The Girl with the Edinburgh Tattoo

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Archive for the month “November, 2013”

Let’s Talk About Sex… age and image (the 5 stages)

DollSex – there’s no getting away from it. It’s  everywhere. It’s an all-pervading life force that can be used for both good and evil. It’s a maker of dreams and a wrecker of dreams. And let’s face it we’re all here because our parents ‘did it’. Most of us have difficulty with that concept – maybe that’s why we’re squeamish and fascinated in turns by the whole subject.

Think you can remain immune by taking a sabbatical or divorcing it from your life altogether? That’s not going to work. You’ll still be bound up in the everyday world of  how you’re perceived. You’ll still be judged on how you look. People will still make a decision on whether they find you attractive or not. Subliminally this comes down to that other person considering you as a viable breeding option and for passing on good genes. It’s primal and it affects you whether you’re male or female, gay or straight. And the galling thing is it affects every aspect of your life – from getting good service in a shop or achieving a top mark in your annual work report. It isn’t usually about desire – it’s a value judgement – pure and simple. It’s a measure of your worth.

Okay – so far, so depressing but a report came out this week with some heartening news. The research showed that more older people are having sex  (I presume with each other… ) and women are becoming more experimental (I believe with each other… ). So sex doesn’t HAVE to be the preserve of young airbrushed porn stars in the boy/girl combination – however much the media suggests it is.

Not so heartening was a report released by The Children’s Commissioner for England also this week. The main – and deeply shocking – finding was that young children are committing sexual abuse on other children. Makes you think that sex should be reserved for the older generation – I guess that would seriously inhibit the population level so that would have to have a bit more thought given to it… But with the whole sex thing being such a powerful tool (stop laughing at the back) it really shouldn’t be in the hands of children. How can they – or anyone – avoid it though? From Miley Cyrus probing herself with a giant foam finger to David Beckham‘s thrusting crotch plastered all over H&M – it’s in your face at every turn. And if a lot of adults have difficulty with telling the difference between fantasy and reality or struggling with the whole sexual politics power play – what hope does a younger person have? I’ve been giving the whole subject of how we deal with with sex at various times in our life  some thought and I’ve come up with five stages –

Pre stage – you’re a child and, ignoring all the Freudian stuff, you shouldn’t have anything to do with sex. From the Lolita-ising of young girls in ‘developed’ countries to young people (both sexes) who find themselves born into extreme poverty and are offered up for prostitution – it’s exploitation and just plain wrong!

First stage – as a teenager you are obsessed by sex but shouldn’t really be indulging. If you do it’s a bit like skipping your starter and main and going straight for the whole dessert menu – your palate is going to become jaded before it’s had time to develop. There’s also the danger of feeling sick and putting on weight (know what I mean…?) Surely a little amuse bouche is ample at this point?

Second stage – late teens, young adulthood is when you can’t get enough and it’s perfectly acceptable to go ahead with it. You’ve got the energy and the opportunity – so what are you waiting for? Just remember to respect yourself and others. Don’t get hung up about a ‘perfect’ image. Find your own style and develop a personality. And use a condom, please!

Third stage –  commonly known as the ‘too tired to ****’.  Most people in their thirties and forties will have settled down with families and whilst there may still be a spark of desire still there – the burdens of nappy changing, school runs, money problems, working-all-hours-to-pay-the-bills, coping with extended families takes it toll.  Even if you’re sans enfants or tout seul you’ll still find life weighing down on you and the ‘what if’s’ will start to haunt you, making sex seem like an irrelevance. Actually – assuming you have to time to think about it – a lot of things will start to feel irrelevant. Don’t be too cynical, sad or too tired. Important to remember you’re an individual and not just somebody’s something (or nobody’s nothing) – don’t lose that groove, you may never get it back!

Fourth stage – kids are out of the way, you may feel you have almost figured out what life is all about and who you are. You’re looking around for a new recreational activity. How about that thing you used to do? Sex – remember? Oh yes…  Now, with many people the ‘finding themselves’ part may have included ‘finding themselves a new partner’.  Word of advice – the grass may seem greener on the other side of the street but it probably isn’t. Change your life by all means but don’t confuse good sex – or just any sex with ‘finding’ yourself.

Fifth stage – is there a fifth stage? Of course, why not? Setting aside the mechanical issues of dryness, drooping and lack of overall stamina – this can be perhaps be the most fun you’ve had since stage two! And just think – no danger of unwanted sprogs, more chance of having a suitable and comfortable venue to ‘do it’, and a far lessened chance of catching an STD!

So sex can be fun, beautiful, nasty, political, controlling, powerful, confusing. It’s primal but we have the power to transcend what it was originally intended for and just have some fun – whatever our age –  and however far we are physically as individuals from some ‘ideal’. Sex is so many different things and it’s everywhere. You couldn’t – and shouldn’t – ban it. Quite the opposite – it has to be discussed – that’s why reports like the ones released this week are so important. Because whatever sex is it’s never not complicated

Don’t Let the Scumbags Win…

ImageIt seems to be a universal truth that scum have a feral need to have someone to look down upon in order that they can feel superior. I cite the Nazis in Germany, Golden Dawn in Greece, bullies in countless housing estates or communities when someone different comes into their midst. The latter situation being the perfect hothousing that led to the vile murder of Bijan Ebrahimi – an Iranian refugee whose only crime it would appear was to look and sound different and take a pride in his surroundings. Terrible, eh? What he should have done was live on smack and pot noodles, in his own filth, watching Jeremy Kyle all day – then maybe he could have fitted in. As it was he was decent as well as different and your average scumbag isn’t going to stand for that. I’m ashamed to say it but when things like this happen my knee-jerk reaction is give the piece of scum a taste of his own medicine but then that’s how we got here in the first place isn’t it… ? It’s difficult.

If you need any cinematic help to make sense of it all – don’t wallow in the endless vigilante fantasies that are as old as cinema itself but check out the film Fury from 1936 directed by Fritz Lang and starring Spencer Tracy. There’s no gore but its dispassionate and horrifying depiction of vigilantism will stay with you for a long time.

But for now – be like Bijan’s family and act with dignity,  don’t get dragged into a rancid world of blame and vengeance. Make it: Bijan – R.I.P. and not scumbag – rot in hell…   however tempting that may be…

The Poppy is also a Flower

Charlene White 3The reason given by countries like the US and the UK for being a foreign presence in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan is fighting for the right to free speech, freedom of expression – battling those who would deny these rights to their people. Maybe newsreader Charlene White would do well to move to one of these more ‘unenlightened’ countries to carry out her job in that case.

In case you missed the story – Charlene appeared poppy-less when she read the news on ITV London because she didn’t want to be seen publicly giving one charity precedence over another. Brave woman – for in recent years the wearing of a poppy by anyone appearing on British TV has gone from cajoling fashion accessory to an all-prevailing polit-bureau-type dictat that people ignore at their peril! For many years Channel 4’s Jon Snow has invited disapproval by ignoring the ‘ruling’ but it seems that a special kind of vitriol has been reserved for a black woman who – shock, horror! – has shown that she is a thinking, reasoning being and not a media robot. And as you can probably guess the criticism had a nasty racist and sexist tone to it.

It’s strange, but a totally unscientific study – i.e. looking at ‘ordinary’ people in the street, at work and those that slipped through the net on TV – showed not that many wearing poppies. Could it be the ‘ordinary’ person in the street has more reasoning power that they’re given credit for? Maybe they feel that with people from the last world war now slipping away wearing a poppy shows support for conflicts that are confused and complicated at best and illegal and wrong-headed at worst. And maybe – possibly – they feel they can show fitting support for those who died for freedom of expression by refusing to be dictated to or bullied.

So to all those people who thought it their duty to reprimand Ms White using her gender and her race as starting points for their insults – I hope you weren’t hypocritical enough to show support for another young woman of colour attacked for self determination – Malala Yousafzai. I also hope that both women continue to challenge racist, sexist, dictatorial neanderthals whether it be in Afghanistan, Pakistan or the UK!

Funeral Games

ImageIt’s commendable – in a way – that total strangers have rallied around to attend the funeral of war veteran Harold Jellicoe Percival. And at least when they gather at the service and go through the usual ‘isn’t it a shame we didn’t… when he was alive..’  it will be so much less hypocritical than when the ritual is carried out by people who actually knew the deceased but couldn’t find the time to get in touch before he/she breathed their last. Well, these things are carried out more for the benefit of the living than for the dead who – unless you believe in that kind of thing – won’t be watching on from on high. Maybe there is some validity in ‘having a good turnout’  when a desperately grieving loved one is left but in this case Harold was a self proclaimed loner and nomad who never married and didn’t have children. He was a veteran from WWII so he probably experienced things that would have snuffed out any bit of sentimentality he may have started out with. Would he have been remotely bothered whether one person or a hundred turned out for his funeral? We’ll never know but the people who’ll troop along tomorrow to attend an event which ever-so-neatly ties in with Remembrance Day will feel better about themselves for a while and, who knows, they may actually start friendships that can be forgotten until one of them dies and those left can meet up at the funeral and say ‘why didn’t we do this when he/she was alive?’

All in all it should be a good do and I’m sure the media will love it. I only wish for two things: firstly that Harold’s new found friends don’t start pointing any sanctimonious fingers at the distant members of Harold’s family who prefer not to be hypocrites and won’t be attending. And secondly: that the people attending show the same concern for a member of their own family – or even (gasp!) a total stranger – who may be languishing in a care home somewhere and who – possibly unlike Harold – would appreciate some company before they die…

Sir Elton – What A Pussy!

ImageI saw Elton John on the Andrew Marr Show this morning declaring himself as the acceptable face of homosexuality (he certainly isn’t the acceptable face of music in my book but that’s another matter… ) and that he will be touring Russia at the start of December – as he has done on many an occasion since 1979. Looks like he’s had a pretty momentous influence on the gay rights issue in that particular country, eh? He did state that he would be saying something – he wasn’t too specific on that one – possibly ‘Good to see you again Mr Putin, do you have any more lucrative private parties for oligarchs that I can play while I’m here?’ I doubt that he’ll be meeting with any gay rights groups or proclaiming public support for Pussy Riot.

It’s a difficult thing when you’re the acceptable face of anything – particularly homosexuality – Larry Grayson, John Inman, Freddie Mercury and Boy George back in the 70s and 80s all spring to mind. They could be cute, cuddly, outrageous in appearance and could throw in a bit of innuendo as well but there was no way that closet door was getting opened. Even though this was a good few years after being gay could not be defined as a crime in the eyes of the law all these people knew that publicly nailing the colour pink to the mast would be career suicide. Boy George famously declared himself not interested in sex and Freddie Mercury was always reticent about coming out lest he upset the legion of ‘homocaust-deniers’ that seemed to make up a typical Queen audience.

So have things changed that much? Lipstick- lesbian chic as peddled by female performers (Madonna, Britney) who want to spice up an image, the ‘outed but proud’ brigade (Ricky Martin, George Michael) spring to mind. So being gay can be a good career move or at the very least it’s acceptable well… not in every country…  So let’s hope that Sir Elton can use that acceptable face of his (hmm… ) when he goes to Russia next month to push the rouble stuffed envelope just a little bit. Alternatively if he wants to return to the over-the-top outfits of yesteryear and hit the headlines I’m sure he could borrow a Pussy Riot balaclava and dress from somewhere!

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