So, apparently there’s something major happening in Britain this weekend. I have absolutely no idea what it is but I just happened to rope my very best blogger friend, Anna from Anna Scott Jots, into helping me produce this post.
We’re here to celebrate Britain in all it’s wonderful glory.
Do you love Britain?
Come on then!
Potential Book Ideas That Authors Should Write For Us: British Edition.
Remember the guest post I wrote for Anna’s Travel Month? As a fellow aspiring YA writer, I thought I’d rope Anna into helping me out with this one. Here are our synopses for books that we want to read that haven’t been written yet. Come on, authors! Chop, chop!
Anna– Belfast might be quite interesting – lots of history. Sorry I’m focusing a bit much on political history here.
Hey, I’m sure young adults would be interested in reading about that. How about a book set around the Lyric theatre? Seeing as he’s the patron, we could have a Liam Neeson cameo.
Anna-How about some sort of romance set in a tacky seaside resort – Torquay or something similar?
Jo-You need to write this. Can it be called ‘Sex, Sand and Fish and Chips’? Set in Butlins. ;)
Anna-Was also thinking something along the lines of a teenage boy goes on holiday to the same place with his parents for years – some resort complete with arcade and the like, anyway, when he is 16 or whatever, he befriends a girl who works in the arcade, or somewhere touristy and creepy. The next year they go back and she’s not there anymore and he uncovers a mystery type thing when he tries to find out what happened to her in the year since he was there last. I’m not sure whether I’d like he to be a ghost or not or just a normal person who disappears. Yeah, not sure about this one. Anyway, think creepy.
Jo-This just reminds me of the terrifying clown in Blackpool Pleasure beach. *shudders* I once heard a story (which may have been made up) that there was a fire at Blackpool and THE ONLY THING THAT SURVIVED WAS THE CLOWN’S HEAD. WHAT THE HELL.
Anna-HA HA. Actually, Blackpool would be the perfect location. Never been there, but it is the ultimate UK seaside resort, I’m guessing
Jo-I genuinely love Blackpool. Even though it’s gross. My grandma lives quite near to it so we used to always go when we visit. Blackpool rock is absolutely delicious and there are so many amazing comedians who have visited Blackpool Tower!
I imagine a kissing scene above the Ministry of Silly Walks.
Also, the Big One is the best rollercoaster in the entire world. Mick Hucknall says so. ;)
Anna-I can’t imagine it does his ‘do much good. All that wind.
Jo– Mick Hucknall used to go to high school where some of the boys I grew up with went to. I still find that hilarious hahahaha.
Anna-That’s some top quality alumni.
Jo-That’s how we roll in Manchester.
Jo– Manchester– OK, so I’m thinking this have to have something to do with footie. I probably don’t need to tell you that I know sweet F.A (geddit, hahaha oh I kill myself) about football except it exists and I always seem to be in Manchester Piccadilly when there’s a derby on….
So, how about… Romeo and Juliet, with football. A boy who supports United, a girl who supports City and ANGST.
Anna-Yes, yes yes! Psycho parents – the Lady Capulet one could be a right slapper.
Jo-OR… and I really want to write this one. Manchester in the early 90s. Set to the music of Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, James, The Charlatans, Inspiral Carpets, New Order, a girl gets up to mischief. Plenty of Northern humour, a few drugs and a boy with a guitar.
Potential Title: Mad Fer It, The Resurrection, Laid.
We can throw some snogging in too, if you want.
Basically, a YA version of Full Monty.
Wait, is that weird?
But HILARIOUS. I mean, come on… a group of 19 year old boys (legal of course, I’m not a creep) have just left college and all got jobs but then they all realise they actually want to LEARN but can’t afford university without stripping down to their undercrackers. See, learning! And using their initiative.
Anna– This sounds like it could be BRILLIANT
Jo– Not buying it yet? How about if I told you the main character will look like Alex Turner, everyone’s favourite Yorkshire boy. Yeaaaah. There you go.
Not got the complete details with this yet but I’m thinking…. Cornish Piskies. Yep. Paranormal romance, bitches. We Brits can do it too. Also, there can be a scene where they share a pasty and a can of cider.
A boy who HAS TO DANCE auditions for tap dancing but is really crap. Realises he has a hidden talent for Morris Dancing and hanky waving.
A girl who is really… um, clever? CAN SHE EVER LOVE A MORRIS DANCER? CAN MORRIS DANCERS EVER BE LOVED?!
Anna– OMG – how did I forget about the Morris Dancers? But does it really require that much skill?
Jo-To throw hankies around, yes Anna. Yes.
Anna-I had this idea for a book I wanted to write and was thinking about starting next after the current one is out of the way – I’ve always been slightly intrigued about (and I know this is going to make me sound like a proper geek) the closure of all those tiny little railway stations in the country side in the 1960s and how they were all left abandoned. Anyway, I had this idea set some in the vague ‘countryside’ about a brother and sister and the sister’s best mate – basically the brother and the best mate are the types who want to escape and are influenced by the whole left movement and the emergence of the proper ‘teenager’ and the like. And the sister is more of a home bird. Had this very vague idea about a plot revolving around their friendship over a few years and this coincides with the closure of their local railway station. anyway, just mulling it over for now….really have no idea what the plot is
Jo-I love how your synopses sound absolutely brilliant and legitimately something I want to read. Mine are just NAKED NORTHERN BOYS. Hahaha.
Anna-There ain’t nothing wrong with nudey rudey Northern boys. And I love the Full Monty one. Seriously – YOU HAVE TO WRITE IT. Loads of folk will probably get their knickers into a twist about it. In more ways than one *winks*
I always had this idea of writing a book about a girl who lived on a canal with her dad/mum (single parent) and travelled across the UK on the canals. See Britain as it really is. The country side. The same kind of feel of Solace of the Road (by Siobhan Dowd… have you read it yet? It’s brilliant. Both Anna and I have read it… read both our reviews here and here)- being part of nature and always moving. Etc. It’s the kind of book I would love to read and they always say ‘write the book you want to read’.
Also, Rosie and Jim references GALORE.
Anna-Scotland – something set on the islands to do with smuggling?
Jo-Smugglers? Do they have lots of smugglers?
Anna-I don’t know. When I think of whisky distilleries, I always think of smugglers. I’m sure they probably don’t.
Jo-I always think of kilts and ghosts. And the university THAT DIDN’T WANT ME. *glares at Glasgow* Also, drugs. o.O
Wales has to be something Merlinny- right? A modern day King Arthur story? Magicians. DRAGONS.
Anna-I thought you were going to write DRAG then
Jo-Drag magicians. OMG.
Or something to do with mountains. My Welsh expertise only stretches to Northern Wales I’m afraid. There’s this island near the LLyn Peninusla (I think) called Shell island that has NO RUNNING WATER and you can only get to it when the tide is out. Needless to say the my family went pretty much every summer. There were these awesome sand dunes we used to throw ourselves down and get sand in places where you didn’t want sand. Actually, when I watched Season Two of Skins (don’t worry, no spoilers) when they all go camping for Michelle’s birthday… it looked exactly like that. :)
Anna-When I was 13 I went on possibly the worst camping trip ever to Anglesey.
Jo-Tell me everything.
Anna– We went with my mum’s mate and her kids – she arranged it all and didn’t bother to tell mum that there was absolutely NOTHING there. Just a field. No showers for five days, pissing in a bucket. PUt it this way, my mum likes her home comforts. And the girl I was sharing a tent with kept waking me up in the night, sleep talking, shaking me and telling me there was a snake in our tent. EVERY NIGHT. We did go to Portmeirion though. That was ace, in a weird, slightly creepy way.
Jo-Mate, I think we’ve just written a YA novel. HORRIBLE CAMPING TRIPS IN WALES. It could be an anthology.
Anna-YES YES YES. Not sure how the Welsh tourist board would react though. And the Supergrass vid for Alright was filmed in Portmeirion.
Jo-We could talk about how gorgeous the scenery is. And they have sheep. And Sir Tom Jones. And rugby players. And DRAG………ONS.
Jog on– Move along, get lost.
Chinwag– Hilarious video with Hugh Laurie talking to Ellen DeGeneres. About this.
Chuffed– Made up, pleased with yourself.
Cock- up– A mistake.
Rough as a badger’s arse– Feeling a bit delicate after a night debauchery.
Cuppa– Cup of something. Fancy a cuppa?
The dog’s bollocks, the cat’s whiskers, the bee’s knees– The best.
Doss– To be lazy. ‘Dossing off’
Faff– to dither. ‘Stop faffing about’.
Fringe– Same as bangs.
Get off with– to engage in kissing with someone. Probably in a club. Under the influence of Strongbow.
Argy-bargy– A verbal scuffle, sparring.
Baps– Not as in get them out for the lads…. Breaded products.
On yer bike– A polite way of saying ‘fuck off’.
A bit nippy– a bit cold.
On the lash– Going out for a night of heavy drinking.
Gob– mouth. “Shut your gob.”
A bit pear shaped– If something has gone a bit wrong. Same as tit’s up.
Keep your hair on!– Calm down!
Higgeldy-piggeldy– Things are in disarray.
Arse over tit– Falling over completely and utterly.
Wanker– Used in the same way as knobhead also, frequent masturbator. *smutty giggles*
Taking the mickey– Making fun.
Waffle– “Stop waffling”.. stop going on.
Put some welly into it– Put some effort into it!
Pissing it down– Raining.
Plonker– Thanks Del Boy, for having every single person in a foreign country saying this to British tourists.. But basically, plonker means idiot.
Skew-whiff– A bit wonky.
Gordon Bennet– Exclamation of surprise! (US equivalent- Holy Cow)
Ta-ra– See you soon!
Totty– Sexually alluring woman.
Having kittens– Feeling nervous or concerned.
Bob’s your uncle– There you go.
British YA Anthems.
Teenage dreams, so hard to beat…
So when the lovely Jo asked if I wanted to write a bit about all things British and YA in celebration of all things British and YA this weekend (yes, I’m sure Her Madge likes to indulge in a bit of Melvin Burgess when the mood takes her), I had a thought…
We all like making play lists for our fave reads, or spend hours making mental playlists for the stuff we’re supposed to be actually writing and not wasting time making playlists for…well, you get the idea. So I thought, maybe I’ll compile a British playlist in tribute to all things YA – teenage anthems that shout out about how awesome/heartbreaking it is being young. Some of these tunes are pretty obvious… Actually they’re all fairly obvious- this is quite a restrictive genre, so I extended the remit slightly to include songs that deal with looking back at teenage years is a wistful way ie. ‘wasn’t it amazing/wasn’t it completely fucked up/you were the love of my life and now I’m full of regret…’ and so on. And so forth.
So, here goes,
First up, probably the chirpiest song ever written about being young and looking like teen wolf. Yes, it’s Supergrass, with Alright. Alright? FACT! (possibly) One Steven Spielberg saw this video when it was released way back when (1994, 95?) and was so taken with them, he wanted to make a Monkees – style TV show starring them.
Ok, let’s take a trip back in time. Back to when boys weren’t so grimy and filthy minded. And all they wanted to do was hold your frigging hand. That’s it. That’s all they wanted…
Right, is Mark Ronson British? Well, for the purposes of this post, he is, even though he has got a well dodgy accent. Although this song isn’t specifically about teenagers, I felt that the sentiment is very teenage. Lazy days, sticking it to the man etc.etc. And it’s a song about bikes and how cool they are. Which is like, really cool…
Pulp have written an astonishing amount of songs about how seedy/rubbish it was being a teenager and I found it really difficult to narrow down…so I didn’t. Well, a bit. My two top Pulp picks are Disco 2000 and Mis-Shapes. The latter is my particular favourite and sums up a lot of YA is all about – giving a big old shout out to the underdog… *does elaborate Jarvis Cocker style hand gesture*
And now one of the golden oldies (read: obvious) – it’s The Who, and they’re having a good old natter about their generation…
Yes, it’s another 90s pick next. God, anyone would think I was a teenager in the 90s…*starts humming Parklife* Yes, it’s Ash, with a song about some teenage summer lovin’, Belfast style. And be warned, this video is so ridonkulously 90s (for anyone with an aversion to soft focus and heavy eye make up) Yay for the 1990s!
Ash – Oh Yeah.
The next one is an ode to smelly teenage boys. Think Sid from Skins. I’m sure he keeps the same jeans on for much longer than 4 days…
We never forget our first love, do we? Well, gawd bless Adele for taking it one step further and writing an amazing song about it…
And lastly, no British Teenage and YA Anthems playlist would be complete without THE teenage anthem. Yes, I know it’s a cliché, but it’s a bloody good one. Has any song so perfectly articulated all the brilliance of being young and not giving a shite? NO, exactly. Altogether now, ‘teenage dreams, so hard to beat…’
So there you go, British teenage anthems a-plenty. Are there any I’ve missed? I’m sure there are loads. Now let’s all get nostalgic and remember the good times…
Places You Should Visit in the UK.
Anna–Durdle Door in Dorset- One of the most amazing beaches I’ve ever seen (and I’m including Aus in this.)
Jo– One of my favourite places in the UK is Whitby. It’s absolutely stunning and it has everything: beeches, the sea, beautiful views, the abbey, Whitby jet, the setting of one of my favourite books when I was younger- The Whitby Witches by Robin Jarvis … and of course, the original vampire. Also, the most delicious fish and chips in the entire world at The Magpie Café.
Anna– Islay – Scottish island full of mad folk and whisky distilleries – what more could you want?
Jo– My favourite city in the UK (apart from Manchester, whoop whoop, represent) is Edinburgh. Seriously, I could write a whole blog post on my love for this city. There’s castles, there’s history, there’s ghosts, there’s men with gorgeous accents (sorry, Irish men, Scottish men win hands down), there’s culture, there’s literature and there’s Harry Potter. Brilliant panninis there too.
Haworth– Brontes bitches. You may know how I feel about Ms Austen (not positively) but I am all for the Brontes. Seriously, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights rank extremely high in my favourite books. We live moderately close to Haworth (Yorkshire, by the way) so whenever I’m feeling particularly dramatic, I ask if we can visit. It’s such a gorgeous village and it’s only slightly commercialised (did you know that Emily Bronte likes fish and chips? No? And you call yourself a fan!) but there are lots of craft shops and tea shops and wonderful walks. I’ve still not managed to make it to Wuthering Heights because it always seems to piss it down when we go but I will get there. I will.
Snowdonia– OK, this is a bit of a copout because if you’re a regular reader of my blog you will know that I spent my university years at Bangor. Just a few miles away you will find Snowdonia, the national park, and one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever go to. The scenery is spectacular. There are trains up mountains. There are electric mountains. And there’s a wonderful slate museum where my friend and I made friends with an absolute legend of a man who made us hearts out of slate.
I have pictures but… well, I have an unofficial rule that I will not post pictures of me doing regional things on my blog. HEY, it’s just one of my rules!
Also, there’s a delicious pub that serves pizza and a pint. Yummy.
Bakewell– Not just known for its tarts. But yeah, they’re pretty delicious. Bakewell, if you don’t know, is a town in Derbyshire. It’s a small town and it’s full of craft shops, farm shops, bakers, and second hand bookshops. And everyone shops in local shops with wicker baskets.
Basically, it’s the kind of place where you want to have a picnic and get horrendously sunburnt. Bliss, right?
Chatsworth– This is one of my favourite places in the entire world. I’ve been about five times and I always find something different every time I go. The gardens, the house- absolutely gorgeous. If I’m not on some exotic island when I meet the love of my life, Chatsworth is where I’m going to get married.
AND YOU’RE ALL INVITED.
Also, for all of you Austen-fanpeople. This is the where the 2005 film (Kiera and Fassbender) was set. Yep, it’s Pemberley, guys. This, obviously, means nothing to me because I have an aversion to P&P but it’s truly a gorgeous place that you can quite easily spend the entire day there.
Anna-Right, I know, London is the most obvious place to visit, but I once when on this walking tour called Hidden London, and we went around all these little nooks and crannies that get over looked – the best place was this secret community garden in the middle of Soho. All these allotments and little plots slap bang in one of the busiest parts of the busiest city in the country and it was so quiet and peaceful. So, yes, so many secret hiding places that get overlooked.
Woolacombe Beach in North Devon– if you go there on a sunny day, in a certain light you’ll think you’re on the Gold Coast. Just don’t turn around and look at the rugged landscape behind it and lack of sky rises. This is a good thing.
So Marlow – well, I grew up in this little town on the Thames called Marlow. It’s a very pretty little touristy type place, ruined now by the influx of yuppies and bankers who have now turned it into hideous commuters-ville. But the actual town is still very lovely.
Things it is famous for –
There is a house on West Street where Mary Shelley once lived. And it is here where she wrote Frankenstein.
The world’s greatest Olympian, Sir Steve Redgrave grew up here and still lives here. He went to the high school around the corner from my old house and learnt to row here. Rowing is very big in Marlow, btw. It goes without saying that, being the bookish sort I am, I wasn’t big into rowing.
Famous chef type Heston Blumenthal is from here. The husband used to work for him many, many years ago and he used to give him a lift to work in his Beemer. On the days when this didn’t happen, husband used to BMX to train station and then BMX out into the countryside to get to the restaurant. Oh, how the other half live. He’s probably got a fleet full of BMWs now.
Another literary connection that I just had to verify on wikipedia – there is a great little pub called the Two Brewers (one of my favourites) and it is here where Jerome K. Jerome wrote most of Three Men in a Boat (not Three Men IS a Boat) :)
Jo-I’ve never actually been to Ireland, but I am DESPERATE to go to Belfast. Who’s going to take me so I can make a well-rounded blog post? Any takers? No?
So when Dame Jo of Manchestershire asked me what I missed most about Blighty whilst living in Australia, the first thing that sprung to mind was TV.
Please don’t judge me.
When you have children and spend most of your evenings holed up indoors, TV becomes, not just an acquaintance you nod at in passing, it becomes a friend, a confidante, a keeper of sanity.
Ok, you can judge me.
I’m not saying that the Aussies do rubbish telly, or that they never show any Brit shows over there (they don’t and they do), but there’s nothing like an ongoing onslaught of great British telly, at your fingertips around the clock. And I know I’m biased and wotnot, but I truly believe we make the best goddamn TV in the whole wide world. And here is why….
Just a quick note, in any other circumstance, I would include Skins on this list, but I think we do it more justice in Saturday Night Skins. So I’ll just say that it’s up there in my Top 5 and leave it at that.
I don’t like picking out absolute favourites, because, well, there is so much to choose from, but this show is definitely in my Top 3. I don’t think there has ever been anything like it and there never will be again. I first saw this when I was at university and it really struck a chord. The story of flatmates Tim and Daisy, is a story like no other. It has a transvestite performance artist called Volva, a landlady with a fondness for Pol Roger and guns, zombies, Robot Wars and a Mike. I don’t think a show has ever successfully managed to be so clever, laugh-out-loud funny and visually imaginative. And I even named my first born after one of the characters, I love it so much. With Simon Pegg and Nick Frost now bona-fide Hollywood stars, I doubt we’ll ever see another outing, so enjoy, ok, I’ll say it, my all time favourite TV scene ever….
There are two words that sum up this show – DYLAN MORAN. After watching this and his stand up, I suspect he isn’t that far removed from Bernard Black in real life. Not at all, in fact. And that’s what makes this so brilliant. And Bill Bailey. Anything that Bill Bailey touches turns to comedy gold. I’m sure there are many of us who dream of running our own little independent bookshop one day. Well, take note, you could end up like Bernard. He takes the ‘independent’ bit a step too far…
I have shared many a tweet with Jo, discussing the ‘merits’ of Boyce the Porcelain Lady Boy, Mac vs. Guy (Guy wins every time, BTW. Just love what an irresistible arsehole he is) and the comedy genius of Dr. Alan Statham. You know when I said there has been nothing like Spaced, well times that by at least a thousand for this show. It is utterly ridonkulous, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. And the best thing – every amazing episode is a wonderful, gorgeous, pant-wettingly gorgeous ONE HOUR long. It’s like opening a vat of comedy gold and burying yourself in it. GO WATCH…
Jo-ANNA. OMG. I can’t stop laughing at that clip. So perfect. Is it….. creeeeam? That is my favourite Green Wing Clip. EVER.
Also, this. Ahh, champion.
I feel I have to get involved because Green Wing is basically my favourite TV programme in the entire world. If you’ve EVER been interested in British culture or been like… ‘Ha… that random British person is HILARIOUS’ you have to watch Green Wing. I was discussing it with a friend recently and we were wondering how it was possible to have a programme that can make you cry with laughter and then also crying with genuine tears.
ALSO, it features the best love triangle in any TV/FILM/Book I have ever witnessed. I love Caroline. She’s my soul sister. I love Mac. And I love Guy. Who do I love most? Well, when I’m talking to official people… I say both. Because I don’t like being glared and being subjected to ‘ARE YOU EVEN JOKING?’ tirades. But when I’m talking to YOU, dear blog readers, I say Dr Guy Secretan.
Hilarious. Oddly attractive. Disgustingly witty. Musical. Sporty (Hello! Guy-Ball is going to be an Olympic sport in 2012). With curly hair. My perfect guy.
Whenever I am sad or feeling a bit blue, I stick Green Wing on. You all should be watching it THIS INSTANT.
Special shout out to Sue White is my heroine. ULTIMATE HEROINE.
Anna– Right, now coming back to the YA (sort of) theme, I got a thinking about British shows for teenagers and kids. Now, even when you’re an actual kid, well, I don’t know about you, but I thought most of the shows that were aimed at my age group were fairly cringeworthy. But every now and again a bloody gem comes along. When I was about ten, a show called Byker Grove started, and, well, the rest is history. Set in a youth club in Newcastle it ran for bloomin’ years – who could forget Geoff’s handlebar tash? – it tackled all the ‘issues’ but in a way that was wasn’t patronising or condescending. And it gave us Ant and Dec. Or as they were known back then, PJ and Duncan. It gave us shell suits, puffa jackets and Spuggie. So folks, let’s get ready to RHUMBLE…
And now, let me bring you back to the present day, as it were. I only discovered this show a few months ago after it became the first kids show to win a British Comedy Award. And I thought I’d better check it out. It has now become staple viewing in our house and they only show that every one of us loves. What other country could make a show for kids that is actually funnier than most adult comedies? So many LOL moments, but this was my top song from the latest series…
And, Jo, this one is for you because I know how much you love Kate Bush…
Perfection. I love Horrible Histories. Both the books and the TV shows.
Anna– And have to give a special shout out to Blackadder (J-LOVELOVELOVE), Phoenix Nights, Nathan Barley, The Mighty Boosh (J-I’ve met these guys. I do have picture but I’m 16 and have a dodgy fringe, so again, that’s staying secret), Only Fools and Horses (J– Number One in the Jo Laughs Like a Bloke List of Funnies) , The Inbetweeners (sorry Jo) (J– *Scowls*), The Vicar of Dibley (J– Number Two in my Jo Laughs Like a Bloke List of Funnies- Geraldine Granger, ILY) , One Foot in the Grave (J-SO MANY TEARS), Jonathan Creek, Downton Abbey, The IT Crowd, The Day Today, I’m Alan Partridge (J–DAN!) , Grandma’s House…and the list goes on. What have I missed?
BEST TELLY IN THE WORLD EVER. THE END.
So, on the subject of other stuff I hankered after whilst away from home shores…well, I could put a list of snack essentials, but I won’t bore you rigid (JAFFA CAKES). I think I’ll just write a little bit about what it means to me to be British. And, bear in mind I’ve just watched the Diamond Jubilee concert so I’m a little bit emotional (Mummy!)…
Well, the thing I think best sums us up is the ability to laugh at ourselves when things go a bit tits up. To celebrate our loserdom. To champion the underdog. Sometimes this is to our detriment (we lose stuff) ), but I think this, in itself, is something to be celebrated. WE DON’T WIN EVERYTHING BECAUSE IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER BECAUSE WE’RE HAPPY CHEERING ON THE ODD FELLOW DRESSED AS A PARROT COMING LAST IN THE RACE.
BUT, when we do have something to celebrate, boy do we celebrate.
Without getting too political, there is plenty wrong with Blighty, like with any other country. But I think, for the most part, we are proud of our diversity (the people and the dance troupe J– FUCK YEAH ASHLEY BANJO.). To be different here, is to be normal and that is something to shout about and be proud of, I think.