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Friday, 26 August 2011

I hate the word Humorous

People usually inspire hatred in me. I make this point to illustrate that it’s not usually a word that makes me want to spit and throw something at the wall but that’s before I was reading a manuscript which features a synopsis which says – this issue is humorously tackled.

Neither concept is a good idea for a children's book. If you're going to have an issue in a children's book you'd better make sure it's as well hidden as a finely chopped onion in your onion hating child's spaghetti bolognaise. The other thing you don't need in a children's book or any book for that matter is the word HUMOROUS.

I hate the word humorous. It feels leaden, heavy, grannyish and most of all un-fucking-funny. This humorous tale always means ‘this tale is about as funny as being informed you have AIDS on the day your daughter announces she’s dropping out of school to live with the local heroin dealer.’

Go on - try it out:

Humorous pencils.

Humorous cards
You see? It doesn’t work. It's a smile that doesn't reach the eyes, a joke with no punchline, a tiresome anecdote told by someone who is oblivious to the strained smiles round the table. I have written a humorous story. No you haven’t. You have written a smug, bland, dreadful story.
Another word is hilarious. I’m not quite as vehement about it but it’s terribly overused. And like forcing rhubarb the word has a forced quality about it. And it's often used to push something that isn't very funny. ‘With hilarious consequences’ means I haven’t thought of them yet but they probably won’t be very funny.

Humorous is the worst though. The fustiest, crappest, leadenest worst. Cast it from the English language along with

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Michael Howard doesn't just have something of the night about him - he's a c**t. This morning on the Today programme it was reported that many of the non violent rioters were treated more roughly than had they committed the same offence alone. But because these courts have been set up to deal with the rioters, these first time offenders are being treated extremely harshly. Martin Nary then said he was worried that those youngsters on the fringes of the riot - those who had committed a non violent crime and had also expressed guilt, remorse and in many cases, the parents were involved and were just as shocked and determined that their child would not continue this behaviour; had these young people not being involved in the riots, the criminal justice system would give them a second chance. A boy during the riots, had stolen one pounds worth of chewing gum, his first ever crime and the desire for revenge and retribution had led to a swift conviction and criminal charges which would follow this boy through his life. Yes it was an offence but it was a very small and very petty one. Howard's response? 'I'm afraid they should have thought of those consequences before they engaged in those actions.' Pompous c**t.

I can't remember a similarly stern moral view expressed by Mr Howard when his fellow MPs were caught fiddling their expenses. Neither did Mr Howard propose that the bankers who waltzed off with millions of our money be sent to Broadmoor because according to him (remember?) 'prison works.'

And while I'm on the rant, I've just nipped to the shops to get some milk and saw the front cover of NOW magazine which 'celebrates' the '50 richest reality stars'. In the week in which we saw a furious explosion of greed, poverty, violence and despair, it seemed obscene to me to be celebrating someone like Imogen Thomas who is practically a millionaire for getting her tits out for lads mags or that perma bunch of twunts on The Only Way is Essex. I've nothing against them personally* but they represent a toxic, talentless part of our culture that offers wealth and attention in return for selling your soul and getting your pants off.

*Yes I do.

One in Four Women

Occasionally I get strange emails from companies who say things like: Hey Jane I really am like your blog and read it most times before going on to breathlessly inform me that they wish to offer me a great online opportunity to make $2000000000 a day without even trying!

Or I get further stuttering emails along the lines of I read your blog freelance mum and thought that because of your interests your blog would be perfect to promote our new range of crotchless pants/makeup/eco-seaweed necklaces. (?!)

Today however I was chatting with a friend about Red Flags in relationships and how I want to make sure that when The Girl is dating, I tell her all about them because if I'd known what they were it would have saved me a heap of bother. For example, if a man phones you ten times in one evening because he's worried about you he's not worried, he's trying to control you. Or if he sulks because you want to spend time with your girlfriends, no it's not because he cares it's because he wants to cut you off from your friends. And if within a very short space of time he's talking about marriage and babies, it's not true love it's (all together now) control. All teenagers should know the red flags. I only really opened my eyes and saw my ex-boyfriend for the mentalist he clearly was when I wanted to go out to dinner with a girlfriend and he started to tear his shirt off in the middle of the street, like the Incredible Hulk. Luckily we were in public. I say lucky for me because I started laughing and he wasn't pleased. But when he started sobbing and gripping my hair and saying it was only because he 'loved me' even I couldn't ignore the flashing red light above his head saying: 'RUN RUN RUN'.

So after this chat with friend, I get home and there's an email from a company asking me to blog or tweet about the launch of a new APP 1in4women experience domestic violence at least once in their life. It's the first time I've agreed to promote something but I'm not being paid and it's important.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Greed in Italy

So I’ve just returned from a week in Italy – Sienna, Lucca and Pisa since you ask and yes the weather was wonderful and yes, Italian men do sport brightly coloured trousers and ponytails without shame. I spent a lot of time shovelling pasta and ham so dark – no light could penetrate – into my mouth - while grabbing my dining companions and shouting: Oh my GOD you have to try this - hang on sorry, I've finished it. But in between my sweaty and piggy wanderings I noticed a few things.
Having been brought up a Catholic I find the gloomy theatricality of the religion both depressing and depressive – a constant attempt to romanticise misery. You only have to read about the lives of the saints as I did as a child to catch on pretty fast that the majority of female catholic saints were deeply disturbed young women or just barking mad. St Catherine of Sienna – anorexic who drank pus from the sores of a cancer patient. Yay! Let’s all copy that one girls. But – the churches in Italy are just staggeringly fabulous. Maybe their coolness and walls bursting with art are such a relief after the dazzling outdoor heat, but there is something so lush and loving about the curves and paint – it puts you under a spell. There’s no incense smell either – it’s more a soft orangey scent that permeates the churches. Signor Sheen probably but it’s deeply restful.

Italian families do this thing called the passeggiata which means they wander the streets in their best clothes taking up lots of room on the pavement and chattering. Then they all go out to eat and behold – the babies eat exactly the same food as the older family members. Not a breaded dinosaur shape in sight, just small children hovering up massive plates of pasta like tiny mop headed dust busters. The normality of this could also be down to the fact it’s illegal in Italy to serve deep fried food in school cafeterias.

So yes I loved Italy – even the Catholicism is sensuous and life affirming somehow. So coming back to this headline that girls as young as five are being treated for anorexia and are models to blame or celebrities or who is to blame – says the Daily Mail who love – oh how they love - to print pieces on why DO women hate their bodies? Gosh – I wonder too – and then you turn to the next page and it’s a picture of a woman who now looks older than she did thirty years ago. See? Isn’t that disgraceful? Next to the picture of the female celebrity with cellulite.
However, much as I’d love to see the DM go the way of the NoTW I sadly think that it comes down to us parents. All the distorted, airbrushed pictures of teeny tiny Cheryl Cole on her latest diet ‘to get Ashley back’ in the world are not going to have much of an effect if the child has a family life where food is not seen as The Enemy or has a massive amount of power – the power to make you feel shit because you ate A BISCUIT. This terrible mental illness seems to be a toxic stew of low self esteem, perfectionism, a desperate desire for some sort of control and a fundamental refusal to be an adult female because it seems so complicated and problematic with the curves and the flesh, blood sex and food.
And yet my own mother was on a diet for as long as I can remember. My sister and I would eat her wonderful homemade food while she picked on soups, shakes and on one occasion, what looked like a pile of twigs. She later said it was ‘The Cambridge Diet.’ And it worked for a while. As most diets do. Well wouldn’t anyone lose weight on a diet of twigs? She was reading something about Aktins when she had the accident that would kill her a few months later. So why didn’t my sister and I end up with food issues? Probably because we were both lucky enough to inherit a narrow frame, we ate very little processed food and we were both too greedy to diet anyway. And I mean greed in a good way. I loved the greed I saw in Italy – not the wretched tearing self hatred of being caught in a food compulsion, but proper licking bread wiping, dripping down the chin greed. Where you feel a teeny bit full after but a walk will sort that out and there’s a smile on your face. Really - that linguine with chilli prawns will stay in my heart forever.