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Thursday, 21 June 2012

Young, Free and Cynical: Popular on YouTube: The Jenna Marbles Generation

Young, Free and Cynical: Popular on YouTube: The Jenna Marbles Generation: There is no doubt that YouTube is a wide, wondrous place of thrilling opportunity. From TED talks, web-based activism and how-to videos ...

Popular on YouTube: The Jenna Marbles Generation

There is no doubt that YouTube is a wide, wondrous place of thrilling opportunity. From TED talks, web-based activism and how-to videos , through to the Saturday-night-in fodder that is Sophia-Grace Brownlee, Cassette Boy, songs about trolling, and watching the Dark Knight Rises trailer for the fourteenth time (in an hour)- YouTube provides the low-brow and high-brow needs of your brain with endless procrastination. Being of the non-fanatic school of YouTube usage, my knowledge of the world wide voyeuristic video web is limited, to say the least: for example, until very recently the only things I could tell you about Jenna Marbles were:

1) She is blonde.
2)   She is annoying.
3)   If you don’t think she’s annoying, it’s best you step slowly and calmly away from the computer screen now, because you’re not going to like what I’m about to say, and frankly you and your bad taste can go… um… make a video about your Hello Kitty phone cover collection while crying into a blank calendar.

I’ve got some serious beef with the Jenna Marbles generation- a great, bloody, T-bone of issues. I am now familiar with Miss Marbles’ material, having succumbed to biting pangs of curiosity. For those of you who have yet to watch these tidbits of inanity, let me save you bother by breaking down the format: hot, young girl, accompanied by two rats posing as canines, does ‘kooky’ about as naturally as shitting out a pheasant; makes her eyes go very wide in an excellent impression of crack-induced misguided self-assurance and tells exceedingly unfunny anecdotes, which are supposed to make us laugh because she moves her eyebrows a lot. Or something like that. For anyone with two brain cells to rub together, and even possibly for people who watch Big Brother (although that might be pushing it) Jenna Marbles is really bad kids TV in a bikini.

YouTube has spawned a vast number of these candid-confessional/quasi-comedy stars, of which Jenna Marbles is by no means the worst. This week I stumbled across a video of ‘Gorgeous Gregory’, a transvestite teenager offering us a look in his wardrobe for some storage tips. Frankly, Gregory, although I’m sure you’re a wonderful role model for young trans boys, unless there’s fucking Narnia at the back of your closet, complete with Tumnus in drag, I’m really couldn’t give two flicks of a faun’s tail how you store your cashmere. The boys aren’t immune to the unerring tidal wave of amour-propre either: take the fidgeting midget of ego, Charlie McDonnell, who goes by the tween-speak moniker of charlieissocoollike. Like what, I wonder? Depressingly, this man-child is in his 20s, despite looking like Justin Bieber’s weaker-chinned little brother. After watching 30 seconds of Charlie’s show, featuring news about his waning love of green skinny jeans and other such compelling facts, I felt it was fair to say that McDonnell was about as cool as plankton, or used tampons. I was also fairly certain that McDonnell was also on crack, because no normal person twitches that much unless they’re a 30-something unmarried Christian with debilitating sexual tension.

YouTube has given rise to a new breed of star who truly believes that the most mundane of their activities are interesting- I riffle through my wardrobe every day, I have some excellent storage methods (most of them include scrunching, and the floor), yet I have never once felt the need to educate the world wide web about such matters, because I realise I am not the paragon of sartorial order, and am able to exercise a degree of modesty. What is more baffling, however, is the inane number of hits on these videos. Jenna Marbles’ video ‘How to trick people into thinking that you’re good looking’, (put on so much slap you look like the love child of a panda and an oompa loompa, apparently) has over 42 million hits. Don’t go and watch it- you’ll only add insult to 42-million-strong injury. It begs the question, are we getting more bored, or more repulsively narcissistic? Either way, I’m opting out of the Marbles madness. I might even make a vlog about it… now where are my rat-dogs?

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Ladies, Let Us Pee in Peace and Harmony

Pensioners, you’ve got a lot to answer for. Aside from the daily grief us young ‘uns get for (90s) baring our midriffs, (00s) loudly expressing sexuality that wasn’t necessarily condoned in God’s/your Mother’s handbook, (10s) surgical attachment to anything manufactured by Apple- you have also left us with a legacy of etiquette which is frankly more baffling than trying to understand the taxable difference between a pasty that’s seen the light of a microwave or not.

If you have ever read an etiquette guide, you will know that most barely scrape the surface of the various nuances and unspeakable fluctuations in our ever-growing web of social niceties. Growing up, we are constantly encouraged to imagine explaining things to an alien from Mars (Mars must be particularly backward in schoolteacher’s minds, or the dunces of the Solar System. Perhaps Saturn has a School of Homosapien Studies or something. Anyway, I diverge). When imagining my meeting with this wizened creature from foreign lands, I always believed the most difficult thing to explain would have been social constructs. So multi-faceted! So antiquated! So damn unnecessary! Describing something as simple as when to arrive for a dinner party would take HOURS of explanation: don’t arrive when they tell you to arrive, it’s keen and rude and you may look like you have no friends, and on Earth, dear alien, we don’t look kindly on those types of losers, we suspect they may be kiddy fiddlers or will riffle through our underwear drawer to sniff your knickers while you’re tied up in the kitchen (although not literally, one would hope). On the other hand, if you arrive any more than 30 minutes late, you’re a rude, ungrateful little twazzock who probably thinks they’ve got somewhere better to be, and we don’t like these types of losers, dear alien, we suspect they might be borderline alcoholics with egos so large, and scruples so small they’ve probably already helped themselves to your finest Chablis. They can eff off, and you are more than entitled to spit in their soup, but must (and this is absolutely non-negotiable) smile at them like they are the deity of dinner parties all night, lest you compromise your all-important social status.

If it takes one person one paragraph to explain to an alien from Mars the delicate intricacies of potential offences they may commit in the 30 minute time slot surrounding a dinner engagement, then is it little wonder the etiquette books couldn’t get it right, even if they published spanking new editions every 2 months? Being British, and therefore petrified of offending our guinea pigs, never mind our fellow men, we tend to grossly over-compensate in the propriety stakes. But I speak exclusively to the women of Britain (I think) when I say, Ladies, apologizing for peeing must stop.

On emerging from a grubby cubby hole of graffiti-encrusted piss parlour, on a scummy night out in the rats-arse end of London, I stumbled upon a lingering female who wore such a look of desperation, her bladder must have been like a white hot cannonball in the pit of her pelvis. Yet, even in her pained state, and with my fidgeting desperation to be as far from this petri dish of potential disease as was humanly possible, we still stopped to perform a blushing dosey doe of civility. “Sorry!”, she whispered, practically apologizing for the apology. “Oop, sorry!” I reply, sending half a second of blushing eye contact her way. Sorry for what? Sorry I took up your precious peeing time. Sorry I paused to wipe. Sorry I had to take a minute to wriggle back into my time-gobbling playsuit, indeed, it would be easier to have baby poppers on them, I shall write to Topshop immediately upon my return, should I inconvenience another poor innocent woman again, heaven forbid. Sorry I pee.

Don’t try to tell me this isn’t a regular occurrence. Without the inane dance of pee propriety, the hopping from foot to foot, the half-baked smiles and uncomfortable shared knowledge we share bum space for a fleeting moment, the ladies loo trip is just not complete. But next time nature calls, I shall be eschewing this most ridiculous rule of antiquated etiquette, and asserting my right to loo time. Rather than exchanging apologies in hushed tones, I intend to emerge, head held high, and in my best New York City accent exclaim: Hey, Lady, I’m peeing here! Take that, manners.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Capello, Redknapp and Moral Tomfoolery: A Girl’s Guide to Modern Football

I would like to begin with a big, fat disclaimer: I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a football fan. The entirety of my football knowledge is as follows:
1- Jose Mourinho is a little bit fit if you’re over 30.
2- Thierry Henri is a little bit fit if you’re under 30.
3- The others are all sissy boys or philanderers, or both.
4- The offside rule has something to do with a defence man being between the goal and the potential goal scorer, otherwise you don’t get the point, or whatever it is you score in football.
Don’t pretend like you’re not a little bit impressed by the last one. I know you are. Especially if you’re a girl, and especially if someone tried to explain it to you with salt shakers and peas on a table in Wetherspoon’s when you were 17 (18, obviously, if you’re reading Mr Wetherspoon, and drinking SO responsibly and getting up to absolutely sod all in your toilets), which seems to be the way every girl ‘learns’- or at least nods and smiles at bats her youthful lashes while the bloke she wants to impress asserts his unquestionable manhood by relaying the gospel of the offside.
Fan or not, educated or wearing the dunce cap of footy, this week the art of incessantly bothering a pig’s bladder with your ornately spoked tootsy is becoming hard to avoid. When football becomes this stoically woven into the fabric of our day to day lives, it is time, football dunces, to duly educate ourselves, because nobody wants to look stupid (but, if you can’t help it, I’ve heard stupidity and WAG-dom make an excellent pairing, in which case you’ll need to know about it anyway). So I’ve taken it upon myself, as one of your kind, to give you the football breakdown in Key Stage 2 football terms. So brains on, concentrating faces, and no picking your nose in the back row.
Fabio Capello- that’s another football man I know, permission to be impressed duly granted-is no longer England manager. Not only has this grabbed headlines, consumed anyone with dangly nether regions to the point of clinical obsession, and loudly dominated feisty debate on every form of public transport… it also descends upon us amidst a flurry of ethical debate. Brace yourselves, I’m about to be a bit more uncharacteristically informed about ball kicking. Capello has stormed off like a Dolmio child who didn’t get his Mama’s Bolognese because everyone was being a bit mean to John Terry for allegedly saying the C-word. Which would have been bad enough, if he hadn’t mistakenly coupled it with the word ‘black’ while his finger was hovering in the wind, in the direction of a footballer of St Lucian descent. If you truly believe all of this is coincidence, sit in the corner with the dunce cap on. Not just the football dunce cap, the ‘I’m the kind of idiot who’d believe the Tooth Fairy still existed if The Sun slapped the headline across a pair of pneumatic tits enough times’ cap.
As Terry and Capello bound off for afternoon tea with Ron Atkinson (somebody told me that was a highly informed thing to say), or whatever it is shamed footy racists do in the aftermath of unfortunate word couplings and finger pointings, Capello’s potential replacement, Harry Redknapp (another football name I know- watch out Sue Barker) rises from the underbelly of fiscal tomfoolery, to grab the morally questionable bull by the horns. Racism isn’t Redknapp’s bag, so instead he’s gone in for some ‘alleged’ tax fiddling, which yes, he’s recently been acquitted of but no smoke without fire, Redknapp, and that red face of yours can only be read as a telltale sign of fire meddling. (Look out Sue Barker and Sherlock Holmes, Skeoch is coming).
It makes you wonder whether anyone interested in babysitting a field full of philandering- and sometimes slightly fit- football ponies has to be slightly bonkers as a prerequisite to the job? Guus Hidink, who I am reliably informed by the internet is also in the running for the job, also happens to be a tax swerver, to the tune of one million, no less. According to a similarly sturdy source, another madman vying for control of a paddock full of golden balls is current Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill, who apparently will only hire people who are obedient quasi-cyborgs of football, to minimise the risk of him flying into a foul-mouthed temper tantrum. Charming. Just the kid of people we want to be sending off around the globe representing our country.
Football dunces of Britain (yes, ladies, I’m looking mainly at you)… given the unappetising managerial smorgasbord currently on offer, here is what I suggest: as a motley crew of unbiased novices, we campaign for the England football team to be shoved into the wild without ANY manager. Pros include: the comic potential of the little lost puppies wandering about a stadium not knowing what to do without a mercurial ringmaster barking borderline sadistic abuse from the sidelines. It would be like watching Tony Blair try to fight a corner with his own limp sword of propaganda, while his white steed Campbell is held up in some other media boxing ring. Pathetic, yes. Hysterical, most definitely. The eradication of bonkers/morally questionable management can also only be a pro: it seriously lowers the risk of potential national humiliation. Similar to, say, binding and gagging Boris Johnson before any public outing. Cons include: nothing.
Fully educated as you now are (no need to thank me), go forth! Surprise your fellow man with your quick witted quips on the state of the football industry’s moral stance! Drop a man called Guus into the conversation! But don’t forget: mission ‘Strip the footy Jedis of their Darth’ must be carried out with stealth, efficiency, and possibly with the aid of peas and salt shakers on a Wetherspoon’s table. Works a treat.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Bursting Boobs and Infected Implants: Why PIP Should Signal the End of Silicone Madness

There’s no escaping the buggers. 52% of us have them, the remaining percentage are drawn to them like doe-eyed panting puppies are to Pedigree Chum. They’re suckled, jiggled, pushed up, strapped down, enhanced, deflated, the subject of envy, lust, pride, embarrassment and manipulation. The power of our puppies, ladies, is bordering on grotesque. In many ways, we should thank our lucky stars that this should be so. Goodness knows how Playboy twins Kristina and Karissa Shannon would have wooed any member of the human race were it not for the veritable beach ball store they’re housing between them- not with their sparkling wit or razor sharp intelligence, that’s for sure. No, bless them, their God-given attributes needed a hand from the silicone fairy were they ever to make a, ahem, ‘decent’ living mutually servicing the needs of the world’s primary contributor to the Viagra industry. Someone’s got to do it.

Momentarily putting my inner bitch back in it’s box, though, they are seriously important addendums. As a secondary sexual organ, an in-built supply of nutritious goodness for any sprogs that the self-same secondary sexual organs managed to initiate, and a symbol of femininity identifiable the world over, there is no doubt that boobs are, in fact, pretty bloody vital.

Momentarily emerging from the box, inner bitch would like to add that on the other hand, were it not for our pesky chest pillows, we wouldn’t have Katie Price’s tit-shelf on legs parading about media land like a Chihuahua on heat. Nor would we have Jodie Marsh making ‘documentaries’ for Channel 5 about the Earth shatteringly important subject of what-Jodie’s-boobs-did-next. We’d save enough money for a small mortgage if we no longer had to buy heinously over-priced bits of wire enhanced boob-cloth, back pain in the well-endowed would be a thing of the past, and black-eyed chest-heavy joggers would be able to cavort wild and free like carefree spring lambs in the gym field. Ah, what a blissful breast utopia. If Aldous Huxley had been a woman, Brave New World would undoubtedly have run along these chest-lite lines.

Regrettably for my chest pancakes, however, we live in a world where bigger is better. If you were, in the words of Gaga, born that way, then like it or lump it, DNA has blessed/cursed you (delete as is your want… personally I think they’re gratuitous flesh meddlers, but me and feminine identity don’t get on very well at the best of times, so give all the love you want to your own, you pink-and-sparkle pervs). The natural heavyweights have got to live with the cards dealt to them, as do the jelly-tots-on-ironing-board quota of society, one and all. What I cannot understand, comprehend, fathom or even (most of the time) respect, is augmentation.

Ladies, this insane trend must stop. I have maintained indifference to the ritual inflation of breasts the world over for many, many years- it’s their bodies, it’s their perceived confidence, their interpretation of elevated sexuality, let them eat silicone. But the PIP silicone-exploding scandal has been the straw that broke this camel’s back.

In case you’ve been hiding in a cave in Outer Mongolia for the last month, the PIP implant is a French-made breast implant that has been made from industrial silicone, rather than medically approved silicone. The cheeky frogs have been manufacturing flesh-fillers made from material intended for mattresses, thus making the rupture rate far greater than its medically approved counterparts. This means that around 40,000 women in the UK alone are wandering around with water bombs of infection bobbing about in their chests, with a greater potential to burst and leak mattress material into their stuffed-up bodies if prodded with enough gusto. If a breast implant ruptures and leaks, the silicone can spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs and lymph nodes, and can be impossible to remove, making your wee bods, essentially, a sloshy, melted down walking mattress. In some severe cases, the silicone can move through the rest of your actual breast tissue, and guess what?, the breasts that you paid thousands of pounds to stuff full of industrial plastic now have to be completely removed in a painful, dangerous and ultimately devastatingly unfeminine mastectomy. While these women pump iron at the gym, eat their acai berries, tan, buff and moisturise, keeping their well-oiled machines ticking over with the utmost efficiency (which, lest we forget, requires a colossal amount of time, money and dedication), they are equally as willing to rip open their flesh, stuff in a wobbly hunk of man-made gunk, bandage themselves up and endure bruising, scars and potentially a whole host of mess ups (including gangrene if infected- gangrene! Pussy, smelly, flesh rotting gangrene!). Lest we forget, this is all in order to look like Barbie’s discarded prototype- you know, the one that couldn’t stand up because gravity deemed her upper body too relentlessly magnetic?

To my mind, the risk to result ratio makes about as much sense as Tom Cruise’s enduring popularity: simply unfathomable. The potential risks don’t end there either: studies have shown increased risk of (brace yourselves) rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, esophogeal immotility (that’s difficulty breathing and swallowing for the average Joe), neurological impairment, fibromyalgia, hair loss, scleroderma (that’s tough skin for you and me- yummy!), and even lupus in women with implants. Girls, let’s get a grip here. Implants may get you attention from randy builders, they may fill out your body-con dress with a little more panache, they may give you nipples that practically point north…. but really (and this comes from someone with a front that looks like the Dutch countryside), why not try implanting some self-love. I’ve heard it’s pretty much free, has 0% chance of rupture, and there’s absolutely, definitely no chance of gangrene.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

From Toddlers and Tiaras to Sorority Girls: Is America Just One Big Girly Brat Camp?

When I was 7, the most genuinely important thing in my life was William Brown. The hero of Richmal Crompton’s achingly British series of books was, to my mind, like the muddied, bad-ass, rebel alternative to Blyton’s nauseatingly saccharine Famous Five. While the scrubbed fairy-boys of Blyton’s world picnicked on gingham and hugged their Mummies, the eponymous Just Wiliam and the Outlaws got grass stains, made little girls scream and out-witted the posh toff Hubert Lane. Had I been about 4 years older and harbouring a little more oestragen I probably would have lusted after him with all the fervour of a Belieber, but lacking that vital teen-crush hormone, I was content to simply hero-worship him (and make my Mum write ‘William Brown’ in blotchy ink on my school bag- frankly it’s a miracle I didn’t wind up in a dodgy clinic in Amsterdam aged 16, to add William-esque appendages). So when I tuned in to Toddlers and Tiaras this week, and observed the 7 year old bratty squirts ejected into the world by bratty Barbie doll Mothers America over, I was seized with an overwhelming desire to post every one of them the entire series of Just William books, pin their eyelids back à la Clockwork Orange, and force them into some semblance of normal, functioning childhood.

For those of you blissfully unaware of the warped world of Toddlers and Tiaras, it is a heinous American programme tracking the ups and downs of pageant life for the under-10s. You may be forgiven for thinking, on tuning into this glutinous explosion of fake tan and lip gloss, that you are watching ‘TOWIE: The Yester-years’, or some kind of ritual abuse of small children, with the deadly weapon in question being a mascara brush and tweezers (pretty deadly weapons regardless of age). This is a world where it’s quite alright- de rigueur, expected even- to attach a towering hair piece to your child’s head even though she screams that it hurts, stick false eyelashes on a 4 year old despite the fact that the batty embellishments are larger than her actual eye socket, then shove her on stage and tell her to wink, wiggle, gyrate and blow kisses. It’s a world in which bratty, impudent, rude behaviour in a child is translated as ‘sass’ or worse, ‘spunk’ (try not to giggle), where acting like an amateur stripper is translated as ‘personality’, and if you don’t walk home with the princess crown, you are simply not beautiful enough. The glazed, fraught smiles of every Mother teeter perilously on the verge of passive aggression, as they gaze, wide-eyed into the camera, like a First Lady on crack, and insist that Heavyn-Destiny-Mirabellakins JUST LOVES pageants, and such a DARLING child, while Heavyn-Destiny-Mirabellakins downs her 6th bottle of Mountain Dew (to wash down all the pixie sticks, or pageant crack as they are fondly known) and starts to fervently punch the competition in the ovaries.

The overt hyper-sexualisation of these children is simply deplorable. Worrying about the content of Rihanna’s latest rompathon video is frankly a little futile when pageant moms are dressing their children as (believe it or not) Julia Roberts’ prostitute character in Pretty Woman, the international sex symbol Daisy Duke, or gyrating to LMFAO’s Sexy And I Know It in an outfit better suited to adorning a pole at Stringfellow’s. What happened to running around in dungarees with food on your face and mud on your feet? I still do run around in dungarees with food on my face and mud on my feet, and I will tell you now, I have about a million times more fun in this grottily childish regalia than I do in stilettos. When you’ve by-passed the Just William and grass stains phase of your life by the time you’re the same age as a geriatric hamster, where is there to go from there? What is the point in growing up? There’s nothing fun to look forward to, no hurdles to jump, no milestones to reach. Aged 22 (and eleven twelfths, yes I’m still counting) I am yet to stand on stage in a sparkly bikini, mouth along to Lady Gaga and jiggle my jelly at a panel of judges. Aged 7, a plethora of American pageant kids have done just that more times than they’ve done a pee by themselves.

My television also tells me that the fun doesn’t stop for these tiny terrors as they age. Apparently, America provides a wealth of brat-camps for the blossoming young lady. The undercurrent of bitch-spit and hairspray tears through the teenage years, with a deluge of yet more pageants (except this time, with a bikini round! Yay! Now you can parade in your nylon panties past a panel that will surely include someone you can bang for the title, pageant glory and princess crowns can be yours for the reasonable price of your dignity!), not to mention the glut of cheerleading teams- as demonstrated in Glee, My Super Sweet Sixteen, MADE and other such televised joys- where you can encourage sporting excellence by making up inane poetry and kicking your head. Then finally, when you have learnt all there is to being a girl: jiggle, wiggle, smile, CHEER! You may be welcomed into a super-exclusive sorority, where you will learn the importance of obedience, hierarchy, and blow-dries. For proof of this flawless bitch-camp system, simply tune into Channel 4’s Sorority Girls, before I choke on my own vehemence.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The Fitness DVD Flops: Bums Tums and Mild Insanity

Despite the obvious over-indulgent-Christmas related reasons for cleansing our bodies/livers/lifestyles, January really is the most inane time to discover our inner paragons of health. It’s cold, it’s miserable, it’s dark… life in general feels like a Thomas Hardy novel, minus the romantic dresses and possibility of marriage for money. Surely January is the time to wallow like Christmas hippos in pools of glutinous indulgence, while jumpers are still baggy, whiskey is like a spare radiator, and chocolate is practically recognised medication for January blues/ self-diagnosed S.A.D.? Come February 1st, we blissfully take the pokers of health out of our goody-two-shoes arses and grab a beer without guilty self-flagellation and detox enemas following immediately after. We manage to come to terms with the fact that, actually, we’d much rather spend Friday night sitting in front of Strictly with our significant other, marvelling at other people’s physical drive and rock hard derrieres while munching on an industrial vat of popcorn and glugging three quid pinot in our ugliest pyjamas.
As if I need any more convincing that our January efforts are hideously futile, I’ve been driven further in to my hole of New Year resentment by the endless fitness DVD ads paraded before us four times an hour since the final Christmas day mince pie passed our lips. Not because I’m jealous. Oh no, no, no. It’s because I couldn’t think of a more incongruous collection of thrusting, pumping, huffing Z-listers than those commissioned to make these supposedly motivational discs of doom. I don’t know who it is who shells out the pretty green to these people, but whoever they are, they surely can’t be doing their market research. Either that, or we as a nation would rather watch the physical underdogs of the world heave and wobble their way through a workout in order to make us feel, at the very least, mentally fit.
So whether you want to know which fitness DVDs to avoid like the plague (if, like me, you have an iota of taste/detest organised torture), or you just want a hilarious session of YouTube-ing these squirm inducing gems… here’s top 10 fitness flops of all time.
10- Coleen Nolan- Let’s Get Physical.
Yeah, she looks great in a swimming costume now… but we all know that she’ll be 3 stone heavier and crying into her Iceland Hamster Korma by May. Cue long faces and inch pinching in a touching weight gain story for The Sun. Otherwise where are next years “before” shots going to come from? Stick to making wry comments about middle aged sex on daytime TV I say.
9- Jane Fonda’s Lean Routine
This happens to be the best selling fitness DVD Of. All. Time. It just so happens it’s also the most mind numbingly hysterical, as Fonda does the whole thing in a leotard that looks like it’s been eaten by her bum. Maybe it got hungry from all that working out. The legs are so high cut you can practically see her armpit stubble peeking out the top. Classic 80s comedy viewing.
8- Kerry Katona- Real Fitness.
Something about this makes me feel like I’m watching her be systematically abused. Maybe I am.
7- You Are What You Eat- Gillian McKeith.
The very embodiment of condescension. Plus… does anyone in Britain WANT to look like an anaemic vole? No. Didn’t think so.
6- Tone and Tease with Abi Titmuss
This is not fitness. It is soft porn.
5- Five Sep Fat Attack with Clare Richards.
Yeah she was that one from Steps who sounded like a foghorn. She always had this innate ability to simultaneously look like she was constipated and having an orgasm while singing. She does the same while she’s working out, and I won’t lie to you, it’s enough to put you off your mince pies. So possibly the most effective of the bunch, then.
4- The Windsor Work Out
Barbara Windsor doing exercise for those of us who think getting up to put the kettle on is calorie burning. Or for those on the wrong side of a hip replacement to attempt tackling Drill Sergeant MaCall. She actually does the warm up in bed. Not a bead of sweat to be seen, but bloody hysterical to watch- on par with aqua aerobics in the physical hilarity stakes.
3- Jade’s Dance Work Out
I know you get burnt at stake for using Jade’s name in vain these days- quite how the great British public came to view Ms Goody as a cross between Marilyn and Mother Theresa I’ll never know- but this is truly uproarious viewing. Half the time I can’t even understand what she’s saying (apart from when she goes ‘Woo!’ which I assume is just an expression of exuberance and not some South-East London slang I’m unaware of). To top it all off, turns out she had liposuction. Ah the irony. Woo!
2- Latino Dance Workout with Nadia Almada.
There is a simple reason this doesn’t work: no woman aspires to have the body of a slightly tubby transsexual. Can’t understand what she’s saying either. Woo!
1-Patsy Kensit and Louie Spence
Before Pineapple Studios (if you can remember such a time), someone decided to pair up the two most annoying voices on television to bark orders at you from your TV screen. This is TV gold, mostly because Louie does the whole thing wearing gold lame hotpants that are tinier than Kylie’s. I swear on my Mother’s life that the entire camera crew is camper than a row of pink tents- for solid proof, fast forward to the bit where they do thrusts on the floor and the camera zooms in- and stays- on Louie’s big gold bulge. Disturbing, yet somehow mesmeric.

Monday, 2 January 2012

My Grumps, My Lovely Festive Grumps

So this is Christmas, I hope you had fun, droned John Lennon, sounding like he was having anything but fun. So this is Christmas, I hope you got through the day without any suicidal leanings, would really be a more suitable lyric for his direly depressing ditty. Although admittedly, a little adventurous rhythmically.
The lead-up to Christmas presents me with a blogging conundrum: given that nearly every time my fingers touch the sleek little keys of my trusty laptop, torrents of cynicism spew forth with worrying ease, it is a vaguely terrifying feeling to have very little to be cynical about. The year tends to go in peaks and troughs of cynicism: there are some days/weeks/even months on occasion, when it is necessary to scrape the barrel of cynical thought, coming up with dregs of quasi pessimism to tide me over until I’m truly riled once more.
To demonstrate: A roll call of festive cynical opportunity.
-Rather annoyingly, people tend to make an inordinate amount of effort to be NICE in the lead up to Christmas. Which rules out bitching opportunities.
-The world takes it upon itself to sing jolly songs at me. Which rules out being cynically depressed (that’s clinical depression, with added pessimistic recognition, and possible exaggeration of your own condition).
- A slippery slope of festive jollity begins with additional drinking opportunities, careering at break-neck speed towards mild liver cyrrosis and a socially acceptable alcohol problem. Unfortunately for the purposes of my blogging career, I am an insufferably happy drunk. Which rules out sceptical anecdotes of disastrous evenings out.
- There are a plethora of job opportunities, with extra pay for all those festive days your employers imagine you’d rather be spending elsewhere (what they don’t realise is that most parties start after your shift finishes anyway- only hardcore goody two shoe waitresses cuddle up with an Ovaltine at 11.30, to be ‘fresh’ for the next shift. Personally, I think a good hangover/vague disorientation from lack of sleep makes for a MUCH more entertaining working day.) Anyway, all this rules out crabby rants about lack of money or work.
-And finally, a favourite topic of cynicism. The love lives of the nation stop dead in their tracks over Christmas, temporarily lingering in their current state, be it coupled, single, past it, or saving themselves up for a drunken salivathon on New Years Eve. So that rules out romantic cynicism. Which is a talent I enjoy carefully cultivating.
To top it all off, I spend a good few days at the cosy bosom of my family. Which makes me simply radiate tender goodwill and happiness. Nauseating, I know. The only thing I’ve been mildly ruffled about all week is an incident involving a frost-bitten Charlie, several snowballs and a little brother with an overzealous taste for sadism.
So here’s hoping 2012 brings me a year of God awful, uncharitable people, an aural avalanche of Coldplay (music to slit your wrists to), a party drought or misguided decision to have a trial period of alcoholic abstinence, no work and a slew of highly unsuitable suitors. Because if it doesn’t, I’ll have nothing to blog about. Or I’ll have to be a happy clappy blogger, and quite frankly, I’d rather listen to Cliff Richard’s Christmas hymn on repeat for eternity than sink to those hideous depths. Happy bloody New Year.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

MUST it be All About Amy?

Just when you thought we were safe from quasi-reality, pneumatic boobs, pink velour and televised eejit-ry, (i.e. when Katie Price switched off the blooming cameras for the first time since she paused to push out a child) along came ‘All About Amy’. Having flown- no, probably tottered, sashayed or dawdled- from the TOWIE nest, Amy is going solo in a show that is likely to appeal to members of society who have had frontal lobotomies, or are semi-comatose (although if I was semi-comatose, and heard this twaddle coming from the living world, I’d probably go sprinting towards ‘the light’).

As I don’t spend every waking moment of my life wondering about whether Amy has successfully opened her own vajazzling kingdom, or which hue of orange she’s sprayed herself this week… nuclear tango? Poundland imitation mahogany?... I sadly missed the first episode of All About Amy. But I duly tuned in this week to see what the (relatively small, ratings-wise) fuss was all about.

Presumeably to make up for Miss Childs’ staggering lack of sparkling charisma and wit, we are inundatated with glitter! Sparkles! Silicone enhancements! and Lip gloss! within the first 30 seconds of the show, as Amy talks ‘candidly’ to camera about what goodies are in store for us this week:
1) Amy gets sore boobs
2) Amy rides a horse in an unsubtle imitation of Pricey
3) Amy pouts and blinks very slowly, like Dory the fish, moments from death
Riveted, so I am. Glued to my seat, Amy babes. Shut uuuuuuup, no way am I even making a cheeky cup of tea while you’re on! As the narrator reminds us of Amy’s celebrity credentials (‘from TOWIE, to a stint on Celebrity Big Brother… oh, that’s it?) and Amy endlessly gushes about ‘how lucky she is’, one does start to wonder exactly why this girl has been given her own TV show? I know its Channel 5, but come on… who commissioned this? Own up, because I’d like to jazzle your face until you can no longer see, function, or make decisions like this ever again.

I started to get my hopes up when Amy, her mum and the omnipresent Can Associate’s Claire Powell went to visit Amy’s desired location for her new beauty salon… perhaps this would turn in to some kind of ‘Changing Rooms’-style fun, or they’d be like Essex’s answer to Phil and Kirstie, striding round potential allotments of fakery. Alas, I was one of far too much faith. The music turned to ‘orchestral and menacing’- which always equals disaster- as Amy realised, dun dun DUUUUUN!, that the tanning booth was too big to fit in the corner of the room. A part of my soul duly shrivelled and died. Equally, Amy’s trip to the stables was about as eventful as Kerry Katona’s work diary. She got a bit freaked by the horse. She learnt it was ‘different riding a horse than it is driving a car, ‘cause there’s no steering wheel, is there?!’ No there isn’t Amy, well done on catching up with the intellectual capacity of the average 2 year old. The most exciting thing about Amy horse riding was the alarming mobility of her chest region- I’m amazed the only blackness of eye was from her Cleopatra-worthy eye make up after those acrobatics.

When Amy wasn’t indulging in business activities, or looking like ‘What Katie Did Next: Pete’s Week to Have the Kids Edition’, she was really rushed off her feet with her work engagements. These included picking up an award for her ‘contributions to tweeting’- the narrator proudly informs us that Amy once tweeted about a bajillion times in one day, which I have to say mildly impresses me, as I didn’t think she’d have enough words in her vocabulary to keep it going that long. Then it’s the arduous task of a charity ball, which she attends with her sidekick from the TOWIE days, Harry Derbidge, who contributes more to global warming in his 2-hour aerosol-based beauty regime than Shell has in the last 12 months. But most pressing of all is Amy’s appearance on Big Brother’s Little Brother, to give her ‘expert’ opinion on the new housemates. To be fair, this is the one moment my ice-cold heart melts a little. The poor lass clearly has no idea what’s going on- she even has to ask Emma what noms (nominations) are, and it all feels a little point-and-laughy… not that it hasn’t been before, but up until this point she was really bringing it wholeheartedly upon herself. As she tottered out of the studio, like Barbie’s slaggy sister on laughing gas, I had a premonition of Katona-esque times ahead, and it all felt a little doomed to fail.

As she closed the show, posing about for a shoot for her new fashion label- with her boobs around her chin, in a devil outfit, claiming it was ‘very Victoria Beckham’, ahem- Amy mused on how much her life has changed. She can’t believe how lucky she is, how young she still is (21! I know, she doesn’t look a day over 36 does she?), how it’s all happened so fast! One is left with the distinct impression that Amy is just as bemused as the rest of us as to why we’re all sat with our cuppas on a Thursday night, watching a life form that, especially without her TOWIE co-stars, is about as interesting as a sun-baked whelk. Her own Mother ruminates that, in fact, her celebrity status has grown to be something of ‘a monster’. Couldn’t have put it better myself…

Friday, 2 December 2011

Pippa Middleton and the Perfect Party Parody

As Miss Pippa Middleton signs a lucrative book deal for her party-planning expertise, I muse over the possible contents...

Tally ho, British public! P-Middy here!

As you may have heard, some people called Penguin Books have decided to throw a totes brillypads amount of money at me, in return for my vair, vair excellent knowledge on how to throw a spiffing party. You may be furrowing your plebeian brows at how I have come to accrue such fabby literary offers. I’ll most certainly let you in on the secret if you promise to keep it on the down low: apart from the fact that I do actually have a rather good English Literature degree, from the same uni as The Duchess… err, I mean my sister… I also signed a darling contract to ensure that I am facing away from the camera for the book’s cover. They said it’s because the back of my hair is really glossy, which is super duper lovely of them. Anyway, before I start my next lunge and clench exercise session, I thought I’d give you a teaser of what tickety-boo treats are in store for you lucky people. So you can be a Perfect Party Princess like Pretty Pert Pippa (that’s alliteration! Totes clever, got that one from three years at St Andy Pandy’s).

What to wear.
If you don’t already have lots of truly scrumptious designer friends clamouring to swathe your infamous derriere, I’d highly recommend getting some, they provide the highest class party frocks. Although DO remember to A) stick some tit tape on your bum cheeks should some scoundrel find it hilair to turn you upside down mid-dance… Ridic funny but totally NOT something you want your Mumsy or The Sun seeing. And B) be specific about fancy dress limitations. Prince Harry- he’s actually, like, almost my brother! Tidbits like this make me wholly worth 400K, ya?- well he told me the press get in a flap about sartorial accuracy when in comes to wartime fancy dress, so defs be terribly careful OK?

How to Decorate.
Party decoration is highly important. My Mummy taught me this- she runs a party supplies outlet, and I would strongly recommend that you peruse her tres lush collection of party essentials, like bunting. A party just isn’t a party without at least 100meters of fun, fun bunting! It shows everyone how jolly and British you are, and The Monarchy- they are, like, almost my family! Aren’t you glad you bought this book?!- really do love a bit of bunting. If you want any additional ideas, I’d strongly recommend taking a look at Kirstie’s Homemade Britain, it’s got all kinds of gloriously twee and utterly redundant knick knacks on it- perfect for a proper Pippa-style party. (Kirstie, call me darling, we’re both almost royal and love bunting, Channel 4 could make at LEAST one dire programme on that premise alone! Huzzah!)

Who to Invite.
Some people say invite all your bessie friends for the bessie party. Pifflesticks, I say! Even when I was at St. Andy’s, with The Duchess… I mean my sister- Gosh it’s totes easy to forget I have a Royal sister, did you forget I did? Did you? No? Good… Anyway, while I was at St. Andy’s I wouldn’t even LIVE with people who didn’t have a title. I’ve always made sure my most spiffing guests adhere to one of the following critera:
1. They have a title. Like, a really posho one, not like Mr. Every Tom, Dick and Harry will come then. And we only want PRINCE Harry, my brother from another Royal mother.
2. They are Saudi. This seems to go down vair, vair well with the titled bunch. Super intercontinental mingling!
3. They own several hectares of countryside, or a large part of Belgravia. These truly are the crème de la crème of the British public- and hopefully they’ll invite you back for a Downton Abbey-style knees-up in the country! Rah-tastic!

Party Games.
We had buckets of fun making human pyramids while I was at university, and this is a fabulous activity for all to enjoy. I would caution you, however, to ensure you’re on the top of the pyramid- any ignoramus can see that this is pole position, and lets all your friends know that you are the most important, and the most skinny one at the party. Unless the Beckhams come, in which case I’d disqualify Vic on grounds of safety and wellbeing. Hunting is also a great sport to play at any party, so make sure that you have a friend handy at all times with a few acres of hunting ground. It’s also great for reminding people of your upper-class credentials. I have loads of those, did I mention?

Partying on a Budget.
Well, I was going to write this chapter, but then I got totes bored because there was nothing on Kings Road that qualified for the category. So, balderdash to budgets. Who needs them anyway, when people will give you 400K for writing a book about brill bunting and such!

So I hope you’ve learnt a lot already about how to throw a Pleasantly Pulchritudinous Perfectly Pleasing Properly Posh Pippa Party! (I wanted that to be the name of the book, but they just told me to shush and turn around for my picture, sigh!) Lots more super fun tips are on the way, but for now...

Lots of Love,
The Duchess’s Sister (I know! EEK!)

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Out-Source Blogging

This blog has recently become the cyber equivalent of Paris Hilton: a barren waste of space. Unfortunately I've been off having sordid affairs with other people's blogs, so my Young Free and Cynical baby has been left somewhat wanting. But! Until my keyboard gets fired up and lavishes this page with gems a-plenty... I'm outsourcing my cynicism.
Have a peek at these bad boys, courtesy of moi.

For all your movie needs...
Lego the Movie? What Child's Play!
In a world full of shimmering gems of nostalgia - offering so much more than the boxy logic of Lego, why couldn't we have a celluloid interpretation of something more inspiring? Listen up, producers of America, I'm pitching...

For all your dancing needs...
Review: Rambert's Seven For A Secret at Sadler's Wells
Founded over 80 years ago and carrying with it a well-deserved reputation as one of the glittering vertebrae in the backbone of contemporary dance, the bar is set perilously high for this dynamic company...

& For all your low-brow, Rihanna-hating needs...
Rihanna, why do I hate thee? Let me count the ways… (or at least, the top five- or we’ll be here all year, and I’ll have inadvertently written a dissertation of unbounded wrath).

Comments, shares, likes and general pimping are accepted with wide arms, hugs and love xxx

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Bieber's Baby, Baby, Baby Oh NO.

How does he do it? Justin Bieber appears to have got a finger in every pie- many of them wielding a grotesque amount of financial dividend- before the first splash of legally permissible alcohol has even touched his juvenile lips. At an age where, although gloriously youthful, I should be wiser, preferably richer and certainly with a greater catalogue of raucous anecdotes to tell than the average 17 year old, the nauseatingly precocious Bieber has beaten me hands down at almost every turn.
First, there came the music: a syrupy melange of quixotic lyrics and ornamentation worthy of the Mariah Carey school of aggrandisement. The early Bieber YouTube clips were like watching a warbling premature puppy with hyper-sexualisation issues. While Usher (a fully grown, hyper-sexualised leg humper of a dog) gazed on adoringly, watching his young protégé through dollar-tinted glasses, I wondered why nobody had thought to put them both down. A quiet in-studio gassing would have saved the world from a lot of unnecessary crotch grabbing and vocal narcissism. But instead they farmed out recordings of Sir Smarm-a-lot squeaking his way through such potently affecting lyrics as ‘Baby, baby, baby, owh’, and extolling the virtues of women and love as though he had been a libidous lothario since he filled his final Pampers.
Next, after a bout of tweenage super-stardom, came the necessary accessory of a famous girlfriend. Selena Gomez- spawn of the Disney channel and therefore contractually obliged to be goofy, sexy and chaste in equal measure- shed her Mickey Mouse chastity belt and was Bieberised. The general public were torturously inundated with images of the whippersnappers fondling each other’s prepubescent appendages in various (expensive) locations. Nothing has brought my blood to a boil, or vomit to my throat quite so rapidly before or since.
Now, finally, as if to assert his all-grown-up credentials to their full effect… Bieber has allegedly impregnated some poor, hysteric girl. To look at his baby face, 5-foot stature, and Ken Doll wardrobe, I would have hazarded a guess that wee Justin couldn’t even locate a placenta, let alone embed a human in it. While I, aged 22, am lacking the fundamental materials for embryo-themed accidents, and aged codgers like Liz Jones are apparently forced to perform a post-coital stoop and squeeze to harvest the hallowed gunk, this 17 year old squirt is splashing it about willy nilly, the very picture of precocious virility. Maybe someone should introduced Liz Jones to young Bieber- a perfect match of supply and demand if ever I saw one.
One can only hope that Justin’s break-neck sprint through life’s milestones will leave him knackered and redundant by his mid-twenties at the latest. I yearn for the day the paps slather the weekly glossies with pictures of his infamous mop of hair streaked with silver, his 6 love children tugging at his Evisu’s, as he slogs his way through an inevitable marathon of reality series. And if it doesn’t happen organically… get him back in that studio and let me get gas-chamber-happy.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The Only Way Is Dalston: Flash Us Your Fixie

Curse you TOWIE. If it weren’t for your cataclysmic besiegement of my television and persistent gobbling of glossy pages in my trashy mags, I would have a life free of:

-The upside down traffic cone that is Amy Childs.
-Sticking sparkly plastic on your foof being considered a viable, desirable form of accessorising, as opposed to a suspect accident with glitter glue tubes.
-The contemptible colloquialisms: ‘reem’, ‘well jel’ and ‘va/pejazzle’

I’ll rein myself in at three crimes to humanity, or I’ll be typing til Lauren Goodger shuts up about her thighs. But your greatest crime of all, you pesky Essex blighters, is that your arrival spawned a toddling family of quasi-reality shows, parodying or glamorising various niches of society like some sort of elaborate PR plug for talentless morons ‘r’ us. In TOWIE’s wake followed the primordial nitwits of Geordie Shore, flexing and flashing their six packs and silicone in some rough approximation of their American Jersey Shore counterparts- not only vacuous, but entirely devoid of originality. Then, close behind, with no more brain cells but a dollop more wonga, the Made in Chelsea pack strutted on to our TV screens, to demonstrate their innate ability to sip Bolly and spout toffy nonsense- simultaneously! With names that sound more like toddler talk than feasible human monikers (Caggie?!) and an insatiable appetite for costly self-indulgence, they were the perfect targets for inverted snobbery and smug giggles.

Just when you thought Britain was saturated with celebrity-spawning reality trollop, the head honchos at MTV have decided they want a slice of the lucrative pie. The chosen ‘hood for their voyeuristic undertaking is East London. An email sent to several establishments that MTV dubbed suitably ‘hipster’, summoned the artsy fartsy exhibitionists of Shoreditch, Hoxton and Dalston to the indie Mecca of the East End: Jaguar Shoes (one of my favourite hangouts- blasphemously invaded by camera crews and tie-dyed twats), to cast what has already been prematurely dubbed ‘The Only Way is Dalston’. But I can’t help but feel that although there is surely a plethora of wankers ripe for ribbing in the posey pockets of East London, they’re just not going to make good TV. The hipster Bible clearly states that studied indifference must be maintained at all times: an unrelenting air of nonchalance about all aspects of life is a necessary component of cool. Can you imagine anything more boring than watching a group of lolling floppy haired specimens not being bothered by anything for an hour at a time? Even their portfolio careers (one auditionee was allegedly a hip hop artist/fine artist/blogger/stylist) implies, not an interest in everything, but a complete resistance to commit to a singular interest, lest another suddenly becomes cooler or more useful. Not to mention the fact that all hipsters are virtually asexual- passion is just too much effort, man. Either that or asexuality is a result of embracing gay, straight AND bi, lesbian AND trans-gendered life. Baby they were born that way. So no naughtiness to keep us entertained either… The biggest gossip will be that Thelonius is actually funded by his disgustingly wealthy Daddy’s credit card… despite living in a leaky bedsit on Hackney Road (it inspires his art/fashion/music).

While the TOWIE crew flash their vajazzles, the hipsters will flash their fixie bikes. While Geordie Shore enthusiastically indulge in inducing near-catatonic states of drunkenness, the hipsters will insipidly sip organic vegan wine. And while the Chelsea dwellers will rub their wealth in your face, the hipsters will vehemently deny existing in anything other than abject poverty. The current reality stars may be obnoxious… but at least they’re not fake-spectacled titans of tedium.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Your Baby Stole My Social Life

They’re everywhere. They’re multiplying like spores in a Soderbergh movie. They’re clogging up my news feed with black and white pictures of themselves. They’re taking my seats on the tube. They’re hogging column inches, TV screens, and stealing my friends.
Who would have thought, that aged 22, when my mind should be primarily concerned with the amount of times I can go out in one week without inducing exhaustion/liver failure/bankruptcy, or lifestyle conundrums as pressing as wax versus shave, that instead, these tiny embryonic nitwits would be viciously assaulting my mind and social life with such pre-emptive joie de vivre.
An inordinate number of my peers (or friends of friends on Facebook- still equally disturbing) seem to have been gripped by some sort of precocious pro-creation disease. Don’t get me wrong, I love a wee babby. They’re cute and cuddly and they smell like talcum powder. But I also love giving them back, because they’re loud and self-centred and smell like morning-after-korma farts. There’s a time and a place for the blighters, and just as there’s a time and place for golden retrievers, savings accounts, wine that costs more than a fiver and a wardrobe that possibly includes garments that cover your knees, that time is not now.
For even before it comes kicking and screaming into the world, leaving you exhausted, pumped full of morphine and essentially left with the grand canyon between your thighs, it is an egotistic bugger. In it’s cellular state it is already a womb-Stalin, dictating vitamin consumption, limited exercise, teetotalism, and NO SUSHI. I mean for crying out loud, embryos of the world, sushi?! Get a grip. It slowly ostracises you from society until you are no more than a baby drone, unable to talk about anything other than expressing milk and pre-natal yoga (all incessant and unwanted yoga-based ego-stroking is deplorable, but add a midriff swelling and an even more righteous reason for yoga indulgence and it becomes positively nauseating).
There is no bigger joy-kill in your early twenties than attending a party where friends who used to lick B55s from the barman’s naked chest before performing the Miley Cyrus bone dance on a table, swap their debauched behaviour for doing their best impression of Anthea Turner in Stepford Wife mode, while resting their orange juice on their terrifyingly large swelling. I would try to at least coax a bone dance out of them, if I wasn’t living in imminent fear of a small bloodied BEING dropping from their nether regions when they do the knee bends…
Now, my darlings, is NOT THE TIME. It’s our last decade of being able to get away with reckless debauchery. Before I start building cup rests out of my stomach there is so much I need to do, so much more I need to achieve! I am 22 and I have not yet been to a foam party. I don’t particularly want to go to a foam party (which is, if we’re honest, a huge cover up for casual, slippery sexual molestation), but what I do know is that once the embryonic beginnings of a screaming sprog are implanted in my sprog-resistant body… I will no longer have a choice. The foam party will be lost forever. Think on this, young wannabe mummies. You may have a loving child, a life full of meaning, cuddles and unconditionally reciprocated love… But I can still go get my arse groped by a foamed up chav I don’t know. Yes, that means I win.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Foxy Knoxy's A Messed-Up Pin-Up

When did sex and death become such an alluring fusion? Once a preoccupation of the hideously kinky, mentally insubordinate, or vaguely criminal fringes of society, it would seem that the wider public has recently taken to hankering after a slice of this licentious loaf.

At the tame end of the scale, sadomasochism slyly crept into the catalogue of acceptable material for tweens to have a jolly singalong to: save a few disgruntled cries, we happily watch Rihanna advertise the joys of chains and whips to unsuspecting pigtailed youth. And at the rather more morally questionable end of the scale, television presenters publically fantasise about bedding Amanda Knox: a woman as infamous for her possible involvement in a horrific murder case as for her possible involvement in a nefarious sex game.

Perhaps I am being wildly naïve, or perhaps it is my girlish tendency towards the fluffy and saccharine that inhibits my ability to swallow such affiliations between violence and desire, but a sexual interest in Amanda Knox seems to me a rather perverse preoccupation. Like buying a friendly household anaconda, when the house next door just bred a batch of Andrex-worthy puppies. The controversial verdict and her possible involvement or lack thereof is all utterly redundant- the morbid curiosity in Foxy Knoxy’s bed-post notches and speculative history of sexual deviance began long before her alleged innocence. The media presented us with a pretty face and a lascivious story, that- lest we forget- centred on the brutally gory murder of Meredith Kercher, and lo and behold, the male population began tandem salivation, drooling all the way to the courtroom.

An element of danger is surely attractive, but I would happily draw my danger line somewhere around dating a musician- artsy! Unreliable! Probably egotistic! What a risqué young woman I am! I may even, on occasion, fantasise about Colin Farrell- a notorious bad boy and drug dabbler- just imagine the implicit hazards that may ensue! These are dangers allowed in the romantic playpen. Cold-blooded murder as some sort of sexual after-dinner mint is, in my books, not.

Guilty, innocent, implicated or just unfortunate… the verdict, passed or not, will always lack a degree of clarity. What is clear as day- from my moral hillock at least- is that Knox’s pin-up status is tantamount to me suggesting Raffaele Sollecito as a worthy contender for Heat magazine’s Torso of the Week. Wrong, no?

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Madonna Vs Time

Dear Madonna,

Firstly, as I’m a polite chap and have maintained throughout my career that there is always time for manners, let me introduce myself: my name is Time. Pretty monosyllabic for the average dual-named human, although I’m sure you of all people understand the brand power of the solitary moniker. Although I am cursed with the need to remain relatively omnipresent, I’ve cultivated a cosy little base for myself in the London suburb of Greenwich, where I can keep a close eye on mean time, and am a stones throw from my close associate Money, who meddles mainly in the City.

Pleasantries aside, I’m afraid I am writing to you about the rather more serious matter of taking your pert Yoga’d behind to court. Although for the best part of your well-documented career you have tiptoed round the periphery of my radar- ineffectual and certainly most innocuous- more recently Miss Ciccone, your behaviour has caused me irreversible embarrassment and grave emotional trauma. I will, therefore be seeking disgusting amounts of monetary compensation for the damage you have done to my reputation and sensitive ego (I have been faithfully informed by my conceptual colleague Justice that this is the way to solve all emotional trauma these days, especially when dealing with repulsively wealthy Americans).

First and foremost, your appearance has made me the laughing stock of the century. It is in my job description to weather the habitants of Earth with the ravages of time- wrinkles, grey hairs and such like. I do have deadlines and objectives on these things, you know? I don’t just set a galloping pace for the good of my health. But with your incessant nipping, tucking, sucking, filling, hoiking , pinning, smoothing and dying you have made a mockery of my attempts to do my job! Trying to manipulate your facial muscles in to any semblance of human aging is almost as hard as maintaining Taylor Momsen’s youth- honestly, beneath the past-it-hooker façade, I’ve had to give her the face of an eight month old child just to break even. I’m not embarrassed to admit I even did a sly deal with Gravity to pull a little harder in your immediate vicinity, but you only upped your surgical routine… and now he has to permanently give you extra attention in case your face ends up on top of your head as a result of the extra effort. My wife simply refuses to have him to dinner anymore- it’s just too embarrassing.

Let us not forget the corrupting influence of your trainer Tracey Anderson. This is a woman who not only managed to sculpt your flaccid body in to that of a twelve-year-old Russian gymnast’s, but simultaneously convinced the world that a look that says ‘my pelvic floor muscle doubles up as a bottle opener’ was a good thing. I suspect she may be the devil incarnate.

Without wanting to jeopardise your dignity, I have to tell you that your obsessive waxing habits also plague me with difficulty. What you and your ilk started, the rest of the world has lovingly embraced, and now I am faced with an army of prepubescent undercarriages, hurtling ever further from shaggy maturity, making a bald mockery of my hard work through the teenage years.
You and your army of shorn, vajazzled ‘cougars’ are fast becoming my number one nemesis: clad in all your best Dominatrix-Barbie regalia, with your schoolboy boyfriend on a string and children with a scarily elevated sexual awareness in tow, it can only be a matter of time before you make me utterly redundant.

My lawyers will be in touch. In the meantime, even if you insist on reminding me of my shortfalls with your smooth, taut forehead and melon-hard breasts… do me the favour of keeping me out of your music? I do not go by ‘so slowly’, I certainly don’t ‘stand still’ and that incessant ‘tick tock’ you so frequently intone is so metronomically inaccurate it kills a little part of my soul to hear it.

I eagerly await you reply. After all, Time waits for no one. Not even Madonna.

Monday, 5 September 2011

My Stiff Upper Lip Just Can`t Go Native...

This week I have mostly been wearing a stiff upper lip. Luckily, it suits my near-translucent British face and London lass demeanor rather well. But to my surprise, this little stiffy was rather stubborn. Its endurance has been tested scrupulously over the last two weeks, as I ventured bravely across the pond, far away from the unmoving lip-locked solidarity of its homeland… to a world of wandering, lolling, lips of Quebec. OK… its not exactly the East Coast America, where the hippy lippies are so loose and loving that they can practically do their own yoga exercises, but there`s surely a marked difference. My lip has felt like the only stiffy in the village.
It all came to a rather reticent head this Sunday. I was, as part of my indoctrination to Quebecoise life, taken to Mont Royal (a hillock of sorts, except decidedly less rugged) to see the more liberal inhabitants of Montreal play Tam-Tams a-top said hillock. What a charming idea, I thought. A pleasantly hippie vibe for my Sunday. Lovely. Can do. I travel barefoot! I sniff other people`s weed smoke! I am comfortable with sporadic nudity! I own many a floral garment, and sometimes I listen to Nick Drake! Bring it on hippies! Sadly, I underestimated the level of eccentricity coursing through the veins of Montreal.
On reaching the summit (if the pinnacle of a gently sloping plane could be called a summit), I felt like I had had stumbled upon a sponsored epileptic fit. The Tam-Tam playing was all well and good- rousing if you will- both rhythmically pleasing and establishing a cosy feeling of percussive community. Lovely stuff. What was rather more alarming was the Matisse-esque circle of dancers- if the disconcerting undulations they were persistently performing could be called `dancing`- that was forming around the musical folk. If you imagine some sort of mix between a new-age American Evangelical church service, and the Star Wars kid on YouTube (you know, that tubby one with the CGI lightsabre and zero self awareness), if you CAN EVEN IMAGINE this, you are about half way to being able to visualize the sight I beheld. If rhythm is a dancer, she was frequenting another dance floor. No semblance of rhythm or form could be found in this congregation. As if possessed by the power of the Tam-Tam (but more likely possessed by the power of the marijuana leaf), men and women, babies and grannies were all swaying, twitching, shuffling and spasming with their eyes tight closed. Gay abandonment was rife, judgment was not.
My tour guide extolled the virtues of acceptance and supportive kinship… While I tried to swallow down a rising lump of unadulterated panic. Oh, the emotion. Oh, the expression. Oh, the freedom. Oh, they`re in bloody public for Christ`s sake! Do they REALISE?! Will they ever stop?! After 30 minutes of my inner prude cringing at this lavishly loose behavior, I started to genuinely worry that a particularly aged (and particularly stoned) biddy was going to do herself a medical mischief… the whole afternoon was like a mass of hip replacements waiting to happen. There were enough beards to weave a coarse brown poncho for Hagrid. Enough Jesus sandals to open a vegetarian shoe emporium. And enough hash to hotbox all of Montreal.
Until this Sunday, I thought I was pretty free spirited. Now I realize: within the restricted realms of British etiquette, I`m like the effing Mata Hari of Hampshire. Shove me out of my little English play pen however, and the bar is raised so uncomfortably high, I feel like a regional player dropped unceremoniously in the midst of the hippie Olympics. Peace out, you Tam-Tam revelers of Montreal… the dance floor is decidedly YOURS.

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Sunday, 21 August 2011

Bloody Women Drivers

I drove a car through central London this week. For those of you who have never driven a car through central London (and by central London I don’t mean pussy central London, I mean HARDCORE Piccadilly Circus at the weekend) it is the automotive equivalent of self harm. Dangerous, unnecessary, emotionally charged and only thrilling if you’re a bit of a nutjob. As I’m only a nutjob on week days, the ‘what a fine day for killing a tourist’ part of my drive was most certainly NOT voluntary. I clearly need to up my prayers-at-bedtime routine (currently at a resting rate of zero, on zero days of the week) because the big guy in sky was clearly not too happy with me this weekend. Having conspired with construction workers across the capital, he made it impossible to take ANY sane road out of London in a southerly direction. Thanks buddy, thanks a bunch.
So there was little blonde me, lightly sweating, heart mildly palpitating, eyes wildly darting and “mirror, signal, move” reverberating like a bullet round my brain amid the chaos of Piccadilly Circus on a Saturday. I’ll tell you for nothing, it was not my sexiest moment. The look was somewhere between that of a harrowed heroin addict going cold turkey, and a small child just before she wets herself with FEAR. (Thanks again, God, for making me wear long sleeves for the FIRST TIME IN ALL OF AUGUST, and thoughtfully shrinking my bladder to the size of a jumbo peanut).
I have, mercifully, taken a life lesson from this highly gratuitous experience: those little Italian loafers, that all wealthy European tourists insist on shrouding their delicately manicured tootsies in, have a mind of their own. They are fatally attracted to moving vehicles, thus hauling their unfortunate owners in front of moving traffic in a most uncouth manner. I would not be so bold as to suggest that all wealthy Europeans simply have no understanding of physics or basic safety, or even an unwavering belief that all vehicles will stop in their VIP wake… Oh no, that would be gross stereotyping and mild racism. So the loafer-of-death theory is the only possible explanation, you see. Simples.
But most concerning of all, was that on my return to the garage, shaking like a leaf and emotionally scarred for life, I (admittedly) slightly buggered up my parking angle… then made a sexist comment AT MYSELF! I don’t know what came over me. It was as though my small feminine frame was taken over by a large, balding truck driver who washes down his morning buttie with a healthy dose of gross chauvinism. For a fleeting moment, I betrayed the entire female collective by referring to my botched up manoeuvre as being a symptom of ‘woman driver’ syndrome. Oh, Emmeline Pankhurst, forgive me please. In fairness, the garage man was rather surly and I felt immense pressure to explain my slipshod attitude towards the safety of one of his fleet (I felt at the time that he probably regarded them much like little motorised children, but in hindsight I don’t think this specimen of male spent much time ‘regarding’ anything all too deeply).
But worse than the self-inflicted sexism, the weak pandering to the glare of surly garage men, and insult to Emmeline Pankhurst’s memory… was my disgraceful misuse of grammar. Gentlemen, now is an excellent time to remind you ALL.. if you are going to dish out a jolly bit of mild chauvinism, at least do it with some grammatical accuracy… We are, collectively, FEMALE drivers. Not WOMEN drivers. Thank you, that is all.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Borough Market: My Middle Class Conundrum.

“Food Markets just aren’t the same any more are they?” Almost as soon as the sentence spews from my slightly middle class lips, I feel abhorrently twittish. Like I might go on Come Dine With Me and serve an amuse bouche to start, tenderised rump of my slave for mains and gold leaf shredded into my ‘nouvelle cuisine’-sized desert. Fear not: self-flagellation was duly administered, for such crimes of snobbery.
But they’re not, are they?! I found myself reminiscing about a time when I frequented Borough Market of a weekend. A time when Borough Market could just be called a food market, not a ‘farmer’s market’. I even reminisced for the whiff of gorging hipster in the air; moustached, bespectacled and permanently attached to their bicycles, the hipster was intent on foraging for as many free samples of Comté as it could, no doubt to fuel its onward journey to London Fields, or some such hipster weekend breeding ground. Or perhaps even simply to store in its cheeks for later. Like a geeky hamster in skinny jeans. I longed for a time when it was the done thing to merely feign interest in a market seller’s produce- and while distracting them with your witty repartee, generally treat their samples like finger food at a free-for-all party. If I didn’t leave Borough market feeling like I’d had the equivalent of a three course meal in samples, it was a bad, bad morning, and I would spend the rest of the day worrying that my tip-top repartee skills were, frankly, all but diminished. ‘Twas wondrous! ‘Twas marvellous! ‘Twas the pinnacle of scroungey studentdom!
But Borough Market is no longer a haven of youthful joie de vivre (code for jolly stealing). No No. We must now refer to the market as a ‘farmer’s market’. My overriding problem with this is that, by and large, it is NOT a farmer selling you those oak-smoked, sun tickled tomatoes. It is an out of work actor. A ‘jobbing’ actor (which is actor code for ‘I’m a waiter’), who has invariably been hired for his chiselled features (the yummy mummies go down hook, line and sinker) and his booming voice, which reverberates around the market without a trace of market-lad-twang. Oh no, not a trace of London-boy fruit stall here. You are left instead with the overriding feeling that you must have missed that Shakespeare play where a young, dashing man sells sun tickled tomatoes to a hauntingly beautiful rich princess with an illegitimate child in an all-terrain buggy. Hmmm, they apparently left that one off the English Literature syllabus.
Which leads me to my next gripe: the all-terrain buggy. It used to be that I would have to pilgrimage as far and wide as Clapham (heaven forbid) if I wanted to commit buggy-stampede suicide. But now, I can do it from the comfort of East London, as the two wheel drives preferred by the aforementioned hipster have been replaced by young mothers with buggies so reinforced they should strictly be classed as monster trucks. The mothers forage for organic produce covered in bird shit in PACKS too, so woe betide any straggler who dares enter Borough Market without the necessary defence mechanism (a baby and monster buggy of one’s own). Chances are you’ll be re-enacting Mufasa’s death in the Lion King within 30 seconds.
And last, but by no means least… they seem to have cottoned on to the fact that those of us who dress in Topshop rather than Miu Miu of a Saturday morning do not want to by 5grams of organic mushroom paté for £17.50. No matter how convincingly I fiddle with my purse strings, the once endless samples have ground to a halt. So I spend the whole morning dodging buggies, fearing for my life, pretending that guy I saw in that frigging terrible experimental play last month IS actually a farmer, gripping my rumbling stomach, practising disguised forms of begging and feeling generally like I’ve wound up at the bottom of this food chain.
No, my Borough Market ran off with an upper-middle class floozie. And I don’t think I want it back, ta.