An eclectic list of all kinds of things connected with the research harvest for the first draft of the play…
Aspiration, according to most dictionary definitions, is the hope for- and active striving to achieve- something better, it’s ambition coined in terms of the acquisition of ‘stuff’. A bigger house, better car and a wall-sized TV. The 80’s were meant to make us all ferociously aspirational and the lack of a political nod towards this veracity was blamed for labours defeat in the last election. We all (Allegedly) simply want a bigger one- give us a bigger one and we’re laughing. Aspiration also means the ingestion of water, or a foreign body into the lungs- in which case bigger is definitely not better.
In 2012 there were 698,512 births in the UK. Over the past ten years there have been 1,388 babies born to same sex couples and 1,149 babies born to single women.
Around 25 per cent of women are childless at 45. 13.5 per cent of single parent families are headed up by fathers.
In 1900 most babies would not live beyond 50, now, in most developed countries, babies born today will live beyond 85 and many beyond 100
(All things being equal, barring global meltdown, disease, war and all the rest of course).
A now popular term for an older woman ‘dating’ a younger partner or partners, with connotations of predatory and preying behaviour as befits a big sexy catlady with long claws, clangy jewellry and silver whiskers. Opinion differs with regard to entry age criteria for cougardom- ask a teenager and it begins at 30 and ask a 45 year old and it doesn’t happen until the Saga brochures start dropping onto the doormat- but all will agree that the younger partner in these relationships needs to be good-looking, enthusiastic and thick-skinned.
The average wedding in the UK costs £22,000 with the average divorce coming in at £39,000. As Cilla Black might say ‘Worra lorra wonga’. In 2008 marriages were at their lowest rate since 1895 but recently marriage rates have been on the rise again and divorce is now on the decline (Apart from in the older age groups, see above- maybe due to the rise of the ‘cougar’?).
Many engagements take place in exotic locations with lush cities like New York, Rome, Sydney San Francisco and Paris topping the question popping destination list.
There is however a market for the more adventurous and quirky proposer so a trip to the top of Mount Snowdon, or kayaking in the Lake District may have a ring attached- once the wet suits have been peeled off and the trench foot treated.
On the other hand you may just have been asked on holiday and erroneously spent the entire time moping over a brown paper wrapped box in your significant others suitcase, only to discover it contains a set of faulty spark plugs to be taken back to Kwikfit on the return journey.
Cemetery space is running out (25 per cent of councils state that there is no space at all left for burials and doubling up in older graves has become an option) and yet 150,000 people are still buried each year. Solutions to the after death overcrowding issue are many and various and go beyond the standard cremation option. Crymation involves freezing leaving a readily disposable powder, resomation takes the opposite approach by dipping into very hot alkaline and again leaves little ‘material’ to dispose of at the end of the process, and for those looking for something a little bit special human ashes can be transmogrified into engagement ready diamonds.
More recently a green option has been put forward in the form of ‘pods’ which will ultimately become trees.
Thriving town and artistic hub in West Yorkshire, home of the beautiful Lawrence Batley Theatre (Once a thousand seater Wesleyan Chapel, renovated and named after cash and carry magnate Lawrence Batley) and the excellent Dark Horse Theatre. Full of amazing industrial revolution architecture, fine ale from local breweries and more grade one listed chimney pots than anywhere else in the UK. When in Huddersfield look up at the magnificent building tops, and smile- it’s been voted the happiest town in England.
2.4 billion people use the internet globally (1.7 billion of these people are in Asia) and 40,000 google searches are made every second. 8.7 billion machines are engaged in work connect to the internet. 62% of all email is spam and where 1% of British people used the internet in 1995 today it’s a whopping 45%. In 2013 73% of people used social media, 74% of them were women and 42% men.
It’s not going to get smaller, it’s predicted that further ‘layers’, new internets will evolve over the next few years to deal with increased traffic but it’s likely that our current naivety with regard to data and security will mature and develop.
Every post we make on social media and to a high degree every internet action we’ve ever taken is searchable (The American Library of Congress maintains a record of every single tweet published) and our current lack of awareness of this invisibility can lead to ill advised private photo sessions which are later posted, and comments about employers which attract slander and defamation suits- not to mention dismissal.
A hybrid, or ‘designer’ dog- a cross between a Japanese Chin and a Yorkshire Terrier.
Celebrities and reality TV stars have added to the taste and market for cross bred dogs, the ‘sell’ being the perceived virtue of two particular breeds doubled up when matched together. The Dalmapoodle (Dalmation and poodle- charm and bounce), Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel and poodle- loyalty and bounce) and Boodle (Bulldog and poodle- ballsiness and bounce) have all proved popular in recent years.
The idea of designer dogs is for many a Frankenstein-ish notion, bringing to the fore as it does knowledge about the genetic engineering and manipulation of breeding lines that has always been a part of farming but for most of us is out of sight and out of mind, a long way away from the vacuum packed slices of perfectly formed meat on display in the supermarket.
However it has been increasingly revealed that the act of cross-breeding hybrid dogs amplifies the risks of genetic conditions which lead to a less than happy life for the animals concerned. In the case of labradoodles the known hip weakness of labradors and eyesight issues of poodles find themselves compounded and amplified in the hybrids.
This plus easy access to dog purchase on the internet, no licensing and celebrity endorsement has led to boom times for abandoned dog charities.
Offer someone a herring for breakfast and they’re likely to make their excuses and head for a coffee shop. However offer someone a kipper with some generously buttered bread and they’re likely to go misty eyed, pull up a chair at your kitchen table and flatter you on your hosting skills and exceptional taste. Most people like kippers due to their smokey non fish tasting alternativeness and the sheer decadence of having a whole fish on your plate at 8.00am.
To be ‘stitched up like a kipper’ means to be set up with no wiggle room. No one knows exactly where the phrase comes from or why which only adds to it’s wonderfulness.
L Lowry Salford
The Lowry, Salford is a stunning building, easily accessible from Central Manchester and home to two theatres, a gallery and one of the best riverside locations in the UK. Jump off the train at Piccadilly, pop into Manchester art gallery, jump on the tram and make your way to the Lowry for some lunch and some of the best of the UK’s theatre.
The time in a woman’s life when it becomes vitally important to go to Glastonbury, become a real or fantasy Cougar (See above)/feminist icon and always be seen in dim lighting. Men go through a similar process but without the mind altering hormonal shifts-the manopause- when they too consider it vitally important to go to Glastonbury (And pretend they’ve attended every single year since they were 9), become a real or fantasy sugar daddy/wiseman and grow a beard to cover the areas which would benefit from dim lighting- and compensate for hair lack elsewhere.
N New Age
It feels necessary to stress that the New Age is not a shop as the paraphernalia connected to this noble non religious idea of global unity, non heirarchy and anti-dogma, riding on a philosophy of love understanding and peaceful evolution is so often equated with swirly tree of life images on reflective glass and dusty joss stick holders. The new age is the age that is taking place after the age of Aquarius (The dawning) and it’s now.
Cougar’s going to Glastonbury during the menopause get up close and personal with the New Age and it’s not always a happy or readily understandable union.
O Outsider culture and art
A term framed in the early 1970’s outsider art has come often to be identified as art made by people from disenfranchised or ‘non-mainstream’ groups such as people with mental health problems, disabled people, prisoners and communities of people who are self-taught and in the main have their own aesthetic, sensibility and means of evaluation and critical analysis. In the U.K the disability arts movement, the creative minds project and other groups and individuals make and advocate for this work. An ongoing debate is currently being had around the concept of assimilation and/or separation from the ‘mainstream’ for outsider artists.
P Pest Control
Rats, mice and all manner of insect-based vermin act are completely non-prejudicial in terms of their target squats.
Buckingham Palace has mice, popular fable has it that you’re never more than 10 feet away from a rat (That’s below your feet as well as within your visual radar) and the cartoon time addiction of mice for cheese is in a fact a lie- they don’t like the stuff.
Cockroaches can live for a month without food and a week without a head, and infestations of domestic properties take all forms, from centipedes to wood lice. Lovely.
Q Quince jelly
The fruit of the quince was cultivated long before the apple and associated from the earliest of times with love and romance. In ancient Greece quince was offered as a gift at weddings and it was quince that Paris gifted to Aphrodite. Incorporated into a sweet and stiff jelly quince makes an excellent, if nauseatingly pretentious and frankly unnecessary, alternative to chutney on a cheeseboard.
R Relationship Counselling
People are seeking help from therapists and counsellors more frequently and with less apprehension than ever before, recognising that medical answers to mental health problems aren’t the catch all solution they once seemed to be. 1 in 5 adults have received and benefited from counselling and 50% of people know someone who has. 82% of a recent survey of ‘cross section’ respondents said they thought counselling to deal with issues and relationship problems was a good idea.
The largest resort in Yorkshire locals are known as Scarborians. The harbour bar on South Bay is the place for go for ice cream par excellence. The Stephen Joseph theatre, based in a converted Odeon cinema, is home to all of playwright and director Sir Alan Ayckbourns‘ new work, produces some of the best new writing in the UK and always offers a programme of exceptional theatre- and cinema too.
A heterosexual Cougar’s love object and technology consultant.
U Udon noodles
Chunky Japanese wheat based noodles served in a variety of dishes or simply as broth with dark soy and ‘scallions’- scallions are similar to quince above on the pretentiousness scale but actually slightly above it looking just like a spring onion but holding a martini glass.
V Virtual Reality
So much better than the real thing surely? Much better experienced than written or spoken about (Unless top end tech programming and design is your thing of course) we’re talking immersive, multi-media, computer simulated, life replicating experiences. Increasingly explored in film-making, video gaming, therapy, art, music and medicine, the use of these technologies in the live theatre experience is just beginning and opening up doors for innovative and immersive new performances, offering the potential for a whole new level of audience interraction.
W Water feature
A piece of design of various scales, often replicating in moulded plastic a rock pool or mini waterfall, which offers the ‘relaxing’ sound of running water in any environment, inside or outside.
Not advisable in the company of hybrid dogs, pets of any description, small children or people with weak bladders.
X X factor
Returning to aspiration once again the world of auditions, boot camp, knockout stages and a fast track to success and fame remains the dream for countless people.
The acquisition of skill, training and competency measured craft is a less enticing sell and leaves many working in the creative industries with a major task on their hands ensuring the next generation of actors, singers, dancers and entertainers know their time steps from their soundbites and hair extensions.
Yachts as we all know are very expensive indeed and owned by the mega wealthy and Bond villains.
A 50 foot ocean going yacht will set you back somewhere in the region of 2 million pounds. Most of the yachts we see film and pop stars- and Simon Cowell– enjoying some R and R on, are in fact chartered or rented which saves having to know anything about sailing or even where the petrol cap is.
They come with staff and integral ostentation.
A delicious Italian dessert made principally of egg yolks and sugar and sweet wine all whipped up and served with a biscuit on the side. Buon appetito!
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