Monthly Archives: March 2012
It started with True Blue, at the tender age of seven. Since then I can remember exactly where I was on the day I bought each new Madonna album.
So here is True Blue to MDNA: My Life So Far In Madonna Albums
True Blue – June 30th 1986.
This was my first Madonna album, bought aged seven, as a cassette. In 1986 my family took part in a teacher exchange for a year living in British Columbia, Canada. We hadn’t long got over our jet lag when my parents drove me and my sister to the local shopping mall. They had just bought a new third hand 1976 Pontiac Parisienne. The sun was setting on the freeway, and to my skinny little seven-year old body the car was a colossal machine. My memory of the drive is like a Kodachrome film, the orange sun setting in our eyes, and the enormity of the mountains in white and cobalt blue forming the backdrop of the town Kelowna, our home for the next year. On the way home in the car I played what I had chosen as my treat; The True Blue cassette album, the spools whirring round through the clear plastic window on my enormous red brick of a Sony Walkman (The 1976 Pontiac only took old 8 track cassettes.) I was a Madonna fan from that day on.
Like A Prayer – March 21st 1989.
I had my appendix out a few weeks before Like A Prayer was released. We were back living in Lowestoft in the east of England and after an idyllic life amongst the mountains of British Columbia, it was taking a long time to fit back into the quiet suburbia of home. Again, this album was a present, well – more of a bribe. I had been so dangerously ill that it was all my parents could do to get me to eat something. I’m not sure if the album provided nourishment but dancing to Like A Prayer certainly improved my appetite.
Erotica – October 20th 1992
I was thirteen and just on the cusp of my first CD player, (I didn’t get one till Christmas), so this was my final Madonna cassette. I was now old enough to be allowed into town by myself, and I duly went to WH Smith, back in the pre- digital days when it had a huge “Vinyl/Cassette Department”. I had to wait for one of the younger sales assistants to serve me as the album had a parental advisory warning – and I still looked every one of my skinny thirteen years. It was school half term and that afternoon me and my sister were forced by our parents on a family trip to Ely Cathedral. I put the tape on the car stereo and Erotica boomed out. I still remember my Nanna sat in the back in her head scarf saying, “What’s she singing about?” as Madonna huskily croaked about being taken from behind, before my mother shrieked at me to turn it off and put on John Denver instead.
Bedtime Stories – October 25th 1994
Quite possibly one of my fave Madonna albums, Bedtime Stories was my first Madonna CD. It was school half term, the weather grey and rainy. I was fifteen, covered in spots, I hated school, I hated life, I hated everyone. I had just been dumped by one of my first (and last) girlfriends and was truly devastated. Again I visited the WH Smith Music Dept. Then spent days holed up in my bedroom playing the album over and over. Lost in my teenage angst and misery.
Evita – November 12th 1996
Now this is a bit of a cheat as Evita is a soundtrack album. A couple of days before it’s release my Grandad and Step-Nan had given me, the budding actor, a suitcase packed with costumes they had inherited from an amateur dramatics friend of theirs. The day I bought it (Woolworths, Lowestoft) My friend Amy came over, and wearing fur coats from a regional touring production of The Mousetrap and blond Judges wigs we made a ten minute version of Evita on a camcorder. Amy was a brilliant Evita and I wish I still had the footage.
Ray Of Light – March 3rd 1998
My absolute favourite Madonna album. Every track is divine and I have the happiest memories listening to it. I was nineteen and studying Theatre & English at The University Of Wales, Aberystwyth. Despite a night of partying I got up walked along the sea front in the wind and rain and was outside Boots by 9am. Aber University had a huge Theatre department, and I wasn’t the only one with the same idea. Thankfully Boots was well stocked and there was no fighting over the last CD.
Music – September 19th 2000
A year I would rather forget. In a terrible relationship. Living in a horrible flat in Cardiff. I was broke and had to take a job working for an insurance firm. It rained solidly for four months straight. I bought the album from the Virgin Megastore, Cardiff during a my lunch break.
American Life – April 22nd 2003
I had just moved to London, fresh out of drama school and was in the enviable position of rehearsing a play in the west end. Myself and another actor went out, during our lunch break from rehearsals in Drury Lane to the now defunct Virgin Megastore in Covent Garden.
Confessions On A Dancefloor - November 11th 2005
During a dry spell in my acting career, I had to take a job filing for an insurance company in London Bridge. I took off during my lunch break, on my bike, to find a music shop and got lost somewhere around St. Paul’s Cathedral, and was fined £30 by the Met police for biking on the pavement. I was so late back to work I nearly got fired, then after realised that the Tesco Metro opposite the office was selling the album. Thanks to a new fangled invention called youtube, I could watch the Hung Up video over and over.
Hard Candy – April 19th 2008
I had met Ján the year before and we were living in our first flat in Brockley, South London. The most amazing cosy little flat. I had taken the leap of changing my career, and was in the torturous first weeks of writing a novel. Ján bought me Hard Candy, and presented me with it when I was about to throw the computer out of the window in frustration. We danced around our tiny living room, bumping into our brand new Ikea furniture.
MDNA – March 26th 2012
Spring has sprung in Nitra, Slovakia. The snow has not long melted and the trees are green with buds. We walked in the sunshine to our local Tesco to buy MDNA (I couldn’t do iTunes, poring over the CD booklet is half the fun) This purchase had an added thrill. On the opposite shelf to MDNA our book Mrcha Hollywood is on sale.
After a seemingly endless winter; today is the first day of spring! However, I wanted to include some great pictures I’ve tried to place in blog posts over the colder months, but wouldn’t quite fit.
So here without further ado is Autumn/Winter in Slovakia: The Greatest Hits Collection.
Pictures © Ján Bryndza 2011/2012
For those who never saw The Big Breakfast it was a sublimely crazy early morning show broadcast from a house in East London hosted by Chris Evans and Gaby Roslin. Competitions such as One Lump Or Two? were held in the back garden and guests were dunked into a giant swimming pool sized teacup clutching huge sugar lumps. Presenters included Zig and Zag, two aliens who lived in the bathroom of the house, and the late great Paula Yates who conducted interviews on a huge double bed upstairs in her boudoir.
Last week, on Mrcha Hollywood’s launch day, myself and Ján were invited to appear on Markiza Television’s Telerano (translation ‘Morning Television‘) and it has proved to be a real game changer.
If you look past the un-imaginative title, Telerano is a brilliant show. It has the same feeling of organised chaos as The BB, with all the guests, hosts and crew sharing space in the studio, housed in a bizarre building by a lake in a village on the outskirts of Bratislava.
We arrived at seven-thirty and were led onto the set with a cup of coffee where we sat for an hour before our interview waving at the camera, sampling food from the cookery items, and most importantly waving copies of Mrcha Hollywood whenever the camera was on us. The bit I loved the most was just before every advert break. Music would suddenly blare out (this particular morning it was Fat Boy Slim) and for a few minutes the cameras would go crazy filming everything from mad angles, cutting between people and all this shown in black and white; a cross between The Big Breakfast and GMTV shot by Fellini.
The real game changer has been the response from our Telerano debut. Mrcha Hollywood has stormed into the Slovak top 50 books. Yesterday we were at No. 45 and as I write we’ve moved up to No. 36. We had a spot on the Markiza evening news (where I was dubbed mercilessly by a much older deeper man’s voice) and yesterday we were interviewed for Sarm one of the woman’s weeklies. Thank you Telerano!
Congratulations to our publisher who didn’t see us on Telerano. She gave birth to a beautiful baby girl during the show.
Well… We’ve written the book, edited the book, and had it published. Now, it’s promotion.
In the last week we’ve been on a hectic round of interviews for newspapers and television. As an unsociable creature of habit I have become used to working from home and more enjoyably, lunching from home. I like nothing more than being able to cook lunch and have it on a proper plate. If the fancy takes me I’ll whip up something laborious and worth waiting for; Spaghetti hoops and Baked Alaska, or maybe something hugely garlicky without the worry of having to breathe over colleagues in the afternoon.
Of the numerous jobs I did in London during my twenties; Acting, Temping or Promotional work (If you were given a free Mars Sensations, Coke Zero, or Alpro soya product at a London station between 2003 and 2005 we may have met) lunch options were depressing. I still can’t eat pre-packed sandwiches or salad and a foot long Subway turns my stomach.
Rarely, if ever, did I do a job where I was taken out for lunch, and I never had an expense account to treat clients. Packed lunch catastrophes were frequent involving Chilli Con Carne and worse – tinned mackerel. My midday excitement evaporating when I discovered the plastic container had regurgitated its contents inside my bag.
Here in Slovakia lunch is thought of as very important. One of the wonderful throwbacks from Communism (and there are many) is that all restaurants do a lunch menu. For three or four €uros you can get a scrumptious three course hot meal with mineral water served with a swift mindfulness for people who only have a short lunch break.
With us being self-employed, this feels like a steal. What is even better is that all employers are legally required to give their staff a luncheon voucher worth €3 per day which can be used in all restaurants, or if you’re picky you can use them in supermarkets.
I couldn’t believe it; Ján still can’t get over my shock at this, but it’s a way of life here.
In the last week we’ve done the lunch menu in a variety of places; some super posh, some less so, but all wonderful. In Nitra; mediterranean spaghetti with rocket and cherry tomatoes, Lamb stuffed aubergine, kung pao chicken.
In Bratislava; roast chicken with herb mash and veg, Schnitzel and sautéed spuds – and the soups! Soup is a big part of each meal and the delicate vegetable broths and thick cream soups have almost filled me up before the rest arrived. All this for around £2.80 a pop. Its been a revelation.
Could this ever work in the UK? Sadly, no. I think the class system has a big part to play. I couldn’t imagine rocking up at the Oxo Tower with a grin and a luncheon voucher, they’d lob me off the brasserie balcony (or if I looked really well off, the balcony by the restaurant.)
Things are changing fast here in Slovakia. I hope lunch menus stay. They have made a huge difference to our hectic promotional weeks here. For now, we’re just off to do some interviews in Bratislava, and secretly, the thing I am most excited about, is lunch!