Sunday, 29 October 2006

Really maddening

Big problems with Blogger. Stop. Might not be able to post for a while. Stop. Dealing with it. Stop.

Update: Problems resolved (it looks like). Stop. Wasted masses of time trying to work out what was wrong and what to do about it. Stop. Blogger might have said. Stop. Scrogneugneu (really useful and funny French swearword). Stop."£!$%^&*!

Thursday, 26 October 2006

There is no justice!

So what else is new?

No, no, there really is no justice.

In a normally quiet London suburb there is currently a man who thinks he can do whatever he wants to whomever he wants because he’s just been found not guilty of harassing his neighbours.

For years he has abused them verbally, shone lights into their bedrooms, listened in on their telephone conversations, played very loud music in his garage so everyone can hear it, generally made their lives a misery.

Finally, finally, three weeks ago, he appeared in front of a magistrate. All his neighbours – except one, who didn’t think she could bear the stress of testifying and who is now being shunned, quite rightly in my opinion, by her neighbours – stood up in court and gave evidence about the years they have spent battling with this man. The police made their case too.

The ‘trial’ lasted over a week. It looked like a sure bet he would be found guilty. What else could the magistrate do, those people said to themselves?

He could say that, yes, listening equipment was found in the man’s possession but there was no abiding proof that he’d used it to eavesdrop on his neighbours’ telephone conversations. He could say that because he played loud music in the daytime no one was really disturbed by it. He could say that all his neighbours were neurotic old women (they were mostly elderly women, but women are the ones who find aggressive males threatening) and he’d never heard such a load of rubbish in his life.

He could say all of that and he did.

I haven’t got the strength to slap that magistrate as hard as I would wish to. There’s no point trying to slap the man: he’s invulnerable now. His name is Norman and he lives in Ruislip.

Tuesday, 24 October 2006

Yes, that woman again!

Ok, when you’re called Marie-Antoinette, your name has a hyphen and you cannot be called Marie or Antoinette. It’s Marie-Antoinette or nothing.

I hate the woman but I don’t see why she should be insulted – spellingwise and namewise – by all and sundry.

Slapping all and sundry! And stupid Sofia Coppola.

(There! I feel better now.)

Wednesday, 18 October 2006

There's no 'right' way

October is Breast Awareness Month, and breast cancer is in the news again today: apparently, a study has shown that screening may not be the perfect solution:
Researchers looked at international studies on half a million women. They found that for every 2,000 women screened over a decade, one will have her life prolonged, but 10 will have to undergo unnecessary treatment. The report, published in the Cochrane Library, involved a review of breast cancer research papers from around the world. The scientists found mammograms did reduce the number of women dying from the disease. But they also discovered it was diagnosing women with breast cancer who would have survived without treatment, meaning they were undergoing unnecessary chemotherapy, radiotherapy or mastectomies. …. They also revealed a further 200 women out of every 2,000 experienced distress and anxiety because of false positives – a result that indicated a cancer was present but was later found to be wrong. (more info here)
I was one of those ‘false positives’ and I underwent a double mastectomy for nothing… or maybe not… who knows? I’d had symptoms of something being wrong. I told my story at length last year (see A Tale of Two Titties) so I won’t bore you with it again. I think it will be up to individual women to decide whether or not they want to be screened, in the absence of any symptoms. Nearly eight years on I am very glad I did what I did.

If I’d actually had cancer after all, I probably would have fought the disease with all the means at my (and medicine’s) disposal – up to a point, though, ‘life at all costs’ is not a mantra of mine – but I hope I wouldn’t have been made to feel a failure if I’d died in the end. I’ve said it before, cancer is the only disease that makes people use words like ‘battle’ and ‘fight’. No one talks about ‘fighting heart disease’, do they?, and when the person dies they’re not said to have ‘lost their battle with heart disease’. Having a life-threatening illness is difficult enough without being made to feel as if one’s not trying hard enough. If you know someone who’s suffering from cancer, please be gentle with them and let them cope with it in their own way. Sometimes the body wins regardless of how strong the mind is.

Slapping the ‘cancer bullies’! Hello, Debra!

Sunday, 15 October 2006

It won’t wash

For two weeks, while I was in purdah, working from morning till night, the BBC inundated us with programmes about Iran. The series was called Uncovering Iran, and its aim was to persuade us that we do not have to fear anything from that country and its demented leaders.

It was so depressing: Iran was on the way to becoming a great place, especially for women, and then, pouf!, it reverted to the Dark Ages. I once met a young Iranian writer, whose wealthy family had got out of Iran in 1979. A few months ago, Harpers & Queen (for which she contributes from time to time), published a long article about her ­– complete with rather attractive photos, in which she expressed her love for her country (she was a small child when her family emigrated here) and her immense desire to go back as soon as possible to play her part there. As far as I know, she hasn’t left London, where she leads a life of luxury and is free to do whatever she pleases.

I don’t care how beautiful Iran’s poetry is, how marvellous its art and how articulate and imaginative its writers. The Germany that spawned the Nazis was one of the most ‘civilised’ countries in the world and look what happened! So this blatant and cynical attempt to make us see Iran as a wonderful, civilised country didn’t work on me. I cannot forget that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier who has called for the elimination of Israel and thereby of the rest of the world’s Jews (because what do you think would happen if Israel didn’t exist?). First show me that Iran isn’t a country full of people who want the destruction of my race, then I too might ‘challenge some of the perceptions [I] still hold about this intriguing country’ – as the BBC expects me to – and marvel at its achievements in the arts, etc. Until then I will reserve my admiration for more deserving subjects.

Slap! The name of the Iranian woman mentioned above is Kamin Mohammadi.

Sunday, 8 October 2006

And on the 11th day...

...Bela went out.

I met my deadline on Friday (what did I tell you!) and came out of total hibernation yesterday. I didn't leave my postcode, but still... Most of the places I wanted to visit where closing early so I got rather frustrated, but I was pleased to see that my legs were still in working order and that the area hadn't changed too much in the meantime. I intend to venture farther in the course of this week.

I haven't been completely insulated from the news, though: guess what my position is on the 'veil' question!

I was going to slap someone, but maybe she's suffered enough. Hello, Micki!

Sunday, 1 October 2006

Guest Slapper of the Month IX

Sometimes, when I'm introducing a Guest, I have so many facets of their personality to choose from and present to you that I don’t know which ones to emphasize; this time I can say without hesitation that WinterWheat of Triticum Turgidum is above all a mother. Oh, and she’s very tall. I think that’s it. Isn’t it?

Slapsterhood of the (Downward) Traveling Pants

I’d like to slap whoever thought it would be a good idea at the turn of the millennium to revive the ‘60s hip-hugger look by stocking our department stores and online shops with ultra-lowrise jeans.

Back when unleaded gasoline was introduced, I remember being confused that consumers had to pay more for a product that contained less. Ditto for organic foods. The same principle applies to ultra-lowrise jeans. For the service of cutting away 4 extra inches of waistline (with high-tech, diamond-prism lasers, presumably), jeans manufacturers get to command $200+ per pair.

But it’s not the price that earns them a slap. It’s the designers’ decision to keep the rise ridiculously low regardless of the length. A 6-inch rise might make sense on the body of a 5-foot-tall woman who wears a 28-inch inseam. I, on the other hand, at 6 feet tall, wear a 36-inch inseam, so I’m attracted to jeans by lowrise manufacturers like Hudson, True Religion, and Notify because their pants fit my legs. But, well, er… okay, how do I put this? The rise is the length between the crotch seam and the top of the waistband, right? On a human body this represents a curved surface. Six inches curved barely clears the top of my pubes (sorry Bela). Now, I’ll be the first to admit that nothing says SEXY like an exposed butt crack or a peek of c-section scar, but not both at the same time. That’s blindingly sexy, and it’s rude to go about blinding people.

Due to their construction, ultra-lowrise jeans must be worn tourniquet-tight to keep them aloft. They sit at the widest part of the hips, so they have nowhere to go but down. Anyone with enough subcutaneous body fat to menstruate is bound to look like a “popped can of biscuits” and be accused of sporting a “muffin top” if she wears her jeans snugly enough to keep them up. To add insult to injury, she becomes a potential target for that woman, you know the one I’m talking about, who walks around scrutinizing other women’s bodies and snarkily murmuring things like, “She should NOT be wearing those jeans.”

Derrick Shepherd, a legislator in Louisiana, must have been channeling Snarky Woman when, in 2004, he attempted to drum up support for a bill (HB 1703) outlawing lowrise jeans on grounds of obscenity. People showing their “whale tails” (thong backs) would be forced to pay a $500 fine. According to Wikipedia, the Times-Picayune editorialized on May 8, 2004: “Some Louisiana lawmakers seem determined to make us the laughingstock of the nation. But even ideas that are dumb and comical can have dire consequences. A bill that would pull into the criminal justice system children and adults who wear their pants low is not only dumb -- it’s dangerous.” I would add: especially in a state that allows booze to be consumed in moving vehicles and women to walk around topless in exchange for beads. A slap to Derrick Shepherd! (No, I take that back. He lives in Louisiana. He’s been slapped enough.)

I have strong libertarian leanings and I think that people should be able to wear what they want, however uncomfortable, unflattering, offensive, or shocking it may be. I recently saw an adolescent boy riding his bike in a t-shirt that read “I F*CK LIKE A BEAST.” Huge red letters. I hate what he was wearing but I’ll defend his right to wear it. (Although I do pity his mother. Unless she’s the one who bought it for him.)

Anyway, back to the jeans: I’m happy to say that fashion-forward designers are attempting to revive higher rises, although I’ve seen some truly horrible pleated ones that push the boundaries of fuglitude. I don’t want my waistband grazing my ribs either, thanks. Whatever happened to the waist?

PS. I've just been told I'd be slapped myself if I didn't mention that WinterWheat is also an academic and a feminist and a perfumista – all in all, a ‘well-rounded’ human being. There! Happy now, WW? LOL!

PPS. I case you're wondering, I don't let myself be bullied by my guests (or anyone else for that matter). WW has railed (on her own blog) against women who define themselves purely through motherhood so I thought it might be fun to, you know...