Tuesday, 27 September 2011

More scents

Let us not speak of work. At the moment, it's unspeakable.

To distract myself (yes, it's like being in a sand-trap - you spend money to cheer yourself up, because you don't like your work, thus trapping you in a cycle of working to earn money then spending it as a reward for spending your time working instead of doing something fulfilling - THAT'S CAPITALISM) I've bought more perfume. We'll see how this works as a strategy - when they finally break me through overwork, I'll be the most fragrant woman in the loony bin at least.

This one is called Tea for Two & it's based on Lapsang Souchong. I also have one called Earl Grey, I must like to smell like a nice cup of tea. I found one the other day 'I Love Les Carrottes' which smells exactly like carrots. It's quite amazing, what these perfumers can do, but I wonder how many people think 'what I'd really like to smell like is carrots.' Mm, sexy. I like the smell of fish and chips, but would you want it as your signature scent?

If you could bottle anything, what would be your signature scent?

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Adopt a peer


Save the NHS, before it goes down the toilet. You know it makes sense.

I've done it. You can do it too!

You can email, but letter is better.

Here's mine. You can cut & paste too.

Dear Lord....

I am writing to you regarding the Health and Social Care Bill currently being debated in the House of Lords.

The NHS has provided care for myself, my family and my friends from the cradle to the grave. It is one of our proudest, most valuable institutions and it works. I strongly believe health and well-being, and access to healthcare should not be subject to privatisation nor linked with profit and competition. I think it would be a serious mistake to follow the USA's example and introduce the ethics of the marketplace into our healthcare system and would lead to terrible inequalities, at a time when the gap between the rich and the poor in this country is already at its greatest.

The Peers have an important role in safeguarding the National Health Service and I would ask you to consider these points:

    • The way each Peer debates and votes on the Health and Social Care Bill will have a major impact on our National Health Service.

    • The Bill contains clauses which could see taxpayers' money diverted into shareholder profits, and post code lotteries for treatment intensified.

    • The Bill removes the cap on the amount of private income a hospital can make, which could mean NHS patients pushed to the back of the queue.

    • Public satisfaction with the NHS is currently at an all time high.

    • Peers will be crucial in helping to secure a safe and sustainable future for our NHS.

Yours sincerely,

Miss A Taxpayer

Saturday, 10 September 2011

In defence of shopping

I know I'm meant to like Suzanne Moore, everyone else on the internet seems to (and back in the day, when we used to read the New Statesmen for A level Sociology, she was one of the few women writing for it and I did use to like her writing.) There's just something insufferably smug and sweeping statement leader-writer about her. This article is a prime example. "I don't like shopping so nobody else does." Ahem.

I LOVE SHOPPING. IT IS A HOBBY. There's nothing wrong in that. I don't always buy things. I don't buy things I can't afford. I don't inflict my shopping hobby on anyone else - I don't know why you'd drag your poor boyfriend or your poor kids around the shops, it's a recipe for stress and arguments.

(I am, however, a brilliant shopping companion, and will patiently hold your coat and bags outside the changing rooms and offer advice and find sizes for you. I will put my own shopping desires aside when I'm shopping with someone else, you can't look for two people at once, this shit takes focus. )

I love beautiful big department stores. Selfridges is the best, though it is a bit overwhelming. I love boutique ones like Liberty and Fenwicks, with exotic perfumes and cutting edge designers and exquisite shoes. I also love skanky charity shops, and truffling out old Penguins with great covers for 30p. My Pucci outfit came from a chazza. (It has now been taken to the designer re-sale shop.) I like street markets and farmers markets and flea markets. I like the convenience of chain shops in a high street. I like browsing, and sometimes I like buying.

I can't go into the West End anymore because the hoards of people drive me insane. Which is why I'm delighted that the mainstream chain stores are coming to us in Stratford.

Suzanne lives in Stoke Newington, which has a lovely high street with all the boutiques and organic niche supermarkets you could wish for. But the rest of East London doesn't have any choice in shopping, Stratford High Street is dire, so either people have to drive out to Bluewater (which she so despises) or drag themselves into the West End and fight the hoardes.

"Is this what this deprived area really needs?" she asks. What, parity with the rest of London? Is that a bad thing?

You should see Bromley by Bow high street Suzanne, it looks like it's been looted and derelict and burnt out post-riots, but it has always been like that. Ask our kids if they'd prefer to shop there or in the new Westfield.

Shopping isn't the be-all and end-all, but people should be able to choose, and why should only the middle class areas get all the choices?


Sunday, 4 September 2011


I don't know what it is but I keep seeing ghosts from the past. Superstitious me wonders what does it all mean?

When surfing around I come across a name that I recognise commenting on someone else's site. Sure enough, when I click through she turns out to be the mum of a girl (woman now) that I went to Camden Girls with. I'd remembered her mum's name nearly 25 years later because she was the first person I'd met who was a bona fide, actual journalist. The glamour!

I was a bit in awe of the girls at Camden when I first got there. It was a state school but had been a grammar. And they were all so... so... so - what was it? Oh yes. Middle class. They lived in townhouses in zone 2, not semis in the outer suburbs. Their parents were architects and shrinks and journalists. Somebody's dad was a bishop. (My mum, on the other hand, worked as a dinner lady for a while at my old school, she used to come and say hi to my friends and me outside the kitchen door wearing a fetching nylon pinny & hat.)

I think what I got from hanging out with the Camden Girls, most of all, was ideas above my station. There was no question that I'd go to university, just because that's what everyone else there was going to do. Of course you did, it was the natural order of things.

But no one else in my family had ever gone on to higher education. And I think that's why I didn't really get what it was for, and neither did my family. The grammar school conveyor belt lifting the working classes up into the middle classes had broken down by the time I graduated in the 90s.

On this journalist's site I scrolled down & sure enough there was a picture of her daughter, my old schoolfriend. She looked great. And she has a site too, I so nearly send her a message to say hi, but I didn't. She is married, 2 kids, her own successful business. I can't, it's too hard. It takes a while to understand why. I think it's because though I don't want kids, I don't want to be married, it's just the expectations of where you should be at our age.

The other ghost was walking along Church Street, a woman about 8 months pregnant, walking along holding the hand of a toddler, moving slowly. I recognised her as someone I'd done the PGCE with 8 years ago. I wanted to stop and say 'Hi! You've been busy!' but didn't, for exactly the same reasons.

I imagine an alternative life in which I'd met someone and stayed home to have babies, instead of going into battle with other people's kids every day for the last 8 years.

And it sounds appealing. Except for the baby part. Not under any illusions about it. My friends with kids seem happy enough, but they also talk about how boring and tedious and repetitive it is too. And then you are stuck with parenthood forever.

There seems to be no reflection in culture of women like me, who are ambivalent about the kids thing. We're either meant to be longing desperately for kids or hating them like poison. I like them well enough but... the body clock is refusing steadfastly to tick.

Still I wish I had some society-sanctioned reason not to go to work.