Sunday, July 31, 2005

My tricky relationship with food...

I have a tricky love/hate relationship with food, as I suspect many of us do. Over the past couple of weeks I have been doing the Paul McKenna mind programming for weight loss.

I came to the conclusion even before I read his book that diets just don't work in the long term. The trouble is you have to eat. Alcoholics can give up alcohol and smokers can give up fags, that's ok once you have got through the hard bit - you don't need alcohol or drugs to survive. Yes they are addictive and all the rest but your body doesn't actually need them. It does need food though - and there's the rub, if you could just give up food and never have to eat again, just imagine how easy life would be. But eat you must, the body needs sustenace - the hard bit is eating the right things and knowing when to stop.

I am not a huge eater. I eat regular and healthy meals. I do not binge in the evenings on chocolate or cereal. I sometimes eat cake and pudding, but my real downfall seems to be knowing when I am full up. Many of us were programmed at an early age to finish up every morsel on our plates. Indeed I have a clear and painful memory of being made to sit for an entire hour at first school before a plate of powdery liver that I could not bear to eat.

Well here's a revelation, if you learn to listen to your body it actually tells you what you need to eat and what not to. It's tricky though. I was going leaps and bounds with it the first week and now a bit of torpor is creeping back in. I also realised that eating in front of the tv is not great for me as I tend to not be mindful of what I am eating (ie I just shovel it in!). It also means you don't have to give things up, except maybe guilt and I am struggling with that one. I eat something like a biscuit, feel guilty and then immediately feel like another, how dim is that?

I think the trick is that no food is a sin, but now I have had my biscuit (and enjoyed it!) I won't eat again until I am actually hungry, and when I do eat I will eat something nutritious. Phew....

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Big Sisters Big Blog

Today I am wondering why children are so cruel. I was doing a writing exercise and I remembered that at Redcastle Furze Primary School there were two girls in my year who were treated like untouchables. There were rules like you didn't stand on certain squares of the dining room floor or you loved them. True they were both slightly challenged in the cleanliness department and one of them had crossed eyes and always smelled of lice shampoo but that wasn't their fault. I didn't instigate the chastising of either of those girls and I used to occasionally play out with one of them, but I didn't stop it and I often didn't say anything because I didn't want the negative attention to focus on me. I often wondered what happened to those girls.

What is it about social groups that they have the need to ostracize someone? Is it that it makes the others feel better about themselves or superior in some way? Is it to bring the rest of the group closer together? In large groups there always seems to be at least one under dog or someone that everyone else bitches about. Maybe it gives us a sense of belonging.

This behaviour has been most noticable on Big Brother over the years, however, this year they have taken it to the extreme. They are all so bitcht about one another that I suspect that none of them feels part of the group. They lack the cohesion as a group, which has been evident in past years. I'm not sure why this is. Maybe they chose such selfish, self absorbed characters that none of them can get along with anyone (except maybe Anthony). I'm not sure if the Tv company did this deliberately or if it was just pure bad (or good?) luck.

Personally I think that it is a great shame. Part of what has made Big Brother so watchable in previous years is watching them come together as a group, watching relationships and friendships grow and flourish and consequently our liking for particular characters growing too. This hasn't happened this year. The group is just as devisive and argumentative as they were in the beginning. And weren't they incredibly argumentative from the start? It's as if some of them went in there with the goal of having as many arguments as possible. They decided that they weren't going to like one another early on and have stuck to their guns. Even the ones who supposedly do like one another argue and bitch behind each others backs.

I feel that B.B. is a sad reflection of UK society. In the Uk at the moment aggressive behaviour, road rage incidents, neighbour disputes and drunken brawls are all at an all time high. And what is the reason for it? Everyone is out for his or herself (well not everyone but it feels like that sometimes!).

We are all under increasing amounts of pressure and in huge amounts of debt. We are pressured to perform well as workers and parents, we work the longest hours in Europe, our senses are regularly assaulted with advertisements, media articles, tv programmes and salespeople all trying to sell us something that often we can't afford.

Our brains are being frazzled by radiation from mobile phones and radio masts, plus tv and computer screens. We are suffocating in air pollution and rape seed pollen. Our food is loaded with additives - insecticides, preservatives, flavour enhancers, colouring etc. We live in fear of war, terrorism and natural disasters.

We are constantly bombarded with images of increasingly skinny, manufactured and unobtainable body images. Cosmetic surgery and eating disorders are flourishing whilst conversely portion sizes are increasing. Food manufacturers, cafes and fast food chains are getiing fatter bank balance whilst fattening the nations butts. Our youth is binge drinking and drugging it's way to oblivion.

We feed our kids a cocktail of chemicals, by products of the meat industry, sugar and fat and then copmplain when they misbehave and underacheive. We are afraid to let them out on the streets for fear of child abusers and cars.

It would be an interesting experiment to put the whole nation on a natural healthy diet, with restricted alcohol. I bet there would be a marked decrease in aggressive and anti social behaviour (it works in schools and prisons!). While we are at it maybe we could ban mobile phones and computer games too....big sister is watching you!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

1977 - a great year for music

I have been listening to an album by Horslips called Aliens. I was pleased to discover that I could remember all the words to all the songs despite not having heard it for a few years. Horslips were an Irish band and the album Aliens came out in 1977, a particularly good year for music as I recall.

1977 was the first year that I really started taking notice of music, and funnily enough some of the definitive music of my formative years was made in that year (although I obviously discovered it when I was older).

There were of course the usual naff and corny records in the charts (and there was an avalanch of them in th 1970s).

The top 40 hits were:
1. Brick House - Commodores
2. Dancing Queen - Abba
3. We Will Rock You - Queen
4. After The Lovin - Englebert Humperdink
5. Got To Give It Up - Marvin Gaye
6. Hotel California - Eagles
7. Freebird (Live) - Lynyrd Skynyrd
8. Gonna Fly Now (Theme From Rocky) - Bill Conte
9. Lido Shuffle - Boz Scaggs
10. Fly Like An Eagle - Steve Miller Band
11. Boogie Nights - Heatwave
12. Walk This Way - Aerosmith
13. I'm Your Boogie Man - K. C. and the Sunshine Band
14. Baby, What a Big Surprise - Chicago
15. Margaritaville - Jimmy Buffett
16. Moondance - Van Morrison
17. Don't Stop - Fleetwood Mac
18. Sir Duke - Stevie Wonder
19. Best Of My Love - Emotions
20. Easy - Commodores
21. Keep It Comin' Love - K.C. and the Sunshine Band
22. Cat Scratch Fever - Ted Nugent
23. Handy Man - James Taylor
24. Signed. Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours) - Peter Frampton
25. You Make Lovin' Fun - Fleetwood Mac
26. Life In The Fast Lane - Eagles
27. How Deep Is Your Love - Bee Gees
28. Dusic - Brick
29. Don't Leave Me This Way - Thelma Houston
30. Strawberry Letter 31 - the Brothers Johnson
31. Solsbury Hill - Peter Gabriel
32. Lucille - Kenny Rogers
33. Back In Love Again - L.T.D.
34. My Way - Elvis Presley
35. Car Wash - Rose Royce
36. Jungle Love - Steve Miller Band
37. I'm In You - Peter Frampton
38. Red Hot - Robert Gordon & Link Wray
39. Jet Airliner - Steve Miller Band
40. You Light Up My Life - Debbie Boone

I don't remember some of these but some of them came to be a huge part of my life, Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, Moondance by Van Morrison etc. And at the time (being young - thats my excuse and I'm sticking to it - I was only 11!) I was into the Bee Gees, Andy Gibb and last but by no means least - Abba.

I still have an incredibly soft spot for Abba, they marked my transition into a real music lover and for a couple of years I was absolutely Abba mad. My absolute favourite Abba album was Arrival and I used to listen to it over and over again. I can remember taking the dog out for a walk and passing a house on Abbey Farm (a large council estate in Thetford, affectionately known as Scabby Arm when I was young) that was blaring out Arrival, it was a hot summers day and I stood there on the street by the side of the house until they had played the entire album. That's how strong it's magnetism was for me.

I did get a get a taste of things to come around that time. I used to listen to radio Luxembourg in bed under the covers and occasionally they would play a musical gem. Tracks like Carry on thy wayward Son by Kansas, Don't Fear the Reaper by the Blue Oyster Cult, Couldn't get it right by the Climax Blues Band and Drivers Seat By Sniff and The Tears, all tracks I still love now, and all heard first on radio Luxembourg late at night.

Yes so 1977 a great year for music in my book...

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Hogwarts home for retired wizards

Now why is it that I don't feel even the smallest glimmer of desire to read the new Harry Potter book, The Half Blood Prince? Is it that she (J.K. Rowling) has done the idea to death and we are all bored with it? I expect that is a large part of the problem. For me a trilogy would have been enough - I found the last book one too many and although I read it to N, I felt that it was far too long and far too horrible. That's the other thing each book is longer and nastier than the last. I'm not sure as to the reason for that, maybe it reflects how fed up J.K. is with writing them, or maybe it reflects how happy (or otherwise) she is in her personal life, proving the truth of the old adage money can't buy you happiness.

Personally I think that it is high time Ms Rowling wrote about something else, she must be heartily sick of Harry and friends by now (more sick than we are even). What is she going to do end up writing about Harrys adventures as a wrinkly old man at Hogwarts home for retired (or should that be tired?) wizards, with Harry in a wheel chair replete witrh hearing aid, an incontinent and beligerant Ron and Hermione chasing behind on her zimmer frame.

Even my 12-year-old son has not shown the slightest interest in the new H.P. book. Someone should point out to Ms Rowling and her publishers that quality and quantity are not the same thing!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The attraction of power

What is it about rich and powerful men that enables them to attract and keep gorgeous women - even when they are unattractive egotists. I can only surmise that it must be the fame, power and money. It's strange though when the boot is on the other foot, so to speak, and a man partners up with a famous/ rich women the relationship invariably doesn't last. Just look at Britney, Geri Haliwell, etc. It seems that statistically a relationship has more chance of surviving if both partners are famous or if the man is more so.

I wonder about the cause of this. Is it that men feel emasculated by a powerful or successful woman? Is it that men like to be the centre of attention? Or is it that the media makes more of it if a female celebrity is with an unknown than if it was the other way round, putting undue stress on the relationship?

It was seeing the new book by the so called domestic goddess Nigella Lawson that got me thinking about it. Now we all know that Dear Nigella, after being married to that nice man who died of cancer is now married to a man who some people believe (especially in art circles) to be the anti-christ, Charles Saatchi - now that must have come as a nasty shock for her children.

Now I'm not convinced that Charlie really is the anti-christ, although he certainly does have an unhealthy penchant for grisley and sick works of art. But he is unattractive and a bit odd, and she is extremely attractive. That beggars the question what does she see in him? - apart from fame, wealth, power and great art connections (and collection!). I mean would you want Tracey Emins bed in your dining room for six months? No thanks that's not for me - although I would like to be able to afford to buy some art, but I was thinking of something a bit smaller and more pleasing to the eye - something by that nice Babs Hepworth perhaps...

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

If Music be the food of love...

Haven't written much blog recently as I have been too busy, what with one thing and another (show, work on house, birthdays etc).

It has been interesting for me to discover that since my courses have finished I have found myself listening to more music. There are several possibilities as to the reason for this:

1) I have more time and mental/physical space for listening to music now I am not studying.
2) I have been slightly depressed and music lifts your spirits/ or you listen to more music when you are low.
3) My neighbours have moved out so I am more relaxed.
4) Writing about music in my blog made me want to listen to it.
5) Watching Live 8 revived my interest in music both new and old.
6) It's summer.
7) A combination of the above.

It is certainly true that watching Live 8 fired up my enthusiasm for music again. There is just not enough good music on mainstream TV these days. In fact all there is only Top of the Pops or Jools Holland, which is on late (and I must confess I can't stand him). I used to enjoy TFI Friday and the Tube, even The Word and The Girlie Show in the 90s was better than the smug pap we are offered as music tv these days! In the 80s there were some good youth programmes on BBC2 and channel 4 where they interviewed bands like the Clash. What we need is some edgy prime time music tv (without the good Jools!) to get us all back into listening to and buying music.

Talking about buying music, I did order two CDs yesterday. The first was American Idiot by Green Day and the second was an oldie, Aliens by Horslips, first released in 1977. D and I have also been listening to the Kaiser Chiefs this weekend, who were incidently on live 8 (and were very good). They are a very british band and remind me a bit of a cross between Pulp, Blur and Stiff Little Fingers!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


I think that what I am experiencing is called an anti-climax. A low that sets in at the end of a course - the two years of hard work is over and the final show is over. The end of any phase in life can be hard and when something big ends you are left with a hole to fill, a temporary (but real) loss of purpose, and the big question - what comes next?

On the bright side the end of a course brings a great sent of acheivement and a future bright with possibility, where anything can happen. So I should shut up moaning and find my purpose (or should that be porpoise) in life.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Greatest Hits?

This morning I was reading the ABC Review Supplement that came with the Independent yesterday and my eye was drawn to the advertisements for concerts. Top of the list was UB40, Who you Fighting For and I have to admit I had a nostalgic moment. My friend Clare and I went to see UB40 at Wembley Arena on their Rat in Mi Kitchen tour in 1986 or 87. However, I was somewhat disturbed by the subtitle to the tour "25 years of hits".

I love UB40 and I especially love their oldies, but somehow that heading just turns me off. It seems like everyone is on the hits tour bandwaggon at the moment (even Crosby, Stills and Nash). Not that there is anything wrong with acknowledging the hits that made you famous in the first place, even David Bowie caved in to fan pressure and did it in the end, it's just that to call it a Greatest Hits Tour somehow suggests that the artist(s) has nothing new to offer or worse still are just trying to boost flaaging album sales.(of course at the other end of the spectrum are aged bands who have no album sales and make their living on the old favourites circuit - anyone fancy an aged Mud or Showaddywaddy?)

Don't get me wrong I am all up for a bit of nostalgia and have to confess that for me Pink Floyd was the absolute highlight of Saturday's Live8 concert. It's just those greatest hits tours really get my goat!

I am also galled by the current trend for tribute bands. Bands have always done covers, but to make a career purely by playing one bands hits - come off it - isn't that cheating? It was funny when Bjorn Again did it, and we all knew that Abba would never reform. but now a band has to be famous for 5 seconds and there are a host of so-called tribute bands trying to cash in on their fame and steal their thunder. Why go and see the real thing if you can see Slobby Willies for 5p at the local pub? Click on this link to book a tribute band for your next event!

And as for The Smiths musical, well I am absolutely gobsmacked. Abba was plausible, Boy George and Madness were pushing it as far as I am concerned, so to make a musical out of the Smiths is absolutely ludicrous. Why can't we let these gods of the past lie in quiet slumber, occasionally reliving their glory through our cd collections? Don't desecrate their memories with pap and glitz - what next? Janis Joplin the Opera, ballet Blur or maybe The Sex Pistols on Ice?