Friday, 28 April 2006

Tête à claques IX

This month (oops, we nearly didn’t have one) it’s Cherie Blair. Why? Because.

1) I have the same respect for defence lawyers as I have for social workers. I’ve probably seen too many films where the defence lawyer manipulates the system and gets the accused, whom everyone knows committed the crime, released on a technicality.

2) I don’t care what politicians’ spouses (or politicians themselves) look like, as long as they look groomed, but if you’re going to spend £7,700 on your hair it should at least look nice.

3) I can’t stand that ‘square’ smile of hers.

4) She said once that she ‘understood’ why Palestinian suicide bombers killed innocent people.

I have no time for that woman.

Friday, 21 April 2006

Too much, too young

I went to my local Primark the other day (the Hammersmith branch is one of the best in London, apparently; I maintain that our TK Maxx is one of the best too, but so far I’ve failed to persuade those stubborn people who insist on going there on a Saturday; you know who you are) to see what was on offer that day (no two days are the same in that store. Blink and you’ve missed it – the thing you noticed yesterday but were silly and didn't buy there and then).

Upstairs, in the lingerie department (I dream of hearing that word – lingerie – pronounced correctly once by a Brit), I suddenly came face to face with a display of brassieres (did you know that in French the word brassière means an infant’s vest?) for very young girls. They were tiny; they were cute, they were padded and they were half-cups. I was shocked (although not as shocked as the time when I absent-mindedly touched a gel-filled bra in some other store). Apparently, Primark reflects current trends and always offers its customers what they want, which means that there is market for 28AA sexy bras. What sort of message are they giving? Why do mothers allow their daughters to be sexualized so young, in such a way? No wonder 16-year-old girls want to have surgical breast enlargement? It’s preposterous. How big-breasted should a 12-year-old be? How much cleavage should a young teenager show?

Of course, girls can’t wait to look womanly. I remember pestering my mother for a Teenform bra I’d seen in a magazine ad, around, er, 196… I had hardly anything to put in it, but, wow!, it felt great. Later, in the mid-’70s, like all good feminists, I burned my bra. Actually, I got rid of it for another reason: I was travelling between Paris and Nice a lot. You couldn’t undress on the train and wearing a bra while lying down on a hard berth was rather uncomfortable. So I didn’t on those nights and soon stopped wearing it completely. Nowadays, of course, I don’t need one, and I don’t miss it.

But ‘revenons à nos moutons’ (more French for you, folks!): this is a blah blah I found on a website dedicated to the garment in question:
Trying to find a bra for a teenager can be a daunting thing to do, I know that myself from trying to find bras for my daughter. The "Tiny Whitey" style of bras are almost gone and teenagers are wanting something more stylish and sexy but parents can't really spend too much as the bra may only be worn for a few months, then another size is needed!! Plus there's the fact that most mothers don't want their teenage daughter wearing a £40 see-through La Perla!!

We've put together a list of stylish and affordable bras for teenagers. Some of the bras below are cleavage enhancing which can be an important thing for teenagers; you may not want your daughter wearing a bra like this, just use your discretion.
Wise words, but if those sexy bras weren’t produced there wouldn't be any problem, would there? Sad.


Friday, 14 April 2006

Straight = Boring

I was going to post about something else that bothered me recently but this landed in my Inbox this morning. It’s from Daily Candy, those nice people who keep me in touch with what’s ‘hot’ in the realms of shopping and… shopping, er, can’t think of anything else they tell me about, actually.
You Polaroid your outfits, update your virus software, and drink eight glasses a day. A wild woman of Borneo you’re not, but try telling that to your hair.

Those curls have been known to derail an otherwise perfectly scheduled day. So when your primper’s elbow is flaring up and you can’t manage to squeeze in a blow-out, what’s a girl with a rat’s nest to do?

Easy. XYZ [I’m not going to give them free publicity, am I?] is an at-home hair straightener that uses food preservatives and sugar to temporarily rearrange the hair structure, giving you a sleek, shiny mane that lasts for about a week.

Here’s how it works: First, a gel relaxes the kink and softens the hair cuticle. Next, a creamy sealer sets things straight. And finally, the leave-in conditioner gives you smooth and glossy locks — all in about the same amount of time that it normally takes you to shower, shampoo, and shave.

Which means you’ll still have plenty of time to alphabetize those Polaroids.
Well, that certainly derailed my ‘perfectly scheduled day’ (I wish!). Please, could someone tell me who decided that curly hair was worse than any other physical defect? When did they decide it? And why does everyone believe it?

I have curly hair (it’s rather frizzy now and rapidly vanishing from my head, but in its heyday it was nice). I’ve always had curly hair and never ever wished for it to be straight. We used to say of someone with the kind of straight hair that resists any styling, “Elle a les cheveux raides comme des baguettes de tambour,” (another little translation exercise for you). And it wasn’t a compliment. Since when is having that kind of boring and unmanageable hair a desirable thing? I didn’t like it then, I still don’t.

Julia Roberts was never so attractive as when she had those bouncy curls. Nicole Kidman has naturally curly/frizzy red hair and she was so cute in Bangkok Hilton, the TV drama that brought her to our attention here in the UK. They both look awful with flat, lifeless hair. They look wrong, you know, like people who normally wear glasses do when they take them off.

I’ve been waiting for the fashion for straight hair to die, but it doesn’t seem to want to: they keep producing new and better hair straighteners all the time – ceramic and liquid ones (‘food preservatives and sugar’, yuck!).

I demand a return to hair freedom!


PS. Life’s too short to take pictures of your clothes. Only saying…

Monday, 10 April 2006

Who tagged her?

Our Queenie has a big birthday coming up (so have I, actually; it's not a big one in my case, but, still, that's one of the many things we have in common, she and I) and the Palace has issued a list of 80 facts about her. Fun ones, strange ones, envious-making ones too, some of them, like she owns all the dolphins and whales that swim in British waters. I'd like that.

For the complete list, click

Oh, while I'm here, I might as well slap Our Ken again. That man, Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, has done it again. He's in China at the moment and he's compared the Tiananmen Square protests, in which thousands were massacred, to the Poll Tax riots in Trafalgar Square, a while back, in which, er..., a few people were manhandled by the police. Unbelievable! Of course, the Chinese won't get to hear what he said, because all mention of Tiananmen is banned from their media.

Lots of slapping needed.

Friday, 7 April 2006


Just a quickie until I can think of a more deserving ‘slappee’.

It’s official: Dan Brown is not a plagiarist.

I was so hoping his silly book would be pulped.

Now he can be sued for bad writing. (I can very proudly say that I am the only person in the world who’s not read his opus. But I’ve come across excerpts - difficult to avoid that rubbish altogether.)

I’m slapping him and anyone who takes his nonsense seriously.

Envious, moi? Non!

Wednesday, 5 April 2006

Blog Swarm

Apparently, after having a very bad experience with their customer service, someone managed to get satisfaction from Dell by writing about it on his blog, and, thanks to his readers, it created a Blog Swarm.

So that’s what this post is. A Blog Swarm. All by itself. It isn't directed at a big company and it won’t make any difference to anything, but I don't care: I like the word. My target is someone who has given me a lot of aggro recently; someone called on eBay.

Four weeks ago I put a camera lens up for sale, since I couldn’t envisage a time when I might go back to using my big SLR again, after enjoying the user-friendliness of my tiny digital camera. The lens was coveted by several people and, a week later, achieved a good price. Unfortunately, my ‘buyer’ (ha!) placed his bid at a time when all the stars were against me (my pussycat fell ill that very night) and turned out to be someone with bad feedback, from whom I would never have bought anything, but to whom, somehow, I had to sell my lovely lens. When the auction ended the next day, I had other things on my mind, but I vaguely sensed there might be a problem.

I was right: the High Bidder never answered my several emails requesting payment. I gave him plenty of time and he finally sent me a cheque. A cheque I couldn’t cash: not only was my name misspelt (although it was correct on the envelope that contained it) but it was dated 2003! I pointed it out and waited another week and then filed an Unpaid Item dispute. He assured eBay and me that he would be sending another cheque. Nothing happened, of course. When I sent him a scan of his cheque he asked for my details again, and again said he would be sending a cheque straight away. Still nothing, so I put a stop to the nonsense yesterday.

In the meantime I lost all my other potential buyers. I can’t offer the lens to the second highest bidder: he has acquired a similar lens from another seller. And, I’ve checked, so has everyone else.

Yes, I get a refund of my eBay fees; yes, I get the right to relist the item, but the so-called buyer, who is a trader and who probably was drunk that night and placed a bid on my lens for the fun of it, with no intention of ever paying for it, just gets a strike, which doesn’t affect his rating in any way. He could even leave a negative feedback for me, if he was so inclined (g-d forbid!). That’s not right.

Now, here’s something else that’s not right. I want to leave that man a negative feedback, but I won’t, because if I do he might retaliate and leave me one too, and with my very few transactions it would make my rating drop drastically and no one would ever want to deal with me. I wonder how many other buyers/sellers are in the same position. I’m beginning to think that lots of those ratings are false and therefore a lot more eBayers cannot be trusted.

Until then everyone I'd encountered on eBay had been very friendly and a joy to deal with. It’s people like him who give eBay a bad name.

Slap! Buzz buzz buzz!

Update: Guess what! I received a cheque this morning. It's dated last Wednesday (the day he asked for my details again) but was posted yesterday after I closed the dispute. Perhaps he thought he could say he'd paid before the deadline (which was the day before yesterday). I wonder if the cheque would bounce if I tried to cash it? I wonder if he would claim the lens had never arrived or was faulty or got broken in the post if the cheque didn't bounce and I sent it to him. It's also quite likely that he wrote the cheque and waited for me to close the dispute before sending it so he could imagine my dismay at receiving a cheque I couldn't cash – again. It doesn't matter now because I relisted the item yesterday and I've already got a bidder.

Up-update: This guy is unbelievable! He's now opened an Item Not Received dispute against me. He claims that he paid for the item the day after the end of the auction (10th March), when the cheque I received was dated (apart from bearing the wrong year and the wrong name) 16th March! Enough already!

Up-up-update: A Happy Ending at last! I've now sold the lens (for much less, but who cares) to someone else: a very nice guy, who paid me straight away and who's delighted with his purchase. Phew! No news from the first 'buyer' (he's had four negatives in the meantime; he's been a very bad boy).

Up-up-up-update (16 May): Ah, spoke too soon. He left me a negative feedback yesterday, claiming I ran off with two cheques of his. As expected, my rating has dropped to 90% in one fell swoop. Feeling murderous towards him and towards eBay, which has been no help at all.