Monday, 26 February 2007

Glad it’s not just happening to me

Helen Mirren (sorry, that Dame thing is too preposterous) has won the Oscar for Best Actress. I’m sure she deserves it: she’s a great actress (not as genuine and versatile as Judi Dench, but very good nonetheless; I’ve seen her in dozens of plays and always liked her). Anyway, last night, as the stars were strutting their stuff on the red carpet, someone wrote, on the message board I belong to, ‘When I am in my 70s I want to look like Mirren!’

She’s only 61, of course. LOL!

It’s the white hair again, isn’t it? Either that or some young women are very stupid. Can't decide which it is.


Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Where was I…

… before I got so unsettled and found myself reliving the 1970s, when I was young and beautiful (yeah, right!).

I was in theatre. Nothing much has changed since the 70s in that respect. What has changed, though, is what punters are allowed to do in auditoria these days. Once upon a time all you could do was surreptitiously suck a pastille if you were coughing so much that you were disturbing the actors and the rest of the audience, or, after the interval, carry on enjoying your ice-cream in silence. Now – now! – you’re allowed to drink wine all through the play and asphyxiate the person sitting next to you with the fumes.

Pretentious people who bring in bottles of water and take a sip from time to time are bad enough. Since when – no, really!, since when is it necessary to constantly be drinking? Don’t tell me they’re scared of getting dehydrated in such a short time.

Wine is worse, though. Forget about horrible perfumes (I seem to always get a seat behind someone whose favourite fragrance is some sickly gardenia), the smell of wine is disgusting ‘out of context’. A 20-minute interval is more than long enough to finish up a glass or wine, or two or even three, if you insist on getting sloshed. Of course, the management shouldn’t allow it. When people started taking their drinks into the auditoria, there were accidents so now most theatres supply plastic cups to avoid people getting hurt by broken glass, but they shouldn't encourage this new habit; they should forbid it. Years ago, at the Barbican, I was even stopped from taking my ice-cream into the concert hall. I haven’t been there recently, I bet they allow wine drinking like everywhere else.

I suppose I should have been grateful, that night, that my neighbour wasn’t also munching sweets or peanuts, like the one who recently nearly spoiled a wonderful performance of Antony and Cleopatra for me. In the first half, it was Maltesers rolling around in their box and, in the second, it was the smell of wine. What next? Three-course meals?


Saturday, 17 February 2007

Tomorrow night...

... I have a deadline.

After that, normal service should resume.

In the meantime, hover your mouse on a link, any link, on this page. Go on! :-)

Thursday, 1 February 2007

Guest Slapper of the Month XIII

Guests are a godsend when one is very busy. Not in real life, of course: they get in the way – especially if you work from home – and you have to entertain them, but as a blogger... You give them a deadline and they produce a piece of writing, which you just have to post on your own blog. Marvellous! So here, for your delight, is L. of Urban Chick. She used to live in London, where she was literate, witty and the devoted mother of two kiddies she calls Chicklets (isn't that cute?). I once thought we might one day bump into each other in the capital (I’m always bumping into people) but she's recently decamped to Edinburgh, where she's being no less literate and witty (and, I hope, no less devoted to her children), and that possibility has unfortunately become more remote. Never mind, I can still visit her on the Net, and so can you. Enjoy!

It's an established fact that, beyond a certain point, wealth does not make you any happier.

I forget the figure most recently quoted in the media, but I remember it being a surprisingly paltry sum in income terms.

And I couldn't agree more. Commercialism, with very few exceptions, leads only to misery and wasted time.
You know how it goes...

You buy a new white good. Perhaps you do so after taking time out to research which model is best/most reliable (an hour online). It fails to arrive within the timescale stated, so you chase the manufacturer or retailer (an hour and a half on the phone, during which you encounter some appalling customer service that leaves you mentally penning emails to consumer rights bodies and media outlets when you should be sleeping). The product arrives and it is slightly damaged but not to the extent that it won't function, but you fret and stress and complain to your friends nonetheless (many hours). You eventually decide that, given the considerable sum you paid for it, you want a replacement, so you investigate how to go about this (more hours spent online or on the phone to 'jobsworth', scripted call centre operators). You make arrangements to return the product or have it collected 'at your convenience' (you're getting the picture now, right?).

So this lovely, shiny new thing which was supposed to transform your toast-making abilities/TV-programme-recording capacity/life has cost you precious hours of tedious activity, infuriating interactions with faceless service providers and stress.

You therefore resolve to lead a life free from unnecessary acquisition and you take time painstakingly to establish just what is and isn't necessary to live a good life (no excessively packaged foods, fewer clothes, no more purposeless ambles around indoor shopping centres and so on). And yet, with frightening ease, you find yourself slipping back onto the path of least resistance.

You find yourself being sucked in by those ubiquitous 'buy one, get one free' or 'three for the price of two' offers. No matter that the product was not something you particularly needed or that it's likely to go off before you get round to opening it. Heck, if the second one is half price, why not?

You become convinced that you need a newer version of a product you already own. A faster computer. A new car. A more aesthetically pleasing ironing board cover. The one you have is perfectly functional but there seems to be a good case for upgrading/renewing/replacing. (To hell with landfill and the environment!)

You give in to well-meaning relatives who regularly deluge your children with toys at birthdays and Christmastime, even though you've tried (subtly) to remind them how much more imaginative children's play is when they have to improvise with bits and bobs from around the house.

So I'm slapping the people who continue to believe that acquisition leads to happiness. But I'm slapping myself for being so weak in the face of this knowledge and giving in to the commercial imperative. (Hey, who can resist a little self-flagellation now and again?)