Saturday, April 30, 2005

the story


Pygmalion and Galatea

Someone asked me how I got my stupid posting name. It's from the legend of Pygmalion and Galatea in Ovid's Metamorphoses - the sculptor who carves the perfect woman, and then begs the gods for it to be brought to life.

I'm not going to apologise for having done Latin A-level and found this out, but I think I have to say sorry for thinking it would be amusing to have my internet alter-ego as the perfect woman.

Press Review: This is extremely creepy. Having been brought up by a mother who fiercely believes in natural birth, breast feeding and the whole shebang, I thought I was quite relaxed aboutthe idea of children being breastfed until toddlerhood. Turns out, I'm not. I feel that if your child can ask to suck your breast, the time has come to take it off the menu. And don't listen to the case study woman's guff about WHO guidelines - I'll bet you a fiver they are intended for women in the developing world, where that's the most efficient form of feeding there is for small children, and evil nameless companies try to persuade mothers of young children onto powdered milk for profit. It's also supposed to be a contraceptive, although it clearly hasn't worked in this woman's case.

Although the phrase "militant breastfeeder" is quite a good one, and something I hope to be able to use more in everyday conversation.

Friday, April 29, 2005

not chuckling anymore.

I was horrified to read this, but frankly I'm not surprised. I once interviewed Barry and Paul (and bizarrely, two of their brothers, whose surname is not Chuckle) after their hit stage show, Barry Potty and the Philosopher's Stone. I was with P, a fellow student journalist with (he won't mind me saying this) the sense of humour of a 9 year old. After we'd waited a reasonable time, out came the Brothers Chuckle, dressed in sheepskin coats and smoking tiny roll-ups (see posts passim).

They were polite enough, and their tales of full-size snooker tables and indoor swimming pools convinced me there was money to be made from promoting domestic violence on television. However, they were quite grubby. Handing them a copy of the previous week's paper with Jordan on the front provoked the line, "oooh, I'm a Celebrity... Get me in there!" which was a little nauseating. Then they told us that their older fans once mocked up their faces on porn star bodies and left it on the windscreen of their tour bus. After chuckling (yes!) for a while, the smaller one went, "Of course, it's not funny. Kids could have seen it."

All that remained was for P, in inimitable fashion, to ask a question. "So," he ventured, "you've done a lot of work for children - tell me, have you ever considered adult entertainment?"

The mental image was too much: An unnamed Chuckle going at it like the clappers, probably still with tiny roll-up in mouth, going "to me!", "to you!" in ecstasy. I swallowed and stared at the floor.

Luckily the Chuckles didn't seem offended at this line of questioning. "Oh yes," they chorused, "that's how we started out. We did all the clubs before we got to do it on camera."

So that's today's exclusive: The Chuckle Brothers were in porn.

Sidenote: When P wrote up the finished article, I had to cut out a sentence which referred to them as "the missing link between the animal and gypsy kingdom, they looked like two pikeys who had wandered away from their dodgems". Now I think about it, we did lots of those kinds of interviews. Perhaps I could make this a regular series.

vox populis

When Sid Vicious was asked whether he made records for the man in the street, his apocryphal reply was: "I've met the man in the street and he's a c***".

I think with election fever sweeping us, this is an important point to remember. All the news channels and papers feel like they have to saturate us with election coverage - a rare way for them to feel like they are performing a public service at little cost to themselves. So what to do when they're running out of ideas, don't want to shell out for a Michael Crick-style helicopter or something similar. The answer is simple: vox pops.

They are everywhere now. I know this is a contentious issue, with some people thinking that it's snobbish to believe "ordinary people" (i.e. the usual media suspects) don't have anything to say. I'm sure that most of them are very interesting and yes, everyone has a right to their opinion, and yes, the media should stop being so navel-gazing... But the very nature of the format means that this is never going to come across.

First of all, there's the problem of selection. Just because someone is morbidly obese doesn't necessarily mean that they have any insight into the West's obesity epidemic. If they were asked about the personal side of being overweight - the problems and discrimination they face - that would be valid and useful. But too often they're not, and media types desperate for a soundbite (and usually, one that blames someone or something, so the story can be called a 'row') ask them hugely inappropriate questions.

A classic example on CNN on tuesday night. As part of their election coverage, they are seeking the views of the man in the street. Their choice: a lorry driver. Fair enough, he might have interesting things to say on fuel tax, or motorway charging. But no, they ask him about Iraq and the EU. He doesn't care, and repeats a few opinions parroted from some newspaper. So really, they might as well have asked the Sun (or whoever) because that's whose opinion they're getting.

News organisations need to learn that vox pops need to be about a personal viewpoint, gained by someone's life being affected by wider events. They shouldn't just be some ill-prepared, ill-informed random, whose views are privileged just because he is one of the few people left not to have a newspaper column.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

monkeys

Today was supposed to be my first proper day of revision. It's not. After a night of over-indulgence with an old friend, my planned 9am start melted away. Now I am watching Series 4 of Waking the Dead.

I'm sure it'll be fine though. One of the constant pleasant surprises of my life is that I manage to get so much done when I spend so much time gimping around.

By the way, the job interview went OK. But they gave me homework! A two thousand word feature... when the hell am I going to find time to do that? I realise that the earlier part of this post slightly undermines my claims of overwork.

On another note, this story, which has appeared in a few papers, seems very unlikely - almost like something Chris Morris would make up. If it is true, then it's no wonder that teenagers aren't getting GCSEs and so on.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

What is this?

For your perusal, an article from today's Guardian by the architecture correspondent:
Monument to police officers killed on duty.

Did you read it? To the end? In case you couldn't be bothered, here are the offending paragraphs:

"A band from the Kent constabulary played snatches of Elgar and other tunes as rain rattled down their tubas and turned the quietly dignified glass sentinel into a temporary "water feature". A sneering group of Late Elizabethan schoolchildren in damp fleeces and dripping baseball caps arrived. "Fuck me, it's the Queen," one shouted.

A police officer with a gun was not amused, but kept his powder dry. The schoolchildren of today, he might have thought, no longer speak as did the be-apped and short-trousered, or bereted and pinafored, pupils of half a century ago, when the only bobby anyone knew of killed on duty was PC Dixon, played by Jack Warner, in that silver screen favourite, The Blue Lamp."


What the hell was Jonathan Glancey thinking when he penned the last two paragraphs - was he desperate for copy, and had run out of things to say about the actual story? That must surely be the explanation. I mean, I consider myself fairly clued up on weird words, but what does "be-apped" mean? And what is it doing in a story about tragically murdered police officers?

It's journalism, gone mad.

UPDATE: the word is of course "becapped", and I was just so weirded out by the Kafka-esque turn of the piece that I didn't correct the typo when i was proof-reading it. (To be fair, none of the other staff in the office worked out what it was supposed to say either) It still makes no bloody sense.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The most ludicrous Gate yet.

Although someone thinks too much has been made of this, I still think it's worth a comment. Forget all the talk of 'spending a penny', Paula Radcliffe did a poo in the street during the London Marathon.

I will admit that this isn't of itself the end of civilization, what interests me is the media blackout. Only the BBC dare to tell the truth about toilet matters these days.

Update: So do the Indy. But they do undermine it by using the term 'Poogate'.

Pontificating

There have been lots of news stories reporting the new Pope, Benedict XVI, remarking that he prayed not to become Pope. “At a certain point, I prayed to God, ‘Please don’t do this to me . . .’ Evidently, this time he didn’t listen to me, ” he said.

Honestly, are we supposed to believe this? The man's 78, he's spent his entire adult life in the clergy, rising through the ranks, gaining more and more power, but doesn't want to be Pope. I find that very hard to believe, especially as, when Cardinal Ratzinger, he was widely regarded to be angling for as much power as possible since years back. The time to keep a low profile might have been then, or perhaps even when he blatantly set himself up as heir apparent by leading John Paul II's funeral mass, and generally disporting himself as a public figure.

The other thing he might have done well to remember when praying to be spared the 'honour' was that Jesus is supposed to have prayed a very similar thing in the Garden of Gethsemane. 'Let this cup pass from me' and all that. God didn't take much notice of his only son, so he could hardly be expected to make an exception for Ratzinger.

Anyway, I don't like the man. He's got piggy eyes, and I don't believe his reconciliatory gestures towards liberalism and ecumenism. The majority of Catholics think the best way to smooth out differences with other denominations is for everybody else to become a Catholic. And now that we have a Catholic Prime Minister too (see Hencke and Beckett's excellent The Blairs and Their Court) those of us who believe in things like the right to abortion and contraception, gay marriage and the like should be seriously worried.

I am hugely mistrustful of religion, for the same reason I'm worried about restrictions on civil lberties in the name of 'national security'. How can you have a rational and democratic society where those in authority claim to act in your best interests on information you have no access to. Religion boils down to, 'I'm holier than you so God talks to me not you - here's what he said-'. It's all too easy for politicians to adopt a similar model, saying: "We know stuff you don't know, that's why we're doing this.' But this relies on you trusting those with the information to act in your best interests - difficult for me with politicians; impossible with clergy.

Monday, April 25, 2005

being cool

Today I met my friend E, who I haven't seen since Christmas, and before that for about two years. In those years, she married, moved to the States, started a piercing apprenticeship, divorced, moved back home, and started to work at a studio in Kent. My life in that same time has been approximately one-tenth that eventful.

I hadn't realised before how cool and laidback people in London like to appear. Back in Worcester in the day, we would be treated like borderline mental patients for simply having dyed hair. Today I walked round London with E and her boyfriend. both of whom are heavily tattooed and have really, really big earlobes. No-one batted an eyelid. Except some teenage goths, who looked gratifyingly peeved at having been upstaged.

The God of Cool might strike me down for saying this (or possibly the God of God for having worshipped a false idol) but I do miss the attention that looking very abnormal gets you. If I can compare it to anything, there's a great scene in Black Books where Fran so desperately wants to blank a guy that she runs out of a beauty parlor in a towelling robe just to walk past him with her eyes averted. When you are eye-catching, you can really pull off that whole 'What the hell are YOU looking at?' thing. And you can't really be hurt if someone should say you're ugly; after all, you've rejected the normal continuum of physical attractiveness, and can blame it on that.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

It begins.

I used to have a blog. There was only one problem - I never wrote anything interesting in it. I'm not making any promises about this one, either.

Ten facts about me:
1. I am 21, and female.
2. I have been described as "the world's worst feminist". I try hard, though.
3. The title of this blog comes from a poem by Wendy Cope. I was going to have it tattooed on me once, but it's probably safer not.
4. I used to be a goth. I'm sure this is going to come up again.
5. My father is a member of the clergy. My mother is an RE teacher. I think this is why I am an agnostic, as well as the fact that there's something glamorous and louche about the epithet 'lapsed Catholic'.
6. I have interviewed the Chuckle Brothers, David Blaine and Bill Bryson. The Chuckle Brothers smoked tiny little roll-ups, made a disgusting remark about Jordan, and then signed a copy of the newspaper with the phrase, 'To You'. David Blaine had not shaved his neck.
7. My first boyfriend was gay. I knew this when I went out with him. I think this says a lot about my cock-eyed, usually misplaced, optimism about relationships.
8. My favourite book is Pride and Prejudice, although I have read Memoirs of a Geisha an indecent number of times. I am currently reading a book about cadavers.
9. When I was young, my imaginary friend was Edward VI, boy-king and son of Henry VIII.
10. I get bored and leave things unfinished.

Cadfael and Clarkson

I am watching Brother Cadfael on ITV3, which is truly the TV channel of the Gods. This afternoon they will again be offering an episode of Jeeves and Wooster; later, there may be A Touch Of Frost. Much as it pains me to say it, ITV3 is a better TV channel than UKTVPeople, which offers an unbroken diet of Clarkson in different guises.

Although I've watched an awful lot of Top Gear in my time, and even forayed into Jeremy Clarkson's MotorWorld etc, I really shouldn't have applied for a job with an aviation trade magazine. Yet this is what I did last week, in a lather of panic about jobs. Now I am faced with an interview for a magazine whose subject I know nothing about, which I suppose is just punishment. I have the feeling that it's going to be dreadful.