Tattoos in the workplace – all the world’s a stage

On Tuesday night I went to see a production of Saturday Night Fever at the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham. I was surprised to see that the chararcter playing Tony Manero had tattoos on his back during one of the scenes where he took his top off, and also that the (female) club singer character had a full sleeve and back tattoos.

Why was I suprised? Well, firstly, because it doesn’t fit in with the 70s timescale of the production – especially not for the female actor. I guess I’d have thought they would be covered with make up. Or, maybe the actors would have been overlooked for the part because of their tattoos not fitting the character they were auditioning to play. Which, quite frankly, I’m very annoyed with myself for even contemplating.

I have tattoos. They’re mainly covered up and I planned them that way. I have a wrist cuff that is generally on show and I don’t even think about it anymore as it’s been there for so long, although in the beginning I was very conscious of it. Occasionally I’ll catch someone looking at it when I meet them for the first time. Not judging. Just looking. I work in a stuffy corporate environment which is very male orientated and I’m aware that most of the people in my office would think differently about me if they knew the extent of my tattoos. Which is really unfair. Yet here I am doing the same about the actors from the show.

I’m not entirely sure what I’m trying to say here. I guess it just shows that tattoo acceptance is still a long way off. That appearance is still the very first thing we see and that we make a judgement – even if it’s not a negative one – without even realising. I certainly wasn’t upset that the actors had tattoos. Surprised, yes, and even impressed. I think it’s fantastic that the show producers didn’t try to cover them in spite of the fact there would be people in the audience who would see it as a negative and judge their appearance accordingly. It’s fabulous that they were up there performing based on talent. I’m conscious that I will cover my wrist for upcoming interviews. I wish I didn’t feel I had to, but if I were to miss out on a job role a little part of me would wonder if that was anything to do with it. Yet there are circumstances where I wear my tattoos with pride; where I will dress to show them off.

Society is still such a judgemental place, and we have to be so many things to so many people that we often can’t be 100% true to ourselves all of the time. Rare is the person who’s worklife mirrors their homelife mirrors their social life. Maybe it’s just part of being an adult. Or maybe it’s part of being an individual – refusing to comply just because we should. Sticking two fingers up to the norm, so that we can be our own norm when the time is right.

Tattooed person Tattooed person 2

Tattooed person 3

Interestingly, when you search Google images for tattooed professionals in the workplace, there are barely any photographs of women.

By the way, the show was really good. Very talented crew – live musicianship on stage incorporated as part of the story gave it a different spin, stunning voices, and some really great dancing (as you’d expect). Considering they’ve been touring since December they were as fresh and sharp as if it were their first ever performance.  The Alex is a joy; still having that olde worlde intimate feel due it’s relatively small size.

Alexandra Theatre
Isn’t this a cool pic? I was wondering what the actors see when they’re looking out at the audience looking at them.
Alexandra Theatre 2
Out of curiosity I googled the female actor. Her name is Cici Howells and she plays numerous instruments including flute, clarinet, sax, oboe, guitar and trumpet. Her talent far far outweighs her physical appearance. Here’s a photograph of her in action in another production; playing classical music with her tattoos proudly on show. Brilliant.
Cici Howells

Her online casting profile mentions her tattoos and that they can be covered up easily. Making it even cooler that the producers of the show chose not to.

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Officially unemployed

Today, after 3 weeks of “consultation”, I’ve been officially made redundant. I feel relieved, resentful, angry, frustrated, elated, exhausted, mentally weak, mentally strong, excited, scared, hopeful. So many mixed emotions. Even though I’ve known it was coming since the end of last month, it’s still an odd sensation. Not that I was hoping the company would change their mind – indeed I’d have been disappointed if they had – but even when you’re content with a turn of events, its still an upheaval.

The sun is shining and I can see the rudiments of spring on my balcony. It feels like a sign.

Hyancinths ready to flower / a cute pansy face popping out from the undergrowth

2 year old snap dragon which keeps fighting back / spring berries

New shoots on my strawberry plants / pretty blossom tree

<<end of Spring watch!!>>

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Persistent petals and seeing the sea

A couple of weeks ago I bought some pre-potted bulbs. I never think to plant bulbs; partly as I only have balcony pots to put them in but mainly because I always forget until it’s too late. With the job of potting some up already done by the shop, along with the fact they were starting to sprout, I invested in some red tulips, hoping for a sunny day to get them outside.

I carefully transferred them home in a carrier bag…and promptly forgot about them.

So, now that I have remembered them, they’re ready to be thrown away, right? No water or sunlight for more than 2 weeks, stifled in a plastic bag in a corner. They’re bound to have withered and given up.

Wrong! Look at my beautiful tulips!

Curved tulips 2

Not only have they miraculously continued to grow, but they have done so in the most peculiar way; obviously growing towards the air and trickle of light that was available. Searching out the life force to not only survive, but flourish. That’s pretty bloomin’ special.

Curved tulips

I’ve now popped them on my kitchen window sill, flooded them with water, and hopefully they’ll straighten out and grow upwards towards the sunlight; after which I’ll transfer them to my balcony.

I still have some snapdragons from a couple of years ago that refuse to throw in the towel; I thought I’d cleared them all out at the end of the summer but they sprouted back up in November and came into bloom.

Here’s a couple of pictures from the North Welsh coast from my weekend trip.

 

It all looks rather gloomy, but I quite like the power of a wild and windy seaside in cloudy weather. Not as much as I like a clear blue sky and white sandy beach, but the chances of that in Wales in March are slim to none.

And how quaint is this cottage?

Hafan y Mor chalet

Its one of the holiday park rentals; looks like something from a fairytale.

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Travelling light? Not if I can help it!

I like stuff. And I like choice. I also like to be happy with my appearance, because not being happy with the way I look can affect my enjoyment of an experience. Sad but true.

So, when I go anywhere, I take as much stuff with me as is feasibly possible. So that I have choice when I get there. None of this capsule wardrobe/one colour palette/3 outfits for 3 days nonsense.

Luggage

Case in point was this weekend. Travel Thursday / travel back Sunday. Leaving only 2 full days to dress for, and 3 nights out. Here’s a summary of what I took:

  • 2 vest tops for layering
  • 4 jumpers
  • A hoodie
  • 2 70s style blouses (hate that word, but not sure how else to descibe them?!)
  • A t-shirt
  • 2 pairs of leather look leggings
  • 1 pair of standard leggings
  • 2 pairs of skinny jeans
  • 1 pair of coated skinnies
  • Pair of white skinnies (in March? What was I thinking????!!!!)
  • High waisted black denim shorts (to wear with tights, I’m not completely barking)
  • Leather look sleeveless top
  • Sleeveless oversized band tee
  • Sleeveless chiffon top
  • A dress
  • Long sleeve chiffon shirt
  • 70s style fluffy knit waistcoat
  • Pair of tartan trousers
  • 4 pairs of boots (1 for daytime/3 for evening)
  • 4 coats (leopard fur/leather bomber/heavy jersey military/lightweight leather biker)

Plus the t-shirt/boyfriend jeans/hi-tops I travelled up in on Thursday.

Ridiculous, no? That’s the trouble/bonus of travelling by car – no weight or space restrictions, so you can cram EVERYTHING in!

Overpack

A good point I think?

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A mini break and lots of music

Today I’m off to North Wales for a 3 day mini break at a music festival called Hard Rock Hell. Which sounds very brutal and hardcore, but will actually be a lot of fun.

The organisers take over Hafan y Mor holiday park for the duration and there are lots of live bands playing in three different arenas. Because it’s out of season some of the holiday park facilities won’t be open, but there’s an on site shop, pub, etc. Accommodation is in a caravan, which I always turned my nose up at until a couple of years ago but now actually love due to the cosy home-from-homeness of it all. There are 5 of us sharing, which will be a new experience, so we’ll see how that turns out!

Hafan y Mor

I have very eclectic music tastes and like a whole lot of stuff (some of it cheesy and embarrassing, but I don’t care!) I didn’t go to my first live gig until I was about 24 so was quite a late starter, but since meeting my husband I’m really into live music and love being at gigs with friends. He’s introduced to me a lot of smaller bands I would never have heard of otherwise, and things like Hard Rock Hell which I would never have dreamed of going to.

Hopefully we’ll get out and about for a wander and some sea air as well.
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Restaurant Review – Shogun Sushi and Noodle Bar, Birmingham

On Sunday my husband and I went for food at Shogun Sushi and Noodle Bar. We’d purchased a Groupon voucher pre-Christmas and not got around to using it for one reason or another, and the fact that it expires today meant it was use it or lose it. The deal was salad appetiser; haromaki (japanese spring rolls) and yakitori (chicken skewers) to start followed by rice, vegetables, salmon, tiger prawns and teriyaki chicken. The restaurant is in the bottom of The Cube – the latest addition to Birmingham’s skyline and the popular Mailbox area of the city.

The Cube

I have mixed feelings about The Cube, mainly due to the awful colour of the exterior cladding, but it’s certainly adds a welcome extra dimension to Birmingham’s food and drink landscape.

The deal was valid pre-7pm and we arrived at round 6pm, expecting it to be pretty quiet, but it was surprisingly full (lots of people using up their vouchers, obvs). There were a number of people seated around the sushi bar, with the teppanyaki cooking plates situated towards the rear of the restaurant. We were seated alongside another couple who had just arrived and immediately served our starters which were fresh and tasty.

Shogun Teppanyaki starter

While we were eating a member of the team came out and cleaned the cooking griddle area with steaming water. After our starters had been finished and cleared away, our chef came to the cooking area and again cleaned the area thoroughly. Then the show began! He was incredibly friendly and enthusiastic, and looked like he was genuinely enjoying his job. He did some fancy showboating with his cooking tools, juggling and banging them like drums – much to our delight! His hands were so fast, it was hard to get an in focus picture!

 

 

He began by frying fresh garlic which was then pushed to one side to be used in future dishes; then added a pile of white rice and vegetables, followed by 6 eggs which were cooked into an omelette roll (after he’d juggled with them). The speed and presentation were brilliant, and he engaged with the diners by throwing bits of omelette in the air for us to catch with our mouths. The rice was served which we began to eat while he then moved onto cooking the salmon and prawns, followed by the teriyaki chicken. Everything was so fresh and tasty, beautifully cooked and delicious – right in front of our eyes, from raw.

Shogun Teppanyaki chef 3

I can imagine that this dining experience would be a whole lot of fun with a group of people. We were the only 4 people on our teppanyaki table so it was over more quickly than we would have liked. The theatrical side of it for a large number of people would really be quite something, especially with the nature of our exuberant chef.

Definitely one to consider for a future group night out.

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Twit of the Day award…

…goes to the person in charge of ordering supplies at my local Asda supermarket ; for running out of both standard size carrier bags AND bags for life, meaning the only options for packing up my shopping were the teeny tiny ones the size of a postage stamp (ok, slight exaggeration, but they’re so small that I needed 7 of them for one hand basket full of shopping).

Think of the environment! And my poor sore hands!*

Bags

*Disclaimer – those are not my legs!

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Skinny Flares Rock

I’ve been wearing skinny flares for a couple of years now. Not regularly, but I wheel them out every so often and always get told how flattering they are, how slim they make me look compared to other jeans, yada yada yada.

A good skinny flare is fitted around the bum and to the knee, like a pair of skinny jeans, then flares out from the knee, fairly (or flarely!) dramatically. Not to be confused with bootcut. There is a definite wideness of hem.

The truth is, I like the silhouette. I don’t care if they’re on trend or of the moment. They remind me of a cool insouciant 70s rock chick. They always make me want to put my hands in my pockets and my nose in the air like I just don’t care.

My first pair was black. Not faded black, but a true overdyed black. They’re perfect worn with pointy heels – the pointier the better. I have a pair of loooong pointed leopard print courts that are perfect; I’ve had them for years and I will never part with them.

So it was with interest that I read about M&S’s foray into the skinny flare market (not a place I ever EVER think of shopping for myself; although I do buy quite a lot of my Mother-in-Law’s Christmas and birthday gifts there – I think that says it all). Lauded by Vogue no less, these Limited Edition high waisted offerings come in 3 different lengths, with 70s style front patch pockets (nice touch) and a lovely shade of blue for the impending summer. Skinny Flares are thin on the ground, and I’ve only ever found them at Dorothy Perkins (not to say they don’t exist at the higher end of the market, but that’s a place that doesn’t interest me) so I decided to give them a go, with high hopes (especially as I was lucky enough to have a 20% discount code).

Jeans

Unfortunately they didn’t live up the hype. The rise was good and I liked the front patch pockets. The flare was a good flare-ness. But the fabric was poor – verging on cheap (and I’d know all about that, with my nose for a bargain). There was too much stretch, the colour wasn’t quite right, the stitching puckered somewhat. Plus I was unable to get the correct size/length combo due to their popularity and stock levels.

On the plus side, I saved myself £28.

Still having a hankering for some mid blue ones – to wear with wooden heeled sandals, vest tops and huge sunglasses in the better weather – I wondered whether Dorothy Perkins would once again fit the bill. And I’m delighted to say they did! They have exactly the same style as my black ones, in a good weight denim, and the Long length is perfect for 5’6″ me to wear with heels while still skimming the floor (nothing worse than a flare that finishes too far above the ground).

DP list them as bootcut. They’re definitely not bootcut.

Here they are in the blue – yet again the old cliche of the picture not doing them justice (and they definitely look more flared on).

Blue jeans

And the black, which I already have.

Black jeans

Best of all, they’re only £15.

Of course, now that the 70s are officially “in fashion” again, I’m sure there’ll be a proliferation hitting the high street. Farah Fawcett eat your heart out!

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Restaurant review: Cucina Rustica, Birmingham

Cucina Rustica is an italian restaurant in Birmingham, just outside of the city centre near the Jewellery Quarter. I hadn’t heard of it until my Dad mentioned it last week, and last night he took us there for dinner.

The outside is deceptive in terms of size – it looks quite small but opens up inside to a large dining space. Dad had requested a table in the window which is housed in one of 2 booths and was perfect for the two of us, my husband and Dad’s wife. The front area of the restaurant has a more cosy rustic feel, while the larger rear dining area is more modern and stylised.

The menu is extensive and, as usual in a restaurant environment, I turned into Mrs Indecisive for fear of making the wrong choice (I’m always worried that I’ll prefer the look of everyone else’s food and spend the meal regretting my own decision – food is that important). I think I get this from my Dad, who was still deciding on his main course when the waitress was taking our order!

To start, I ordered “Capesante” – gratinated king scallops, parmesan, parsley, garlic butter & shrimps. The presentation was stunning and the flavours were perfectly balanced; I was so excited that I only managed to get a photograph once I’d finished!

20150306_205633

For main course I ordered veal. I know it’s still viewed as a controversial meat by some, but its so rare to see it on a menu that I couldn’t possibly have ordered anything else once it caught my eye. “Involtini di vitello”, to give it proper credit, was veal, parma ham, asparagus, mozzarella, marsala wine. The ham, asparagus and mozzarella was wrapped inside the veal, with a generous helping of deliciously rich sauce. It could have benefitted from a little more cheese for extra gooeyness, but the flavours were great and the side order of saute potatoes I decided on were the perfect accompaniment (and great for making the most of the marsala wine sauce). No picture, I was too intent on getting it in my tum!

The restaurant itself is finished to a very high standard, and our waitress was incredibly friendly, helpful and patient (we spent too much chatting and not enough time perusing the menu when we first arrived). We were served complimentary bread and olives as an appetiser, and drank rose wine by the bottle.

20150306_203914

I rarely go to Italian restaurants, mainly because I always think Italian cuisine is easy to recreate at home (which is pretty dumb and insulting to Italian chefs) and I wouldn’t think of ordering  pasta dish for the same reason. But I’ll definitely dine at Custina Rustica again, and will be keen to try “Fagottini al cinghiale” (wild boar filled pasta with light cream porcini sauce) – how delish does that sound?

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A H&M shaped lament

Dear H&M, why is your bottom sizing so rubbish? (as in the sizing of your clothing, not your actual rears). I’m not a slave to labels by any means, but it would be nice to order my size and for it to, y’know, actually fit? And not to have to order TWO sizes bigger just to be able to get the buttons to fasten.

I know I’m not the skinny minnie I once was, but I’m also not a size 16.

On that basis, who on earth is buying your size 8 stuff? Children? Fairies? No-one?

Strange really, when a size 12 top is often big enough to house a small country, all it’s inhabitants and a group of visiting tourists.

An online order triples in size (at least) due to having to select at least three sizes in everything to get the right size. Think of the poor delivery man, having to cart all that stuff upstairs to my apartment.

Courier

Yours,

A disgruntled online shopper

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