Friday, 28 May 2010

Sex and the City 2: The London Premiere

So yes, after days of tormenting myself as to whether or not I should brave the crowds and join them in trying to catch a glimpse of the famous foursome at last night's Leicester Square premiere - I went, I saw, I conquered.

Arriving at the Odeon amidst the beginnings of the Thursday evening rush hour I headed down to the square to see screens and gates and trailers and glitter enclosing the otherwise tourist-filled Leicester Square.

Taking up my position by the gates to settle in and await the arrival of the SATC cast I watched as more and more people flooded in from seemingly every corner...

An odd gentleman to my left decided to voice his very strange opinion as to why the crowd was mostly female, saying he knew that one of the stars is gay and therefore all or most of the spectators were there because we all had a major crush on her... hmmm, I told him he didn't understand the appeal of Sex and the City and that it was actually the kind of cult following that had nothing whatsoever to do with lesbian love... "The fashion!" I tried explaining to him - but to no avail. He was adamant, and he told me "I know, I've done my reading" - okay... Not content with leaving it at that, he arrived at my side again to declare that he was unequivocally NOT interested in men. "That's good to know", I told him. Thankfully he finally melted away into the crowd and I was joined by some normal people.

However, the weirdness was not over... Two... creatures arrived at the gate moments later. One was dressed in a blue tutu and looked like something Sesame Street had thrown up, with too much make-up and not enough brain capacity to function. Her companion was even worse, wearing a mismatched ensemble topped off with a headband out of which protruded a pair of furry balls and hugging a framed picture of... Bruce Forsyth!!

The movie's soundtrack was being played over the tannoy so that all of Leicester Square could enjoy the lyrics of "Single Ladies" (not so wonderfully covered my Liza Minelli in the movie), Alicia Keys' "New York" and more, including the lilting sound of the Middle-East. "Well that's all wrong! What's that?" says Blue Tutu - "It's Moroccan" I supply helpfully. "Wha?!" (Blue Tutu), "Moroccan..." I reply. "And why's tha?" (Blue Tutu). "Ummm, because they film part of the movie in Morocco...". Seriously, these freaks are probably not even aware of what movie is even on - and Bruce Forsyth certainly aint gonna be making an appearance!!!

I spend the rest of the wait trying to ignore them and get chatting to my new "normal" friends as we trade SATC stories and wait for Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda!!! Gok Wan appears at the top of the stairs flanked by Jenny something (can't be bothered to be interested in who she actually is) and riles up the crowd by telling us that from his vantage point he can see the limos arriving...

We watch as the first of the Z-list arrives, fake-tanned and heavily made up, sporting what they believe to be the height of sophisticated fashion. They're followed by TV actors and actresses; a few of the lesser well-known cast members blend into the arrivals and drift into the cinema unnoticed while all eyes are turned toward the stairs as we hear Gok interviewing (apparently the object of all our affection!!) Cynthia Nixon. She appears soon after and descends the stairs quickly in a 'blink or you'd miss her' swathe of cobalt blue fabric and strawberry blonde waves.

Next up is the gorgeous Kim Cattrall, who seems as excited to see us as we are to see her!! Channelling old school hollywood glamour with blonde waves a la Marilyn Monroe she waves enthusiastically as a series of flashbulbs go off and the air is filled with arms and cameras!! Closely following behind is the diminuitive Kristin Davis looking exactly like her on-screen counterpart Charlotte with her hair long and loose and wearing an exquisite sparkly gold number. She too waves energetically and flashes her mega-watt smile at the crowd. She looks like a doll, a really beautiful doll!!

Chris Noth, aka Mr Big is the next to walk the red carpet, looking insanely handsome and tall (unlike most film stars). And then... the undoubted star of the show herself... Sarah Jessica Parker appears at the top of the stairs and the crowd goes wild!!! She's wearing a fuzzy-looking black fascinator in her tradition of wearing a large headpiece to the London premiere (thereby blocking the view of whomever sits behind her) and looks absolutely breathtaking!!

I am finally seeing SJP in the flesh!!! And then it's over and they've disappeared inside the cinema to be served canapes, be shmoozed by those lucky enough to have received a pink envelope inviting them to this most illustrious soiree and enjoy the London debut screening of Sex and the City 2!!!!

My turn tonight - dragging Lee to the Tricycle Cinema in Kilburn for pre-film cocktails, followed by the movie and then a VIP experience like no other, a Q&A with none other than Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall)!!! And I'm sitting front row...

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Das and Lee's Big Fat Israeli Wedding...

Two and a half years of planning, two flats in Kilburn and two hundred copies of Brides magazine later... I'm married!!

Our Big Fat Israeli Wedding almost became our 'Little Meagre English Excuse for a Wedding' in the wake of the legendary ash cloud, but good fortune prevailed and with less than a week to go and of the evening of our final dance lesson, Lord Adonis announced the reopening of London airspace!! (Huge sigh of relief)

I was actually more excited about my leg wax than the wedding at one point, knowing at least that the former would definitely be taking place. And luckily both had a smooth outcome!!

We flew out with ElAl (amid high security - armed policemen, sniffer dogs, 20 thousand security questions, my Mum getting reprimanded by staff and having her bag searched in the process... the usual)... and arrived at Ben Gurion airport in the early hours of Thursday 29 April. Mum and Lee's best man, Paul, together with the dress and the luggage bundled into our friend Jeremy's car and headed out for breakfast and a leisurely journey north, while Lee, my brother and I took the train to Akko to meet with our rabbi and my Dad.

I went from sleep to wakefulness constantly during the hour and a half journey as we passed the beautiful Israeli landscape...

We arrived at Akko and were greeted by my Dad!!! And, almost thinking the rabbi had forgotten our meeting, ran into him as we went to leave our bags in the car. The four of us headed over to the nearest coffee shop for beverages and briefing of how the ceremony was to play out. Duly satisfied all round we took our leave and drove the 40 minutes north to the Kibbutz.

That Thursday was the longest Thursday I have ever experienced... I didn't sleep (though I was undoubtedly exhausted) but spent the entire day meeting various people from the videographer to the lovely lady making my cake!! I joined my family at the park where the reception was to take place and assisted my cousins and uncle in hanging up the multi-coloured bulbs which would light up the place on the night. By now evening, Lee, my Dad and I made the trip again to Akko to collect Lee's mum and brother. And on our return to the Kibbutz, having walked Lee's Mum to her room, we then waited up for the arrival of my bridesmaids... it was past midnight when they finally drove in...

Friday morning at 11 we were in Hatzor, a local town, where I was to receive my make-up trial accompanied by my loyal bridesmaids and brother. Looking a bit like Dana International, albeit beautifully done, I decided that I would stick to DIY on the day... and with that we went to find something to eat at the falafel bar. My Dad collected us and took us home via Rosh Pinah where we admired the mall and window-shopped. Back on the Kibbutz we prepared for the evening's event... The Friday Night Dinner and The Big Quiz.

Additional guests were shuttled over in a minibus and we prepared for the evening's entertainment... dinner was gorgeous, a traditional Friday night affair with roast chicken, roast potatoes, veggies and lots of wine!! My Mum made a little speech and told of how she had first come to the Kibbutz and met my Dad, Lee thanked everyone for coming and my oldest friend, Adam Pike made a lovely speech about his own experiences with the kibbutz and how our friendship came about... Dinner over (though yummy cakes and coffee were in constant supply) Lee divided everyone into teams and the quiz commenced with Lee as quiz master and me as his not so silent assistant!! Everyone participated with full gusto though the men were less than thrilled with my Sex and the City bonus round!! All in all the evening was a rousing success and everyone was bonded and the ice was broken.

Saturday morning I was awakened by Alicia Keyes' 'New York' as my godmother was ringing my cell to alert me of her arrival and need to have the gate opened at the Kibbutz entrance. I directed her to my room which I was sharing with my bridesmaids and then clad in my pyjamas and trailing my suitcase we made our way over to the guest house and my bridal suite. Unable to track down my aunt whom Bev (the godmother) was sharing with we settled instead for breakfast. People started to emerge and I showered and changed for brunch as more guests arrived. After brunch people divided into groups. Our friends stayed together and while a group of the boys went off to play football in the baking sun, the rest of us relaxed with refreshments and banter outside the guest rooms.

The hotel guests staying outside the Kibbutz went back to the hotel to change and prepare for the evening activities a little later on.

The boys headed into Rosh Pinah for dinner and a knees up in Lee's honour while the girls communed by the pool on the Kibbutz. Clad in our bathing suits we were taken into the specially heated pool where we engaged in a number of hilarious (involving rubber tubes), relaxing and female-bonding exercises!! Relaxed and showered we made our way over to my cousin's room where she had laid on wine, cheese, crackers, olives and grapes and we spent the remainder of the evening recounting stories about me and in general while I got progressively pissed on three cups of wine!! My brother arrived at one point and we cajoled him into giving us a performance of Billie Jean!! It was a fabulous night!!

My cousin stayed the night with me... at 3am Lee called to say they were unable to get a taxi back to the Kibbutz and if they weren't able to find one within 5 minutes they were walking back. Hmmm... not a sensible idea given that it's not a short walk and most of it is on highways at 5am he called again to say they had walked past the road to the Kibbutz and were continuing on to the hotel but were rather lost and could someone come and get them... Uh, no!!! My sleepy and very gracious cousin then got on the phone and directed them to the hotel at which they arrived half and hour later...

The following morning I awoke early and left my poor cousin asleep to go and sit outside where I found my future Mother-in-law enjoying her morning cigarette. We chatted for a while and then my auntie emerged and offered to get me breakfast. Part way during our lovely breakfast, at which by now we were joined by my Mum, brother and a small group of close friends, it started to rain. Starting gradually and becoming significantly more pronounced we leapt to the nearest shelter - ending up in doorways or pinned up against the wall!! It was hilarious!! And apparently, it is good luck to have rain on the day of your wedding, it is meant to symbolise that you will be fertile!!

Dry and dressed for company we later enjoyed a rain-free lunch...

Following this I retired to my room accompanied by my auntie and cousin and to the sound of Barbra Streisand's Yentl soundtrack I proceeded to get ready. I flooded the bathroom floor - as showers in most accommodation on the Kibbutz do not have sufficient design to prevent the water from escaping - and had to lay down most of the towels at my disposal on the floor! I scrunch-dried my hair, did my make-up and applied my corset and knickers. Bev came in and advised me to pat some talc under my breasts to prevent me from sweating and slowly slowly I got myself into my wedding apparel. My auntie helped me on with my shoes, which we cleverly left until after the dress was on!! And soon I was ready for a pre-photo shoot.

Together with my bridal party and immediate family we had some pictures taken before making our way over to the wedding area for the signing of the Ktuba. This was one of the most beautiful experiences of the whole wedding as we sat beneath the awnings of a tree and heard the rabbi recite the meaning behind the entire wedding contract surrounded by our loved ones as I held my Dad's hand. Lee told me I looked beautiful and I responded with how gorgeous he looked!!

We then made our way over to the Chupa, the bridesmaids, brothers and best men first, then the witnesses and lastly (but not least) my parents and I. Lee met me before the Chupa and we did the bedecking procedure (it is customary in Jewish marital proceedings for the groom to check that the bride is his intended before the ceremony following ancient bible tradition).

The Chupa then began with me walking the customary 7 times around Lee while everyone counted!! It was the most beautiful setting with the sunset falling on the heights of the Hula Valley behind us and the most magical experience I have ever encountered.

Immediately after Lee had stamped on the glass and everyone came up in droves to wish us mazel tov, the Israeli dancing began. During the Hora (traditional dance where the bride and groom are hoisted onto chairs and are joined by a white cloth), I of course plummeted off the chair!! Thankfully I was buffeted by my dress!! The atmosphere was electric and everyone was dancing and singing.

Everyone then gradually made their way over to the reception for a buffet dinner of schwarma, mezze, pitta bread, beer and wine... The dancing continued before the eating finally began and then Lee and I performed our first dance to Peggy Lee's Fever (which we had had choreographed for us). Then we did our speeches followed by my Mum, my brother and his mini tribute to Michael Jackson, my Savta (grandma), my cousins, the best men - Lee's brother Jay, who everyone thinks should be a stand-up comic, and Paul who entertained us with a fabulous ode to Justin Timberlake's incredible dance moves!! And some beautiful words from both. Then Raffi, the MC and one of my Dad's oldest friends, spoke on his behalf... it was very moving.

Then the party began - the music was pumping, the alcohol was flowing and so was the conversation.

Part way during the evening and after the traditional cutting of the cake, (a three-tiered chocolate fudge creation with white icing and yellow rose adornments and topped with figures of Mickey and Minnie Mouse) - our friends and us divvied it up and got stuck into the best wedding cake I have ever tasted!!!!! It was A-MA-ZING!!!! We continued to party and towards the end of the night, our friends and family gathered round us as we slow-danced. Then we all sang the Hatikva (Israeli national anthem) together before partying for a while longer... I ended up finally succumbing to the many folds of material in my dress and falling down, landing on my back on the dancefloor, at which point my MoH said, 'Das, you're not supposed to be on your back for at least another half an hour' and one of Lee's friends offered me the breath of life!!!

I later tossed my beautiful bouquet, which was caught by my cousin and met with rapturous applause!!

Most people eventually returned to the bus a little later, full of joy and thank you's for a fabulous night (even if I do say so myself!!), while a few of us returned to the bridal suite to carry on the party - accompanied by the cake, of course!! We discovered an ant-infestation in the kitchenette but my cousin came to the rescue and mopped them away - thank g-d!! We all sat and chatted about the wedding until the early hours and then Lee and I were left alone...

In the morning I had breakfast with my new husband and then we took the cake (very heavy - I ended up carrying it as Lee had to back to the room, and believe me it was like a tonne!!) over to my Savta's house where we were met by our nearest and dearest wanting to wish us farewell. We were then transported to Sde Dov airport in Tel Aviv by my wonderful friend Jeremy where we caught an afternoon flight to Eilat for our mini-moon.

It was wonderful, we stayed in an incredible hotel called the Agamim in an 'on-the-water' room - meaning we had personal access to the pool!! We ate, relaxed, swam, visited the dolphin reef, participated in water sports, and visited the marine park during our three-day break and of course, consummated our marriage (more than once!!)

Overall, a once in a lifetime experience and one that I will never ever forget!! And now we are looking forward to our honeymoon in New Zealand at the end of the year, as Mr and Mrs Hine!!! xxx

...last night

So last night we had problems with our neighbour who is routinely prone to throwing herself late-night raves at immensely high volume... at 11pm last night and with the torturous sounds of satanist rock pumping through the walls I leapt out of bed and armed with the heaviest thing I could lay my hands on at short notice, went and smashed on her door... however, my weapon of choice was not particularly sustainable in the event of being thrown against noisy-neighbours' door and our money jar into which we have been pouring our pennies into for months was suddenly strewn across our front hall and some had managed to burrow under noisy-neighbour's door... oh crap!! My furious (now) husband rushed out to my panicked pleas for help and assisted me in picking up the coins and notes amidst the shattered pieces of pottery. Hearing a break in the music I then slammed on noisy-neighbours' door realising I needed to retrieve the money from beneath her door!!! Luckily she opened and slightly bemused at the sight of me in my neglige in the corridor and even more bemused at the heap of cash on her doorstep she shrugged the whole episode off as something weird and typical of me!! Hmmmm...

The music did not stop but the husband and I had a chuckle at the turn of events and eventually fell asleep...
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