According to my WordPress stats, today is my five year anniversary. Looking back I see that five years ago almost to the day A Voluptuous Mind was born.
A LOT has changed since I wrote that foreword, including the name of my blog and a lot of my likes and dislikes. I can’t remember being so into Matthew McConaughey to be honest, and of course there’s a massive shadow now cast over the actor who played Chuck Bass (allegedly). More importantly, Mariah Carey has grown on me like a glittery fungus and I’m not mad at her anymore.
As a person I’ve changed too and I hope for the better. I’m no longer so hung up on the idea of being anything other than me. I’m not fixated with losing weight and I’ve never been happier. The ideal of perfection is an illusion and it’s unobtainable, with ever moving goal posts – I’m glad I’ve realised that focussing on my mental health and well-being is more important that counting calories and the way I look.
I thought I’d celebrate this very special occasion by writing a new foreword, a brand new 2019 version. I’ll review it again in 2024.
Welcome to The Middle Row, formerly A Voluptuous Mind. This blog is no longer a ‘work in progress’, though sometimes it still feels that way. Even after five years I don’t think I’ve really landed on what I want it to be. And that’s okay.
I live in Brighton and work in Customer Services for a financial company. I love my job but I get bored easily. Luckily I have plenty of other things to keep me sane. I write a movie column for the call centre magazine and also have a work blog that gets nice comments. I’m also a rep for our in-house support team and am a point of contact if a colleague needs help with a work or non-work related issue. That’s one of my favourite parts of working for the company.
Outside work I have this blog and I also podcast. At the moment I’m planning a new horror themed podcast with two good friends. We’re all really excited about it and I will be sharing some of our new content here. But of course.
I live with anxiety and depression, something I finally faced up to a few years ago. I now understand myself so much better and know when to give myself space. I’m still obsessed with film, especially horror movies and I think my anxiety feeds into this. There’s something of a release found in the films I most enjoy.
I love to read, particularly Gothic horror, ghost stories and crime fiction. I love to be tattooed and I’m a shopaholic.
Thank you for reading A Middle Row, honestly – to every person who takes the time to visit and comment, I appreciate you.
It would be remiss not to mention the wonderful people I have met here on the blog. I have had friends from all around the world ever since I started blogging almost 20 years ago and they illuminate my social media feeds every day with their experiences and opinions.
And of course, the friendship I have with my blog wife Jill is one of the most important to me. We’ve been reviewing films for years now (more on that soon) and even though I can be highly disorganised and sloppy sometimes with the assignments, it means the world to me. So to Jill I say: thanks for the memories boo – looking forward to way more.
Thank you for reading for the last five years and here’s to fifty more.
It’s that time of the year again. Time to gaze into the navel of my birthday and give thanks to the past year. This isn’t quite as epic a milestone as last year obviously but it’s still been a pretty sweet ride.
40 has been good to me. I’ve done a lot of cool things, including two trips, fallen in love with Margate and spent a lot of time with a lot of good people. I’ve made some great new friends, enjoyed time with old ones – I’ve had fun at work, put myself forward for a new role which didn’t work out (but I’m quite pleased about that). I’ve been creative, I’ve been lazy – I’ve spent a lot of money, faced some fears, cried some tears. It’s been a well-rounded year and I’m grateful for it.
I love my life and even when I put myself down for being old (every single day of my life), I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m a wise woman with a wealth of life experience and better still, I’m still learning every day. I might be who I am but there’s always room to undulate and grow.
Here’s to reaching Level 41 tomorrow. I can only hope that it’s as eventful and as fun as the last.
A Voluptuous Mind turned 3 on Friday so welcome to the annual birthday post! I’m probably just going to freestyle this bad boy rather than follow any sort of structure this year which is part laziness/part not really having my head in the game – but I think that’s cool. (See previous years 1 & 2).
So! Three, eh? I wish I could remember what I was doing at three. I had a newish baby brother so back then that would have been the most exciting thing going down in my world. If we could time travel back, you would probably find me obsessed with two things: Papa Smurf and Wonder Woman. Unless that came just a little bit later in life. Remembering is hard, man.
But three is a good old age. It’s the age that people start telling you kids get interesting, with more defined personalities. I feel the same way about this blog in some ways. I’ve always had a voice sure, but since I stopped worrying about not having a ‘theme’ or definite manifesto, I’ve been having more fun.
I love the things I talk about and I think the only thing I really want to apply to future posts is more candidness. The things that have happened over the last fortnight with my Mother-in-Law have changed my outlook, I swear and I’m entering the next phase of life with a more devil-may-care attitude. All that means is more honesty, more carefully picked fucks and a shit ton more swearing – but I’m really looking forward to being more open.
Jill and I will continue to review films with more emphasis on the kind of movies that made us want to do this in the first place – the bad ones. Apart from that, no plans, just doing.
So here’s to A Voluptuous Mind’s Level 3 – I’m ready to kick some fucking arse, yo!
I’ve decided to do something a little different to mark my birthday this year and that is to not be negative at all, rather celebrate what James refers to as ‘Levelling Up’. Nice way to look at it, non?
Levelling up is basically accepting that you’re a year older and therefore have more experience under your belt, have (hopefully) achieved a few things and are generally just more awesome than you were a year ago. That’s what I’m taking from it anyway.
I’m going to take that line of thinking a little further and look back on a few personal highlights from the last year, because it’s my birthday and my blog. So there. (There will be pictures).
Since I turned 38 I have:
Become more sociable
Something happened earlier this year and I stopped saying ‘no’ so much. I started saying ‘sure’ to more unusual pursuits, like amateur theatre, the cabaret, pub on a Friday night and it feels good. I plan to continue and enjoy this side of myself, because there’s plenty of time for Netflix and Chill when I’m dead.
(I’m greatly exaggerating this statement of course, what I mean to say is, there’s room for both).
I finally met the graffiti artist I admire the most and now he recognises me. This seems a small thing but to me it’s a huge ‘un. Was I cool and aloof when we met? Oh hell no. I wore my adoration firmly on my sleeve and he was so sweet about it. Better for him to meet the real me though, right? One day I just know we’ll be BFFs and I’ll hold his spray cans.
Become ‘heavily’ tattooed
This is a funny one because to most people I was already heavily covered but I didn’t feel that way about myself. Until my mermaid in September. Now I’ve committed to two full sleeves (a work in progress) and I needed a moment to come to terms with that.
Sometimes I get tattooed impulsively but for the most part, every piece is another step towards body acceptance and I love each and every one of them. Some more equally that others.
Made new friends
I hung out with some awesome new people, including amazing Sian and the heavenly Lorna who are both body positive goddesses who
inspire me to look at myself closely and say “You know what? I’m amazing too!”. Invaluable.
Co-hosted a podcast
I was hardly going to fail to mention what I would class as my biggest achievement this year. Sometimes I just can’t believe how nonplussed I’ve personally been about putting myself out there the way we have. That’s massively down to the friendship I have with James, who suggested it and has made every episode a joy to record. I don’t ever want it to end.
I met my Blog wife in the flesh and it was amazing. She’s amazing. Love you girl! Next time I’m coming to you to eat all the food and pester Bertha Mason.
Here’s to the level 39, eh? Which at this stage feels like a key level with a big boss to defeat at the end (the big 4-0) but believe me, I’m ready.
A change from the norm this week but still very much on brand, don’t you worry.
It’s Jillian & Christa’s Great Blog Collab‘s 18 month anniversary (phew) this week and since it’s kind of a big deal to us (and hopefully a few of you), we decided we shouldn’t let the occasion pass without sticking a celebratory pin in it.
So this week we both present to you a little glance back at our top 5 favourite movies from our blogs, a couple of absolute turkeys (I feel we may overlap here) and a handful of honorary mentions because some films are just noteworthy in ways that don’t translate into ratings, you feel me?
A special thank you to Jill for thinking this one out logistically, and catching the anniversary. I’ve been feeling fried for the last few weeks and feel as though I’ve brought almost nothing to the table in terms of our collab, hence another Free for All theme this month.
I’m starting to feel brighter and more inspired than ever though, and am excited for this post and our future reviews.
I loved this movie so much when I first saw it and although I haven’t revisited it since, I think of it often. At the time of reviewing it, I accepted that it was imperfect even though I didn’t hesitate to slap a 5/5 rating on it. The ending is disappointing, though I’m not sure Mary could have just walked off to a normal life after everything she’d seen and done, even if I wanted it for her.
I find the body modification community fascinating and wonder how close to the bone this really is. In terms of taking back control and self-expression, it’s a wonderful tale and although you could argue that, in her pursuit of vengeance, our girl becomes just as bad as the perpetrator of the crime that changes her forever, it’s a fantasy and I’m with her all the way. I love the power Mary wields and the ways in which she empowers her clients. Female-centric horror written and directed by women? More please. Ps. Katharine Isabelle, ILY!
This documentary, that follows the bizarre lives of The Angulo Brothers; Bhagavan, Govinda, Jagadisa, Mukunda, Narayana and Krisna, is so special I feel it’s left a lasting impression on my heart. Funnily enough it came up in conversation with a friend earlier this week and our talk made me want to see it again. (BTW, I’ll reveal more soon but I have a very special project coming up and I think you’ll love it).
I often wonder what the boys are up to now, yet I can’t bring myself to look as this film has sealed them in time and left them on a high, despite their weird and wacky inner world. I need to live my life knowing that they’re all fine and happy.
If you enjoy something different, positive and heart-warming, then I can’t recommend this enough. (I’ve deliberately told you nothing here so you go in with no information. Trust me, it’s worth it).
I had to choose Wetlands for it’s sheer audacity. It feels like a film designed purely to shit stir. So much of it is ripe for a disgusted reaction; that’s exactly what it wants and gets x 1000. It is refreshing that our protagonist is not bound by the usual rules of femininity though, I have to say that. She’s crazy for sex, will try anything once and doesn’t give a flying fuck about being ladylike. It must have been so fun for it’s lead Carla Juri to play this part.
I’ve just bought the book on which the film is based and I hope to pick up soon. I’m curious to see if it’s even more graphic that its movie counterpart. Here’s hoping?
I really enjoyed this truly bizarre anti-romance starring Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass, about a couple working on getting
back that loving feeling, if only their alternate reality selves don’t fuck it up first. Yeah. This is one you have to follow carefully but it’s interesting film-making with great performances and a Make You Think ending, which is kind of bleak when you really consider it.
Part of the reason I love this movie is because I saw it around the same time as Coherence (2013) which is another alternative reality movie (on a smaller budget) that really messes with your mind. Don’t expect the ending to be spelt out for you in either film, both leave you genuinely wondering what the fuck has happened and how.
This film is one of the saddest I’ve seen in recent years with such a powerful message. Passing comment on sexism and ageism, it paints a stark picture of the future, where women of a ‘certain age’ are no longer useful unless they’re willing to sell their eggs (in this era, healthy eggs are like gold dust, see).
Our heroine, Gwen feels forced to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to give her daughter Jules the very best shot at a future and it’s more dramatic than you can possibly imagine, with consequences that will change both their lives forever. The film is fantastic, with excellent acting and if it doesn’t send you hurtling into the arms of your loved ones by the credits, then I don’t know what will.
Pop on over to Jill‘s to check out her contribution to our Top Ten favourite movies (we each picked five). I agree with each of the ones she’s chosen.
Now to my Worst!
A look back at some right turkeys:
Monkey’s Paw (2013) Without question (and I know Jill will mention it too), our worst film to date. It’s a re-imagining of W.W. Jacobs’ infamous supernatural short story and believe me, spend your time re-reading that five times instead.
This movie is painful to watch, with appalling acting and shit effects. In fact, you’ll be so miserable it’ll have you longing for a paw of your own to wish the pain away. Don’t bother, please. We’ve taken the hit so you don’t have to.
3 Women(1977) This film is odd as fuck, I won’t lie and it feels like it’s ten years long.All I really took from Robert Altman‘s 3 Women is that Shelley Duvallshould have stayed in the seventies as the aesthetic suits her so well, and vagina mosaics are timeless.
Down to You (2000)
Teen wank but of the worst kind. And here was me thinking I would never meet a highschool/college movie I didn’t like. WRONG!
This gets a nod because it’s hysterical in every way. Film wise it’s horrible but oddly only when it ventures into Buffy territory. Could have been excellent, instead it’s good bad gone mad. I will always watch a mermaid movie if it’s offered to me IDGAF!
It’s a shame in some respects that Lizzie Borden didn’t take an ax to the only copy of this film, thus rendering it extinct. However, we’ve not been that lucky. I’ve included Lizzie because Ricci plays her with such relish but in the end, apart from a little bit of face hacking, this tumbles into a courtroom drama and gets rather dull. Shame, as I love the Lizzie Borden story!
I love love love love love deliciously horrid Julia from the first two Hellraiser movies (played by Clare Higgins). Unfortch, the lack of evil step mum in the subsequent instalments render them not as good. Even if, in Bloodline, we get new Cenobytes, a scenario set during the French Revolution and Pinhead in Space.
Having said that, there are about 69 other Hellraiser movies in the series, so I’m sure we’re not done yet.
So there we have it, 18 months of appalling, bad, horrifying, great, classy, trashy, unbelievable and downright bonkers movies! And many more to come I’m certain of it.
The Collab has opened my eyes to all the wonders of bad cinema, made me expect more from the things I watch (for real though there’s bad bad and bad great, and never forget it). It has allowed me to embrace the one thing I love the very most: cinema. And even more than that, it brought me something I didn’t know I needed (but clearly did): a great friend with similar cinematic tastes.
Happy Birthday and a Half Blog Collab, and to you my blog wife! *raises cocktail glass in manner of Gatsby*
Don’t forget to swing over to wifey’s for her view on our anniversary.
Now I have more time to celebrate, I bought myself a Red Velvet cupcake to inhale while I type this. Cake is always the best way to honour any anniversary, naturally. Last year I did quite the fantasy post but I don’t know if I have the mental capacity this evening to replicate it (hectic day). I’ll do my best.
To start, a few of my favorite posts over the last year:
Just a wee flavour of how things go down around here (if you’re new and have just inexplicably stumbled onto this very post – WELCOME!).
For the purposes of this post I figured I’d set myself a few blogging goals:
Schedule more posts – So that we don’t have a situation like this one, where absolutely nothing has been thought through… JK! Goofing aside, it’s a very nice feeling to know you’re on top of your ramblings and utilising your time like a motherfucking BOSS
Take better pictures – This Guy (me) has a new iPad and the camera is about 7568% better that the one on my scabby old phone so expect to be wowed by future imagery
Get better at commenting – I’ve been working on this but could always be better
And finally, if my mystery benefactor just happens to pass by and wants to gift me, I’ll take everything on the Skinnydip London website please. Like, absolutely everything.
To every single person who takes the time to read and comment, thank you. It means the world, it really does. The last year of blogging has been great, I’ve met amazing people, discovered some really great blogs and I can’t wait to put in more time around here.
Now, if you’ll excuse me – I’ve got a date with the rest of this cake ❤
It’s show your ma you love her day here in the UK and I do, I do love my ma. She is an absolute peach.
But before I Iaunch into an ode to my dear old mother (she’s not old, she’s only, like, 66), I think it’s only fair to take a moment to think about those who can’t be with us today. Days like this are all well and good but there are people out there who have lost their parents, some recently and it’s understandably hard to keep cheerful on occasions like this. Believe me.
So, to all the mums that can’t be here with us, I’m thinking of you too; all those left behind and you, my Nana.
Back to Penny M, the greatest lady in my life. Everything I know today and every good quality I have, I learnt/inherited from my mother. If I am anything at all, I am my mother’s daughter and I wouldn’t change that for the world, because it’s blimming awesome. Here are just a few reasons I adore my mum:
She very, very smart and has a thoughtful answer for everything, which I admire. I like clever but I love subtle intelligence that doesn’t feel the need to announce itself loudly and arrogantly.
My mother reads more than anyone I know and this is where I got my passion for the written word. I started reading mature titles early on because I had access to them and Mum never tried to stop me reading them, which is amazing.
When I was 18, Mum bought me my own TV for my bedroom and it was here I started to watch amazing films late into the night, thus cementing my adoration for some of the greatest ever film makers. And horror. Lots and lots of horror. Thanks ma!
When she swears, I die. It’s the most hilaire. But she’ll still slaps me around the head if I use a really bad word, even though I’m 37 years old!
I can talk to her about absolutely anything.
Whenever I am going through a shitty time, she’s right there telling me that it’s all good material for ‘the book’. This is the book she truly believes I have in me, even though I’m not so sure. She also doesn’t judge me as hard as I judge myself, and tells me I’m just as brilliant as other people who have actually done things like further education, great careers, etc.
My mum understands me and even though sometimes it shoves my nose out of joint, when I go back and really think about what she’s said, it’s normally spot on.
Sometimes she calls me or sends me something when I most need it, and I don’t understand how she just knows.
She did shots at my brother’s wedding (below), the first time I have ever witnessed that. Plus, later on she was getting low with some of the bridesmaids on the dance floor, which was amuh-az-ing!
My mother, the legend. I love you Mum, more than ever and forever. Happy Mother’s Day!