I’m a card-carrying taxidermy fanatic. Fortunately, Brighton – with its weird Victoriana fetish and oodles of old trinket emporiums – is pretty much the hotspot of taxidermy these days so I’m in good company! I’m fifteen minutes down the road from the Booth Museum, Eaton Nott and Snoopers’ Paradise, so I have all the borax and wood-wool stuffed critters I could ever hope for.
Recently I booked myself a place at a workshop with the London Taxidermy Academy. They’re great because they run very small classes, with a maximum of around six people (there were four at mine), so you get a lot of guidance and attention from the intense and heavily bearded tutor, Lee Paton. The class was so much fun, and the process is very therapeutic. It’s much easier and far less gory than you’d think – unless you accidentally stab the guts and spill mouse soup everywhere, like my classmate did.
So without further ado, here’s how to skin, clean, stuff and sew a little mouse! It’s under a cut, because I know some of you are a bit sensitive 😉
We’re halfway through February. Not only does this indicate that we’re nearly at the end of a miserable rainy winter, it means that in a few weeks’ time we’ll be able to skate outdoors again, eat grilled meat and drink in beer gardens.
Oh, also it’s Valentine’s Day on Friday.
If you are the kind of person for whom Valentine’s Day is just a repulsive celebration of forced sentimentality and hackneyed satin-covered doe-eyed ‘feelings’, then great. Join the masses. If, instead, Valentine’s Day means microwaving a roast dinner for one, then that’s great too. In its own way.
But what if you kind of, you know, want to celebrate your affections for a derby person? After all, the definition of a ‘partner’ is someone who you fart in front of, share chips with, and occasionally hump (if you’ve been good.) Somehow, it seems only fair to go along with Valentine’s Day for SOME of the ride – if only to let your person know that you don’t mind how bad they smell after training. Here are some ‘romantic’ ideas to help you get down with a roller derby Valentine’s Day.
Wash each other’s pads
Everyone has their own post-derby fragrance. Somehow your own doesn’t seem too bad, but the warm-parmesan-and-raw-meat smell of your loved one’s wristguards can be a truly testing experience – and washing someone else’s is a pure and beautiful act of love. Put on a respirator if you have to, and get some tongs. Quickly and without vomiting, stuff gaskets, elbow pads, wristguards, and the squishy bit inside their knee-pads into a pillowcase. Tie a knot in the top so the pads don’t infect everything else in there. Wash as many times as it needs and hang those not-so-pungent articles out to dry. If you can get through this, your relationship will survive anything.
2.Scare them with home-made sex toys.
No-one really knows what to say when presented with a translucent vibrating shape. Generally sex toys are a bit expensive, a bit naff and a bit overrated – and the amount of pressure on the recipient of the rampant rabbit to act pleased and not slightly unnerved is unfair. But why settle for a shadow of uneasiness on their face when you could have A HOME-MADE MASK OF TERROR? Duct tape a cheese-grater to a pair of pants, or draw a pair of tits on a toy dinosaur. Fix a maniacal grin to your face as they unwrap it, and bingo. Instant gratification.
3. Groupon vouchers
Every day I’m bombarded with Groupon offers for things like ‘romantic escapes to Cornwall’, ‘dinner for two at a three star restaurant in Hastings’ and ‘500 edible roses’, etc. Traditional romantic gestures through Groupon smack of insincerity and desperation, but let’s not be unfair on Groupon. It is a treasure trove of cheap gifts. Instead of trudging to Cornwall in the rain, where you’ll be too grumpy to do anything, Groupon instead offers:
Laser Lipolysis, only £59!
Driving lessons! £15!
£40 towards plant products!
An MOT for £19!
An online accounting course, £60!
4. Sexy lingerie… sort of
Your average derby girl will spurn a lacy Ann Summers thong in favour of comfy spandex knickers. For men, it can be the opposite, but it depends who you’re dating. To be honest, the pH level of the sweat that trickles down into your blocker’s butt-crack means that pretty girly underwear will dissolve like a Berocca, so sexy underwear is not the way forward. Instead, I recommend butt padding. Nothing says ‘you’re alright by me’ like a well-protected coccyx.
5. Write them a song
If you’re musical, you might want to put two rubber bands over a Tupperware for a makeshift guitar and write a song about how much you love your sentient flesh accessory. It has to rhyme, you have to sing, and you are only allowed to use five different words. Record it, or give them a post-coital performance. For example:
Since my last post some exciting things have happened! The Croydon A and B teams beat Milton Keynes Roller Derby, I quit my job at the pub and started a new one in Brighton, and kind of sort of properly moved in with Ed.
Here are a few pictures of the flat!
Mr White, my beloved polecat:
My bit of bottles and bones…
Notebooks, crafty box and some new stickers
Now I know where Japan is.
So now I’m just sitting around the flat, taking photos and drinking tea, until my first shift at the pub at 7.
I’ve moved house six times in the past four years, so it’s nice to finally have somewhere I can bed down properly in! It’s such a lovely place to live too 🙂 there are cats that come in and just sit on your lap, and there’s loads of space for me to make stuff. And don’t even get me started on the beautiful sofa.
I’m so excited for the coming weeks: tomorrow the coaches from Victorian Roller Derby are coming to teach a session at Croydon, then Sian and I are going to see Taylor Swift on Tuesday (no, I’m not joking and this is not a drill), Monday 10th I get to taxidermise a mouse, and then on the 15th is the Brighton Tattoo Convention! I’m saving my pennies hoping that I can get some work by Jaclyn Rehe or Angelique Houtkamp there. Oh, and did I mention that we’re bouting against Portsmouth on the 22nd of February? I’ll be going up against one of my all-time roller derby heroes, R.I.P. McMurphy. I really hope I get a bruise to take home…
I’ve been trying some more of my own tattoo-esque scribblings too, though I have a lot to improve on…