Too Many Dresses

doctor of romcoms, twee as fuck

Sew Dolly Clackett – The @TheQuill Dress

Happy Easter, bunnies! For some reason the weather here has decided to turn just as we’re in sniffing distance of the long weekend. Boo.

Anyway, the purpose of this post is not to be extremely British and moan about the weather, but rather to show you all my Sew Dolly Clackett dress!

I was so excited when Roisin (actually, no, I think it was Nic who told me!)…when Roisnic told me about the wonderful contest that Sarah over at Rhinestones and Telephones had cooked up to pay tribute to this lovely couple on their big day.

Sewing a Clackett-style dress was not at all a challenge for me because I copy her all the time anyway we have very similar taste when it comes to wardrobes – we’re both all about the fit n flare dresses and the fancy shoes, ai! In fact, we have often lamented one the very sad fact of our friendship, which is that we do not have the same size feet.

Anyway, the contest was very fortuitous for me, because it just so happened that the next sewing project that I had lined up was Clackett all over – a By Hand London Elisalex in a large scale print.

2014-04-16 19.46.34

Photo here courtesy of the lady herself.

I had already created a wearable toile (muslin) of the dress out of a Lady and the Tramp print curtain that I had got off Ebay and was reasonably happy with the fit once I’d done a slight adjustment to the sleeves. My toile was a little erm…how to put this delicately…boob-squishing, but (after seeking counsel from Roisin herself) I decided that a FBA wasn’t required, but simply sewed up my “proper” attempt with a 3/8 seam allowance on the bust of the princess seams rather than the standard 5/8, as the lovely By Hand London girls suggest in their sewalong.

I really loved the tulip skirt on my muslin (even though I accidentally cut it 8 inches too short…never use Tramps as hemline markers, that’s all I’ll say), and originally intended to do the midi tulip on this one. However, as I started to work with the fabric I realised that it was drapier than I’d anticipated. It is a really soft cotton and flows really nicely. But obviously, this made me question how well it would hold those gorgeous box pleats. Rather than fight the fabric I decided to frankenfrock and let the fucker drape, so I put on a super-simple gathered skirt instead. I love the way this looks really feminine with the bodice and it was definitely the right choice for the fabric. Plus, to mix and match bodice and skirt combinations is…so Dolly Clackett!

2014-04-16 19.16.36   2014-04-16 19.16.17

As others have said, this pattern comes together so easily and is a dream to sew, especially following the sewalong. As a beginner I found the instructions that come with the pattern a bit minimal but the sewalong more than compensates for this, and then I supplemented this with referencing sewing books and videos online for things like easing in the sleeves. The princess seams scared me a bit…the very first dress I ever made had princess seams, and the pattern was marked easy, and so, having no clue what I was doing I just sewed them as I would a normal seam, and of course they came out all lumpy and kinked and weird. So I have avoided princess seams since then. But these were fine. I think with a bit more experience, I knew that I had to approach them differently to a straight seam, and that made all the difference.

I popped in my first exposed zip in this one, lined in a black cotton voile and finished the neckline and sleeve hems with some metallic topstiching – my first go at this and I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.

Sleeve hem topstitching.

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Featuring a stab at metallic topstitching!

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I’m also pretty chuffed with the fit and it is so comfortable to wear. The only thing I did find was that it slipped off my shoulders a bit – next time I make an Elisalex (yes, there will be a next time) I think I’ll take in the shoulder seams by half an inch or so. As a fix on this dress I copied a tip from Jennifer at Workroom Social about putting bra strap carriers in, using Dixie’s tutorial, which has really helped a lot.

Frock-lovers among you may well recognise the fabric – it’s the same print as the Vivien of Holloway Telstar dress. Now, I actually own this dress too (don’t judge me!). I love it to pieces and it is my go-to for any sort of smart evening event, dinners, weddings etc. However, with the exposed shoulders, it’s hardly work-friendly. And a print like this is far too awesome to be kept just for nighttime. So when I spotted a bolt of this lurking right at the back of Fancy Silk Stores on a fabric shopping jaunt to Birmingham with my colleague and friend Rachel, I just couldn’t leave it on the shelf. It was a very reasonable price – £6 or £7 a metre for 60″ wide fabric.

And when Rick and I booked another trip to Berlin for the end of March, this time to coincide with Mark Morriss‘s European tour, it seemed that a special gig deserved an appropriately themed dress. So that is the story the @TheQuill dress, and of how I came to have two musical instrument print dresses. And I think two is enough…for now.

By Hand London Elisalex

Obligatory doorstep photo!

I’ve known Nic and Roisin for over 4 years and not a day goes by when I don’t thank my lucky stars that I have this fab pair in my life. We’ve spent many nights of pizza, ale, prosecco and Vienetta together chatting shit about television, dresses, and hand-dryers and then dancing around the living room to Kate Bush or the Divine Comedy. I always leave a get-together with them feeling energised, excited, and loved, with my belly hurting from laughter and a smile on my face. They are just that kind of people. I couldn’t be happier that they are making this special commitment to each other (and for the excuse for another piss-up) and I wish them so so much happiness for the future. Love you both!

And on that soppy note, I have to get back to my work, and counting down to the 4 day weekend. Which, in my house, must always be rung in with this:



A Sewing Lesson

Just a quick lunchtime blog from me today – I’m trying to get back in the habit because I really want to start blogging my sewing! Recently I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show with my good friend Roisin of Dolly Clackett fame. Being at the show with her gave me a taste of what a wonderful, supportive community of sewists there are out there in the blogosphere, and since then I’ve been avidly following several sewing blogs, and have decided to tentatively dip my toe in the water. You can’t just take and take forever, Lauren, sometimes you have to give the goods too.

Anyway, I do have a few makes from earlier this year lined up to blog, not least the “@TheQuill Dress“, a By Hand London Elisalex in instrument-print cotton. I made this especially for a gig I was going to in Berlin, with the full aim of getting some shots of it with suitably touristy backdrops. In the end though, and in good old holiday-Lauren fashion, the only photo I ended up with was a very red and moody shot of it in a mirror in a Kreuzberg nightclub. Very cool, perhaps, but not the ideal showcase of a make! So you’ll have to hang on a bit for her. I’m off to Edinburgh later this week so perhaps with a bit more forethought and a bit less beer, I can get you some proper photographs.

So what I have for you today is just a tale of a lesson, or maybe two lessons, learned from a sewing session last night. I’d had a happy couple of hours in the afternoon working away on my latest dress, a (hopefully wearable) muslin of the By Hand London Anna maxi dress in a silk blend fabric recycled from a saree. Then, despite having already made 3 toiles of the bodice, I freaked out that it was going to be too small, and wouldn’t fit. Cue me sat at the sewing machine at quarter to 9 that night in a complete frenzy, desperate to get the garment to a try-onable state so I could see just how horrendously small I’d cut it, and how hideous I looked in my too-tight Anna.

Once I’d got an almost-finished Anna, I galloped up the stairs to the only full-length mirror in our house to discover…that I’d sewn one of the side seams on the wrong side. Such a basic and annoying error that would definitely not have happened had I not been mega mega stressy and mega mega rushy. But at least I was able to try the dress on (sans zip), and do you know what? I think it’s going to fit beautifully.

So, two lessons:

1) Never sew in a rush. Y’all knew that one already. I knew that one too. None of us will ever learn, though.

2), and perhaps more importantly: Always have faith in yourself. I’ve now lost track of the amount of times I freak out partway into a project, convinced that it’s ruined, it will never fit, I’ll have to throw it out, I’ve wasted x amount of hours. It’s almost always fine. Yes, we all have the occasional wadder. But that’s fine too. And with a bit more faith in my own abilities, I wouldn’t make most of the stupid mistakes in the first place.

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RIP Tony Benn

I get a bit fatigued at the reaction to any high-profile death online. It always seems like people want to claim a bit of it for themselves, which I find a bit distasteful.

However, today sees the death of someone who had a massive impact on me, so I did feel moved to write about it (and blog for the first time in YEARS). This probably makes me a big fat hypocrite.

But Tony Benn…Tony Benn came and visited my sixth form. He did a talk in a draughty dance studio to the tiniest audience – there can’t have been more than ten of us. At the time, I was just developing a sense of social justice and beginning to understand how politics work (because, of course, they don’t like to teach you any of this in compulsory education). I remember him as a kind, compassionate yet determined man, with a sharp sense of humour. He wanted us – the next generation – to be under absolutely no delusions about the mammoth task that getting any kind of progressive change was. But he wasn’t pessimistic. He gave me, I suppose, a cautious hope, coupled with the knowledge that I, along with my peers, would have to strive for the type of world we wanted, and couldn’t just expect it to fall into our laps.

Before I went into that room, I only had a vague sense of who he was, what he stood for, and a feeling that he might have some interesting stories to tell. I left with a sense of purpose.

His passing today reminds me of his message – which wasn’t conveyed through high rhetoric, but by genuine humanity. So, thank you, Tony. And rest in peace.

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On Being Free Range

I”ve been thinking alot this week about Free Range Humans. This is prompted in no small part by the wonderful Sustrans campaign “You’re Free Range Too”, and the Stornoway song “We’re The Battery Human” (which is, as singer and guitarist Brian Briggs said when we saw them in Manchester, “a song about how we need to spend less time on Facebook”). The general message of both is that modern technological advances, however wonderful some of them may be (you’ll never catch me saying a bad word about online shopping or twitter, for example), have changed our lifestyles dramatically, and, in many ways, negatively.

The unseasonably hot weather that greeted us last week and stayed for the weekend only exacerbated my increasing support for this sentiment. I grew up as a very outdoorsy girl – while I was never going to captain any sports teams and pretty much always had at least 2 books on the go, I also spent day after day playing in the nature reserve behind our house, building rope swings and treehouses and paddling in the brook (sorry, Mum). I loved riding my bike up and down the pavement in front of our house (we were allowed down as far as the telephone box and up as far as the garages). And our garden would frequently become an ampitheatre for us to perform a play in, or an arena to run an assault course. Flip, being a kid is bloody good fun!

I am still one of those people who gets all anxious at the thought of having to spend the whole of a nice day inside. And last week gave me an opportunity to indulge myself in being outdoors – I ate lunch outside, I did yoga in the park, I went on bike rides. And I fucking loved it. It just seems such a shame that the rest of the time we have to be chained to computers. I’m lucky in that the nature of my work means that it’s pretty flexible where and when I work, but I do still feel obligated to be at my laptop most of the working day. And laptops and outdoors just don’t mix, I don’t care what anyone says.

But now, the weather is poised to turn all grimy! It rained all last night, but it’s sunny this morning, which I can just about deal with. But that won’t last, I’m sure. What are good ways to stay “Free Range” during winter? How can we wrestle more time back from our day-to-day lives to spend outdoors? How much time spent at a computer is too much?


P.S. If we can’t “free the battery humans”, you can take care of an ex-battery hen here. Thanks to Hayles at The Vegan Christian Blogger for drawing this to my attention.


Beaten to a Pulp

Good god, y’all! What an exciting couple of weeks its been here. I hope you’ve got a cup of tea with you there, and maybe a slice of cake too.

The first, most yippee-making bit of news (and if you are following me on Twitter, you will be sick of hearing about this already, so please accept my apologies and have a second slice of cake) is that, after months of chattering, procrastinating and wrestling with technology (computers do NOT like me), we have finally launched our film podcast Third Row Centre. This is basically myself and a bunch of fellow film-lovers and all-round good guys from my department sat in our living room spouting off about movies. In the case of our pilot episode, a whole summer’s worth of movies. Anyway, if you haven’t already, pop on over to the blog there, have a nose around, and maybe listen in. See, I told you you’d need that cake.

The rest of the news is much more pedestrian. The slog of the thesis continues. I spent a ruck of money on a ruck of Models Own make-up in their 50% off facebook sale (more about that in a future post). I made some fairy cakes. We went to the beach in the rain. Rick watched the first episode of the second half of this series of Doctor Who without me, and I got in a grump, until I watched it and it turned out to be not that good anyway.

Brixton Academy

When Pulp announced two gigs at Brixton Academy after their festival tour this summer, I knew I had to go. I knew so badly that I paid £5 to get crappy wireless internet in a crappy cheap hotel just so that I could get tickets on the day they went on pre-sale. Thankfully, it was worth it. Wanting to make the most of being London-bound, we booked a couple of nights in Covent Garden Travelodge so that we could enjoy it properly. Before the gig, we headed to the really lovely Trinity Arms in Brixton. This was hands down one of the best pubs I’ve ever been in (and I like to think I’ve done my research!). It had great ales, reasonably priced and tasty fresh food, a wonderful atmosphere and, best of all, a COLOURING COMPETITION! That’s right. Every table had this cute little painted pint glass full of felt tips on it along with drawing sheets. Like this:

This will require more beer...

I mean, how cool is that? A colouring competition. For adults. In a pub! I felt like I’d hit the jackpot. Armed with some helpful input from Rick, I set about creating this work of art:


It's a bloody masterpiece, is what it is.


I drawed this!

And if the satisfaction and fun of being able to legitimately colour-in in public, aged 24, isn’t enough, the Trinity Arms also give a £25 bar tab and a place on the wall of fame to the top 5 entries. I’m still waiting to hear from them, like, but I’m sure they’ll be in touch… If you ever find yourself in Brixton do pop along there for a pint, say hi to the friendly staff, and have a go yourself.

So a burger and chips and three pints later, we were off to the Academy to see Pulp. It was a brilliant night, which passed in a flurry of dancing, bopping and singing til my throat was sore. The band were incredible, and, although I usually like to take a bit of time during every gig to have a nose at what the drummer’s doing, or the bassist etc, it was really, really difficult to take my eyes of Jarvis. The man is magnetic. Especially when he’s humping a speaker and singing This Is Hardcore. There were some firm favourites of mine in the set, including Lipgloss (which is a very important song to me) and Underwear, as well as the usual suspects (Disco 2000) and some rarieties like Countdown.I had a wonderful time, and many thanks to the great people of Brixton Academy – it was tremendous fun to thrash around with you all to the chorus of Common People. Ah, it brings a tear to my eye just remembering it.

Pulp - Common People

In that case I'll have a rum and coca-cola.

I was on such a high from the gig that I found it really difficult to sleep that night, despite knowing that I had to get up the next morning to go visit the Doctor Who Experience! After recommendations from Nic and Róisín, we decided that we must add this to our London itenary. We also got a £5 off code with Doctor Who magazine, so it worked out pretty reasonable in the end. You can’t take photos during the actual “experience” bit, so I won’t ruin it, but suffice to say it was lots of fun. You get to be a companion in a Doctor Who adventure and help the Eleventh Doctor out of (another) pandorica. Here he is thanking me for helping him out:

Meeting the Doctor

Meeting the Doctor

As you can see, he was really thrilled to have had my help. We had lots of fun messing about in the exhibition after, even if we were a little self-conscious at being the only couple there without any sprogs running around. We particularly enjoyed the 9th/10th Doctor’s tardis:

Rick's Tardis

Tardis Rick

Lauren's Tardis

I'm surprised they let me that near the console...

There were also some great monsters about. I made friends with a cyberman, then learnt to walk like one:




Learning to walk. They always said it would happen someday.

As you can see, the “walk like a cyberman” exhibit (which was a video of the show’s choreographer talking you through how to do the walk) was very poorly attended at this point. Five minutes later, I noticed in the mirror that about 8 children had appeared behind me! LT, leading the way since 1986.

Finally, we had a giggle about this sign:
Toilets behind the pandorica

Well, where else would you put them?!

After the Doctor Who Experience, we headed back for even more Who-ey goodness at the Cartoon Museum, who are currently holding an exhibition of Doctor Who In Comics: 1964 – 2011. Even though the land of Doctor comics is all a bit foreign to me, I had a great time nosing at all the plates, and am quite tempted now to try reading a few. The rest of the Cartoon Museum is well worth a visit too, I particuarly enjoyed seeing early sketches of some of the Manga Shakespeare titles (which I love) and the Peanuts strip! The Cartoon Museum is situated near the British Museum, at 35 Little Russell Street, and is well worth a visit. The Doctor Who in Comics exhibition runs til 30th October, and entry is just £3 for students. There was also a lovely drawing studio upstairs which had me itching to get out my felt tips again. For Rick’s sake, I resisted, and we went and had fish and chips, followed by a walk along the South Bank to the Tate Modern. We were quite tired by this point, and we ended up spending an awful lot of time sat watching Jenny Holzer’s hypnotic Blue Purple Tilt (2007). I think we could have quite happily stared at that all day!

We were at a bit of a loss as to what to do in the evening, and after dismissing shows, the cinema and comedy clubs we settled on just propping up a few bars and then heading for a late night Chinese. I had a lovely evening just soaking it all in, though I slightly regretted the pitcher of Long Island Iced Tea on the train home the next morning!

A restful weekend was very much needed after all that gallavanting, and thankfully we managed to fit in a lot of lazing around, seeing friends (including an X-Files night!) and sleeping. We also headed out on Saturday night to celebrate Nic‘s thesis submission. I had my first ever Jagerbomb (photo evidence not available, sadly) and a very jolly time. Sadly the music, which is normally a good mix of 90s/00s indie/pop, was a bit of a let down, erring towards the 00s/poppy end of the spectrum, but the company was great and that’s what’s important.

Phew, that was quite an exhausting adventure in blogland, wasn’t it? Look, I’ve finished all my tea.

Next time, I promise to blog little and often so I don’t tire you all out.

Til then!



Cherry Bomb

After a few weeks of loosing hours each day to endless internet searches pining over the gorgeous Melissa & Vivienne Westwood  ‘Lady Dragon’ shoe, and coming to terms with the fact that my feet will never be the same size as Dolly Clackett‘s, so I can’t borrow hers, I finally caved. Well, it wasn’t caving, my willpower is immense. More, I decided to (ahem) reward myself for a cracking week’s work on the thesis by buying a pair of these wonderful shoes.

And what a pair! I’d mostly been focusing on getting some blue/grey ones, as they were the colour that I felt was currently lacking in my shoe-wardrobe (swardrobe?). However, when the gorgeous cherry ones came up in my size on ebay, brand new in box, I knew they were “the Two”. And to prove that we were meant to be together, here is an outfit shot:

Cherry shoes outfit

H&M broderie anglaise dress, Peacock's cardi, Vivienne Westwood Melissa Lady Dragon shoes

Please ignore the weird grin and unmade-up face, but do take time to appreciate the matching nail-polish! Anyway, as Róisín promised, these shoes go with pretty much everything in my wardrobe, but since today was their first outing, I wanted to make them feel especially co-ordinated, right down to the cherry earrings that you can just see peeping out there!

These shoes are, as the hype would have you believe, immensely comfortable. The insoles are really springy and the heel is a very manageable 4cm. I guess the peep toe and vamp might rub if you don’t use an anti-friction stick, but I didn’t have this problem (thanks to said trusty blister stick, again recommended by Róisín – what would I do without that girl?!).

Anyway, me and my shoes went on a lovely jaunt to Hayley‘s house, where I managed to get lots of annoying fiddly little work jobs done in good company and with interesting teas! I just love afternoons like that.

Now I’m off to help Rick with the jambalaya, maybe have an ale and plot what to wear these babies with next…


Meet Me In St. Merryn

It’s a sticky, humid and overcast afternoon here in toomanydresses land, and I am busy avoiding homework and housework, so I thought I’d pop on the old blog to give you all an update.

Somewhere that isn’t sticky and humid (but has a propensity to overcasted-ness) is the North coast of Cornwall, where me and my better half ventured recently for a week away from what grown ups like to call “real life”. Having delighted in 10 days in Scotland last year, where Rick spent many a happy childhood holiday, we decided (read: I insisted) that this year we visit a place that played a big part in my youth. My memories of Cornwall are plentiful, delightful and often farcical (two particular highlights: my granddad plunging head first through a hedge and down a 5ft drop into a thicket of brambles and nettles trying to catch a rounders ball, and my dad having to drive back home from the beach after a boogie boarding session with a black and white polka dot changing towel around his waist having forgotten to bring any dry shorts with him).

What is less easy to remember, when you’re away from the place for a while,  is the oddly exciting and strangely magical feeling that you get as you meander up and down the coastal roads and paths. I use the second person pronoun here because, while I acknowledge that this frisson might possibly be only detectable to me, it seems so enormous and wonderful that I can’t help but feel that everyone must experience it. I mean, look at this:

Round Hole, Trevone

Stunning Cornish coastline at Trevone

…and tell me you’re not already a little bit excited?

It can’t just be the coast that I love though. Heck, there are miles and miles of beautiful coastline all around this sceptred isle. Part of what makes Cornwall special though, is the sea. Sea like this:

Waves at Porthcothan

Waves at Porthcothan

This was taken at about 7pm on the Saturday of our arrival and, believe me, it took everything I had in me not to dive headfirst into that surf with my body board in tow. Though of course, at 7pm there are no lifeguards and you would either have to be very stupid or an expert in rip tides (oceanography, long word fans!) to even attempt such folly. So I contented myself with a paddle, though I did struggle a little bit putting my shoes and socks back on afterwards, a moment that Rick, ever averse to sand in between his toes, delighted in documenting:

Wet Feet

Check out that balance! I think my yogi friends would be proud.

Also, there is something weirdly awesome and indescribable about the light in Cornwall – I think (scientifically) it is to do with it being surrounded by so much sea – but in my head it’s just because it’s a magical fairy land.

Anyway, enough airy-fairyness, there are plenty of concrete reasons why we had an awesome time in Cornwall too, most of them tastebud-related. Our culinary tour of Kernow included, but was not restricted to: multiple cream teas, multiple pasties, fish and chips (twice), and lots of lovely pub meals. We also managed to have a couple of meals at The Cornish Arms, a pub run by Rick Stein, serving very reasonably priced and very tasty meals. The service there is really friendly and excellent even though they are so very busy – I was most impressed at how nice they were to a very tricky customer that was sat on the table next to us one night, because even I was ready to lamp her.

We also had a special lunch at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall. We’re big fans of the Jamie’s Italian chain, and I knew from previous visits to Cornwall that Watergate Bay would be a truly breathtaking setting. You can see how excited Rick was:

Fifteen Cornwall
“Stop taking photos and let me go eat, woman!”

Aside from some amazing food (I had like a meatball soup thing, duck and carrot cake), we were also treated to a window table with this view:

Watergate Bay from Fifteen Cornwall
Watergate Bay from Fifteen Cornwall

Not only was this very pretty, it was also great entertainment – watching all the people on the beach flying kites, walking to the sea, digging in the sand etc. This took on a new level of hilarity when someone drew a giant penis in the sand, which amused not only us but the waitresses too.

Anyway, all that eating called for some serious exercise to burn off all that clotted cream – and we managed to pack in plenty of walks, a 10 mile cycle along the Camel Trail, and some boogie boarding. I was pleased that Rick seemed to enjoy the boogie boarding (it is highly addictive, I find) so maybe I’ll be able to get him back to Cornwall in the not-too-distant future.


Chilling out at Tintagel (there are a lot of steps...)

Sunset at Treyarnon

Ahhh, Cornwall...

No worries…

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The Squeakquel

After many an enjoyable work-break spent scrolling through the blogs of Dolly Clackett, Squeezegut Alley and About Your Dress amongst others, I have decided it is high time I resurrected toomanydresses here. Plus, I have very much missed having somewhere to moan.

I’m planning a little post later on about an awesome charity shopping trip to Kenilworth last week with Hayles of The Vegan Christian Blogger, but for now, you’ll have to make do with a picture of these amazing and quirky Poetic Licence boots which arrived for me this morning off ebay:

throwing some shapes...

Coming back here, I’ve also realised I never did finish that Top 10 list. Sorry about that!


Noughtie but nice

Flicking through a week-old copy of The Guardian, I stumbled across the news that Channel 4 are due to make a countdown show of the top 10 television shows of the 2000s. Leaving aside the potential banana skins of making such a compilation show for a decade that hasn’t even finished yet, and the perils of premature nostalgia, I found the topic itself rather stimulating. When you actually stop to consider it, its surprising how much fantastic telly has been produced, on both sides of the Atlantic, since the millennium (especially given that my daily routine includes a ritual in which I will, on beholding tonight’s television in the Radio Times, state loudly and clearly to anyone unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity that ‘THERE’S NOTHING ON AGAIN.’).

So here, in all its actually-well-thought-out-because-it-was-less-frustrating-than-thinking-about-my-dissertation glory, is my own personal contribution to the debate. I make no claims for the objectivity of my choices, nor for their abject quality for that matter, but rather offer this as a modest mix of things that I have enjoyed or things that I think have made a big difference. I’ll save you the wondering: no, The Wire is not on the list.

1. The Office (2001-2003)

This seemed like a pretty good place to start, given that I have recently rewatched both series and the Christmas specials in hugely enjoyable DVD marathon session-style. Aside from giving us debatably ten of the best minutes of television of all time, The Office proved that inventiveness and hilarity are not mutually exclusive. From the brains of Ricky Gervais and (the all too often unsung) Stephen Merchant (who, I have always had a sneaking suspicion, is possibly the real comedy genius), I spent a fair few years dismissing The Office out of hand, feeling like I just wouldn’t “get” it, because everyone says that you have to “get” it to like it, when really I suspect that this is all just part of a kind of television elitism…My point is, perhaps, that The Office actually works on quite a few levels, but it does so humbly and quietly, it doesn’t try and shout out about how clever it is. Aside from nicely subverting that whole docusoap phenomenon that dominated the latter part of the 1990s, the real reason that The Office worked, and made such great television, is that it actually relied heavily on emotional affect. Without the laughs, the cringes, and the numerous ‘aw’ moments (a noise that I have to make aloud, pretty much without fail, everytime Tim speaks to camera or there is a cutaway shot of him looking a bit lost and/or wistful), The Office could still have been a very sophisticated and clever show, but it would have never permeated the public conscious in quite the same way (cf. Extras).

2. The OC (2003-2007)

I have no way of knowing just how much my OC obsession has saved me in therapy over the years, but I would very much like to see the figures. I have been known to recommend it to people as an alternative to Nytol (which is just an antihistamine anyway, scamming bastards). This is not, you understand, because I think The OC is boring and sleep-inducing, but rather, what better way to take your mind off all your own problems and stresses than allowing yourself to get caught up in those of a bunch of beautiful 25-year-olds playing super-rich 18-year-olds who live by the beach and yet seem to spend all their time sniping and moaning and fighting to a soundtrack of up-and-coming indie bands? Add some healthy dashes of irony (the frequent references to The Valley, or snappy dialogue such as: “I mean where other than The Bait Shop—where tickets are always plentiful and the band never too loud to talk over?”) and love-to-hate villains (Julie Cooper? Oliver? The Julie-Cooper-alike from rehab?). I mean, sure it all got a bit ridiculous in the later seasons (cage fighting?) but even bad OC is better than no OC at all (and it’s a hundred times better than 90210 *shudder*). Extra points to Josh Schwartz for putting the adults under scrutiny too. Also, let us never forget that without The OC, we would never have had Gossip Girl, and without Gossip Girl it would never be acceptable for grown women to walk about with bows in their hair. Win.

3. 24 (2001-)

This gets on the list for 3 main reasons: 1) the real-time concept was kind of new and kind of a big deal, and for the most part, it worked astonishingly well; 2) it was totally gripping and compulsive viewing; 3) Jack Bauer is possibly one of the most badass characters ever created. Sure, it had it’s faults: the ideology verges on dubious American nationalism at times, and, come to think of it, it doesn’t actually work that well on television in my opinion; I can’t be doing with the breaks in it nor can it hold my interest if I try to watch week-by-week. But as TV-on-DVD goes, you’d be hard pressed to do better unless you were watching…

4. LOST (2004-)

I feel the best way for me to sum up just how I feel about this show would be in a stream-of-consciousness-style listing of some of my favourite moments, because I think it would be pretty difficult for me to articulate my LOST love intelligently or coherently. So: Desmond and Penny. That moment when the light shafts up into the sky from the hatch when Locke is all banging on it in despair. Electromagnetism. The first time you ever see a Dharma video. Desmond. Count to five. Not Penny’s boat. Jacob’s cabin. Ben watching his daughter get shot. Faraday at Oxford. Faraday on the island. The one where Desmond jumps around in time. Sayid shooting young Ben. The smoke monster. The temple. Desmond and Penny on the phone. When the sky turns purple.

5. Casanova (2005)

Back across the pond now to this 3-part BBC mini-series starring David Tennant pre-Doctor Who (and better for it, it must be said) as a totally loveable rogue, surrounded by an astonishing cast including Peter O’Toole (always fabulous), the lovely Laura Fraser and the dastardly Rupert Penry-Jones. Furiously-paced, beautifully, colourfully and vividly designed and full of in-your-face anachronism, Casanova was truly a treat to behold. Highlights include Giacomo’s founding of the National Lottery, and the heartbreaking moment at which he and Henriette part company – she loves Casanova ‘completely’, she confesses ‘but I need him’. Gulp. All costume drama should be like this. I’m enjoying Desperate Romantics at the moment, but it would have been 10x better if they could have taken a few more leaves out of Casanova’s book. Simply exquisite.

Now, in true TV style, you can look forward to the second half after these messages (a.k.a. after I have had some sleep)…

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Dazed and Confused

This sentence should tell you all you need to know about just how bad a film Wedding Daze (Michael Ian Black, 2006, AKA The Pleasure of Your Company AKA The Next Girl I See) actually is:

Wedding Daze, for example, ends with no less than five living couples united in the epilogue sequence, along with a dead couple (who are, according to the caption: ‘Still very much in love. Still looking great. Still dead.’), with the formation of yet another couple suggested through flirtation.

I appreciate that I am just blogging this because I am cantankerous after working all day on my endings chapter, but still, HOW ridiculous?

Then again, what can one expect from a film with THREE titles?

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