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Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Old and Beige

There was a picture of Susan Sarandon in the Observer over the weekend. She was lounging against a wall, dressed in a fantastic jersey dress, soft red curls tumbling round her face. She looked stunning. She’s sixty bloody three. Yes, yes the lighting was good, the makeup and hair perfect and there was probably a teeny bit of photoshopping afterwards but even so. Gorgeous. Thing is, she doesn’t have that awful frozen at thirty five look, she just looks like a beautiful mature woman.

It’s not much fun getting old. Er. I’ve been in writing purdah for the past couple of months, juggling work for the Open University and struggling to write an adaptation at the same time. Yeah boo hoo. I dunno about you but when I’m really busy, appearance takes a bit of a back seat. Apart from the basics of personal hygiene. So I had a GOOD LOOK in an unflattering bathroom light the other day and noticed several bad things.

1. A proliferation of grey hair. This doesn’t matter so much if you have warm skin – grey can look silvery and sexy. When you’re a redhead with pale skin you just look like a beige blob.
2. Red veins round my nose, just to add a splash of colour. Not quite a W.C Fields alco nose but definitely red veins.
3. A WITCH HAIR sprouting from my cheek. Like a long pube curling outwards – shameless. It was practically shouting: ‘Here I am!’ I can’t believe I’m admitting this but I SHAVED IT OFF. I’m shaving. I know this because the Girl wandered into the bathroom (her timing is immaculate) and said: ‘Mummy I thought only daddies shaved their faces.’ She did redeem herself later on the way to school by saying: ‘Mummy when I’m a grown up I’m going to try and stay out of jail.’ A laudable ambition.

It didn’t help that when my sister and I visited my parents over the weekend, mum gave us our overdue Christmas presents, which included among other things, a bottle of sterilising hand gel (!?) and a pair of slippers that my sister says, are the kind that ‘105 year old ladies wear’. Sis has banned me from wearing them saying that if I do, it’s a slippery slope and before I know it, I’ll be considering a cauliflower perm - so very practical, or looking at beige leisure trousers and thinking oooh they look comfy. She’s right.

Although I think that doing what you love is the best anti-ageing device. That and a fuckload of hair dye and botox. So bugger ageing gracefully – I’m off to the hairdressers

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Smacking for Success

Once, in New York I saw a man wearing a t-shirt which proclaimed: Hit your kids! The Bible says it's ok! I thought of it when I read that studies have shown, (doesn't your heart sink at the phrase studies have shown . . .when I worked in magazines, that was tantamount to saying evidence for the spurious opinion I'm about to spout is very very thin so I'll say something vague about experts and opinions and hopefully nobody will double check)

Anyway. According to research at the University of Michigan, smacking a child before the age of six makes them perform better at school when they're teenagers. It's not clear how much better - I mean if you're going to create a frozen, frightened child who behaves well because they're living in fear of physical pain, humiliation, and rage I would at least be expecting a teenager heading for Oxbridge grades. And it was a study of 179 teenagers. Big deal.

I don't think parents who slap their child in a fit of rage are monsters - if your child runs into the road or has a massive tantrum in the supermarket, I totally understand why you might slap. But hitting a child is not imposing boundaries or discipline, it's you losing control. I've done it. I slapped The Boy when he rushed into the main road to pick up a ball. I yanked him back, inches away from being hit by a bus and whacked his bum. I certainly wasn't thinking hmmm maybe such a slap may produce braininess in my boy - I think my thoughts were more of the argggh bus death splat arrrrghh red mist kind

It's parents who talk about 'loving discipline' that really creep me out - the ghastly ritual of it - the deliberate fear. The parents who wait to punish their child - wait till your father/mother gets home types. They're the sadists. And as for the theory that slapping children produces brighter more well adjusted teens, perhaps a tour round our UK remand homes would prove otherwise. They are full of young men who were slapped, kicked and beaten regularly.