How to get through the winter- Part 1. Bathos and Creamy Candy Bar by Lush.
In one form or another, Lush has been an important part of my life. My very first mail order experiences ever, were with Cosmetics to Go. They were the type of company that a friend recommends by buying you a little something and you’re forever grateful for it. Fresh, handmade cosmetics, tested only on humans. Such unusual and imaginative products, the perfect place to buy gifts and a company with great ethics even 20 years ago. I was very upset when they ceased to exist and I was delighted when they rose from the ashes again as Lush – especially when I discovered the retail outlets (how anyone could even walk past one with that smell wafting out is beyond me). Now I’ve moved to the remote west coast of Ireland and I’m back to mail order.
Even so, if I’m lucky enough to find myself in a city with reach of a branch of Lush it’s one of the first places I want to head to. Just to stand in the middle of the shop and take a big sniff is such a pleasure. I’d know that smell anywhere. Blindfold me, lead me there and one whiff of that smell, I would know it was Lush immediately. It’s not like anything else I can think of, certainly not like any perfume hall I’ve ever ever encountered. It’s not the smell of luxury- that’s not what Lush means to me and certainly the products are not luxuriously packaged by any means. We all appreciate beautiful packaging and that luxurious, precious feeling that premium brands give us, but we females are not that predictable. Lush stands for something else that makes up one of the other dimensions of womanhood. I don’t always want to be a glamour-puss. Sometimes I just need to be a girl. To me, Lush means colour, life, energy, joy and love and youth. I feel like the products have been prepared by personal friends and in a way, they have. The customer service is fantastically friendly both in the stores and online.
Anyone who knows me or has looked at my Lifelist knows that my favourite smell is Parma Violet. My best friend Julie and I traveled around Northern Italy at the end of May 1994 and I became addicted (although I’ve always loved those little sweets!). The smell of violets reminds me of the warm sunshine, the food, wine, the fabulously fashionable people and cornfields filled with poppies that seemed to be everywhere in the countryside. This is why the violet scented bubble bar, Bathos is my favourite Lush product. You don’t generally see many violet scented products around in the shops and so I have to make the most of them when I find them. I just break it up under hot running water and am rewarded with lovely violet scented mauvey water with loads and loads of bubbles. Lying in it certainly chases away the winter for me. My skin feels warm and soft afterwards and slightly sunkissed (although obviously that’s only the psychological power of a great beauty product). My skin is delicately violet scented for the rest of the day and the bathroom smells fabulous.
I alternate Bathos with Creamy Candy Bar- another bubble bar- this time candy pink in colour It smells like an explosion in a sweet factory- if any smell will make you feel happy this would be it. To get through the winter I make sure that I always have enough of each product on hand so that I can use them at least once a week until the spring is due. (The popcorn that the products are packed in comes in useful as a treat for our chickens). This is what I did last year and the year before that and this year I know that however dark and stormy the winter gets, Bathos and Creamy Candy Bar will get me through. Just having them sitting in the bathroom is wonderful because just the smell of them is just so joyful. I have in the past been known to move them around the house just to enliven dreary rooms.
Today, I awoke feeling affected by the winter doom and gloom but a Bathos bath with a bucket of tea sorted me out. American Boy by Estelle helps too. After that, I know that spring can’t be too far away. In emergency situations- I find Copacabana by Barry Manilow can’t fail to make me smile- kitsch as it is. Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it on a regular basis though. Who knows what the effects of long term usage could be?
Bath: Bathos by Lush
Drink: A nice big bucket of tea.
Listen to: Copacabana by Barry Manilow or American Boy by Estelle.
Read: Anything by Alexander Mcall Smith is sure to give a warm glow.
I don’t normally have the confidence to write about music but I have to say this:
Just finished watching The Verve at Glastonbury (on TV of course). I just loved every second. Some of those songs felt like I was being wrapped on a wonderful soft blanket. I gave Jay-Z a chance last night and watched the whole thing I quite enjoyed it but in my opinion The Verve “owned it” or whatever it is that people say on TV talent shows! Richard Ashcroft was stunning.
So Tony Wilson has died. I knew he was ill but it’s still such a shock and I’m surprised at all the emotions this has brought out in me. I was born and brought up in Manchester. Tony Wilson and Factory’s bands had already been a big part of my life just like John Peel had been when I was a teenager. Then, when I was 18, the Hacienda opened and for a few years, this was the centre of my world. My friend Julie and I spent so much time there and to us (and I know many others) Tony Wilson and his ego became a bit of a joke- the huge picture of him just inside the Hacienda entrance, the leather jacket with his name on the back. Yet at the same time when we saw him, if he said hello, it meant a lot. He was really someone. A man on a mission and a big part of the reason that I look back on those days so fondly, and why I feel today that a big part of my youth has been wiped away. I’ll get over it I know but I’m reminded today of my reason for starting up ‘mylifelists’ in the first place. I can look at the web, read obits, wikipedia, I’ve read 24hr Party People and I’ve seen the film but today I would have really liked to have looked at his Lifelist. Found out what he found pleasure in, read a book that was important to him or whatever.
So back to basics.. to the main Lifelist idea that was the reason for setting up this site in the first place. A number of people, when creating their main Lifelist, feel that they like so much music or so many films that they can’t be listed. When we set up the site we decided that a main Lifelist has a limit of 256 characters for each category because a main Lifelist covers such broad topics. This is no excuse though! Any number of other lists can be created in any category and those lists can be any length that you like and can be added to or edited whenever you like. So, if you like lots of music you can create as many lists as you want under that category and split them into year/artist or type of music, whatever, it’s up to you. We did it this way because that’s what I want to do myself. There are thousands of songs that mean something to me for whatever reason (but I couldn’t tell you what they are off the top of my head!) You know sometimes, you hear a song that you had completely forgotten about, and it takes you right back to a time or place or reminds you of certain people? Well, why not list it as soon as you can. Because there’s no limit, why not list them all? You’ll be creating your musical identity and you’ll never forget a song again. So there we have it, there never is too much- that’s part of the point of this site.
So back in October I was very excited about the start of a new series of Strictly Come Dancing. Now the sparkle has started to wear off a little for me. The dancers I like get voted off and the judges’ comments drive me round the bend. I still watch it but the magic has gone. It’s like when I hear a piece of music for the first time and fall in love with it. I play it over and over and enthuse to all of my friends about it. Then, 2 weeks later, I’m embarrassed to say I liked it at all. I adore SCD when it first arrives on our screens but I wouldn’t want to add it to my main Lifelist because I fall out of love with it as quickly as I fall in love with it. It will be perfect for my ‘Nowlist’. We plan to add Nowlists to the site in the near future. A Nowlist is a list of things that I’m loving right this moment. We will only need one Nowlist because they will constantly change as our moods change. We’ll be able to list the music, TV, whatever, that is making our world go round at that moment without making the same commitment to it that we do when we add something to our main Lifelist.
The new series of Strictly Come Dancing is due to start tomorrow night on BBC1. I’m really looking forward to it. At this time of year when it gets dark so early it’s great to watch something so joyous and colourful. The band, the music and the costumes, the argy-bargy, I love it all. It’s a real tonic for those of us mourning the passing of summertime. It should be available to everyone on prescription. Talking of tonics; as I’m typing this on a wet and windy evening, thinking about the long winter ahead, ‘Harvest for the World’ by the Isley Brothers comes on the radio. That’s a great way to lift my mood. I’d better check that I’ve included that song on my Lifelist – it takes me right back to a soul all-nighter in Manchester circa. 1983.
The BBC report on Q Magazine’s list of “guilty pleasures” started me wondering about my musical tastes. You see, Q Magazine compiled a list of music that was previously uncool but that is now acceptable to like. Top of the list is ‘Livin’ Thing’ by ELO . I quite like that song and some other ELO tracks. I had no idea that I was so uncool. Should I be ashamed? Does that mean that if I want to say I like an uncool track, I have to qualify my choice by saying that I like it despite the fact I know it’s ‘wrong’? I like lots of music that is probably considered to be uncool. As I’m writing this, I can’t help feeling that just the act of trying to analyse whether my music is cool or uncool is one of the most uncool things I could do. As Richard Reeves says in his comment on the BBC story “If you base your listening choices on what’s cool, you’re not a fan of music, just fashion”. A great friend of mine used to laugh at my love of Hall & Oates and the fact that I’ve always liked ‘Sarah’ by Thin Lizzy. For a while I felt that I had to keep these things to myself but as I’ve got a little older I don’t feel the need to pretend to be something I’m not. In the context of Lifelists, I wondered momentarily if we should be creating a list category for embarrassing songs? Should we be separating the music we’re proud to say we like and music we know we shouldn’t like, but do anyway? I’ve decided against it. If Lifelisters want to separate their “embarrassing” tracks, then they can create a new list under the category of music and call it “guilty pleasures”. I’ve started to create 70′s, 80′s lists for myself under the music category and I’m going to proudly add the tracks I love, embarrassing or not. I’ve done this because there’s some music that doesn’t make it onto my all-time list, maybe I don’t listen to it anymore, but there was a time in my life when it was important to me. There can be many reasons why we like a piece of music; sometimes we like a track because when we hear it, we’re taken back to an experience, people or a time or place in our lives that we like to remember. The same applies to books, films, everything really. I’m inclined to agree with some of the people who commented on the BBC story; cool/uncool seems to be quite an old fashioned concept in 2006 (or maybe I’m too old to care). Look at John Peel, he is admired because he knew what he liked and didn’t care what anyone thought. Isn’t the coolest thing to just trust our own ears (in fact, all of our senses), not be afraid, and list the things that make us who we are. We should be proud to celebrate the things that have brought us joy for whatever reason. This is the essence of the Lifelists concept.
A statistic I heard when watching the BBC2 programme Home a few days ago has been floating around in my head: 33% of people in the UK consider their iPod to be an heirloom that they plan to bequeath. I went looking for a source for this information and found it here on directline.com. I can understand why people feel this way about their iPods. Although a year and a half ago the Lifelists concept was already formed in my mind, the exercise of loading my own iPod triggered some thoughts that helped to cement my ideas. I realised how much the tracks on my iPod say about who I am, they are a big part of my identity. I expect that the 33% of people who want to bequeath their iPods feel that in doing so they will be saying “this is me- this is what I am all about”- at least as far as music goes anyway. I think that these people must feel as I did that in the act of gathering together tracks on their iPod, they are creating a permanent record of themselves. But, as Al pointed out to me, an iPod itself will not live forever; the device itself is not an heirloom as it has a short life-span. The data, or at least the track list, is the valuable thing. Music is very important to me but it’s not the only thing that makes my (or anyone else’s) world go round. People, places, book, films, food, sights, sounds, smells and all kinds of experiences make us what we are. Lifelists is about gathering all of these things together in one place as a lasting record but, unlike the contents of my iPod, my Lifelist can be accessed by anyone who is interested enough to look for it.