The Games

September 3rd, 2012

The 2012 Olympic Games in London are over and during the largest event the world ever gets to see, I have had so much fun that I didn’t even need a summer holiday. The fact that such a special occasion landed on such a special city makes it an even greater spectacle for a London girl like me to see. I love the Olympics. I really do! And not just because I’m long jumping onto the Olympic bandwagon like a lot of the Olympic sceptics did once it got started, who pre-Olympics loved nothing more than to rubbish the whole thing before it had even begun, with every single news channel and tons of social network status updates blurting out statements such as ‘East London residents aren’t benefiting from it enough’, ‘the ticketing is a disaster’, ‘the stadium will never be finished on time’, ‘safety will be compromised’, ‘the transport system won’t hold up’ and (the most dramatic and negative of the lot) ‘look what happened to Greece after they hosted it…it will BANKRUPT this country’. I couldn’t stand listening to it all! Why we constantly focus on the negatives until the positives are shoved down our throats, making us finally cheer on Team GB (and in my case, Ireland’s only real gold medal hope, the female boxer Katie Taylor) I’ll never know. Stereotypically, we like to moan, but why do we moan about everything, including the Olympic Games? And now those same sceptics are raving on about how amazing it all was and how “surprised” they are that is went so well. Only today I heard one such (Loose Woman) sceptic waffling on about how negative she was about the whole thing before the Games started but can now see the error of her ways (only to start moaning about how we can’t live on happy thoughts for too long though as we’ll all go mad – quote unquote!).

I’m happy to say that I’m not like those negative bandwagon jumping Nelly’s. I have loved the Olympics for as long as I can remember and I get excited about them years before they start. I mean, it’s the OLYMPICS!!!!!! It’s a sporting event that was created almost 3000 years ago. It’s lasted longer than religions, royal families, buildings, and even landscapes. On top of that, London is the only city to have ever hosted the Modern Games three times! Over 30 million people saw our famous sites when they watched the marathons. Over a billion people watched our creativity, flair and sense of humour, depicted so well by Danny Boyle, flow through the craziness of the Opening Ceremony, which if you loved it or hated it, you’ll never forget it. London hosted the most environmentally sustainable games ever, and a record of more than 9 million people attended the Olympic venues. Team GB did their country proud, the volunteers made us even prouder, and London was a truly special place to be during it all.
Seeing the Queen say ‘Good evening Mr Bond’ with a glint in her eye and then ‘parachute’ from a Union Jack coloured helicopter into the Olympic stadium made even this little Irish girl laugh out loud and shout “YES, go Queenie!”. Then on the 4th August, I stayed in on what turned out to be a very special Saturday night and watched the best all-round athlete in the world Jessica Ennis not only win the gold in the Heptathlon, but win it in style! She made all the other competitors look mediocre in the 800m race as she pushed forward to finish in first place, even though she only needed a top 7 position to take the gold. On that same night, seeing a relatively unknown, cocky boy from Milton Keynes named Greg Rutherford confidently pounce to gold in the long jump made me almost burst with pride and happiness, both for Team GB and the country I live in. This surely had to be the highlight of my Olympic experience, right? Wrong! Because on that same, special Saturday night, Mo Farah ran his heart out during the race of his life in the 10,000m to prove that he was not only the finest distance runner the UK has ever produced, but the best in the world, becoming an Olympic Gold Medallist. I cried like the Banshee when he crossed the line with a look of sheer astonishment on his face, whilst his friend and training partner Galen Rupp running for the USA cheered him on from second place, and I positively wailed like the Banshee when I saw his daughter running up to congratulate him after that momentous win.

And then of course there’s Usain Bolt, my favourite athlete of all time, making the impossible possible, by doing the ‘triple triple’ for Team Jamaica, with another world record thrown in for good measure. So many amazing memories, along with the judo, gymnastics, rowing, cycling, swimming (or should I say seeing the greatest swimmer of all time Michael Phelps retiring in the only way a winner like he knows how to by becoming the greatest Olympian of all time), to name but a few of the many sports involved, and of course women’s boxing, making London 2012 the first Olympics to have a woman compete in every event thank you very much! These images made me forget about what’s normally on the TV; war, politics, talk of double dip recessions and tabloid scandal, which in truth, does bring us all down at times.

It’s strange isn’t it, how we crave what’s bad for us and forget how good something like the Olympics makes us all feel? And Olympic positivity was everywhere in London. There were flags on lampposts, international ‘Houses’ dotted around the streets, talk through the offices with a constant online stream of events taking place and more so, you could just see it across the faces of both Londoners’ and the visitors we had here specifically for it. To top it off, the only time the sun shone throughout our summer months was pretty much during those 2 weeks. And would you have it, it’s only come and got its hat on once more just in time for the Paralympics too! The Opening Ceremony for the Paralympics was watched by over 1 billion people worldwide, which is a massive achievement in itself. I felt Jenny Sealy directed a wonderful ceremony and the tone was set for me when an announcer said “Those who can, please stand for the National Anthem”. It will no doubt do marvellous things for people living with disabilities by reminding us all, in what seemed to be a non-patronising way, just how special we all are and in fact, some more so than others. The Paralympics is an incredible platform for people with disabilities to do more than just survive, but to strive for something greater, no matter how tough the challenges are.

On the 7th July 2005, when the buzz and jubilations of winning the International Olympic Commitee’s vote to host the Games, beating Paris by just 4 votes, was instantly taken from us by the horrific terrorist attacks on our city, I remember feeling so confused and upset. I asked myself why has this happened in London of all places? It’s one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world. If you hurt this city, you’re bound to be hurting someone just like you. Amongst the feelings of confusion, anger and sadness though I also felt pride. I felt the kind of pride I’ve never really felt before as a Londoner. I’d heard the older generation talk of this pride and how they felt it during the Blitz, but I never quite got what that meant exactly. However, on that awful day, I felt proud to be a Londoner and felt happy that so many people from all over the world (including my Irish parents 30 years before) decided to move to this city, raise families here, build a life and make this place home. So, when the Olympics came to my city, in my lifetime, and being that I’d rather feed off positive situations as opposed to awful ones like that dark day in London’s history, I’m happy to say that whilst riding through Moorgate on a London Boris Bike about a week into the Games, I could feel such good energy within the city and I said to myself this is the proudest I have ever felt to be a Londoner. It was great to know that we were putting on such a brilliant show. It’s wonderful to look around at so many different faces who are having a really good time here and see them feel as welcome as they do. And even though I’m not British, having been born on the Emerald Isle some moons ago, and even though when Ireland played against Great Britain my instinct was to cheer on the green; the love, admiration and pride I felt for Team GB every time they beat their personal bests, cheered on their peers, or actually took home a medal, made me think to myself how lucky I am to be here, seeing it all first hand. To feel happiness for Sarah Attar, the first woman of Saudi Arabia ever to compete in track and field, to witness David Rudisha break his own record in the Men’s 800m race and quite possibly run the best 800m ever seen, to cheer on a Ugandan Stephen Kiprotich during the Men’s Marathon to take the gold medal home to his country ending a 40 year wait, or watch Gemma Gibbons look up to the sky and say ‘I love you Mum’ when she got herself into the Women’s Judo Final, will always stay in the hearts of anyone who cares about the Olympics. And because such a great job was done by Seb Coe, the IOC, the builders, cleaners, athletes and all of those wonderful volunteers like my friend HP’s Dad, by creating such a well produced infrastructure and by making sure the whole thing ran so smoothly, the Paralympics have been just as amazing, just as well thought out and just as positive as the ‘warm ups’ were.

Ever since I was a little girl I can safely say I have never missed an Opening Ceremony, I have never missed a Closing Ceremony and I have never missed the Men’s 100 meter finals. I have always shed a tear during at least one of these events, I have always screamed the roof off during many others and I have, during every Olympic Games that I can remember, allowed myself to dream. Something as simple as standing in a line and seeing who can run the fastest reaches deep into the core of what it means to be human. To strive, to compete, to shake hands after and to be excited!

So from me to you London Town, a massive well done for making the 30th Modern Olympic Games the best the world has ever seen, and of course for proving all the doubters wrong, just like I knew you would! 🙂

Deals on Heels

July 20th, 2012

When you’re a woman who loves to be fabulous and has a keen desire to make the most of your legs, there is really only one thing for it. Well, two actually. A pair of high heels! On nights out or special occasions, heels (for the most part) help you achieve more. And no matter what any non-heel wearing woman (pregnant lasses and the over 60’s excluded) says to justify her reasons for no longer wearing them or, even worse, having never worn them at all (yikes!), heels really do make your legs look better, and, if you’ve mastered how to strut in them, they make the rest of you look better too! I understand that this is a somewhat anti-feminist statement, and believe you me, I am all about power to the ladies, but before some of you shout in despair at me suggesting you must wear heels to look/feel good, understand this; it is not an accident that this £193 BILLION worldwide industry leaves us surrounded by literal works of art, from the likes of Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik, Hervé Leger, and (my current favourite high street collaboration) Carvela and Kurt Geiger, to name but a few. To tempt us even further, all of these artists have accompanied their works of art with deliciously creative names, such as the Louboutin ‘Lady Gres Platform Pump’ (how can you put platform and pump in the same name? Ask Christian!), Manolo’s blue satin ‘Hangis’ (made famous by SJP in the SATC movie), the beautiful, relatively comfortable foot companion which is the Hervé Leger Wedge (no name required) and Carvela and Kurt Geiger’s fabulous new in-store release…‘Greed’. So it’s hard for a girl not to fall in love with these creations, over, and over, and over again, whilst succumbing to the evils of The Heel!

Now, as with most things you fall in love with, there’s a certain element of pain involved. High heeled works of art being no exception! They hurt. They hurt like HELL. They hurt so much that I almost begrudge bigging them up! Non-wearing heeled folk can only imagine what these beautiful bookends actually do to us heeled lovers. And it’s even worse if you’re at the stage in life that some of my best pals and I are at, whereby we only wear our heels on special occasions, such as holidays, work commitments or the odd (blagged of course) red carpet outing, meaning your tootsies get used to not wearing them. Which is bad! Speaking of occasions, said friends and I have recently attended a few such jaunts, including the BAFTA’s, the Brits, the Cannes Film Festival (4 days and 4 nights of heeled hell I might add) and our oldest friend’s Hen Weekend in Marbella…a place where heels are considered the absolute norm, even in the 35 degree heat and by the swimming pool (mental, isn’t it?!).
What with the crippled knee and ankle joints, the shin splints, the lower back pain, the swollen feet and the rock hard callus balls that build on the soles after every heeled outing, some of you may be thinking WHY would you do it? Well the answer is based on requirements, as in, how can this height, width and trickery make me feel better AND further more, what will it help me achieve on this occasion – this of course varies for each individual, from making your outfit look better at a wedding, making your legs look thinner in a club or, my particular choice, making you feel more stronger from within.

So, what do heels and deals have in common? Well, heels are the key component to not only elongating your pins, but they also allow you to walk with sex appeal, power and confidence. When you’re a poor, self employed girl who loves (aka needs) a good old blag (or for the purposes of this piece, a ‘deal’) so you don’t have to fork out on club entry and alcohol you actually can’t afford, then a touch of sex appeal, a splash of power and a whole bucket full of confidence are the three main ingredients required when helping a deal come to fruition, as without them, you are merely just a ‘small person’ (I mean that figuratively of course). There’s a saying that goes something like Champagne lifestyle, lemonade budget. And although I adore the true shoe artists and their wonderful creations, as my good friend B says, in our case, it’s more Louboutin lifestyle, New Look budget! Hence the fact that she tottered along to Marbs with a pair of the most exquisite, outlandish, ridiculous but truly divine Made in China babies that were constantly being mistaken for Alexander McQueen runway shoes (but were in fact just $36 from a warehouse in Canada!) because she understands the power of a heel when it comes to a) feeling fabulous and b) blagging! Not only did she resemble (a more stunning) Gisele Bündchen, I dare say those Japanese inspired ‘somethang somethaaangs’ did indeed contribute to all 10 of us getting into a famously hard-to-get-into venue, for free, with £300 bottles of voddy thrown in! That, and the countless hours spent pre-Marbs emailing, texting and basically bullshitting our way into necessary freeness at every corner. Necessary because B’s an actress so, like me, she’s pretty skint at times, meaning any pre blagging is well worth the hardship if it saves us a few vital pennies (that can then of course go on new shoes…hmmmm, maybe this is my problem?!). But also like me, she won’t let a little thing like having no money get in the way of having a truly fabulous time!

Some of this may sound superficial and materialistic but actually, my friends and I are really deep and spiritual, and most of us are very much into House music, which if you didn’t know, is a really deep and spiritual scene. The main focus of House is the feeling you get from it, the fact that you’re sharing something special with everyone else that loves it and of course the party itself! It’s not about flashing your money or showing off expensive things or about getting so sloshed that you forget the floor is sticky whilst you ‘let loose’ to Rihanna’s Umbrella ella ella in places like Cannes and Marbella. So when we ‘needed’ (I say that loosely!) to go to Cannes for the Festival for work or when we ‘had’ to choose Marbella for our oldest friends Hen Do, we knew that although both destinations would be full of wonder and merriment, in terms of our musical ‘let loose’ taste, we were going to be sacrificing what really matters to us. We knew that sexy, well-produced House music would be replaced by cheesy, French pop and Hip Hop that would have us hip hopping all over the Costa Del Crime! So, for our sacrifice, one of our stipulations (as it were) is that we will not be paying for losing our tunage and having to walk around in fabulous heels all night. Don’t get me wrong, we’ll pay for flights, nice restaurants, new bikinis and transport obviously! But why should we pay for entry (or Belvedere Vodka!) when both our shoes and ourselves are usually the main event? And given the link between the deal and the heel, it’s probably no coincidence that whilst flying down a Marbella motorway at 120 miles per hour in an open top belter of a car, driven by a crazy Arab whilst he was STANDING UP (no lie!), there are not just pictures and videos of my 3 oldest friends and I laughing, screaming and singing (to Hip Hop funnily enough) but also….pictures of our shoes in the air!!!

And if De Niro, Diaz and Harvey Weinstein are entitled to free drinks and canapés at the Hotel du Cap on the French Riviera, why aren’t we?!? I mean, on the outside, we’re walking along the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival surrounded by paparazzi and A-Listers (whilst fitting in thanks to our fabulous heels). But on the inside, does it really matter that if you looked a little closer, you’d see that 2 out of the 4 of us had genuine Accreditation Passes, whilst the other 2 stupidly left it too late to apply and ended up having complete fakes that we had to forge with sticky back plastic and blank credit cards in our hotel room using the printer and scanner we brought over from London on Easyjet?!

This in case you haven’t noticed is how I justify my ghastly blagging nature; I do it because I can’t always afford what I want or indeed need. But if truth be known, my Dad was a blagger, and his Dad before him, and the fact that I get a true buzz out of it suggests I was born this way (therefore my reasoning is that it’s not entirely my fault, right?). And a great analogy for the benefits of blagging a good deal (which also happens in business, politics, charity events etc) is this; just like a fancy dress party always sounds hideous from the outset but in most cases getting dressed up and having to think about the party beforehand actually gets the invited excited, allowing for a truly fun party, so does blagging a great deal! Knowing you’ve sorted it for everyone, knowing there’s no waiting in line for the girls (a MUST in the heels), knowing you’ll have a seat to perch on when said heels rebel, and most importantly, knowing that you won’t be feeling sick (excluding all the Jager Bombs you downed) when you look at your bank account the next morning to NOT find a ridiculously over priced drinks bill that could fill your fridge for a month, means that you’re actually free to have a really, really, great night, no matter how expensive the venue is!

And that’s the crux of it for me and B, and my oldest friends too. To coin a phrase from the original party girl Ms Lauper, we really do just wanna have fun! We don’t actually care about the free booze and we know our heels are as much our enemy as our friend, but for us, it’s about feeling great, throwing some shapes and most importantly, being together with the people that allow us to be ourselves. And that’s why we go through it all! Do heels really lead to great deals? Of course they do! But getting out of them to dance in a swimming pool under the moonlight with your best friends at 4am in a place you’ve never seen before is actually far more important!

So to B and the Cannes 3, thanks for such a fab and fruitful visit to the 65th Festival de Cannes. I hope you enjoyed it as much as my shoes and I did! And to my oldest friend K, I hope you had a truly amazing, fun, happy and utterly fabulous Hen Weekend, as nothing less would be suitable for you!

And now that I’m back on London soil with Cannes and Marbs been and gone, I’m thinking what to do next? Well it’s on to another blag of course! Ibiza 2012 anyone? Hmmmmmm….where’s my black cat suite and matching wedges???

My First Blog!

May 16th, 2012

Well, here I am writing my first blog in the hope (or maybe unfounded expectations) that someone will in fact be a) interested in what little old me has to say and, more importantly, b) is reading it. After vocally rambling on both professionally and personally about numerous topics for many, many, years, along with constantly typing almost every word and thought that springs to mind in letters, emails, texts and instant messages, I find myself at odds with my colloquial experience and am not entirely sure what it is I’m actually supposed to be saying! If I’m being honest, I’d have to admit that I don’t really read blogs. I mean, I’ve come across them of course…you’d have to be a complete computer novice like my friend ‘Viv’, who can barely turn on a computer without mistakenly sending her whole address book an email about her flatulence problem. Or even my Dad…who once asked if he needed to use a capital ‘A’ or a small ‘a’ when writing the @ sign in my email address. (You can imagine how difficult it was for me to then describe over the telephone what the at sign actually is. “Dad, it basically looks like a little ‘a’, with something that looks like a circle or a tail rolled around it. And you need to press the Shift button at the same time as the @ button to be able to use the @, ok?” Dad’s reply…“Ok good, now which one is the Shift button?”).

So, yes, I get what blogs are about and have indeed come across them. But I’ve often found myself getting half way through some blogs when I become distracted by annoying adverts popping up that I would never, ever be interested in, before logging off and getting back to my pre-blog state. Is this because the blogs I’ve found aren’t very good and tend to consist of self-absorbed fools who love nothing more than referring to themselves in the third person, whilst having their readers congratulate them on how wonderfully marvelous they are? Or, maybe their choice of topic is just slightly off my radar and something I’m finding hard to relate to? Or even, dare I say it, a little from Column A and a little from Column B??? (And yes, I know how controversial Column A is!). In which case, at this stage of my blog I’ll have already lost half of you and the only ones to be sticking around are the friends and family who’ve heard it all before but feel obliged to hang on in there until the end. Don’t worry, as with all my ramblings, it’ll come to an end at some stage soon, I promise.

Now, re this blog, I ask myself “where do I take it?”. Do I go down the deep and sensitive route and whittle on about my emotions and annoyances or should I just try to keep it witty and somewhat political? And if I choose one genre over the other, do I have to stick to this same style every time I blog? How boring! Given this is my website, and there are many facets to my personality, it’s probably best not to pop myself into a Trafalgar Square pigeon hole straight off the mark me thinks! Maybe I should just keep it simple, no mean feat for someone like me! But believe it or not, I do actually like simple. And honest too! Which is great, because my honest but sometimes described as – incorrectly I might add – frank style often gets me into trouble, so best to start as I mean to go on by keeping my blog blatantly real, right?

You know, after typing it so many times, I’ve come to realise that I don’t even like the word ‘blog’, or the meaning for that matter! In my slightly judgmental (even though I’ve spent long amounts of time trying to be ‘mindful’ and learning that ‘judgement words’ are not beneficial) mind, it has so many bad connotations. Words and sentences spring up like tripe, self indulgence, what are they actually talking about??? I can see now that those other blogs have totally scarred me for life, haven’t they?! But being that I now myself am a blogger, it’s best not to defame any of my ‘peers’ by naming and shaming them! Seriously though, blog, meaning to write your opinions and observations down for everyone else to see, because of course I’m arrogant enough to assume that my opinions and observations really matter to complete strangers?! (Facebook status overload, making cups of tea on Twitter etc etc etc). And without a hint of sarcasm, I’m just getting too old to care about what other people think! How much do you ever really sway other people’s thoughts anyway?

However, I do have my own website (thanks to a wonderful web designer named Paul Flood, who deserves massive thanks for all of his hard work, along with a lifelong supply of Jameson Whiskey of course!), which means I should (judgement word, not good!) be keeping you all up-to-date with my musings and funny little anecdotes about my ‘opinions and observations’ on life. And, if you’ve stayed reading for this long, then maybe I’ve created a little interest so will therefore try to keep things fresh, witty and even at times (if I’m sticking to this being honest malarkey) a little controversial? Please pop by again when you have a moment to spare, feel free to leave your own comments too (keep ‘um clean people, I’ve figured out how to edit this website thing you know!) and of course, if you’re ever in need of an observational, opinionated, honest and somewhat rambling Presenter, then by all means get in touch!
Thanks ever so much for popping by to see what’s happening in the wonderful world of Gemma Nixon. Oh no, I’m referring to myself in the third person….that didn’t take long, did it?!?

Until next time…peace out people. x

P.S. Viv is a false name for a real friend…who I’m sure would not be happy to be outed for her technological (and physical) mishaps! You’ll hear more about her no doubt soon!

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