Tag Archives: women

Dear Daughter

 

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To my (at this point fictional) daughter,

I want you to know a few things about your old mum.  First of all, I have been incredibly fortunate throughout my life.  I have a loving family and wonderful friends.  I have been  fed, clothed, educated and supported.  I sincerely hope that if you ever become a real person then the same will be true for you, and that you and I don’t argue very often.  I hope that you haven’t inherited my crippling addiction to caffeine.

Secondly, I owe you an apology.  I owe you an apology because I have already failed you, even though right now you don’t exist.  I didn’t act when I should have and I want to make sure that you never repeat my mistake.

I was walking along a busy road in North London – you know all those stories your aunts and uncle tell you about your mother’s hedonistic twenties?  This was around that time.  It was a perfectly normal Wednesday and I was on my way to work.  (This was before I was made Artistic Director of the National Theatre, by the way.  I was still working at a box office back then.)  I was walking along with my earphones in, listening to a podcast and generally minding my own business, when a man who was walking past me hit me on the arm and said “smile!”

This is the part where I failed you.

I tried to pretend that nothing had happened and I walked away.  I didn’t say a word.  When I got to work I told my colleagues what had happened in a throwaway, “isn’t London hilarious and weird?” kind of fashion.  I should not have done that.

What I should have done was tell him not to touch me.  I should have asked him why he believed that he had the right to tell someone what to do with their own face.  I should have made it clear to him that everyone has the right to walk along a street without being accosted by an unpleasant stranger.  (The other thing I should have at least considered was beating him to death with my lunchbox, but never mind.)

You may well be thinking, “God, Mum, you’re SUCH a drama queen!  Why is this such a big deal?  It’s not like he attacked you, you loser.”  And you’d be right, darling, but please don’t speak to your mother like that.

It doesn’t matter that the physical contact was not particularly painful, or that the language the man used was not seriously abusive.  What matters is that this man genuinely believed that he had the right to treat a stranger that way.

I am extraordinarily lucky because I am one of very few women who has only had to deal with these kinds of low-level examples of sexism and harassment.  Millions of women have to deal with far worse than this, all the time, with little or no hope of being able to assert themselves.  (Ask any barmaid in the world.)

Most women feel like walking around in the world makes them intruders into men’s personal playgrounds, and that at any point we can (and should) expect to called out as trespassers.  Having the nerve to go to work, socialise, drink alcohol, wear clothes that we like and take photographs makes us “fair game”.  Apparently.  Men own the world and if we’re in it then it is because they permit it.

Not all men are like this, of course.  Your father (whoever the hell he has turned out to be) is a loving and wonderful man.  But the fact remains that men who genuinely think that they have the right to tell you what to do, touch you without your permission and make you feel threatened must not be permitted to get away with it.  If any of those things ever happen to you I want you to make the biggest song and dance you possibly can.  I want you to create a huge and humiliating scene for the stupid bastard.  (Don’t tell your dad I swore.)  If you experience or witness harassment in any form I want you to make the most unimaginable fuss about it.  I would rather that a daughter of mine were arrested for disturbance of the peace than quietly walked away from a stranger who was trying to hurt her.

That’s it, really.  I hope you can understand why I think that this is so important.  I really hope that by the time I actually have a daughter this whole letter will be unnecessary and meaningless, because society will have disregarded harassment as a completely unacceptable and stupid thing, but you never know.  This is just in case.

Also, please don’t get any tattoos until you’re eighteen.

Lots of love,

Mum xx

 

 

 

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All You Need is Factor 30

Dear reader, I am livid.  (Not with you.  You’re a legend.)

Given that we spend our entire lives being bombarded with logos, slogans, jingles, and all other kinds of advertising arse-aches, it would be easy to think that after a while the whole silly circus starts to pass us by.  The brain can only take in so much information, and there’s a hell of a lot of marketing jargon about.

It is with an equal mixture of anger and joy, therefore, that I have seen my friends react with such fury to Protein World’s latest advertising campaign.  If you haven’t seen it, it looks like this:

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I am proud to say that the unanimous response to this horrendous advert seems to be: “YES I AM BLOODY READY.  I LIKE MYSELF THE WAY I AM.”

I am so delighted that the constant dribble of drivel that is today’s advertising industry has not blunted my friends’ sense of righteous anger.  I am so pleased that, despite the beauty industry’s best efforts, my friends are proud of their bodies.  I am hugely satisfied to discover that not one person I know has suggested that any of us are overreacting to this.  It is, purely and simply, not cool to make anyone feel unattractive.

D’you know what?  It can be hard to like your body.  It can be hard to like dimples, cellulite, body hair, scabs, scars, stretch marks, flabby bits, wobbly bits, moles, spots and eczema.  Hard, but not impossible.  Because nobody’s – NOBODY’S – body is (huge enormous sarcastic quotation marks coming up) “perfect”, INCLUDING THE MODEL’S ON THIS FLIPPING POSTER.

The Australian comedian Adam Hills has a brilliant set about a girl he knew who used to edit images for album covers, and how even an incredibly beautiful model was so “not perfect” that his friend had to edit out the model’s legs and draw new ones into the image.  Even the girls who ARE (hang on for the enormous quotation marks again, team) “perfect” ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

So why on earth would the rest of us bother aiming for something so impossible (and ridiculous)?  Even the women who daunt us daily with their flawless skin and flowing locks don’t actually look like their heavily-edited photographs, so what in the name of the Chuckle brothers does any of this have to do with us?  Absolutely sod all.

I’ll tell you what you need to be “beach body ready”.  You need sun cream.  That’s it.

Sign this petition to get rid of the stupid poster, and retweet/share your own version of this if you are proud of your beach body.

Have an amazing day, you naturally stunning human being.

You Are Not A Casserole

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Hello, you fabulous human being.  How’s this week been for you?  Busy?  Me too.  Put your feet up for a bit.

One of the most enjoyable experiences in life is the overheard conversation snippet.  You know the sort of thing: you’re walking past a couple of friends who are in the middle of an in depth chat, and as you pass you hear one of them say something insane like “…and then the whole thing went bright blue!”  Not knowing the context of a conversation can make for very confusing and amusing listening.

The other day I was sitting outside a pub with a couple of my lovely girl friends, discussing life, the universe and everything (i.e. boys).  Don’t get me wrong – my friends and I cover many fascinating and intelligent topics of conversation on a regular basis, but even the most sassy and savvy of us occasionally need to rant about the opposite sex.  On this occasion, one of my friends was asking for advice about a guy she thinks she’s dating, but isn’t sure.  Here is an extract from the discussion:

“He’s going to house-sit with me at the weekend, and he took me out for an amazing dinner, and he calls me “his girl”…”
“Well, that sounds promising.”
“Yeah, really promising.”
“But what does it MEAN?!”

And so on and so forth.  Despite being clever, worldly, independent and hopefully fairly likeable young women, my friends and I are still flummoxed by what men’s behaviour “means” more often than we’d like to admit.  We have all – including you, fabulous reader – learned a lot during our short stays on Earth so far, including our strengths, weaknesses and alcohol tolerance levels.  Why then have we not learned something very simple, something that even tiny children understand: that we only get answers by asking questions?

It’s not as easy as all that, I know.  And we’ve talked about this before: the importance of being emotionally honest even though it feels so alien to us, the terror we feel when we have to be frank about what we want, and the excruciating embarrassment we feel about having strong feelings at all.  Needing an answer from someone, whether they’re male or female, has somehow started to mean that we are needy full stop.  Not to the person we’re confused about, necessarily, but definitely in our own heads.  And so we don’t ask; we just stew.

What the conversation boiled down to – if you’ll excuse the appalling pun – is that stewing does nobody any good.  In the heat of our debate about the virtues of honesty and openness, I ended up declaring “YOU ARE NOT A CASSEROLE” to my lovely, confused friend.  At that precise moment an unfortunate young man walked past and gave us a very strange look.  I do not blame him in the slightest.  Context was particularly important there.

But my point stands: we are not casseroles.  We should not leave ourselves to stew in the pressure cookers of uncertainty, waiting for the vegetables of heartbreak and the dumplings of rejection to descend into our lives.  The happiest people I know are not the ones who never get broken up with, rejected or hurt.  They are the ones who save themselves a lot of time by asking questions, finding out what other people want from them and getting on with life in the aftermath, whatever the outcome is.  I know – BELIEVE me, I know – that asking people questions like “how do you see our relationship?” etc. is a daunting prospect, but if we don’t ask we won’t find out.  If we don’t find out, we are wasting our time.

And who on earth has got time to waste?  Not you, that’s for sure.

10 Mind-Changes Every Twenty-Something Girl Has On A Daily Basis

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Hello and happy Friday, you stunning creature!  I hope that this week has been particularly good to you.

A couple of days ago, I saw this post about 31 thoughts all girls in their twenties have on a daily basis.  I completely agree with practically everything on this list – especially numbers 9 and 28 – but I think that there’s also a lot of mind-changing to be taken into account.

We are constantly exposed to new information and opinions, courtesy of things like the internet and the people in our lives.  We are also of an age when our youthful ideas are battling for house room in our heads with the slowly-creeping increase of grown-up sensibilities, so our thoughts tend to pinball around a bit.  Bearing these facts in mind, here is a list of before and after thoughts that a lot of girls in their twenties have on a daily basis:

Before – Those trousers are hideous.  Who on earth would buy them?
After – Ah.  So apparently those trousers are actually in fashion this season.  Shit, I should get some.

Before – I’m young and spritely and living the dream!  Long-term health issues are still decades away!
After – I’ve had that pain in my side for over a week now.  I must be dying.

Before – I have GOT to stop spending money.
After – Ooh, ASOS are having a sale…

Before – I can still go clubbing, right?  Right.
After – I have never felt so old.  I cannot believe that people born in 1996 are allowed to drink now.

Before – I am never drinking ever, ever again.
After – I NEED WINE.

Before – It is totally fine to eat cereal for dinner, play on swings at the park and watch kids’ television shows.  TOTALLY.  FINE.
After – Dear God, I need to start thinking about getting a mortgage.  And a pension.  Crap.  Do I need life insurance yet?

Before – I’m a serious grown-up and as such I will decorate my home with tasteful, mature items.
After –  FAIRY LIGHTS!

Before – I’m so proud of my friends.  We’ve all grown up and achieved so much.
After – Wow, we haven’t changed AT ALL since we were nineteen.  That’s a bit worrying.

Before – I will cook a nutritious, inexpensive yet delightfully inventive three-course meal for this dinner party.  Check me out, I’m hosting a dinner party!
After – Sod that.  Chicken nuggets and chips for everyone.

Before – From now on, I will go the gym every day, get eight hours of sleep every night and be nice to people I don’t like.
After – Yeah, but…cheese and bitching.

Have a glorious weekend.

Sex and the (Hammersmith and) City

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Hello, you brilliant human being!  How are things?  I can see you’ve caught the sun.

Don’t get me wrong: I love Sex and the City as much as the next twenty-something girl.  It’s funny, sometimes touching, and a few of the characters are actually quite loveable.  It’s excellent put-your-feet-up, do-we-have-any-junk-food, sod-it-let’s-have-a-duvet-day television.  Best of all, watching it with your best friend gives you ample opportunity to complain about the insane behaviour of the characters, the implausibility of the plot lines and the animal cruelty issue of Sarah Jessica Parker being forced to act.

Maybe New York is exactly like Sex and the City, and we London girls are missing out on a whole metropolitan man-fest.  I doubt it, though.  Anyway, Sex and the City just wouldn’t work on our side of the pond.  Here’s why:

1) Is It Actually Raining Men?
As far as I can tell, New York is having some kind of eligible bachelor epidemic, because the four main characters meet men all the time.  I mean they can barely get out of the front door in the morning before a charming chap with a cheeky grin comes along.  That would never work here.  Londoners are usually slightly cross-looking and in a tearing hurry; we don’t have time to stop and smile winningly at random strangers.  Also, we’re British, for God’s sake – we don’t smile at strangers.

2) “And just like that…”
Probably as a result of number 1), the main characters go through the same emotional roller-coaster in pretty much every episode: meet man, flirt, date, sleep together, discover unconquerable flaw, have internal struggle, break up with man, feel immediately ready to go back out there.  I know some Londoners do date like that, but in general our cycle seems to be much more meet man, try to flirt but end up saying something silly/embarrassing, show great surprise and glee when he gets in contact, go on dates, discover a slightly concerning flaw, think about it, carry on dating until an actual problem comes up, break up, feel sad/angry/hungry, get back out there several weeks later feeling insecure because of getting hurt and having put on weight from all the ice-cream.  Not good television, perhaps, but it’s how we do things on this side of the pond.

3) We Don’t Talk Like That
I realise that as a smart, city-slick show about a fast-paced lifestyle, it makes sense to script sharp and sassy dialogue for the main characters.  Here is my problem: London girls are totally capable of being witty and hilarious, of course, but a) not ALL THE TIME – we all have off days when all we can manage is a “nhuh?” and b) not when our friends are telling us about their emotional problems.

4) No one Would be Friends with Carrie
Which leads me neatly on to my next point – why are the other three friends with Carrie?  She is so busy trying to be funny that she never listens to her friends, and as a heroine she leads a spectacularly bad example of whining, hair-tossing and flirting in the most cringe-worthy manner.  If she were a London girl her friends would have taken her aside a long time ago and told her to stop being such a diva.  And for God’s sake, stop putting your cigarettes between your teeth, you look ridiculous.

5) We’re a Bit Busy, Really…
One thing I really do appreciate about the concept of Sex and the City is that it spins a typical female insecurity on its head to make women laugh, i.e. it portrays women comparing men in bed rather than the other way around.  Having said that, the four main characters always manage to get the conversation back to sex, even when one of them is having a major life event, like a career crisis or getting married.  I mean, REALLY.  Talking about sex that much is just too time-consuming, too awkward and too un-British to work over here.  When would we find time to talk about the weather and public transport, for goodness’ sake?

Have a beautiful Thursday.

You Are Not Sandra Dee (Thank Goodness)

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Good morning and welcome to a brand new week!  How the devil are you?

First and foremost, I would like to apologise for the gaps inbetween my blog posts recently.  My work schedule has prevented me from writing every day, for which I can only apologise and offer you a compensatory biscuit.  That being said, I have decided that from now on I will only be posting on weekdays, mainly so that you can go about your weekend unpestered by my ramblings.  Sound good?  Marvellous.

Today’s blog post is about the sneaking suspicion most girls have about themselves, which is (brace yourselves, ladies) that we don’t actually want to be the heroine of a story.  Oh, sure, we want the romance and the struggle and the ultimate happy ending, but we want to be allowed to get there on our terms.  We want to know that we can succeed without the necessary caveat of being beautiful, or the genetic good luck to have incredibly long, climbable hair.  The women we most admire and aspire to are the funny best friends and the sarcastic sidekicks – the characters who get the best lines and the best results.

Female characters who have an amusing foible or a deplorable flaw are, in film, literature and television, much more empathetic to modern women than their swooning, seductive counterparts.  The heroines of stories are willed by the reader or viewer to get the prescribed happy ending, because that’s what we are programmed to expect: give us a pretty girl in a pickle and we are desperate for her to find her bliss.  But show us a character who is less impeachably perfect and more honestly human, and that’s who we want to be.  We want to be the girl on the sideline who manages to win just by being herself.

Wouldn’t you rather be a Rizzo than a Sandy?  Nessa wins over Stacey, outright.  And deep down, don’t you think it would be fun to be more of a Karen than a Grace?  Why do you think movie writers keep inventing ‘kooky friend’ characters, anyway?  Because they know that those are the women we actually relate to.

These female characters are not perfect, but they are perfectly believable, which is definitely more important.  They might be bitchy, crazy or even prone to singing at high school for no reason, but there are worse things they could do.  (Geddit?)  These women are actually doing us all a favour by reminding us that you don’t have to be blonde, adorable or star-crossed in order to get what you want – you can (and should) just be yourself.

And why wouldn’t you be yourself, while we’re at it?  You’re brilliant!

Have a miraculous Monday.

Cliché Corrections

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Hello, lovely reader!  How are you?  Gosh, it’s been ages, hasn’t it?

I would like to apologise on behalf of myself and my erstwhile laptop for the radio silence this week.  On Friday, Calcifer unceremoniously died on me, and had to be taken to a computer repair place.  And yes, I did name my computer after a character from Howl’s Moving Castle.  He is back in action once more, thank goodness, so I can carry on talking to you lovely people.

Today’s blog is about clichés.  We use them all the time, perhaps without even noticing how frequently we drop them into conversation, and we rely upon them to make our meanings clear.  Clichés can be annoying, trite or even offensive, but they are also a tried-and-tested method of expressing ideas in a way that everybody understands.

Having said that, some clichés now seem to be a bit outdated or irrelevant to modern life.  We still understand their meanings, but honestly, how often do any of us have any birds at all, let alone ones in bushes?  With this in mind, I have decided to tweak a few famous phrases to better suit our needs.

Hell hath no fury like a woman whose best friend has been scorned

It’s true that scorned women tend to be pretty angry, but their friends’ wrath is usually much scarier.  The last time I found myself in a somewhat scorned state, my beloved flat mate Ash was livid, and she doesn’t really “do” anger very often.  Potential scorners, beware: women are of the (absolutely correct) opinion that their best friends are beautiful, fascinating and lovable human beings – hence the friendship – and if you mess things up, they will come down on you like a furious ton of bricks.

A watched phone never beeps

I admit that I sometimes stand and watch a pot of water, getting cross because it just won’t boil.  However, that invariably turns out to be because I forgot to switch the hob on, rather than my feverish anticipation affecting the laws of physics.  In this day and age, communication technology has become the pot, and texts, Tweets and Facebook notifications are the bubbles we wait for.  Particularly when we are interested in someone or we are waiting to hear about a job interview, we just can’t tear our eyes away from our screens.  Well, it sucks but it’s true: waiting for something won’t make it happen.  Put your phone down and make yourself a cup of tea.

Plenty more fish on the dating website

Those of you have read this blog about Tinder will recall that I’m not a huge fan of internet dating, but I completely understand why so many people are.  I find the original cliché about there being an abundance of fish in the sea silly for two reasons: firstly, talking about fish either makes me want to watching Finding Nemo or eat smoked salmon, so I tend to get distracted from the task of finding said fish.  Secondly, the unanimous response to “plenty more fish in the sea” is “I don’t WANT another fish, I want THAT fish!” Or boy, or girl, I guess.  If you’re actually attracted to fish then we’re probably focussing on the wrong issue, here.
Anyway, the point is that finding new potential partners is daunting after a heartbreak.  Even though I’d never use it myself, I think it’s kind of nice that people can browse internet dating sites to ease themselves back into romance and all that jazz.

When life gives you lemons, go and find the tequila

Who among us actually knows how to make lemonade out of lemons?  Not me, that’s for sure.  I do know how to do a tequila shot, though.  I’m being flippant about some fairly sound advice, here: when bad things happen, find a way to make them work to your advantage.  I totally agree with this idea, but I also think that sometimes all you can do is switch off.  I’m not condoning binge drinking as a solution to life’s woes, but I do think that we should relax and enjoy ourselves when we can.  Sometimes there just isn’t a way to get a positive outcome from a negative situation, and at those times all we can do is try to have some fun.

Well, it’s lovely to be back with you, dear reader.  Have a fantastic day, and I’ll see you tomorrow.

Seven Signs of True Friendship

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Good morning, you charming human being!  Got any nice plans for your weekend?

Elite Daily recently ran an article about socially acceptable behaviours between best friends.  It’s very good (and worryingly accurate): give it a read here.  The article focuses on the peculiarly feminine attributes of some women’s friendships, but I think that there a few more which apply to friendships between people of either gender.  Here they are:

  • Strange Superstitions

In every friendship there is a phrase that both parties know has mystical powers.  For some reason, whenever Ash or I say that we won’t stay out late we invariably pull an accidental all-nighter, so nowadays when the phrase is uttered we both gasp and fight the urge to spin around three times, throw salt over our shoulders, etc.  It’s WEIRD.

  • Irrational Hatred

Everyone has a small aspect of life that they absolutely hate or just cannot understand, and we all need a friend who can back us up on it.  For example, my friend Harry and I both hate Waterloo station.  We have many reasons, none of which are rational enough to go into here, but we are adamant: no good comes from going to Waterloo.  Isn’t it reassuring to know that someone you love shares your slightly insane prejudices?

  • I Hear Voices

Fairly straightforward: impressions, quotations, silly voices and random noises are always better when you are with someone who can truly appreciate them, i.e. someone who knows you well enough not to assume that you’ve gone insane.

  • Left Field Questions

Do you remember this blog post, in which I described getting a text before 8am asking what the plural of mongoose is?  That kind of thing is only ever ok between very close friends, because they are the people who appreciate that sometimes you really, really need to know something incredibly random.

  • Over Indulgence

This applies to all manner of things, including the dedication of an entire day to stuffing your face and talking about the same love interest repeatedly for months at a time.  Only true and loyal friends can engage in these activities together.  Case in point: I am about to go and meet my friend Laura for a coffee.  “A coffee” usually translates into “four or five pretty strong, industrial-sized soya lattes each”, and we don’t judge each other for it.

  • The Opinion One Eighty

When your friend is enamoured of someone, you nod and smile and agree (but not too heartily) that yes, s/he is indeed very good-looking, funny, clever, etc.  When the relationship sours, your job as a friend is to agree (but again, not too heartily, lest the relationship starts up again) with the opposite sentiments.  The Opinion One Eighty can be a difficult one to keep up with, but we do it for our closest friends because we understand that feelings are fluid and romantic relationships are absolute minefields.

  • The Inexplicable Field Trip

Only a true friend will walk to the shops with you in your pyjamas, accompany you to the play/gig/party where your ex is going to be or agree to walk over the top of the O2 arena with you.  (That last one was Harry’s idea, and I’m actually pretty excited about it.)  You just can’t make a fool of yourself/be emotionally vulnerable/scale a London landmark without a proper chum by your side.

Have this kind of Friday.

I’m Going to Weigh in Here…

Hello, you fabulous creature.  I hope your week is progressing as smoothly as a well-made batch of Angel Delight.

As pretty much everyone who has Facebook will already know, there’s a huge trend at the moment where women across the UK and North America (and presumably beyond, by now) take pictures of themselves without make-up on, and post them online to raise awareness of cancer.  Some people love this idea, some people hate it, and some people think all selfies are stupid.  Want to hear what I think?  Of course you do, you legend.  That’s why you’re here.

Right, let’s dive in: first of all, where did this craze come from?  Kim Novak’s appearance at the Academy Awards created a bit of a stir, with people criticising her for having had extensive plastic surgery.  According to the Guardian, Novak “has also made headlines in the press for diagnoses of breast cancer (2010) and bipolar disorder (2012).”  Not sure that dragging up the other two worst periods of Novak’s life is fair when she’s already having a crap time, but whatever.

I personally don’t agree with plastic surgery in most circumstances, but I would never presume to judge another person for their views on it, which obviously includes people who have actually had surgery.  It’s their body, so it’s their business.  So let’s just make one thing clear before we crack on: the people who judged Novak for her apparent surgery are absolute scum.  Judging someone based on their appearance perpetuates body dysmorphia, adolescent misery and unrealistic beauty standards across the Western hemisphere.  Her critics are a bunch of malicious asshats, and they should be ashamed of themselves.

Next up: the initial reaction.  The author Laura Lippman was mortified by how people were treating Novak, so she posted a picture of herself without make-up to show solidarity with Novak, and the natural beauty of women in general.  Fair enough.  First of all, I get what Lippman was trying to do, but has anyone pointed out to her that not wearing make-up and feeling the need to have plastic surgery are not the same thing (and are, in fact, sort of opposites)?  Just a thought.  I really do appreciate Lippman’s intentions, but I think she made a slightly odd choice there.  I digress.

Ok, so now: the craze.  Lippman challenged other women to follow her actions, and many of them have.  This is where I start to get confused: why is cancer awareness the motivation?  I thought it was about women’s natural beauty…but never mind.  Anything that promotes cancer awareness is a very, very good thing and should be praised, but the transition from one key message to another can only serve to dilute them both, which is a shame.  It gives nasty people like Novak’s critics the opportunity to criticise us for not knowing what we’re trying to achieve.

Also – and this is a big thing – awareness is all very well and good, but what will beat cancer is money, not publicity.  I wish that that weren’t the case, but it really is.  The research to find cures, training doctors and nurses, drugs and treatments, paying hospital and hospice staff’s salaries: all of these things require money, and lots of it from as many of us as possible.  Awareness leads to more people being inclined to donate, which is great and should absolutely keep being promoted.  The thing is that if you create awareness without donating, you may as well have just watched a Macmillan advert on television and told someone else that it was sad.  What’s the point in promoting awareness if you’re not aware enough to know what’s actually needed to cure cancer?

So, in the spirit of solidarity, feeling gutted for Novak and wanting to prove a point, here is my no make-up selfie:

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I’ve also just gone on the Macmillan website to donate.  In the long run, I think people will be ever so slightly more grateful for the money than for my face.

This is all just my opinion and I applaud everyone who wants to make a difference.  People are beautiful and cancer is shitty, and we should absolutely keep saying those things.  We should also be doing something about them.

I hope you have the kind of Thursday that makes Friday nervous in case it can’t live up to your expectations.

Disney Princes are Normal Blokes

Hello, lovely reader!  How are you?

Today’s blog concerns that trickiest of childhood tragedies: Disney movies do not represent modern life.  I know.  You spend years watching princesses get swept off their feet, and as an adult there isn’t so much as a dustpan and brush in sight.  How unfair is that?

I’ve had a bit of a think about this, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the kind of mistakes that modern men tend to make (and modern women tend to despair of them because of) are actually pretty similar to the ones made by Disney heroes.  True, there tends to be less at stake: it is unlikely, for example, that a chap you’re enamoured with will accidentally provoke the wrath of an evil sorceress, get his own dad murdered or get the whole of China wiped out.  But go with me on this, because I’ve got some examples up my sleeve:

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1) Simba – the Disappearing Act

Simba is a troubled lad.  Obviously he has very good reasons for disappearing after Jeremy Irons throws his dad into the path of a stampede, but how is Nala supposed to know that?  Did he call?  Did he send her a postcard (or leaf or whatever they use in the jungle)?  No.  As far as Nala was concerned, he pulled a classic disappearing act on her; something that lots of non-cartoon, non-leonine women bemoan happening to them.

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2) Eric – the Can’t Quite Seal the Deal

Eric my lad, you are being serenaded by a crustacean and his motley band of fish, birds, etc.  JUST KISS HER.  I know she hasn’t said a word since you found her bedraggled on a beach, but she CLEARLY likes you.  Man up and seal the deal.  The apparent unwillingness or inability of a guy to make the first move is something that many girls I know get very frustrated with.  There are all sorts of gender roles at play here, but even in our enlightened twenty-first century dating world, the majority ruling still seems to be that guys are ‘supposed’ to make the first move.

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3) Aladdin – the Compulsive Liar

Aladdin is in a bizarre conundrum from the second Robin Williams starts granting him wishes, and although the viewers completely understand why he feels the need to conceal the truth from his lady-love, he lies at a rate that would put most politicians to shame.  Jasmine is clearly a smart cookie, and she works out that something’s up with her new boyfriend pretty sharpish, but does Aladdin confess all and beg for forgiveness?  Nope.  He KEEPS LYING.  I completely understand that being honest when you know it will spell trouble is scary, but I’ve been in Jasmine’s shoes, and I can tell you for a fact that covering lies up with more lies is just not cool.  If I were her, I would have fed him to my pet tiger.

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4) Shang – the Just Won’t Listen

I still can’t quite believe that Disney got away with this one: he refuses to listen to Mulan because she’s a GIRL.  Yeah ok, she made some mistakes too, but this guy basically chooses his culture’s expectations of women over his actual experience of a woman’s abilities, including staying calm under fire, rescuing her entire troop and burying the bad guy under an avalanche.  What an idiot.  This is by no means a gender-specific habit, but it is infuriating when your other half is too stubborn to listen to you, especially if their reasoning is so patently ridiculous.

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5) Beast – the Emotionally Unavailable

Ok, this one is a classic: guy likes girl.  Guy doesn’t think that girl will like him back.  Instant grumpy bastard.  Girl has no way of knowing that this is the problem, so she leaves feeling confused (and a bit chilly in all that snow, I should think).  In fairness, Beast (whose human name is Adam, did you know?) is having a massive confidence crisis, what with being an undefined species of animal, as well having a pretty tight schedule to stick to.  But you get the idea.  I hear a lot of my male friends complaining about the fact that their girlfriends and partners expect them to be mind-readers, but it does work both ways.  When a guy pulls the hot-and-cold behaviour on you, or retreats without warning into complete emotional unavailability, girls tend to panic.  Guys have no idea how fast our brains can work when we think that they don’t like us anymore.

It’s pretty reassuring to look at these Disney classics and discover that at least some aspects of the stories are salvageable as relevant to contemporary life.  I’m slightly upset that I’ll never have a castle or the ability to heal people with my hair, but the essential point of this blog was to demonstrate that even the men we are taught to idolise as knights in shining armour are not perfect.  They do sort themselves out eventually: apologies, explanations and good old-fashioned dashes to the rescue all feature heavily in the climactic endings of Disney movies.  This is relevant to real life too: ladies, we need to accept that men are not perfect, but that the one who is right for us will slay a dragon/storm a castle/run across a magically frozen lake if they have to.