Thursday, 29 April 2010

What should a woman look like?

Gary and Wyatt formulated their idea pretty smartish, and I struggle to argue with their creation, I struggle to argue with any woman, as we all know that they are always right.

My appreciation of the female form is something I am always happy to discuss, elaborating as allowed. I make no secret of the fact that I appreciate perving gazing upon the wonder that is the female form.

I have my various penchants, various celebrity loves and loathes, all of which are subject to vast change, at the mere drop of a hat, hitch of a hemline or by an episode of Heroes.

But I don't really want to write about my particular whims, wants and gratifications, and part of me can't believe what I am going to type about.

Yet, I have a growing awareness that as consumers, and as our children as consumers, we are exposing, and exposing our offspring, to a consistent, and somewhat ridiculous, body image.

It is all around us, music television is probably the biggest culprit, but I've seen things in cartoons, and even in Christmas shows for children, things that both aroused and concerned.

Music television, like I've said previously, has long been the default channel on our television set, when we want noise, but want to continue to enjoy other things, they are enhanced with random music in our lives. I also, call me weird, like to have the TV on, as it means we would always get critical newsflashes, like if a nuclear warhead was deployed, or if someone called someone else a bigot behind their back.

However, I am often caught wide-eyed and slack-jawed at various music videos, and my son is very familiar with the phrase; 'daddy will be back with you in 3 minutes son'. He also knows who Britney Spears is, and has on several occasions suggested that the signed photograph of her I have in my bedroom is inappropriate.

Some of the music videos, that are played any time, day or night, are absolute filth. The mainstream female singers virtually always scantily clad, and male vocalists seem bereft if their videos do not include provocative female dancers.

What. Would. They. Point. At?

Promoting a healthy body image is a positive, but carries the negative that people think they need to look like that, and as men, boys even, are we influenced to think what is beautiful?

I really do heart Britney Spears, I heart her very arsehole, it is a thing of wonder. And I was delighted to recently read a story, even if it isn't true, about how useful she is making it.

The story read that Ms Spears allowed, or even promoted, non-airbrushed pictures to be released, to highlight the pressure that women are under to look good, and the fact that what they are seeing, and trying to replicate, is false in the first instance.

As a young man I used to subscribe to FHM magazine, and only now, or certainly a long time after I stopped buying it, did I realise the images that enticed me to part with cash were doctored.

I should have really smelt a rat earlier, given the differennce in images between that and my Readers Wives subscription.

It would be a lie if I said the 'enhanced' images, of a bruise free and polished Britney are not pleasing to my eye, because they are. But I am warmed, that side-by-side, it is the unaltered images that would win a Pepsi challenge, especially the rear view shot, her actual arse is infinitely more slapable.

Reality trumps fantasy kids, and beauty, real beauty, comes from more than just a smooth thigh.

Attraction, sustained attraction, comes from much more than what someone looks like in a picture.

It certainly does for me, and I hope it will for my boy.


Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Inanimate object loving

It is safe to scroll on.

I can confirm I am not about to describe my intimacy with a Henry vacuum cleaner, nor will you find pictures of me with my mobile phone up my arse.

You'll have to email if you want those.

Instead, if you do plough on, you'll find a current list of my favourite inanimate objects.

I am 'in love' with a few, but perhaps not as much as this bloke, he really loves pillows - long time.

Here's six of my little beauties, that don't answer back.

6 – Our steam oven.

She's a beauty. Having flirted with her more mobile, but far less attractive, cousin, the electric steamer, in our first house, I decided to include a full blown steam oven in the kitchen design of my current abode. The kitchen designer, or consultant, or whatever he called himself, needed firmly putting in his place, after he decided that a single man and his young son would be satisfied with a single fan-assisted oven and microwave. Stereotypinghell. I am glad I stumped the extra for the steam oven, it is in very regular use. Mainly for vegetables, but also for things as yummy as jam sponges, such as tonight. Which is why I love my steam oven.

5 – Our kitchen island.

I haven't always yearned for a kitchen island, but my brother-in-law has, which is reason on its own to love my island, and the fact that he is irritated by the fact that I have one. But it is also a great point in my house, awesome for food prep, and I love having my son – and his chums – sit at it eating, while I talk to them, preparing them a dessert, or continuing cooking for our adult guests. It also has a pop up plug socket, which almost makes ironing sexy, but not quite.

4 – My Mac.

This is most definitely mine, I try not to let the boy even near it, I am not prepared to share her yet. She is my most recent love affair. Having had a succession of failed relationships with the much sluttier, and dirtier, PC, I eventually turned to the more expensive, but hopefully, more reliable side. This thing even makes beautiful noises, as well as being simple, and eloquent. This is a relationship set to last.

3 – Our vegetable patch.

I love having a dedicated place to grow vegetables, and I love the fact that I designed it into my garden, and it is actually working out as planned. We are not terribly extravagant with it. Last year we grew strawberries, potatoes, carrots and beetroot, and this, we only plan to add pumpkins to that, but it has been something of immense satisfaction. We both love our patch, and the produce is so, so sweet. Everyone should grow food.

2 – Our dishwasher.

I literally don't leave home without one. I insisted, as did my late wife, that any house I lived in must have a working dishwasher. In our first place we had to jimmy a 45cm slimline model into a corner, re-routing a drain, all because we were both so set on having one of these little beauties spare us having to wash plates, dishes and cutlery by hand. Something I do from time-to-time, but I really do love a dishwasher, and the fact that even if you don't run it every day, all your dirty stuff is neaty stored away from eyesight awaiting its steam cleaning.

Originally designed in as a look-nice-but-I-probably-won't-use-it-a-lot item, it quickly became much more than a thing of beauty. When roaring with fire, it is even more beautiful to look at, and the heat it generates is wondrous. I love bringing the boy down after bath time, wrapped in a towel, to sit together warmed in front of this marvellous thing. It provides great atmosphere, and has even provided impromptu light when we had a power cut one Saturday evening, we also had friends stopping that evening, and I now virtually count my log burner amongst them. If I was ever designing a house again, I would put serious consideration to having a log burner right at the physical centre of it. So its heat output could be maximised throughout a home. Mine has worked out brilliantly, and the addition of a heat powered fan, for better heat distribution, has made it even more useful, but still, being central to my home would be even better.

So which inanimate objects have you been sleeping with lately, and if you are this guy reading this, there really is no need to comment.


Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Radio Ga Ga

I remember, some time ago, I wrote about how my little treasure can make the mundaness of a car journey evaporate into a capsule of giggling, and tomfoolery.

Even on longer car journeys, the boy is good value for money, and I cannot actually recall a time when he has been a pain in the ass whilst on the road, apart from being sick on himself once, and I really don’t hold that against him.

During the school holidays we have spent a chunk of time on the road, we headed to North Wales, made a couple of visits to pals in Yorkshire, then have had less further-a-field trips to Leamington Spa and Shrewsbury.

It has got to a point that I make little provision for our longer car journeys. I used to set up a portable DVD player, pack all manner of ‘at-hand’ entertainment props, but now if I have a new magazine for my son to read, I would consider it an extravagance.

We just rely on each other’s company, and usually drinks and some snack food.

Except on our first long journey of the holidays, a trip to Wales with my parents, I made the fatal error of being far less entertaining than them, and my boy decided - of his two car options - sitting in the back of granddad’s car with grandma, was a better one than shotgun with me.

I tried several times to convince him otherwise, not really making a big deal, but I did genuinely want him to travel with me, however with licence to play big-boy-music on my iPod, swearing et al, and without fear of being told off for singing too loud (yes, he does that now) I quickly thought I would actually enjoy the near three hour drive, solo.

How wrong I was.

Firstly, the idiot had kicked in, and my iPod was completely dead, with my rogue in-car charger nowhere to be found. Until, that is, I took my extensive search for it to the glove compartment, later in our holidays.

But the lack of power in my Apple slice of music stowage, meant I was forced to the sound of the car, or that of the radio.

I could have done my old trick of calling people whilst on the road, to pass the time, but couldn’t be bothered with actually having to talk, and listen to people.

Instead I opted for the radio, and discovered, there really isn’t a radio station for me, I am, somewhat, between stations.

Radio One had Firm Cotton on, who could only be more annoying if they surgically attached Reggie Yates, making shows without him an impossibility. At least I was spared that knob, but Cotton, really isn’t sincere at all, not that that is a problem precisely, but coupled with being uninteresting, at least to me, it meant I was quickly looking for another station.

Radio Two was a mix of Zoe Ball, and Jeremy Vine, neither of which I can really palate either, and as the eversosecretnoneofusknewwascoming election had been anonnced on the same day, the latter’s show was even more annoying than usual.

He actually had people, as in, random individuals, call in with their predictions for the election result. And if they weren’t specific, like saying Tory majority of 10, or similar, he was telling them off. Not entertainment, and not of any point at all, so that bit the bullet.

Radio Four has often been decent value for money, but it was actually Womens' Hour when I tuned in, which had some bints going-on about how much men have not listened to them over time, and who am I to question that stereotype? So I switched off.

Then I was off searching local radio stations, which is another world of shite.

They may all have different names, and the presenters, different accents, but they are just all copying the same formula.

The ‘time tunnel’ or ‘golden year’ features really are pants, but people do seem to lap them up, or at least waste their time, and money, making phone calls to make incorrect guesses of the relevant year, based on random recollections, that are neither entertaining, or accurate, for that matter.

I was very tempted to call in to when of the stations, when I was constantly asked; “So, what is the year?”

I was going to go with; “2010, you fuckwits, get a new fucking feature.”

But if that feature wasn’t enough lyrical chaff, phone ins about tips for getting a good night’s sleep, and random acts of kindness topped them off.

Radio Cymru was actually of surprising comfort, and it goes to say something, that the best entertainment, was chucking at the fact that the Welsh language has quite a few holes in it, that they intermittently use good old English words, like; ‘rear window’ and ‘costume maker’ amongst their gobbledygook.

I listened to that for a solid 20 minutes, such was my angst with the other options. It made me laugh, and that says a lot about me, but probably more so of them guano that radio stations are churning out.

If I was cool, I could go on about Radio Six, and how we should all join the campaign to save it, but as I don’t listen to digital radio, that would be rather false of moi, though Mr Hughes, does listen to it, and recently posted a link to a reasonably funny protest song.

Bet I have you totally sold on that link?

I want Atlantic 252, or a derivative, back, a station that just plays music, reasonably up to date, and of rare annoyance, but, I suppose, as I only rely on the radio at times of iPod outages, I am not really anyone’s target audience.


Tuesday, 13 April 2010

I am not dead

At least I wasn’t when I wrote this.

The Easter holidays have effectively meant this blog, and other social media I frequent, have not had the priority they do when school is in session.

Thanks to all those that checked I was still in the land of the living, and I can confirm I am, at least in my very own little version of it, and at the point of hitting publish.

But I have still been busy in another guise, and I would love for you to go and have a read of my other stuff, if you have an interest in children’s literacy of course.

I am the editor of the Tidy Books Blog, a website sponsored by Tidy Books, the children’s bookcase people, but a place hoping to be a useful resource for parents and folks interested in what, or how, children read.

On this blog I have asked the question if children’s books should come with warnings, written about boys needing more help than girls, and suggested that limiting reading can actually be a good idea.

I have also reviewed children’s books I’ve been sent, and you may have recently entered a giveaway for some Tidy Books products.

You can also follow on Twitter and Facebook, where I try to collate all the interesting things I discover in the world of children’s reading.

Anyway, hope all this is of interest to some of you, and hope to see you over there soon.