Thursday, 31 January 2008

Turd Coat Takeover

Remember this? The £460 Moncler coat that I recently described as a 'gigantic shrink-wrapped turd'?

They have taken over our streets. They are everywhere. Even on friends who may well read my blog and now think that I am a dreadful, stylistically-challenged old boot-face who clearly hasn't realised that the 1990s ended some time ago.*

It's not the Moncler version I'm seeing - the high street interpretation is less shiny, and granted, less turdesque, but even so...this looks like yet another seasonal trend, along with Crocs, skinny jeans, and that whole 'gypsy skirt with huge dinner-plate belt' look that is going to have to pass me by.

The Husband nailed the quilted coat thing though. 'Looks exactly like boiler lagging, especially on the short, fat ones'.

Go on, look again and tell us we're wrong...

*If you would like to make a generous donation so that I can book a consultation with Gok Wan, and get my 'bangers' projected on to the side of an enormous building, then please don't hesitate to get in touch...

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Inventive Ways to Lose a Girlfriend...

It would seem that the vagaries of the fashion and beauty industries that inspired last week's rant are finally about to answer a question that's been bugging me for years.

Do men tend to require fewer and simpler cosmetic products because they really are less vain and more secure, or have the evil arch-bastards simply not found the right way to get to them yet?

Yesterday however, I discovered that increasing numbers of men, inspired by that David Beckham ad, are heading to beauty salons up and down the country to get themselves a Boyzilian.

Now, whilst both David and Victoria Beckham have kept UK hairdressers churning out replicas of their trend-setting barnets for over 10 years now, I hadn't predicted that this particular look would be driving British menfolk into the grasping clutches of the beauty industry in search of the perfect Back, Sack and Crack.

There's a cynical part of me is thinking it highly likely that the smooth appearance shown in the ad owes more to an ad designer's Photoshop skills than to those of hot-wax-wielding beauticians.

But the whole thing reminded me of a client of ours a few years ago who persuaded his girlfriend to model a product for festival-goers that he had invented and was trying to bring to market. The ad showed the product draped over her bare bottom, and she was surprised and delighted by the way she looked in it.

'Blimey', she said.'My arse looks really nice there doesn't it?'.

'You've got to be kdding me.', came the reply. 'It's taken me 6 hours in Photoshop to get it looking like that!'.

I wonder if they're still together?

Friday, 25 January 2008

Tales From the Chair, Chapter 4

Toddlers learn new monkey tricks quickly.

Such tricks, when performed in the presence of others, are invariably swooped on to be held up as triumphant and certain evidence of their future careers.

My boy's early obssession with lights clearly indicates that he is to be an electrician, like his grandad. His mean overarm throw indicates a future England spin bowler, his tower building skills make him the next Christopher Wren, and his demolition work means that Fred Dibnah's crown will not be cast down for long.

Actually, I lied about that last one. Fred Dibnah is utterly irreplaceable...

However, today's lunchtime battle, and its finely tuned endgame proved beyond doubt that he is to be a brilliant military strategist. He's got some hard work ahead of him, but I think that his early experience will stand him in good stead. Here's how he did it.

12:30:00 Observe and conclude that chicken dinner is below required standard
12:31:00 Decide on appropriate diversionary tactic
12:32:00 Empty entire cup of juice into dinner, and over table and floor
12:32:30 As enemy heads floorwards clutching ktichen roll, poke her in the eye
12:33:00 Operation 'Shock, and Ow!' successfully completed. You win, again.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Let Them Eat Dirt

So says this week's New Scientist magazine, in an article to warm the hearts of lazy mummies everywhere.

I was once asked, in one of those mummy conversations, how often I disinfected our toys. 'Never', I said. 'Unless I found it down the toilet, or in the dog's mouth, and even then I'd probably just bung it in the dishwasher. A bit of dirt does them no harm.'

Whilst the hygiene debate amongst your average set of mothers-at-a-playgroup probably extends no further than allergies and asthma, it seems that the outlook for the child of a slightly slummy mummy could possibly be even brighter.

Here are the edited highlights:

'As strange as it sounds, epidemiologists are starting to uncover some unexpected links between our exposure to dirt and germs and our risk of cancer later in life...Such findings point towards a curious possibility: one way to avoid dying of cancer may be a hefty dose of germs.

The notion that living dirty has benefits may ring a bell. Researchers have been debating the 'hygiene hypothesis' for years, but it is typically discussed as an explanation for the rising incidence of allergies and asthma in developed countries, not cancer.

Now some researchers are starting to wonder whether the higher incidence of certain cancers in affluent populations - including breast cancer, lymphoma and melanoma - might also have something to do with sanitised, infection-free living. If they're right, the implications are huge.

There are of course huge problems. Assessing ways of preventing cancer, rather than treating it, can take decades. And no-one is suggesting deliberately exposing people to risky infections...when it comes to vaccines with a proven safety record, however, there are far fewer issues.'

Still, if your own mother was a hygiene queen, there are benefits to be had in other ways. Apparently, working in a cotton factory, or doing a job that involves breathing in lots of aerosolised manure (e.g. on a dairy farm) will also make you far less likely to develop lung cancer, even if you are a smoker.

Fantastic news all round. I'm looking forward to getting my good friend MadCow's take on the subject. She's called MadCow because she has substantial academic and professional expertise in the field of virology - and she always knows the juicy bits that the newspapers and magazines won't tell you.

In the meantime, I'm off to make the most of that season ticket to our local Open Farm - looks like there might be some new added value in it for us all!

Friday, 18 January 2008

What Men Want: Debunking the Myths

When I wrote What Men Want. Part 1: Boobies back in December, I promised to follow it up with Parts 2 & 3, Blow Jobs and Beer. As these are 2 topics on which I am never knowingly under-opinionated, a brief discussion will follow shortly. Very brief - this isn't one of those filthy sex blogs, you know...

A common theme has emerged from this week's blogs and papers - a theme of women being lied to and generally mis-led on the subject of what is expected of them, and more specifically, what is expected or desired of them by men.

I'm not absolutely sure how these silly myths end up in mainstream consciousness, sending young girls and grown women alike rushing out to grab the blonde hair dye and fake tan, and booking themselves in for a french manicure and boob job to prop up their resulting non-existent self-esteem. I suspect that porn and advertising will be to blame somewhere along the way. But I am sure that most of it is utter bollocks.

I am sure, becausae I've discussed it with a lot of honest men. I have observed inconsistencies between men's reactions to real women and, the images of women we are told are attractive. I have asked direct questions and had direct answers. The knowledge I have gained has been liberating and priceless, and it genuinely upsets me that so many women cause themselves unnecessary grief and loss of self-worth because they either don't know or refuse to believe it.

So, before this starts to turn into a serious essay, I bring you my Top 5 Myths: What Women Seem to Think Men Want And Why They are Wrong.

1. Big Breasts. There is no getting away from the fact that men like breasts, and an enormous pair of hooters is always going to be an attention grabber. But for the overwhelming majority of men, it's quality, not size that matters. Of course men enjoy looking at pictures of women with big boobs, but they really do like looking at pictures of women with small ones just as much. As the Lancashire lads used to tell me 'Anything more than a nice handful is a waste...'

2. Revealing Clothes. 'Less is more' is a nonsense statement on more than one level. Again, we are lulled into the idea that because men enjoy looking at the sexy images that lads mags and porn present, we must reproduce those looks to be found attractive. Not so. A man who is simply out for a sexual conquest, will be looking for the magic combination of maximum ego-gratification/minimum effort and is therefore likely to hit on the most sexually obvious woman in the room. But how likely is he to call her the next day? I think we all know the answer to that one. Emphasising one's best bits does not mean hanging them out like meat on a butcher's hook.

3. The Domestic Goddess. You can try, but unless you are the genuine article when it comes to effortlessly cleaning like a fantasy Swedish au pair girl, whilst cooking like Nigella, in all her buxom, spatula-licking glory, then attempting it is futile. In reality, you'll end up nagging him into oblivion about every little misdemeanour, and will be no fun whatsoever. I will make an exception for three issues - wet towels, dirty shoes, and opened post. Any man who leaves them lying around the house every day deserves everything he gets.

4. Manicured Nails. I just don't get it, and neither do any men that I know. Especially French or American manicures - they're just all wrong. Apparently some women have this done to their feet too. Why? I suspect this one passed me by because I spent my formative years amongst aspiring musicians. You simply can't play most musical instruments with great long talons, so no-one had them. It didn't hold us back, I promise you. As long as your nails are clean and not bitten, you haven't chewed around the tops of your fingers, and your hands are not covered in hair, warts or callouses, you'll be just fine. (Unless you want to date Tad Safran, but then I would have to question your sanity...)

5. To Feel Needed. Possibly controversial, but I say no. Men like to feel wanted, loved and desired and (this is crucial), useful. They do not want to feel as though you would crumple in a pathetic heap if they were to leave you to it for a few weeks. It's a subtle difference perhaps, but I cannot over-emphasise its importance. It's one of the biggest contradictions going - women are often told that men like to feel needed, men often cite neediness as one of the least attractive traits a woman can have. It can be a fine line to tread - treating him like a hero for fixing a shelf will serve you well, crying into his shirt because you simply must have the shelf fixed today and can't possibly manage it yourself - do you see my point?

So there we have it. You really don't need to be PornStar Barbie to be attractive to men. I hope you will enjoy the freedom this knowledge brings as much as I do. As someone recently commented on one of my favourite blogs- 'It's tough for blokes. We have to kiss loads of princesses before we find a real woman!'

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Stuff and Nonsense.

I've been spitting bile and foaming at the mouth this week over the evils of the UK and USA fashion, beauty and cosmetics industries.

From that Tad Safran article, to the increasing quantity of media space given to the outrage that is vaginal cosmetic surgery, it seems that the arch-bastards of these insidious industries are embarking on a major offensive (and I mean that on every level) to make sure that women have their tiniest blemishes and imperfections highlighted, exaggerated and ridiculed with every turn of every page, and with every click of the remote control or mouse.

I'm not kidding about the surgery either - I've read two pieces this week alone; a brilliantly argued piece by the Guardian's Cath Elliott, followed by fellow blogger EmmaK's irreverent take on the subject. I defy you to read either with your legs uncrossed...

So, I've been wondering, just how dim and gullible do these so-called fashion and beauty gurus think women are? And then I opened today's Sunday Times Style Supplement, and I found this.


For a desperately trendy and exclusive Moncler coat.

That looks like a gigantic, shrink-wrapped turd.

Women of intellect and reason, please feel free to draw your own conclusions.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

It's Not Logical, Captain

The past few days have seen me tearing my hair out over a semi-serious piece about the current popular(ish) obssession with Reason, Logic and Rational Argument.

It seems to me that, when it comes to living one's mundane everyday existence, these three things are massively overrated, and can often be counter-productive. Ironically though, I'm finding it incredibly difficult to sling together a half-decent rational argument as to why.

It's partly down to my belief that almost all of what we call intution or feelings actually have their roots in logical thought processes, even if we're not immediately able to recognise or articulate them.

It's also partly because very logical people can be incredibly irrititating, and certainly never seem to be any happier as a result of their dedication to the cause. I will grant though, that they are often quite wealthy.*

Lastly, it's because I'm a mum, and if I took the time to reason out appropriate and consistent responses before acting, my toilet would be stuffed full of cuddly monkeys and giraffes, and Dynorod would be laughing at me.

So for now, I will simply supply a visual approximation of what I think might happen to the human race if we all began to rationalise every last detail of our existence:

Personally, I'm not in favour...

*Which reminds of the most logical thing my mother has ever said; 'Money won't buy you happiness, but at least you can be miserable in comfort'

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Reality Recommences...

Had an exhausting but lovely weekend away in Durham, and fell in love with the cathedral in a big way. It is just enormous, and I cannot for the life of me work out how they got those carvings into the columns...brilliant.

However, thanks to MadCow and her marvellous perspective on the world, I now think of it less as one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in the UK, and more as 'a great big Fuck You to the Scots'.

[Hangs cathedral-fetishists' anorak back in wardrobe until next time, and resumes normal life...]

More later, I have a stack of catching up to do, including booking my Speed Awareness Course, following my unfortunate misdemeanour last year. Three hours of being lectured about bad driving habits, for someone who wants to be a driving instructor when she's done with being a full-time mum is going to hurt.

It'll be a fine testament to my self-control if I don't get turfed out and prosecuted regardless. Must remember to take duct tape for my mouth.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Picture Postcard Preview

Slummy Mummy is disappearing for the weekend again.

Along with my good friends Sweaty Betty and MadCow, I'm off to the other end of the country to spend the weekend swanning around and singing in a building that looks a bit like this...

...whilst dressed a lot like this.

Hardly life on the edge, I know...but it is a change, a break and a chance to spend some quality time catching up with some good friends. What more could a run down, stressed out and thoroughly haggard mother ask for?*

*Yes, yes I know, but if I wanted handsome and charming men then I'd have to choose another hobby...