I thought that, once I’d got my Diploma exam over and done with, I’d be able to relax a bit, but of course it is now less than a fortnight to Christmas and the panic set in immediately after I’d returned from Trinity College last week.
It’s been a busy weekend comprising four concerts (performing and attending) and a birthday as well as all the usual stuff that cones with being part of a busy family.
Alas, most of my Christmas cards remain unwritten and my Christmas preparations are moving with all the urgency of a Galapagos tortoise basking in the noonday heat of the archipelago.
With all this in full and lugubrious swing, I’m afraid my blog posts have been rather dull of late which is rather sad, since I’m now into the final stretch of my year of daily blogging. There’s been so little time to devote to writing an inspired and thoughtful post recently so I apologise profusely. Perhaps next year I’ll just stick to occasional deep and meaningful posts. I don’t know.
So, instead of inspirational thinking of a philosophical nature, tonight I’m going to present a couple of cosmetics reviews. I’m sorry, @Casserly_Rocks but one is, after all, a woman who happens to be interested in such things.
Nars Soft Touch Shadow Pencil
You’ll know that the #lowboredomthreshold struck again recently, precipitated by yet another change in my skin tone. Some might say that this is the creeping pallor of despair and exhaustion but it’s not for me to judge. I will say, however, that I’m now considering having my eyes done as perhaps even a Siamese-cat-dragged-through-a-hedge-look would be preferable to my current eyebags and shadows.
Nars is my new love. I often find that the best cosmetics ranges for my skin tone are those designed by makeup artists such as Bobbi Brown; such as François Nars, who are maybe trying to save themselves the trouble of custom-matching their foundations to each of their clients.
Being a bit of a compleatist, and that paradox right there is constrained only by a lack of funds, this meant that I explored the range a bit further and bought lots more shiny, new stuff. A couple of eyeshadow palettes, the perfect nude brown, that sort of thing.
This is all very well but sometimes a person would like to be a little bit more adventurous than neutral so imagine the thrill when I caught sight of this beautiful colour, named Trash, rather judgmentally, in my view.
It’s a sort of deep and iridescent violet in a soft pencil form, which I was keen to explore as a more portable form of eyeshadow since, alas, it would appear that the pans of power shadow are liable to break up.
It’s a beautiful colour, yes, and really makes my dark brown eyes “pop'” as they say. Sadly, though, it doesn’t last and very quickly creased to shiny rivulets on my eyelids, even though I’d used eyeshadow primer. Deeply disappointing when you’ve come to expect that a shadow will last at least most of the day when stuck on with primer. And it’s a little more expensive than the powder sort too.
So, despite the gorgeous colours available in these stick shadows, I shall not be buying another. Boo.
Photo: John Beecroft
I’m just back from seeing this ballet at Covent Garden. I might have mentioned that I was given a Friends’ Membership for Christmas, which means that I can book tickets a month earlier than the General Public (but not as early as the Premium Friends who’ve paid thousands for the privilege.) Being short, and not being able to go to theatre very often I do like a good view and the tickets are expensive though, curiously, far less expensive for the ballet than the opera. It’s made for an interesting year that’s burned a large hole in my pocket. I suppose, though, that theatre tickets in London are so expensive now that even a seat way, way up at a West End musical is £80 or so. Bearing that in mind, these were a bargain.
We wanted to take MsDD to see this production of Romeo and Juliet, having seen it ourselves some years ago. As you know she studied ballet from the age of 3 until this year when she was forced to stop due to conflicting demands on her time. I was looking forward to taking her, jaded, unimpressed teenager that she currently is, but had no idea how much this production would have evolved since I last saw it.
Perhaps I was just more in tune with it than before but it was less of a spectacle this time and more of a work of art that had something to say about the world. The body count was a high as a Bond film, with people being shamelessly slaughtered for no real reason but hubris.
In the fight scene near the beginning, for example, dead bodies were piled up in the middle of the stage. The fight was started for no particular reason between groups of aimless youths, which made me think of gang violence, and there was a huge contrast made between the demurely-dressed townswomen and the “harlots” with their spectacular dancing and expressive character acting.
I was deeply impressed with the fight scenes: I have no idea how one can choreograph and dance a mass sword fight, with sword clashes in time with the music, without becoming impaled or entangled or simply falling over the swords.
The characterisations were superb as well, with the knowing nurse and Friar Lawrence and the youngsters behaving as teenagers. I adored the acting of Juliet, on the cusp between childhood and adolescence, and her blossoming and maturing into a physically mature but emotionally unsure young woman before our eyes. I loved the stylised menace of the party scene, with its show-off pomp and posturing and the contrast with the naturalistic intimacy of the interactions between the teenage lovers.
Things that did not ring true for me were how long it took Juliet’s mates to cotton on to the fact that she was lying on her bed apparently lifeless. When they did realise, though, their synchronised step backwards in shock was a delight. I also wondered how, having been thrown about and dragged around by Romeo, Juliet in her coma woke only at the moment after Romeo had taken his poison.
I found it effective and affecting how the ballet drew itself in from an expansive commentary of grandeur and entitlement – including a “mum-off” reminiscent of many a modern school gate scene – right through to the spare and bleak end. This was particularly visible in the splendid costumes: reds and contrasting amber and green brocades and velvets at the beginning; through crystallised fondant colours in the scene midway through where Romeo projects his love for Juliet onto a passing wedding, until the end where Romeo and Juliet are dressed in simple white, and poor hard-done-by Paris is still clad in the outfit which he wore as Juliet’s approved suitor.
Yes, it’s always good to see productions more than once. There is so much going on that it’s easy to miss things, and you always notice new things happening as productions evolve. And what an expression of perfection, control and sheer skill and hard work. I do love the ballet.
Clinique Sonic System
Well, how utterly annoying!
I bought the Clinque Purifying Cleansing Brush for a smidgeon under £80 in April. I couldn’t really afford it but the vastly extravagant Eve Lom cleansing balm and washcloth method wasn’t sufficiently clarifying for my combination skin when compared with the Clarisonic brush I’d used before.
I stopped using my reluctantly-sent Clarisonic review freebie because I found it really difficult to clean the bit behind the brush head. The brush didn’t ever dry out properly, and mould would grow if I didn’t make sure I cleaned it every week. It’s the sort of thing for which Lakeland designs specialist cleaning gizmos and, let’s face it, you don’t want to be putting a mouldy vibrating brush on your skin every night, do you?
I admit, my inquisitive, acquisitive nature makes me a marketing person’s dream: I love gadgets and, partly due to this blog (or using this blog as an excuse, if I’m truthful,) I like to try out new things to review them honestly. So imagine my unalloyed joy when I came across this brush at the Clinique counter of John Lewis. OK, so it was Clinique and therefore hardly a niche luxury brand but all those white coats and dermatologically-tested pictures of water splashes caught against a pristine background are persuasive in making the poor customer think that this company knows all about skincare.
I used Clinique in my 20s when I had rampantly oily combination skin. It was fine, I used it for years but, in truth, I became bored of using such a vanilla product. Blame my infamous #lowboredomthreshold if you like. For this reason it was a little retro and comforting to return to Clinique: like some long lost Auntie who brews tea in a brown teapot with a cosy on it and produces a lemon drizzle cake whenever you pop around to visit every 20 years.
Now, I’ve had the Clinique Cleansing Brush in mind for a blog post ever since April because I’ve loved it so much. The charge on the brush seems to work forever, which is just as well because it’s difficult to see the little light that tells you whether or not it’s fully charged. It’s compact enough to fit into my make up bag for India without worrying about taking the charger and, with its Foaming Sonic Soap wingman, it’s a pretty cool and effective product.
I have found a real improvement in the general squeaky cleanness of my skin, although I admit that the foaming sonic soap does leave it a little dry. Using the No2 Clarifying Lotion was also a bit of a step back in time for me, but a welcome one given the improved state of my skin. Turns out Auntie Clinique knew best all along.
As I say, I’d been meaning to review the brush and its mates on this blog for ages and was about to do it this weekend when a very strange thing happened. I was sitting in my bedroom hiding from the allergen dust of my building work on Friday when I heard a strange drilling noise. After a while I realised that it was emanating from my bathroom and when I investigated I realised that my Clinique brush had switched itself on and was buzzing way like an unsophisticated sex toy on top of my wash basin. “Buzz!” it went. “Buzzzzzzzzz.” As I am Queen of the Unnecessary but Desirable Gadget, I took this as a clever warning that I should charge my brush forthwith so I placed it in the cradle of its charger, checked that the orange charging light was blinking – it was, intermittently – and left it.
At about 4am, I was woken up by a very plaintive “Buzz!” The brush had turned itself on and was vibrating away like something from Lovehoney on my bedroom floor. I’m not going to elaborate further on that mental picture. And so it continued throughout yesterday. I thought perhaps that it had exceeded its charge so I removed it from the charger and placed it back on my wash basin. The next time it switched itself on, it buzzed its way into my basin, more lemming than Titanic survivor.
I was out last night but the startled OH was so disturbed by the highly charged buzzing that he secreted it deep in the ottoman, which served as an amplifying soundbox. In the end, he wrapped the amorous brush in a towel, thrust it deep into a bag and left it downstairs to calm down.
So, with some difficulty, I eventually tracked down the Customer Service number on Clinique’s website to find that they available to their customers only on Mondays to Fridays. I sent them an email and I tweeted them with this video of the machine but as yet I have heard nothing back from them.
To add insult to injury, I am told that this is a common fate for these nifty little machines. Plenty of reviewers on the John Lewis site and others report marvellous effects on the skin until one day the brushes turn themselves on and cannot be turned off or cannot be recharged; or cannot be turned on again because they have died. For some reason this scenario reminds me of the fate of Nana the courtesan in Zola’s eponymous novel: fantastically high class while she lasted but ultimately fated to return to society’s dustbin after a short, glittering career. £80 is a lot to pay for something that dies after 4 months. As I write the brush is sitting plaintively in its charging cradle. We shall see if we can bring it back from the dead.
For this reason it is with great and extreme sadness that I cannot recommend the Clinique brush. If Clinique ever bother replying to me, I shall post their response here.
I have sent my fourth Clinique Sonic Brush back to the company. The other three went nuts after charging; the third one took until its third charging session before it went the way of the others. I bought a replacement and charged it only for it lot lose charge after 10 days.
Estée Lauder, Clinique’s parent company, have been more than gracious in their speedy refunds but I wish they had tried this product BEFORE putting it on the market. My experience seems typical. Instead, I’ve bought a Clarisonic Mia Fit, with which I’m very pleased even though it seems to be drying my skin a little. We shall see.
When we return from our walk, Raffles often behaves like Brer Rabbit on his most skittish of days. He runs around the living room, jumps onto and off the sofa, goes a bit mad. I really don’t know why he does this. Is it, perhaps, that he’s relishing this final rebellious assertion of his freedom before he settles down to sleep for the next few hours?
When we came in this morning, he found an empty water bottle that I’d left on the stairs ready for recycling. He thought it was great:
Oscar clearly wasn’t keen on all the attention being on Raffles. Much of my shaky camera work was because he was butting my side, wanting me to film him instead.
I went upstairs to put on my makeup for my lunch appointment and came downstairs to find that Raffles had carefully extracted the balls of alpaca yarn that I’d carefully secreted away from his mischievous little jaws in the middle of that coffee table, and distributed the chewed yarn all over the sitting room. He truly is a naughty dog.
So I told him off a little. I didn’t shout but it was clear that I was cross and he went and stood behind Oscar to hide. Oscar looked bemused then guilty for a minute or two and went off to sulk in his bed. Poor Oscar. He always thinks everything is his fault.
I’ve recently started trying the Hourglass brand of cosmetics and I’ve done a couple of reviews on here. I’m not sponsored or anything, it’s just that I like trying shiny new things. As a premium US brand, Hourglass is likely to produce cosmetics that suit a more diverse range of skintones than European brands, and because I have such difficulty finding a foundation that matches my skintone, I’m always up for trying (at my own expense) something new.
I tried a sample of Hourglass’s Veil Fluid Makeup at John Lewis recently and liked it a lot. It’s so much more expensive even than my previous Chanel Vitalumière but I’ve found the unexcitingly-named Beige to be a really good colour match for me at the moment. This will all doubtless change in April, when I start to acquire a honeyed glow. It’s a lot to pay, yes, but then it’s so rare for me to find a foundation that has just enough yellow in it and no pink. With the wrong colour I end up looking orange or green or grey and we couldn’t have that.
I do like the foundation very much, though. It’s more or less weightless; feels silky on the skin; is a great colour match for me; lasts all day and dries to a mattish finish, which can be enhanced by using one of their finishing powders. Veil Fluid Makeup purports to have a special anti-ageing skincare ingredient. The sales assistant told me that I could use it all the way up to my eyes and it would plump out the tired-looking skin underneath. I’m not sure about that. I’m sceptical about all these potions being included in a foundation. For my purposes it should match my skin; be comfortable to wear and last all days without settling into pores and caking. For preference it should contain a broad-spectrum spf but I do use a separate one of these in the summer.
Delighted with my sample in all different lights, I ordered a bottle from Net a Porter and I used it for the first time this morning while Raffles was ransacking my yarn. Isn’t it always a minor thrill to unpackage something new and shiny? I removed the box, pressed away at the pump dispenser and:
Now, Hourglass are a super-premium brand. Their packaging is sturdy and shiny and a cut above anything I normally see. And yet it doesn’t work. How disappointing!
I tweeted both Net a Porter and Hourglass to alert them to the problem. Net a Porter wanted me to Direct Message them on Twitter but don’t seem to realise that they have to follow me first. I’ve heard nothing from them since I told them this and included my order number and date in the tweet. Hourglass have asked me to email them, and I’ll send them this video. I can still use the foundation, and it’s good, so it’s hardly the end of the world, but when you’re paying well over the odds for something, you expect it to work, don’t you? I don’t think I’m being unreasonable. (Get me, incidentally, Beckenham’s answer to Zoella.)
It’s always such a naughty, guilty pleasure to have lunch with a friend on a weekday and drink real wine. I don’t know why. I suppose it’s because I always have the feeling that I should be doing something at home and that I’m slacking off the ironing or the cooking or, as is currently the case, sorting out the house ready for the arrival of the builders. That is a side effect of being at home raising a family: your time belongs to them and there’s always something you could, should, be doing for them.
Then there’s the feeling that you should use the time productively. I should be practising my singing, for example. Or knitting that jumper I started for the Boywonder. But today I chose to take a couple (or four) hours out and have lunch and catch up with a friend. Business people call it networking.
***post not sponsored, obviously***
Bear with me. I’ve not got much to write today. I mean, there are things I could write about. I could write about how annoyed I am that I get up at 6.24 every morning to make sure I connect with my daughter before she goes off to school and then I complete all sorts of jobs (dishwasher; clear up the poo in the garden; three loads of washing; feed dogs; wait in for burglar alarm engineer; sort out dogs with dog walker; sort out lots of other things; go for workout at gym; shop for supper on the way home) before my son deigns to rise just as I return, as he’s working from about lunch time onwards for, what is it, four hours today?
I could but that would be a whinge, and would serve no purpose. It also means that the whole of the internet could see it and might make adverse judgements about my darling firstborn, which I wouldn’t want. Well, I say, the whole of the internet: actually it’s the whole of the internet minus members of my family who never read my blog.
That’s a bit of a slap in the face isn’t it? That people I’ve never even met (and some that I have) seem to enjoy reading this blog and yet my nearest and dearest don’t bother? “Why is that, Gita?” you might ask. Well, apparently it’s because they don’t need to read any of these thoughts because I can just tell them. Now, dear Reader, you and I know that there’s probably a bit more to this than that.
Which brings me to that famous quote from the late, great, Dr. Maya Angelou:
People will forget what you said
People will forget what you did
But people will never forget how you made them feel.
All of the above makes me feel a little overlooked by my fam and yet cherished by the people who comment on my blog posts. Which is weird, no?
Anyway if we’re not whinging, how about a post about lipstick?
Nars Audacious Lipstick: Leslie. Taken with my new camera and fiddled with on Aperture.
“Don’t you already have enough red lipsticks, Gita?” That would be a pertinent question. Yes, I have loads in all sorts of shades of red. (Not 50, as you ask.) But my existing brownish red is a matt formulation and then I saw these Nars Audacious Lipsticks displayed in all their glory on the John Lewis website.
There are 40 different shades, apparently, and they’re all named after Hollywood Goddesses. This one’s called Leslie after Ms Caron, I assume. This is she. (Isn’t it funny that her name is spelt in “male” form of the name, as opposed to “Lesley?”)
This is the creamiest lipstick I’ve used and feels gorgeous on the lips but it doesn’t stay there for long unless you use a lip liner pencil first. Then it stays on for ages. I’d definitely recommend it. The packaging is really lovely too, with a magnetic top that clicks into place when you’ve put it on the right way round and holds the cap there so it doesn’t come off in your bag. I’ll explore these in the future but I’m already feeling guilty about buying this one so I’ll have to wait awhile.
In other news, choir restarts tonight and we’ll be concentrating on preparing Carmina Burana for our concert at the Fairfield Halls on 14th March. It’s the first time I’ll have seen most of my comrades in song since the #tiaragate debacle just before Christmas. I’m bound to go in cringing but I’ll get over myself eventually and I might even go to the pub afterwards.
***post not sponsored***