Kate Copstick, Kat Banyard and Jeremy Vine

I had the radio on this afternoon and as usual it was tuned to R2. The lunchtime show was Jeremy Vine. I really shouldn’t listen to it; it’s the radio equivalent of the Daily Mail, but never mind.

One of the topics for “discussion” was whether or not the government should ban cosmetic surgery adverts. Pick up any women’s magazine and flick to the back pages and you’ll see page after page after page of adverts for cosmetic surgeons, promising you a perfect body and making no mention of the risks, or the fact that even with the “perfect” body you might still be unhappy with your life.

Speaking in favour of banning the ads was feminist activist and writer Kat Banyard. Speaking against banning the ads was editor of the Erotic Review Kate Copstick. Copstick spoke first, and her opening sentence was something like “when I agreed to come on the show today I didn’t know who would be taking the opposite argument, but I figured it would either be blah blah blah [I can’t remember what she said] or one of the humourless feminists, and I see it’s one of the humourless feminists.” She then went on to muster a very poor argument against banning cosmetic surgery ads.

When Banyard spoke, she chose not to acknowledge or respond to the personal insult Copstick had started with and just got on with her argument. At no point did Jeremy Vine as the host or any of the listeners phoning in question why Copstick had felt she could start her argument with a personal insult. (I have to wonder why they even asked Copstick to take part in the first place – surely if one of your contributors is speaking out against cosmetic surgery ads, the best person to give the opposing point of view is a cosmetic surgery clinic which thinks the ads are a good idea).

The thing about the “humourless” adjective is no matter how unjustified or unnecessary or snide it is (and it was all of those things today), the minute anyone, feminist woman or not, objects to it, they’re always told “it was just a joke, but see, you’re humourless.” It’s just banter. And the more you protest, the most justified people think they are in calling you humourless.

Kat Banyard might be humourless, I don’t know. She’s definitely a feminist. Jeremy Vine is a poor host for allowing his guests to insult each other without calling them on it, and Kate Copstick is a clichéd and very rude bitch.


New Year’s resolutions (reprise)

In January I resolved that this would be the year I learned to make decent curry from scratch. I’ve been using three books – Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry Easy, Anun Anjand’s I heart Curry, and Curry by several different writers. And I think it’s safe to say I’ve nailed it.  I’ve also learnt to do the most delicious dhal made of five different pulses, really good pilau rice, and I’ve had a go at parathas too. I need more practice at those, but I’m getting there.

And then in August after I’d been to see the surgeon about my hip and realised that swimming would be my only realistic form of exercise in the future, I resolved to learn front crawl. I started lessons in September and set myself a target of doing 50km by the end of the year. I passed that target a couple of weeks ago and my total distance swum is now 55,735 metres.

I think this is the only time in my life I’ve kept new year resolutions. An excellent year’s progress!

The Hobbit (part one) – contains SPOILERS

Went to see part one of The Hobbit today.  I was pretty surprised to hear they’d made it into three films, given the book is really quite thin, and I think my surprise was justified.

The Hobbit was as well done as the Lord of the Rings trilogy was – there’s just as much attention to detail. It’s a very high quality film, and I liked the cast. I was especially pleased to see ex-MI5 officer Lucas North has started a new life in disguise as Thorin Oakenshield. But blimey, it’s too long. Way way too long at 169 minutes for the first part of the trilogy.

There are significant departures from the book and the film doesn’t benefit from them at all. There’s a long, boring and unnecessary scene where Gandalf, Elrond, Saruman and Galadriel are talking about a sword Radagast found in the necromancer’s house, which they decide used to belong to the witchking of Angmar. None of that is in the book and it really didn’t need to be in the film. There’s a lot of Thorin being hunted by an orc riding a warg which doesn’t need to be there. There’s some unnecessary stuff with Radagast. And there was some other completely unnecessary stuff which I have now forgotten, it was so unnecessary. Oh yes, the bit with the dwarves & Bilbo trying to cross the mountains but getting caught up in a storm with the mountain giants hurling rocks at each other. It was an exciting, well-done scene, but it really didn’t need to be there. It didn’t advance the story, it just took up time.

It’s bloated, it’s too long, it has way too many scenes which were not in the book, don’t move the story forward at all and it spoils the film. It’s a good film, but it could have been great.


After several hours of being on trains today, coming back from having spent Christmas with my dad (Saturday to Monday) and my mum (Monday to today), I got home, dumped my stuff and went for a swim.

No middle lane today so the medium lane swimmers were in the slow lane. I am a slow lane swimmer but I’m still faster than some of the other slow lane swimmers. I was behind a woman today and I was having to deliberately slow myself down so as not to crash into her feet, because the lane was busy and there wasn’t enough space to overtake her. That didn’t stop the cockwomble behind me swimming so fast he crashed into my feet, then tried to overtake me and ended up veering into me because he didn’t have room to overtake me because of the numerous people coming the other way. I pointed out to him that I couldn’t go any faster because of the woman in front of me and I couldn’t overtake because there was no space to overtake, so he would have to stay behind me or move to the fast lane. I bet he drives like that too.

Then, as I was nearly finished, on about length 19, I was front-crawling my way up behind a man who was doing breaststroke. He had quite short shorts on, with quite wide legs, and every time he bent his knees up, frog-style, for his breaststroke legs, I could see his bollocks. For goddess’s sake, men, get longer shorts or narrower-legged shorts, or stick to crawl.

Target reached

When I went back to swimming at the end of August, I set myself a target of swimming 50km by the end of the year. I achieved that target at about half past six this morning.

When I was a kid I had a book which was a collection of short stories. In one of them, some people were on a cruise liner and whenever the ship crossed the equator, there would be a party on board. I sort of felt that should happen this morning in the pool as I reached and then went over 50km, but sadly there was nothing. 😦 I am going to Dogs for dinner tonight though and I shall celebrate then.

My favourite Christmas songs

Inspired by Salt and Caramel’s post, I’m trying to think about my favourite Christmas songs. The trouble is, I can’t narrow it down to five. I probably can’t narrow it down to twenty. I love Christmas songs, classic, modern (by which of course I mean 80s), cheesy – I love them all. Except anything by Kylie – as nice a person as she seems to be, she sings like a cat being strangled in a dustbin and her singing voice is like nails on a blackboard to me. So not her. And not MariahpickanoteandsticktoitpleaseCarey either.

In no particular order,

Wham!’s Last Christmas – I was a Wham! fan and now I am a George fan. I love his voice. It’s beautiful. And Last Christmas is sad and hopeful and Christmassy, George’s voice soars, and the video is perfect 80s Christmas cheese – the hair! the brooch! the hair! the way George’s coat makes him look like a teddy bear! the hair! All of my CDs have been copied onto my mp3 player and I usually just set my mp3 player to random. Although I have very strong feelings about how it’s not right to have Christmassy things when it’s not Christmas, if my mp3 player happens to throw this one out in mid-July, it always raises a smile and a singalong.

Queen’s Thank God It’s Christmas – yeah I’ve been a Queen fan since Crazy Little Thing Called Love – when I was nine. It’s not a typical Christmas song but still manages to sound very Christmassy, and Freddie’s voice is fab.

2000 Miles by The Pretenders – not one you hear very often, but so Christmassy.

Pretty much everything on the Phil Spector-produced album, A Christmas Gift For You. Phil Spector seems to be quite an unpleasant man, but I love his wall of sound and it works really well on this album. Marshmallow World, Sleigh Ride, Frosty the Snowman, Winter Wonderland – Christmassy perfection.

A Spaceman Came Travelling by Chris de Burgh – I know, but shut up, it’s my list.

I Believe in Father Christmas by Greg Lake – anyone who doesn’t like this is dead inside.

Merry Xmas Everybody by Slade – there isn’t a single Christmassy thing on this song apart from the lyrics. No bells, no choir, nothing. If you changed the words to something non-Christmassy it would just be another stonking Slade song. As it is, it’s a stonking Slade Christmas song. I do really like a bit of Slade now and again – if I could sing and I was auditioning for X Factor, I’d do Cum On Feel The Noize or Mama Weer All Crazy Now because they’re great. Noddy’s pension, and long may he claim it.

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday by Wizzard. I like a bit of Wizzard too. They’re a bit Phil Spector wall of sound with their OTT bombastic production, and this has the appropriate Christmas clichés – choir of children, sleighbells etc over that typical rumpapumpapum that underlies most of Wizzard’s songs (also a lot of The Move’s too).

Band Aid and Do They Know It’s Christmas? Look, I know it’s trite and patronising, but nearly 30 years on it still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when the first few notes sound.

Fairytale of New York by the Pogues and Kirsty McColl. It’s just awesome.

Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt. Mwahahahahaha.

Mud’s Lonely This Christmas – because I love all songs with a cheesy spoken bit.

When a Child is Born – Johnny Mathis – it’s a lovely song and he sings it beautifully. It’s peaceful and calming and soft.

Gaudete by Steeleye Span. A bit different, a beautiful melody, nice and classic.

December Song by George Michael. When I am a billionaire I will pay George Michael to come round my house and sing this to me every night every December.

Jethro Tull’s Ring Out Solstice Bells. One of my neighbours has mental health problems and when he goes through periods of insomnia he deals with it by playing his music deafeningly loudly all through the night. He plays a lot of Jethro Tull, mainly Living in the Past. I don’t hold it against them; Ring Out Solstice Bells is great. (It’s a bit better since I went apeshit and he got headphones).

I Want an Alien for Christmas by Fountains of Wayne. It amuses me.

Like I said, I really like Christmas songs.

Don’t you think it’s time Take That did a Christmas song? There just don’t seem to be proper Christmas songs any more. Something new and classically Christmassy would be such an improvement on the interminable Mistletoe & Wine, and I think Take That could do it really well. Someone tell Gary Barlow to get on to that please.

What is it that makes a good Christmas song? It seems to be a blend of melancholy and hope, echoing the melancholy of the darkest days of the year and the hope that comes with the shortest day and the knowledge the light will return, the gloom of the cold and the promise of warmth to come. Some of my favourite Christmas songs seem to have a hollow, almost echoey quality to the sound – certainly I Believe in Father Christmas, Thank God It’s Christmas and 2000 Miles have a feeling of vastness about them, and I think Gaudete and the first few bars of Do They Know It’s Christmas? have it too. Slade, Wizzard and the Phil Spector album are, of course, the complete opposite but that just proves the rule.

Listen to his voice soar.

Judge totally misses the fucking point

Saw this story in the local paper today in which it transpires that a man has been convicted of having sex with an underage girl. He was 22 and she was 13 when the offence took place. As you can see from the article, he “took advantage of a drunk teenager at a party.”

She was 13 years old. Only just into secondary school really. She was not an adult and she was 3 years too young to be having sex in the eyes of the law. She could not legally consent to sex. Sex with someone who does not or cannot consent to sex is rape, end of story. Even if this girl stripped at the party and danced around Steven Pollock singing “let’s spend the night together” she was not consenting to sex because in the eyes of the law, 13 year olds cannot consent to sex. And she was, according to the report, drunk. She might not have been so drunk she didn’t know what she was doing, but 13 year olds aren’t known for their ability to handle their drink, so there’s a fair chance she was pretty drunk. The responsible thing for Steven Pollock to do was to leave her the fuck alone. For Lord Turnbull to say “the offence arises out of consensual conduct” is for him to totally miss the point. A 13 year old cannot legally consent to sex, and Steven Pollock should have been convicted of rape.

My top eleven favourite fruit

For absolutely no reason at all

  1.  raspberries
  2. pineapple
  3. apricots
  4. really nice apples, not the flavourless cottonwool that calls itself Red or Golden “Delicious”
  5. watermelon
  6. physalis
  7. lychees
  8. other melons
  9. really nice pears
  10. tinned mandarins (preferably on tinned rice pudding)
  11. chocolate orange

Good strawberries, pomegranate, peaches, nectarines and grapes aren’t far behind. Or cherries. Or rhubarb. Or blackberries.

Getting faster

Swam a kilometre tonight, after work. No boom, so 20x50m lengths. For the first time, I averaged under 1m30s per 50m length. I’ve been doing that consistently for 2x25m, but today I did it for 50m lengths. And my tumbleturns are coming back. They’re still pretty shoddy, but at least they’re there, unlike yesterday.

Really annoying man in the slow lane tonight. In a car, I bet he’s one of those ones who overtakes cyclists too fast and too close just to get to the red light three seconds faster.

Tumbleturns seem to have left me

Swam 1950m today. I thought I’d done the full 2km but I made an error with the clicking on my lap counter and didn’t realise until I was out and getting dressed. If I’d still had my cossie on I might have gone back in and done the other 50m but wrestling into a wet costume is too much of a pain.

But, the art of tumbleturns has completely left me. I could not do them at all today. My body was reacting like I’d asked it to do Olympic-level gymnastics and I was just flailing in the water. I could have understood it if it had been towards the end when I was tired, but it was right from the beginning. I dunno why I couldn’t do them today but it was annoying.