Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Forgive Me, Mulberry, For I Have Sinned

Spot The Difference

I bought a new handbag at the weekend. This in itself is quite an event, as I don't normally "do" bags. 

I have also mentioned in a previous post that my dream handbag would be a Mulberry Alexa.  When wandering past our local Next, I spotted a bag in the window that looked sort of familiar. Even husband spotted it. "That's a blatant copy of an Alexa, isn't it?!" he said*. I ummed and ahhed and in the end decided to take the plunge - the pricetag was certainly a lot more palatable than a real one! Having stroked a "real" one, however, I must admit it hasn't satisfied my craving. 

In some ways I wonder how they get away with it, but I suppose they would say that there are enough differences to be obvious - the fact that it's not leather, and the two pockets at the front (hopefully the photo quality on the second is not too bad to make the resemblance obvious), but the inspiration is certainly clear. 

Does it matter? Why do I have a weird niggling feeling that my purchase is somehow not quite right?
(*Guess the brainwashing is working, then!)

Monday, 23 August 2010

If Women Ruled the World

President Tarja Halonen
Mari Kiviniemi
PM Mari Kiviniemi
If women ruled the world, things would all be different, right?

In June this year, Finland elected its second female Prime Minister. This came on top of already having the country's first female President. Hardly earth-shattering, you might say - we are not talking about a global superpower after all.

Don't worry, I'm not going to bore you with the details of Finland's political shenanigans (this lot have had more practice at coalition governments than the current UK coalition have had hot dinners and to be honest I don't understand the slightest bit about it). No, what really interested me is what having both a female head of government and a female head of state actually means for the day-to-day running of the country. Is it noticeable? 

Frankly, I don't really know. Having recently spent two weeks on holiday there doesn't really give me any sort of expertise on the subject. I would hardly say there was a significant "women are ruling this country" vibe, but then Finland is a pretty different sort of culture anyway. The truth of the matter is that Finland is one of the most gender-equal countries in the world (coming 3rd overall in the 2007 Global Gender Gap report by the World Economic Forum, and having recently been declared Best Country in the World by Newsweek, based on a number of factors, one of which was Gender Equality- the UK coming 14th overall).

Given all of that maybe we should not expect to see too much change in Finland with both a female head of state and head of government. 

Let's take a look back at Britain's first and only dalliance with a female Prime Minister. Love or hate her (and she certainly seems to polarise opinion), there is no doubt that Margaret Thatcher certainly made an impact on the country. Whether she made a positive impact on women in politics is another question. Just a simple google search for this article seems to point to disappointment that her ascension to power did little or nothing to encourage more women to enter politics.  At one point Thatcher said: "I owe nothing to Women's Lib."

Every now and then for the tiniest split second, I get the mad idea in my head that I would like to enter politics - to make a difference and somehow do "my bit". Of course, if I think about it for more than that split-second, I realise that what I really mean is that I feel I should do more in my community - "politics with small p". The thought of party politics is pretty abhorrent to me. I don't think I'm thick-skinned enough, and I'm too easily swayed by other people's arguments! From talking to my friends and acquaintances about it, I think a lot of women feel the same.  

It won't stop me wondering though - what would it really be like if women ruled the world? Yes, it probably would be different, but are we really so naive as to think that all the problems of the human race would be solved? I for one doubt it - after all, when we can get so caught up in what is the right or wrong way to have and bring up children (see here for Gappy's excellent recent post on a similar subject if you have not already done so), you do have to wonder how we are ever going to agree amongst ourselves what the answer to society's ills are.

I don't know the answer. The fatalist in me thinks that the human race would probably still bumble along in more or less the same way - always genetically inclined to argue, fight and generally make a mess of the planet. The optimist in me would like to think that things would be that little bit better - I just wonder whether we will ever find out.

Which side of the fence do you fall on?

Friday, 20 August 2010

Wishing We'd Never Discovered Nick Jr

DD1 is eating strawberries. She is wearing a white top and dribbling strawberry juice down it.

Me: "DD1, watch what you are doing, you are getting strawberry juice down your top"
DD1: "Oh"
Me (muttering under my breath): "...strawberry juice... stains horribly...never come out"
DD1: "Don't worry mummy, you just need to put some Vanish on it."

Come back CBeebies, all is forgiven.

(There's a longer post here somewhere on advertising and the effect on young children. Maybe I'll write it when I have a little more time to think.)

Monday, 16 August 2010


I think I might be sufferering from Telephobia (also known as Telephonophobia, apparently) - a fear of speaking on the telephone.

I know for a fact that I am not alone in this. I have had various Twitter conversations with people who feel exactly the same, and if I do a quick internet search it brings up countless forums on the subject. On the one hand, I am happy to discover that I am not alone, or a complete freak for not liking to pick up the phone. On the other hand, I work for a telecoms company, so this is more than a little embarrassing.

I like to think that my affliction is on the mild side - however, recently I have started to notice that it may be starting to affect the smooth running of my family. My dust is piling up on the surfaces as I have not yet called the cleaner recommended by my neighbour. That dentist's appointment has not made itself. The swimming lessons that my children were given on holiday somehow weren't quite sufficient...

How did this happen? As a teenager, I used to spend hours on the phone to my friends (favourite phrase of my mother's: "but you only saw them at school!"), but I do now think that this was more of a strange hormonal aberration than typical behaviour for me.

Of course, these days I am reliably informed that teenagers spend all their time either on something called "FaceSpace" or txting on their phones - can any parents of teenagers confirm that they no longer have their landlines clogged up? Do your teenagers even know what a landline is?

I do wonder if modern technology is more than a little to blame for my aversion to picking up the dog 'n' bone. After all, given the choice, I would rather book an appointment online than pick up the phone. The invitations my children receive to parties these days invariably include a mobile phone number ("I'll just send them a text..."). I even recently got told off by my father for mainly communicating with my parents by email. At work we have e-mail, instant messaging and even an internal micro-blogging tool similar to Twitter enabling me to successfully avoid ever having to open my mouth.

Maybe it is time to pick up the phone and do something about it.

P.S.: Whilst rooting around on the net, I came across this blog post: that has some very simple tactics to help overcome this fear for anyone else that might be similarly afflicted.
Update 17th August:. It seems that, according to this piece: I won't actually have to worry about this too much longer anyway - seems the phone call will soon be dead!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Introducing The Fantasy Decorator

I am truly blessed by the fact that my husband is an understanding soul. Or maybe he has already started divorce proceedings without my knowledge as he has finally realised that I have gone stark, raving, mad.

Obviously I have too much time on my hands. Not content with working full-time, having two small children, a household to run and a blog to write, one sleepless night I was gripped by the thought that ""

Without any more beating about the bush, I therefore present to you The Fantasy Decorator, which I will be using going forward to indulge my love of property p*rn.

 If you get as excited as I do by teacups and doorknobs, feel free to take a look.

Don't worry, if bedside tables don't float your boat, just stick here for more of the same random ramblings.

(P.S. I've also set up a separate Twitter account @fantasydecor.)

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Say Cheese

Source: Silvio Tanaka on Flickr
Are you photogenic?

There are some people that just seem to photograph well. They aren't even necessarily always the ones that you would consider good-looking in the flesh, but a camera lens does something magical to them and finds something in their features that instantly transforms them. There are also other people who look exactly the same on photos as they do in real life.

My children love having their photo taken - and with the advent of digital technology they can view themselves on the tiny LCD screen in an instant. They will happily pose with a radiant smile, or pull funny faces, or even on occasion look solemnly into the lens.

I think it is fair to say, however, that there are few adults that would share this natural affinity with model behaviour. I personally am finding that with age I seem to get more and more self-conscious about being photographed. This is something that occurred to me while looking through our holiday snaps. Whilst I don't actually mind being snapped when doing something else (I like to think I don't actually look too bad if taken unawares), I hate more than anything that horrible moment when I have to pose and "say cheese".

On my return to work yesterday I found a request for a photo to submit to some kind of org chart destined for an intranet site somewhere. I confess I panicked.

I basically have two posing faces; the first is some sort of demented grin with mad staring eyes and ridiculously chubby cheeks, and the second is my attempt to look sultry and basically ends up with me just looking grumpy and thoroughly miserable, neither of which particularly convey the image of friendly professionalism I wanted to portray.

In the end, hubby did a sterling job at taking an endless selection and I managed to narrow it down to something that looked vaguely human. However, if anyone has the secret to posed photos not making me look like a complete loon, answers on a disqus comment below, please!

Monday, 9 August 2010

I'm Baaaack!

At the risk of boring you all with the virtual equivalent of the holiday slide show (anyone else remember those, or was it just my parent's friends?) this is just a quick post to gloat about how fabulous our holiday was.

I know what you're thinking - "Finland? Hardly traditional holiday destination" - and to a certain extent you are right. However, in terms of the overall list of general criteria - namely weather (37 degrees!!), food (do love me a bit of reindeer, yum), attractions (daily beach and swim in the lake) - I think we managed to hit the jackpot.

Think the Finnish Tourist Board will employ me now?


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