George Monbiot is being hilarious once again – how this article has been misinterpreted by some as not being ironic, I really don’t know (as he explains here, clearly not everyone is quite so bright as me…). Anyway, enjoy. And meanwhile – he makes a good point. Asbos, no-hood warnings, Mosquito buzzers… how come the government is essentially criminalising youth these days? Teenagers have perhaps always been a complete pain (personally I don’t think so but I suppose it’s because I can remember what it’s like to be one) but it’s only in the last decade or so that we’ve started to view them as a problem we should solve rather than just One Of Those Things.
Monthly Archives: June 2010
It isn’t cool, is it? Let’s face it. I love poetry personally (not all poetry obviously, that would be like saying I loved all fiction, which is clearly nonsense, there’s some utter tripe out there, and there’s some stuff that is accomplished and stylish and beloved by many but which just doesn’t appeal to me, and the same goes for poetry).
Anyway, yeah. Most people don’t read poetry, don’t think about it, don’t consider it as something they might choose to read and enjoy. But then most people listen to music – and I know plenty of people who perhaps get more out of the lyrics of the music they listen to than they do out of the music. And whether that’s skilled wordsmithery and real craft, or just something pleasingly simple and rhythmic, if you’re appreciating a song enough to write down its lyrics on someone’s facebook wall or just on a scrap of paper because they make you smile or make you feel slightly sad or whatever – there you go. That’s poetry. That’s you, appreciating poetry.
It’s not all about the blossom on the cherry trees or someone’s Shakespearean, dun, corseted bosoms. It’s not all about an old, cursed seaman, blackberries rotting in a bath, or tigers, lambs, roses, worms, innocence and experience. It can be as beautiful and gripping and telling and relevant and striking as any of your favourite songs. More so, perhaps. What I don’t know, not being massively au fait with the internet at large, and being lucky enough to live in a house full of books and the sort of people who can recommend good books to me for me to read, is where you’re likely to find things straight off that you really like. But in the meantime, you could check out Pomegranate. It’s an online magazine of poetry written by poets under 30, ordinary people, students mostly, not necessarily published poets themselves. Each month there is a theme, of sorts, and you can either write to that theme or write something else, and, out of the possibly hundreds of submissions they recieve each month, they pick about twenty, and often they’re really good.
So, if your summer has just started, you haven’t got a job yet, and you don’t know what you could do today, check out Pomegranate. Read some poetry.
Oh, and my favourite poet is Ted Hughes. Try Crow or Birthday Letters or Tales of Ovid. They’re all books, incidentally, not individual poems. Meanwhile perhaps this is why I occasionally swear on my blog (sorry Dad). None of these links will take you particularly long to check out, incidentally. Don’t be so lazy, it’ll take you a minute to read that last one, and perhaps a little longer to get vaguely to grips with Pomegranate.
I’ve just read this article, in the Guardian. It’s all about the trend for skinny skinny skinny male models. And it’s very interesting in that it shows that men’s bodies these days are starting to be public property in the same way that women’s bodies are (no, seriously – as the author of this article quite justifiably points out, addressing, one assumes, all of male humanity: ‘Do you know what it’s like to turn 12 and find your body subject to the scrutiny of the entire world? Do you know what it’s like to be constantly judged by the opposite sex and (perhaps more harshly) by your own? To be conditioned to view your body in such a way that you regularly find yourself in a public space (a park, a train carriage, or walking down a street) rating the legs, or bellies, or upper arms of everyone you pass in terms of the merits and failings of your own? Do you know how self-conscious that makes you, how disarmed, how confused, how dissatisfied, how unbelievably freaking vulnerable?’). Which is obviously terrible, because the human body should not be objectified, judged, dissected and criticised like that the whole time, no matter your gender or size.
But anyway, what I mainly wanted to say was this: I really do not understand the attraction of skinny guys. I just do not get it. I find skinny men utterly weird in the same way that I find completely cleanshaven men slightly creepy. I do not get the attraction so many women seem to have to David Tennant or Matt Smith. I like a man who is bigger than me in all dimensions (I really have no objection to men with bigger boobs than me – if I did have such an objection I’d be right back looking at the skinny men and well just no). I like a man who is stronger than me, and a bit of fat never went amiss. Seriously.
Other than that I’m not particularly fussy about men. Or rather, I guess I am, but I have some slightly unusual ideas of what makes a man good-looking. And to be honest – as, again, the author of this article mentions – women actually don’t care that much about the looks of their man. We would all rather have someone with a good personality, who makes us feel good about ourselves and who makes us happy and who is happy when he is with us. Clever, funny, caring, and frankly it’s a massive turn-on to be wanted by someone. And actually, in the past, I have liked and gone out with and been attracted to skinny guys, because I’m fickle like that. But if you asked me to describe my ideal man in terms of looks he would be taller than me by a few inches, probably, broad-shouldered, strong, but not utterly ripped. And I know a number of girls who really really fancy skinny guys and I simply do not understand it, so having seen this article I wanted to register my confusion with the world.
Now let’s all have a nice long feminist-centred debate about manorexia, male grooming, and the pressure to look a certain way, and whether, after all these years, men possibly deserve it…?!!
Having friends is a bit like herding cats. You’re all busy, there’s lots going on, so you can’t communicate as much as you’d like and anyway you don’t really know if you’re even in the country next Tuesday, and there are things you all want to meet up and do, it’s just a question of when, and what is the critical mass of people – the fewest number of attendees you need before this stops being fun. So surely everyone hates organising stuff just as much as I do because it’s actually more akin to playing chess in your head but you don’t know for certain how many pieces are on the board or how big the board is. And then most of the time it actually all works out – enough people coincide in place and time in the right clothes and the right frame of mind and it’s all dandy. But goodness it’s hard work getting to that point.
You’re all my friends on the Internet *creepy smile* so we never have this problem, do we *even creepier smile*?
If you haven’t seen this film and want to, look away now. It’s not really about the film as such so much as the concept. But what I’m going to say in this post will almost certainly tell you everything you really didn’t want to go in to watching the film for the first time knowing.
Right, you’ve had your warning. Basically it’s about memory, and about a service which removes peoples’ memories of a certain person or event. So of course it is primarily used by distressed ex-lovers trying to get their beloved ex-girlfriend or -boyfriend out of their head in order to move on with their lives. And as you know, I hope, two characters erase one another and then one way or another discover that they have erased one another, discover where all their old memories are, and fall in love again. I can’t remember whether they actually regain their old memories of each other, or merely discover that they had them – it wasn’t made clear, and I wasn’t concentrating. Anyway, there you go. I was watching this recently whilst doing some boring room-sorty thing, and it made me think a bit. One obvious question: if there’s a reason why you broke up, surely if you can’t remember anything about your entire previous relationship history is basically doomed to repeat itself and you’ll end up going through the same break-up and then probably discovering this memory-wiping service again… and so it goes on.
But the other thing that really troubled me was this: every time I’ve really fallen for someone, they’ve usually had a big influence on my life, as a friend or a partner, whatever. I’ve learnt a lot from those people and experiences about myself, and I’ve learnt some valuable lessons and changed a lot as a result of those relationships. Anyone you’re close to like that, be they a best friend or a boyfriend, will change you in some way, not necessarily in a bad way, just in that everyone we meet affects the course of our lives and the way we think about stuff in one way or another. We learn valuable lessons from the people we encounter all the time. So if you wipe the memories of that person, who or what do you become? If, as a result of your relationship with a person, you’ve become more confident and trusting, say, do you carry on being more confident and trusting – or, with no known reason to have those characteristics, do you lose them because they no longer tie in with your personal narrative, do you forget those lessons because you no longer have the memories of having learnt them and therefore to all intents and purposes never did learn those things? To be honest, I think the latter is more likely, though I couldn’t say why.
I wouldn’t change a second of my life, really. I’ve made some stupid choices and I’ve met people who have hurt me a lot and whom I have allowed to hurt me. I’ve had bad days and good days, bad years and good years, I have regrets, we all do – but in a world where all of those things hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be who I am today. So, given the choice, I’d keep those memories. What do you think?
P.S. I’m getting confirmed today. So that’s the subject of my next post, when I get the time… .
Say what you like – about people who ride motorbikes, about how dangerous it is, about the clothes and the culture and all the rest of it – you’re basically almost entirely wrong. I’ll admit that if you ahve an accident on a bike you’re more likely to end up horribly injured (I would have thought) or perhaps it’s just that you’re more likely to be involved in an accident because of all that leaning and wheeling about you do on corners.
So let’s forget all our preconceptions for a few minutes. The other day I rode on a motorbike for the first time. A friend (confusingly, A – although a different A from the A I’ve usually mentioned before under that initial) came over with cookies and strawberries and prosciutto and bread rolls, and I provided some leaves (well, salad, actually), and we headed over to the park and had a picnic in the sunshine (why have I never done this before? it was beautiful). We spent the afternoon there, my face burnt, there was an adorable baby in view for several hours although that said I also realised how much hard work is involved in even having a pleasant family day out for four when two of you are still less than two foot high – you can’t just relax around the barbecue, there’s constant chasing and cleaning and entertaining and feeding and soothing to be done and it didn’t look like either parent got much time just to sit and stare. So maybe I won’t have children just yet… .
So we had a beautiful afternoon, and then I had somewhere else to be going, and we had arranged that A would take me to the pub which was where I was going, but if needs be I could take the train and be picked up by another friend if I wimped out on the bike front. I didn’t wimp out. We did a little test drive – out on the main road to the edge of the city and along to the next small village, mainly sticking to quite slow speeds, a route that took in a few experimental roundabouts so I could get used to cornering, which is quite hard – if you’re riding pillion, don’t move your head, it’s the heaviest bit of you. Sit on the back of the bike like a sack of potatoes, don’t lean one way or the other but just follow exactly what the person you’re hugging is doing – basically, deliberately, don’t do anything. Ignore everything your instincts try to tell you about Physics – they’re wrong.
The scariest bit, actually, was the helmet, just because I’m a touch claustrophobic. As I put it on I kept thinking, oh god, what if I want to take it off? what if I need to take it off? despite not having any good reason to wish to do so. I don’t like pulling things over my head that are so tight that I have to take my glasses off to get them on.
But then once on the bike, in the sunshine, speeding along, engine thrumming seemingly all around me, children gawping, adults glancing out of their traffic stopped cars in obvious envy, wild and fast and, well, wow. So we ate some more of our picnic, had a few cups of tea, got a bit more sunburned, and set off.
Faster, further, the sun setting and the scenery stunning, more envious, amazed children, and the fantastic revelation that you can get TomTom on your iphone and listen to the directions through earphones, which was pretty cool. For A, I mean, not me, and obviously it was kind of standard to him, but there we go.
And finally, having got a little lost, we pulled into the pub, a bit late, and there was everyone else in the pub garden, and me waving from the back of a motorbike, and the complete amazement of at least some of my friends because who would have guessed in a million years that secretly Jenny Mohan had kind of always wanted to ride on a motorbike, and now she had, and perhaps her hair was flattened but her grin most certainly was not.
Sadly given the way I live and the things I do it makes a lot more sense for me to have a car than a bike. But I’m definitely up for riding pillion again, at least.
…I swam in a river, went to a spectacular pub I was not old enough to appreciate when I was there last, watched the football, did some useful work, and fell asleep unobtrusively in corners. The Budget featured lots in the news and I’m still making up my mind about what I think about it. Reactionary leftie self objects, sensible middle-of-road self approves cautiously, Tory incubus is grinning in a dark corner somewhere. I need to know more, first.
I wasn’t sure if it was him, walking towards me. He had the same arrogant lumbering gait, all testosterone and shoulders, and the friend with him also looked familiar, and I was somewhere where I would not have been surprised to see him. For a few seconds all I was aware of was how my heartbeat seemed to be making time slow down, every sound muffled, my mouth drying out. I nearly turned round – wanting to run I would instead have just walked, fast, in that way you do at school because you’re late and you’re not allowed to run in the corridors. But I thought, no, don’t be daft, and I kept on walking, and it wasn’t him, and gradually the rest of the world flooded back into focus.
In keeping with my recent how-not-to-write-a-blog bad-example-to-humanity shtick, although perhaps one better than recent linkspam, have yet another post in the form of a list of – yes, you’ve guessed it – guilty pleasures. I don’t have many so they’re all kind of on one theme and I should perhaps go outside and shoot myself straight after posting:
- I really like Top Gear. Yes, I know Jeremy Clarkson has the sort of politics I cannot reserve enough scorn for, and James May and Richard Hammond and he act out like slightly-creepily-grey-haired Surrey schoolboys. And that’s kind of the point. They’re hilarious. And they drive cars which are simply amazing. Beautiful, powerful, fast, and usually very bad for the environment, and it’s all rather well shot. Blatant car porn. And then there’s all the silly laddish challenges, the utterly ridiculous vehicles they drive and the utterly ridiculous things they do to them; there’s Star in a Reasonably Priced Car, which is usually pretty funny… no, I’m sorry, I love this show.
- Top Gear has made me want a really good, sleek, Sorry World superfast car. Shame I can’t drive, really. Saw an episode (on Dave, and yes, it was a repeat from 2004) featuring the Aston Martin DB9 and I’m not sure I’ve ever wanted anything quite so much. You know what – I didn’t used to care about cars. Fail… .
- I really, really like going stupidly fast. Thankfully I can’t drive, and nor would I go too fast if I could because a) it’s illegal and b) I don’t think it’s sensible as a new driver to take risks – there are speed limits for all kinds of good reasons. So I’ll leave it to other people who like going stupidly fast and just hope I can ride shotgun once in a while.
- The other day (more on this later) I rode pillion on a motorbike. I am not the kind of girl you’d expect to see on the back of a motorbike, really, let’s be honest. I knit (sometimes), I listen to Radio 4 (in the background, whilst washing up, but) and I like moroccan tiles, and I wear cardigans, and oh wait who the hell is climbing down from the back of a bike and taking off her helmet and, no, wait, what?!! It was amazing. Wipe-that-stupid-grin-off-yer-face amazing. Although as I am reminded it’s hard to carry a lot of stuff on a bike and it’s not half so enjoyable in the dark, in the rain, or when it’s cold.
- I have the most appalling taste in telly. Yes, I like all the ‘normal’ things I’m meant to like at my age – QI, Being Human, Spooks, Have I Got News For You, Russell Howard’s Good News, True Blood, and so on. But I also like things like Doctor Who and Waterloo Road, and I’m neither a boy or an adolescent girl; and I like old-lady telly – ITV detective dramas like Lewis, Agatha Christie mysteries, be they Poirot or Miss Marple, Silent Witness, Waking The Dead, Wallander… I shouldn’t be allowed to choose my own television, really.
- I may or may not have just finished reading all the Anne of Green Gables books. They’re aimed at Edwardian twelve-year-olds. Shut up.
On the other hand, if that’s the sum total of my ‘guilty pleasures’, I must be a pretty normal kind of person. I like going fast and sometimes I read/watch really stupid things.