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Forsooth! Chivalry is not dead!

November 28, 2010

A wondrous thing happened on the District Line to Edgware Road yesterday morning.

I was bemoaning the state of womankind and the evil machinations of the likes of Germaine Greer that have resulted in us never having seats given up for us anymore, whilst we still have to do all the housework.

A long sentence, but heartfelt, I think you’ll agree.

This grumpiness was inspired by a cute little boy whose mother was telling him to sit on his seat before other people took it from him.

‘I’ll just sit on top of their heads,’ he said.

Of course, what she really ought to have said is that if a lady is without a seat, he should offer up his own. And then again, her clever son would probably have asked why the other men in the carriage weren’t already doing that?

‘Bah,’ I thought, and ‘Harrumph!’ and ‘What’s the world coming to?’

I turned back to my book, and then something happened to restore my faith in humanity.

We stopped at West Brompton. A woman rushed up with a pushchair and jumped onto the train

…leaving the buggy on the platform…

It was a bizarre sight.

She tried to stop the doors from closing by obstructing them with her body.

It looked for all the world as if she was planning to hoist the buggy backwards onto the train and risk having the doors close on the baby.

Five men, of all ages, creeds and colors instantly ran forward to get the baby safely onto the train.

The women in the carriage didn’t move. We were either frozen with horror or couldn’t believe what we were seeing, and it turned out that we were right. Of course no woman would do that. She and her baby weren’t getting on the train at all. She was just holding the doors open for her slower friend.

Completely oblivious to the stir she had caused, the woman jumped off and waved her friend goodbye, while the men sheepishly returned to their seats.

‘How embarrassing,’ muttered one.

I didn’t think it was embarrassing.

I thought it was lovely.

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How to dress appropriately

November 11, 2010

Why do I never get the image right?

I can be in the right place at the right time. I can even say the right thing – occasionally – but if people remember me at all, they’re probably saying:

“Was that woman having a bad hair day or does she always look like that?”

Yes, I turned up at Jane Wenham-Jones’s Book Launch in Just St James wearing jeans and bad hair.

I know what you’re thinking but I can never get a last-minute appointment with my simply-marvellous-darling hairdresser Larry at Daniel Hersheshon.

What…?

I don’t drink… I don’t smoke… I have a little hairdressing problem. Show some compassion.

So there I was, armed with business cards, bad hair and wearing the wrong clothes.

Dammit, I’m always wearing the wrong clothes. I went to the Groucho Club Gang Show the other day wearing a 1930s outfit. Everyone else was in jeans and sneakers. Or was that the men? Probably not, come to think of it.

Anyway, I looked like somebody’s Granny and it wasn’t a good look. Ben from Big Brother obviously thought I was an elder statesman because he thanked me very much for inviting him, which I hadn’t.

He apologised and said he was trying to work out the hierarchy in our party. “Don’t worry about me,” I whispered, confidentially, “I’m nobody.”

Of course I was whispering because walls have ears at the Groucho and the penalty for being nobody is a lifetime ban.

Anyway, this Granny Look reminded me of the time I somehow infiltrated the MTV Building and all the bright young things walked past me with heads cocked to one side and an indulgent smile on their faces as if to say, “Aw bless, someone’s brought their mother in with them”.

Never let it be said that I do not try. After the Groucho Club debacle I deliberately wore jeans and sneakers to the book launch and found everyone else in cocktail gear. Except for the men.

Never mind.

I met Helen Lederer and Katie Fforde and they said nothing about my look. Of course they didn’t. They are as lovely as a summer’s day and yet more temperate. Well Katie is anyway. Helen’s a madwoman. But we already knew that.

I’m looking forward to reading Jane’s new book: Wannabe a Writer We’ve Heard of?

Oh yes, I can answer that one…

And Auntie Jane, if you’re taking requests, can the next please be ‘Don’t Judge a bird by its Feathers…’

The trouble with science….

October 2, 2010

Goodness! Where have I been? I haven’t blogged in the whole of September. All of my fan will have disappeared (and I use the singular article advisedly).

To be honest, I had to look that up. I tried ‘Single Tense’. Got nowhere. Not surprising. There’s no such thing.

So I tried ‘What’s the opposite of Single?’ I got a dating site for that one.

Then I remembered ‘Plural’. That did it. I saw that it was an article but got distracted by wanting to know what an indefinite article was. Is that like a hermaphrodite? Is a hermaphrodite an indefinite article?

Oh dear. What’s the point of a bloody education when it goes in one ear and out the other. Thank God for Wikipaedia, that’s what I say.

And I’ve forgotten what I wanted to blog about now. Aaargh. it’s hellish, getting old.

Roll up, roll up, get your grammar lessons here.

Talking of lessons, I have discovered what science is and I’m willing to share it with the world.

Science is… wait for it… drum roll…

Science is…. EXPLAINED MAGIC.

And magic is…. UNEXPLAINED SCIENCE.

That is so cool. I congratulate myself. I am having a constant argument with my son about this. He says I am very sad and need to be committed.

But just tell me one thing. How can it be that huge heavy metal objects fly through the sky? Thass magic tharriz.

Just because you can sit me down quietly, with some medication and a strait-jacket – just to be on the safe side – and explain the rules of aerodynamics (yes, you’re right, I had to look it up) doesn’t mean that you will ever, ever convince me that aeroplanes flying through the sky isn’t magic.

Just like the telephone. Magic.

There are lies, damned lies and then there are statistics

March 26, 2010

It was hard to find anything I wanted to write about today. The news is full of doom and gloom as usual. So I turned to the Daily Mail. There’s always something “stimulating” in the Mail.

True to form I found myself laughing at Steve Doughty’s article claiming that women are the real hypochondriacs. According to Steve, the findings of researchers from the Office for National Statistics has finally exonerated men from the charge of man-flu-ism.

But as always with statistical reports, one has to read between the lines. Here are some examples.

“It concludes that members of the fairer sex are less likely than their opposites to die from poor health.”

That’s because we look after ourselves properly. Next…?

“Across Britain ‘women are more likely to report poorer health than men, but this is not reflected in subsequent mortality rates’, the report said.”

That’s because we report poor health and get it treated, which is why we don’t drop dead, like the men who don’t go to the doctor and don’t look after themselves properly.

“Women were more likely than men to report that they were in “not good” or “fairly good” health, but they were less likely to die during the follow-up period,’ it added.”

Hello? What did I just tell you?

“Researchers also found that certain social groups are more likely to say that they are ill – as well as more likely to die over the next five years.”

So certain social groups say they’re ill and – wow – it turns out that they are actually ill and so perhaps that’s why they die…

But wait, what are these social groups?

“People who have never married, divorcees and those separated from their husbands”

So if you’re in a relationship, you’re less likely to be ill, or perhaps less likely to admit to being ill. And less likely to die.

Hmm. Would that be because most people in a long-term relationship have children? When do mums have time to be ill, let alone die?

“Others are people living in council or housing association homes, those who do not own a car, those with no educational qualifications, or people who are unemployed.”

Ok, this has got to be true, since most illness is caused by stress. No surprises there.

As for Scotland…well….

‘This reflects our finding that members of the Scottish sample were no more likely to report “not good” or “fairly good” health than those in England and Wales, but that they had higher relative risks of death.’

They’re still men, not reporting their ill-health. And as for the higher relative risks of death I’m saying nothing about whisky. Or Haggis.

Finally, the report rounds off with the information that men are less likely to fill in census forms.

Look, I’m just a blonde, but doesn’t that imply that the findings of the report that more women than men are visiting the doctor are due to the fact that fewer men have filled in the form….?

Hmm.

Conclusion?

Disraeli was right. “There are lies, damned lies, and then there are statistics.”

It’s my party and I’ll die if I want to

March 24, 2010

The medical fraternity want to ban smoking in private cars. There is an outcry against this idea. I quote from the BBC News page, where Simon Clark of Forest, campaigner for smokers’ rights, says:

“It’s unacceptable to single out smokers and imply that they are solely responsible for the cost of asthma treatments, hospital admissions and asthma drugs for children up to the age of 16.

“We want smokers to be considerate towards those around them, especially children, but changing people’s behaviour should be achieved by education and encouragement not by legislation and enforcement.”

Nigel Humphries, spokesman for the Association of British Drivers, said the car should be seen as an extension of the home and treated as such.

“The car is a private space and it crosses a line to start interfering in it, however much one disapproves of smoking.”

So here’s the thing. Isn’t suicide becoming a little more accessible to people all the time? Should we be trying to keep alive those who wish to die? We have a population explosion after all….

But hold hard, the argument centres not around individual choices but around how those choices are impacting on our children. Now that’s another matter altogether…

It begs the question: isn’t smoking in a confined space – with a child – tantamount to child abuse?

These are extreme views in a world that is becoming increasingly policed.

Take it further, why dontcha? I mean, by the same token, people who allow sugar near their children – and alas, I am one of them – are putting them in danger. And people who have toxic chemicals in their household products or who allow too much electromagnetic stress into their homes are irresponsible.

Where do we draw the line?

What about making youngsters apply for the right to have kids? They will have to take a lifestyle test and if they are shown to be unhealthy or emotionally dysfunctional their application will be denied. This excellent plan would help to cut the caseloads of the Social Services.

We could have surprise police raids, like the one in Terry Gilliam’s film Brazil, where the police will suddenly drop down from holes inthe ceiling, crash through the windows, and find us watching something inappropriate to the development of healthy minds, something like South Park.

See the trajectory? Where does regulating our diet and personal habits become facism and then genicide…

Uh? How did we get from expanding the smoking ban… to enforced sterilisation….to genicide…?

Uh-oh, over-imaginative-blonde-talking-politics-alert!!! Danger! Danger!

Get back in the box. Phew. No harm done. Luckily I am not running the world. Not yet.

But I might be soon. With these excellent views, I am bound to be picked up. Any minute.

Mwahahahahahahahahah. Stroke moustache.

I haven’t got a moustache. Will you just shut up about my moustache? You’re driving me crazy with your facial hair, facial hair…

Who’s that speaking?

Twitch.

Sam Cam’s Baby lies a-gurglin’ in the womb

March 23, 2010

I find it very heartening to see that the main story in today’s papers focuses on Samantha Cameron’s upcoming baby. Or should I say down-coming. Sorry. Very bad joke. Let’s settle for forthcoming.

But how it’s coming is not the point. What’s great is that the press know we want to hear more about ordinary human beings doing what comes naturally than we do about that other stuff: bombs, wars, health-scares and gloomy financial predictions.

Why don’t the forces of detection and protection just get on with it and let us all live happily ever after in Trumpton, the idyllic animation village of my childhood. Ah, Trumpton. Sigh. And Camberwick Green.

Yes, I have a bad case of Surrey Housewife Syndrome this morning.It must be because Sam Cam is doing her bit for the nuclear family, and that includes wives. (See Vanessa Engle’s excellent documentary series Women for help with this condition).

Do you know that there used to be an organisation in Epsom called The Epsom Wives? How scary is that?

I just googled Epsom Wives to see if it was still going, and was offered ‘Epsom and Ewell Wives: thousands of women waiting for you in the South of England’. And there was I, thinking it was just me…

I was also offered Lonely Horny Wives and – if that doesn’t work – a Single Baltic Lady.

There is much entertainment to be found surfing the net. Clearly. For instance, the sort of wives of which I speak were apparently around in 1673, according to a free encylopedia of literature which says: ‘Shadwell’s comedy ‘Epsom Wells’ (1673) mentions the ‘impertinent, ill-bred City wives’, who flocked to the well on the Downs’.

Yes, I was one of those…

I think I will write an e-book on the subject of housewifery. It’s the least I can do.

And now… with fantastic sleight of pen… I will pull the strands of this wandering blog together in one – rather long – sentence.

I’m glad that Sam Cam’s having a baby and that the press have guessed, rightly, that this is the sort of news we want to hear, though I’ve only just twigged that her nickname is a diminutive of Cameron, rather than an indication that – like the Single Baltic Lady – she might have been up to no good with a camcorder.

They’re on the Seafood Diet. They see food and eat it.

March 22, 2010

In the Daily Express today we are told that seaweed can halt obesity.

Yay!I’ve been waiting for this all my life. Do tell…

Oh.

The solution, apparently, is to carry on eating all the disgusting junk food that’s really bad for us, because it will henceforward be enhanced with an all-singing all-dancing extract of seaweed called Alginate.

I quote The Express. ‘Previous research by scientists at Newcastle University found alginate could be used to increase the fibre content of pies, burgers, cakes and other high fat foods. They claim this will allow people to keep eating junk food while enjoying the benefits of healthier alternatives.’

Dr Iain Brownlee says:  ‘Our initial findings are that alginates significantly reduce fat digestion.This suggests that if we can add the natural fibre to products commonly eaten daily…up to three-quarters of the fat contained in that meal could simply pass through the body.’

Hmmm… Verree interresting….

Wait though! Cue scary music! Remember that episode of Dr Who called ‘Partners in Crime’?

I quote Wikipedia. ‘The episode concerns Adipose Industries, which is marketing a diet pill to London’s population with the slogan “the fat just walks away”…the slogan is literal—the pills use latent body fat to parthenogenetically create the Adipose, small white aliens which spawn every night, removing a little of the host’s body fat each time.’

Was that bizarrely prophetic? ‘I mean, if we eat alginates will we spawn little blobby aliens that take over the planet? Aaaaaaaaargh!

Let’s leave it to Dr Brownlee’s team at Newcastle University to research the theory, whilst we keep our eyes peeled for news of rum goings-on up North.

In the meantime, while we wait for the miracle cure, we could try the so-called New Atkins Diet, which looks suspiciously like a very sensible low-carb calorie controlled diet.

Nothing new there I’m afraid. A diet is a diet is a diet. And Paul McKenna has already educated us about that, drawing on the material of Bob Schwartz‘s excellent book Diets Don’t Work.

Conclusion: diets don’t work.

Not in the long term, anyway.

The New Atkins Diet, described in detail in today’s Daily Mail, is similar to my own diet, or should I say ‘Food Plan’, because mine is for life.

There are two crucial differences however.

1. mine is much simpler and therefore easier to follow.

2. mine suggests eating masses of vegetables, which is healthier, especially if you want to avoid cancer.

Similarly, the seaweed solution – and I say bring it on, we’ll get Doctor Who to deal with the aliens – the seaweed solution doesn’t take into account the unhealthiness of facilitating more junk food eating, because – hello – it’s not just the fat in junk food that’s bad for us.

I lost seven stone on my diet and have kept the weight off for years.

I really  must write that e-bo0k about eating. Watch this space. It’s coming.