A broken clock

I think I broke my mother’s heart today.

We’d gone out for a family lunch, me, my parents, brother, sister-in-law and my two nephews, B (2 ½) and R (4 months). R is normally the happiest baby in the world, perfectly satisfied in his car seat, but unfortunately at the moment we have a nasty case of teething. That plus a cold means he’s not a happy boy. As a result I spent a lot of time carrying him, having him perched on my lap and just having all round cuddles.

Oh the hardship…

I think the fact that I spent so much time with R and also drawing pictures with B gave my Mum the idea that more grandchildren were on the cards as it might indicate that at long last my biological clock might (finally) have started ticking…

Alas, my clock seems to be broken… Sorry Mum, but if I were you, I wouldn’t be counting on any more grandchildren.

broken biological clock

That might sound harsh but at 31 I’m not getting any younger and when you’re single without the slightest hint of any romantic prospects and no real desire to actually look for the so-called Mr. Right, it’s not so much being harsh as realistic. And whilst I could do it alone either via one-night stand or a sperm donor, having a baby is hard enough when there are two of you. I have nothing against single parents; I know a lot of them who do an amazing job. But being a single parent through death or separation is a totally different matter to setting out with the intention of being one.

But in addition to that I also have to consider my history with depression. I would be at high risk of both ante-natal and post-natal depression and I’m not sure I can knowingly do something that would put me at risk of feeling like that again. There is also the risk of any child of mine being more susceptible to this horrible illness than the child of someone who doesn’t have depression. Now whilst anyone can suffer from depression, but it’s more likely. I don’t judge anyone who has had depression who has then had children, I’m just saying that it’s not right for me.

Add to that there’s the small issue of I just don’t want to have them and you end up with a biological clock that just doesn’t tick. No Ally McBeal-style dancing babies for me. No ticking clocks. Just a quiet life.

And that doesn’t make me unhappy. It’s just the way it is. I think my Mum would prefer my biological clock would start ticking loudly but such is life.

Do you want or have children? Do you think that you can have a happy, fulfilled life without children?

Average Josephine x

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Furniture faux pas

There are moments, like yesterday, when I think, “that’s not the best thing to put on Twitter”. And I fully admit we all have moments where we tweet things that maybe we shouldn’t, I am not immune by a long shot. But when a company’s official press account tweets something like the screen cap below, you know someone needs a lesson in thinking before tweeting…

ikea habitat tweet

Oh Ikea, I am a big fan. I like the clean lines of your Scandinavian inspired furniture and the convenience of being able to actually buy something the day I want it rather than having to wait 6-8 weeks for delivery. But this tweet? To quote one of my favourite films: Big mistake. Big.

Also, considering that this is from your press office, people who it has to be said are meant to know better, it does indicate that you either need a new press team or someone needs their butt kicked.

As for Habitat, well the big question is how they will respond. Will they sink to the depths that Ikea are plumbing or will they take the high road and ignore it? Only time will tell.

What do you think of this tweet? Would it put you off shopping at Ikea knowing they are using such dirty tricks as this? And if you have any Habitat shopping to do, it sounds like tomorrow might be a good day to do it!

Average Josephine x

PS. Brownie points to whoever can name the film the quote comes from! Although it’s pretty easy…

Spot the “deliberate” mistake

When I saw this on Pinterest I knew that I had to write something about it. It is an error that I see on a regular basis and drives me up the wall.

To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong spelling mistake

Spot the deliberate mistake Source: mevesdropping.tumblr.com

If you can’t see what’s wrong in that sentence, please go and look up the word “loose” in a dictionary. Off the top of my head I will say it is an adjective and means the opposite of tight. It is not a verb! “Lose”, please note that there is only one ‘o’, is the verb that the creator was looking for.

As an English Language graduate and owner of two copies of “Eats, shoots and leaves“, I am horrified by the number of errors such as this that I see every day. And not just in casual writing, on Twitter and blogs, but in newspapers and magazines. Whoever does the editing for most of the monthly glossy magazines needs a course in grammar, let me tell you that. And don’t get me started on the television. I shout at the television when people get things wrong.

But how did the situation get so bad? I know it seems like a cop-out to blame schools but education is a big issue. I was lucky when I was at school in that we had spelling tests, we were taught how to use an apostrophe, we were taught what nouns, verbs and adjectives were. I’m not sure how much of this is taught in schools now. But what I learnt is still nowhere near sufficient.

My degree was split between English Language and French and I always found French grammar particularly difficult. I could only remember rules by remembering examples. But when I went to university and started studying English Language as a subject everything became much clearer. How on earth was I meant to learn the grammar of another language when I didn’t have a clue about the grammar of my own language?

So for me, the solution to the chronic issue of bad spelling and grammar lies in education and teaching children how to do things the right way. And whilst that will not rescue the current generation it might do a little to preserve the English language in the future.

What do you think about the current state of grammar and spelling in the UK? Do you think education should be improved or is it just how the English Language is evolving?

Average Josephine x

Too big for her boots?

When I saw a blogger posting an FYI for PRs on Twitter stating that she didn’t run news stories on launches etc so whilst press releases were fine but e-mails asking for coverage were not, I stopped to think for a minute. I could understand her point but her tone was not pleasant.

Considering this is one of the most well known of Britain’s fashion bloggers (I’m not going to name names but it would probably be relatively easy to work it out), I was stunned at the lack of tact and media savvy that this tweet displayed. Granted the blogger in question probably didn’t think about the tone she was employing whilst trying to shoehorn her thoughts into 140 characters but it came across as being a bit snotty and rather arrogant.

So the question it raises is “does the familiarity that Twitter brings lead us to say things without thinking”?

I am not going to say that I have never ever tweeted something without thinking or that something I’ve said could be misconstrued a being offensive. I have tweeted people to say that comments they have made are rather offensive when they have been joking about mental illness (not a laughing matter in my book) and that they shouldn’t be advocating people stopping taking medication as what has worked for them may not work for everyone.

But for me, Twitter is very much part of my social life, I do not get any of my work through it and I am followed by only three or four work colleagues (to my knowledge). I don’t discuss my job as much as possible as I do think there are some things best left out of the public domain. But for a blogger, whose full time job is blogging, to openly berate PRs, who are probably a significant source of information for them and without whom their job would be significantly more difficult, for requesting coverage on a new product launch smacks of someone who has grown a little too big for her boots.

I can understand that someone in her position probably receives hundreds, possibly even thousands of e-mails a day and so extra is probably a pain in the neck but there are ways and means of addressing the problem. On a public forum such as Twitter is not the way to do it in my opinion. These PRs are doing a job and part of that is sending e-mails to people they think are influential and who might be able to give them some coverage. And whilst I might have mis-read the tone of her tweet, if I have then likely as not someone else will have done as well. And to annoy one PR person is to potentially lose out on an opportunity, no matter how big or successful you are.

Do you think that such a request, if you can call it that, should have been issued on Twitter? Or do you think that a little more discretion could have been used?

Average Josephine x

Dear Angelina

A polite request to Angelina Jolie:

We’ve never met. Nor are we likely to (thank God). But something has come to my attention which I feel I must share.

You are 36 years old. In other words, old enough to know better. Your partner was nominated for an Oscar and is widely considered to be one of the best looking men on the planet (I will confess, I don’t see the attraction myself). So it’s not like you’re looking for a bloke. You have children (many, many children) who will see these photos reproduced every time Oscar season comes around who will wonder “what on earth was she thinking?” and probably endure a certain degree of derision due to them.

More than any of this, you are a well-respected, Oscar winning actress and widely acclaimed humanitarian in your own right. You regularly top the sexiest women in the world polls run by lads mags such as FHM. So, why, please, why did you need to stick your leg out of what was a very nice (although somewhat dull) Atelier Versace dress like a ten dollar hooker?

Due to the split in the dress a certain degree of leg-flashing would be expected but to make sure that every time you stepped in front of the camera you were flashing your right leg (which now has its own Twitter account) was just tacky. In addition, whilst I understand that when working in the industry you do a certain degree of self-promotion is to be expected, to stand there when called to present an award, effectively saying “hey, look at my legs, I’m going to take up more of the press tomorrow than half the winners of these statues will” makes you look incredibly cheap.

So please, look up the word “elegance” in the dictionary. And next time you think about trying a stunt like this, remember it. PLEASE!

Thank you and I hope to never see so much of your right (or left, for that matter) leg ever, ever again.

Average Josephine

Naked

How do you feel when you look in the mirror? And that would be before you have a chance to put your make-up on. Are you happy with what you see?

For a lot of women, the act of putting on make-up is not merely an act of embellishing their natural beauty but a necessary mask to protect themselves against the world. They see themselves as being inadequate and unattractive without it. In fact a recent study showed that almost half of the women surveyed have negative feelings about how they look without make-up.

I love make-up and whilst I do feel prettier when wearing it, I will admit that I’m lucky if I actually manage to get some on most mornings. My view is that I get precious little enough sleep so if I can get another five minutes in the morning and sacrifice the make-up, so be it! I have been known to put it on sitting in traffic jams before now (not recommended) but as a general rule, I can’t bothered.

I am lucky though in that whilst I have the occasional random spot, I basically have very good skin. As long as I cleanse it in the evening and make sure to slap masses of moisturiser on it, it stays on a relatively even keel until my hormones start butting in. That said, if I had more issues with my skin, I’m sure that I would be ladling on the foundation and concealer like there was no tomorrow.

But when did women go from seeing make-up as an exciting luxury to an absolute necessity? As much as I seem to spend my life blaming the media, I do think that they have a certain responsibility. We are bombarded by images of celebrities that have been airbrushed into perfection. There are new foundations being brought out every week (or so it feels), offering light-reflecting particles, liquid light, better coverage, etc, etc… Is the implication that anything is an improvement on our own skin?

I know people who feel compelled to reapply their make-up (on top of their existing make-up) two or three times a day, making sure it looks “perfect”. I’ve read articles about people who will wear make-up to bed so their partner never sees them without concealer or mascara. Are they really so scared that someone might see beneath the make-up, beneath the mask that so many women wear? What made us all so scared to be seen?

I think it is a bit of a sad statement on the human condition that in this time of alleged freedom for women and equality so many of us feel compelled to hide our faces from the world, that we feel shamed by how we really look. I don’t know how we got here. I don’t know why we got here. I do think that we all need to become more comfortable with the skin we live in and our true faces, before we add the make-up. They are the only one we have and by not accepting that image in the mirror, we deny who we truly are. And if we cannot accept who we are, how can we really accept anyone else?

Are you a die-hard make-up wearer who would never be seen without having put at least foundation and mascara on? Or are you more like me, happy to wear it but equally happy when you don’t?

Average Josephine x

The land that style forgot

Vivienne Westwood has done it again. She has proclaimed that Britain is the worst dressed nation on earth and actually I’m not entirely sure I would disagree with her. Certainly if you look at the dresses on show at the Brits on Tuesday night they don’t exactly reflect well on the UK considering these people will have a significantly more to spend and thus a much more extensive range to select from than the ordinary woman on the street.

Jessie J seemed to have forgotten the bottom layer of her dress given that you could very easily see her underwear through it. I am absolutely not against flashing a bit of skin but given that the, erm, vital parts of her boobs were only covered by discreet embroidery, a more conservative bottom half would have made her look a little less like she’d stepped out in an Ann Summers nightie.

Jessie J at 2012 Brit Awards

Jessie J at 2012 Brit Awards

The definitive example of how the sheer look works best harks back to 2002 (I didn’t realise when I first thought about it that it was ten years ago) when Halle Berry wore an Elie Saab dress with a sheer embroidered top and voluminous silk skirt to collect her Oscar for Best Actress for her part in the film Monster’s Ball.

Halle Berry at the 2002 Oscars

Halle Berry at the 2002 Oscars

If you compare photos of the two, one looks classy and the other rather trashy and whilst Jessie J’s make up and hair are amazing, the dress seriously lets the side down.

As for the X factor competitors who have made it as far as being invited to the Brits, Alexandra Burke, Little Mix and Cheryl Lloyd… Oh dear, ladies, the only thing I can say is “why?!”

Little Mix, and, in particular, Jesy, have experienced a certain amount of backlash about how they look and their weight but the issue isn’t with their size. These aren’t big girls; they may be bigger than the average size 2 waif that passes for an actress these days but they are normal girls who just happen to be able to sing quite well. They haven’t been groomed by the industry that weighing more than your average 12-year-old is a fate worse than death and look all the healthier for it. Their problem is not their weight but their styling.

Little Mix at 2012 Brit Awards

Little Mix at 2012 Brit Awards

Working from left to right, the dress sense goes from “quite good” to “not too bad” to “oh dear…” to “what on earth were you thinking?!” Snake-skin leggings are only flattering on legs that actually need a bit of visual enhancement and whilst neon may be in, that yellow and black number may be designer but stylish, hell no.

Seriously girls, sack the stylist.

The final offender is Alexandra Burke and the problem with her dress is that whoever designed it (whoever you are, shame on you…) started with a draped, Grecian style dress in cobalt blue which, had it been left alone, would have been gorgeous. But for reasons best known to the designer, they decided to top it off with wooden armour plating over the shoulders. Whilst this is probably wonderful for the posture (not exactly conducive to slouching) it looks, quite simply, weird.

Alexandra Burke at 2012 Brit Awards

Alexandra Burke at 2012 Brit Awards

Ironically the sartorial highlight for me was Lana Del Rey who wore a simple, off the shoulder red dress which, by the size of her waist, had a pretty good internal corset going on. Looking at it, it could only ever have been designed by one person: Dame Vivienne Westwood. Whilst some of her clothes can be somewhat avant-garde and appear rather unwearable, when it comes to evening wear, she always pulls it out the bag. Beautifully cut and draped, her Gold Label evening dresses are on my list of “things to wear before I die”.

Lana Del Rey at 2012 Brit awards in Vivienne Westwood

Lana Del Rey at 2012 Brit awards in Vivienne Westwood

I’m not sure whether I would say that Britain is the least fashionable nation in the world but I think the least stylish is definitely up for grabs. People need to think more about whether they look good and whether an outfit actually suits their body type and less about what is hot off the catwalk as just because something is “in”, that doesn’t mean it will look good.

Would you call Britain the land that style forgot? And what do you think is the worst style faux pas?

Average Josephine x