“The last taboo is something done sincerely and well.”

Notes from week one-thousand, three-hundred and eighty-eight

I’ve decided to to attach myself to the current trend of weeknotes: the aim of building the habit of writing, around the ease of living.

What happened to you this week?, it asks. That’s easy enough, I experienced several deeply boring things, some very enjoyable things and undertook a few esoteric activities that will entertain only a few of the few who will even read this.

Now write it interestingly, it demands. This is the hard part, really. Out of touch with writing for myself, of myself, largely wrapped in public sector code or marketing copy, this is particularly tricky. The best writers drink, though, so I am taking the initial step to be ‘a writer’ by having a drink. The drink is a Grateaud Cognac from 17610, Cherac — deep in the heart of Cognac country. It’s sweet apple, with a tart aftertaste of soured grapes. It’s beautiful.

This was gifted by my good Parisian friend. Her parents share their life across Paris and Cognac. It is with this good Parisian friend that my weeknote starts.

“A dégustation! A whisky dégustation!”

My French is abominable, but I took the enthusiasm to mean “lots of whisky, lots of trying.” An ideal in my mind, being an enthusiastic amateur drinker with ever sophisticating tastebuds. The difficulty about existing as both amateur and drinker is that the drinker ultimately gets the better of the amateur. Ten whiskies spanning the globe; four vogueish Japanese malts, Speysides, Highlands, Islays. Even a bourbon, but I prefer not to talk of that.* The alcoholic ethnography had left our minds bloated and at sea. A grainy scratch ultimately deferred any Sunday activity to a later date.

I feel it’s rude to turn up to someone’s house empty handed, so I made bread. Walnut bread. I burnt it a little, but it was still deeply edible. Baking has always been one of the only things that really relax me. It’s a process of patience, aggression and creativity. You can’t beat that combination, really. Taking the time to go the long way around, to start from the raw ingredients, is far more rewarding. At the end of the week, on the Shabbat, I made Challah — the classic Jewish sweet-bread. This was a doubly rewarding experience: I learnt a skill that girls know from the age of eight (plaiting), and I furthered my ongoing love affair with Jewish culture. It turned out alright, looked great. Room for improvements.

Ah, you see — a writer would be able to bridge that last anecdote into the next anecdote. ‘Weeknotes’ leads you to think chronologically, and that’s a death-knell for narrative interest. Thematically? I have started doing more. Maybe I should talk about doing more. No, then it seems like I didn’t do much before.

Last weekend, my other half and I spotted another usage of (what is known in our home as) the Dressing Room Montage. The Dressing Room Montage is a central clothes-changing scene in a good portion of ’80s romcoms. It acts as a pivot point for the film, the process of a character’s before and after. Ugly duckling to swan.

It’s everywhere, in dozens of films and sitcoms. Just not the internet. No amount of searching threw up any perfect examples of it. The only one you are guaranteed to get is the grim homage in The Sweetest Thing. In order to create a much-needed resource of these montages, we set up a tumblr. We are still refining our rules (because rules are everything), and hunting down clips. If you know of any instances, please please contact us.

The Sweetest Thing homage does break our first TBC rule — no fucking homages. The homage is rarely an homage, merely a poor copying of something. Homage, pastiche, whatever — it’s a tool for cheap laughs (Wayans Clan) or a lazy director’s way of building recognition. It lacks respect for the original creator, original article, or people’s attached experiences. (Oh, there’s a massive post about consumption and assumption. To be written by someone far more cogent, with far more cognac than me).

The corporate abuse of experiences and memories is a point that Stewart Lee addresses in his new show. His central anger related to Magner’s cider destroying strong familial memories by stealing an antiquated, nonsensical regional phrase for their advertising. That, and the lazy evocation of Irishness through Steve Earle’s Galway Girl. My own memories have been thoroughly buggered through tripe like Fight Club (Where Is My Mind, The Pixies), Fosters (Blister In The Sun, Violent Femmes), Hewlett-Packard (Pictures of You, The Cure), Garden State (the entireity of The Shins), Vodafone (Another Girl Another Planet, The Only Ones), ad nauseum. Over several years, I have successfully reclaimed The Knife’s Heartbearts from Sony and José Gonzalez. In turn, regaining a fantastic memory of the rave tent at a little-known Cheshire festival set in a pear orchard.

I’ve started a playlist so you can reclaim memories too.

According to Last.fm, this week has been brought to me by pop-punk nostalgia (Presidents Of The United States of America), the blues (Blind Lemon Jefferson, Tampa Red), and one of the more maligned Talking Heads albums. The Mount Eerie triple LP, Live In Copenhagen, has dominated my turntable. The phonetic cover of The Moools will never fail to raise a smile. Edit: you can listen to the Moools cover here

Right, here’s to week one-thousand, three-hundred and eighty-nine.

* I will draw a line under bourbon. At least until I start having Bukowski, Hemingway or H.S. Thompson fantasies, Wild Turkey, mint juleps and all.

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