Just when did we swap Hepburn for Kardashian?

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Maybe it’s because of social media, or maybe it’s simply due to a variety of sociological changes over time, but the world of celebrity seems to delve ever-deeper lows.

When I was a teenager, I remember buying magazines like Sky. There would be a celebrity on the cover but they usually had their clothes on. If they didn’t, then it would be a tasteful nude shot, normally black and white, and more a glimpse as opposed to Kim Kardashian’s oiled buttocks bursting forth from a human-sized champagne glass in order to #breaktheinternet.

‘Celebrity’ used to have more mystique about it. There was something a little mythical about classic icons such as Audrey Hepburn, or even, fast-forwarding, the supermodels of the 1990s. For starters, you didn’t know what Cindy Crawford’s cervix looked like.

The very thought of Audrey et al oiling up their butt-cheeks is laughable, and even though you can argue that Marilyn posed in a mighty provocative manner, that’s my point exactly – it was provocative, tantalizing, teasing. What it was not, was crass, or slutty, or blatant. Nor was it at the fingertips of a squillion impressionable young boys and girls, thanks to their phones and laptops. Because there is the other issue – the audience at which these pictures are aimed.

The Pirelli calendars that began back in 1964 were aimed at your dad. Mainly for him to hide in the shed with. Today’s non-artistic equivalents are available for 11 year olds to peruse at their leisure between lessons. How on earth can this be doing anything other than damaging self-esteem, society, and what is perceived as appropriate by all who see them? Are we not indoctrinating a whole new generation of people to believe that it’s perfectly normal to splay yourself open for the world to see?

There seems to be no line any longer, nothing that is left to be crossed, nor any boundaries left to push. We are functioning at the hands of self-obsessed twits, famous for little other than having massive bank balances, buttocks and boobs, and shriveled little brains cocooned in their gigantic air-filled heads.

 The day I tried to break into a car with an axe…

My husband and I have purchased a very heavy, tree-felling axe. Not for purposes of recreation, but because we have a wood-burning stove and are chopping logs in preparation for autumn.

It was mildly humiliating therefore to find myself trying to get it into the car after I had paid in Homebase.

I pressed the key continually whilst trying the handle of the backdoor, waggling the axe about and becoming hotter and tomato-faced with rage the more frustrated I became. Swearing under my breath I took a step away from the door and a deep breath, before realizing what now seems obvious. It wasn’t my car. Just a mad woman with an axe trying to break into someone else’s.

Go have yourself a giggle today …

Laughter is something we take for granted and if you think about it, it’s funny in itself. It can be contagious, and we make all sorts of odd and strange noises when we laugh.

We use laughter to make social bonds and to maintain them. You feel good if you laugh, and you feel good if you make someone else laugh.

Sometimes, we can laugh by ourselves. We’ve all had that experience of worrying that we look slightly bonkers whilst walking down the street alone and bursting into spontaneous laughter at a sudden memory of something. But the best laughter by far is the kind where your tummy hurts and your eyes are watering. It just doesn’t happen often enough.

 

First published in the Portsmouth News, Saturday 17th September 2016

Image courtesy of breitbart.com

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Discrimination in Pregnancy: No pay-rise for you, you’re bound to get pregnant…

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Maternity leave was in the news last week because of the way in which women can be discriminated against for having babies.

As a mother, I’ve had direct experience of one side of the maternity coin and can confirm that it’s tough giving up your career, even temporarily, and knowing that you may not be able to jump back aboard the work band-wagon where you left it.

However, I can also appreciate how incredibly irritating it is for employers, to have found somebody that they believe can do the job, only for that somebody to announce that actually, before they even get to grips with said job, they’ll be off for a year having a baby.

There’s no way around it – it’s annoying – but, on the other hand, it’s your right as a woman to return to your same job and your same hours, depending on your contract and so on. This does mean though that your employer doesn’t have to offer you part-time hours if you refuse the full-time that you may previously have worked.

I was pregnant with my youngest daughter within a short time of starting a new job, and the pregnancy was extremely difficult, thereby requiring time off. I’ll never forget how awkward I felt or the sense of having let people down. But nor will I ever forget when my head of faculty recommended me for a pay-rise, before I was pregnant, because I’d done such a good job – and the male head of another department had received a pay-rise for doing similar. When the pay proposal was put forward to the male boss, he said that it wouldn’t happen for me, because I was a ‘woman and bound to get pregnant again’.

Pregnancy isn’t always planned, and even when it is, it doesn’t often go according to that plan. It’s such a thorny issue because nor is it always a case of having worked somewhere for a substantial period proving your worth, giving due warning or expectation that you’ll try for a child, and then surprising nobody and letting no-one down once you are pregnant. As with all forms of discrimination, you can never fully eradicate it – but you should certainly keep trying, at the very least.

Don’t rock the boat…

My husband is naturally sporty and is accustomed to success in whatever endeavor he turns his hand to.

Imagine our surprise therefore, and terror, when it transpired, once we were adrift, that he can’t row for toffee.

The sight of my husband waggling a pair of oars ineffectually, whilst the children gripped the swaying boat white-knuckled for dear life, and the bemusement (or amusement) of the families waiting on shore for their turn, will stay with me for some time.

It took us 6 minutes to make it approx 10 yards from the jetty, as a mother in another boat flew by like Steve Redgrave, and another 20 minutes to return to terra firma.

It couldn’t come soon enough.

Paralympics

By the time this goes to print, the Paralympics will have commenced. I only know this because my husband and I have been keeping an eye out for when they start, as we have been looking forward to watching. (Especially the rowing eh, Mr Lush? Ha.)

After an Internet search, I learnt not only the start date but that also very few tickets have been sold, with very little publicity. This seems shameful yet unsurprising because, as we know, most of the seating was woefully empty at this summer’s Olympics, so the Paralympics will most likely follow suit.

A campaign, #filltheseats, has been launched with seats going for as little as £2.30. Let’s hope the last minute publicity push is successful.

First published in The Portsmouth News, Saturday 10th September 2016