Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fashion polygraph

It's the main problem with a relationship - accountability. Back in the rose-tinted single days I could freely max out the credit card, buy a bag with a month's wages or just withdraw all my cash for the purpose of rolling around in. Now, I have to sneak bags past my significant other, marvel aloud about amazing bargains that are to be had and practice clever accounting (quite different to accountability, believe me) with the resultant receipts. 

Fooling neither of us, I might add. 

I thought I was alone in living with a sensible guy, but after the last post (below), Harriet called her boyfriend. Her beautiful dress was instantly downgraded from 'vintage' to 'second hand' (as in: 'Iboughtadressbutit'sokayit'ssecondhand' - all in one breath before he could object). 
I guess it's the price (no discounts here) we all have to pay for liberation. Women broke out of the kitchen and headed straight to Topshop on our lunchbreaks.  It's a total generalisation, and possibly a disservice to my gender, but what females can't resist a bit of retail therapy? 

In my opinion, it's the answer to the age old question of what women want - a credit card with no limit and no-one to question our purchases. 

Friday, November 27, 2009

In with the old....

I like to shop as much as the next girl. If the next girl is Paris Hilton, that is. 

I spend ridiculous amounts of time, money and energy on finding that perfect dress/top/pair of shoes and usually end up buying nothing that I wanted but yet somehow need to have THAT INSTANT.

But today the magical doors have opened to a whole new realm - vintage clothes shopping. Yes, I realise I am approximately 2003 with this but what can I say - we can't all be surfing the zeitgest all the time. Plus, that vintage smell put me off (kind of like old people and musty shoes ...niiice).

I've been hearing about the joys of vintage for ages from Harriet (read her stuff here), and she finally coerced me through the doors of a 'previously loved' store. I was instantly seduced by the designer labels. And then the price tags on said labels. Hey, I can forget about the smelly dead person who used to wear it for that price. 

I even forgot about the smell in the shop. 

And the sales assistant was lovely and more interested in talking about her second home in Malibu (she must sell a lot of clothes) than following people around the shop in the guise of 'helping'. 

We eventually found the dream dress (Galliano dahlings) and still spent 30 minutes examining it from all angles. No one even minded. It's like shoppers heaven. 

Old is the new cool. It's my new motto. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A game of two halves

The mere mention of football to someone as soccer-phobic as me has always resulted in symptoms not unlike the onset of a coma. My hearing goes, my eyes glaze over and even my limbs feel heavier than usual.  You could say I'm not a fan. 

Unfortunately, I happen to live in a country where 'ole ole' is the unofficial national anthem, the mention of the name Roy Keane can divide families, and the scoring abilities of 11 men can have a drastic impact on the national psyche. Not that I pay the slightest bit of attention to any of this. 

Living with my sport-obsessed better half, this is quite a feat. Our home rings with the sound of Match of the Day, Sky Sports News and testosterone fuelled shouts at the hapless commentators/referees/innocent bystanders. Depending on how benevolent I'm feeling, I swing between feigning interest and outright belligerence.

However, a conspiracy between the man of my dreams and a WAG friend found me at a League of Ireland game recently. It's impossible to remain dispassionate when your seat faces the stand of die hard supporters (they kill people apparently) and you have a connection to one of the players, even if it is the most tenuous of links. 

Since joining the masses that night, I don't immediately protest when Rockbottom v Isle of White takes over the TV at home. It's not beyond the realms of possibility that I may stay in the room the next time the dulcet tones of Eamon Dunphy begin. Most of all, there will be another match. 
And maybe next time I'll inch a bit closer to the die hards.  

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Book of Face

It was always going to happen - more a matter of when than if. 

Carefully edited facebook photos mean nothing when you are weaving your way through a club, having just gone 12 enthusiastic rounds with Kayne West, what's left of your make up smudged around your face and the responsible limit for alcohol long since passed. 
And then you hear your name. 

My eye/brain co-ordination not being what it should have been, my face went into default 'huh?' mode. It took me quite a few precious minutes to arrange my features back into something that did not resemble a bloodhound, and focus attention on the hottie that had called my name in the first place. 

And then I realised, the curse of Facebook had caught up with me. 

It's all well and good to have five thousand friends and for them to see you in poses that would make Tyra Banks proud, but when you are confronted with the reality of this - and you can bet your life that it will at the pinnacle of your attractiveness, sweaty and glassy eyed from too much dancing/drink/Saturday night fever - it won't be pretty. 

In my case, the lovely boy in question is a primary school classmate that I haven't set eyes on since the heady days of bowl haircuts and questionable knitted jumpers. A genuinely nice bloke, he erred on the side of caution and refrained from mentioning the disparity between Facebook me and the grim reality.  

So I am now left with two options. I can do a Harper Lee and disappear from public view, sporadically releasing a tantalising picture  in order to keep everyone interested. My social life will be somewhat curtailed with this option though. Do I want to wear a fake moustache and glasses for the rest of my life?

Or there's option two - I can remove all of the airbrushing and replace my photos with the warts 'n all version. Come clean and expect to see my friend list plummet to family members and hardy friends only. 

Time for a disguise then. 

Friday, August 14, 2009

The wrong trousers

...I mean, really. 

I'm as much of a celebrity googler as the next person (the next person being Perez Hilton), but I draw the line at randomers. Why would I care what some badly trousered office worker thinks about... well, anything?

But Ireland is clearly running out of famous faces - horror of horrors, it's a recession of the worst kind. 

I was reading one of our beloved national papers to occupy myself on a train journey last week (a rookie mistake; confined spaces are not clever when a rage could be instantaneously  induced by the turning of a page), and came across the standard fashion feature. So far, so fabulous. But then, boys and girls, I turned the page. 

I'm all for vox pops on fashion - get the regular Joe to tell us that they bought the dress in Zara and their style icon is Victoria Beckham. A perfect opportunity for scorn, no harm done. 

But there is NO NEED to have a sockless man with terrible shoes spread across the page. Male ankles should never be exposed to the nation. Think of the children. 

And not even a famous face to dress up the fashion train wreck. 

Apparently this 'style icon' (ahem) has a band that is storming the charts in Dublin 14, but this was not a person whose style advice I would ever take. 
Harem pants don't look good on anyone, but dear God, if you are 90% elbow/knees then these are not the trousers for you my friend. 
Get some fame, go before the jury, and then we'll see. 

A bad day for fashion, ankles and the male population in general. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Crying Game

I'm not a big cryer.  And by that I mean I don't cry at Eastenders. 
Unless it's particularly sad. 

Last night, however, I was put through the emotional wringer at the behest of "My Sister's Keeper". For the blissfully unaware, this is the story of a girl seeking medical emancipation from her parents for the rights to her body, even though her leukemic sister and 'genetic twin' may die as a result of it. 

In keeping with the theme of the evening, I tripped along to the cinema with my sister. She has previously cried at the trailers for this film, so I knew enough to bring the tissues. I knew even more when I entered the theatre to find a room populated only by women, with large amounts of ice cream on standby. 

It was not looking good. 

Don't get me wrong, I wasn't entirely naive. I'd read the book. I knew it would not end well. But who could possibly expect the gut wrenching kill-me-now-and-make-it-stop sadness of it all?

I cried for 90 minutes. 

Each time I thought I might be have stopped leaking enough to see without blurring, those wily directors sensed it and threw in another gratuitous shot of a bald headed child hanging on to a hospital bed and bravely comforting an adult.  

By the time the credits rolled, you would think my nearest and dearest had passed away. 
To make matters worse, the Cineworld staff actually congregated outside the doors when it was over just to laugh and point at the tear stained fools leaving. Or maybe it was the unrestrained sobs of 300 women that drew them to check on the safety of their patrons. 

I am not a pretty crier. No single Johnny Depp-esque tears for me. 
No gracious black and white Hollywood starlet tears that run but don't take your make up with it. 
Not even a Dawson of Dawson Creek sob with one eye on passers by. 

We're talking blotches like third degree burns, Shroud of Turin makeup and a very unbecoming redness added to the whites of my eyes. 
My delicately skinned sister brushed away a tear or two and was fine. 
I wandered home like a madwoman. 

24 hours later, I STILL look like a madwoman. With conjunctivitis. 

Word to the wise, sometimes you should know your limits and get a DVD. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

When an article is an incendiary device

As we have already established, I am quite the moaning Michael. But this week, I have finally joined the ranks of the complainer. Or the ranter, at the very least. 

It all began with an article by a certain Ms Brenda Power in last Sunday's Times. If you have thrown even a passing glance at the interweb this week you will know the one I mean. For the blissfully ignorant, Ms Power dared to question the issue of gay marriage. 

The ensuing fire and brimstone response from the gay community has been enough to drive me to write to the Sunday Times in support of the beleaguered journalist. 

I didn't mean it as something that would be printed. 

But it seems my skill and talent has won out. Either that or they are chronically short of support for a woman under siege from a couple of thousand angry LGBTQs. 
And along comes me. 
The article was a comment piece, penned by a columnist. It is her job to be subjective. I am a news junkie, and devour all of the Sunday papers on a weekly basis. I always read Brenda Power's column - sometimes I agree and sometimes I disagree with her point of view. In this instance, my agreement or disagreement with her viewpoint is irrelevant. 

What is relevant is the magnitude and vitriolic nature of the response to the article - testament only to the thin-skinned and paranoid nature of some members of this community, who feel threatened by what was a relatively light hearted and (no offense to the journalist) inconsequential comment piece. It should be recognised that this was not a news story. Columnists are paid to give their views - it was a subjective piece, exactly as it should be.

I fear I may have signed my death warrant, but at the moment I am seeing nothing but red, making it hard to see beyond the here and now. 
I have both gay  and straight  friends and like to think of each of them as reasonable, rational people. Those who have seen fit to respond with such hate and vitriol using the relative anonymity of the internet are a breed apart. I shudder to think that they actually represent the gay community. Things have even progressed to a quasi-scientology level where pictures of Brenda Power have been posted to Facebook groups with captions encouraging harm. 
These are not actions that will empower the community. 
They will only serve to reverse years of work and communication by gay representatives over the years. 

I fail to understand the desperate need by anyone - gay or straight - to rush to the alter and participate in a religious ritual that, let's face it, is outdated and whose principles are ignored by the majority of society.  We all need to foster understanding and tolerance, but there are many more important issues that the gay community could communicate to progress the acceptance that they rightly demand. 

There, rant over. 

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Calling Gloria...

The arrival of my 30th birthday a few months ago was quickly followed by some frantic self improvement as I realised that old age is not just for other people - it could happen to me.

The denial is still strong, so I refuse to say for sure if I too will fall victim to wrinkles, grey hair and a penchant for Midsomer Murders. You just never know when it will creep up. 

So, in order to try and beat the odds, I decided to attempt to beat my (admittedly squishy) body into submission. Before this, I hadn't run since about 1998. 
And even that was a case of utmost urgency.
(I was warned on pain of death not to miss that bus). 

I tried walking to work, but the passing buses just taunted me. 
I tried not taking lifts and using stairs instead, but seriously. That's what lifts were invented for. 
I even tried a weight lifting class but all those musclebound men just scared me. 

But joy of joys, then I found the holy grail of exercise - combat training. Each week, I get to imagine the face of whoever is currently grating on that last nerve of mine, and throw lots of punches in the air. Instructed by the happiest little chappy you could ever hope to meet - and Brazilian to boot! - this class makes Tuesdays so much more bearable. 

Until this week.

It's Thursday now, but I haven't been able to bring myself to speak about the trauma since it occurred two days ago. Rodrigo went on holidays.  

The resulting class was what I imagine hell to be like. 

A tiny blonde girl (I swear she was about 8 years old) on springs (I hope to God she was on springs anyway, otherwise I fear for her knees) filled in. 
She barked instructions. 
She let no desperate, purple-faced unfortunate pause to take a drink. 
She interspersed all sentences with - I kid you not - "Whoop whoop". 
If she wasn't on some form of amphetamine, then she has the worst case of ADHD I've ever seen.

But that's not the worst of it. 

She played that ear withering song "Gloria" over and over. 
And over. 
If you're not familiar with it - and who could blame you for having the good sense not to enjoy terrible 80s pop - you'll probably recognise it from the "Gloria, Gloria, I think they've got your number... calling Glor-i-aaaaa" sample.

The horror. 

I entered the class a normal, relatively well-adjusted person. I left with a face like a blueberry from all of the blood bursting under my skin; traumatised and beaten by an hour's worth of what can only be described as Chinese torture. Although I imagine the Chinese would recoil in fear from this woman. 

Bring on the wrinkles, the expanding waistline and the farm-based crime dramas. 
Exercise is far worse.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Religeratti on the prowl

Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not after you. 

Like the majority of Irish people, most of my life defining moments before the age of 13 took place in or around Holy God's house. Once teenage years hit I went from the pew to the back door and have been getting progressively further away ever since. 

Now, I am firmly and happily atheist - with a touch of tree hugging Pantheism thrown in. But it seems that I can sidestep the swerving cars and dodge the bullets, but the Religeratti are not giving up that easily. 

And they're not above a bit of blindsiding either. 

What started as one or two followers on my Twitter page with 'kooky' names like 'John the Baptist', has now turned into an avalanche of chanting, psalm quoting followers. I can't block them quickly enough. If I didn't know better, I'd swear (though probably not on the Bible) that someone has issued my photo and details out to the men in the cloth to try and win me back, scientology stylee. It may be easier than ever to 'follow' Jesus via the internet, but as the antichrist herself once said, I'm not for turning. 

Maybe they have a daily target for conversion, maybe they're trying to redress the porn balance with a bit of an aul pray, or maybe tweeting sermons is the only way anyone will listen nowadays. Who knows? They can count me out of their redemption mission though. I'm off to worship at the feet of the god of confectionary. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

No smoke, all fire

Today is my three-weeks-and-one-day anniversary in nicotine detox. According to all of the experts (i.e. my friends who have already given up), three weeks is the watershed, the milestone, the pinnacle of my achievement. 

All that three weeks abstinence has proven to me is that:

a) I am excellent at stealth following smokers in an attempt to second hand smoke on the street
b) Not smoking is detrimental to my appearance. I have chewed my lips, fingers and any available limb to a bloody stump. I have pulled out hair and ruined my posture by constantly sitting on my hands. If three weeks stretches into a longer timeframe, I will have to start wearing a bell around my neck. 
c) My former colleagues in the smoking community are out to get me. Everywhere I turn they are inhaling with orgasmic satisfaction. The bastards. 

I am beginning to blame Allan Carr for all that is wrong with the world. He promised me (a 100+ page promise) that quitting would be a joy,  a freedom never before felt. My pink lungs and I would skip down grassy meadows with pockets full of unwasted cash. He lied. 
For a start, there isn't a grassy meadow for miles around, and my cigarette money is now being blown on Wispas. I may not smell like an ashtray anymore, but I'm sure you can get a whiff of my desperation/chocolate overload. 

It was my conscience that got me in the end. My 11 year old sister, with eyes like saucers, asking me to stop smoking because she doesn't want me to die. Goddamn primary school logic. How can you refuse that? 

But there are many out there who don't know my little sister. They laugh in the face of cancer and stained fingers. They drag on their cigarette with gay abandon. I'm becoming so bitter and twisted against these devil-may-care smokers that I am seriously considering joining Ash, just to ruin their fun. 

I'm sure I'll get over this 'hump'. 
In the meantime, try not to look as if you're not enjoying it so feckin' much. 

Monday, May 25, 2009

We moan, therefore we are

A new survey released today shows pretty much what we already knew - the Irish are world class moaners. Second only to the English in the global survey, we spend almost 10 hours a week moaning. 
That's not complaining, mind you. 
We can moan about weather, tiredness, traffic and work, but we must never, ever complain. 

I stood by last week, watching with a mixture of in awe and horror,  as a woman stepped out of a supermarket queue to complain to a series of security guards, checkout girls and finally a gum chewing manager. I couldn't even tell you what she was complaining about - me and my fellow gawkers were so stunned and embarrassed that someone had raised their voice in a public place that I couldn't take in the subject matter. Shouty Woman was Irish, middle class and (apart from the shouting) betrayed no obvious signs of mental illness. How rare and wonderful to have someone stand up and demand their rights. And how mortifying for the rest of us. 

All the consumer watchdogs, experts and give-'em-hell enthusiasts encourage us to haggle for prices, complain when we're slighted and stand up for ourselves. I probably exceed my alloted 10 hours of moaning per week, but I couldn't complain if you paid me. I entertain notions of stern, scolding letters to establishments who have wronged me, but somehow they never materialize  - and not through lack of pondering exactly the right tone (firm yet reasonable - God forbid this faceless stranger should think me unreasonable).  If I can't even manage to complain on paper the likelihood of me ever complaining face to face is pretty much non existent. I used to think that the power to complain would descend on me when I came of age. I never figured out what age that was, exactly. 

Now, I turn to the good 'ole refuge of blaming society, Irish culture and anyone and anything I can think of. For the most part, Irish people have an acceptance of any situation. The phrase 'Ah sure it's grand' is our national protest against any suggestion of change. We'd hate to put you out. 
Things are changing, slowly. Now that it's hitting our pocket, we don't mind an aul march down Kildare Street... buried anonymously in the crowd, you understand. Shouty Woman and her raised heckles were not afraid to stand alone. I'm sure she moans about the Friday evening traffic, or the rainy May weather, but she can proclaim her dissatisfaction to the world without a hint of a blush. 

Me? I'll just whinge about my Monday morning blues and the fact that I can't complain.