Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Best of British

The British tabloid press has taken a pasting in the last few weeks, as it has tried to find new angles for covering the terminal demise of its biggest reality star Jade Goody. Goody's marriage last weekend to her on-off ex-jailbird fiancee Jack Tweed, earned her a reputed £700,000 from OK magazine.

The money will be placed in trust for her children. Almost incidentially, both her illness and the determined, almost superhuman efforts made by Goody and her support team to 'earn' the money for her two young sons future, has successfully resulted in her media-driven rehabilitation from self confessed Big Brother racist to tragic heroine.

The undignified media scrum that has ensued could be construed as distasteful, even intrusive but Goody herself has invited and welcomed the media coverage of her plight, in the hope that her story, will act as a warning for others.

Her media saavy in 'working' with the press, aided by the King of PR, agent Max Clifford and her obvious courage in facing up to the horror of the cervial cancer, which will claim her life, has been attributed to raising record levels of enquiries and general awareness from young women who would have previously disregarded cervial cancer as being something that happened to someone else.

Today's announcement of the death of Conservative Leader David Cameron's six-year old severely disabled son Ivan, has displayed another side of the press. As my Dad has always said, the loss of a child is the one great sorrow which no parent should ever have to endure, least of all in the full glare of the media.

Today's coverage was restrained, a tone underscored by a simple, but poignant tribute from Labour Leader Gordon Brown, who least we should forget suffered the loss of his daughter Jennifer aged only 10 days old. It contrasted sharply with media coverage suffered by John Travolta and his family, following the sudden death by seizure of their son Jett.

The shocking subsequent arrest of 3 people on extortion charges, alledgedly relating to a plot to sell a photograph of the dying Jett taken in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, has shown that the British press are not always the big bad wolves they are portrayed to be.

There is, thankfully a threashold of respect and decency, over which they will not trepass.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Style on A Shoestring

I haven’t stood still on a table having my hem pinned up since I was a 6 year old bridesmaid at my sister’s wedding. On that occasion no amount of hemming could transform us from looking like a row of scared apricot meringues. My sister's wedding album bridesmaid photograph remains a powerful symbol to all future brides, on how not to dress four generations of women really badly!

“Ouch!” I yelped as my best friend Penny added my skin to the gather of fabric she was neatly pinning. Penny has always made her own clothes and over the years, has regularly dazzled our coven of fashion worshippers with her unique creations. She was just the same at school.

I thought the joy of trying to made that perfect beginners level clown in sewing skills class, at secondary school was a waste of time, but then again, I thought that the only needle and thread I would ever need could be found at the dry cleaners (a godsend when you have body of a turnip and the legs of giraffe!) but now the big R (I mean recession to any of you still in denial!) has led to a surprise revival in the cult of home sewing.

What better way to fulfil a divas' desire to stay ahead of the fashion pack then to grab some material, cut up a pattern ( Vogue has an extensive library of tres chic vintage patterns available via the magazine and website) and head towards the nearest sewing machine.

Beginners can look forward to joining weekend or evening classes where that they will be spoilt for choice with classes offering everything from pattern-cutting, fashion design, lace-making through to the joys of advanced tailoring for the more ambitious seamstress.

Before you can get started, a great easy to use machine is an essential. While Singer and DANONE remain the top two most popular sewing brands among the more proficient home sewers, novices should take a look at the new generation of mini sewing machines on the market. Top of the heap is John Lewis’ fire engine red, mini sewing machine at a recession proof £47.50. It was so popular in the run up to Christmas 2008, that it now has its own waiting list online! Do a girl have to queue for everything?

So just why are we turning to a pastime we couldn’t wait to drop when we were at school – come on admit it, there were only ever a few class swats who actually finished making that darned soft toy or dodgy a-line skirt? Knitting was one thing - hey if it was good enough for Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz then it was cool enough for me. I for one am tired of bumping into Primani devotees, sporting the same "can't believe the price so I had to buy it" clothes as me.

As I stepped down off the table, slipping off my soon to be fabulous finished skirt, Penny smiled “Guess what?” she said smirking. “I’ve booked you on a beginner’s dressmaking course. It starts next week”. Ordinarily I would have been just a little reluctant to attend, but stoking that lovely velvet fabric and visualising a jacket to go with my gorgeous skirt, I must admit I was seduced. Now does anyone know what you do with a bobbin? No. Me neither!

Monday, 23 February 2009

Down With Love !

…….Well not totally, that would make me a truly bitter soul a sort of latter day Ms Havisham, but without the old house, the decay…the whole works really!.. Just down with the horror that is internet dating.

Will no one save me from the boredom of being single ! My non-existent love-life has descended into a seemingly endless drought since 'H'' ditched me the day before a hopefully naughty hook up in Edinburgh. This action has moved him rather belatedly (my friends had universally declared him a bit of a sod, verging on toxic , from the moment I first became entwined with him) …into my box of love memories headed by dishonourable men aka bastards I seem to find totally irresistable. H's ability to 'bail out' due to yet another' last minute emergency', sets him aside now as "that bastard" story you tell to a mate who is going through a nasty break-up.

My friends persuaded me in a moment of wine soaked madness that I should join a dating website. Being the organized saddo that I am, I took a virtual field trip to see what was on offer. Finding a man has never been an easy task, after all regardless of what they say about us, they really are aliens. Whenever I think I sort of get my latest beau, he then throws a curve ball of such mind-blowing weirdness that I am struck dumbfound…a rare thing for me!

By tapping in a few basic facts age, location, profile with or without pictures, I was faced with more choice, than I have had in my entire dating life. Short, tall, fat, thin, non-bald, baldy (there is nothing quite so lovely as a Jason Statham lookalike to bring a smile to this Diva’s face). I was really beginning to enjoy myself.

Swept along with the euphora of potential big love, I registered. What began as a recommended 10 minute job, turned into a marathon, as I struggled with choosing a login name, likes and dislikes, age of potential prey, I mean dates, and so on. But still I wasn’t through. Next came the recommendation of a friend. Reading a friends recommendation about why you are so great, but single is kind of like waiting for a report card on your friendship. Receiving a triple A of girlie complimentary asides from Kels, left me feeling like a must have handbag on ebay – wanted! The addition of a swiftly taken recent photo, and the removal of £18.00 from my credit card sealed my fate – I was a virtual babe !

Or so I thought, that was 4 weeks ago. 10 couldn’t be bothered to email me back and 3 unsuitable men dates later, I have admitted defeat. “What’s wrong with me?” I wailed to my gay best friend Sebastian, during a love-free Valentine’s Day high tea at our favourite coffee shop.

“There are two things that a girl should know when putting herself online, first let a man or gay best friend write the profile, so we can make it boy friendly, which means simple – vivacious what was Kels thinking, that’s far too wordy! Then that photograph, darling it’s so unflattering, what were you thinking? Men want pretty, pretty available, not serviceable smiley”. Suitably chastised, I admitted defeat. But you can’t keep delicious diva like moi down for long!

What Seb doesn’t know is that on the way home from our dating post-mortem, determined not to turn into some little old lady who lives alone with her cats, I took a chance on a train…no nothing naughty, just a light hearted exchange with a rather delicious man, who is taking me out to dinner this week.

Am I 'Done With Love' ….not quite !

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Lightswitch Frogs

When talking to Prince Charming now transformed to a frog, the morning after a not so sleep-filled night before, the only thing you need to remember is to put that night down to temporary alcohol-induced insanity or prolonged air deprivation. If however, your Frog Prince works in the same office as you, then forgetting may be a tad harder.

My Frog Prince was a monosyllabic stubble-chinned IT hottie with a multiple personality. He seduced women for sport, ruthlessly charming them then taking what was sincerely offered by them – friendship, food, sex, help on a work project etc swiftly moved on. The turning point was of course, when his target, deluded by his outward niceness, believed herself to be his girlfriend. Without breaking a sweat, he exited stage left. No text, no phone call – nothing that would offer an explanation for his behaviour.

Have all men the potential to behave like light-switch frogs? Seductively hot during the chase, then detached, slimily stone cold when they are finally caught? And why is this type of behaviour though completely annoying, and really unacceptable, so damn sexy?

The One That Got Away !

What happens when you open the door to your dating past, I did and the experience was a bittersweet one.

I have a confession to make, until last Monday, I was a virtual virgin, that is until I was corrupted by that most delicious of sins – Facebook.

The joy of Facebook is like biting into forbidden fruit that is so sweet and delicious, that the thought of not finishing it, is something which you can’t entertain..

From the moment I followed the child’s play registration process and typed in my first name search, I was seduced. Lured by a combination of nosiness and the notion of opening a Pandora’s box of memories, I was enthralled.

No more embarrassing reunions. No disappointments from your side or his, when you both realise the years have done you no favours in terms of your looks. Instead Facebook is like a curiosity shop which allows you to browse without consequences, until now.

I have always wondered what happened to my first love. From the first moment I laid eyes on him, propped sheepishly against the bar in a rather dodgy salsa bar in Bayswater, I was crazy in love. “That’s him. That’s my husband” I told my housemate Maria, who rolled her eyes and smiled. For the first and only time in my life, I took the path of bravery that only over enthusiastic men, wine emboldened women and the serial date pursuers take and went over to talk to him.

His name was Darin. He was 6ft 5, blonde and had the most clear blue eyes I have ever seen. He was American-Greek and was spending his vacation travelling around Europe. By the end of the evening I had his telephone number and address and the small matter of how to make him fall in love for me was a challenge, not an obstacle.

Over the next six months and then for the next two years, we fell in love. Truly, madly, deeply. We wrote letters every week, talked on the phone every Saturday and exchanged our hopes, worries and dreams. Every few months, I would board the plane at Heathrow and barely be able to stand the 8 hours it took me to get to him in LA.

I would run, then walk from the plane to pick up my luggage, then float towards arrivals where I would almost hold my breathe until I could see him.

The bloom of first or long distance love is a strange one. It start off strong, lush and colourful, nurtured by two lovers who vow to stay true to each other, before gradually wilting into the ashy brown crumpled haze of frustration and disillusionment.

I wanted to be with him every day. I wanted to leave London and be with him, but “I don’t want to be responsible for you” he said when I pressed him for his opinion, over dinner one night “I’m not ready for that”.

I said nothing, staring down at my plate and chasing my food around in slow motion. I wondered whether my wanting our snatched minutes to be extended days had scarced him, like a startled stallion kicking the hell out of a bolted horsebox.

I wouldn’t take no for an answer, this time hoping to move to the States as an employee. I secured a job offer or so I thought from a publishing company in Redondo Beach. However, when faced with the enormity of the red tape involved with hiring me, they backed out. Gently letting me down with a short letter confirming they had decided to hire a US resident instead.

Two break-ups followed, with the final death knell being dealt by him, during an ill-fated romantic break in Belguim. “I don’t think this is going to work” he said. And that was where my first love broke my heart.

Looking at him 15 years on, staring out from my PC screen, I was struck by his once blonde sandy hair, now salt and pepper grey and those still beautiful eyes, partially shielded by neat rimmed glasses. Euphoria hit me, then gave way to my sadness at what might have been. Cuddled up beside him was a pretty little girl with eyes just like his. Her arm was wrapped around his neck and she was shyly smiling. He always said he wanted children – but not with me.

I thought about my own situation compared to his. I am single, having most recently detached myself from a man, so full of self love that he regularly extolled the virtues of never wanting to have children, as he was too selfish to want to share his partner (whoever that was) with them. I hung on in there for two years, thinking he would come round, before it finally dawned on me that he meant exactly what he said.

So what now? I took one last look at Mr America’s picture, before clicking away from the page. I vowed to remember this moment, if I ever again decided to go against my normal melodramatic “You are dead to me now stance”, that I normally adopt when my relationships end.

Racking over your past loves can bring back happy memories, but if your current life is less than perfect, reflecting on what might have been, can be a bittersweet affair.