Girls Rock

It's been almost a week since I last posted. I'm clearly the worst blogger in the world. And for that I apologise. I've been super-busy, of course - haven't been able to see clearly (that's not a metaphor, that's a fact - I blame tiredness) and have been finishing up my previous schedule of working every hour the Lord sends. Yep, no more shop work for me, blog fans! As of today, I am no longer a shopgirl. 
Which means I will no longer harbour resentment for high street stores. Well, that I can't guarentee, but I can certainly stop looking at them from a lunch-break-killing, customer-service-judging perspective and start to enjoy the bounty of the new season. 
I wrote very briefly about how the new season catwalks are a total mishmash of looks and styles, and they are. Spring/Summer, from my experience, seems a very tricky season to get right for high street shops, largely down to the unpredictable British weather. This season is no exception, and appears to be even more of a mishmash than previous years, with a riot of prints, colour and embellishment. Think cerulian blue, stinging neon brights and fringing, fringing, fringing. 
I finally got a good look at the Topshop SS'11 lookbook...
(Images from here and  here)
And after some initial reservations, I actually love it. Totally mad, yes, virtually unwearable, yes. Topshop's lookbooks always seem to straddle the fine line between RTW catwalk and easy-to-wear high street, but I think all but the most hardened fashion bloggers will shy away from the vast majority of this lot. 
It did help to inforce my belief that the 70s is well and truly back, but in the far more acceptable form of the 70s music stars. As a 'yay you got a job' present to myself I bought a deeply impractical and decidedly fabulous fringed leather jacket in bright crimson (yes, I know, I should just get a mullet right now) which will help me on my quest to channel Joan Jett this summer. 
And it looks like we'll all be channeling some of music's reigning queens of cool come summer...


An ode to Peggy Olsen

I finally got round to watching the season finale of Mad Men Series Three, which I'd been told is solid gold television, and I wasn't disappointed. Aside from a truly earth-shattering shift in the dynamic of the series, we finally saw our beloved heroine, Peggy, getting some form of reward for her relentless hard work, and her having the cajones to demand it.

Peggy is my role model in more ways that one - she's a woman in a man's world, but more importantly she's a person who never quite fit in anywhere but has so much more to give than she's given credit for, and works tirelessly to prove herself and demand that she be rewarded for her efforts. That she be made equal.

But that's where Peggy and I disagree. She does something totally radical in demanding equality in the workplace, having earned respect from her peers for her ability. She is the 60s definition of feminism.

But today feminism took an ugly turn, once again, with the suspension (and sacking) of two high-profile sports commentators, who have been in and out of controversy for their sexist attitudes and remarks, after they were caught on camera openly belittling the ability of a female football official. The most high profile woman in football, Karen Brady, waded in on the debate (allowing tabloids to publish the most alluring pictures of her they could find) and every tabloid under the sun determined to prove the truth in the comments made by the duo about whether the official, Sian Massey, was attractive or not by publishing numerous photos of her in bikinis and miniskirts.

Massey has managed to keep diplomatically silent so far, but the Twitterverse has been shouting for her, hounding Sky to sack the presenters, sending abusive messages to the presenters themselves, and generally lamenting how their sacking would be written off as militant feminism, political correctness gone mad and yet another example of how women can't fight their own battles.

Because, well...isn't that what this is?

I don't condole the behaviour of the presenters, as it would appear that this isn't the first time that their crassness has caused upset, and that firing them based on sexual harrassment seems well within the boundaries of reason. But when a woman who can quite clearly do her job is then given a legal backing (and someone else's P45) in order to prove it, who really wins? It's no wonder Massey is keeping quiet.

I'm unsure if this is what the first feminists meant when they talked about equality. I'm unsure if this will make the situation worse, or better. I'm unsure if when a woman sexually harrasses a man, she'll get fired. Men and women are as equal as they'll ever be right now (though I wonder if a woman would get fired for making sexist comments towards a man) but there seems to be this desperate need to make them 'the same' as each other. And I know full well that men and women will never be the same, and that trying to make them be so is like bashing your head against a brick wall.

Men and women were not created equal, as Peggy knew when she broke down the boundaries and made herself an equal to the men in the office. When Samantha Jones started to behave like a man in Sex and the City, easy sex and having a killer career being enough for her, she was hounded. Now women are trying to become the superior race. We can have it all - job, money, sex, family, security, validation, and we can do it without a man to help, approve or validate, but always with a man as the one to beat. Sian Massey's silence speaks volumes. If she can get on with being a person, as opposed to a woman, doing a job, then why can't the rest of us?

Is the final frontier of feminism to forget to be a woman at all? Or is it time to come full circle...

His name is Oscar

So...Oscar nominations are out!
And, in case you were in any doubt about where my loyalties lie...

Roll on February 14th.....


Rule the school

So yes...come summer, I will be wearing a lot of cutoff t-shirts and skinny jeans. I'm thinking a bright red pair, a la Isabel Marant.
Spring/Summer on the high street, and on the catwalks, appears to be pretty erratic. I tend to measure these things by the Topshop campaign, and judging by that, it's still trying to find its feet. Part summer holiday by the beach, part wet camping trip to Wales, the styling of heavy duty raincoat with cutesy woven wedge sandals, and socks...ironic? Dated? All I know is I'll be making up my own style rules this summer. And since Grazia claims that Joan Jett will be a style icon, and with my new curling irons giving me slight Rizzo hair, I think I'll be working the 70s biker babe thing. Any bikers handy?
And come summer, I will be in London. Yes, it's confirmed. After all this time, the universe is throwing me a bone.
So don't expect me to say anything coherent or sensible. I've spent the evening running along the South Bank and whooping euphorically at the Mad Men Series Three finale. I'm still high as a kite.


Only the strong

Turquoise is my birthstone. It's supposed to bring good health. (And apparently massively veiny hands that make me look like a bodybuilder. Winner.)
I'm not sure about health, but I've certainly got a whole bunch of other good stuff in truckloads. Still got the old ups and downs, but have clearly got such a fantastic network of friends and supporters to help me with fixing the ol' safety net. So thanks, to everyone who ever thinks positive things about other people, who listens to them on the phone and who sends them amusing cards just to make them laugh. You are putting the light back into someone's life right now.
Ok, cheesy crap over. I have a LOAD to say about some interesting stuff, so expect this week to be crammed full of posts about SS11, the media's latest witchhunt, when bloggers bite back and, of course, some hella good outfits.
But right now, I'm exhausted, having spent the whole weekend at work, having spent the last hour cheering at the return of Being Human, and having had only a few hours' sleep last night on account of being out 'til 4AM with some lovely new friends. Mm-hm. Let the good times ROLL. I'm feeling lucky.



I'm mildly superstitious. Mildly into all that phoney mumbo-jumbo stuff. Reading horoscopes (and even with the supposed 'new' horoscopes, I'm still a Sagittarius), feel a little nervous walking under ladders and keeping an eye out for black cats.
And I salute magpies. Ever since I read about someone (I think it was Kelly Osborne, actually) doing that to avoid the old 'one for sorrow' saying. Even if I do see a single magpie, I keep my eyes peeled for two, three, or four. (Once I saw nine...not even sure what that means!) I can't tell if that's silly superstition because I feel that the second magpie will make it all better, because I think that by seeing the second one I can feel a little more secure in my chances, or because I'm an optimist. If I do see a single magpie, I quickly attach something I feel sad about to it, so I don't let it hang over me like a cloud.
But I think it's just me and that one lonely magpie right now, trying to keep aloft.

Apparently....this is hardcore

(Image via the Daily Telegraph website)
I was having a chat with a friend of mine who is a very talented fashion photographer. He is keen to increase exposure for a client he's worked with by means of a new shoot to broaden the appeal of said client, to the hipster youth of the East End. So by leading magazine, we're talking Love, iD, Dazed and Confused, Wonderland....and all the more obscure ones that a mainstream poser like me has never heard of. 
I've never read any of said magazines religiously. I've dipped into them, mainly just to see that paint-splattered photoshoot with Daniel Radcliffe. But I don't like them. They're printed on unnecessarily costly paper, make Vogue's first twenty pages of ads look restrained and generally make no sense. Sure, in my earlier days on this site I should really have frantically name-dropped some kitsch Japanese designers as championed by Dazed, but judging by the furore around them, the mags are hardly about the rags these days. They don't sell clothes, they sell a lifestyle and an attitude.   
That attitude generally just seems to be all about sex, avoiding the top shelf only by means of a sultry expression or some strategically placed strapline or person's hands (can't get the image of Daisy Lowe's Dazed cover out of my head, her tongue snaking out of her mouth like a Grecian monster) and selling us boobs, here and now. This image is of the latest cover, of Kate Moss (naturally) kissing a trans-gendered model for the upcoming 'androgyny' issue, is a shining example. It's got two women kissing on the cover! But wait! One isn't technically a woman! In your FACE, convention! 
Except....I just can't get that bizarre strapline out of my head. The magazine has a picture of two sort-of-women kissing, heavily styled in a kind of retro-90s-meets-70s-punk take on androgyny, locked in the most posed kiss I've ever seen. And apparently, all this, all that we've seen before, but with a slightly modern twist with the trend for trans-gendered models, is hardcore? 
Is it? Really?
*goes back to Vogue's catwalk supplement.*


In your daddy's arms again

Just a great cover I found - Sandra of 5 Inch And Up introduced me to Fever Ray. When I feel down I like to turn to one of three male singers to make myself feel better - Julian Cope, Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel. It's like being sung to by an old friend or a doting partner (yes, even though Phil Collins is a serial divorcee and a bit on the bald side) and they all have songs fit to comfort and reassure me. 
This song is Fever Ray covering Peter Gabriel's Mercy Street, a song that he sings to be sombre, mysterious and melancholy but also shot through with slivers of hope that come from beautiful music (see Queen's Who Wants To Live Forever). Fever Ray adds a spiritual, ethereal and aggressive rawness to the song. She's been berated for the growing trend among the hip for something called 'cultural appropriation', where a certain individual adopts traditions from certain cultures and incorporates them into their personal image. I really couldn't care less. 


This Is War

The weather outside is frightful. Today is supposedly the most depressing day of the year. Thankfully, compared to last week's astronomical levels of apathy, this week was a bed of roses.
I wrote back in November about the feeling of crushing, crippling fear that lets you know you're alive and you have something to lose. I lost even that. Last week I genuinely wouldn't have cared if I was moving forwards, backwards or downwards, but now the pain is going, the numbness is fading, and life must go on. When a friend told me that if he could invest in me and my probable bright future, he would, and even my high-achieving, hard-hitting parents were both sympathetic and refusing to let me wallow in equal measures, I thought it was high time to come back. Nobody should be able to make me feel like my life isn't a gift, and worth fighting for. And continue fighting for, until eventually I win.
I've been watching a bit too much Gossip Girl and as a result have become fixated with interesting tights and short skirts. My tights draw at home in Bristol is full of bright colours, but these lace ones are the new in thing. It would be even better if they were neon.

Who wore what - The Golden Globes

So....last night was The Golden Globes! It was a star-studded, heavy-hitting (The Fighter-related pun, right there) night of big wins, surprise victories and Olivia Wilde dressed as something usually seen through the Hubble telescope. Read on for my pick of the very best outfits...
Anyone thinking of starting a diet this month? I'll be pinning this picture of the divine Anne Hathaway above my mirror...to remind myself to be realistic and accept that I'll never look this good, ever. 
Similarly, I can't ever hope to look this beautiful while pregnant. The Best Actress winner is one hot momma. And that baby is going to be beautiful too. So long as it's not a signet. 
Christina Hendricks, still inexplicably attached to weird anemone-like shoulder details, but finally letting those gorgeous curls hang free. The dress is a perfect colour too. 
Claire Danes appears to have borrowed the Hendricks' sultry stare, but has kept her own cutesy/demure look with this rather bland pink number. But the fusion of simple skirt and sultry halterneck, along with the sophisticated up do, somehow seem to work. The perfect accessory would, of course, been her yummy husband...
Here's a woman who understands the importance of the 'husband-as-alternative-to-cute-clutch-bag' (or statuette, for that matter) argument. May I suggest that Angeline wears nothing but green for the rest of her life?
Two more lovely brunettes working the green. Catherine looks like she's wearing fake grass. But in a good way. Yes, there is a good way. Mila's is a tad too cheap-looking for her probably-going-to-get-Oscar-nominated status (shiny fabrics just shout 'cheap Hollywood starlet') to me, but it still works. 
Kelly O continuing to go from strength to strength.
Leighton ditches the usual 'fierce' minidress and 'killa' heels option to go with something floaty and frothy. Slightly ruined by her moody expression, but we love her too much to care. 
But not as much as we love Helena-Bonham Carter and her determination to look totally out of place everywhere she goes. She's even got mis-matched shoes! Revel in her kookiness, mere mortals. 
But keep your wits about you, or you might get absorbed through the portral onto The Grid, via Olivia Wilde's massive princess dress. 

Oh, and in other news, The Social Network won everything. Including Best Animated Film (note: it didn't). Gods be praised. 


Be a brave girl now

....because the new season isn't for shrinking violets.

 (All images from Style.com. Shows are Altuzarra, Balmain, Basso and Brooke, Christopher Kane, Gucci, Haider Akermann, Emilio Pucci and Pringle of Scotland.)


Be red or be dead

When the going gets tough, the tough works out her aggression pounding the pavements and punching the air in South London, laughs a lot with good friends and colleagues, buys redder than red shoes, and dyes her hair even redder than red.
And shows off her fabulous new camera - Merry Christmas to me! I took this photo with a colour accent to emphasise the red; I'm sure there'll be some regular pictures of it soon enough.
The last few nasty days, I feel like I've lost my mojo a little. I feel lonely, and like there's even more pressure on me than ever to succeed, not because I'm doing it for me, but because I have to beat him. So I wear grey to match my mood.
And wear my hair red. Red for war, red for passion, red for bravery. To remind me who I am, and that it'll take a lot more than this to wash that person away.

Three perfectly good reasons to see TRON: Legacy

1) It features Olivia Wilde in skintight lycra. (Actually, pretty much everyone in it is in skintight lycra.)
2) Daft Punk do the score.
3) It features Michael Sheen, with platinum blonde hair, being as camp as anyone has ever been, ever. 


It's all gone Kenneth Tong

I'm always late to the party on Twitter topics. The ones where you insert amusing words into film titles, the ones with celebrities' names mis-spelled (such as the Lilly Allen trending topic with people offering condolences), the deeply political ones that I couldn't hope to understand.
And then there's Kenneth Tong, a man who went from Z-list bit-player to worldwide buzzword overnight.
Tong hit the headlines last week when he took to Twitter to tell his followers, and the women of the world, that being a Size 0 is the only acceptable size and being fat is unacceptable, going on to highlight his 'Size 0 Pill' and other such means by which all the Beth Dittos of the world can become Kate Mosses.
Naturally, Twitter went into meltdown. High profile celebrities took to their pages to tell their fans to love themselves no matter what. And the public agreed - possibly my favourite comment, found on a news forum, strongly claims that Tong should be in jail for what he has done.
And then....Tong came clean.
Yesterday, Tong wrote this: http://www.twitlonger.com/show/82t0bf revealing that the whole thing was a social experiment - he'd made a bet with a friend to see how quickly one can achieve worldwide fame through Twitter. The friend apparently thought it couldn't be done. The friend was wrong.
In the aftermath, the debate still raged. Was Tong telling the truth, and was it actually a social experiment? Or was this just his Get Out Of Social Responsibility Free card, rather like his new promise to donate large amounts (no doubt of the money he's going to make from all his future tv appearances) to anorexia charities?
Either way, Tong has revealed and highlighted a few awkward social truths.
Everyone who was everyone had an opinion on Tong's outlandish statement, from the celebrities to the editors to the commoners. Rihanna was the most publicised example, taking a break from glamourising domestic violence and prancing round in underwear on national TV to tell all her female fans to love their bodies. Katy Perry, naturally, got involved too, no doubt using the whole incident to promote the positive message of her video for 'Firework', in which a plus-sized girl is nervous about joining in at a pool party. Journalists waded in. One journalist has since published a full, uncensored interview that he did with Tong prior to his admission of the 'hoax', and congratulates himself on exposing Tong's nasty little ways as if he were the new David Frost. The partner of Paul Chambers, the man made infamous by his Twitter threat to blow Robin Hood Airport sky-high following its closure, waded in, rather hypocritically, on Tong's violation of free speech and social responsibility. The two most topical, inflammatory issues of the day - terrorism and body image - together in one article? Oh the excitement!
And the more I read, the more I laughed. Laughed at the sheer bloody idiocy of it all, once again. It was timed nicely to coincide with my ill-advised attempt to start trying to have a reasoned discussion with a BNP supporter on Twitter. What started as a reasonable discussion ended in him constantly telling me I'm a racist Nazi foreigner (I resisted the urge to send him pictures of my quite obviously Celtic complexion) and am trying to debase his British racial identity. In the end I got bored of having insults hurled at me by an idiot who thinks that sophisticated expression is using capital letters, and left him to it.
This is what the collective 'smart people' of the media think we should have done to Kenneth Tong - just left him to spew his warped little messages and getting on with 'loving our bodies', eating wholemeal bread as it's better for us, watching tv programmes featuring beautiful, shiny, slim people, interspersed with ads for weight loss aids, and joining gyms in order to 'meet people'. While, of course, reading our magazines. This month's choice pickings have included an article about a rich husband being better than a job, how Breton stripes are back, and how to fit into your LBD for the New Year's party by surviving on roughly 500 calories a day. (Or if you're a Frenchwoman, you get this. Read it and weep - that'll lose you a few calories) No doubt, all of these magazines will have something to say on the Kenneth Tong incident, on the back of the page that tells you of X's 'shocking' new diet, which of course they'll then go into meticulous detail about in a strange double-standard attempt at shock and awe. They want us to be repulse by the ideas such as Tong's, but they also think that it's perfectly reasonable. As no doubt, twenty-odd pages after this 'shocking' new diet of the stars, there'll be a 'lose that Christmas weight...in a week!' article alongside some new season photoshoot with an unfeasibly skinny model. If they were really interested in promoting our health, the use of normal sized models wouldn't be something the editors get pats on the back for and the diet pages would be replaced with an exercise plan. 
Because that's the hilarious social truth that I spotted when the Kenneth Tong issue blew up. Sheer bloody hypocrisy. A critic came under fire recently for criticising a prima ballerina for being a bit too plump for her role, then rightly defending himself by saying if she didn't want to have her form criticised, she should have chosen another career. At least this is one critic brave enough to keep his integrity, and to remember that the world really is that shallow. So I hope everyone who has berated Tong for his scandalous remarks would merrily do the same to Lowri Turner and her ilk every time they encourage women to drop half their daily recommended amount of calories to fit into a dress. Because both are promoting the image that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels. One has just taken it too far than the other. And one is getting away with it, and will continue to get away with it as thousands of women start to prefer their concave stomachs to a well-balanced diet. 


And then...

You dust yourself off. You have a good rant about it to whichever poor friends will listen and a good laugh with the very best of them who will have time for you. You will remember all the things he did to annoy, irritate, belittle and infuriate you and generally waste your time. You will be furious, you will be sad, but then you'll eventually only be filled with pity for them, relief, and a sense of freedom. You will acknowledge that the whole thing was really a blessing in disguise. You'll know full well that you can do so much better than this, and you'll resolve never to settle ever again. And, of course, you'll be aware that compared to your other problems, this, this is nothing.
And if all that fails, you buy the most fabulous pair of shoes that you can afford.
And the shoes may screw up your feet, but they'll never screw you over, and the shoes may break your ankle, but they'll never break your heart.
And then you let it go.

Irritating perfection

So...you're having a bad day. You've just discovered that your stupid, immature, waste-of-space ex-boyfriend has started seeing someone, and not just any someone, but the someone he rejected your request to get back together with him for (post some other ill-advised actions). You know full well that you are better than him, but no matter how much weight you've lost or how much he's put on (which he has), how many great friends you have and how good a time you're having, you still have to watch him swan around with his high-paying job that he doesn't deserve and his new girl who will, if she's got any sense, get sick of his childishness and selfishness quickly and move on, or, if she's far dumber than you are, will actually be capable of being made happy by him and make him happy, while you slave away seven days a week at two jobs while desperately applying for others, as you have been doing since you graduated (while he lazed around on jobseekers' allowance in his rich parents' house) it won't be made any better because if you're so much better than him, or her, why did he reject you? 
And then you see this. 
A young Meryl. Achingly, beatifically perfect. The most Oscar-nominated actor in history, incidentally.
And it's simultaneously comforting (because she's probably had to deal with this sort of thing too) and crushing that you'll never have cheekbones like that. 


Into the Cosmos

I'm getting pretty tired of this 'no free time' nonsense. I will miss the look of shock on peoples' faces when I tell them I work seven days a week (it works especially well on friends who are still students and adults who have kids soon to graduate) but I'm really looking forward to a time when a weekend becomes as great as all those DJs seem to make out.
But for now, and for a good while if all goes wrong, only my evenings will be free. There's just not enough time.
In a way this has been an incredibly good thing, because it does allow me to suck all the marrow out of life (if you recognise what I'm quoting from, you get a high five) in the moments I get that are mine. Encountering a friend with yet another adoring boyfriend and having her simultaneously grill me like a Sex and the City cast member but pity me like a maiden aunt on my love life - and her slight disbelief that I remain nonchalantly single - was not exactly up there with my top ten, especially when she recounts, loudly and shamelessly, details of my life that I've tried to keep quiet. I've always been a lone wolf, something she also noted, and nothing fills me with more satisfaction than the freedom I've gained since coming here, standing on my own two feet and having to fix all my own problems, while knowing, as I do, that I have a truly wonderful network upon which to call, should the need arise.  But since I feel like I'm constantly waiting on the very important decision of others, I can't feel truly free just yet. There's only so much marrow I can take before I choke on the bone. Balanced on a knife edge. And I feel like taking off...
Let me be your supernova...
Continuing my obsession with galaxy prints - I arrived early for work and had time for a little cheeky sale browsing. I loved this dress from the first time I saw it but I avoided it because a) I couldn't afford it b) it's clingy and unflattering and c) halternecks are tricky. But b) and c) are easily fixed thanks to exercise plan, the weight I've lost since living on a diet of Heinz soup and adrenalin and the weird, deluded self-confidence I seem to have, and a) was not a problem. A tenner. Winner!
Also a winner...I've bought a couple of pairs of shoes in the sales. The others are divine and you will see on a later date. I had been eyeing those up for a while.
But these? From a crowded sale rack, these spoke to me...


We fly so close

Icarus flew too close to the sun, testing the limits of his powers, and got his wings burned, falling to Earth.
I'm not even close to the Sun, and my wings are not melted yet. But...
I'm just having my usual personal crisis of confidence. It's kind of a coping strategy. And I should know better than to convince myself that it has a quick fix. It's just a part of life. And comforting to know that I really have something to lose and something to fight for.
And something to fight against. I actually have the offer of a job waiting for me should I be forced to return home. And a few good friends. But, as someone pointed out recently, I have a massive failure complex. Having high achieving parents (and grandparents) seems to have done that.
So the only option? To not fail.
Oh, and one of my Christmas/birthday presents was money for a new camera. Arty shots coming your way...
Oil on the canal...