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Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Gillian's Masterplan Fails - World Sniggers

I was phoned today at 7.20am by an earnest sounding young man from LBC. 'We understand you have a teenage son,' he said. 'We wondered whether he would be taking part in the protests today about raising university fees.' I thought of The Boy snoring in bed. 'Only if the protests take place after 2pm,' I said.

Now I know that the hike in fees is far more serious than my chosen subject, but I can't help myself. We all know that any celeb who appears on I'm a Celebrity . . . does so to raise a shrinking profile, although what they usually say is 'I want to show the public the real me!' Alas, Gillian McKeith has done so in spades. Big goji berried aduki bean covered spades! She has shown herself to be a Victorian fainting maiden a salt sneaker and generally as mean spirited as she appears on those horrible programmes of hers.

I've got no sympathy for her. She shouts at fat people on television and gives them impossible, Calvinistic diets to follow, she attacks anyone who politely disagrees with her batshit theories,namely Professor John Garrow (a real trained doctor and Professor of Human Nutrition at the University of London) and even when Dr Ben Goldacre eviscerated her in The Guardian, she described it all as 'lies'. All very good reasons to revel in a bit of schadenfreude. BUT, what amazes me is that Ms McKeith looks so pinched! So underfed! Apart from wanting to strangle her, you also want to feed her pies first. Or maybe that's just me. I will say that if you get the face you deserve at 50, does Gillian really deserve to have the face of a freeze dried ferret?

Oh yes.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Prince William 'affianced' . . .world stifles yawn.

The Daily Mail today, took a break from what it does so well - latent misogyny loosely disguised as 'research' and suspicious looking foreigners (probably Benefit Thieves) receiving money for fussing about torture and illegal imprisonment - to announce minute-by-minute of the Engagement of William (he of the sadly receding hairline) and Katherine (nice looking girl but what does she do? Oooh quick Mr Dacre, didn't you do a mean spirited piece about that mother of hers? Looks like the pushy type - a few years ago? Well they're ENGAGED now so get rid of it.

So they're engaged. And it looks like a 'dream wedding' for no-longer Waity Kaity. In the ever deepening nastiness of this recession (a friend remarked that he's seriously thinking of telling his elder son to emigrate as there are going to be so few jobs around for young people starting out) us ordinary folk can doff our caps and cheer loudly as an attractive girl is sucked into that unpleasant archaic institution that like a bad tempered teenager, costs us a fortune to run and gives fuck all in return.

William and Katherine will be married next spring or summer - 2011, exactly 30 years since Lady/Princess Diana stood on the royal balcony and kissed that jug eared bloke, to roars of approval. I watched it on telly and tried to write an essay at the same time. I also watched astrologers twittering on about 'how well suited they are'. But 1981 was also a time of deep recession, thanks partly to the deregulation of the Banks, the savings and loan crisis and nearly three million unemployed (that particular 'record' was achieved in January 1982) - thank you Mrs Thatcher and Mr Reagan. Notably Reagan is now viewed as some sort of cuddly bear who made Americans proud to be Americans, and Thatcher's dismantling of Britain as some kind of gesture worthy of Elizabeth 1.

The Royal Wedding then in 1981 was a distraction - a brief one. And this will probably be a brief distraction too. I just wonder if our attitude towards it all has changed? Will we line Pall Mall doffing our caps? Or buy commemoration cups? Or this time will we just shrug?

Friday, 5 November 2010

Sayings of The Girl part 235

We're in a shop, The Girl and I, spending twenty minutes quality time with a plastic shopping basket, me dully repeating 'no no no' to increasingly whiney requests for:

String cheese
fruit shoots
muffins the size of a child's head
magazines stuffed with plastic shit
fizzy drinks with 'added antioxidants'
doughnuts topped with penicillin pink icing

'But the TV says it's good for you!' cries The Girl with increasing frustration. Just as I'm running out of responses that don't involve swear words, we make it to the top of the queue to pay, and The Girl spies a charity box for the local hospice. And in a sudden about turn, she asks if she can put all her pocket money in the exciting little hole at the top. 'All of it?' I ask. She nods firmly. Even the lady at the till enquires, 'Are you sure you want to put all your pocket money in there love?' The Girl is firm. She takes her money, slots it in and I smile benignly (it probably comes across as smug though). 'Her grandmother died recently', I whisper to the till lady and we exchange smiles at the wonder, the purity, the generosity of children.

Alas, when she gets home, The Girl counts her piggy bank money and bursts into sobs. 'I thought I had five pounds!'

I am bewildered. 'But you gave this week's pocket money away.'

She cries even harder. 'I thought it was YOUR money!'

Monday, 1 November 2010

Dad drove me to be a Muslim

The writer Lauren Booth has announced that she’s becoming a Muslim and has been roundly lambasted for it. Personally, as an ex-Catholic, another religion that regards Women with Opinions as deeply dangerous, I’m bemused. She was brought up in the Catholic faith, a religion where a nine year old rape victim was recently excommunicated for having an abortion. (Her stepfather who had also been accused of also raping the child's older handicapped sister was not excommunicated.) Not oppressive enough? Apparently not. How can she square ‘this shot of morphine, just absolute bliss and joy’ with a religion which has no qualms about stoning thirteen year old rape victims is beyond me. And yes, I know that there is a difference between the Koran and its interpretation. But to embrace a religion surely means you have to accept how it is practised? However, I feel a twinge of sympathy for her because around the same time she announced her new found beliefs, her father, the actor Tony Booth, blithely said in an interview that he doesn’t love her and is 'ashamed' of her. This 'character' has such a crass disregard for his children that he lauds his successful golden girl Cherie and forgets the names of his other seven daughters. Maybe it’s because I’ve recently lost my own mother but how can a parent say such a thing, loud and proud? Even if he feels it, to say it? And then to accuse her of trading on her relationship with her half-sister, Cherie Blair, when he himself has been doing exactly the same thing. You can only imagine the chaos he must have inflicted on his children. And yet, like so many utterly rotten parents he expects their support and loyalty. Which apparently Cherie gives and Lauren doesn't.

It struck me that what Catholicism and Islam have in common is a defined set of rules about what makes a ‘good’ woman. The Catholics hold up two types of women, the virgin mother and the reformed whore (Mary Magdalene) You don’t have to wear specific clothing but a good catholic woman eschews contraception, abhors abortion and considers her primary duty to bring up her children and make her family the centre of her life. Islam requires a woman to 'lower her gaze and guard her modesty'. It's always about the terrible power of female sexuality isn't it? Maybe it’s easier to think of yourself as ‘good’ if you follow a set of preordained rules, written by men, and view the world in black and white terms. But I think that it’s a mark of maturity to accept that the world is not black and white and perhaps you need a bedrock of self confidence to work out how to be good yourself without subscribing to a set of rules in order to do so.

I’ve never met LB but to have your father say such a vile thing about you, says far more about him than it does about her. Maybe it's not so strange that she has embraced the strictness of Islam to find some peace. But I'm wondering why isn’t he being criticised for such a wretched attitude about his children?