Sunday, 29 January 2012

Plastic Surgery anyone?

We can all be a little bit vain. Even me. I admit it. I always try to make the best of myself with my clothes, make-up and hair. People judge you by their first impression of you. (If they should or not is another subject for another day). Some people may say I am high maintenance. (I don’t
like camping or getting dirty so you can call it glamping but it will always be camping to me!).

I want to comment on the shocking trend towards looking perfect. Even stars that have professional make-up and hair are often “photo-shopped” before hitting our magazines. How does that make the average woman feel? She feels inadequate. How can she compete with something that isn’t even real? What can she do?

Well she still tries. She can get Botox, Collagen injections, implants. She has a wide choice of options if she has the money. Yes a wide choice; Botox paralyses the muscles and we can tell when people have had it, Collagen, hmm let’s ask Lesley Ash how she feels about it! And implants – well the news of the last few weeks about the quality of silicone says it all. Does this make you wonder what these do to your body? (Never mind the harm to your bank balance!).

Well no need to wonder anymore. With the recent silicone scare on breast implants, will this make women stop and think before putting something unnatural inside their body? This may slow down the amount of women wanting implants the way the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre had stopped people flying. But this is a temporary measure. People’s memories will fade and the dream of being perfect will overtake their initial concerns.

Longer term I think magazines need to take some responsibility for the images they provide. Use real woman and stop the photo-shopping. We want to see their wrinkles and to know they are not perfect. It would work and there would be more female solidarity.

The truth is you will only get older and more wrinkled, so enjoy what you have while you have it. Life is short – enjoy it!

Thursday, 26 January 2012



I did not have a lot of hope for this film as Madonna had directed and written it and she is not well known for film making skills. However I found this film to be outstanding with some great performances. Andrea Riseborough gives a wonderful performance of Wallis Simpson and for
the first time in history, she is portrayed as a woman who is a victim, both of domestic abuse within her first marriage, and a victim of her own success of her marriage to the king.
There is a real poignant moment when “she is tired of trying to live up to the romance of the century”.
You really feel for her character and I am sure the real Wallis Simpson would have had a much harder time of it than is portrayed. James D'Arcy also gives a moving performance as Edward. You can’t help but like him and again, you feel for him and his situation.

This is not just a historic piece. This is about a modern marriage, however it still felt very old fashioned to me – who gives up their job to be “looked after” by their husbands? And her taste
in clothes also leaves a lot to be questioned. We are in the 21st century and this should have been more current to make a clear difference between the two timelines.

Abbie Cornish plays the modern Wallis who is married to William, a man who works hard, plays hard and doesn’t seem to care much for his younger wife. Her life is almost parallel in places to Wallis Simpson and with the same name as well, it can get confusing if we are having a flashback or are in current day. Abbie gives a good performance, although I found it hard to sympathise with her character the same way I felt for the original Wallis.

This film made me cry, (such as the abdication scene) and anyone who enjoyed The King’s Speech would enjoy this film. It will be one I will buy for my DVD collection in due course.

Well done Madonna, this is an outstanding film.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (with spoilers)

I have not seen the first film in Swedish which was well received, so I can only give my opinion on this film as a total novice of the famous Swedish trilogy as I have not read the books either.

This film stars Daniel Craig, who is ok in it. Not great praise but he didn’t even try to put an accent on when every other single person in the film did (whose roles required it). Maybe he can’t do accents but nothing could be worse than Anne Hathaway in One Day. She will win the award for worst accent ever…anyway I digress…

Daniel Craig is not out of his comfort zone and some of the film does remind me of the first of his 007 films.

On the other hand, the “girl” who is played by Rooney Mara is outstanding in it. I loved her take on a really abused, autistic spectrum, intelligent and yet wounded girl on the edge of life.

The first half of the film is almost two separate stories about both the leads and their lives. It
takes a while to get them together in the same room. I suppose after some of the earlier graphic scenes, you are not totally shocked to find a 23 year old autistic in bed with Daniel. (That is
no way to make “bond girl”).

Most of the other characters are also outstanding in their performances. Christopher Plummer and Stellan SkarsgÄrd are excellent in their roles and make the film really enjoyable to watch.
This film contains some very graphic scenes and the overall story is also unnerving. David Fincher has done a wonderful job on it. It is not comfortable viewing but neither is it supposed to be.

My only real disappointment was some storylines were not followed through. (such as the pressed flowers sent each year, or who killed the cat called cat…). I suppose I have to live with it. Still, I wait with anticipation about the next one…

To pay or not to pay, that is the question in the bag!

Ok, I know this is a rant so forgive me in advance, but my niggle that has irritated me like a small stone in the bottom of my shoe has just blown up into a rock with thorns on!

I have had a very pleasant day on New Year’s Day, after seeing the remake of the girl with the dragon tattoo in the cinema, when my husband said he wanted to buy a newspaper.

We went into the WH Smiths concession in the Milton Keynes Xscape and I found a magazine I wanted to buy (Mojo this month has New Order and Bowie in it – pure joy). I took it to the counter and happily paid the £4.50 to the man behind the counter and put the change into my purse.

Then came the moment that has been building for years. I asked for a bag to put my expensive magazine in. He said it would cost me a penny. Now you may not think that is much and in today’s society when there are adverts begging us to save dogs for Christmas and water for children at £3 a pop. It is true that a penny does not count for much.

But hold on a minute. I am a consumer who is keeping their trade going. I have bought a rather pricy magazine in comparison to the other items on sale and yet he still wanted to charge me a penny! Outrageous! I actually got a refund and loudly exclaimed that I would buy the magazine elsewhere where I will be given a bag for free.

Now if you think this is extreme, let us look at the facts.
There is a much bigger WH Smith’s just across the road, probably not even 300 yards away. They too will ask you for 1p for a bag, but here is the irony, you can make a fuss and sometimes (depending on the staff on duty) they will give you one for free. And why would anyone buy a bag when you have to walk past the “self-service” counters to get out the
shop where the bags are free? Yes this is inside the same store!

I do not know if this is only relevant to WH Smiths stores in Milton Keynes. I have had some
wonderful service from the WHSmiths in Stevenage. I asked them and they said their customers had made such a fuss they just give the bags away now. I wonder why as a company their policy is so hap-hazard?

Smiths do not even bother to try to make it out to be anything other than greed and more money for their company.
TK Maxx on the other hand state that they give the charge for their bags to charity. However there are no signs in the shops to say how much each year from each store has been raised from this nor which charities they support or how a charity could be considered for their generous donations.

Is this worse than WHSmiths? I will leave you to make your own mind up on that one.

As a consumer it is our rights to not be taken advantage of in this way. If it is about being greener, then the shops should provide paper or bio-degradable bags instead of making profit and not addressing the green issue at all! I believe this is their way of “blaming” the consumer rather than looking at their own practices.

We are not talking about the large supermarkets who do give bags out for free, but most people do take re-usable ones now. That is because we know and plan when we are doing a big shop. But if the shops on our high street want our money they need to understand, we buy ­spontaneously and have already paid for the privilege to shop (how much does it cost to park your car in the
centre now?!)

We are also being squeezed by the cost of living, the house market is at a standstill, there is a record amount of unemployed and things are generally grim.

So shop keepers of Great Britain, I implore you, please give us a carrier bag for our impulse purchases without making us to feel guilty about it. Thank you.