Thursday, 31 May 2012

Garbage Panda Rocks !!

As I type Hubbie is in the kitchen listening to the radio which usually veers only a few steps from Radio 4 to BBC London. It is currently on a station called Garbage Panda which has to be the best name for a music station - or indeed anything - that I have heard in a long time. My attention was drawn by the music being played which really caught my ear and apparently it's remit is rockabilly and an assortment of other sounds.

They're not the usual tunes we play at home (with Hubbie being a Fall fan and my adoration of Prince we don't often play music together anyway), but music is an enormous part of our lives. Hubbie plays guitar and I've been known to dabble in drums, saxaphone and tenor recorder over the years. We've been singing to our son since before he was born so he enjoys music - most little ones do as far as I can tell - and he does love to bop around.

Music is so intrinsic to my life that I cannot imagine anyone not being interested in it or having a passion for certain songs or tunes. I met a man once who told me he really wasn't into music and I was floored. I had assumed (wrongly) that being from Ireland he'd have grown up surrounded by music and therefore would love it, but no he had no favourite music or interest in it at all.

My parents playing Indian music and my Mum singing when she thought no one was listening still form the most potent of my childhood memories. There are songs from films that are evocative of a particular time and place and the haunting soundtrack of Pakeeza makes me shudder as I recall my Dad telling me the beautiful lead actress died during the filming so a lot of the shots are of her body double.

When I hear the Wannadies You and Me Song I think of my wedding day and our first dance. It wasn't a great choice to dance to wearing a sari, but still it made us happy and no one was really paying any attention to us mucking around up on the makeshift stage anyway.

The opening bars of the Smiths How Soon is Now remind me of Digbeth Institute in Birmingham. Ok, bear with me on this. When I was at uni me and Neil went to see Jesus Jones and they were supported by Soho - twins whose only hit song (Hippychick) began with those very opening bars. They sort of disappeared pretty soon after that (as did Jesus Jones to be honest).

It's also where we saw Killing Joke - possibly my favourite band of all time. Their song Love Like Blood actually makes me tingle when I hear it. It's a powerful and resounding anthem from a highly political band. I was so pleased to get a ticket to see them a few years ago so when the gig was rescheduled for two weeks after my son was born I was gutted to miss seeing them again.

I could go on about politics and music (not in a Red Wedge sense you understand) but I will just mention the La's There She Goes which was played in the Student Union at my Uni the day Margaret Thatcher resigned. Even now I associate that song with a happy, happy day and the sense of humour of whoever the DJ was that night.

So as you can see music is not only the food of love, it's the food of life. Sometimes a bit rich and overwhelming, sometimes basic and just enough. Always emotive and always essential.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Don't call me (cry) baby !!

I've always loved watching movies and when I was a younger (and single) woman I used to go to the cinema every week with my good friend Sandra and we'd enjoy the latest offerings. Of course now I'm married and a mother I barely go to the cinema - apart from last week when the wonderful Rachel babysat so me and Hubbie could go and watch Avengers Assemble, bloody brilliant it was too !! So now I tend to catch movies on the telly or watch them when the baby is asleep which means I don't fully pay attention as I'm usually folding washing or checking email at the same time.

This week we've been testing out Netflix and I decided to watch The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas while the baby had his afternoon nap. It was very different from what I had been expecting and I found myself drawn in so far that by the denouement of the film I was actually panicking and pleading with the film to not do this and was absolutely beside myself by the harrowing end of it. It's not often a movie has that effect on me (not least as I'm not paying attention so I've no idea what's actually going on). However, I am prone to crying during films so in no particular order here are my top weepies:

Miracle on 34th Street (every version): it's the bit where we realise that Santa can talk to all children. Richard Attenborough signing with the little girl has me bawling like an infant every time - even thinking about it sets me off

Juno: pretty much the entire movie has me crying, but when Jennifer Garner opens Juno's letter and when she holds her son I am a wreck

Sex & the City: yes I know and I feel you judge me and I just don't care. Carrie's wedding day makes me cry and makes me angry all at once - no mean feat ! 

Marley & Me: I won't say why in case you haven't seen it and to be honest unless you can stand the beige one for the length of this film you probably won't watch it. Suffice it to say that a film about a dog is going to make me cry at some point. 

Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham: a very traditional Bollywood movie and traditionally I sob my heart out at the old family separated for some stupid reason and reunited at the end scenario

The Shawshank Redemption: So many reasons to cry, but more than anything when Red is working in the supermarket and puts up his hand and asks for a "bathroom break boss"- heartrending

Love Actually: Emma Thompson listening to Joni Mitchell and crying - not an original choice I grant you, but guaranteed to make me weep every time

Truly, Madly, Deeply: only the hardest of hearts could watch Juliet Stevenson snottily sobbing "I miss him so much" and be unmoved

Million Dollar Baby: Hilary Swank telling her family where to go - and Mr Eastwood sitting with her. Just recalling this is making me go 

Precious: I really had to work myself up to watch this as I knew it was going to be hard going - amazingly it isn't entirely morose, but a tear jerker nonetheless 

It's not an exhaustive list - like I said it doesn't take much to make me cry - but you get the general idea. I didn't even mention Toy Story, or Dumbo, or the Lion King, but animation that makes me cry is a whole other category for another day.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

I want world peace (and a flatter stomach please)

Last week I had a rare night out with some yummy mummies from a baby group I've taken my boy to for over a year. They really are yummy being slimmer, younger and considerably better looking than me (even the ones who are pregnant again - how demoralising is that ?) so I sat at the dumpy, middle-aged & unattractive section of the table that I had designated for myself. Envy is an ugly thing so I figured the noise of the restaurant and my distance from the others would disguise the gnashing of my teeth. I distracted myself from their loveliness by noshing my pasta and debating whether it would be a bad idea to order tiramisu. For the record, it is never a bad idea to order tiramisu unless you care about getting into slim fit jeans.

Then today a pal of mine has tweeted a link to an article about Aishwarya Rai and her post baby weight gain and the consternation it has caused the Indian media. For those unfamiliar with the phenomenon of Ash she is an ex-Miss World, Bollywood and Hollywood actress and married into the most famous acting family in India (her father in law was voted most popular movie actor in a BBC poll some years ago much to the shock of Westerners who had never heard of Amitabh Bachan). In November last year Aishwarya gave birth to a daughter and since then there has been fevered comment on her weight gain and apparent disinterest in losing it. According to the magazines and bitchy blogs in India it is her duty as a star to set a good example of a slim body and to "do a Posh." Of course we're all familiar with the slim body that slebs parade at six weeks post-partum and even I joked with the Obstetrician who performed my emergency Cesarean that I'd like a "Posh tuck." They must hear that joke at least ten times a day - poor loves smile weakly and just say "not on the NHS dearie."

My body loathing is legendary and a few years ago I finally slimmed down to a size ten and wore all the clothes I had thought I'd never get into. Then I fell pregnant and was overwhelmed with the love I felt for my swelling body when I was pregnant. I was so convinced that I'd be able to get back into the small sizes that the positivity gave way almost immediately that my son was born to a sense of failure that I wasn't as slim as every other new mother I met. There was even a woman a few beds away from me who didn't even look like she'd actually given birth despite the evidence to the contrary snoring softly in the cot next to her. My point is that we put ourselves under enough pressure to lose weight without other people reminding us that we're not as slim and our cheekbones aren't as defined as they once were.

I spent all afternoon sorting out my wardrobes and deciding not to dress like a frumpy Mummy any more. The saying goes that you should dress for the job you want. I can't see myself dressing in a bikini, but it's the only time in my life that I can even approximate looking like a Miss World. Take a look at the post baby Aishwarya and see if you think I have any hope at all…

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan From Hot Chick To Fat Aunt: Her name “sexy and curve girl” is converted into a “aunty” due to fat.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

And now for something a bit serious

There were two news stories that I took particular interest in this week and I wanted to share some thoughts on them.

The first was a news item about the arrest of nine men from Rochdale and Oldham who had been involved in systematic grooming and sexual abuse of young girls. Comment and opinion has come from quarters as diverse as the BNP and the chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Interestingly enough they seem to be saying about the same thing - that race is a factor as 8 of the men are Pakistani and one is from Afganistan. The assertion has been that they targeted white girls due to cultural attitudes towards sexuality. This completely ignores the fact that abuse is abuse regardless of the ethnicity of the victim or perpetrator. It also turns a blind eye to the abuse that takes place within the Asian community (which is the catch-all term being used to describe these men) and goes unspoken about. Additionally there is the practice of underage marriage which pretty much sanctions child abuse and is more common than we are led to believe. To make this about race is unnecessary as it takes away from the reality that these are horrific and cruel acts committed by nasty people. In communities where it is the custom to call all adults uncle and aunty and to show respect to them a child can be placed in a vulnerable situation and not feel able to report it to anyone. Targeting complete strangers and luring them into a dangerous situation is downright criminal and thankfully these men have been caught and charged. Don't even get me started on how unhelpful Trevor Phillips' comments are - just read them and decide for yourself: http: BBC News website

The other news item playing out towards the end of this week was the cover of Time magazine to illustrate an article about attachment parenting. In case you haven't seen it this is the photo:

ohhh.jpgThe various debates on radio and online have included spokespeople from Mumsnet and other parenting organisations. All of them commenting on the pose of the photograph and not the article itself. What was a piece about attachment parenting has become outrage at a woman defiantly appearing to breastfeed a child who can stand and look at the camera. Not for them the traditional babe in arms pose we are used to seeing (or not as the case may be). The various threads of discussion I've followed have been about whether or not prolonged breastfeeding is about the child or the mother. I breastfed my son and wanted to do so for as long as it suited him. Eventually at 14 months I had to concede that he wasn't really feeding any more and it was about me wanting to hold him close and keep the bond we had developed. When he was first born and we were in hospital for a few days I fed him for hours at a time and holding him close was just the most wonderful sensation. Being able to let go of that closeness is difficult, but I have noticed that as he grows he chooses how to be close to me and this autonomy and independence is important. It has always been important that my son feels close to both me and Hubbie and they also have a very affectionate relationship. Being able to breastfeed is a wonderful way to build a bond with your child and one I'd recommend to anyone. However, it isn't always possible for a mother to breastfeed and it isn't an option for the father so attachment comes in many other forms. The magic 2 year goal for breastfeeding is taken from the World Health Organisation guidance to women in the whole world. It is the safest, most hygienic and cheapest option for mothers of babies born in countries where water is not clean or accessible and where healthcare is not freely available. However, in a culture where we have the choice it is the tyranny of the 'Mummy mafia' that makes breastfeeding for years the gold standard of caring. If I sought validation from the Supermums I'd have serious concerns about my own sanity.

Next time: back to usual light-hearted self deprecating schtick I promise :o)

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Let's hear it for the boy... who wears glasses

I've always been fascinated by the idea that a man becomes more distinguished with age while a woman just gets castigated for trying too hard to hold onto her youth. Similarly wearing glasses is not considered a passion killer for men, but the old phrase 'men don't make passes at girls who wear glasses' was so deeply ingrained in my psyche that I refused to be seen in public in my glasses for the first ten years of my glasses wearing life. Even now I am convinced that I'm treated differently when I wear them, although it's probably the rest of my 'can't be bothered to make an effort' outfit of jogging bottoms and ragged old uni sweatshirt that give offence rather than my eyewear.

For my own part I've always been partial to a bookish looking chap (Exhibit A: Hubbie) and think that it's quite sexy to look a bit nerdy. I prefer to know that a man can speak another language as it just isn't appealing to me to be able to bench press a London bus. Of course if the man in question is also stacked that's a bonus, but I'm guilty of assuming that if he's pretty or fit he's probably a bit thick. In my dating days I was set up with a chap who I was assured was just right for me. As were they all, but proved in reality the legend 'no plan can withstand contact with the enemy' to be true. This truism was etched onto the wall of my friend's downstairs loo for many years (and probably still is).

I digress, of course, but the point is that once I met this man he was as far from right for me as humanly possible. It started off ok with his impressive collection of vinyl and a lovely flat with skylight in the leafy environs of Southfields. He showed me his car - which he loved and which was made of plastic and was an Alpha Romeo and was red. That's all I recall of the car - sorry Top Gear fanatics. We were supposed to have lunch, but for some reason we ended up eating cheese on toast in his flat - oh don't worry it gets worse.  For a start he didn't appear to have any books. I asked if he read and he told me of course he did and pointed out the motoring magazines on the coffee table. Sharp intake of breath as I realised I was in the company of someone who owned no books, not a one. Now I may have mentioned this before, but I will say it again for emphasis. If you say to me that you don't read you may as well say that you kill small animals for fun or you eat children for a snack.

It's almost as bad as when I was set up with a man who "is just right for you - he likes films." Now there's my "likes films" which is the Blues Brothers, Some Like it Hot and Blade Runner and there was his which was pretty much Star Wars and that's it. The only saving grace was that we could blend in and avoid each other as we were at a fancy dress party where I went as Minnie Mouse (with ears I'd fashioned from a cereal packet) and he was some unidentified african leader. I shudder to imagine who exactly it was in those pre-freed Nelson Mandela days.

I guess my point is that you can't really decide who someone else is going to be attracted to based on what you know about them. Some people genuinely do like the opposite of themselves and some prefer a person who likes all the same things as them. I even know one couple who look so alike that they used to be mistaken for siblings rather than husband and wife - now that is just icky !!

Which brings me back to men who look a bit clever (whether or not they wear glasses) and as always to George Clooney who is both hunky and clever, John Cusack who is super clever and more than a little handsome and Alex O'Loughlin who… well he's just delicious so who cares if he's bright ?