Monday, 27 January 2014

The Experiment Continues

I am enjoying my anti anti ageing experiment. My newly cropped silver-streaked locks have brought me nothing but compliments and a more efficient use of shampoo. I am free from the tyranny of hair dye and now skip merrily past the boxes of permanent colour in the supermarket, saving precious time and money for spending on essentials like wine.

Flushed with success (and possibly wine) I decided to take my all natural hair out to a party over the weekend.

As I stood in my bedroom in my robe, pondering what to wear, I realised that I now faced a new dilemma. If I was a young 20something my pants would be sexy, alluring and small. Not huge, industrial and the same surface area as a bed sheet (king size).

Of course I am not a young 20something, I am a 40something woman and proud of it. I have silver bits in my hair. I boast about my anti anti ageing experiment. But if I go to a party in enormous pants and get lucky will my intended paramour be deterred? Or would they relish the challenge?

A wisp of lace looks ever so pretty but it does leave your belly and butt to fend for themselves. That's fine when they are non existent but when they have a sizeable presence, perhaps even their own postcode and gravitational pull, you need something more substantial. Otherwise you could end up way beyond muffin top territory and find yourself in cottage loaf land.

In the end I went with the mega huge control pants of doom, that squidge everything in, swaddle the wobble, and come up to my armpits. I didn't feel particularly sexy but I did feel like I'd just donned a wetsuit and was therefore confident I would be all right on the flooded roads into town.

The party went well, the control pants protected my borders and I did not get lucky at all. Was it the pants, the way I felt about my pants, or the fact I stayed sober? I shall have to experiment further.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Bad Fiction

I have not read it myself, only extracts or various spoofs, but there is no denying the influence 50 Shades of Grey has had in certain quarters. While on the one hand I'm pleased that this popularity and acceptance of erotica has helped other, better authors to reach new audiences, on the other I am dismayed by the number of women I'd hitherto thought of as relatively intelligent suddenly declaring their quest for a real life Mr Whippy, or whatever the fuck he was called.

I just don't know how to react to these statements. Why go searching for real life equivalents of poorly written fictitious characters when real life is full of poorly realised actual people?  My understanding is that 50 Shades of Grey first came into being as Twilight fanfic and that was bad enough. Anyone who can get off on the concept of vampires who spend their time either sparkling or sulking needs a slap. Which of course they would like, as long as it is from a twinkly twat or millionaire misogynist. Bafflingly, hordes of middle aged women seem to be Twilight/Shades of Grey fans and suddenly the internet is full of wannabe subs looking for a dom with a helicopter. I fear disappointment ahead for all concerned. I enjoy fantasy as much as anyone but if I were to go looking for a unicorn I'd be hard pressed to find anything closer in real life than a horse with an icecream cone on its head. Entertaining but not the same thing as I'd imagined.

If you are one of the many looking for your real life dominant hero then consider this. There are plenty of men out there who will happily smack you on the arse with a hairbrush and ask you to call him "Sir", but how many are also devilishly handsome, charismatic, fabulously wealthy and own a helicopter? The reality is you may find someone who is awesomely skilled with a roll of bondage tape and a spatula but they may also be balding, overweight, short, skinny, unemployed or a member of parliament. Will they still hold the same appeal for the Twilight/Shades of Shite enthusiasts once things move past the online stage?

No, leave Mr Grey on the page where he belongs. Better still, in the bin. On fire. There is no real life equivalent and for that I am grateful.

Saturday, 11 January 2014


In my childhood I, like many others of my generation, had penpals. There was a great sense of anticipation when waiting for the postman to deliver another batch of colourful letters, large curlicue script laboriously handwritten onto brightly coloured paper. It was a time when you could buy stationery sets with co-ordinated writing paper and envelopes and someone like me would be happy to receive such a gift.

Times have moved on and there is no place now for the handwritten letter. Penpals have been replaced with Facebook friends or Twitter followers. A three page missive complete with doodles and inkblots has now been supplanted with six word tweets, a click on a "like" button or a text.

These all have their place and I do like the instant gratification that comes with social media but I really miss the luxury of literacy. When letters became passé I took comfort in the lengthy email exchanges I used to enjoy but now even these have dwindled as more and more people forsake the effort of composing anything longer than a paragraph in favour of electronic grunts.

According to the media we all have reduced attention spans these days. They blame the MTV generation for the current state of play and point to the ever decreasing amount of time people are prepared to dwell on any one aspect of online interaction. There has been a weird devolution down from emails, forums and blogging down to Facebook updates, to Tweets and on to Tumblr and Pinterest pages where people don't post words at all a lot of the time. Even a two minute video on Youtube can be a bit much for some and the six second Vine is an improvement. All in the name of keeping things fresh, fast moving and therefore entertaining.

I'm not sure whether it is because I am a contrary old bat or if I am just a superior sort of being but I find that with my long attention span I am not entertained so much by snippets, grunts and pointing at things. I prefer my entertainment to be a more in depth process where I can immerse myself into what pleasure there is to be had. It's why I read novels rather than magazines, why I prefer an hour long walk to ten minutes on a treadmill. It is definitely a standard by which I would choose a lover. My favourites and most skilled have always been those who can write and win me over with words. Cunning linguists will always find favour in the Boudoir.


Sunday, 5 January 2014

The Experiment Begins

It's week one of my voyage to the Grey Havens, or going cold turkey on the hair dye if you prefer.

I have announced my rejection of the tyranny of L'Oreal, Nice 'n' Easy and their ilk online and shown everyone and anyone who can't get out of the way fast enough my newly emerging badger streak in my hairline.

With my hair as you see it above, along with a distinct lack of make up, I ventured as far as the local Co-Op to forage for essential supplies.

I stood with my trolley, blocking an aisle, as I gazed speculatively at a display of reduced price Christmas biscuits. "Oh, sorry," I said to the chap coming the other way with his trolley, whose way I had entirely got in. "No problem," he smiled, and we went on our different ways.

As I stood in front of the display of 3 for a tenner bottled beer, deliberating over which to choose, the same chap hove into a view again. He came straight over to me and made some jokey remark about choosing any of them, they're all beer, they all do the job. I laughed politely and went back to my perusal.

Undeterred my new friend then, somewhat clumsily, tried to ascertain whether I was single or not. "I bet you've got a toy boy or someone to help you drink those."

I made a non-committal answer about how choosing the beer was a big responsibility so I had to give it my full concentration. That should have closed things down, but no, he was persistent. He struck up conversation with a nearby shelf stacker about my choosing beer. I got referred to as "this young lady here." I ignored it all.  In a final attempt to assess my availability he asked me which beer my husband liked. "Abbott," I replied, "but I already have that." I gave him a big smile and that was that.

Fair play though, meeting new people is hard and the supermarket is as good a place to give it a go as any.

I told my husband all about it when I got home. I explained my experiment, the lack of cosmetics involved in that shopping trip, and how I hadn't expected any attempted shenanigans in the biscuit aisle. He has learned well over the years and dutifully answered that of course I always look lovely and besides "that top does make your tits look enormous".

Hah! and Ahah!

"But I had a bloody great coat on," I said. "I wasn't sashaying about in just my top, it's freezing out there."

The results of this week's experiment are therefore that:
  • No one has noticed I am deliberately allowing the seven stages of ageing* to wreak havoc upon my person
  • Local men in the Co-Op are attracted to women who are purchasing beer, which seems a sensible evolutionary process to me
* What are the seven stages of ageing you may ask? I am not sure. I heard the phrase in an advert for some skincare product once upon a time  - " only Oil of Uglay combats the seven stages of ageing" -  and have never forgotten it. I think the stages break down as follows:
  1. Grey hairs
  2. Wrinkles
  3. Elasticated waistbands
  4. Comfortable Shoes
  5. Coke bottle glasses
  6. Cobwebs
  7. Going on fire
If you know better please do fill me in.

Friday, 3 January 2014

The Anti Anti-Ageing Experiment

I am at a difficult age. As I hurtle through my forties I find myself under constant pressure to combat the signs of ageing. Every time I log into Facebook, open my emails, peruse a magazine or endure a commercial break on TV I an swamped with suggestions as to how I can lose my belly fat, colour my grey hairs, banish wrinkles and look 10 years younger.

Ignoring these obvious ploys to part me from my cash is easy enough but then I still have to contend with the more subtle attempts to steer me down the path of age denial by well-meaning friends and colleagues. Often they don't even know they're doing it, so insidious is the anti-ageing mindset of our society. The amount of praise lavished on someone who has lost weight or had their hair coloured is in direct contrast to the silence and confusion which ensues if someone should announce their intention to look their age.

That someone, if you hadn't already guessed, was me. Having recently experienced a life changing event I spent a good few months laying about, thinking a lot about bodies, mine in particular, and how I, and others, view it. One morning I looked in the bathroom mirror and noticed my hair had grown a good inch since I'd last coloured it and my natural hair colour was showing through. It glittered under the light, a fascinating mix of bitter dark chocolate interspersed with silver strands. Metallic. I decided there and then to let it grow a bit more and then chop off all the dyed bits and start again, to see what I actually look like. When I told my best friend her "really?!" was an eloquent expression of incomprehension. Surely this will make me look old?

Well, yes, it might. But I really, truly can't be arsed to spend any more money or time on the messy inconvenience of dying my hair. For the best part of 20 years once a month I have religiously retired to the bathroom, draped my towel around my shoulders and proceeded to apply a concoction of chemicals that smell like cat wee and stain everything they touch the colour of dried blood to my head. The amount of towels, shower curtains and clothes I have ruined are many.

And for what? For the sake of camouflaging the fact that I am not immune to the same biological processes as everyone else on the planet?  Even with my hair uniformly coloured an unlikely shade of mahogany I still won't magically look like I'm 26. I will look like I am 46 and dye my hair. Unfortunately that's exactly what we ladies of a certain age are expected to do. We should be eradicating grey hairs, botoxing our faces and starving ourselves back into the same jean size we wore as teenagers. If you fail to make the effort you are letting yourself go and run the risk of finding yourself being forcibly made over by a bespectacled wanker for some TV programme or magazine article.

My argument is that good health and mental wellbeing are the important things to maintain as you age rather than focussing on the cosmetic. It's a great argument and so right it makes my toes curl, but I also know that the world we live in makes it very difficult for women to age naturally. You only have to observe the way male newsreaders/presenters/actors are allowed to become grizzled and grey while their female counterparts must remain frozen in time or find themselves replaced by a newer model to see how the scales are weighted. Seeing as though I have long been a contrary old bat I am nevertheless prepared to forge ahead with my anti anti-ageing experiment. Which is a very grandiose way of saying I'm not going to dye my hair any more*, but I am genuinely curious as to whether my perceived attractiveness will alter significantly. I will keep you updated as I'm sure you are all agog and on the edge of your seats as to how my hair affects my pulling power.

In the meantime I'd love to hear how any of you are ageing. Gracefully, disgracefully? Are you a silver fox or a dye in a box type?

*I'm also not going to have any plastic surgery or cosmetic procedures but since I couldn't afford them anyway it seems a bit passive to be part of the experiment action.