Thursday, August 31, 2006

A little help here?

You should bear in mind the following points when deciding what to wear for work.

The need to be a good role model.

Health and Safety considerations.


So reads the section of the handbook from my new job devoted to the dress code in the office. Helpful, isn't it?

That's right.

It isn't helpful at all. As if I don't have enough to worry about on my first day, what with vague anxiety about where I'm supposed to be, whether I can get there on time, what to have in my sandwiches, whether my colleagues will suss my psychotic tendencies in the first ten minutes...all that. I mean, it doesn't exactly lay it on the line, does it? Admittedly, when I went for the interview, the girl that showed me through was wearing a vest top, shorts and flip flops, which showcased her extensive tattoos perfectly. Everyone else looked sort of casual too, so maybe it's casual wear? Except, what if it was dress-down day? And even if it is casual wear, what are the boundaries? Where I work now, we're not supposed to wear trainers on dress-down day. What if I show up in jeans and trainers and it's all wrong? What if I wear normal office wear and it's all wrong? What if I trip over the step and skid into the office on my face, splitting my trousers in the process and showing my pants to everyone? Why do I worry about such ridiculous things?

In other news, I am about to get on my mountain bike for the first time in two years so that I can get to fat club*. I am not entirely convinced by the never-forgetting part of riding a bike, but I do recall that it makes my legs hurt. Why is life so complicated?

UPDATE: Riding a bike, running - that'll be two completely different sets of muscles then. I hate riding a bike. Hate it. There is not one single redeeming feature. It makes your legs hurt. It makes you out of breath. It is wobbly, and hot, and it fucking sucks. I thought I hated running but when I'm lumbering round the block at six o'clock tomorrow morning, gasping for breath and thinking about ringing for a taxi to take me the three hundred yards home, I will instead be grateful that I am not riding my bike. And to think, I sold my car all full of oh, I can ride my bike to my new job. Why did I do that? Why? At least there's enough in the kitty for 500cc or so of two-wheeled entertainment...but that's another story.

* Lost twenty pounds since May! Woo!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Just let it be over.

It was our first day back at work today after a ten-day break. This did not sit well with me. The alarm went off this morning and I was all scowly and sleepy and dammit, I was born to more than this! Where is my easy life? Where are my scented baths, my slender thighs, my champagne fountains? Work sucks, and the suckiness is strangely not eased any by the shimmering vision of my last day next Friday.

To put it plainly, I am scared of my last day next Friday.

In the four years I have been with this company, I have come to the conclusion that it's possibly the drinkiest place of work I am ever likely to encounter. Seriously. There have been business trips, team dinners, christmas parties, random nights out. People have danced, had fights, fallen off bridges, lost their handbags, sung karaoke, broken into hotels and crashed through colleague's ornamental gardens. Someone once threw up in a colleague's spare bed. There have been romances, recriminations and entire conferences where the pallor of the attendees' skin was matched only by the lack of interest in the lunchtime buffet. I may or may not have participated in any or all of the above. This is the part that worries me slightly.

It's traditional, on a last day, to plaster the office from reception to the boardroom with photos of the hapless resignee in all manner of embarrassing and/or compromising positions. There is a farewell speech given by a manager, which is more about letting everyone in the whole office in on the time you got drunk on a work trip and joined your colleagues in a rendition of Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone Now" on the karaoke than describing what an asset you were to the company. Or recounting the time you spent a satisfying twenty minutes pulling handbrake turns in a gravel car park at a conference hotel, only to report to reception and find that everyone was watching on the CCTV monitors. Or the time you pulled a colleague on yet another work trip, had an affair, ruined his marriage and...oh, hang on. We've covered that one, haven't we?

Still. You get the idea.

Of course, I've threatened all my friends with extreme sanctions should they contribute in any way to any humiliation heaped upon me next Friday. They have, naturally, laughed scornfully and continued rifling through a file marked "Embarrassing Photos".


Sunday, August 27, 2006

I love you, but......

Small Person is a big music fan.

She likes pretty much everything - rock, punk, a bit of dance, the Paris to Berlin song (come on - she's six!), and it's all fine by me. Her father views her burgeoning musical tastes as a competition between us, which is pretty much to be expected from a man so petty that, during our marriage, any perceived slight would be recorded by him and nurtured until he had a chance to throw it back at me, often with a triumphant "and that's how it felt when you [insert imaginary grievance from three weeks/eight months/four years ago here]", and attempts to influence her into genres he knows will annoy me. But I know his game, and I refuse to be drawn into it. Besides which, he has a full beard and the entire Jean Michel Jarre back catalogue, so what does he know?

But anyway. That wasn't what I wanted to say at all.

Small Person's love of music is externalised in one of two ways. One being slightly spastic dancing (much as I hate to bring the Ex into this again, he only has one dance (a sort of demented twist which is performed regardless of the music actually playing), and it seems that Small Person may have inherited this talent), and the other being her newly-incessant singing-along habit.

It wouldn't be so bad if she sang along to songs she actually knows. But complete ignorance of the subject matter is no bar to Small Person's enthusiasm. Oh no. All car journeys are now subject to a soundtrack very much akin to the sort of music that plays in the background in shops that sell dreamcatchers and books about astral projection for fun and profit. And it's driving me MENTAL. About five times a day, the following conversation plays out:

Small Person: lalalala...hmmm..hmmm-mm-mmmm.....nee-ee-ee-lalala...

me: darling, have you ever actually heard this song before?

SP:, no.

me: do you know any of the words to this song at all? Even a bit?

SP: woooooooooooooooo......ooooo....mmmmmmm........not really Mummy, no.

me: then would you please stop trying to sing along? Please? Only it's making Mummy a bit, well, bitey.

SP (crushed): okay Mummy. Sorry.

I spend the next five minutes feeling guilty for repressing her natural desire to express herself, and imagine scenes twenty years in our future where she angrily denies me the opportunity to see my grandchildren because her therapist unlocked a memory this week where I wouldn't let her sing along to the Foo Fighters. Small Person carries on reading her book, and continue our journey in silence.


Until the fucking Paris to Berlin song comes on the radio and, vindicated, Small Person shoots me a look of pure spite, announces that she knows this one, Mummy, and proceeds to shout the whole thing at me in a voice that lends itself to harmony in the same way that Les Dawson lent himself to the piano.

Karma's a bitch.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Summer holidays, part the third

Well, what's a girl to do?

We went to Frinton yesterday, and it was ace - all sort of windswept and sandy, and Small Person made me very proud indeed by showing some fledgling hippy tendencies and announcing that she wanted to stay and look at the sea forEVER. Then we went to Walton and it was full of malnourished, miserable people on a fortnight's holiday to the arse end of Essex. We went in the arcade, and had ice creams, and tried not to catch anyone's eye lest they stabbed us to death for looking at them wrong. The child-friendly part of our week off is now officially over.

Small Person has gone to her dad's until Sunday. The weather is rubbish, and we've not long since been paid. I wonder how we can most effectively use our time over the next couple of days?

Ooh! I know!

Beer. Sweet, sweet beer. Today, we are off to our favourite pub. We're going to buy loads of newspapers (we expecially like the Mail on days like these, as there's so much to get splutteringly irate over), have some lunch, and revel in that bunking-off feeling you get when you're on the lash and everyone else is at work. Last time we did this, we were all oh, we'll be home by six. Bound to be. Cut to eleven pm, and we're dancing like mongs at a pub down the road, wondering who switched the wobbly floor on.

It might not seem like a very constructive use of our time, but we're over that. We like to think of it as team building, only without the strapping yourself to a man called Jeremy and pretending to cross a raging river part. We have busy lives, me and the Other Half, and days like today offer us a chance to catch up, chill out and (most importantly) sit in a window seat and poke fun at the general public.

You gots to love an all-dayer. Hurray!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Summer holidays, part the second

In which I continue my systematic, wholly unfounded assasination of popular tourist destinations in coastal Suffolk.

Before I get started I'd like to point out that, in the winter, I love Aldeburgh. It's proper seaside, and is at its best when cold, windswept and mostly empty. There are cosy Adnams pubs, and the best fish and chip shop in the whole entire world. Sitting all wrapped up on the sea wall, stuffing greasy, salty chips down your throat is one of those world-class experiences that make you glad to be alive.

Today, however, I learned a hard lesson about Aldeburgh. It should only ever be visited between October and March.

During the summer, the place is packed to the rafters with wealthy sailing types. Their children are tanned, windswept and overprivileged to the point of boredom. They are Hugos, and they are Petras, and they love each other very, very much (you can tell this from the hugging and air-kissing that erupts when two groups converge in the middle of the tiny, overcrowded pavement). The rest of the town is filled with ordinary people just looking for an ice cream, or a place to sit down. It's like Upstairs Downstairs made real, as the sailing types sneer at the tourists, and the tourists apologise protractedly if eye contact is accidentally made with someone in a higher tax bracket.

So anyway. Today, the queue for the chip shop was enormous, so we attempted to buy lunch elsewhere. May I recommend that, should you find yourself hungry in Aldeburgh, you DO NOT patronise a place by the name of "Munchies". It is pretentious, eye-wateringly overpriced and staffed by a very rude lady indeed. I paid twelve and a half quid for two burgers and a club sandwich. Twelve and a half quid! For takeaway food! And after I'd waited for fifteen minutes outside the kiosk-sized premises that were now trying to accommodate eight oversized nineteen year-old boys called Henry, I thought I might enquire as to how much longer our food might be. Given that they had twelve and a half quid of my money, and all. I squeezed into the shop, and smiled at the woman who had taken my order. Looking me up and down with all the warmth and welcoming of a vegan in an abattoir, she simply barked "I know. There are a number of people waiting. You'll have to wait". So I pointed out through gritted teeth that I'd been waiting for rather a long time now, and I just wanted to see how much longer our food might be. Waving a large knife dismissively in the direction of her hapless assistant, she muttered something under her breath and turned her back on me.

So, lady who runs Munchies in Aldeburgh, should you ever google yourself to check customer feedback, please take on board my constructive criticism. Your shop is too small. Your menu is wanky in the extreme. Your customer service is appalling, and your prices are ludicrous. And do you know what else? Your food was rubbish as well.

And then a pigeon shat on the Other Half, so we decided to call it a day.

Tomorrow? I think we'll stay in.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

"It's eating my soul"

The title of this post is the text message I sent in response to the Other Half's enquiry as to how my day at Local Theme Park* with Small Person and my mother was going.

It was doomed to failure from the start, for any number of reasons. Small Person is pathologically afraid of theme parks. My mother is insane beyond any hope of redemption. I may or may not have a borderline personality disorder and very poor coping skills (this intensifies in my mother's company). Pleasureless Hills is unremittingly shit.

For those who are fortunate enough never to have been there, let me try and summarise the shitness of Pleasureless Hills. It's fucking rubbish. Its main clientele are overspill freaks from the nearby "holiday" towns of Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft are where people who can't afford to go to Blackpool go on holiday. Lowestoft is in the third world, and Yarmouth is like a convention for people with misshapen heads. And they all go to fucking Pleasureless Hills for a fun day out. It's a fabulous, glittering jewel in the bleak landscape of darkest Suffolk. If you spent your formative years being beaten by feral nuns in an eastern European orphanage, that is. If you are anything resembling mentally stable, it's arse-clenchingly bad.

And what a day we had.

Small Person dissolved into hiccupy tears every time I suggested going on a ride that was any more hardcore than the Tweenies car outside our local Tesco. She wept hopeless, resigned tears at the very thought of the Pirate Ship, the Rattlesnake, the get the idea. She was scared of the fucking steps of the helter skelter. My patience had been stretched to the limit by our first activity, which was a boat ride through a shed with some shit pirate cutouts in it, accompanied by a soundtrack of my mother carping incessantly about not having been given any 3D glasses at the outset (well it said we would get some, and now there's a sign telling us to put them on, and we haven't got any, but it said we would get some, and now there's a sign telling us to put them SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP). I think it was supposed to be scary, but it probably have helped the atmosphere slightly if they'd remembered to switch the overhead fluorescents off. It was about as scary as our garage. It could only get worse.

And boy, did it.

I am deeply, irrationally afraid of cable cars. So, the minute the safety bar clicked into place on the chairlift ride across the park, I started hyperventilating and imagining our impending violent deaths. It inched the quarter mile from one circle of hell to the other, as my mind treated me to endless cutaway shots of that cable car crash in the highlands of Scotland a few weeks ago, and Small Person patted my leg comfortingly and told me not to worry. Never again, my friends. Never again.

By this time I had dropped any pretence of having a good time, and was just plain ignoring my mother who was wandering around like a mental patient, a bit sort of glassy eyed and without any apparent idea of where we were or why we were there in the first place. Driving. Me. Mad. I don't know why I agree to go anywhere with the woman, since after five minutes in her company I want to point, shout "look over there!!" and run the other way. I was at the stage of checking the time every five minutes and sort of wishing the chairlift had crashed.

We had a lovely lunch at the Merry Mariner restaurant (blank-faced, dead-eyed staff, plastic plates and cutlery, very loud rave music, my mother dancing at the jacket potato servery), and managed to get one more ride in before my personal god took pity on me and opened the heavens. Oh dear, I said. It doesn't look as if it's going to stop. Do you think we should call it a day?

Total cost for three hours misery? Forty one quid, and irreversible damage to my psyche. Save yourselves. Avoid Pleasureless Hills like the fucking plague. And never, ever go anywhere with my mother.

* The name has been changed to protect the innocent. Namely me, as I am convinced that my mother will google the real name, find this blog and write me out of her will. And I need the money. Please work with me on this.


I was in a very bad mood today owing to spending time with my mother, who has the ability to induce furniture-biting frustration in me in a very short space of time. Some of you might really like it at Pleasureless Hills. Maybe you like to holiday in Great Yarmouth. Maybe you even live there. I'm not judging you - I'm venting.

That is all.

Friday, August 18, 2006

This is MY dance space.....

People. Why won’t they just bugger off?

The woman behind me in the queue at Weight Watchers last night had too much perfume on. It was Loulou or something equally sickly and obnoxious, and by the time I got to the humiliation weighing part, I felt a bit sick.

The toxicity of the fumes probably wouldn’t have been so bad if the woman concerned had had any idea at all about personal space, or boundaries, or anything. She was very fat indeed, and every time the queue shuffled along she responded to my taking a step forward by taking one of her own that was just a little bit too long, and her protruding stomach caressed my lower back. It’s enough to make a person itch. Seriously, strange fat lady with too much perfume on, don’t touch me with your stomach.

When you think about it, people are vile. I sat next to GBF on the special bus into town on Wednesday and, although I love him very much, the thought of him eating his egg sandwich while sitting beside me was more than I could bear. I mean, what if I smelled his breath*, or something? Horrible. And I went to see the dentist yesterday and all I could think was, why? Why would anyone want to be a dentist and poke around in other people’s manky mouths all day long? See also chiropodists, shop assistants and beauty therapists* (the proper sort, not the dirty ladies who offer “remedial therapies” with their tops off. That’s a whole other blog post). Why would anyone do those jobs? I just can’t fathom it.

I can’t be doing with people, me.

* Could everyone (BBC news website, this means you) please learn the simple rule that the stuff you exhale is breath, and what you do when you exhale is breathe. As far as I’m aware, the two are not interchangeable. Thank you.

** I read something once where a lady recounted the story of when she saw the notes the beautician who waxed her upper lip had for her that read “warning – breath smells of fish”. How mortified can a person be??

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Scary monsters

I’m not easily shocked, me.

I grew up in a household where my parents thought nothing of letting an eight-year-old watch X-rated or even banned horror films on a Sunday morning before returning them to the video shop. I saw the original Evil Dead, I Spit on Your Grave, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Superstition, the Exorcist, Driller Killer….all that good stuff. I also used to read my Nanny’s horror books on visits to her flat (Pan Horror collections – some of the nastiest pulp-horror fiction around). I still love a good horror film or story, but occasionally it backfires on me.

Some films over the years have properly scared the living daylights out of me. After watching Halloween (at the tender age of, ooh, twelve or so), I spent months not looking in the bathroom mirror. Even though this didn’t feature in the film, I couldn’t shake the conviction that the blank mask of Michael Myers would appear in the mirror behind me, and still can’t sleep in a room with an uncovered mirror in it (our full-length mirror lives in our wardrobe!). The Blair Witch Project rendered me sleepless for days. I can watch it again now, but for literally months it haunted me – I just couldn’t shake the last scene from my mind. Books, though? Not so much.

Until now.

I ordered American Psycho a couple of months ago. I started reading it, got about halfway through and moved on to something else – not because I wasn’t enjoying it, but due to my current short attention span. At the point I left it, it was just starting to really explore the skewed landscape behind Patrick Bateman’s eyes. I was loving the book – I know it’s fashionable to slate it, but I really got into the superficiality of Bateman’s world – a world where the material is all, and where the young bucks of Wall Street are so alike in dress, attitude and obsession with detail as to be interchangeable, a world where, even as his life unravels in the most horrific of ways, Patrick is still unnaturally obsessed with his hair mousse. Nobody ever recognises anyone, nobody ever looks further than what they are wearing or where the next gram of coke is coming from. Satire? Yes, and done with masterful understatement.

With this in mind, I picked the book up again on Sunday morning. Mistake.

I understand the detached nature of the language when describing the ferocity of Patrick Bateman’s encounters with his victims. As he descends further into madness these killings, whether real or imagined, become increasingly explicit in their intensity and detail. Bret Easton Ellis has already allowed an insight into the extent of Bateman’s unravelling sanity, and the worsening depravity described as the book progresses illustrates perfectly how thin the line between control and madness can stretch.

But, here’s the thing.

I couldn’t read it any more. I couldn’t have those words, and the images they unavoidably generated, in my head for a moment longer. I've put the book back in the bookcase, and spent a largely sleepless* Monday night resolutely thinking about whiskers on kittens and raindrops on roses - anything to erase those words and images from my head. I know that's the intended reaction - nobody in full control of their mental faculties could feel anything other than horror and revulsion at those scenes**, but I just couldn't read on. So, here's my dilemma.

I hate to leave a book unfinished. I've read reviews of the book that, while not outright spoiling the ending, allude to the fact that it's unsatisfactory. Is it worth me risking another sleepless night just to see how it comes out? It's a matter of pride to some extent - am I really such a wuss that I can't even finish a work of fiction?

In other news, I resigned today. Woo!

* Seriously. I think I managed three hours, tops.
** All you reviewers on Amazon? The ones who just had to point out how funny you found the torture and murder scenes? I call liar. If you can get through either Bethany or Christie's demise without feeling physically sick, you might want to consider some counselling. In my opinion.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I spy with my little eye....

...something beginning with "P". That ends in "ervert". You can be one too, with the help of this week's featured product.

See what's happening without being seen, with the SpyScope pocket telescope. Now available to the general public, this amazing precision instrument weighs less than two ounces, and fits into your pocket like a pen. Imagine being able to delight in the antics of wildlife or even people without them knowing you are there.....enjoy landscapes and the detail within them - even watch people, in the park, on the beach, in fact, wherever you like!

Um. Okay. Where to start with this one? Voyeurism as a recreational activity? The inclusion of this advert in a Sunday paper, despite its slightly sinister overtones of covert surveillance on your neighbours? And where will it end? Will it eventually be possible to kit your entire life out from the advertisments in the colour supplements of weekend newspapers?

Imagine the convenience of it all - you could get up in the morning, slip on a comfy pair of tan slacks, a breathable cotton shirt with (for reasons that are beyond me) epaulettes and some expandable, super-comfy plastic sandals and spend the day spying on the woman over the road (she drinks, you know, and if you wait until after nine in the evening she'll take her top off, forget where her nightie is and sob gently for half an hour or so before passing out), all without the irritating intrusion of the outside world. If you order yourself a Dell, you can get your groceries delivered too and never see the other side of your front door again! Result!

In other news, "Tribute" by Tenacious D has been playing on a loop in my head for a record-breaking four days. Make it stop.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


There's a lot of discussion on the Weight Watchers forums regarding "starvation mode".

It pops up regularly. Someone will post a forlorn little thread announcing that, despite trying really hard this week, they just haven't lost any weight. Lots of people will reply in sympathy, and at least one of them will say:

"Are you eating enough? You should eat all your points every day, otherwise your body will go into starvation mode and you won't lose any weight".

The theory, as I understand it, is fairly simple. If you don't eat enough your body will assume there's no food to be had and will hang onto fat stores. Seems plausible, doesn't it? So, answer me this.

How do people with anorexia get so skinny then?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Stupid Fucking Shoes*

I hate it when logic and medical science get in the way of a good rant.

For a few weeks now, the cult of the crocs has been insiduously creeping into the public consciousness, via the medium of celebrity magazines and those hideous, soul-sapping "lifestyle" channels up at the end of the Sky range. First impressions? They look pretty fucking stupid. The influence of celeb culture has finally gone a step too far. The Ugg boot, I was prepared to forgive. They look sort of cool (unless you are Sienna Miller, in which case buy some new shoes, start eating and stop being so completely, yet indefinably annoying), and don't have too much going on in the way of upping your Retard Factor. Except by now we're all supposed to have stopped wearing them, and now the hideous wave of retro eighties fashion seems to be ebbing slightly (and nobody is more grateful than I am. Not that I've been wearing that stuff, you understand. I'm old enough to have worn legwarmers and skinny jeans the first time round, and I can't imagine I'd look any better with the benefit of twenty-odd years on me) the door is open for a new, ridiculous trend.

And nothing is more suited to fill that niche than crocs. Like clogs for the sort of person who requires a padded helmet on social occasions, they come in every colour of the rainbow, presumably so you can look stupid while co-ordinating with any outfit. I understand the concept. It's all fine. If you work in a kitchen, or a hospital, or go sailing, then they're absolutely perfect. Waterproof, microbicidal, comfortable - just perfect for damp, humid conditions. Fine by me. However, what the likes of Teri Hatcher need to understand (and let's face it, are you going to take style tips from a woman so terminably daffy that she's forgotten that people need to eat to stay alive?) is that if you flaunt a pair while en route from your trailer to the set, you just look like someone got you drunk and sold you some shoes.

And they're everywhere. It's like a competition to see who has the worst taste, and everyone on lists D and down seems to be winning. And it's spreading. I saw someone in a pair (a bright pink pair, for the record) at my local Tesco the other day. She didn't look as if she'd come straight from theatre, or a yacht race, or the kitchens at Nobu or anything, but I could be mistaken. To her credit, she was looking slightly uncomfortable, but that might have had something to do with the incredulous looks she was getting, and the whispers of "what-has-she-got-on-her-feet?" that were following her round the store. I hope it was a lesson to her. I hope it was a lesson to all of you. I mean, if Reveal magazine suddenly started insisting that armbands and a sailor hat were the thing to wear this autumn, just because Cameron Diaz and then Jodie Marsh had been spotted out in them, would you adopt the look? Would you?

If you would, then we have nothing more to say to each other. And if you come to my house wearing crocs, I will ask you to leave them on the doorstep and then, while you are admiring my new patio, I will burn them, and then run them over, and then burn them again.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

* Alright, alright. Unless you are a surgeon, or a sailor, or a waitress, or a nurse, or a lifeguard, or a chef, or have bunions, or a bad back, or plantar fasciitis, or any other reason why they might be quite good from, you know, an orthopaedic point of view. They still look fucking stupid though and so, by definition, do you.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Fuzzy logic

Something came up today on a forum I hang around on, and I thought I’d share. Consider it a gift.

The theory was posited (as an extreme - I don't think the person who posted really thought it - it was more as a conversation piece. I hope) that men who like women to shave their foo-foos are latent kiddy-fiddlers. The discussion then spiralled off into a place where society’s requirement that women keep their legs and underarms fuzz-free was denounced as a patriarchal contribution to the repression of women blah blah blah.

It’s kind of an interesting one though.

I’d like to start with the shaven-women-as-faux-ten-year-olds theory. I don’t buy it. I just don’t think that such a huge swathe of the male population (and I might be way, way off-beam here. Do loads of boys really like that? Really?) are pandering to their suppressed desires by grooming their unsuspecting partners. Not even if they’re doing it subconsciously. It just doesn’t ring true. And, if this really was the case, would the women involved not get wind of the subtext and maybe question it? Just a bit? And what about single women who dare to go bare? Are they somehow subconsciously enabling men they don’t even know who may or may not have suppressed paedophilic tendencies which are just waiting for someone to draw them out? I really don’t think so.

As for body hair in general, then. My goodness. It’s a minefield.

If you prefer to shave/wax/thread/depilate/pluck errant hairs with an organic tweezer made from a hazel twig then you are open to accusations of sisterly betrayal. Which is sort of fair enough, in a way. I mean, who says that if I want to grow my leg hair so it pokes through my tights in winter (Mrs Evans, from the Art Room, I’m talking to YOU), it's wrong and unfeminine? Or grow my lady garden down to my knees? And what of armpits? I’m sort of easy-going when it comes to armpits*. Some of my best friends have armpit hair. I had it myself for a while, but that might have been to do with general fat-girl-trapped-in-a-bad-marriage self-loathing than anything else. I also had a wrestler’s neck and lots of elasticated waistbands** in my wardrobe, so I’m not sure my opinion counts. Anyway. Body hair. If you just let it all grow, of course, then you’re up for a great deal of jokes about people who knit their own lentils. Oh, and other women will look at you with a mixture of horror and admiration (come on girls, which of us hasn’t wished that we could just give it all up and go native? No more waxing, no panicky stubble-razing, no sliced shins that just won’t stop bleeding…).

So it’s a lose/lose situation. I personally prefer to keep everything under control, but does that mean I am being dictated to by the male ideal of female beauty? Does the fact that I think my legs and underarms look better without a five-o’clock shadow (or a full Rasputin) mean that I am in some way betraying the sisterhood?

It’s a tricky one. Discuss.

* I’m not, not really. Bare is better. But after the bollocking I got from the feminists over the pole-dancing post I’m too scared to say so. Nobody ever reads the footnotes so I should get away with it.

** Seriously. Poor self-image doesn’t really cover it. I am way better now, honestly. Other Half, tell them. Please? Otherwise everyone will now picture me as a hairy fat girl (not that there’s anything wrong with that [see above]) and after the weekend I’ve just had I need all the self-esteem I can hold onto. I’ll blog about the fat-girl years another time, if I run out of things to talk about (not that there’s anything wrong with being fat. Or hairy. No. It’s all about choice. I know that).

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Cider with posing

Apparently, it's acceptable to drink cider again.

By "acceptable" I mean drink it in public. By "public" I mean order it in a bar or pub. For a certain section of the community, cider never really went away. Bikers...people from the West Country.....tramps.

It's a sort of gateway drink; you have it at a couple of house parties and either learn to put up with it, or get horribly, awfully sick on it and never touch the stuff again. The only time I've ever been properly apprehended by the police was at sixteen, drinking Merrydown and smoking spliffs with the homeless in the town where I went to school. As a fully paid-up (well, by giro) member of the hedge-monkey, living-in-a-lorry, dog-on-a-string set in the early nineties, I was more than happy to order a pint of Scrumpy Jack* in the pub. At bike rallies, it was pretty much compulsory. I once astonished a lovely member of the Hells Angels at Kent Custom Bike Show by getting through a whole two-litre flagon of their "special" scrumpy (warm, flat, with spiders floating in it) and going back for more. On the same day. Me and cider have always been easy company.

But, you know, times change. You get older, stop dying your hair pink, get an office job. Suddenly cider isn't the sort of thing you ask for at the bar any more. You switch to shorts, or wine or (like me) pints of strong Belgian lager instead (for some reason Wifebeater=ok, White Lightning=not). And so it goes on. Cider, unless you are into medieval re-enactment or live in Somerset, is the preserve of the sort of person who is happy to spend the day sitting on the bench outside the library drinking from a blue plastic bottle and shouting at people who aren't there.

And then it all changed again. Suddenly, cider isn't just acceptable - it's cool. Forget chardonnay, and ironic alcopops. No, if you want to be the epitome of effortless style, simply order a pint of tramp juice. As long as you pour it over ice, it's fine. Really. Nobody will think you are a homeless, or an alcoholic, or a student. No - people will clamour to be your friend, to move in the circles you drink cider.

I don't get it.

I mean, it's still basically the same socially unacceptable drink, right? You still see men in dirty trousers carrying it home from the offy, the two-litre bottle rustling seductively in a translucent stripey carrier bag, don't you? So why, because a man from a marketing agency tells you that the addition of a couple of ice cubes elevates it to the apple-based equivalent of Cristal, are you suddenly convinced** that it's the only drink to be seen with? I mean, it tastes like Top Deck and makes your teeth furry.

I find it slightly annoying, that's all. I never said I was going to be rational when I started this thing.

* More than likely a pint of snakebite, made with Scrumpy and Holsten Export. Happy, if blurry days.

** If you drink it on the sundeck of a cruise ship it's ok though. This is the only exception. Do not question it.

Free Web Site Counter
Counters Who Links Here