Cuddle cats

Every working day my black cat tries to get on my lap while I work at the dining table. The space between lap and table is not high enough that she can fit underneath the table while my chair is pulled up. This means that if she does make it onto my lap, I have to sit back and then I can’t type properly. So, nowadays I pull up the chair next to me and place it against mine and she finally settles down curled up against me.

Occasionally she will seize a moment, when I have moved or walked away and sat back down again, and she will claim my lap after all…

The cuddling cat struggle is real! It’s always great when my daughter comes home from school, she can then take over cat-sitting duties for a while (and loves it).

All cats we’ve had have always liked being on us or near us but I don’t think we’ve ever had a cat who insists this much on lying on us, any of us, all day long.

Our other cat, in his old age (he’s 15), also likes getting in the way to best position himself for cuddles, especially with my son whom he sleeps with most nights. Mr Esther jr was trying to get new sheets onto his bed yesterday, he walked out of the room for just a few seconds and returned to this…

As our red cat is old and sometimes takes a while to settle down, we tend to not want to move him when he finally does find a spot. Tough luck for him this time around when Mr Esther jr wanted to finish making up the bed, cuddles would have to wait for a later time.

Speaking of cuddle cats… I recently came across this absolutely adorable picture of Tom Ellis with one of his cats…

He never wanted cats until his wife wore him down, the love is real now…

Richard Armitage in his latest interview (thanks Servetus for the screenshots) says he may want to attempt starting a family by getting a dog first. I know he’s more of a dog than cat person…

…. but he sure looks nice with a cat and may I suggest that a cat might also do very nicely in his New York apartment?

Mr Esther, like Tom Ellis originally and Richard Armitage, never wanted cats either until I was able to convince him otherwise. He has now become a cat person too, despite them getting in the way of reading the newspaper, and they can be useful as iPad stands too.

I can attest that, with all that is going on in this world, the best battles you can have are cuddle battles with your cats!

Soundtrack of my life – the Esther edition

With this post I’m following in the footsteps of Michele (who did this back in June) and Sue (who did this recently and I’m looking forward to her part two). They answered the same questions that Richard Armitage answered in his NME interview in June about music accompanying life and I’m going to do that here as well. So, here goes…

The song I wish I’d written

Richard says: The Beatles – ‘Yesterday’. Pretty song, always reminds me of my older sister who sometimes used to sing the word “Yesterday” to me when calling me (my name Esther is hidden in that word). My own answer to this question is David Bowie’s Rock ‘n Roll Suicide.

I love the slow build up of the song and the weird ass lyrics. The song meant a lot to me at a certain time in my life (more about that below).

The first song I remember hearing

Richard says: Grease – ‘Summer Nights. Yeah, no. I mean the song is fine but I never loved it, it was never really a part of my life either and I was never very fond of Grease when it later did reach my consciousness. For this one I think I’ll say Morning Has Broken by Cat Stevens (as he was called at the time). I remember my mom loving that song and that it was sung at the christening of my baby brother when I was around 4 (one of my earliest memories).

The first album I owned

Richard says: The Magic Roundabout – ‘Dougal and the Blue Cat’. This show wasn’t part of my youth at all, so I can’t really say anything about that. My first album that I adored was an album of English language nursery rhymes that I loved to listen to and I remembered it drove my family crazy when I wanted it to be played over and over again (we only had the one record player in the house). I just did a quick image search on google with the words: “nursery rhymes album panda” (I remembered a panda on the cover) and sure enough I found pictures!

I can distinctly remember the man on the record saying “Hello boys and girls” and then talking and singing those nursery rhymes. I think I may even still have the LP if I look through the records we still have tucked away in the attic.

The first album I think I ever purchased for myself was the album Felicita by the Italian duo Al Bano & Romina Power (on cassette!) when I was about 12 or 13. Even then it was not cool for youngsters to like them but I just loved Romina (who is the daughter of Hollywood actor Tryone Power) and I loved them in secret for quite a while. My taste developed into quite a different direction after that.

The first gig I went to

Richard says: Tina Turner in Vienna, 2009. Really? 2009? When he was 38 and based in London? I’m sure he must have been to other gigs as well before that. Now, I may be a late starter myself going to big concerts like that but never as late as that. I never had the funds as a teen to go to bigger concerts, so it wasn’t until I was 19 or 20 that I started going to a few concerts. I know I saw The Clash and Bruce Springsteen (my sister was a fan) around that time but the first one that really stuck with me was seeing David Bowie in the summer of 1990 in Nijmegen during his Sound and Vision tour. We weren’t too far from the stage and I was in heaven.

The song that reminds me of home

Richard says: ABBA – ‘Happy New Year’. Ah, ABBA – I think they were my first favourite band when I was around 10 years old (I used to tape their songs from the radio on my cassette recorder), so those songs can also take me back. What really reminds me of home, however, is every time I hear some well known Israeli song, like Hava Nagila or Hevenu Shalom Aleichem or Siman Tov! Mazel Tov! For my answer to this question I’ll pick the 1979 Israeli Eurovision winning song Hallelujah by Milk and Honey (lyrics and what they mean can be found here).

The song was huge in Israel and I remember singing an English version in school several times. This song can always bring me back to my childhood home and watching Eurovision together with my family.

The song I can no longer listen to

Richard says: Lonnie Donegan – ‘Nobody’s Child’. I didn’t know that song, so it’s new to me and I don’t really have an opinion on that one. For me the first song that comes to mind is I Gotta Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas. I adored that song when it came out in 2010, listened to it all the time, danced around the house to it (with the kids, who were about 9 and 6 at the time, and without the kids). I also loved the Oprah flash mob to that song and then at some point I just over-listened and suddenly completely had enough of it. Here’s the Oprah flash mob video that I just this evening watched again for the first time in eons. I still like the flash mob part but I think I’m still overdosed on the song…

The song that changed my life

Richard says: The Eurythmics – ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’. I always liked that song but it didn’t have that great of an impact on me. For me, I’ll pick the same song I answered to the first question here, David Bowie’s Rock ‘n Roll Suicide. It really pulled me through some dark times when I had no clue what to do with my life when I was around 20 and Bowie yelling “Oh no love, you’re not alone!” really gave me hope and helped me reach out to others to find a way. When I saw a handwritten transcript of the lyrics of that song in the “David Bowie Is” exhibition back in 2016 (just 11 days before Bowie died!), I took a quick clandestine picture of it and actually wiped away a tear. This song just means a lot to me.

The song I want played at my funeral

Richard says: Kool & the Gang – ‘Celebration’. That feels like a bit of a cop-out answer to me somehow. I am all for celebrating life but I also think it’s important to allow contemplation and some pain in when you lose someone. (Modified to add that on re-reading this the term ‘cop-out’ may have been too strong a word and reaction to this song choice of Richard’s. It’s just that somehow this choice doesn’t seem as genuine to me as the other choices mentioned, but then that’s probably all in my head and has nothing to do with Richard.) For my own funeral, I really wouldn’t know which song I’d like! I was going to pick a poem instead by W.H. Auden, as so brilliantly performed in Four Weddings and a Funeral, but that’s a cop-out too. And then I remembered one of the very, very few Dutch songs that I like. This one was played quite a lot around the time my father was deteriorating and I have this image of me driving away from my dad’s nursing home in his final days while it played on the radio. It’s a very sweet song and I think I wouldn’t mind having that played at my funeral. It’s called Mag Ik Dan Bij Jou (literally translates to “Can I then with you”) by a Dutch singer and comedian called Claudia de Breij. It’s about finding shelter with a loved one and the song completely captures my heart…

The song I listen to before performing

Richard says: Imogen Heap – ‘Hide and Seek’. Yeah, not really my music. I’m not a performer, so not sure what would be a good one for me. But if it’s about getting keyed up, then maybe a Muse song? These lines from Knights of Cydonia (at around 4 minutes into the video below) feel very apt for the time we live in now.

Come ride with me, Through the veins of history,
I’ll show you a God, Falls asleep on the job
.
And how can we win, When fools can be kings?
Don’t waste your time, Or time will waste you
.”

The song I do at karaoke

Richard says: Queen – ‘Radio Gaga. Sounds fun enough. As for me, I don’t do karaoke. Ever. If I really had to, I could maybe do an ABBA song or something else really easy. The lower range of Chris de Burgh’s voice suits mine quite well, so I could maybe do Patricia The Stripper but then maybe some stripping action would be required with that as well, so better not. Somehow You Are My Sunshine springs to mind. Not that I particularly love it but it’s easy and nice enough. Here it is in the Johnny Cash version, his voice makes the song more interesting.

The song I discovered during lockdown

Richard says: Daði Freyr – ‘Think About Things’. That really is a fun one, especially that video! I haven’t really had any big music discoveries while in lockdown (I don’t think) until recently. The Lucifer tv show has some really great music that is completely new to me. I was looking for something different to listen to the other week, decided to search for some of those songs and I found a whole Lucifer themed playlist on Spotify. Some of these songs are a real revelation and I love that I am discovering a whole lot of great new music this way. Let me share a few of my discoveries…

I could go on but these are already five songs instead of one. So, here is the Spotify playlist I used, should anyone else be interested as well. I’ve only been listening to these for the past week or two, so I am still traveling on my road to discovery.

That’s it, my answers to the NME questions. Thanks for the inspiration NME, Richard, Michele and Sue. Anyone else interested in playing along?

The end of an era

I read in a blog post on More Than Thornton that the C19 message board is closing! I logged in to C19 and sure enough, there was the announcement from a month ago. Oh man, that truly is the end of an era.

When North & South first aired in the fall of 2004, the BBC message boards famously crashed because of an overwhelming desire of fans to talk about that adaptation and, more specifically, about who the hell that man was who had played John Thornton!

When I first watched North & South myself in the spring of 2006, I too quickly developed a thirst for knowledge about all things Richard Armitage. In my online search I soon came across C19, requested and was granted membership, and my quenching of that thirst could begin, with all the wealth of information right there. I just checked, I registered at C19 back in April of 2006 (under a pseudonym)…

I was mostly a lurker at first, then did comment some, but always stayed in the background in the Richard Armitage sections. I did become more active in other sections for a little while, apparently I have 519 comments/posts to my name, but in time it all just ebbed away and I stopped going there, finding other places and sources of information and, more importantly, I started my own little bubble with this blog.

Over the years, I would on occasion go back to lurk and read up on news and see how people reacted to certain projects. In recent years I have maybe logged in 2-3 times a year and while I hardly ever popped in anymore, it was always nice knowing that C19 was there. Of all the message boards I frequented (there were a few) this one has always been my go-to one. And now it is closing down on November 2nd…

Even though I am sorry for the small community that still goes there, I do understand the decision and I am grateful to those who have put in the hard work of keeping it going all these years. May everyone stay safe, well and happy and continue the fangirling in other places. Thank you for the good times, C19!

Guess I really am part of the AA

My name is Esther and I’m a Richard Armitage fan. I should say well-wisher, by decree of Mr. A himself once long ago, but I won’t. So, I’m a fan but only in a semi-public capacity. I don’t gush daily about him (I am over the really gushy stage and have been for years), I don’t tweet that much about him or even write that much about him, I don’t participate in Richard message boards or social media banter and I keep away from fandom drama as much as I can (in fact, I’m quite obtuse and barely notice a lot of it). Privately, I don’t constantly pour over his pictures, or read articles and fanfic, or watch fan videos, or scour the internet for more info and I don’t re-watch his work that much anymore either. I completely skip the audiobooks and it nowadays also takes me quite a long time to actually watch some of his other newer projects (they are not always for me, although, for what it is, I did quite like The Stranger and found My Zoe alright as well, but I have not seen The Lodge and Castlevania seasons 2 and 3 yet).

With all this, you may wonder if I even would still call myself a fan and the answer is, yes, I would. I still love the man from afar, he remains my favourite even if I’m not always vocal about it and I can still get excited about something like winning a Richard Armitage shrine (to add to the few fan items I already have and really cherish) or finding a new interview. Something in his acting and in the way he comes across (warts and all) really connects with me and I am always interested in what he has to say and what he’ll be doing next. His pictures cross my Twitter timeline daily, I am thankful to more active fans who keep up with news so well, I read some Armitage blogs (but even my fave RA blogs don’t blog about him all the time, which I like, as there is more to life than just Richard) and I will on occasion even travel to see him live.

In short, I do my fangirling in my own way (sometimes detached, sometimes immersed) and in my own little bubble here on blog. I also engage a teeny tiny bit on Twitter so that I can stay up to speed with news and that’s it. So, I don’t think my profile is that large or noticeable and until today I think I have stayed under the radar well enough and was never targeted as an Armitage fan by fake Richard Armitage accounts before. But here you have it: today, during my lunch break, I saw that “Richard Armitage” has finally deemed it time to follow me on Twitter!

I have reported the account as fake but oh my goodness, does this mean that after having fangirled over Richard for 14 years, I am now officially part of the ‘Armitage Army’? I’m always wary of being labeled as one thing and I certainly don’t want to be part of an army! I love the man but he is not my ‘commander in chief’ – I fear I’ll be a disobedient soldier because he can’t command me to do anything (no one can, not even my most beloved husband) and I certainly won’t take everything he says or does as gospel to be followed. This Twitter follow makes me realize that I am more part of a wider fan group than I saw myself to be. The Armitage bots (or whoever makes these fake accounts) have finally found me!

So, all this to say – I guess I am now recognized more widely online as an Armitage fan, ‘Richard’ followed me and I have reported him. 🙂 Does this make the Richard-Esther connection more real now? I’m not sure how I feel about that.

(Yes, this is the ringtone that plays every time my phone rings)

(Been typing at this blog post off and on, in between work, since lunch. This means I need to work later than I usually do to catch up again. See? I’m fan enough that Richard Armitage can distract me from work.)

Some additional details from the lock-in interview

Servetus has seen Richard Armitage on Digital Theatre Plus and has kindly provided a little summary. Now, how can we all get our hands on this as well, please, Digital Theatre?

Me + Richard Armitage

“Can I get out of here now? Because I have to sleep.”

  • Armitage finds Harold Pinter Theater to be intimate and epic at the same time.
  • Armitage felt like he could have lived on the UV set, and this would be the perfect environment for the lock-in b/c it would be atmospheric and spooky, and there are also snacks in a cupboard on the stage.
  • When you’re developing a character you want to spend time with them before you become them.
  • Armitage would want to investigate assumptions about the character of Scrooge; he’s “sort of an anti-hero, in a way.”
  • He finds being in a room with a grumpy person and trying to shake them up a bit, fun.
  • Armitage thinks he is a bit like Scrooge.
  • Armitage can’t play chess.
  • In a situation like this, Armitage would be the psychiatrist or the friend for Scrooge, helping him find out…

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