Friday, 27 February 2009

Wet Wet Wet

Having pondered the marketing ploy of suggesting women of a certain age want to date their cats, I want to turn my attention now to another genre of advert on television at the moment which also both puzzles and disturbs me.

In one advert we see women at play, relaxing in the sauna, chatting on the telephone, pushing toddlers in buggies, laughing gaily throughout. On the surface of it these seem humdrum enough activities _ I certainly don't find them inherently hysterical - but the women in the ad must have been on the vodka and happy pills since breakfast because the mere sight of a friend in a facepack is enough to make them piss themselves.

No, really.

It turns out that all these women have a "sensitive bladder" which means that all the time they were chuckling at how much fun it is to own a telephone they were just going with the flow, confident in the knowledge that their absorbent pad would spare them any embarrassment. I find it slightly unsettling to think that all these women were just dribbling and dripping away like a faulty drain and just laughing about it. Surely they should be considering some professional help with this problem? If it was a leaky tap they would call a plumber. Yet a leaky bladder doesn't warrant a call to the doctor. This bothers me.

There is a second advert, for a rival brand of piss pad, which opts to go for the "don't be afraid to stand out" angle. Of course, some might argue that wetting your pants whilst queueing for a latte at Starbucks might make you stand out quite enough already, but apparently the advertisers actually mean that you no longer need to hide away, avoid sneezing or only sit on wipe clean surfaces if you stick their product in your undies. You can put on a brightly coloured frock and jump around, cough your lungs up, laugh and no one will know that your gusset is suddenly carrying a heavy load.

I think what concerns me is that urinary incontinence is a common problem for women. Thankfully it is, in most cases, entirely treatable. Pelvic floor exercises solve most stress incontinence issues, and there are medical and surgical options for more complex causes. While I can see that if you are constantly in danger of wetting yourself an absorbent pad lets you get on with things outside the confines of the lavatory, it shouldn't be seen as a permanent fix. Because it is less embarrassing to pick up a box of pads than to visit the doctor I foresee many women needlessly tolerating a condition, spending a great deal of money in the process, (along with joining the disposable nappy and sanitary towel users in creating more landfill horridness) when they could probably do some exercises and be fine.

I feel much the same way about the sudden proliferation of extra nappies for toddlers. These strange "pull-up pants" for potty training, and night time pants so that if they wet the bed the sheets are still fine. No, say I! There is no better incentive not to piss your pants than feeling wet, cold and horrible a few minutes later. If you have a dry weave top sheet and moisture lockaway core where's the incentive?

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Misplaced Desire

There is an advert on the television at the moment which puzzles and disturbs me in equal measure.

To the strains of the sultry "Fever" a woman has a romantic candlelit dinner with her cat.

It's not even a new theme. This particular brand of cat food has used the same premise - glamour puss has hot date with furry four legged puss - for nearly two decades, at least. I am perplexed. Do the advertising executives have client meetings where they point at a pie chart and claim that the huge segment shaded in red is their target audience, women in their thirties who are unable to form meaningful relationships with others and have consequently developed an inappropriate fixation on their cat?

In my opinion they fall between two stools here. If you have the kind of mental disorder that makes you want to seduce your pet and you've gone to all the trouble of putting on a sexy little black dress, dimming the lights and carefully selecting your mood music then surely you're not going to ruin it all by serving up a small tin of horse meat? A grilled chicken breast is a minimum requirement, I think. Maybe some smoked salmon. If, on the other hand, like me, you don't actually fancy your feline and just buy it anything that happens to be on offer then you are unlikely to shell out on a tiny, overpriced tin of "gourmet" cat food no matter how sexy the advert makes it sound.

I simply do not know exactly who this advert is designed to appeal to. I mean, I like cats, but I don't choose them as dinner companions. Men may have their faults but they are not as prone to dragging the food off the plate to eat from the floor in preference, licking their arse to indicate boredom or yakking up the gourmet fine dining on your duvet later. They also tend to arrive with flowers or wine, rather than a half dead rodent clamped in their jaws, growling fiercely when you say "let me just take that for you".

But perhaps I am missing something somewhere, and an evening with Mr Fluffy is worth getting your hair done and shaving your legs for. Tell me truthfully - would you ever choose a pet for your dinner date?

Sunday, 22 February 2009

It's Hard

You say that you will, but you won't
You insist you do, but you don't
You really believe that you try
It's hard, you're a popular guy

You promise but then you forget
You offer but later regret
You say "soon", you never say "now"
It's hard, you've no time to allow

You think stubbornness makes you strong
You go to ground when you are wrong
You stall when you should make amends
It's hard, I deserve better friends.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Longer Lasting Loving

Is it possible to have a "brilliant and exciting sex life" after many years together? This is the question that was posed in the comments box of my preceding post.

My answer is yes, if you are prepared to make an effort and not just fuck off with some twonk from the internet as soon as you encounter a bit of a dry spell.

I met the man who would become my husband in November 1984 and we are still together today. It has not always been a smooth journey. Yet somehow, here we are. And I enjoy wriggling around on his love prong just as much as I ever did. More, really, given that the 19 year old version of my husband had bags of enthusiasm yet nowhere near as much skill and stamina as his older counterpart.

"But how do you keep the passion alive?"I hear you ask.

"It's not always easy," I answer, "but I would say the secret is to treat your partner like you would a lover."

Married men may often complain that their wives no longer do all the things they used to - oral sex, shaving their legs, laughing at his jokes - while in turn their wives complain that their husbands no longer do all they things they used to, such as taking them out to dinner, bathing before bedtime and laughing at their jokes.

I often read advice columnists stating that couples should schedule time for making sweet lurve. That's all well and good but I think it is equally, if not more, important to schedule time to just take an interest in your partner. After all, if your husband has had his nose in a book, been engrossed on Facebook or watching football on the telly all night, then him suddenly standing up and announcing it's ten o'clock and sausage time is not going to get your juices flowing.

The heady rush of initial infatuation isn't entirely based upon non stop shagging. A new lover is a source of constant fascination. Texts, emails and phone calls are exchanged in a breathless flurry. Everything they do is interesting. What do they think of the situation in Gaza? What's their favourite colour? What are they wearing? What did they have for tea? What are they thinking now?

There is an assumption that when you have been with a partner for any length of time you know all their opinions, have heard all their jokes and nothing they say or do will contain any surprises. This is bollocks. We don't ever truly know another person fully, we just assume we do because surely we have to by now? So we stop listening, we stop actively looking. We forget who we were first attracted to because we no longer see them, not really.

If you can refocus on your partner, take an interest in them again, it reaps dividends. A major part of attraction is feeling attractive. Somebody actually noticing what you are wearing, laughing at your funny story about your day, caring about your little triumphs and disasters is amazingly alluring. After all, this level of attention is what draws people to infidelity just as much as the lure of sex. "I just wanted to feel desireable again," is the cry you will often hear. "It was so nice to feel interesting!"

There are other methods to employ, of course. You can wear exotic lingerie. You can book a weekend away. You can try swinging, BDSM or sex blogging. You can try cooking an erotic meal of oysters, rhino horn and an enormous saveloy. You can try alcohol, Viagra or Marmite. But I guarantee none will be as effective over the long haul as a simple "I like your hair! How did that meeting with the wanky boss go?"

Monday, 16 February 2009

Mismatched

Imagine the scenario. You meet someone and fall in love. The only slight flaw you can perceive in your relationship is that your partner doesn't really enjoy food as much as you do. You like to partake of a wide range of cuisine, from the exotic and adventurous to the plain and simple. They might grimly chew on a celery stalk now and then but if they could take a pill to replace a meal, they would.

This aside, all else is bliss so you go ahead and set a date for the wedding.

Fast forward a few years and your partner no longer eats at all. It seems they have discovered a meal replacement pill after all! A few vitamins and a smoothie will keep them going indefinitely. You, however, still hunger for pasta, pizza or steak. But they find food distasteful, unappealing and would rather not join you for dinner. Not only that, but they would rather you didn't eat at all, despite your love of and passion for food. You end up watching Masterchef on YouTube after they've gone to bed and eating trifle in the toilet while they are at work. Something entirely healthy, natural and necessary has suddenly become a source of secret shame.

A preposterous situation, of course. Yet I know of a depressingly high number of relationships where this scenario actually occurs, only with regards to sex, not food.

While I am perplexed that people with pre-existing mismatched sex drives still go ahead and get married anyway (how they can possibly think this will be sustainable in the long term is a mystery to me) I do understand that there are occasions in life when sex drives will become unsynchronised, for whatever reason. The thing that truly baffles me is the attitude of those partners who say, "right, I no longer enjoy or want sex with you, and not only do I not want you to go off and have sex with anyone else I also do not want you to exhibit any signs of sexuality at all. If I detect any indications you might be turning to masturbation to satisfy your entirely understandable and natural urges I will be unreasonably upset and you will feel guilty and ashamed."

It is so immensely unfair, so monstrously unjust that I am amazed anyone puts up with it. Yet they do. Generations of men (for, sadly, it is often men in this unenviable position) have had to spend hours pretending to walk the dog or plant seedlings in the potting shed simply in order to have a wank in peace.

Cuddles, I have been told, are important. Affection. The occasional foot massage. These, apparently, go a long way to subduing the raging torrents of passion that yearn to be unleashed in a sexual frenzy. Perhaps they do. I am unconvinced. If all you require from a partner is comfortable companionship, unquestioning loyalty and non sexual affection then really you should be looking for a dog, not a spouse.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Valentine

Roses are red
Violets are blue
I'm here in my bra
Thinking of you

Monkeys have paws
Humans have hands
And I also have
These mammary glands

Foxes have dens
Sparrows have nests
I have a house
And beautiful breasts

You show me yours
Now I've shown you mine
Take off your vest
My sweet Valentine

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Childish

One of the questions I am most asked about my specific brand of cynical blogmanship is why do it at all? Why can't I just leave people alone with their harmless fantasies and online fripperies instead of poking them with a big stick and getting them all agitated?

My answer is that I can't not do it. It is hardwired into my brain.

There is a saying which goes "give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man" which is perhaps best illustrated with a story from my past. When I was a little girl of about 8 or 9 years old, I went to a small village primary school. The pupils there ranged from infants of 4 right through to 11 year old seniors waiting to move up to the secondary modern. One of the 11 year olds was a nasty piece of work. Andrew, his name was. Handy with his fists. Came from a rough part of the council estate and a family with a bad reputation. I mostly kept out of his way but occasionally our paths would cross, which never ended well for me.

Our school playground had a fence all around it and a five bar gate for deliveries and the like. One playtime I observed Andrew, alone for once, sitting on top of the five bar gate. He was facing away from the playground, gazing out onto the road, his back to me, just perched there.

"Don't do it," said the cautious part of my brain. "He is a bigger and faster than you and he will catch you and hurt you."

I couldn't argue with the logic in that. On the other hand, he was someone I loathed and feared in equal measure and he had his back to me in a perfect "hey, push me into the road!" position.

"You really shouldn't do this," said my voice of reason as I stealthily approached from behind. "He is going to be so angry."

The birds sang, the sunlight dappled down between the leaves on the trees, I stretched out my arms and I shoved him off the top of the gate with all my strength.

Then I turned and ran, ran, ran. I didn't wait to see the results of my efforts, I just assumed he would be up and at me as soon as he hit the deck. So I pumped my plump little legs and skidded into the school just as he slammed through the door behind me. We were in a small entrance hall which led into the headmaster's office. I had my hand on the latch which would open the door to Authority and save me from the Law of the Playground.

"If you hit me," I panted, "I'll open the door!"

He stared at me for a moment then gave me a dead arm with deadly precision and accuracy. You don't get to be head school bully without that kind of skill. I did not, of course, open the door. I just clutched my arm and saw stars for a bit. My upper arm subsequently came up in a purple lump about the size of an orange. I remember my mum being quite upset about it, but I considered it fair enough and well worth it for the pleasure I had of pushing him off that gate.

Another story, the same school, the same 9 year old Luka. I had been in a fight with a girl named Helen. I can't remember what it was about, but we ended up in that Headmaster's office, standing before the desk, examining our shoes while he lectured us both on our shameful behaviour. "Now apologise," he commanded. Helen said sorry. I said sorry. Yet I felt the situation was unresolved as I was clearly in the right and Helen was a ratbag. As we left the office I said in a loud, steady voice, "But I'm not sorry, really."

I spent the rest of playtime sat at my desk with my hands on my head. It was an old fashioned desk, small and wooden with a lift up top so you could keep things inside it. I gradually became aware of the rest of my classmates watching my punishment through the window behind me. I quickly drew a picture of Helen, complete with stink lines, and a caption stating "I hate Helen, she smells" and stuck it on the inside of my desk lid, which I left conveniently open, so everyone could see it. Including the teachers on playground duty. I missed a lot of playtimes over the years.

It seems I could never just leave well enough alone. If it seems to me to be right, or just plain funny, I can't stop myself, regardless of the consequences. But how about you? If you could take a trip through time and see yourself as a child would you recognise the same character traits you display today?

Monday, 9 February 2009

True Love

No tender caress, no featherlight touch
This is love laid bare, brutal and base
Torn hearts and roses amid blood and thorns
Nothing gentle in this fierce embrace

No soft given kiss, no sweet spoken word
There are teeth in both piercing the skin
Broken, flayed open by Cupid's blunt barbs
Rust tipped arrows with poison within

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Sensitivity Fun Quiz

You know how it is. Some people are sensitive souls who take everything to heart. Their thin skins feel every perceived slight. Others have a hide like a Kevlar rhino and are entirely impervious to barbs. But how can you tell which category you fall into? No problem. Simply take this Fun Quiz to find out!


1. A friend says that some people do not look good in tight jeans. Do you:

A) Immediately assume she means that you look like a walrus in denim and retire, hurt, to the wardrobe before taking a flamethrower to all your jeans and deleting your friend's name from your phone?
B) Agree that not everyone suits every style of fashion?
C) Feel sorry for those types of people and glad that, fortunately, you look great in tight jeans, the tighter the better, and only wish they weren't so shoddily made, with their broken zips, burst buttons and flimsy seams?

2. At a party you spot your lover across the room, laughing and dancing with a remarkably good looking stranger. Do you:

A) Find your mind instantly swamped with images of them making energetic, sweaty love, in your bed, laughing at you, resulting in you leaving the party alone, throwing all your lover's possessions onto the lawn, then crying down the phone to your friends whilst consuming an entire tub of Haagan-Dazs and a bottle of vodka?
B) Raise a glass across the crowd, pleased that your lover is getting on with everyone so well?
C) Continue your own fascinating conversation with the charming individual you've managed to corner for most of the evening, who finds you so entertaining they keep looking over your shoulder and wildly gesticulating for more of their friends to come over to join the fun?

3. A blog post espouses a point of view which differs from your own. Do you:

A) Feel sure it is a jibe aimed at you, comment bitterly on the blog in question, change your online identity and start an anti-bullying campaign without delay?
B) Read it with passing interest and move on to the next blog in your reader?
C) Miss it entirely because you only read blogs almost identical to your own?

4. A blog post espouses a point of view which is similar to your own. Do you:

A) Feel sure it is a piss-take aimed at you, comment bitterly on the blog in question, change your online identity and start an anti-bullying campaign without delay?
B) Read it, comment positively and move on to the next blog in your reader?
C) Put the blog on your blogroll, nominate the author for an award, email them to invite them to lunch and tell anyone who'll listen just how great they are, how in tune with your way of thinking they are, how you have met your intellectual equal at last and feel slightly puzzled when they change their online identity and start an anti-stalking campaign without delay?

5. You see a news report about the fur trade. Do you:

A) Quickly change channels, unable to view more, whilst crying buckets over the fate of the poor little animals, and chuck red paint over your granny's sheepskin mittens next bingo night?
B) Send a fiver to Greenpeace?
C) Wonder why they have to put such things on at tea time, it almost put you off your veal and foie gras?

6. You haven't heard from someone you like a great deal for quite some time. Do you:

A) Fear the worst - they may be dead, or worse, shagging someone else - and go into a total decline, failing to wash and eating your own weight in biscuits whilst watching Trisha?
B) Give them a call to see how they are?
C) Fail to notice entirely?

7. Art is:

A) Something that speaks to your soul?
B) Subjective?
C) A bit poncey?

8. The last time you cried was:

A) When your souffle failed to rise and you felt this was somehow a reflection of your entire life?
B) When your dog got hit by the bread van?
C) When the doctor slapped your arse after successfully navigating your way out of your mother?

9. Poetry is:

A) Something that speaks to your soul?
B) All right?
C) A bit poncey?

10. This fun quiz made you feel:

A) A bit vulnerable, unsure and potentially victimised?
B) Like you wasted the last two minutes of your life?
C) Like a Kevlar rhino?

So, how did you do? Tot up your scores to find out!

Mostly As

You are a sensitive soul, deep, intense and with the ability to feel things more acutely than other people. You can always tell if there's a draught or if your mattress has a pea beneath it. Not everyone understands you. You spend a lot of time crying and using hypoallergenic products. Your sensitivity may not be too problematic in everyday life but in a survival situation you may well be killed and eaten first.

Mostly Bs

You're well adjusted and a bit boring.

Mostly Cs

You are confident, self assured and have a hide like a concrete water buffalo. Insults, insinuations, hints, allusions and tranquiliser darts all bounce harmlessly off you. The human equivalent of a bulldozer, you blithely continue on your way with scant regard for the subtleties and finer feelings of anything caught in your caterpillar tread. This might seem harsh, but it doesn't matter, as you won't take offence. You should go into politics, assuming you're not already.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Great Expectations

Once upon a time, in ye olde days, people got married for convenience, for political or financial reasons and because they had to. Love wasn't really the priority requirement for a successful union and you could consider it a good match if you found yourself sharing a bed with someone you quite liked and who didn't wallop you insensible when they were drunk.

Nowadays things are very different. People expect to marry for love. Not only that, people expect to stay in love, effortlessly, to have their emotional and physical needs met, to share the housework, to have 2.4 children, to have holidays, a good car and to have an orgasm a day, at least.

I'm not saying it's a bad thing to aim higher than the ambitions of our ancestors but I do feel the pendulum has swung a little too far the other way. The bombardment of relationship and lifestyle propoganda in magazines, on TV, in films and on blogs has led to ever greater expectations which, crucially, differ substantially between the sexes.

Men can read the plethora of sex blogs out there and come to the conclusion that women are indeed just as capable of enjoying meaningless sex as they are. They can now expect not just a blow job at the end of the evening, but a really good blow job, and all strings free! Hurrah!

Women meanwhile do expect men to realise that they too enjoy sex as a recreational pastime but they also expect him to call afterwards and to not already be shacked up with someone else.

I wander my way through various blogs and I see more than one female blogger referring to her latest paramour as "Mr Wonderful" and extolling their virtues in all things from fine dining to fisting. Oh me, oh my. Oh dear. Oh bollocks. Give it a couple of months and a few disappointments and he'll be Mr Shithead, Mr Wankypants, Mr Fucked Off Elsewhere.

The thing is, there is no such person as Mr or Mrs Wonderful. It is an unrealistic expectation. There is only Mr or Mrs Doing Their Best. It won't always be good enough, but that's to be expected.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Hide and Seek

You're looking for love in all the wrong places
Down on your knees and sitting on faces
Trying to grasp it with hands slick and sticky
You want validation, he wants a quickie

You're looking for love but you're searching in lust
Sifting through bodies for one you can trust
Defending yourself from another hard knock
You don't have relationships, you just have cock

You're looking for love and you hunt near and far
In beds not your own, the back of a car
A race against time - it runs out, so does luck
You seek what you hide from yourself in a fuck

Sunday, 1 February 2009

No Excuse

I can't bear excuses.

I don't mind reasons. Reasons are fine. It doesn't even have to be a particularly good reason. It may not be a reason that pleases me. Yet I would still, overall, rather be given an honest reason than a paltry excuse.

Sometimes it can be tricky to tell the difference, but as a general rule reasons tend to be short and to the point whereas excuses go rambling on, with ever more baroque embellishment.

Here are some examples to illustrate:

"I couldn't be arsed, I was tired." - Reason.

"Oh, God, I was going to - I wanted to - but it's been such a fuck of a week! First the car broke down and I had to get that sorted, and then the dog was sick and you know I have that allergy that flares up when I come into contact with washing up liquid? Well I picked up this leaky bottle of Fairy Liquid in Morrisons and two days later all the skin flaked off my fingers so I wasn't even able to hold a pen, let alone get my tights on." - Excuse.

"I completely forgot, I was engrossed in Eastenders." - Reason.

"Oh, God, I was going to - I wanted to - but - hahaha - it's been such a mad week! Today has been mental! I was just about to, but then I got this terrible cramp in my right leg - you know the weak one I injured in that ostrich wrestling incident in Tanzania? Anyway it just spasmed and I spilt the tea I was carrying and it went all over the cat and I had to shampoo her and then of course my allergy flared up again and I could barely manage to turn the taps off when I'd done." - Excuse.

"I didn't bother, I have simply lost all interest." - Reason

"Oh, God, I was going to - I wanted to - but it's been crazy all day! Well, all week - all month actually! Mad! I have had so many projects to do, plus I had to babysit for next door's quintuplets - you know she's had to go into hospital to have an ingrowing moustache lasered off? Anyway, it's just been manic, looking after all these kids and having to water the plants and then there was that problem with my fingers and crampy leg again and really, I'm so tired I just haven't had a minute to think of anything or anyone, really." - Excuse.

Has anyone else been on the receiving end of poor excuses?