Ritzi’s Adventures Underground

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Let me tell you a tale of the Goblin King’s Masquerade Ball.

There once was a raven girl who lived a thousand lives, carried a hundred names and almost as many faces. In the interest of avoiding confusion, it’s best to call her Ritzi, since that’s the name she goes by in this world, for today anyway.

InviteOne cold, damp and drizzly morning, an invitation arrived upon her writing desk, delivered by owl or email, she can’t quite recall which. An invitation to the Goblin King’s Masquerade Ball.

She sent her reply back at once, because one does not dilly dally when Goblin Kings and their balls are involved, and promptly braved the Goblin Markets of Camden Town to find appropriate garb, since it had been a long while since she had ventured far from the mortal realm.

At last, the day of the ball arrived, and through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered* Ritzi fought her way to the tube station beyond the goblin city** where she plucked her friend Ned – who, being a time traveller, had a tendency to wander now, then and everywhen and could not be trusted to make it on her own clock – out of time and bid her paint a mask upon her face, for they were off to the Underground.

*you might also know this as Soho

**alright, Brixton

Off to the ball

Their flight was uber short, considering the distance and Ned’s tendency to muddle things, but somehow they arrived very nearly on time. As Ritzi shook out her feathers and Ned put away her pocket watch, they found their way barred by a pair of unsavoury characters. But all was not as it seemed, of course – it turned out they weren’t unsavoury at all, they were just Scottish. Since Ritzi and Ned knew they were choosing down regardless, they were soon on their way once more.

Unsavourty characters

Afterwards, they tripped and fell into an Oubliette, which had in recent years been transformed into something of a den of iniquity – the very best kind. They parleyed with goblin aristocracy and danced with the odd nymph or two, until they stumbled across a fortune teller and Ritzi begged to know her future. Ned wandered off elsewhere, since she was a time traveller after all and such things were of little concern to her.

The fortune teller laid out her cards and told a pretty tale of handsome strangers and dangerous fruit, which is all part and parcel of a night in the Underground this close to Beltane after all, but when she warned that a change was coming, she expected it to mean something life changing and profound, but Ritzi knew better. She felt the telltale tingle in around her shoulder blades that always came before her raven wings burst forth and carried her away.

Paying the fortune teller her reasonable five gold pieces, Ritzi caught Ned – who had somehow gotten herself into a duel over the rights of a couple of enslaved faeries – by the arm and together they flew up and out of the Underground, and into a magical realm known as the Smoking Area.

Now Ritzi, having casually ignored the fact that she had a tendency to turn into a raven when a tad inebriated most of her life, knew that some kind of fortification was needed to calm her feathers, but she had nothing of the sort to hand and despite the fact that she was surrounded by wizards and mages, she and Ned could gather nothing more than a few, what the locals called; ‘rizzlers’, and a fist full of bog standard human tobacco. What’s a raven girl to do?

If this sorry state of affairs wasn’t bad enough, her fingers had already turned to talons and she could not even grip the thing to roll it up. Ned was no help; having sustained a sword related injury while defending faerie rights not long before, she lacked the dexterity required.

Ziggy

An angel called Ziggy (probably)

Just when it seemed that all was lost, an angel with a snow white tan and a talent for left handed guitar playing appeared to fall from the very sky. The angel swooped in on a cloud of stardust, deftly rolled a cigarette magnificently, and disappeared into the night without another word.

At last, Ritzi breathed in her salvation and for a moment her wings flattened against her back and all was well.

Until, some hours after the witching hour, Ritzi ate the Peach.

Now, peaches in the goblin realm are tricky, sticky things. They come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes they might not look like peaches at all. Sometimes, they might look like say, a bottle of prosecco. In fact they look exactly like four bottles of prosecco in quick succession on an empty stomach.

Peaches

And so, our heroes danced and danced. They danced with faeries, they danced with goblins, they danced with princesses and sometimes they danced a little to close to Goblin Kings. Every time the night seemed like it might be over, Ned turned the clock back just so they could dance some more. And as the hours went by, Ritzi began to notice the prickle of wings beneath her skin once more but this time she didn’t rush to hide and let her raven wings spring forth and carry her into the sky, because in a kingdom full of goblins and the like, the raven girl was hardly strange at all. She twirled and whirled overhead, and laughed and cried until, at some time close to dawn, the spell suddenly broke and her fluttering wings faltered. She plummeted, down and down and down some more, but the ground didn’t break her fall. Ned, in a well timed moment of sobriety, caught her by the tail feathers and in the blink of an eye, they were home.

And so the moral of this tale, if it must have one at all, is this; once you find your people, never be afraid to spread your wings and fly, but for goodness sake when you do, make sure you have a friend to catch you when you fall. And if they happen to have the power to manipulate time, that’s quite handy too. And if all else fails, make pancakes and drink your weight in coffee, because it’s all very well and good being the girl who ate the peach and forgot everything, until the hangover kicks in and you remember.

AV8C1455

AV8C1454

And on that note, happy belated beltane folks. Hope you had a merry slutdrop around the maypole. I certainly did.

Rx

@RitziWrites

 

Muggle world stuff: The Goblin King’s Masquerade ball is an annual (ish) event run by the clever folk at Guerrilla Zoo. It takes place in the wonderful, and soon to be torn down Coronet in Elephant and Castle.

There were lots of amazing acts/characters/artists present but the ridiculously accurate ‘Alf and Ralph’ costumes as featured above were made and performed by Tootles and Nibs, who I can only find on Instagram but I want to find their website and book them for a party. Or just a Tuesday.

 

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Love Letter to Forest Hill

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Dearest Forest Hill,

Well, it’s been a whirlwind romance, hasn’t it? I mean, I met you properly exactly one year ago and even though we’d flirted a few weekends in the past, I don’t think anyone could have predicted how perfectly meant for each other we were set to become.

When you love someone, you have to let them go. Isn’t that how the saying goes? As painful as it is going to be, the time is soon approaching for us to part. As I pack up my little flat and say goodbye to SE23, the most glorious of postcodes, try to keep in mind the most important thing. We had but a short while together, but gosh, wasn’t it wonderful?

I want you to know, if I was loaded, I would never dream of leaving you. One day, when I am so rich it hurts, I shan’t be swanking it up in West London or even (shudder) North London, I’ll be right back here. Because a love like ours lasts a lifetime and absence only makes the heart grow fonder.

I was in a bit of a state when you first met me, let’s be honest. But you took me in your arms and gave me wine and banana bread and coffee and so much farmer’s market kale for such a reasonable price, you put me back together and for that I am eternally grateful.

It all started with the perfect flat. Not too big, not too small. An arty farty studio in the middle of a woodland, just big enough for one.

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It didn’t take long to fall in love with the local hotspots. Namely, the Horniman Museum with it’s Saturday farmer’s market. I don’t think one weekend passed that I did not hang out here, buying funky wine and curly kale by the bucketload with a variety of plus ones.

IMG_2460_instantIMG_2403_instantAnd of course, you can’t go to the Horniman without visiting the most famous resident of Forest Hill… the Walrus.

IMG_2461_instant IMG_4076_instant IMG_4562_instantIMG_2879_instantSince this is the forest, it was only fitting that I invite in some of the local wildlife. Forest Hill provided (note – not actually wildlife, properly domesticated and everything)  by gifting me my very own spirit animals.

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We made it so far as Christmas, our six and a bit month anniversary. Christmas shopping was a sinch, I mean with Bunka and Doopo Doopo what else could you need? I hosted the very best of Christmas dinners several times over, filled the flat with fairy lights and took walks in the park on crisp sunny afternoons.

IMG_4790_instantIMG_5043_instantThrough the good times and the bad, FoHo, you were with me through almost a year of unflattering hair dos while my stupid Alopecia struck barnet took forever to come back.

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But the thing you do better than anyone else, is the coffee shops. I’ve become quite the connoisseur, I’ll admit. For breakfast, St David Coffee is the winner. Remember that time you gave me banana bread with Nutella AND honey? I mean, that was just indecent. For whiling away an afternoon and transitioning to evening, my heart belongs to 161 Kirkdale in Sydenham. Not technically Forest Hill, but still in walking distance. Any place that lets me set up in a corner with a laptop and a pile of post it notes, keeping the coffee coming until it turns to wine, is my kind of place. I finished my first proper book in 161 Kirkdale and they gave me bubbles to celebrate. Bet YOUR coffee shop never did that.

And let’s not forget The Montage. My usual bank holiday spot and a treasure trove of inspiration, the writing is literally on the wall and the coffee is spectacular.

IMG_4238_instant IMG_7521_instant IMG_7526_instantIMG_80431_instantForest Hill is a crazy special kind of place. It has a library that people still use. It has a swimming pool. It has an ice cream parlour. It has a DVD RENTAL STORE. It has artists and comedians and writers and musicians. It is a magical forest hidden away in South London and I am lucky as hell that I got to spend a year here.

And while I am soon to move from the Forest, to the Garden (of England) because frankly I’m one person with one salary and Zone 3 is just too damn expensive to buy anything bigger than a garage, I’ll be back to visit. Because no one is going to come to Zone 5 let’s face it, so we might as well meet in the middle.

IMG_2338_instant IMG_8450_instantTo paraphrase a popular Christmas movie I may have watched a few too many times in the last year, let us not say goodbye, let’s just say ‘be seeing you’.

Be seeing you, Forest Hill. And thanks again for the wine.

Rx

 

Dam Good Fun

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I know, I know, I’ve jabbered on about Amsterdam before. Yes, I went to the same place for Pancakes. Again. (Upstairs Pannenkoeken – I don’t even need to google the spelling anymore, I’m basically Dutch) And yes, I drank too much. Again. And I may have taken in some culture while off my tits on herbal cigarettes. Again.

But heck, there’s always something new to discover in the Dam.

Irish and I were skyping a few weeks back and she said she was planning a jolly over to the UK between fabulous acting jobs – only her chosen dates were dates I’d planned to bugger off to the Continent. So, because we are that fucking fabulous, we decided she should skip the London trip and we’d meet in Schiphol instead for a few days in the Dutch capital.

Despite actually only being in town for around forty eight hours, we managed to; hang out at Lally’s place and drink all the wine, get a bit squiffy on space cakes, go the the cinema, drink crazy kinds of gin, hog tables at the skybar, visit a Play Mobile village, make chocolate (almost), eat pie, marvel at windmills, make crazy funky art with a toddler, go to the theatre, drink two magnums of prosecco, eat pancakes, queue two hours for the Anne Frank house, buy a disgusting amount of affordable clothes due to the glorious exchange rate and eat ALL the cheese.

In all seriousness, I’ve been to Amsterdam so much and never made it to the Anne Frank museum. The queue is always hideous (it’s kind of a single file thing…) and I’ve never had enough time, but this time we were determined to do it. It’s a bit morbid and more than a little depressing, but it’s the kind of kick in the gut reality check you need to remind yourself of once in a while.

And when you’re done with all that, if you need a pick me up (you will) where better than the bar with the best name on this fair planet; Wynand Fockink.

Yep. Wynand Fockink. That’s right. Just going to leave that there for a second. Straight after the serious bit. Yep.

I mean, I went for the name, I’m not gonna lie. But I stayed for the gin. I wish I could tell you what I had to give you a recommendation, but I honestly have no idea. It was kind of pink. We handed over our cash, the man said something in Dutch, poured us out a variety of different coloured gins in funky little sipping glasses and the rest is all a bit hazy. But I remember it was GREAT.

Now, the Cinema. By this point, admittedly, we were down a questionable roll up and a great deal of gin. Lally suggested checking out the Pathe Tuschinski cinema (nee theatre), due to it’s awesome art deco old school interior design, gothic exterior and the fact that you can get a ticket, a bucket of popcorn AND WINE for €15.

We watched the Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I’m not convinced anything actually happened in that film, but it was pretty to space out to even if we didn’t have a clue what was going on. Irish and I had at least seen the first one, Lally didn’t realise it was a sequel until a week later.

OH AMSTERDAM.

By the time Irish and I waved farewell to our fabulous host and staggered back to Schiphol, to our different flights going to different places that just happened to leave within twenty minutes of each other from gates directly beside each other (one part planning, two parts dumb luck) we needed a holiday to get over the holiday, which is generally the way you can tell you’ve had a damn good holiday.

Until next time 😉

Rx

 

 

Adventures in Grimsburg

I have a habit of globetrotting, usually to visit my wayward actory friends in random locations – they do get about.

In my time I’ve gallivanted around Vienna, Paris, Amsterdam, Dublin, New York, Chicago, Melbourne, Sydney and well, Leeds… but this weekend my awesome dedication to friendship/preference for holidays where I don’t have to pay for hotels took me to Hamburg where my dearest Stark has been rehearsing for some glamorous world cruise or some lark, as you do.

I’ve not done Germany before, save for an unplanned detour on the way back from Vienna back in the days of the Ash Cloud (is he still on Twitter?) so it’s been on my list for a while. I’ll be straight with you, there ain’t much going on in Hamburg. Well, actually, there’s a lot going on, but most of it is unsuitable for pre-watershed reading. Hamburg is basically Grimsby with a Red Light District.

Thankfully, the benefit of visiting a place that your bestie has been living for the past two months (even if it’s Grimsburg) is that you don’t have to waste time going to the wrong places, you head straight for the good stuff, and she’s figured her way around pretty damn well and found some absolute gems. So the good news is I can do a decent ‘guide to Hamburg’ in the space of a few lines.

  1. Go on a week day – or at the very least learn your way around before the weekend hits so you have somewhere safe and wholesome to hite because GOOD LORD the stag dos. They are everywhere on Friday and Saturday night, and they will make you want to stab an entire gender in the balls. There are streets women aren’t allowed to go down unless they are prepared to fork over access to their knickers for euros. If I’d had a spare with me, I’d have burned my bloody bra.
  2. Line your stomach – in the absence of too much to actually do, you will drink. A lot. I can recommend 20 Up bar, Hamburg’s staple sky bar, with beautiful views and a cocktail made with 6 kinds of rum that tastes of pure wonderment.
  3. Google brunch. Brunch is good. And so is lunch. I basically spent Sunday doing brunch until it became lunch, until I got on a plane at 7pm. Particularly recommend Café May on Hein-Hoyer-Straße for bottomless brunch, Café Mimosa on Clemens-Schultz-Straße for… well… mimosas, and Kaffee Stark* on Wolfwhistle St (Wohwillstraße) for cheese boards, wine and musty yet cosy sofas.
  4. I hear there is art. We didn’t really find any because we were pre-occupied with the aforementioned booze, but it’s there and apparently it’s quite good.

Of course, it wasn’t really about the brunch (though that was an added bonus) and frankly I would have quite happily have spent a weekend in actual Grimsby for the few hours of wine fuelled catching up with my girl that we managed to crowbar in between rehearsals and hangovers. Here’s a collection of indulgent fake polaroid snaps for your viewing pleasure.

Auf wiedersehen, pet and all that.

Rx

*Kaffee Stark – go for the name, stay for the dairy products.

What a difference a year makes

I told myself I was going to steer clear of these ‘retrospective’ posts, brushing 2014 under the rug and all that, but I’m modifying that intention somewhat in favour of only brushing the crap stuff under the rug. The good stuff is well and truly welcome to the party.

Cutting to the chase, yesterday was the anniversary of The Day The Shit Hit The Fan and to be perfectly honest it crept up on me before I knew it. Not that I’d forgotten, of course, I’m the obsessive type and always will be, prone to daily tiny doses of melancholy usually before I’ve had my coffee or after I’ve had my wine. But I digress, creep up on me it did, and it was only when I was twirling round a Bloomsbury townhouse dance floor with a bottle of prosecco in one hand and an inflatable penis balloon in the other that I was struck by a sudden flashback to that exact moment a year ago, sat in my office late on a Friday, smashed on cheap red wine and fighting the temptation to build bridges with a guy on Valentine’s Day, because, and I quote, ‘that would be weird’.

In the same situation at any point last year, this would likely have ended in tears (putting it lightly) but this is 2015, the year of awesome, as the crowd of fabulous friends scattered about the dance floor, equally smashed, atoned. And so, I danced on in my rubbery Westwoods until my soles could bear it no longer and promptly hopped in a cab home to pass out on the couch with cheese and crackers and late night 2005 Mock the Week, utterly content.

I’ve had a stinking cold all week, which is not ideal as it’s led to my clocking up the hours bundled up on the sofa feeling sorry for myself. PRIME MELANCHOLY POTENTIAL. But I’ve been distracted and happily so because… I only went and bought a bloody house!

Well okay, it’s a flat, but that doesn’t sound as indulgent.

And yes, it’s in like Zone 5 or something but hey, I like a good commute. Plenty of Kindle time.

But it’s big and bright and needs very little doing to it and I’ve been obsessively pinning the crap out of my neglected Pinterest boards ever since and will be doing for the next three months or so until I can move in.

I had the best New Year’s Eve this year (did I write about that? I can’t remember. We went to Cornwall, dressed as pirate wenches and drank bubbles on the beach at midnight with fireworks overhead) and yesterday I got a text from the Continent;

‘Just stumbled across our video from NYE on the beach, prosecco in hand with fireworks everywhere and just need to say that I hope you’re continuing to have a happy new year you magnificent bastard!’

I can’t explain the magnificent bastard thing, suffice to say, you had to be there.

But you know, I AM still having a happy new year. Work is great, friends are great (even if they feck off to Europe for months on end – you know who you are), my current flat is great, my new flat is great, my mortgage broker is great, my hair looks great, my arse looks great (thank you squat challenge app) basically, everything is flipping great. I know it sounds like I’m tempting fate a bit here, but I don’t think I am. Shit will happen anyway, it always does, but I’d rather enjoy the highs of life while they’re here and deal with the lows as they come.

It’s not all been prosecco and puppies, some Soho scumbag nicked my favourite handbag at the end of January (payday weekend – urgh) and everything in it, which was frankly a fucking nightmare. I cried (was v v drunk), cancelled my cards, my wonderful friends put me in a cab and got me home and got me into my flat (spare keys people, always leave spare keys with someone sensible) and while it was a pain in the arse for a few days, I got over it. Someone even handed my keys in to a shop in Soho, who called my LIBRARY to get my number so they could return them to me. Human decency right there.

Well, that’s your lot. I’ve a date with the DFS website. Apparently they’ve got a sale on.

Til next time 😉

Rx

Alopecia-gate 2015

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Okay, let’s all knock on some wood here but it looks like, for the moment, Alopecia-gate may have gone away to majorly inconvenience some other fabulous former hair haver for a while.

Don’t let the door smack you in the back of the bald head on your way out, you dick.

For those who don’t know/haven’t noticed my occasional bouts of ‘fuck you Alopecia’ expression, this has been buggering up my barnet for the past year. It struck some time around January 2014 and has continued to be a pain in my ass ever since.

May I present to you, exhibit A. I call it; the Monk:

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I know, FIT right? I mean, I can see Rihanna rocking this baby next season and everything.

To this day, I have no idea where that massive chunk of hair went. It was literally there one minute and gone the next (there’s a hair today, gone tomorrow pun in there somewhere but I’m not man enough to use it) To add insult to injury, I discovered it gone while AT WORK in a MEETING. Hashtag mortifying.

I should add here that this particular variation is ‘Alopecia Areata’ which means that you don’t lose ALL your hair, just enough to piss you off and withhold the fun of wig shopping.

Now, I am a person who loves her hair. I have (/had) a lot of it, the kind of hair that you can blast with a hair dryer and somehow it doesn’t need straightening or anything, it just is. I hadn’t realised how much this (along with a decent rack and fabulous shoes) was a part of me until it was suddenly gone.

I basically spent January 2014 in a pit of OH GOD I HATE PONY TAILS AND BUNS I LOOK LIKE A BOY WITH WEIRD STICKING OUT EARS GET THAT DONUT THING AWAY FROM ME WHAT DO YOU MEAN I HAVE TO DEAL WITH PEOPLE.

Then of course a lot of other emotional crap happened and the bun became the least of my problems, but I digress. Without my mane of hair, I was no longer me. I lost my confidence, drank WAY more usual (which is saying something frankly) in order to make up for said lack of confidence and avoided any photographic situation I wasn’t entirely in control of for fear of my vile updo taking over my Facebook feed. Honest to Lucifer, quite a lot of the time I’d have rather the whole lot had gone so I could have wigged up, then at least you know your hair’s going to look half decent. Call me shallow if you like, I’ll pop round some Veet and draw a circle on your head, see how you handle it.

Alongside the ‘looking hideous every day’ dilemma, there is the ‘feeling like you look hideous every day’ which is the back up even if you manage to pull of the voluminous bun look. On top of that, there’s panic that every time you get stressed (which like NEVER happens to me ever of course… ahem) then you’re going to go bald (-er), the cocktail of meds due to an absolute lack of knowledge of what causes it or what might trigger it to happen more, not to mention the fact that you’re not allowed to wash your hair more than twice a week lest the little bastards panic and head for the plug hole. And then on top of that, y’know, LIFE still has to happen.

photo 2After nearly a year of this, at last in November last year my daily examination of said BALD SPOTS revealed the tiniest trace of furry regrowth. Hurrah! I mean, there’s a significant amount of my hair that looks like this

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But it’s better than nothing. Even if it does grow directly upright like an absolute bastard of a cowlick.

But today, we celebrate, for today after a year (okay, maybe a year and a half… I was never the most frequent visitor to the hair salon) I finally sucked it up and went, to sort out the epic bird nest of split-endy madness I’ve been hiding in a top knot for 12 months.

Et voila —->photo 4

Not too fecking shabby if I say so myself.

Now if all the follicles could just calm the fuck down and take a xanax next time things get a tad stressful instead of jumping ship, that would be just lovely.

*knock knock knock* (do it with me, make sure it’s real wood)

And on that note, I’m off to purchase some GHDs.

Rx

New Year, Same You. Just Better.

Well, we all saw this coming, didn’t we? New year, new detox, new wardrobe (thank you Boxing Day Sales) and new blog.

I realised today that there are people who follow my inane ramblings on Twitter, who don’t even know me as a blogger, which is rather disconcerting after the four solid years of this lark that came before 2014, a year which shall henceforth be referred to as ‘The Year Which Must Not Be Named.’

The bastard of TYWMNBN in a nutshell; a man I liked very much died thinking I didn’t like him very much, my hair fell out, I lost some friends, work got well and truly on top of me and then I stumbled down a giant Ursula sized whirlpool of depression and very nearly jacked it all in. Heavy, I know.

ANYWAY, enough of all that crap. That year shall never be spoken of again, what’s done is done and what’s past is past. I’ve missed the blog, though. I had to get rid of the old one because of the somewhat ‘oversharing’ nature of the thing, especially after the big friend dump of TYWMNBN, but I have missed having a place to vent.

Sooooooooo here we are, back in business. Not sure exactly what this will be, but I have decided to wipe the slate clean for 2015. Oh heck, that rhymes.

There will be no more lingering on things that have happened that cannot be changed, no more hating on the job that frankly keeps my bank account in the manner to which I have become accustomed, no more moping, no more happy pills, no more neat vodka and no more tears.

There will be career progression and writing and publishing deals and first steps onto the property ladder and wonderful friends and exciting adventures. And, now my hair has finally decided to make an appearance, there will be a damn good haircut.

My darling friend Ferris, longtime platonic pal, began the year with the following Facebook status;

New Year, New Me? seriously…. shush ur lips. New Year, Same Me… Better Mood

I don’t feel like writing a list of resolutions a mile long this year. I did that last year, and 49 days in the world turned upside down. There’s no telling what lies ahead, so I’m taking the pressure off and living in the moment for once. I may even have a glass of wine in January, who knows? To hell with it, let’s just see what happens. I’ll be the one in the fabulous shoes.

Rx