Thursday, 26 February 2009

Thursday 26/02/09

I don’t wish to sound churlish (yet doubtless will), but 12 die in a plane crash in the Netherlands, 4 Brits die in Afghanistan and yet we get news saturation about Cameron’s son Ivan as if his death was a national disaster and the whole country were in mourning. The Radio 4 PM programme yesterday devoted a full 20 minutes to the story and that was followed up in the national news with a similar percentage coverage. The word ‘perspective’ seems totally lacking in news editors’ lexicons these days. Oh for the days of real news, rather than this sentimental and weepy focus on ‘human interest’ stories which in reality touch and affect no-one except those at their very epicentre.

Why do people feel the need to empathise with those they don’t know and will never meet? Again, I suggest that the TV screen makes us think we intimately know the people who appear on it, when the actuality of the situation is that we really don’t. We, as a nation, are in grave danger of being unable to separate reality from illusion.

Today I am happy – both the upstairs and downstairs light switches at work are down with the landing light on.

Hay and I were discussing the OCD thing last night. She has a problem with jumble and untidiness. I have a habit of taking my socks off a night and throwing them on the floor next to the washing basket; Hay sees this as the equivalent of putting rubbish next to the rubbish bin. Given she tends to keep her work bag (those things made of raffia or wicker and are neither handbags nor shopping bags and peculiar to women – a sort of beach bag) next to the washing basket, there has been the odd occasion when one or t’other sock has accidentally fallen into her bag and she ends up toddling off to work with a dirty sock in the bottom of it, only to be discovered around lunchtime – or possibly before if it’s a particularly nasty one.

I’m trying an experiment. The 30ML bottles of nicotine e-liquid I buy are £19.99 each, which is a tad rapacious for something that’s basically glycerine with a touch of nicotine extract. I’ve therefore bought a 300ML bottle of glycerine from the chemist for £2.79, will thin it out with 100ML of water, and then use it to cut a bottle of industrial-strength nicotine fluid. That should reduce my expenditure from £20 a month to about a fiver every few months. According to a forum dedicated to addicts, glycerine also increases the ‘smoke’ level, to which I can attest.

The forum has inducted me into some innovative (and dare I say subversive) e-nomenclature. Apparently we don’t smoke e-liquid, we ‘vape’ it. I vaped almost pure glycerine last night and due to the vast quantities of ‘smoke’, the sensation was better than the normal stuff with nicotine. Purely psychological, I’m sure. I’m desperate to try out the vape nomenclature on some teenagers – they will be devastated that we oldies have a word with which they are unfamiliar. Mind you, I’m sure the average teenager is totally unhindered by an intimate knowledge of half the words in my vocabulary.

We may have hit on a problem with me vaping though. Hay has a relatively rare condition called Gilbert’s syndrome, which means her liver cannot conjugate bilirubin efficiently. That means she can easily take on the hue of the Simpsons if she doesn’t watch her diet. Now the e-liquid contains small amounts of acetaldehyde, which Gilbert’s Syndrome leaves her body unable to process efficiently. The effect of acetaldehyde build-up is exactly the same as having a hangover. Strangely enough, since I’ve been vaping the e-liquid in the caravan she’s been feeling like she’s been drinking too much, so I may be relegated to vaping outdoors.

Should Hay actually drink a little too much alcohol, rather than having breath like a wrestler’s jock strap the next day, Gilbert’s gives her breath that smells of pear drops. Another side effect of Gilbert’s is that you find it hard to put on weight, meaning you stay slim! Also, those who have it are at low risk of heart disease.

I was going to write something on Sunday about women’s increasing penchant for ridiculously high stilettos after Hay saw some editorial and adverts for these contraptions of death in the colour supplement. I forgot in the end, but a news report and accompanying video of models falling off their heels at a recent clothes show jogged my failing memory. If models, who are used to teetering around on impossibly high heels, are having problems, then it’s all going a bit too far.

Here’s just a small sample of the stuff available today, which not so long ago would only have been found in an S&M catalogue or on the feet of Victoria Beckham and Eddie Izzard. Just look at what he has on his feet in that clip. Obviously be can’t have size 11 plates of meat like mine. Mind you, they do say there’s a relationship between the size of a man’s feet and the size of his shoes… or something like that.

Speaking of Victoria; Vitoria, a Brazilian football club, blamed a fan wearing high heels for trouble on the terraces that caused panic during a derby match at home just a couple of weeks ago. Apparently a female fan who was wearing high heels lost her balance and fell on top of another fan. This then led to a domino effect, a bit like a Mexican wave, but one that ended up with some 50 odd fans being injured and having to be treated in five ambulances by four doctors and eight nurses.

Maria Cerruto, a urologist at the University of Verona, has recently done a study into high heels and discovered that they affect pelvic floor activity in women, reducing pain and improving their health. She hopes to prove that wearing heels during daily activity may reduce the need for pelvic exercises. They also, apparently, spice up your sex life. If you’re a woman or a male shoe fetishist, here’s an article about her study.

Hay is 6 feet tall and when wearing heels towers over me looking like an Amazon (a member of the legendary nation of female warriors in Greek mythology and not an American on-line sales company based in Seattle, Washington, nor indeed an inter-war British car of the same name). Her being slim and having well-shaped legs adds to the effect, although I prefer her in trousers when wearing heels – her that is, not me. When I say her legs are well-shaped, I mean they are perfectly proportioned, not that they look like the inside of a wishing well.

Research by shoe sellers indicates that women start their love affair with heels at age 12 and then migrate (usually to those hideous, lumpy, very flat and invariably grey or blue jobbies you see old ladies walking dogs [like HM the Queen] wearing) at around the age of 63.

However, exactly what is the purpose of stiletto heels? It would appear to me that women like them as they think they make them feel and look sexy. Men like them because they make women look sexy. It’s a win-win scenario all round. Stilettos alter the wearer's posture and gait, flexing the calf muscles and making the bust and buttocks more prominent – which is all very well if you don’t already look like a Hottentot or a Amazonian tribal fertility goddess, but if you do then you’re on a hiding to nothing.

Can the same be said about lingerie? Hay and some colleagues came across this advert and wondered about the psychological profile of the person it was targeting. I was simply mesmerised – or is it all an optical illusion? Is it aimed at women who aspire to looking like that, or men who would dearly love their women to look like that, but are aware that known the laws of physics in general, and gravity in particular, prevent it? The fact that the ad is in the women’s section of the Next catalogue suggests it’s targeted solely at women – but then what kind of women? I throw the floor open to my readership.

Thongs! How the hell do women find them comfortable? The mere thought of wearing one brings tears to any man’s eyes. Hay is mortified and disgusted by the state of my boxers when she washes them; a thong would be simply too much for her to bear. There are occasions when we combine a washing load with one from the Caravans and on such occasions Hay has to ensure it is she who fills the washing machine with the laundry and not her mother (for the uninitiated, the Caravans are Hayley’s parents, who live a near-normal existence in the big house next door to our caravan).

For men beyond a certain age, clothes become practical items and not something one uses to make a statement – and invariably a statement that’s at odds with observed reality. Hay has often asked me why I wear an old dust-sheet, to which the answer is that it’s comfortable and practical. I used to have a fleece that she called my security blanket; it was stained (usually with food and other bodily fluids) and full of holes, but it was comfortable and warm and served its purpose. If she threatened to take it away from me for a wash I’d be overcome with anxiety attacks – just like a child when its security blanket is removed.

We’ve not had much music of late, so it’s time for Chairman’s Choice, which this month is predominantly smooth jazz. Sit back, put a glass of something red in your paw, relax in a bubble bath (if you must and if you’re not reading this in the office), and enjoy:

Nice relaxing stuff – Zen Men
This guy is in the news having written the score for Slum Dog – AR Rahman
An old favourite - Air
Jazz at its best - The Ballistic Brothers
A smidgin of Nitin – Nitin Sawhney
Mood music - Far Away
Do you like Paris? – Chill Out Paris
One of the Chairman’s favourites - FSOL
Sexy & sultry - Lamb
More of the same – Lamb
You have to let this one run to get the groove – Nitin Sawhney
Do you like beaches? - Nookie
Let’s go French again with some more jazz – St Germain
Slow the pace down a bit – St Germain
Just to cheer you up a bit - AWB
Jazz funk – St Germain
What makes you think I like Nitin? – Nitin Sawhney
Driving music - FSOL
OK, let’s slow down a bit again with – Zen Men
And to finish – St Germain

And just because I love it – Type O Negative


  1. Ok, your security word today is "inerf", and I like the word and I think I am going to use it in a sentence today.

    I knew my shoe obsession had reached dizzying heights when I purchased a four-inch pair of fuschia stillettos. Perfectly impractical. But I fancy they are like superman's cape. I put them on, and all of a sudden I am SuperWOWman.

    With respect to the lingere, I, as you know, work in a somewhat conservative field. Sexy lingere is my little secret. It makes me feel like I am putting one over on everyone. If you see a woman in a business suit with a hint of a Mona Lisa smile, you can rest assured that she is wearing the sluttiest lingere possible under her day wear.

  2. I agree entirely about the extent to which the media believes it ought to influence our opinion on mourning - Appalling - this is a personal tragedy alone...

    I am not entering into the debate on lingerie and comfort clothing, given your hovering about the bushes around my blog yesterday clad in your dirty old 'Mac'!

  3. Killer - sexy underwear is my little secret too; however, women don't seem to classify Y Fronts as sexy anymore.

    Woman - t'was you who was talking about Rennie's Mackintoshes. Never realised they did Macs as well as indigestion tablets.

  4. Very interesting read! All sorts of comments popped into my mind, but left again reading the next alinea to make space for another comment and so on, so I was left with only one comment at the end, which I have now forgotten.

    They were all positive, that I know! And there was one about vaping nitroglycerine. That should WOW and cure you! And probably kill you, so maybe not such a good idea ;-)

  5. Carolina,

    Do get a grip of yourself and buck your ideas up!

    Not only are you posting comments a day late, but you forget the comments you were intending to make.

    You're not related to my mother, are you?