Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I Don't Know Much About Art, But I Know What I Hate...

I've just read that Queen guitar-player Brian May collects star wars memorabilia... so that’s TWO good reasons to hate him.

Like mixing your perfumes? I do. I'm wearing a dash of Katie Price and a smidgen of Victoria Beckham... I smell like a cheap whore who can’t sing.

I always record the X-Factor – so I can fast forward through all the adverts. And the singing. And the judges comments. And the end credits.

Shopping With Personality

Wrote this for the Edinburgh Herald & Post last month... See me? See shopping? I love it, so I do.

Jo Caulfield - 'Shopping With Personality'

Are you a) a shopaholic b) quite like shopping c) shop only when necessary?

I’m a “shopaholic-in-denial” - basically if I could join a weekly support group I would. I’d also buy their t-shirt. And anything else they had on sale.

What type of shopping most turns you on a) shopping for clothes b) household and furnishings c) food d) other...and what is it?

Clothing. That’s the beauty of Princes Street - its all there: start at House of Frasier, then Urban Outfitters and Mango, down to H&M and Top Shop, Warehouse, River Island, Zara, into Jenners, right down to John Lewis, and finally all the way back up to House of Frasier to buy the first top I originally tried on.

I’m really enjoying Edinburgh’s Department Stores. Lunch at John Lewis then cocktails at Harvey Nichols - what’s not to like? Seriously if they put a bar in Top Shop I’d spend my whole weekend there.

Your best buy in the last year and why?

I bought a pair of True Religion jeans in New York for £250 that were marked down from £375, so in my head I saved £125. Then I spent that £125 on a new cowboy shirt, so the way I look at it I saved £125 on a pair of jeans and got a cowboy shirt for free. I realise half the people reading this (the male half) won’t see the logic to that, but the other half will know exactly where I’m coming from.

Your worst buy in the last year, and why?

A sandwich maker. It looked great in the advert but they’re so finicky and difficult to clean I’ve only used it twice. I feel sorry for the person I’m going to give it to this Christmas.

Your most expensive buy in the last year (excluding house or car)?

17” MacBook Pro laptop. (That’s the one thing missing from Edinburgh - there’s no Apple Shop. I know there’s one in Glasgow and I think there’s one in Aberdeen. Why don’t Edinburgh have one?)

Which all time best buy could you now not do without and why?

Its a toss up between my Tom Tom SatNav and my Mac laptop. They’ve both made my job/life so much easier. Most weekends I’m driving to comedy clubs all over Britain, I used to spend hours printing out maps and directions - now I just type in the postcode. And the laptop lets me run my own website, record my CD, edit short comedy films, record a podcast, I wrote my last radio series on it - all the artistic things I do without having a ‘comedy producer’ (who are usually the least funny people you will ever meet) standing over me, telling me how THEY think it should be done.

What’s the earliest thing you bought in your life – and still have?

When I was 8 I bought 3 little toy mice in ball gowns at a craft fair in Norfolk. I’d earned the money strawberry picking. I’ve no idea why I bought them. I don’t particularly like mice. And I’m not a ‘ball gown’ person. But I can’t bring myself to throw them out.

Have you ever binned or given away something – and then regretted doing so? What and why?

The week before we moved to Edinburgh I de-cluttered the house. Boxes of books & records went to the Oxfam shop, clothes went to Cancer Research and I left my Zanussi Jetsystem washing machine for the new occupier (I figured it would be too much hassle to un-plumb in London, transport to Edinburgh, and have plumbed in all over again).

And now? I’m regretting it all! I want my old clothes and my tattered books and my scratched punk records and my washing machine. Everything! I want it all back! I didn’t realise how comforting it is to be surrounded by your own junk.

What interesting/difficult to find item is top of your shopping list now?

Because of the move we’re buying a lot of household furniture. Finding a new couch is turning into a real nightmare. They’ll be the right length but won’t support the back enough. Or it’ll be nice and firm but not long enough to lie on.

I’d also like wallpaper that looks like worn brickwork to give the kitchen a ‘lower east side New York bistro’ feel. It must exist?

Where do you do most of your supermarket shopping in Edinburgh? Why there and what products do you recommend?

Sainsbury’s at Cameron Toll. From the car park you get a fantastic view of Arthurs Seat. That’s a big difference between Edinburgh and London: you can’t see a mountain when you’re buying your toilet roll in London.

I’d recommend the tubs of Olives and Manchego cheese with chillies.

BTW what’s with all the pies? I didn’t know there were so many different varieties. Do Scottish people live on mutton and pastry? The emblem of Scotland should be a Stag - going into Greggs the Baker.

Your favourite non-supermarket shop in Edinburgh and why?

The Edinburgh Bargain Store on Clerk Street. I’ve never seen anything like it: egg slicers, wallpaper, novelty hats, shampoo, boxes of chocolates, fireworks, crisps & dog collars all on shelves next to each other. It’s as though the head stock-buyer had a nervous breakdown.

I’ve spent a small fortune in there. So remember, if you desperately need a Lady Diana Teapot, a small bag of oven chips and a large poster of Bob Marley, look no further than the Edinburgh Bargain Store.

Your best ever Christmas present (an item rather than an experience) and why?

Wow. Christmas can be stressful. Its the time of the year when the whole family comes together and they realise - they don’t know anything about each other.

One year my dad got me a suitcase and a set of knives! Another year I got a soup maker and a Homer Simpson shower radio.

Luckily my husband buys great presents. Three Christmas’s ago he got me an iPod and I use it every days. I like having music on when I’m writing and I download a lot of podcasts - I’m especially interested in American politics. And this week I’ve just sussed out how to download the BBC iplayer onto it so I never miss my favourite show, The Apprentice.

I can’t wait to see his face this Christmas when he unwraps his sandwich maker.

"My Edinburgh" for The Pulse

Wrote this last month for The Pulse - an Edinburgh magazine (?) - I've never seen it but the staff off The Queens Arms on Fredrick Street read it and they've been very nice to me ever since.

Jo Caulfield - My Edinburgh

Why did you decide to move to Edinburgh?

I moved to London as a teenager and loved it. Now I think of it like John Terry - it’s big, it’s dirty and it’s ugly. Edinburgh has been the plan for a couple of years. I’ve been coming here every August for the last 10 years & I’ve always have a great time, I’ve made a lot of good friends here and it’s easily one of the most picturesque cities in the world. My husband’s from Aberdeen and he wanted to be nearer his family (The Granite City was completely out of the question! No offense.)

Have you got one, stand-out, most memorable-ever Capital event? ((Oh-hoh! This'll be the Fringe question,then))

August 2001. Coming off the train at Waverley Station and seeing a man in full Highland gear, the tartan kilt, the sporran, the bagpipes … I was so excited to see my real first American Tourist.

August 2001. It was my first solo show at the Fringe. I was messing with the audience and had a funny 10 minute bit of banter with a woman in the front row. She turned out to be the Head of BBC Radio Comedy and gave me my own Radio 4 series on the strength of that evening.

What's your favourite old-fashioned boozer or style bar?

I’m not interested in loud piped music or fruit machines. I prefer bars where the emphasis is on the company and the conversation, so I’m a big fan of The Star Bar (Northumberland Place), Lord Bodos (Dublin Street) Jolly Judge (James Court) & the Queens Arms (Frederick St).

My friend Paul is a member of The Whisky Society, it’s a beautiful building on Queen St, all very Gentlemen’s club like, fabulous staircases, huge windows and high ceilings. I like going there as his guest because it’s not remotely snobby. It’s perfectly acceptable to get drunk and ask stupid questions about whisky.

The staff make it a real occasion, they’re happy to spend the evening telling you about all the different whiskies and what area produces what type.

Believe me, very soon you will think you know what you’re talking about and it’s thoroughly enjoyable to talk bollocks about whisky – “Oh yes, I’m getting peat with a hint of caramel”.

What's your favourite Restaurant/Café/Deli/Take-away?

MUMS on Forrest Road. Great comfort food. Sausage and mash, homemade pie and mash, blackend salmon and mash, haggis, neeps and mash. Basically I like mash - if they did mash and mash I’d order it. Last time I was in they were playing great music, The Temptations and lots of Stax/Atlantic stuff. What more could you want?

What's your favourite view in the city?

From the car park at Cameron Toll shopping centre you get a great view of Arthurs Seat. That’s a big difference between Edinburgh and London: you can’t see a mountain when you’re buying your toilet rolls in London. It makes a trip to Sainsbury’s almost pleasurable.

What are you looking forward to most in Edinburgh over Christmas and New Year?

I’ll be spending the first part of the Festive season in Aberdeen (surely an oxymoron?), then coming back to Edinburgh for a run of shows at the Stand Comedy Club. I can’t wait for New Years Eve - I’ve watched it several times on TV but now I’m looking forward to actually being on Princess Street and kissing a Scotsman at the stroke of midnight (or whenever my husband’s back is turned.)

What's your favourite walk in or around the city?

The Water of Leith - even the name of it is like something from Brigadoon. The Water of Leith runs from Leith all the way to Balerno, it’s 13 miles but let’s not get crazy with healthy pursuits. I walk a short bit of it going through Dean Village, where there are beautiful 18th century ivy covered mansions and old 17th century mill cottages, up by botanical gardens and the Gallery of Modern Art where you can get that great Scottish masterpiece – homemade soup and a roll. Scotland is king for homemade soups.

I also enjoy the walk from Harvey Nichols to Topshop, down to John Lewis, then home via Oddbins and Victoria Wine.

What's your favourite (and least favourite) piece of architecture?

Favourite: I’m still excited seeing the castle everyday. I can see it from my kitchen window. If I stand on a chair. And use a mirror. Tied to a very long stick.

Least favorite: There’s an incredibly ugly looking building on The Lawnmarket. I think it’s a bank or hotel? It’s directly opposite Deacon Bodies Tavern bar. I’ve no idea how they got the design accepted - it’s an ugly modernist building sticking its fingers up to the surrounding history.

What's your least favourite area in Edinburgh (or scariest place)?

Forget the ghost walks, forget the haunted houses - the traffic lights at the corner of South Bridge & The Royal Mile is the scariest place in Edinburgh. The pavement is far too narrow and everyone seems to have forgotten how to walk or act in a civilized manner. Italian tourists, Australian backpackers and drunken Scotsmen (You know its true!) all pushing and shoving. Hey! I’ve just realised as a ‘local’ I can complain about the ‘tourists’. Aw, I feel a bit teary.

Do you have a Local hero – alive or dead?

Whoever owns or runs The Edinburgh Bargain Store on Clerk Street is a Saint. If you desperately need to buy some paper for your printer, an egg slicer and a novelty hat; look no further.

What's the most recent thing you have done to your home (eg. Extension, carpeting or renovation) that you're really excited about. What was good about it, who provided it and why has it worked out well?

I had to call a plumber last week. I opened the Edinburgh Yellow pages at 4pm and picked one at random. I told him the problem, he said he’d try to squeeze me in during the day. Having lived in London for so long I was thinking I wouldn’t see him till 7 or 8pm.

4.30pm the doorbell rings - its the plumber. First words out of his mouth? “Sorry I’m late”.

“One Stop Plumbing & Heating” - 24 Forrester Park Avenue, EH12 Tel: 0131-622-0098

What do you think is the most annoying/amusing Edinburgh habit?

Strangers talking to you - I believe its called ‘friendliness’. I’ve obviously been in London too long.

Describe Edinburgh in one short, sharp sentence.

“Edinburgh - it’s not all tourist shit”

Thursday, January 06, 2011

My Health - The Herald

I've just written this article for The Herald newspaper in Scotland. They run a piece every Monday on the health page called My Health. It's about anything and everything health, fitness, diet and wellbeing related. I left out the bit about my frequent 'liquid lunches'...

My Health - Jo Caulfield (The Herald)

I’m lucky that I’ve always been healthy and have lots of energy. At school I did a lot of sport, mostly running. I was very athletic but had very poor hand and eye co-ordination so I was rubbish at netball, rounders and tennis. I was basically just good at running and jumping. I ran for the school, 1500m, I can remember just endlessly sprinting round a field with no one watching.

My fitness regime is to join a Gym every three years; go regularly for 2 months and then spend the next 6 months trying to cancel my membership and get a refund.

I walk a lot. Edinburgh’s fantastic for that. Be it a couple of laps round the Meadows or a longer Sunday morning walk round the back of Arthurs Seat to Duddingston village. Although my favourite Edinburgh walk will always be from the cafe in John Lewis to the bar in Harvey Nichols.

I occasionally get colds but I can only remember being really ill once since I was a kid. Although I did get chicken pox about 7 years ago. People say it's much worse when you're an adult and they're right. You also look terrible which is ok because you are far to ill too go anywhere. You look like you're perfect casting for the part of "medieval pox ridden harlot".

I eat healthily but I like healthy food so that's not a hardship. Spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, What can be hard is finding good food when you're on the road. Thankfully motorway services now have M&S and Waitrose foodhalls. They saved my life when I was on tour. I would arrive at the hotel with bags and bags of groceries - not very Rock n' Roll. Although under the Salmon pasta salad was always my M & S wine in a can.

When I'm working I eat a lot of bananas. Years ago I read an interview with ex football player/manager Gordon Strachan where he said bananas were full of potassium and vitamin B6 and he would eat them before a match and the energy would be released slowly to him throughout the following 90 mins. I've usually got a couple of bananas in my handbag - no innuendo intended - I just actually carry a couple of bananas.

I'm tall and lanky with a fast metabolism so I have to watch that I don't miss a meal as I can get hypoglycemic. I didn’t know anything about it until I collapsed at an airport. The paramedics diagnosed it straight away and force fed my chocolate and coca cola to flood my body with sugar.

I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth so I’ve also taken to carrying small cans of Ginger Ale in my bag. It also stops me getting irritable - apparently I'm "A bitch when I'm hungry!"

I stress out about not getting enough sleep. It can be hard to wind down after a show. My body is buzzing with adrenalin and I can’t calm my brain down. It’s a familiar problem with most comedians. I mentioned it to my doctor and she recommended a glass of wine before bed. So now every night before I go to bed I have a glass of wine. Which isn’t always easy because sometimes I’m already very drunk - but doctor knows best.