Archive

Monthly Archives: August 2014

yoghurt sketch edited

It’s time for something especially trivial today, readers. Sorry. But I must get this off my chest.

Yoghurt adverts – what the hell?

These adverts have become the scourge of our televisions, multiplying in seemingly endless numbers every week.

At this terrifying rate, soon every other advert will be for yoghurt.

Why so MANY of them?? I’m bemused.

I mean, how much yoghurt does anyone ever buy? Surely the advert to consumer ratio is all warped.

Am I missing something? I’ve eaten yoghurt. It’s ok. Sometimes they’re very creamy. That makes them more ok.

But are they, say, delicious…not really.

Yoghurt does not meet your snack need in any way, shape or form. Everyone knows this. If anything, you are hungrier. Yoghurts are only ever bought out of guilt – guilt for really wanting to buy a chocolate bar.

Plus, it’s really inconvenient – if you’re not eating it from the comfort of your own home, you need to have cutlery on you.

But maybe I’m wrong. Apparently yoghurts can offer you a taste of luxury…Erm, are they luxurious? In any conceivable way? Christ no! It’s yoghurt, for God’s sake.

If for a second you’re entertaining yoghurt as an idea of luxury, you’ve got more problems than this humble product can help you with.

liberte

Image courtesy of Liberte

Not only are these adverts increasing in number, they are also taking silliness to whole new levels.

Greek mythological figures? Firemen? Sexy criminals? Lifeguards? Topless men in tighty-whities?

A magician??! Come on, everyone knows that magicians are not sexy. Creepy, yes. Yet here one is, in a jolly farmers market, turning fruit into yoghurt, surrounded by a bevy of young blondes who begin to giggle mindlessly. Hmmm…

Seriously indulgent? Sumptuous? Please. Yoghurts being pushed as luxury products? Sexy, even? I find this bizarre.

As far as I am concerned, you just can’t sex up yoghurt. If anything, it is one of the least sexy foods. It is barely even food. Despite this glaring truth, most recently Muller have tried to turn yoghurt into sex (ugh, sorry), courtesy of Nicole effing Scherzinger. Maybe she got confused and thought she was shooting another Herbal Essences ad. At least the painful acting makes it entertaining.

At best these adverts are silly and frivolous and at worst, mindless and patronising. Practically all are touted as a dieting aid. And with all these cues, they could only ever be aimed at women, naturally.

The more I think about it, actually, the more riled I get.

On the one hand you’ve got outdated stereotype A – silly women, prancing around, drooling over half-dressed men and getting over excited at dairy products. And on the other hand, there’s outdated stereotype B – silly women, prancing around, obsessing over their weight and digestion, and getting over excited at dairy products. It’s insufferable. We could be here all day analysing what it all means.

Look. I like to call myself a feminist. A gentle feminist, if you can have such a thing. And whilst I find observations such as these thought provoking and very valid, I just don’t feel them deep down in my soul, if I’m honest.

Please don’t shoot me – I’m not a detractor! I’m just not as passionate about some things as my younger self was. But it is great to see so many more young women becoming passionate about feminism, especially when compared with the reception feminism typically received when I was their age.

People left, right and centre are talking openly about feminism now as if it is the new buzzword. Boosting by strong support from women in the public eye, including Caitlin Moran and Laurie Penny. It’s good to know feminism is no longer a dirty word.

However, I do feel rather cynical about the apparent renewed interest, and question the real impact it will have in the long term.

It feels very much like a popular fad being pushed by the media, hungry to see female pop stars out on stage in their pants, behind a big flashy neon sign, under the banner of ‘feminism’. For me, this is not feminism. It’s yet more advertising. All a bit vacuous.

And on the other side of the flashing neon, it’s all too serious and angry.

So, while I can neither relate to the media poster girls nor the academics, I find myself in the middle, on the sofa, entertaining feminist-lite thoughts, and I reserve the right to get irritated at yoghurt.

Turn off the TV you say? Stick to the BBC?

Yes, you’ve got a point. But when will I watch Come Dine With Me?

This is more me:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sf_roIC9Pso

Advertisements

Is it me, or are today’s men increasingly choosing to dress in women’s clothes?

I don’t mean cardigans (sorry, mardigans), the odd man-bag, or even skinny jeans. I’ve accepted and adjusted to these additions to the general male wardrobe, just about.

I’m talking about actual women’s clothes, made for women to fit a woman’s body – sheer blouses, deep v and scoop neck tops, leggings, neck scarves, harem pants and embellished thong sandals.

Why God, why? Or rather, why fashion designers and high street retailers – why?

Cut it out – it’s not funny anymore, you may not have noticed but the men are taking it seriously! The average British male is just too damn lazy a shopper to actually think about what it is they are buying. They blindly trust you.

So, I implore you – give us our men back!!!
Let me be clear here. My beef is not with the hipsters (although they did start this). They are a law unto themselves, a weird closed species, and who knows in which unattractive way they will asset their ‘individuality’ next.

My concerns are the impact this movement is now having on the common man. And, in result, common woman. Common, persevering, patient (too patient) woman. This is just yet another thing she has to put up with.

Our men are visiting the high street, a couple of times a year at most – very much out of their comfort zone, and often confused. With this recognised reality in mind, men’s fashion departments in the UK are limited at the best of times. This suits them! They just want to get out of there as soon as, with a few clothes to last them for the next six months.

The fashion industry, it seems to me, are preying on this vulnerability, offering up an assault of flimsy cleavage revealing blouses, jeans that bulge in a madcap, mind boggling manner (phones, wallets – just jutting out like a horrendous utility belt for the thighs, whilst simultaneously reducing the sperm count of our male population) alongside jewellery – actual jewellery – and more. There are shoes that surpass the slight repulsiveness of flip-flops and hurtle full throttle into what can only be described as ladies sandals.

What next? Are you going to have them wearing bras? This must stop!

Don’t get me wrong – it’s encouraging that men are accepting and flaunting their feminine side, publicly, in making this effort to be more…erm…adventurous about the way they dress; something typically accepted to be the domain of women. It’s flattering I suppose, that men want to wear what we do; they must think it looks good. And yes, it does – on women!

In this lies, for me, the real horror and just plain confusion about this trend: why are men, straight men, Dads, dressing as if they have female bodies?

I accept that all this is nothing especially new, really – as ever the case in the world of fashion. Our men are blindly recycling practices of old. Look at the New Romantics, Bowie and Jagger before, and before all that – European men of the 1800s, for whom dressing ‘effeminately’ in decorative shirts and stockings was the norm, a sign of status and wealth – a sign of manhood.

But these men, 17th Century society aside, were demonstrating their allegiance to distinct social groups in the way they chose to present themselves. Very much like our modern day hipsters, they were making their mark through fashion.

In recent times, these feminine styles have spread to the masses. Hence now our nice, plain dressing, no funny business, comfy sweater men (who we know and love, even if we don’t want to admit it) are striding around, albeit bandy-legged, in bottoms fit for the Royal Ballet and tops reminiscent of Shirley Bassey cast-offs.

Surely it’s got embarrassing now? Someone must take a stand and say something.

I suppose some women must like it, surely? Otherwise the men wouldn’t keep doing it… But I ask you – who are these women?

Are we all just too embarrassed to bring it up in order to avoid hurting the feelings of modern man? Has this started a chain reaction amongst all young women in modern society, cumulating in the myth that we all like our men to look like us?

If this is the new face of modern equality, I find myself sorely disappointed.

As far as I am concerned alcohol is, and always has been, very much needed to overcome (alright, numb) the Terror Of Life.

Wine o'clock_edited

I enjoy a drink. More than one at a time. And surely, that’s ok?

I don’t have any responsibilities – other than to myself, if you count that. Probably should.

I don’t have any children to fail at being a role model for.

As a consenting adult I feel confident, unashamed and guilt-free in my drinking choices…or do I?

I decided to download an app. Yes. The Change4Life Drinks Tracker app.

It all started with a wall chart at the hospital – hang on, reader! I was not in as a result of drinking. I was actually getting some wisdom teeth removed. All four of them. (Bloody HELL, reader – take care of your teeth!)

Anyway I was sat on a bed, naked from the waist up, being hooked up to an ECG machine – this takes forever. It’s like being seduced very slowly by an electronic octopus. In this awkward social situation I thought it safest to just stare at the wall. And there, on said wall, was an enormous alcohol unit chart. Really, it took up the whole wall.

Lovely little pictures, depicting all alcoholic beverages imaginable. Along with the units each little bugger came with. I decided to fill the time by attempting some maths. It was quite sobering.

Already feeling vulnerable – sat half-naked on a hospital bed about to be drilled and hammered – I became panicked by my apparent drinking disorder, and decided to behave like a responsible adult, take some action.

Hence, the app.

A couple of months in, I am finding that this app makes me feel incredibly guilty about the way I lead my day to day life, without actually inhibiting me from continuing drinking in any way…hmmm.

According to the stats and charts that this app has created for me, it turns out that yes – I am in fact a binge drinker.

If I’m being honest with myself, I’m not surprised. I haven’t been living in a bubble or anything. I know about units and I can sort-of count. But I do feel rather unjustly labelled.

Up to now I’ve been ignoring all the talk of binge drinking on the TV, because I don’t relate to it;
a) The coverage is almost entirely about young people and the binge drinking epidemic. I’m no longer a young person – supposedly, I’m now a ‘grown up’. Also, all this coverage is painfully predictable and over the top – can’t the reporters remember being young?
b) The general perception of binge drinkers doesn’t feel like me. I’m not one of those horrendous ladettes (can I still use that word?), crawling around shoe-less on Broad Street, with my pants round my ankles, falling into unmarked cabs. Surely this is all a mistake and the app has got it wrong…

I know I’m no angel. But it’s not like I’m going out partying like I did in my twenties. Hardly. More likely to be sitting in front of the TV, watching The Honourable Woman or such like, cradling a glass of wine to get through the tension.

Basically, it’s harder, harder than you may think, to drink less than 6 units when you go out (…or stay in). Especially if you’re a woman and have less units to work with.

It’s not like our contemporaries of the past didn’t drink – in fact, surely they drank more? It makes me wonder if there is, in fact, an epidemic. Or have social attitudes to drinking alcohol just changed so much now we’ve been brainwashed with all this unit-speak; something constructed by the Government to protect the NHS? Fair enough, but it hardly seems right that I’m made to feel guilty if I want to share a bottle of wine with my meal, and then have a cocktail afterwards.

Martini_edited

I’m being flippant, I know. It’s the 21-year-old in me lingering on and encouraging me to carry bad habits into my thirties. But now, thanks to this app, I am more educated. Whilst it all may be a bit nanny-state, understanding units has helped us to become more clued up about the facts of drinking alcohol, and take control of our health. And it all must have sunk in, struck a nerve with me – otherwise, I would never have downloaded this app in the first place. I must have grown up after all…

The reality – a fact I can’t hide behind with a glass of wine – is that excess alcohol raises the risk of developing more than 200 diseases. That really is quite frightening. And although you could argue that merely being alive increases the bloody risk, I’m going to persevere. One glass at a time.

I just need to learn how to transfer the charts and stats into real life, change my bad habits. Next time I’m watching tense TV, instead of reaching for the vino I think I’ll switch over to comedy, instead.

While all are bandying about condolences for celebrities they’ve never met, I’m going to disengage, trivialise and get my hair cut. Whilst enjoying a sex book.

I haven’t been to a hairdressers (or is it a salon?) for eight years. It’s crazy how prohibitively expensive a hair cut actually costs (that’s not the reason for the 8-year avoidance).

Bonkers really. Considering it’s only going to grow back. And I’m obviously not going to be able to re-create the drama and pizazz of my new hair once I get home. I have neither the skills nor the interest.

Why do we all buy into this myth that getting our hair cut is relaxing, fun even? It is obviously not, for many reasons:
1) You have to wash your hair before you go, only to have it immediately re-washed
2) You are obliged to make tedious, painful conversation with a total stranger for at least one hour. Neither party is interested in what the other has to say. Total Victorian-like charade, which takes a great deal of effort for no reason other than ‘preventing’ social awkwardness. Hmm…
3) You have to look at yourself in the mirror relentlessly for at least one hour, watching your face make weird expressions in the attempt to avoid it settling into your natural resting face. This is physical exercise.
4)You have to fork out a shed load of money to endure all of the above

scissors edited

Anyway, despite all this I couldn’t put it off any longer (my hair had started to resemble a big sad curtain), and so pounced on the nearest Regis before I changed my mind. Such spontaneity isn’t very like me, and consequently I spent the whole time paranoid about leaving the laptop running at home, plagued with visions of it blowing up and burning the flat down.

The relief of surviving the hairdressers and safely exiting with new hair lasted all of four seconds – I don’t know if you’ve noticed but the weather is all over the place at the moment… and so was my hair.

There, I managed a brief four seconds of satisfaction. As is life.

At least when I got home the flat had not, in fact, burned down. And I could continue to distract myself from the general mood of death by carrying on with my sex book, “The Poetry of Sex.

NOT a sex book in the vein of Fifty Shades blah blah blah – rather, a collection of poems on the subject of sex in it’s many, varied forms, edited by Sophie Hannah, herself a poet and crime novelist.

Stand-outs were pieces from Whitman and Auden (as you’d expect); “I Sing The Body Electric” and “The Platonic Blow (A Day For A Lay)”, respectively. There were a couple of interesting poems on observations of sex-workers from Fiona Pitt-Kethley (who is apparently very much into feral cats, in a big way. Spanish ones.)

Most poems in this collection were humorous, which I liked. It made for a quick, pacey read. However the organisation of the works I found to be very chaotic. And I certainly didn’t find it as ‘raunchy’ as was intended by the editor. Although I have recently read Catherine Millet’s “The Sexual Life of Catharine M”…

Some that were included…well, I’m really not sure why they were included – I counted five that were downright awful, and strangely misogynist compared with the feel of the collection as a whole.

But you can’t please everyone!

Overall I enjoyed the frivolous escapism offered by this frothy coffee of a read.

Right, on that note off to bed, early, with my new flat-yet-at-same-time-frizzy hair.

I learned something from Come Dine with Me the other day (no, really).

Apparently, Merseyside has one of the highest numbers of unmarried people in the UK. I know – what’s the marriage status of the North East got to do with a bunch of idiots terrorising other idiots in their own homes? To put into some context, this was Couples Come Dine…I’m assuming that’s why they chose to throw this fact in, rather than just some random Liverpool bashing from Channel 4.

Bashing – now, there’s me and my defensive knee-jerk reaction to the subject of marriage, or rather not-marriage, rearing its ugly head. After years of social conditioning I now instinctively assume that when the subject is raised, it is usually done so negatively. Or confusedly, at least.

As I find myself now, in a) my thirties b) a happy long-term relationship with The One (I apologise) and c) not married or wanting-to-be-married-ever-REALLY, I am finding it ever more the case.

“What, you don’t want to get married? Oh, you’ll probably feel differently in a few years time.”

Why? It’s easier to assume I don’t know my own mind, rather than accept I choose not to marry. This seems to me to be a socially acceptable form of condescension.

Not-marriage

With all this in mind, the actual statistics really surprised me. The 2011 census revealed 51% of people have never married, or are divorced or widowed.

According to a piece in The Daily Mail (apologies for this, my second slightly dubious source), the Office for National Statistics said the changes “were the result of declining numbers of people making it up the aisle since the 1970s, and changing social attitudes towards people who co-habit or live alone.”

Maybe I just knock around with old fogey traditionalists (I don’t), but my social experiences just don’t match this picture.

Despite it being 2014, and despite being a ‘grown woman’ (of sorts), I still find myself embarking on conversations with total strangers where I feel the need to justify my decision not to get married. I can very much relate to those horrendous dinner party scenarios in Bridget Jones’s Diary. Women in particular just don’t get it, I’ve found. I get shot a look, like I’ve suddenly grown two heads and one of them is going to try and seduce their husband or something.

What’s going on?

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a big moan (ok, it is a bit). I can certainly understand why people want to get married. But I find it curious, the social taboos that still seem to operate in modern society, despite the very real facts of changing marriage trends.
I wonder, is this just me? It wouldn’t be the first time.

Or, does this strike a chord with other women?

As a jolly aside, wasn’t it a whole lot better when Come Dine With Me was sponsored by Blossom Hill wine? Glorious sun drenched alfresco scenes, women frolicking around (clearly not talking about not-marriage) in pastels, a bit of Camera Obscura playing. To replace it with dishwasher tablets…why? Is this another comment on the recommended domestic lives of viewers?

On that topic, get ready for my next post on the subject binge drinking. All the big hitters!

Bye

Source link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2591541/Revealed-How-married-couples-minority-half-Brits-choose-live-just-stay-single.html

The Atelier Project

A Place to Explore, Illuminate, and Celebrate the Process of Creativity

the fantastic combo jones

Just meandering through life, pointing out little things here and there.

Volvo Diaries

The greatest WordPress.com site in all the land!

yadadarcyyada

Vague Meanderings of the Broke and Obscure

Keep Warm: Make Trouble

Poetry is my favourite form of trouble

The Wildcat Tap

Cask ale and craft beer, coming soon to Stirchley

The World Outside the Window

May contain time-travel

Ian Ravenscroft

Writer & Creative Producer

Postcard Reviews

tracy.shephard3@gmail.com