it’s fine. Granted, my longest walk so far has only been 7 miles, so just over half of the full distance I’ll be doing, but it’s creeping up to 10 miles within the next 3 weeks. That’s the longest I’ll be doing in the training – I’ll just do the full 13.1 miles on the night itself.

Sadly I haven’t had my bra delivered yet, so no decorating has taken place. I really hope it comes soon (it kinda has to come fairly soon!) as I don’t really want to rush the decorating. I was also hoping to wear it a few times prior to decorating it, just to wear it in a bit and make sure it’s comfortable enough (and supportive enough!) for walking 13 miles in. If it doesn’t come soon (or possibly even if it does), I might just end up decorating an old existing bra of mine and then keeping the supplied one as a regular bra. I have some rough plans as to how I’m wanting to decorate it (the theme for the Scottish walk is Hollywood), so I actually ordered a couple of bits off Ebay last night. Whether I can actually get it to look how I want it to is another matter, but maybe that’ll be a separate blog post!!

Anyway, most importantly, it’s all about raising money for charity. I’ve been blown away by how generous people have been in their donations and how many friends and family members have contributed. Thank you all so so much, it really means a lot. If anyone is reading this who hasn’t donated already, please consider it – any amount is gratefully received – £5 from one person can be equivalent to £50 from another person – don’t feel judged or pressured to match other peoples’ donations. My fundraising page is here:

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2018 Film Challenge: 17. 45 Years

45 Years is a film I downloaded not that long ago. I was browsing highly rated films on Metacritic and thought it sounded interesting. It’s about a couple who have been married 45 years and how their relationship is affected by the discovery of the body of the man’s first love. Not in a murder mystery way – he didn’t kill her or anything – it just explores that fear of ‘what if the person I’ve spent most of my life with would rather have been with someone else? What if I was always second best?’ It’s an awful thought and feeling and really well expressed in the film. Charlotte Rampling’s great in it. However, I found myself wanting more from it. I feel like I could have just read the synopsis of the film and imagined for myself what that kind of relationship would be like. I didn’t feel like the film itself gave me anything extra, other than maybe the believably awkward sex scene, which was uncomfortably well done.

Here are my notes made whilst watching it:

  • The Tollund Man! School flashbacks.
  • Is this set prior to Google Translate?
  • I like photos and their memory evoking quality
  • Those have got to be the least sexy pants ever
  • She’s meant to be her friend?
  • Attics are creepy
  • Slideshows in the attic. That’d be a good indie band name.
  • Oh god. He kept that quiet.
  • He took his ukulele to the party?
  • I can’t judge what that emotion is at the end – I guess intentionally
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2018 Film Challenge: 16. God Help The Girl

This was a bit of an impulse purchase in December/January. I saw it in Cex for £1.50 and figured it was worth checking out for that price. I really like the album of the same name (the music of which is heavily featured in the film), plus it has Cassie from Skins, playing another character called Cassie. And it has Josie Long pop up for an incredibly brief cameo.

I hadn’t been expecting much of it, as reviews are pretty mixed, but that probably helped me to enjoy it more. It’s a little strange in some places – it’s not always clear how much of the musical bits are actually meant to be happening – but it kinda doesn’t matter, you just take it and enjoy it for what it is. I can see it being quite divisive in that you’ll either appreciate and enjoy the somewhat-twee tone of it, or you really won’t. Personally I liked it. It’s nothing revolutionary or must-see, but it’s a pleasant way to pass a couple of hours.

Here are the notes I took whilst watching it:

  • This film’s already done a better job of capturing live music than 9 Songs did
  • Josie Long!!
  • This is pretty much how I’d have imagined it would be for this album to come to life
  • I was just wondering when Perfection As A Hipster was going to pop up. It’s my fave on the album.
  • I want to be that old lady when I’m older
  • Cassie’s so like Cassie
  • That’s a pretty cool chippy
  • Ha ha, what the hell?
  • Hee hee, sperm scientists
  • Wait, what?
  • It’s hard to know how much of this is actually meant to be happening. You kinda just gotta go with it.
  • Why does she like that guy?
  • Not sure what I think of that as an ending.
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2018 Film Challenge: 15. 9 Songs

This is another of Jamie’s reject DVDs, plus one I kinda wish I hadn’t bothered taking! I won’t be keeping it, that’s for sure, plus apologies in advance to whichever charity shop ends up with it. The fact that he never suggested watching it whilst we were together should probably have tipped me off to it not being that great.

It’s just over an hour, so at least it passes relatively quickly, though it still seemed to drag. There’s not much in the way of plot – it’s basically a guy reflecting on a past relationship, though in the most superficial way possible – by focusing on all the sex. Like, seriously, how sexist an opening piece of dialogue is this?:

“When I remember Lisa I don’t think about her clothes, or her work, or where she was from, or even what she said. I think about her smell, her taste, her skin touching mine.”

The film then consists of alternating scenes of live music (with the characters in attendance at the gig) and snippets of their personal life (which, like I said, is mostly the sex). I feel like this could work as a concept, if done well, but in this case it really didn’t. You don’t get any proper insight into the characters, plus what you do see of them makes them seem awful. The small amount of dialogue seems really stilted and unnatural, plus I didn’t even enjoy a lot of the gig footage as it’s filmed in a way that makes you feel quite distant from it. In general it’s got a bit of a home video type feel to it, which works in some ways, as it does give it an intimate, almost voyeuristic quality, but then the awkward dialogue instantly pulls you out of that.

It’s mostly known for its unsimulated sex scenes, which might make you think it’s quite erotic, but I didn’t personally find it to be. Some of the early scenes, particularly, I found really cringey to watch, but wondered if that was intentional. You know that episode of Friends where Ross and Rachel watch their sex tape and it suddenly gets unpleasant to watch? ‘That’s not pretty.’ It felt like that. It had a realism that made it really unerotic. But then the later scenes did seem more deliberately erotic, and a bit less realistic, so I’m not really sure what the intention was. It’s like it fell short of both art and porn. Sad times. Although the most unbelievable part of the film for me was the notion that the male lead was meant to be some kind of scientific researcher! Like, what? In my notes I described him as having a Resting Arrogance Face. Alas, that’s the extent of my notes that you’re going to be treated to, as my phone decided to rebel against the film and instead of saving the note I’d drafted, it pretended I’d never written it. I don’t blame it, like, I kinda wish I could pretend I hadn’t seen it.

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2018 Film Challenge: 14. Stuck In Love

I downloaded this after perusing Kristen Bell’s filmography on IMDB. It sounded decent so I thought I’d check it out. Kristen’s not actually in it that much, but I enjoyed it. There’s nothing particularly stand-out about it, but it’s a good watch and flew by. I’m more than happy with a film that focuses on love and writing. I felt a degree of kinship with Josh Boone (the writer) and not just because he likes Bright Eyes and Elliott Smith!

The thoughts I had whilst watching:

  • Spying on your ex wife is pretty creepy
  • I’d forgotten Jennifer Connelly was in this
  • Yes! I’m with you dude. I write stuff in order to not have to say it out loud.
  • I’m not convinced that I’d write better if I was slutty
  • This relationship’s reminding me a bit of (500) Days Of Summer (or at least my vague memory of it)
  • Liking the hat
  • That’s a very seasonal seduction line
  • Please don’t choose a laptop based on the colour of it
  • Good album choice (Bright Eyes)
  • Nice song choice now! (Between The Bars)
  • I like that you’re actually seeing couples getting to know each other – sharing their favourite things etc. This is too often missing from romantic films – they’ll just suddenly be in love and you don’t get why.
  • That’s still creepy, dude.
  • Don’t go spying in drawers when the door’s open, ya muppet
  • You shouldn’t spring public speaking on people. That’s just evil.
  • I could just eat a Chinese takeaway
  • I like it when my drink matches what they’re drinking on TV (red wine in this case)
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2018 Film Challenge: 13. Secretary

Another film I acquired during my ex’s mass cull of belongings. I was always quite intrigued by it, plus I like Maggie Gyllenhaal, so figured why not? I was a little nervous prior to watching it, as just knew it was about a boss and his secretary being engaged in some form of S&M type relationship. The potential for it to be sexist and an awkward watch seemed quite high. Thankfully it’s a lot more nuanced and interesting than I’d expected. There are still plenty of times in which it’s an awkward watch, but deliberately so. I enjoyed it. Here are the thoughts I had whilst watching it:

  • The film’s only just started and I’m already thinking about her as Belinda Blumenthal (I’d like to add that this comparison didn’t last long – as soon as you jump back in time, it’s clear that it’s not going to be the pure tittilation (pun intended) it might have been)
  • Hey, it’s whatshisname from Lost
  • HR would have a lot of issues with this interview
  • She opened the water bottle before putting it on the dispenser! Rookie office error.
  • His surname’s Grey? Oh man.
  • I’m pleased none of my admin jobs have involved dumpster diving
  • Are they having a date in a launderette? Is that a thing in America?
  • I hope she gets to spank him good. Or just knee him in the balls or something.
  • Awwwww, I love silly little dogs
  • Is the sexy going to happen?
  • Ow! Also, those are quite some knickers.
  • It’s another film with a monkey in!
  • That’s a weird level of dominance. Prescriptive peas.
  • Worms equal spanking? I was unaware of this.
  • Oh, no, not spanking… Well, kinda, but not in the way I’d thought. Ugh.
  • Kick him in the balls!
  • Oh god, what’s she doing?
  • This is weird
  • Ha ha, what the hell?
  • That was surprisingly sweet
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