Monday, 28 April 2008

A Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down.

There's a reason I've been off the blogs recently.

Same reason I've been off my food and drink too. The reason I've been spending my mornings throwing up down the loo, and my lunch break whilst the boy sleeps sitting on my backside with a nice cup of tea instead of catching up with what is happening in Blogworld.

Baby number 2 is making its presence known.

Some women, like the one shown, look and feel great during pregnancy. The hormones give them a healthy glow, they feel empowered and fincredibly feminine, and they only get bigger in the place generally known as the bump. In short, they just bloom.

I am not one of these lucky women.

When I am pregnant, I feel like this...

...which is why there may now be a short interlude.

I'm 13 weeks at the moment - apparently, and from what I remember from last time, I can expect to start feeling a bit better at some point in the next two or three weeks.

I will back at such a point; however, in the interests of quality control, it's probably best if I leave my blog alone for now. I am a hormonally addled cranky old witch, and am only likely to post acerbic rants which I might regret later on.

Mind you, last time around I was still shouting at strangers and threatening to piss on their feet at 7 months...

We will have to see how it goes.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Advert Rant 2: Lust, Luxury - and Laundry?

It's been a while since I saw an ad that made me go all Gordon Ramsay - swearing and cursing at the screen, howling with derision at the idiots who produced it and the even bigger idiots who will doubtless be influenced by it. But this one left me temporarily speechless.

It's for a new 'Super Premium' sexed-up range of fabric conditioner, by Procter and Gamble, marketed under their familiar Lenor brand. The product steps right away from the usual Spring Meadow Summer Fresh type of fragrance that we're all used to, and brings out the dark sensuousness of wash day with delights such as Black Diamond & Lotus Flower, Ruby Jasmine, Amethyst Rose and Sapphire Violet.

Leaving aside the fact that three of those names sound like something that a Spice Girl might name their baby daughter - if the advert is to be believed, using these products will turn us all into irresistable, seductive temptresses, to be found dressed in slinky black nightgowns and writhing in orgasmic frenzy on our clean sheets.

P&G are very proud of their innovation. Their Trade Communications Manager, Paul Lettice would like us to know that

"We are confident the launch of Lenor Infusions will help to make the task of washing a more glamorous, invigorating experience for consumers with the 'infusion' of premium fragrances and sumptuous softness of Lenor.

In answering consumer demands for environmentally friendly products, the Infusions range not only invigorates and softens clothes to the highest Lenor standards, but is also more sustainable, using up to 70% less packaging per wash when compared to regular Lenor, which in turn means fewer lorry loads on the road. Lenor Infusions is a great opportunity for retailers to boost their laundry profits and drive incremental value.”

Oh fuck off.

Only the most deluded corporate bullshit merchant could contrive to weave a sentence which runs seamlessly from 'the task of washing' to 'a more glamorous, invigorating experience'. I note that he is also a man, but I'm not going any further with that one - draw your own conclusions.

As far as I can ascertain, the only way you could possibly combine those two wildly disparate concepts is to dress up in your best lingerie, set the washing machine to spin and...

...but as this isn't that sort of blog, I'd suggest coming to one's own conclusions with that one too.

This is a laundry product. There is nothing glamorous about laundry. Unless P&G can come up with a product which transports me to a place where I get to share a hot tub on my own terms with 5 inhabitants of my choosing from the Lost island, after they've actually done my laundry for me, I will not allow any further talk of washing and sensuousness.

And if you're likely to find yourself swayed by the environmental credentials of this product, please don't. Go out and buy some Dryer Balls instead. If you don't believe in tumble drying, I suspect they could also double up as a serviceable sex toy.

Reduce, Re-use, Recycle. And all that.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Why don't cats play the theremin?

Whilst we're on the subject of minority instruments and those who play them...

The Husband is a big fan of Jean Michel Jarre. I don't really understand why, something to do with innovation, and being the first to bring certain electronic sounds and instruments into the mainstream, that sort of thing. Not my cup of tea, but it keeps him happy.

He recently forked out £75 to hear Jarre play live at the Royal Albert Hall, and was sadly disappointed to find out that the Grand Master of popular electronic music is, in fact, completely rubbish when it comes to live performance.

One of the innovative electronic instruments that he uses on his albums is the theremin. This is a bizarre, antenna-based instrument, invented in the early twentieth century. I can't explain how it works, because I don't do physics, but to cut a long story short, the performer stands between two antennae, and waves their hands around in the air to create the music.

The Husband had been looking forward to seeing one played live. You don't see them around much, unless you're seriously into avant-garde music.

I suspect that when he sees this, he will agree that he might have been better off saving his money, and spending the evening on YouTube instead.

I have been very ill all week with a flu-like thing which just won't go away. There are some areas of life where my approach tends to be much more masculine than one might expect. Shopping for clothes is one of them. Interest in celebrities and the details of their lives is another.

Having a bad cold is probably the finest. It's been 8 days and I'm still a rancid bag of snot and misery. I'm already reduced to posting videos of cats being amusing instead of real bloggage. If I'm not better by the middle of next week, then I'll have no option but to post a picture of my arse.

Wish me well, for all our sakes...

Friday, 11 April 2008

Why don't men play the harp?

No, I don't need a male harpist right now, but this article about music and gender in today's Times got me thinking about the many stereotypes linked to the various musical instruments, and why things should still be this way.

In many respects, it makes very little sense. Children begin musical instruments at a young age, and an 8 year old girl is just as physically capable of learning to blow a tuba as an 8 year old boy, so why would she 'naturally' prefer something dainty like a flute? And what is it about the piano that has made it so universally gender neutral - actually I know the answer to that one; it's just so bloody useful for any musician, especially if you want to teach.

There are plenty of other stereotypes of course. Every music student knows that violinists are highly strung and neurotic. Oboe players are all a bit slutty and given to bragging about the blow jobs they give, whereas flautists often look like butter wouldn't melt in their mouths, but underneath, they are even dirtier than the oboists. Finally, if you want to be one of the first with a pint of beer in your hand as soon the conductor's taken his final bow, you'd better place your order with a member of the brass section..

Viola players are universally ridiculed, I don't know why. Conductors are like Marmite, you either adore them or loathe them. Sometimes all at once.

Any girl can sing in a choir, but if you're a boy then you'd better be very posh indeed. There are no hoodies in King's College Chapel Choir, you know.

Organists are a law unto themselves, often just fractionally less weird than piano tuners, who are always men and sometimes blind.

I think it's fair to say that I've known - or known of - musicians of both genders for almost every instrument. The problem with minority instruments is that they are often very large - think tuba, bassoon, double bass, harp - and I can completely understand why parents haven't liked the idea of a girl old enough to walk to school on her own having to carry a heavy instrument that might not have been such a problem for a boy. I wonder if that will change now that kids tend to be driven everywhere?

But this is where my speculation falls apart. Harps are huge and incredibly heavy. Yet men just don't play them. Is it a skirt issue? All that flapping away on those pedals can really only be beautifully hidden by a long, flowing skirt. This is how really good harpists manage to look so serene - I promise you, they really are paddling away hell for leather under all those layers of silk...perhaps a bloke in trousers doing it would spoil the illusion? Who knows.

And before anyone jumps on me with this delightful example from the Jameson's Whiskey ad - sorry, but the harpist is miming. His name is Conny Bloom, and he is really a guitarist with a band called Hanoi Rocks. He can't play the harp. Nice ad though...and that is rare praise indeed from an ad-hater like me!

My boy is yet to choose his instrument, if he wants to, of course. The Husband dismisses out of hand the idea of him choosing a violin or flute; he wants him to learn keyboards or guitar. I'm very broad-minded on the subject, and will be working hard to make sure that the choice is a free one, and not unduly influenced by Daddy's stereotyping. At the moment, he has the temperament for a clarinet or bassoon - laid back, unassuming, won't throw a tantrum if someone else takes the best toys...

Just as long as he stays away from all those slutty oboists.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Caught Red Handed

OK, I'm currently thoroughly snowed under with trying to sell the house, and being a very flaky blogger as a result. It's no mean feat to get a house that has contained a not-quite-two-year-old all day looking like a spotless haven of unrealistic perfection and tranquility, every time the agent rings up and says 'can you do a viewing at 7:15?'. I apologise, and will be back in your comment boxes again shortly, sanity permitting.

So far, we've had two couples who adored the house and wanted to buy it, but couldn't or wouldn't stretch to the asking price. One of them was practically spreadeagled across the breakfast bar, licking it with delight, so I did feel a bit guilty to disappoint, but still...we'll get there in the end. Let it be a lesson to all estate agents that if buyers are going to concoct stories to try and get a discount, they'll need to be rather more intelligent than the ones we've heard so far.

In the meantime, it seems that The Boy and The Husband have got me worked out rather better than I thought. Mooching around the kitchen the other day, I spotted an open packet of my little boy's snack du jour - Pom Bears. 'I'll just have one', I lied to myself. As I slipped my hand in, I felt something soft, dry, and not at all like a teddy-bear-shaped potato crisp.

It was a piece of kitchen roll. 'Very odd - The Husband must have thought it would keep them fresh. Men, eh?', I reasoned to myself. As I put the kitchen roll down, I noticed some scrawl written across it. The scrawl said;


These are MY crispies.

Hands off.

The Boy.xx
I'm not sure which is worse - that I got caught out stealing my little boy's snacks, or that my taste has deteriorated from the dizzy heights of Sea Salt and Balsamic Vinegar Kettle Chips to the point where Pom Bears are an exciting snack sensation.
They are good though...