No means no

I have just read something so horrifying that I almost couldn’t believe it. I thought that in modern society (I apologise for sounding like my mother) it was a commonly accepted fact that “no means no”, regardless of when it was said and the relationship that two people may be having. It doesn’t matter whether she’s your girlfriend, your wife, your best mate or your total stranger, no means no. Right?

So when I read comments like “girlfriends should give it up when asked. If not, I’m fine with taking it”, “rape is repugnant. the act of forcefully finishing sex with a recalcitrant wife/partner is *not rape*”, “women consent when they marry. If you marry, you agree to sex”, “it’s morrally impossible for a man to rape his wife as consent is assumed”… I was so appalled I thought I was going to be sick.

The person in question (on Twitter getting a truckload of well deserved abuse) believes that the current definition of rape in legal terms has been stretched too far, thus wives and girlfriends can’t claim rape as by getting into the relationship they had already consented to sex. He believes if someone isn’t screaming or shouting or in pain it isn’t rape. Now let me say it again: no means no. If you’re in a relationship with someone then surely you should love or at least like them enough to respect their views about what happens to their body.

Now maybe I’m being a bit naive thinking that everyone thinks like this. So if the men we love aren’t going to stand up for us then we have to stand up for ourselves. And I know that we shouldn’t have to. I can’t say I know reporting a rape is the hardest thing in the world because I don’t know. I haven’t had to make that decision. But I do know that some hideously small proportion of rapes are reported and something horrific like only 6% of these resulting in prosecution. And I know that date rape is difficult to prosecute because of the “he said, she said” issue which means that prosecuting a man for raping his wife or girlfriend will be even harder. But rape is rape. And unfortunately in order for the world to see rape within a relationship for the heinous crime it is, it needs to be reported and prosecuted.

And boys, for the love of God, remember, no means no. Consent cannot be assumed. Rape is rape. Never forget that.

Average Josephine x

Advertisements

Rockett St George: website wonders

I should be banned from the internet.

No, really, there needs to be a block on my computer that stops me from going to any website that has a function where I can BUY anything. Anything at all. I am that broke and the wonderful thing about the internet is, unlike the current state of the high street, you can find lots and lots of little independent shops that sell all sorts of WONDERFUL things.

Case in point: Rockett St George. I’ve been aware of this site for a very long time, I think I heard of them not long after they opened four and a half years ago. One of the reasons they were mentioned in a lot of magazines is that they were one of the first people to stock wall stickers. Whilst now wall stickers are stocked here, there and everywhere, there was a time when they were actually quite scarce.

Rockett St George still stock wall stickers although I will confess that I far prefer their wallpaper range. Selected from a number of small independent designers, the designs are different and quirky and some of them are worlds away from what you normally think of as “wallpaper”. Personally I love the Barneby Gates All Star wallpaper in gun metal and almost all of the Engineer Collection. The Engineer Collection papers come in a selection of patterns so you can put corrugated iron, wood panelling or even an entire library on your walls without sacrificing any space.

Rockett St George wallpaper

Their lighting collection is also rather amazing as there is something for everyone. For the girly girl there is a fabulous feathered shade for a ceiling pendant, ideal for a teenage girl, or the teenage girl in all of us! For the boys, there is a chandelier that any man can be proud of. It’s made of beer bottles. Alas, they’re empty so you don’t get a ready supply of beer but it will certainly give you a talking point. And if you just love all things a bit quirky there is a range of lights made out of bowler and top hats, lined in either silver or gold metal to reflect the light. Call it an ironic way to light up a dressing room!

Rockett St George lighting

As for everything else, it’s all amazing. There is some wonderful industrial style furniture which is new in this spring, including a bookshelf with a ladder. There are some fantastic pieces of artwork, typically my favourite is one of the most expensive, a heart on a canvas made entirely of badges. And a black decanter with a skull and crossbones on it brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “what’s your poison?”

And how can you not love a website that offers the tiniest, prettiest caravan in the history of the world for sale?

Rockett St George furniture,caravan sunflower clock

All in all, Rockett St George is achingly cool and whilst unfortunately the prices do reflect that a bit, there is something there for everyone. So go on, have a look. I defy you not to find at least one thing to put on the wishlist!

What’s your favourite Rockett St George item? Please let me know, I’m addicted!

Average Josephine x

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

Mending broken hearts

As I wrote yesterday, I am a big Radley fan. Their classic bags are well made and elegant and will last a lifetime. What I didn’t realise until yesterday when researching my post was they had a blog. Being the fan, and all round nosy parker, that I am I subscribed to the blog and received an update this morning.

What I didn’t realise was that Radley, in partnership with Laura Bailey, their first brand ambassador, are supporting the British Heart Foundation by releasing a limited edition version of their cross body bag with a heart tag mirror. The mirror is also available separately and profits from both items will be donated to the British Heart Foundation.

Radley BHF Across body bag

Radley's British Heart Foundation Across Body Bag £99 with £14.85 being donated to BHF

What is unusual for such a donation is that Radley have specified the actual profit they will donate from each item, being £14.85 from each bag sold and £2.85 from each mirror. In percentage terms this equates to 15% of the cost of each bag, so a significant amount, unlike the 10p or similar donated from the sale of each pack of charity Christmas cards.

The bag itself is simple enough that it would go with everything, and being cross body, it leaves your hands free to do other things, be that carry your shopping, a cup of coffee or push a pram. And the attached mirror is always useful for quick touch ups of lipstick, or just to check you haven’t got spinach stuck in your teeth.

The bag and mirror are available from www.radley.co.uk and are priced £99 and £19 respectively.

So, go on. Just think of it as guilt free shopping 😉

Average Josephine x

Trial and error

Baking sometimes is a bit like dating. You flirt with new recipes and new cookbooks. You might even take them out on a couple of dates. But it takes a long time to find “The One”.

When it comes to the humble chocolate chip cookie, I have dated a lot. It’s a really simple thing. It’s a cookie with chocolate chips in. Really, how complicated can it be?! But apparently the ultimate in chocolate chip cookies is hard to find. The worst thing is that even after I found The One, I kept looking. I even cheated, but only once. I blame James Martin for the incident. Sometimes a girl can’t resist Sweet Baby James…

chocolate chip cookies

But after that, there really only was one recipe for me. It’s perfect. It should be considering the chef whose creation it is was working at a Michelin starred restaurant when she wrote the book that contains it. The chef in question is Claire Clark who at the time was the pastry chef at the French Laundry in California.

The book, Indulge, is amazing with recipes from the achievable to the “only if you’re a trained pastry chef” but I do desperately want to conquer them all. In the meantime, the cookies are to die for and the recipe is as follows:

  • 185g plain flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 125g softened, unsalted butter
  • 165g soft dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 medium egg, lightly beaten
  • 225g dark chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Cream together the butter and the sugar which is why it is important the butter is soft. I confess I do this in my (very pretty) Kitchen Aid mixer so if the butter isn’t really soft it doesn’t matter, it’s not my arm that dies. If your butter is a bit hard then chop it into cubes and put it in the microwave for a few seconds or, if your bowl is oven-proof, then plonk it in the oven for a minute or so. Do not, however, do my trick and end up with melted butter. It makes life somewhat awkward…

When these are nice and pale and fluffy (and your arm feels like it’s about to drop off), start adding the egg and vanilla, a little bit at a time. If you add too much then it will curdle but don’t panic if it does, just add a tablespoon full of the flour. No bother.

Once you’ve added all the egg and vanilla, fold through the flour and bicarbonate of soda. Do this very gently as you don’t want to overwork the gluten or you will end up with chewy cookies. And that is not chewy in a good way.

Once the flour is mixed in then all that is left is the chocolate. And there is a lot of chocolate. Sometimes it feels like there is more chocolate than cookie but how can that be a bad thing? Stir this through the dough as gently as you can in order to get the chocolate mixed through the dough completely.

Now of course you can just eat it at this stage (although I do have to say, there are raw eggs so pregnant women, elderly people and small children really shouldn’t have any) but to actually make cookies, put about a tablespoon of mixture on a baking sheet but only put about six on a big baking sheet or they will all join together when they bake.

Bake for about 10-12 minutes. It is a bit of a vague one because it depends on so many things, exactly how hot your oven is, how well your baking sheet conducts heat… They should be puffed up and a bit golden. You don’t want to have them too baked or they’ll be crunchy rather than a bit gooey.

So there you are, the perfect chocolate chip cookie. And even better, you should end up with about 20 of them. Glass of milk and a book, what more do you need?

Average Josephine x