Happy birthday to my little bro

Less than a week after our Helen’s 21st, today is my little brother Paul’s fifteenth birthday, in a spectacular example of bad planning by Mother Goose and Mad Tam. Like Helen’s arrival, I vividly remember the day he was born, although I wish I didn’t, because I was exceptionally ugly and therefore ruin all photographs from this otherwise happy time.  See below for evidence.

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See? Hideous.

Anyway, he finally arrived on a Monday morning, two days after Mum’s waters broke outside a church where we were for a wedding. Highly convenient for all concerned. He looked slightly like an alien when he was born but thankfully quickly grew out of this and became this absolute cutie.

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How adorable please?!

Unlike Helen, who I have no memory of until she was thirteen, Paul made his presence known immediately. He was born with dislocated hips, gawd bless ‘im, so spent the first few months of his life wearing a bizarre brace to manipulate the bone back into the socket. It didn’t affect him at all in later years, as he became quite the mover. This was largely due to his obsession with the film Billy Elliott, which perhaps inappropriately the parentals allowed him to watch over and over again. Paul took to pirouetting all over the place, more often than not whilst wearing a Teletubbies nightie, but the Billy Elliott viewings had to be nipped in the bud when he started peppering his sentences with somewhat unsavoury language. Whoops!

One of the most notable things about Paul is his love of music and his talent for drumming. His hobby drives me insane when I am trying to have a nap and he’s giving it beans on the drums downstairs but I can admit that he is absolutely brilliant at it. He said the other week he had me to thank for his passion for music, so my work here is done. (He also said in the same conversation that, out of his three sisters, Maria was the coolest, but we’ll gloss over that.) Indeed, from an early age, I tried to mould him into a really excellent person – I took it upon myself when I used to pick him up from school to drum into him liberal-minded and feminist ideals. Sorry Paul, I am aware that I am a pain. This too seems to have worked though, as he’s one of the soundest people I know!

Another noticeable thing about him is his penchant for fashion. Never have I known a lad to be so obsessed with his clothes and hair! He spends more time sorting his barnet out than I do. To be fair to the lad, he is always immaculately turned out, to the point where I am slightly resentful of the fact that he appears to have escaped the awkward stage that most teens go through.

Most people say that Helen looks like me, but Mother Goose is adamant that Paul is “so like you, Cath, that it’s scary!” Scary indeed – I feel sorry for the lad. He is doomed to a lifetime of tardiness, rage and appalling hangovers. Sorry again Paul.

He’s had a great day so far – a successful trip to Goodison, loads of presents, and a buffet chez Crilly which should be ready any second now! He’s also got a trip to Leeds festival to look forward to – one of his presents was money for a ticket for whichever day Arctic Monkeys play on. And I’m accompanying him! I’m looking forward to it – spending the day with one of my best mates watching great bands isn’t too shabby, is it? Happy birthday lad – you’re a legend!

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Happy birthday Helen!

Soooo the cat is thankfully out of the bag. Our Helen, who’s twenty-one today – twenty-one! I feel ancient – thought she was going for a meal with la famille last night but in fact it was a proper party with the whole gang present. She genuinely didn’t have a clue, which worries me, because I basically mentioned it to her face about a thousand times.

As is my wont, I have penned a blog in honour of the proceedings. Our Paul read it out last night at the party because I was too much of a wimp to do so. Sorry Helen. Here goes…:

“I remember the day you were born vividly. It was a Pancake Tuesday and I was minding my own business in the school hall with the rest of my class when I spotted Mad Tam and his gravity defying hair pacing by the secretary’s office. Turns out he’d come to pick me and Maria up early so we could see you for the very first time. Mother Goose looked shattered but proud as could be and I was happy with the situation because the sister I already had was sound, so I was willing to add to the collection.

Unfortunately, all memories of you from that point up until you were about thirteen are hazy. Indeed, save for some photographs of you peering out from underneath your increasingly mental fringe, and the memory of you finally being persuaded to swap your dummy for a Tamagotchi when you were about twelve, I’d strongly refute that you lived with us at all.

This all changed when you took the lead part in Bugsy Malone. This was notable for your comedy dancing and the closing rendition of “You Give A Little Love”, which still brings a lump to the throat every time I think about it. After that we couldn’t shut you up, from the Harmonettes and the glorious summer of Liverpool’s Got Talent, to developing a ruthlessly organised streak, there was no stopping you! Amongst many other things, you almost singlehandedly organised the Bridges’ wedding, and, by all accounts, ran the show in Broughton Hall for a year. You’re a force to be reckoned with – in a good way!

Keep going at LIPA – you’re over halfway there now and it’ll be worth it if only to shake Paul McCartney’s hand at the end of it. Thanks for being kind even when I haven’t been, and for being our Paul’s second mum, and for your cleaning skills, and for the open door policy on your wardrobe. Sorry about the fact that I still haven’t taken you to Paris yet like I said I would when you were fourteen and I was twenty-one – I am well aware of the fact that now you’re twenty-one and we still haven’t been! Stick with that David one – he’s a legend and most definitely your lobster. Most importantly, keep on smiling and keep on singing. To loosely paraphrase Bugsy, you could be anything that you want to be.”

Just a little footnote to the above – tragically for you, people say that we look very much alike. Thankfully, that’s where the similarity ends; indeed, I’d quite like to be like you when I eventually grow up. You are one of my best friends and I hope you have the most amazing birthday. I’ll take you to Paris one day…

Top 10 highlights of 2013…

All together now! Sing! “It’s the most, wonderful tiiiiime, of the year!”

I’m obviously referring to the many “best of” lists that are now upon us.

Naturally, being a lifelong list lover, I’ve compiled my own. Here, in no particular order, are my top ten highlights of 2013.

1. Flying Ant Day

Or, rather, the lack thereof. Despite daily texts, Facebook alerts and Twitter messages from concerned pals who are well aware of my flying ant phobia, I only saw about seven of the blighters all summer. I fervently hope that 2014 is similar.

2. Alex Turner’s vocals on Do I Wanna Know?

Specifically, the lyric “simmer down and pucker up.” Never has the Sheffield accent sounded so alluring.

3. My birthday

Nothing especially spectacular happened. But I spent it with fabulous people and had an absolute ball. Even better, I didn’t cry once on the actual day, which is a first since I was about 21. PROGRESS!

4. Maria and Phil’s wedding

One of the best days of my life, never mind theirs, I will forever hold dear the memory of bellowing Never Forget at the top of my lungs, with about 200 brilliant people surrounding me. Good times.

5. Abersoch

Our family holiday to Abersoch was a highlight for me, mainly because I got to wake up to this stunning view in one of my favourite places on the planet every day for a week. Bliss.

abersoch view

6. Andy Murray winning Wimbledon

FINALLY. So proud!

7. Breaking Bad

Late to the party as ever, I devoured the whole thing in the space of a couple of months and became obsessed with it about three episodes in. Unfortunately, the lasting effect of it is that my fellow Breaking Bad-loving friends and I say “yo” to each other at the end of sentences. I used to think we were doing this ironically but now I’m not too sure. Ah well. It’s chemistry, bitch.

8. Roberto Martinez

Before David Moyes managed to piss off Evertonians the world over with his outrageous bid for Fellaini and Baines, I was distraught to see him go. I need not have worried – Roberto is working wonders. Plus he looks better in a suit.

9. Starting a blog and joining a choir

Trivial and unimportant events, you may say. However, they were both things that I kept saying I’d do and then, for one reason or another, kept putting off. I would seriously recommend both to everyone – so very therapeutic!

10. Kerry Katona’s high-five getting blanked

Sometimes, if I am feeling sad, I watch this video and I immediately feel happy again. Comedy gold.

Happy birthday Nan!

Before the upcoming Wedding of the Year, we’ve got the small matter of my nan’s 85th birthday to celebrate, which is today. She’ll no doubt be thrilled that the photo I’ve uploaded to Facebook earlier on today has received nearly forty likes (I’ll obviously be telling her about this – she likes to be kept informed of such things) – it would appear that any kind of social media update regarding Nan is a SUREFIRE HIT. This is because she is absolutely legendary.

What a hero!

What a hero!

She’s just…always been there. I remember sleepovers with Maria at Nan’s house on a Saturday night; we’d put on our Snoopy tape that we adored and she’d listen to it with us while we ate plates of chips in bed. I remember countless Sunday dinners and Christmas mornings. I remember being left with her and Grandad’s suitcases on a train trip to Marie and Iain’s, and her helpfully yelling from the top of the station stairs “we’re about to miss the train! Hurry up!” I remember when she wrapped me up a frozen leg of lamb as one of my Christmas presents one year, giggling away. I remember piano lessons with “Bob the Music Man” in her front room and doing my homework while watching Byker Grove in the back room. I remember playing tennis with her against the back garden wall. I remember the first time I went to Glastonbury and she watched the coverage at top volume, eagerly trying to spot me – “That Ian Brown’s got lovely eyes!” I remember walking down Abersoch beach with her and getting a beautiful hair wrap done. I remember the last conversation I had with Grandad, when I was fifteen; it was just me, Nan and Grandad, and we spoke about the summer I had planned, and they were both so excited for me, and it was wonderful.

I adore this photo of her and Grandad on their wedding day.  It makes me even more excited for Maria and Phil’s wedding, and I am so happy that Nan will get to see at least of her grandchildren get married!

I adore this photo of her and Grandad on their wedding day. It makes me even more excited for Maria and Phil’s wedding, and I am so happy that Nan will get to see at least of her grandchildren get married!

She’s fiercely proud of all her children and grandchildren – I’ve never known a hoarder like her: she’s got concert programmes, newspaper clippings and who knows what else dating back decades – but I bet you any money she could find you something specific amongst the piles of paraphernalia in a heartbeat.

Me with Nan, earlier this year

Me with Nan, earlier this year

Nan and all fourteen of her grandkids

Nan and all fourteen of her grandkids

In recent years, she’s been ill a few times – but her mind is as sharp as ever. A devilish sense of humour is, in my eyes, her ultimate selling point. Her eyesight’s failing, so she may not be able to read this blog post, but I might read it out to her so she knows how much she means to me. (I might not though – she might evilly cackle at its sentimental content.)

Happy birthday Nan, from your namesake, your granddaughter, your biggest fan, Catherine.

Best birthday I’ve had since I was 11

My 11th birthday was probably my favourite. Mainly because of the shoes I wore. White patent leather snakeskin loafers from Shoe Express to go with my lilac Tammy Girl outfit, I thought I looked the absolute bee’s knees. (I didn’t.)

Anyway, the main reason it was so good was that I laughed like an absolute drain for the whole evening. My birthdays in my twenties have not been as LOL-a-minute, mainly due to STINKY BOYS being MEAN. But turning 27 has been lots of fun.

Day off work on my actual birthday with sausages and cotton buds as pressies, and then a weekend consisting of Light Night, a shopping trip for some questionable trousers, savoury cupcakes, an immense night out (from what I can remember), The Great Gatsby and an absolutely fit burger in Hanover Street Social. I’ve had an absolute ball. Thanks for the good wishes, the gifts, the laughs and the vast quantities of food and drink.

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My beautiful friends. Sorry about my dodgy fringe (due to being pure sweaty) and my flesh-flashing.

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Outstanding burger. Top marks.

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The Anglican cathedral on Light Night. Stunning.

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Post-night out pizza, complete with threatening message to the rest of the Crillys.

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My wonderful friends.

I salute y’all.

Light Night Liverpool

As anyone who knows me will surely attest, I am fiercely proud of my beautiful hometown of Liverpool. It has so much to offer. People come to university here and never leave, or visit and rave about how friendly Liverpudlians are. Woe betide anyone who makes a “robbing Scouser” joke within earshot of moi though. I will not be happy. Also, statistics show that, actually, things get stolen in cities other than Liverpool, by people other than Scousers. So there.

Anyway.

My birthday weekend started on Friday with a fine example of how glorious Liverpool is. Light Night consisted of all of the city’s museums, galleries and heritage sites opening late into the night with a variety of events on. I went with my friends Jane and Erin and took in the reopened Central Library, a Rankin exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery, a gospel choir in St George’s Hall and a candle-lit labyrinth in the stunning Anglican Cathedral, all within the space of about three hours. It was brilliant to see Liverpool’s many beautiful buildings full to the brim of people of all ages, with Erin remarking that there was a real festival vibe to proceedings as we walked from one end of the city centre to the other.

Here are some of my favourite photos from the night.

The lobby of the refurbished Central Library.

The lobby of the refurbished Central Library.

Gospel choir in St George's Hall

Gospel choir in St George’s Hall

The stunning Anglican cathedral.

The stunning Anglican cathedral.

Candle-lit labryrinth, Anglican cathedral

Candle-lit labryrinth, Anglican cathedral

Inside the cathedral.  Beautiful.

Inside the cathedral. Beautiful.

And all completely free. I’ll definitely be attending the next one.

There’s more to Liverpool than football and stag and hen dos. If you haven’t before, then visit. NOW.

SAVOURY CUPCAKES

Just got to my fabulous friend Erin’s flat for a drink or ten before we head out for my birthday night out. In response to my cupcake rant on my first Record of Rage, she’s made me cupcakes that consist of sausage rolls and cocktail sausages.

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WHAT. A. LEGEND.