Tag Archives: Burqalicious The Dubai Diaries

The PEAK of it…

13 Feb

Thanks to Daddy Wicks for sending me the piece my local paper, far, far away in Spalding, Lincolnshire, ran on the book the other day. I won’t paste it all here obviously, cos that would be embarrassing, but I do have to mention the sneak ‘peak’ they inserted from the text. Not a peek, mind you. A peak.

I think this must be different to a peek, as a peek is just a glimpse inside something, whereas a peak is a huge climax… the point at the top of a mountainous task from which you sit and go “aaaaaaaah, thank god I got here in one piece.” I’m glad they posted a peak, in this case, as it’s way more impressive; even though the peak at which the extract ends isn’t very climatic at all.

There are about 500 more words in this piece that weren’t printed, probably because all the page space was taken up with a giant photo (ugh) so you really just end up with a rather pointless bit of blabber. A bit like this blog post really.

Burqalicious Bonus – behold the missing Kebab Cake footage…

11 Feb

A CAKE MADE OF MEAT you say? Oh yes, you’d better believe it. My good friend Ric was kind enough to send me two snippets of forgotten footage from the day I got to slice the world’s first kebab cake in Dubai – as featured rather prominently in Burqalicious – the Dubai Diaries. I’d forgotten about them until a few weeks ago, when I suddenly remembered that durrrr, of course we videoed the occasion. It was my 28th birthday for a start, but also, it’s not every birthday you get to cut a cake made of kebab, is it? With a Sheikh!

“This very item — due to go in The Guinness Book of Records (category yet to be decided) — was cut by my very own hands last night in a lovely new restaurant called MerCURRIES in the Dubai Financial Centre. I was given the privilege because of it being my birthday week. In case you’re wondering, it tasted just like a kebab and the point was, quite simply, to prove that cake, birthday or otherwise, doesn’t have to be sweet or served as a dessert. We also learned such things are great for Arab families too because you don’t even have to be drunk to enjoy this type of kebab!” – p113

In Ric’s own words: “it’s the kind of thing that inspires love and fear in equal measures, and if it were made common knowledge I have absolutely no doubt that wars would ensue to protect the recipe, and countries would fall. So be careful, yeah?”

As he’s hosted these videos on two separate websites I can’t seem to drag them off and host them on this blog itself, but that might be a good thing. You’ll find the videos here and here.

Like he says, be careful, yeah? Even if you think you can guess how to bake a kebab cake, don’t tell anyone. Else it just won’t be as special anymore!

Burqalicious in VOGUE Australia…

9 Feb

Because several people have asked to see this, here it is. I love how my BlackBerry acts as a camera/scanner. As I took this pic, the guy next to me at work, who didn’t know I had written a book asked what I was doing. I gave him the mag and told him I was in VOGUE. At which point he looked at the model in the coat opposite and said “Oh, don’t you look different!” (sigh).

It’s really scary, being on the radio…

8 Feb

I just had to do a radio interview – the first of two I have in my diary (eeek!). I didn’t know it was about to be broadcast live when I sat down, though, THANK GOD. I fluffed up a word because my mouth was all dry and I was a bit nervous, but it’s OK, because after I fluffed it, I apologised.

YES. I know. Error. I instantly regretted it. Pros don’t apologise when they fluff lines, do they? Because if you apologise, people realise you’ve fluffed up. It’s like farting and then telling everyone.

I’m sure the rest of it went OK. I hope it did, anyway. We had a laugh and he didn’t ask too many awkward questions, and those ones that I thought were a little bit difficult, I managed to skip around and change the subject, hurrah!

However, I’m a bit disappointed with myself about the fluffing incident because when I worked at Nova I used to spend all blimmin’ day in the studios with radio pros and I thought I had a pretty good idea of what sounds good and what doesn’t.

But when it was just me, on my own in a room wearing headphones, talking to a lovely man far, far away in Hobart, I forgot all that and for a few painfully slow seconds that must have had Tasmanians frowning into their afternoon tea cups, I forgot how to speak basic English.  MUMMY!!!

As a writer, you never have to reveal how it sometimes takes a zillion tries to get the right message across. Thanks to this experience, I now appreciate how hard it is being on the radio. Those peeps I worked with at Nova not so long ago are so TALENTED! Even more talented than I realised at the time, and I always knew they were awesome. It’s so nerve-wracking, conveying the correct message without a delete button.  And it’s reeeally hard sounding natural when you’ve got all those things you can and can’t say, and questions to ask and answer, and timings and songs to work around. Wow – I now respect them even more!

One man sent a text for me during the chat, which was very nice. He drew attention to the fact that they serve camel burgers in Dubai’s McDonalds, which I had to admit I never knew. Do they? I can’t believe I missed that. My experience over there was far from complete and there I was thinking I’d done everything. Sheesh!

Anyway, one down, one to go. At least it was good practice. I do need a drink though…

One step closer to HEAVEN…

7 Feb

Thanks to my lovely friend Stuart for taking this picture in Brisbane (somewhere) yesterday. It’s as close as I’ve ever been to my dream man, Russell Brand.

Notice how our covers are quite similar in style and colour? Russell’s has got gold, mine has got gold. His has got white writing, mine has got white… buildings. His has got a face on it, mine has got a face on it. GOD, WE’RE JUST SO SIMILAR!!!

If we were sitting next to each other, we would swap many, many witty words. His would be wittier than mine of course, but I wouldn’t mind because I’d be lost in his eyes. Although I’d be wishing he’d met me before Katy Perry, and that I was as pretty as her, he’d still charm me off the shelf, after seriously flipping my pages.

Although he’d swagger off in his tight jeans and skinny belts, changed momentarily for meeting me but forgetting me instantly, leaving me alone (SO ALONE!!!) I would still thank the heavens for our personal encounter, on that one special day, when we shared much more than just a book shelf.

Photos from the launch party…

4 Feb

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Woweeee, my amazing friend Autumn Mooney did a remarkable job capturing last night. I love that word… remarkable. I don’t use it enough. Check out these piccies! Huge thanks Autumn, you rock!!! Obviously I have removed the ones that make my arms look fat from this selection because I’m a bit vain. OK, a LOT vain, (oh come on, you’d do it too) but I have made a silent note to hit the gym, instead of just talk about hitting the gym, so I think that makes it alright. (Seriously, sorry to go on but why is it just my arms that look big? Does anyone else have this problem? It seems to be just the top bit… you know the bit that looks on the verge of becoming a bingo wing? My wrist is still quite skinny but everything above it just gets gradually bigger and bigger… like it’s being pumped with helium or something. This never used to be the case. Urrrgh. Reminds me of that bit in Friends when fat Monika says she looked big because of the camera, and Chandler goes “How many cameras were on you?!”)

Must be all the late night Pie Face.

Anyway… I digress, it was such a fun night, and in spite of losing my sheets of paper to the gust of wind created by a giant fan, I managed not to say anything too stupid (I think). Lots of wonderful people came, and I do believe I signed about 50 books. That was so strange, by the way. I had a table and everything. At first I couldn’t bring myself to sit in the chair because I felt silly,… like a fake…. like I shouldn’t be scribbling on all these lovely books and ruining them. But people let me, so MASSIVE thanks to everyone for that. And huuuge thanks to Ariel Books, especially to Steven and Julia, who were so hospitable. And everyone from HarperCollins who were just gorgeous as ever, and gave me a very gold and sparkly bottle of champers. Oh and my mummy and daddy sent me some champagne too – how lovely of them. Thanks mummy and daddy.

So yes, I think I have sold about 60 copies so far. To my knowledge. That’s pretty good I think. 60 is better than none. It’s still on the bottom shelf of Dymocks though. Damn them!!!


Burqalicious is at the airport…

3 Feb

That was the most imaginative title  I could come up with I’m afraid. I’m feeling a little worse for wear this morning, but it was an AWESOME launch and I will scribble more about it later. For now though, many thanks to my lovely friend Padraic for taking these pics of the book poster, all lit up at Melbourne domestic terminal! Oh, the first one’s Melbourne, and the bottom one is Sydney. How weird is this!!!

How not to write a launch speech…

2 Feb

It’s not easy, penning my thoughts for tomorrow night. I don’t really like being the centre of attention (OH SHUT UP, I DON’T!!!!) and reading aloud to a room full of people is something I’ve hated ever since a primary school teacher made me stand up and recite the alphabet on my first day, and I could only pronounce the letters phonetically. Everyone looked at me like I was weird, which I may well have been, but as I’ve said before, Elmo and Big Bird seemed to think that was the best way to teach me, and who argues with them??

I still don’t know how many people are coming to the launch tomorrow night, but the sudden realisation just struck me that while I have always been a pro at organising events, I usually only organise them for people I know. And when it’s people you know, you don’t really mind if you come across as a bit inarticulate (read: PISSED). When it’s people you don’t know, however, it’s probably not a good idea to grab a mic and slur ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart” like you’re in a karaoke bar, or expect the audience to think you’re funny when you try and burp the names of your most honoured guests. Of course, I wouldn’t even think of doing either of these things. Well, that’s a lie, of course I’ve thought about it, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this whole paragraph, but I probably SHOULDN’T, and that’s my point. Dammit.

It’s been a bit of a mad couple of days… yesterday I signed some books for the store Angus and Robertson and watched them stick these little shiny ‘signed by author’ stickers on them, which was so weird. And then when I walked past again they had put them in the window! I wanted to take a piccy to document the occasion but nerves got in the way and I thought the lady in the shop might think I was a moron. When I went to snoop in Dymocks, they had put three copies on the bottom shelf of the travel memoir section, which we all know no one ever looks at. I stood there for a while, fighting disappointment. It’s kind of tough you know… knowing how much work you’ve put into something, all the hours, all the heartache, all the hangovers… and then when the end result appears, it’s shoved below a MILLION other books with no hope of ever competing. It’s not something you can really moan about though. Because as soon as you moan, everyone just says you’re lucky it’s there at all, which is true. Very true. I shall not moan… but I won’t lie either. I want a Burqalicious SHOP. I want t-shirts and airplanes printed with golden, sparkling wings to match. I want a Burqalicious charity for abandoned black items of clothing. I want special edition Burqalicious Marmite and Burqalicious Arabic tea bags by Tetley. I want a Burqalicious theme park, like Harry Potter got. These are all things I also won’t be saying in my speech, by the way. So sssssssh…

Today I got my first Amazon.com review, which was also pretty cool, and my good friend at the Telegraph wrote a lovely piece and posted it on the website along with that burqa photo. It’s all a bit bizarre, seeing things like cool promo style shots, considering I started out taking stupid photos like the one above, which I just dug out again for amusement value. (It’s actually a painting, but doesn’t he look real?!)

I suppose my speech tomorrow will just end up being one of gratitude really, more than anything else. Because in all seriousness, that’s the overpowering emotion I’m experiencing right now, regarding all of this. Gratitude for all the people who’ve supported me so far, to my friends and family who’ve bought the book already, to the amazing people in the diary entries themselves, who I loved and sometimes lost; who inspired me and when it mattered most, loved me back. And gratitude of course, for the magnificent team of people who pulled together and turned my random scribbles into the book that’s now on the bottom shelf of Dymocks.

Thanks! And see you tomorrow at the launch! xox

One day to go…

31 Jan

WOWEEEEEE, time flies! It’s hard to believe my first (maybe only) book will be on the shelves this time tomorrow! I’m sure nothing will change. Nothing drastic anyway. One minute it won’t be there, and the next it will. No big deal. But I’m going to have to document the occasion, obviously, because one day, when I’m old and grey and Dubai is a distant memory in my fuzzy head, and I’m one of those really dippy ladies who only wears beige and only talks about the weather as she peers weirdly over the fence at the “youths” making too much noise at their “wild party”, I’ll probably want to look back on all this and remember how I once did something sort of cool.

Yesterday, my amazing photographer friend Autumn took a host of fab promo shots, like this one above, to be used in various mags and stuff. I love this one in particular because it’s the same position as the sexy girl is sitting in on the back of the book, and because, thanks to the glasses you can’t see how despicably hungover I am. (Saturday night was pretty massive, involving Japanese (food not people), overly tall transvestites and a 2am food platter involving toast and old salami that quite frankly I’m ashamed to have presented to my friend).

I also like this shot because I’m just far enough away that my teeth don’t look too crooked. YAY!

At this point I don’t actually know how many people are coming to the launch party on Thursday night at Ariel Books. Error. I started keeping a list in Excel but as my friends all know, I am SHIT with numbers, even when there are names attached to them. I started getting confused 😦

I know… I am totally crap. But honestly, work has been really busy and just seeing that green blobby ‘X’ thing flashing on my screen as the programme starts up gives me the shivers. I have a rough idea though, and have had lots of lovely emails from the wonderful people coming, so hopefully it will be a good turn out on the night and not too many people will cancel at the last minute.

All that matters is that people have fun, because seriously, the excellent peeps at Ariel must be getting sick of me now. The shop is on the walk from the Fringe (my fave bar) to Crown St (where good things always happen at night), so I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to stop with whoever I’ve been with since they put the poster in the window, to get a pic or something (like this, urrrrgh). And I haven’t always been one hundred percent un-drunk.

Well, it’s exciting!!! Bet they can’t wait to get rid of it though. And me.

Roll on tomorrow! You can buy buy buy and read read read! Oh but if you’re coming to the launch and want to wait till then, you can also get your copy from Ariel on Thursday if you like. xxx

Spectrum event, sent from Ewan…

29 Jan

The lovely “Ewan” was just kind enough to send me a scan of the Burqalicious event listing in Sydney Morning Herald’s Spectrum, today, seeing as I haven’t bothered to leave my house all day. It’s not all that exciting, really, is it? Hmmmmm… but I thought I’d post it anyway. They also didn’t get around to finishing my email address, haha! Error. If you want to come, just come OK!!!!

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