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…

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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

Taking a battering

What many people don’t know about me is that my blog isn’t the first thing I’ve tried writing. When I was younger I was a voracious writer. By the age of fifteen I’d written two stories which were long enough to be described as books. Don’t get me wrong, they were melodramatic crap (I was a teenager, enough said), but to have written that sheer volume of words is, in my book, pretty impressive. All I wanted to do was to be a writer, to be able to spend my life moulding words for a living.

But as I got older and the pressures of life and the prospect of having to get a “real job” loomed, my writing was the one thing that fell by the wayside. A lot of it was due to the fact that as my poor depressed brain got sicker and sicker, my confidence dropped lower and lower until I had so little faith in myself as a person, let alone as a writer, I couldn’t face this thing I loved becoming one more thing I failed at.

And then nearly half a lifetime later, I discovered Twitter and through that the world of blogging. It took a couple of false starts before I started this blog and although it doesn’t have the biggest readership in the world, I am so grateful for each reader and each comment I get. I might never reach my dream of being a professional writer but having an outlet and a way to express myself is invaluable.

So when nearly two weeks ago, someone accused me of stealing copy for having offered to blog for a brand they had already covered (despite the fact that it was for a new and totally different product) and responding to two Twitter-wide tweets for bloggers, the little confidence I had gained was pretty much obliterated.

But the thing I have come to realise is that when faced with such baseless accusations, it shows much more about the person making the accusation than it does about you. Whether this blogger was worried that she’d lifted some copy or just generally insecure and worried that another blogger might produce a better post than her on a similar subject, I don’t know but unless someone has lifted copy directly from your blog, my vote would be to not accuse people, especially when you’re not aware of all the facts. It creates a lot of bad feeling and could do long-term damage to your credibility as a blogger.

As for me, I’m still very hurt, angry and upset. I’m even more upset that the issue has caused some serious damage to a long-term friendship which may well be irreparable. I’m not the sort of person to have a million and one friends so to have one take our friendship so lightly is something that hurts immensely. And the blogger? Well, time will tell what happens but it’s one time I really hope that Lady Gaga was right:

Lady Gaga "Karma" quote

Average Josephine x

Forgiven and forgotten?

When Sam Baker, the editor of Red Magazine, retweeted a Huffington Post article on Friday, I could have thrown something. Considering I was holding my phone and a cup of tea, neither would have ended well.  It took me a while to be able to write a rational post about it or I would have had this up sooner.  I wasn’t upset at the retweet but the subject of the article: Rihanna and her reported decision to feature Chris Brown in a remix of her upccoming single, “Birthday Cake”, after she invited him to her birthday party and he asked all the guests to sign confidentiality waivers.

There are so many things wrong with this situation that I almost don’t know where to start. This is the Chris Brown that she pressed charges against for an assault that left her battered and bruised. If anyone thinks that it wasn’t that serious then please read this police report and see whether you think it’s serious enough to warrant prosecution.

Many people have said that Brown should be forgiven for his actions and allowed to live his life as he wishes and that if Rihanna has forgiven him then why can’t the rest of the world? But it isn’t that simple, for so many reasons.

If Brown had been truly remorseful then that would be one thing although I don’t think anyone should have been having perform at a major music event (yes, Grammys, I would be referring to you) until he had fulfilled the terms of his sentence and his probation was completed in August 2014. He still has a long way to go. But when you consider that he doesn’t appear to have changed, why should he be forgiven? To be forgiven in my world, you need to have shown true remorse, to have changed the things that caused you to react that way in the first place. Brown doesn’t appear to have changed at all. When asked on “Good Morning, America” about the incident with Rihanna he commented that it wasn’t really a big deal anymore but followed it up by smashing the window of his dressing room and storming, shirtless, out of the building. When some singers and actors tweeted their distaste that Brown had been asked to perform at the Grammys, Brown retaliated by tweeting “HATE ALL U WANT BECUZ I GOT A GRAMMY Now! That’s the ultimate FUCK OFF!“. Whilst the tweet was later deleted (I suspect his management threw a tantrum about his image or similar) it does demonstrate that this is still a highly volatile individual.

Chris Brown tweet Grammy win

Chris Brown's 'celebratory' tweet after his Grammy win

As for Rihanna, I am worried about the effect of her actions. One of the problems with domestic violence is that as well as being physically damaging, the abuser often emotionally abuses their partner to the extent that they believe that they are completely unloveable and no-one other than this person who beats them could ever love them. Rihanna, as much as she may not want to be, has become an example to women of how to deal with a man who beats them. She went straight to the police and pressed charges even though that meant this highly personal and probably highly embarassing incident being dragged into the spotlight. She did the thing that so many women cannot do: she left.

So for her to go back, to allow someone who did this to her back into her life, Rihanna is sending out the wrong message: that it is safe to let these men back into your life. For so many women, it turns out to be the last thing they do.

I understand that one incident, even one so appalling as what Chris Brown put Rihanna through cannot necessarily destroy the love between two people. I understand that she may have forgiven him and considering they work in the same industry, it must be nigh on impossible for her to avoid him. But no matter how much she may love him or want to forgive him, she owes it to herself, and every other woman in the same position, to stay away.

Could you ever forgive a man who beat you up how Chris Brown did? And do you think he deserves forgiveness?

Average Josephine x

A waste of good cake

Despite the fact that I can’t eat the majority of cakes now, I still collect cake recipes like a mad woman as I do still bake (half of my recipes board on Pinterest is cake related). Other people just benefit from the sugary goodness and my waistline benefits from me not eating it.

But there is a type of cake which I don’t like and despite it being the it cake of the moment, I don’t really see the point of.

Red velvet cake.

Red Velvet Cake. Source: www.joyofbaking.com

Red Velvet Cake. Source: http://www.joyofbaking.com

I have only had it once and that was a cupcake from none other than the Hummingbird Bakery so it should have been the best going but it was a bit dry (which might have been the baking) and tasted like food colouring. Yep, you could taste the colouring in there. Not pleasant. And this is the big reason I don’t do red velvet cake. Because the modern recipe has corrupted what was a traditional recipe from America’s deep South where the red the name refers to came from a reaction between the cocoa and the buttermilk the cake contained. Whilst even the most authentic recipes contained colouring it wasn’t in the quantities that are used now. Whilst this is partly due to a change in the processing of cocoa (I’m not going to get into the science of it) which makes the red tinge more pronounced, as time has gone by people have got more and more fixated on the ‘red’ part of red velvet cake rather than the cake itself.

We do not need red velvet pancakes, brownies, cheesecake or anything else and we certainly don’t need blue velvet cake (the idea makes my head hurt). And if you really want red velvet cake, then do the best thing for your body and make chocolate beetroot cake. At least that way you can claim to have had a vegetable portion with your pudding.

Are you a red velvet cake fan? Or do you prefer your cake minus the massive amounts of colouring?

Average Josephine x

Girls who are boys who like boys to be girls…

Andrej Pejic walking for Jean Paul Gaultier

Andrej Pejic walking for Jean Paul Gaultier

If, like me, you were a teenager in the 90s it is highly unlikely that you won’t recognise these lyrics as they come from one of Blur’s early hits, Girls and Boys from their ‘Parklife’ album. As a true Britpop girl, I had to pick a side; was I a Blur girl or Oasis? And there was only one answer as far as I was concerned. Blur, all the way. I mean, did you see Alex James?! Now, not so much but then?

What I don’t think Damon Albarn foresaw whe he wrote was the current situation where we have a male model being used, quite extensively, to model women’s clothes. The model is of course Andrej Pejic, who, when you look at his face, you’d never know he wasn’t female. This man is beautiful. He has slightly hooded blue eyes, high cheekbones, full lips… If you look at his face, surrounded by long, blonde hair, you wouldn’t guess he was male. His features are incredibly feminine.

Andrej Pejic_

Andrej Pejic. Source: http://www.browsebiography.com

And if he was being used to advertise beauty products, I wouldn’t have a problem. And I should make it clear that my problem isn’t with Pejic per se, he is simply taking advantage of the opportunities being offered to him. But when a man, who despite the work he has evidently put in to reduce his waist size, still has the broad shoulders and flat chest of a man, is being hired to advertise bras and bikinis, you have to wonder what exactly designers think women look like?

andrej pejic bra advert for Hema

andrej pejic bra advert for Hema. Source: http://www.mirror.co.uk

As a woman who has boobs and hips in abundance, I find it really kind of offensive that a designer thinks that his designs, aimed at women, will look best on a man. An oustandingly beautiful man, no doubt, but he still has a man’s figure. It’s bad enough that the majority of models have the bodies of pre-pubescent girls but to actually put a bloke on the catwalk? In addition, to have a man advertising bras is blatantly ridiculous. By writing about it, I have further achieved the company’s aims but I really feel strongly about this.

Women are under a ridiculous amount of pressure to look a certain way. Even before you take the body fat issue into account (because of the lack of boobs and hips their body fat is far lower than women’s) clothes will look different on a man than on a woman. The broader shoulders and smaller hips will make things hang differently and I think a lot of women are likely to consider how they hang on them as compared to Pejic, to be worse.

So to the designers out there, for the love of God, if you’re designing for women then use women in your catwalk shows and adverts. Why put clothes on someone who was never intended to wear them?

Would you buy clothes that you have seen advertised by a man?

Average Josephine x

To print or not to print

When I heard rumours of a model with a 20″ waist on Twitter, I was horrified. This girl must be anorexic, I thought, and how irresponsible of the Daily Mail (yes, the article was in the Daily Fail Mail) for printing it when the girl was so clearly ill.

Ioana Spangenberg

Ioana Spangenberg. Source in2eastafrica.net

Having read the article, I still think that the Mail has been irresponsible but not for the same reasons. The model in question is Ioana Spangenberg, who is Romanian, aged 30 and at 5’6″ weighs a mere 6 stone which would give her a BMI of 13.6. Whilst the BMI is an admittedly flawed measure, if you consider that 18.5 and below is classified as being underweight, there is no way that she can be healthy.

Mrs Spangenberg claims to eat three big meals a day and snack on chocolate and crisps. I am not a doctor and I don’t claim to be so whether she has an eating disorder or a metabolic problem I don’t know, but for her to maintain such a low weight her metabolism would have to be extraordinarily high. And I mean obscenely high. To a point where it’s unhealthy.

I still maintain that publishing pictures of this woman is irresponsible given she’s claiming to be healthy. If she was anorexic and admitting she had an illness and this picture was a warning to others about the damage she has done to her body that would be one thing. But she’s not. And she needs help rather than publicity.

The other thing that is irresponsible is that the Mail does not disclose that in their picture Mrs Spangenberg is in fact wearing a corset and that said 20″ waist is not natural but only achieved when wearing a steel boned corset. She’s still unhealthy but if her real figure were shown rather than the restricted version of it (the picture in the Mail is not good quality so I have used one from a different source), the story would not be nearly as dramatic. The world record for the smallest waist whilst wearing a corset is in fact a ridiculously tiny 16″ (about the size of a big jar of mayonnaise) so whilst 20″ is tiny, it isn’t as horrific as it sounds.

My big issue with this piece of “journalism” is two-fold. It does appear that this woman is being exploited for a story. Quite what her problem is I don’t know but she cannot be healthy with a BMI so low. She needs medical attention, not media speculation. As for the omitted aspect of the story that she is wearing a corset and her waistline isn’t actually 20″, they are turning a person into a freak show by implying that it’s natural. And whilst I can’t entirely blame the Daily Mail as they only cater to an audience, they should at least attempt to produce a balanced piece.

But hey, why would they let a little thing like the truth get in the way of a good article?

Average Josephine x