Saturday, 30 March 2013

Work of fiction

This is a scene I have been trying to wedge into a story (it's not a natural fit for the story, and it isn't written properly here, but I have to get it out of my head). It's a "big reveal" - the female dancer and a male character are in a long term relationship that has recently hit the rocks... eh, you'll figure it out.

Carl's fury was almost tangible as his hand whipped towards her face. Maria's arms flew up almost of their own accord to protect herself and the force of his swing was translated into a sweeping motion, twisting, lifting and throwing her whole body a good few feet. She collapsed, spinning across the floor on her knees, prostrate before him. As she slid to a halt, she cast a desperate look over to her lover, reaching out to him in a wordless plea before the the final chords came to a crescendo and the music ceased.

Carl broke into applause and jogged over to help her stand. She shook her legs out - the drama of the pasa doble required such precision of footwork and the muscles in her calves were not used to holding their positioning yet. Smiling at Jerry - who had played the role of her lover in the dance, while Carl was the jealous lead - she thanked both men as she began rubbing at those parts of her that appeared to be most bruised.

The dance competition she had entered was a tough one - although it was a charitable event for novices, the rigors of the competition were intense and the weekly trials were becoming ever more competitive. For the last three weeks she had been throwing herself heart and soul into every routine in an effort to forget her problems with Mike, but it was undeniable that this dance was going to make that impossible. Mike had believed her to be having an affair and although he had given her a chance to explain, he hadn't believed in her innocence. He had walked out immediately and she hadn't seen him since.

The pantomime of jealousy Carl exhibited in the dance was nothing like Mike's cold contempt and refusal to trust her but the story the dance told was the same - a sensual woman, reveling in her power over men, is in a seductive war with her partner (Carl). Into this storm steps a young, naive looking man (Jerry), whom her character wishes to corrupt. She gradually dances away from Carl, directing more and more of her allure towards Jerry until he dances with her. At which point Carl becomes so enraged with jealousy he physically separates them and asserts his dominance over her. When he finally casts her down, she seeks out her lover as a means of escape, but the dance ends.

In real life Maria had, as she had tried to explain to Mike, been flattered by the attention she had received from men since joining the competition, but she had never been tempted to stray. The few pictures of a suspicious nature that set Mike on edge had been the result of a joke, a dare and a few too many drinks, but they had meant nothing and led nowhere. Unfortunately, his previous girlfriend had been in a a similar situation and that had led somewhere. His belief was now absolute - if you were willing to pretend you'd do it, that meant you would do it and she was condemned from that moment.

As she recalled the look of betrayal in his eyes, her heart stuttered and it was with relief she turned to Carl as he interrupted her reminiscences. "We've still got some work to do on the staging, but I think we can work it so you see Jerry at the start of the dance, and it becomes more about who you choose and who you want than you versus me, you know?" She nodded, surprised. The trial night was tomorrow and they had never made such a last-minute change to the routine before, but Carl had brought her this far despite everything that had gone wrong elsewhere and she wasn't about to question his expertise now.

For the next hour Carl and Jerry plunged into discussion about the best way to add this new spin to the story. She was passed between them, repeating her steps endlessly and, in truth, not paying all that much attention to the words they said, merely remaining pliant and accepting the fractional change to her part of the routine. When both men were happy and they did the final run through, her only observation was that the new routine gave Jerry a ten second participation at the very start and then he had to stand still for almost two minutes before he engaged again just before the end. "We can stage him easily to stay in place, with a coffee shop, or reading a newspaper, no problem." Carl's unequivocal response was almost exactly as she had anticipated, so she didn't push the point any further. She headed into the wardrobe section for her final fitting before the big day before heading home where she spent several hours repeating the steps in her kitchen, over and over, listening to the music a hundred times and carrying out chores until she was sure she knew it as well as she possibly could.

Exhausted, she collapsed into bed and lay awake staring at the curtains, drawing witches and monsters in the shadows as she had when she was little. Eventually, somehow, she passed into sleep and woke ten minutes before her alarm went off. On the day of the trials she could never sleep in. Leaping out of bed she made her way to the shower and spent almost half an hour scrubbing, depilating, buffing and washing her hair. As she climbed out of the shower feeling zingy fresh she smiled wryly to herself. Within two hours she would be sweating like a stuck pig when rehearsing her routine once more and she would only have to shower again before the show began. Unfortunately, she just couldn't bring herself to go into the studio straight from her bed, so she took the time to prepare now, so that her later shower could be a quick rinse before entering the stylist's room.

Sure enough, before lunchtime, she already looked (and probably smelled) like she hadn't washed for days. The dance studios were generally clean, but the main room in which they had the trials was used for other events and the stage had to be constructed for each show. The first full rehearsal dance on the live stage was always a filthy endeavour - all the construction dust stuck to the sweat and frequent scraped knees and elbows added additional colour and grime to her appearance. However, the stage was set, Jerry was isolated, posing on a floating stage, close to the singers. Carl had the full range of the floor and she was - apart from one incident where she was nearly hurled head first into the sharp corner of a plywood block - perfectly happy to be flung about by the two of them.

 Maria went into wardrobe early. There was a problem with her outfit that kept her stuck there and she was late going into hair and makeup. Full of apologies she swept in, but they didn't have time to hear it and briskly set her down and got to work. Carl came in part way through, already dressed and made up, to give her a pep talk. She was whisked back to the wardrobe and into her dress bare moments before they were required to go live. Gathering backstage, everyone was excited, whispering the customary good wishes to one another, before being called out, a couple at a time, to present themselves. Maria and Carl were last out and first to dance, so in the brief moment they had alone she took a few deep breaths, squeezed his hand tightly, and then moved out to the sound of applause.

The host's patter was the same as usual, but the lights were brighter than normal and she couldn't see a thing beyond Carl. She smiled, waved and clapped according to the mood and audio cues the host offered and all too soon, she and Carl descended to the floor. There was a deathly silence and the lights dimmed prior to the music starting. After the brightness of moments before, her world seemed plunged into darkness and it was only the presence of Carl at her back with his arm wrapped around her shoulder that convinced her she was in the right place.

The music started and Carl spun her round to face him. He had the control in this dance, he had all the power, but she wasn't going to let him rule her. She knew he wanted her, she knew all men wanted her and she was going to use that now. Looking into his eyes she challenged him - thrilling in the power she had at the moment. A rush of notes and he charged her. Surprised, she gave ground, clasping her hand lightly on his shoulder, revelling in the sensation of his raw masculine power surrounding her, but knowing, believing, she could bring him to his knees. The judges had always commented on the sensuality of their dancing and this was their moment to prove it. This was her moment to demonstrate the power of a woman in this, the most masculine of dances.

He posed, she lured. He postured, she challenged. He stamped his foot and raised his hand imperiously. She turned away and then... she saw him. Standing exactly where Jerry should be, microphone in hand, Mike was staring at her like a starving man offered the most glorious meal of his life. For a moment, she froze, then the week of practice came to her aid and the steps lined up before her. She moved through the next ten seconds like a woman possessed, utterly absorbed in Mike - in his presence, in his attention and in her own desire for him. Carl's return was an unwelcome interruption, and the next few minutes of dance were no longer acted.Nothing Carl could do, no performance of masculine virility could hold her attention. Every effort he made to win her over seemed feeble. At every opportunity, her body turned towards Mike. Look at me! Notice me! Want me!

She didn't know if she wanted to seduce him, or to reject him. He was singing the lead vocal to the song and she couldn't repress a moment of fury that he could perform so well, under these circumstances. Her second interaction with him came - Carl released her and she span away, turning towards him and continuing the spin long after Carl's initial thrust failed until she came up to Mike. Hand on his shoulder, she paused, looking into his eyes, drinking in his nearness, his presence. He executed Jerry's steps in silence and seemed as absorbed in her as she was in him. In rehearsal, Jerry's part had finished with him stroking her hair back from her face, and moving to kiss her, but Carl dragged her away before he could. This time, as Mike reached for her face, she could not resist leaning forward, encouraging him. He plunged his hand into her hair and pulled her lips to his for a passionate - albeit brief - kiss.

When Carl pulled her away she almost cried out in frustration. She glanced back at Mike and tried to struggle away from Carl, which only served to fan the white hot flames of his jealousy. His hand flew to strike her, she caught his wrist and he turned her, spinning her under his arm and gathering her before hurling her away from him. As she flew through the air, she locked eyes with Mike for the smallest fraction of a moment. He had remained immobile - he hadn't followed her when Carl had come between them. Remembering his contempt when they separated, she felt the full weight of her defeat. Everything had just been for the dance. The kiss had been a mistake. He wasn't here for her. She collapsed, but could not prevent herself from reaching out to him one last time, begging him to choose her - to take her back.

The music ended and she hid her head in her arms, desperate for a tiny moment of privacy. The applause was thunderous. Footsteps shook the floor beside her and she looked up, exhausted, exhilarated, hopeful yet afraid.... Carl reached out his hand to her and helped her rise. They hugged, and he half escorted, half carried her to the table of judges. She stood there, not really taking any of it in as the host congratulated them, the applause continued and the judges remained on their feet, applauding with the rest of them. The plaudits and encomiums were astonishing. The word passion cropped up in every other sentence. Someone pointed out that as he had participated in the dance, Mike should also be there. He was summoned and every sound dulled. Her vision blurred and she felt dizzy. She turned to greet him and thank him too, but once he was so near, she reached out to him and, as though that was all he had waited for, he grasped her and held her close.

Her face was buried in his shoulder, and so she couldn't say any of the things she wanted to, but she could hear. "I love you," he whispered, "I love you so much."

Monday, 25 March 2013

Page of Joy

I haven't had any restful holiday for a while and I'm definitely in need of one. It's particularly obvious when I analyse my behavioural patterns - everything I've done in that hidden time where it's just me and Monty and no excuses are required has been to seek out joy. Sometimes letting Monty purr on my shoulder is all that is required, but from my bag of joy-seeking tricks I pulled out a few stalwarts and a few new ones this weekend, and I'd like to share.

So, here is encapsulated joy.

Oh, I intended to include this in my next (this) blog post, but the subject changed (although I can shoehorn it in on the basis that I felt a kind of joy when I first experienced these): A rough guide/ cheats manual to me; the value of a girl who reads and here's the kind of guy who appreciates a woman like me. Ah, and the guy who, by the sounds of it, did appreciate a woman like me but failed to make things work with her.

Books: Time for a confession: I read Mills and Boon. It's a guaranteed happy ending and very predictable construction (Girl not looking for man, man appears, utterly irresistible attraction, whirlwind romance with occasional negative history adding drama, brief but 'sincere' trauma, resolution caused by man stepping forward and making woman aware of how important and valued she is, everyone lives happily ever after). I mention this so you understand how romantic I am at my core. There is a kind of security from being able to believe that this kind of love and commitment is possible that I cling to when I'm down.

This weekend, I did not read Mills and Boon. Instead I read "The Unknown Ajax" by Georgette Heyer. First time I read it I remember thinking the first half of the book was confusing (I was about 14 at the time). The second half is pure joy. It has me in a more or less continuous ripple of laughter and the relationship described between the two main characters is exactly what I want. He is strong, dependable, reliable, intelligent, creative and has a wicked sense of humour, but he seems incapable of seeing her as anything other than his equal despite the fact that the book is set in the midst of the industrial revolution. I've read it hundreds of times now, to the point that the first and last pages are falling out of the binding, so I can highly recommend it.

Also, although I haven't read it this weekend, I have to include it due to the fact that it is pure joy (I first read it in serialised form over the course of a few years, and at the end of every bit there was a cliff hanger. You lose some of the terror reading it all at once, but it's still effective!) and also because I know the author and recently discovered that the film rights to this book have just been purchased by 20th Century Fox and I couldn't be more thrilled for Andy. It's called The Martian - buy it! It's less than a pound :)

Music: For me, music is a conduit. It isn't something I can experience as a standalone thing, it has to give me something else. For instance, most songs tell a story (as do many pieces of music without words, although with these I can't be sure I've made the 'correct' interpretation). I can listen and participate in the story. Or I can dance to the music. But music without a story or an option to dance, I just can't engage with it. You may note my deterioration of grammar here - it's simply because this concept is something that is so fundamentally true it precedes language and the part of my brain that tries to explain it doesn't seem to be connected to the part of my brain that understands it and so I trip up. Some people don't get this need for music to be more than just a bunch of sounds, some do. 1

Got a bit distracted there. So, the music I find joy from is generally something I feel is telling my story in a happy way, or that triggers a soul deep need to dance. Occasionally, it's just something that makes me laugh. Off the top of my head, these are things I've listened to recently which push the right buttons 2:
My Chemical Romance, Teenagers
Professor Elemental, Cup of Brown Joy
Professor Elemental, I'm British!
Big D and the Kids table, Where did all the Women Go?
Big D and the Kids Table, Chin up, Boy!
Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, Wuthering Heights
Meat Loaf, If I Can't Have You
Hugh Jackman and Neil Patrick Harris, Anything You Can Host
Mika, Grace Kelly
Billy Joel, My Life
Great Big Sea, Walk on the Moon (although just about everything I've heard of theirs deserves to be here)
Josh Groban, Higher Window
Josh Groban, False Alarms (JG3 doesn't seem to do joyful songs, but these two both feel like they anticipate a happy ending, even if they don't describe one. Optimistic is close enough to joyful in this context)

Film: If you've been paying the slightest attention you have realised I like romantic comedies. I also like action, whodunnits, some crime/thriller (not horror, or spooky stuff, as I have a highly overactive imagination and I get nightmares very easily) and comedies. It's worth emphasizing that I'm not a fan of slapstick. The British in me seems to prefer the comedy to be a little less physical and a little more subtle.

When I went to see the Expendables 2 last year with a couple of friends, as we came out I said that for me that's a perfect first date movie. Lots of action, lots of comedy, very little victimisation4 but actually, I watched RED again last night and I realised that is my best first date movie. Action, comedy, mystery, a small amount of tragedy wrapped in a dignity of choice and, ultimately, a romance. Warren Ellis is a marvellous writer and the only hiccup I see in RED 2 is that fact that I understand he is not writing any part of the screenplay. :(

For joy (that I have at least partially watched this weekend), I can recommend The Princess Bride, RED, The Three Musketeers 5

Youtube clips: Oh, boy, so many. Perhaps that had better wait for another time? I have a few favourite search terms: Never Mind the Buzzcocks, QI, Neil Patrick Harris, Whose Line is it anyway, Kittens6, Tim Conway's Elephant Story, Live at the Apollo, Tim Minchin, all of the bands/ musical people named above, Simon's Cat and the video clips posted by a friend featuring his son (there aren't many, but they're well chosen! And I'm not linking them here).

I am now going back and adding links. I would like to stop and watch each item, but I can't because I'll be here forever and I want to go home. I don't have internet access at home yet :( When I do I'll be blogging a) more frequently and b) later in the day.


1 I'm not sure if either is more valuable, but it does prevent me liking that mm-cha type of music that is supposedly just for dancing, but the only dancing that fits the sound makes me look like I'm having some sort of seizure.
2 As it happens, my estranged husband is really into music in a purely for the sake of music way. He is very hipster about the whole thing, but also only seems to like really miserable stories in music so almost everything I listened to in the eight years we were together hasn't really been able to make my joy list (although a lot of it is very good, it's just too sad).
3 JG in my world usually refers to John Gordon's wine and whisky specialist in Cheltenham. They do an excellent cheese board - Gordon told me that once some Americans had it and complimented him particularly on one of the cheeses. When they asked what it was called he had to confess it was butter.
4 I hate films that emphasise how bad a bad guy is by throwing in a torture scene, I really do. I don't know why I like action so much, it seems inconsistent with my belief that because I go to the cinema to be entertained, torture and murder shouldn't be depicted because those things are not entertaining
5 And also, although I haven't seen it recently, the sequel - looking on IMDB it doesn't appear to exist, so I'm obviously confused. As I recall, they open with a scene where the eponymous Musketeers are dared to have a picnic in a barn that is under fire in the middle of a battle field. When I have time, I'll hunt it down.
6 Who doesn't love a kitten? Also, any video with the title "Baby Elephant Sneezes and scares himself" is always worth investigating

Monday, 18 March 2013

Following on...

Dear Josh

Last week I requested that you develop a flaw and did not intend to follow that request up with a review of your progress so soon. However, you tweet a *lot* more than I expected you to and I now have sufficient evidence to be able to give an overview of your performance on the Alicia Appreciation Index.

Your first move was to not acknowledge my request. Excellent effort - your commitment to this cause is admirable and it would indeed have been an incredibly offputting response except for one tiny error in your calculations: this isn't a flaw, because any participation I attribute you in this endeavour is wholly imaginary. But, in acknowledgement of the non-existent motives behind your lack of action, I'll award you a -1.2 AA Rating.

Lamentably, your next move was less successful. You live tweeted about cheese which in and of itself I was not too affected by (I thought it was cute, but as this is a regrettably frequent response where you are concerned I have not allowed it to affect your rating). However, the stream included this one post: "She didn't know and offered to take the cheese downstairs again to find out. I then shrieked with a sound previously unknown to me. "no."" How, pray tell, is this supposed to repulse anyone (with the possible exception of the lady in question)? I spent a good few minutes giggling at the mental image of you skittering back into the hotel room, clutching your precious cheese in one hand and tweeting in a grammatically appropriate fashion with the other. +0.6 AA Rating

On the 14th March you celebrated Einstein's birthday, but not Pi day. 0 movement in the AA Index.

However, you did also mention that you love the Beatles. Now this is a complicated one to rate due to my upbringing. I was raised in Liverpool, with three siblings and a stay at home Mum while Dad worked as a teacher. They didn't have money for entertainment things, so they didn't buy much music. Therefore, although I heard from all angles just how important the Beatles were, and how every major occurrence in Liverpool must be in some way in honour of them, their work and their glory throughout my formative years, I didn't consciously hear their music until my mid teens and I was very disappointed.1 However, I'm aware that I cannot possibly judge someone on their taste in music, so I'll just leave it at 0 movement on March 14th.

Let's move quickly on to the 16th of March. Now, this was a day of some startling activity. You stated "Rodman woo's Kim" - excruciating use of the apostrophe there. Definitely offputting! Bravo, and thank you for your aid. -2 AA Rating

Tragically, you failed to capitalise on this success - in less than an hour you used the word "albeit". Correctly. In a tweet. Without the slightest sign that you were showing off. Have you previously seen the picture now positioned (unless you are viewing this on a phone) on the right? - it's not the exact sentiment, but should give you the general gist of my response. There was a dramatic upswing in your AA Rating as a result of that one word. +1.4 AA Rating

You swiftly followed this with two tweets, short sentences only, illustrative of the difference a little punctuation makes. Whether this harked back to your apostrophe disaster or was a standalone joke matters naught, it triggered forgiveness and a subsequent rise in your AA Rating. +0.8

Then followed your political brouhaha. I cannot participate or comment on this2 except to say that I thought you handled what sounds like a lot of negative feedback in a very mature fashion which - especially on the internet - cannot be easy3. Respect pushes your AA Rating higher yet +0.4

Over the course of the week, your rating (using these highly technically calculated numbers and not just arbitrarily selected values) does not appear to have changed at all.

Must try harder

1 I would like to be clear that I don't dislike their music. It's very pleasant. Unlike Nirvana which sounds like gravestones falling over (love everything else Dave Grohl has ever done, but not been able to get Nirvana) or Frightened Rabbit which I encountered at a bad time, I can't say I would avoid the Beatles. I just can't get enthusiastic. :/ Possibly if I hadn't been into Iron Maiden, Rage Against the Machine, Queens of the Stone Age, Metallica and Meat Loaf genres (I genuinely can't allocate genre names, but you ought to be able to identify those) I'd have been more receptive.
2 However, I'm totally weighing in on the socialist soup theory - I'm sure a preference for tomato soup (with or without croutons) indicates communist tendencies.
3 Dammit, I was not going to do this! But I interfere with everything, so you'll have to bear with me interfering with you... *ahem* People react strongly when they perceive (accurately or otherwise) that one of their core identifiers is being mocked. And unfortunately they are overly sensitive when their core identifier is potentially, for want of a better word, "threatened". So, in a way it's good that these people apparently see their politics as a core part of them. At least it means they care about more than themselves. That being said, you've chosen a good group to inadvertently antagonise. As I understand it, the majority of your conservatives are actively Christian, no? And therefore are obliged to forgive you. ;) 

Monday, 11 March 2013

Dear Josh Groban

To write this letter, I have resurrected an abandoned blog and twitter account as my real ones are used for professional purposes. This should indicate to some degree the lengths I have been driven to.

This is a heartfelt and passionate plea: Dear Josh Groban, please, develop a flaw. A serious one. If you could announce that your preferred hobby is mass puppy slaughter, that would do the trick.1

While this request may seem a little extreme, permit me to put it into perspective.

Many years ago (wow, 2008 according to your IMDB page) I was sat with my fiance watching Never Mind the Buzzcocks. I knew Grant and Heston, did not know the members of the other team. They were introduced as Josh and Martin and it was clear that the American, Josh, was there to be the butt of the show's humour. I confess, I enjoy that bit. Unfortunately, it seemed that this Josh chap wasn't informed of his intended doom, because instead of being all American he absolutely killed it. My partner and I were in an agony of laughter at moments and it was - still is - my favourite episode of Buzzcocks of all time.

Once it ended, we chatted about how amusing that American guy had been and I forgot all about it.

Fast forward to October 2011 and I'm now married and my husband and I are experiencing some troubles. I turned to Youtube. Sometimes for music and sometimes for clips from TV shows. My favourites were Whose Line is it Anyway (The Emir of Groovefunkistan, anyone?), QI (not sure if that's available in America) and, of course, Buzzcocks.

I remembered the hilarious episode with the American guy, but it turns out it's hard to find it by that description. Fortunately, I recalled that Simon rode out on Phil's shoulders and *that* can be found very easily. Rewatching, it turns out that other guy I didn't know was actually Martin Freeman - the Dr Watson of BBC's Sherlock. I was thrilled and settled down to watch the episode with more enjoyment than I had first time round. Unfortunately for Martin - and all other participants - once more the American guy stole the show.

This time, I had a few spare moments so afterwards I started listening to your music. Beautiful voice you've got there - it makes makes feel I'm being embraced by a lover on a cold winter's day (sort of like this, but with more emotional depth). I listened to a few songs, added your name to the list of people whose music I like and moved on, more or less unchanged.

However, about November/ December 2012, things started to get annoying. Due to the forthcoming release of your new album, I was flicking through your Youtube catalogue to see if I liked your new stuff. I came across an episode of Buzzcocks that you'd hosted and watched that. Then a Graham Norton interview (in my defence that also had David Tennant and Jon Richardson, so I did not feel stalkery at all). However, at this point - although I'd been immune to your singing and undeniable good looks - I started to like you. This is not common for me. I'd only ever liked one celebrity before (Johnny Depp - it was about 8 years ago) and at the height of my fanaticism I purchased his biography. Of the thousand+ books I have owned, that was one of two that I stopped reading2. I realised about 6 pages in just how creepy it is to know all this stuff about someone you're interested in but are never going to meet. So I put the book down and walked away.

With you, I stayed comfortably aloof until Youtube recommended your HSN concert thingy to me at the start of February. I listened, expecting a preview of the new album and nothing more. Instead of which, once more, I was surprised and intrigued by the personality that came through - not just in the singing, but in the brief discussion interludes. So, I added the new songs to my Youtube playlist (and bought the album, don't stress3) and that was fine. Then you came to England for something or other - promotional stuff? venue scoping? - and had several interviews/ tv appearances. I made a conscious effort to track down each and every one of these and watch them.4 Now I know there are many people in the world who would consider that "creepy", and others who would consider it "Tuesday". I don't want to say what I think, but as previously discussed, it's behaviour I'm not used to.

Worse, I found myself glancing over your Twitter account on a sufficiently regular basis that I discovered your UK tour dates before either of my Grobanite sisters.5 At this point I was worried. Seriously worried. I am damn near thirty, I should know better. So, in a brave and noble sacrifice, I decided the only solution was to make myself sick of you. Not your music, because that, although beautiful, was not enough to inspire fanaticism in me and frankly I'm not the kind of person who can stop liking music. Fortunately, there is a lovely person who has made great efforts to collect what I can only assume is every TV appearance you've had in America (and some in Canada) joshgrobancornerpub. I sat at work with a pile of database queries to complete, and put my headphones on, fully intending to be listening to anything other than you by the end of the day. How wrong I was. By the end of the second day I realised I had begun to pause the interviews when I had to leave my laptop, to ensure I didn't miss anything.

It's official. I have to admit it. I really don't want to, but apparently I have a crush on you.

Why is this a problem? Because I am single. The moment I start dating again, every guy is going to have to outperform everything I know about you. In reality everyone is flawed - my future boyfriend/ partner is going to be flawed and I am going to be exposed to those flaws. You, on the other hand, get an airbrushed public facade and it's just not realistic. Unfortunately, it doesn't feel fake either, so I can't use that as a mark against you.

So the onus is upon you to develop a flaw. A minor one is just not good enough - I've a lot of experience in adapting to minor flaws. It has to be a *serious* flaw. You can have some time to think about it as I am intending to be single throughout 2013 - my only permissible date will be New Year's Eve. So you have several months to come up with something, anything, that I can use as a talisman against everything I like about you.6

I anticipate the introduction of a less appealing Josh Groban with bated breath and in the meantime style myself as sincerely, albeit reluctantly, yours

1I have no wish to incite puppy murder; I'm just saying if you already do it feel free to open up.
2The other was either the 6th or 7th book in Steven Erikson's Gardens of the Moon series. Well written, but harrowing. I don't count the Algebraist by Ian M Banks, as technically that book was solely my husband's
3I just want to be serious for long enough to say - I separated from my husband in June, so I had a few month's distance before hearing Happy in My Heartache. If you'd released it any sooner I'm not sure I could have listened to it without falling to pieces. It's beautiful and so incredibly real - you have a lot of courage to perform that. Which is sadly not a flaw.
4No Buzzcocks episodes made the cut, as far as I can tell. I appreciate you have time constraints, but I admit I was a little disappointed.
5They live in Merseyside, I'm in Gloucestershire, so they've arranged for my birthday present to be a visit up north including attending the Manchester concert together. You might want some extra security.
6That is your intelligence, sense of humour, geekiness, good nature, generosity of spirit, love of your family, decent vocabulary and apparent adherence to sensible grammar on Twitter.