Friday, 29 July 2011

A child's voice.

‘I say hello
I say goodbye
I say no more
For I am shy.'

I wrote this poem in my little notebook of ramblings many, many years ago. I would say when I was around the age of ten. No great work of art or Homeric epic by any means, but looking back now, I think my ten year old self may have captured something, many of us have, at some point in life, felt.  

I will say no more on the matter. In fact, I have probably already said too much.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Ad-dress-ing the clothing usurpation

Perusing the high street, the number of shops for women compared to those for men is alarming. Although Topshop, with its aptly named sidekick Topman, attempts to tackle the situation, it is fair to say that generally the weighting of the fashion world lies heavily with the female. Of course there is a commercially sound reason for this, yet part of me cannot help but feel sorry for the budding male shoppers in our midst.

Before the 20th century, the divide between male and female fashion was reasonably distinct. Yet as women increasingly took on the (often factory) jobs of fighting men during WWI, for many, trousers became a necessary garment.  Female clothing then increasingly encroached upon traditional male attire. Coco Chanel designed trousers for women stemming from her enjoyment of wearing her boyfriend’s suits. Diane Keaton’s high-waisted trouser, shirt, tie and jacket combo in Annie Hall has had a lasting influence upon many, including myself. Further still, numerous current fashion icons such as Alexa Chung or Agnes Deyn are known and celebrated for their androgynous image.

This seemingly, therefore, promotes equality between the sexes: ‘Hurrah for feminism!’ Yet in reality, a significant inequality exists. It is men who are limited by their choice of clothing; or rather, there is a choice, but for those who embrace it, in an ‘equal’ society, ridicule is so often the main response. David Beckham’s infamous sarong wearing antics of the mid 90s did not, as he perhaps may have hoped, begin a western revolution. Kilts, yes, are acceptable, but only within a very limited context. Day to day wearing down the local pub would most likely raise eyebrows, no matter how tasteful the tartan choice.

Where I take greatest issue is in the fact this inequality is now being cruelly flaunted before male eyes. A murky underworld of women resorting to wearing their boyfriend or husband’s clothes has long, long existed, yet in the last few years, such theft has been openly advertised to the world. With an influx of ‘boyfriend’ ranges of clothes for women, be they in the form of jeans, cardigans or blazers, it seems we quite literally have a clothing usurpation on our hands. As a female, I thoroughly enjoy such a look, but preferred it when we could authentically wear our boyfriends’ attire, yet remain sneaky about it. Now retailers have cottoned (ahem) on to such goings on and the secret is out.

The day we hear of the ‘girlfriend jumper’ will be a nationwide day of jubilation. (Note: The sinister connotations of the already existing ‘wife beater’ prevented any such celebrations.)  About its potential popularity and commercial success, I do wonder, but having the option would surely be nice? At least we can rest assured it would make a certain Monsieur Beckham a tiny bit smug.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

There is a reason nice people are called ‘good sports.’

The weekend I left University for good, I instantly sought some kind of structure to which I could cling. Fortunately, by the Monday, one shining pathway displayed itself effortlessly before me; a guide towards sanity. That pathway was green and white, meticulously well kept, smelt of strawberries, and led to the face of Sue Barker(and her endless array of generally pallid two piece suits.) Boris Becker’s narrow eyed, mouth pursed expression gave me confidence that here were two secure weeks in which, when at my most disorientated, I could guarantee a spot of Wimbledon would be on the box.

This is not a piece solely about the joys of Wimbles, however, or indeed an in-depth analysis of the varying developing relationships between its pundits (although I must mention right now McEnroe and Borg’s annual, nostalgic love-in, arms round each other pre-final on centre court, never fails to amuse). Rather, I aim to acknowledge and advocate the countless benefits of watching sport as a whole.

Perhaps this week is not exactly the best time to write on such a topic as I am feeling particularly delicate following the recent defeat of my most beloved sportsman, Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon final. Yet despite this deep, unbearable despair in which I am currently ensconced, it is this incitement of such extreme feeling which repeatedly draws me back to watching tennis, whether it have a successful, happy ending (preferably also ending in marriage to said player) or even one of failure. It is the emotional rollercoaster provoked through engaging with sport as a whole which I celebrate most strongly. Watching sport, something beyond our control, can provide a necessary outlet for emotion, perhaps transferred from other aspects of life, which has even been proven to act cathartically for a person’s mental health as a whole. For many, its test on one’s emotions and loyalty often renders it a kind of reassuring faith.

Further still, for me sport gives life a sort of... momentum.  Anticipating the next event on the calendar, especially for those interested in a number of different kinds, means there is barely a barren week in life.  It is equally sport’s ability to constantly surprise which further excites.  So often when watching television programmes and films, events in the proceeding scene, the next line to be said or indeed the baddie of the piece can be predicted all too easily. The joy of sport, however, is no matter what the ‘expert’ pundits, admittedly at times somewhat excessively, predict, one can never be certain of the eventual outcome. It is refreshing.

There is such a thrill in finding myself on the edge of my seat, peeking through fingers as the penalty spot is approached, the starter gun goes off, or that tentative birdie putt is taken. For that one moment, every inch of me is entirely focused, willing (or for enemies of my favourites, rather harshly  I confess, not willing) the competitors on.  Especially fun is finding even the apparently quietest of friends and family members suddenly animated in a way you never knew they could be, shouting at the television. This sometimes proves as entertaining as viewing the sporting event itself.  With this is mind, and at the horrifying (but inevitable)risk of sounding overly mawkish, it is equally the togetherness created by a major sporting event that is so important. Those who have never shown the slightest interest in football, once every four years, can sometimes be found  sharing in patriotic chants, ‘sporting’(haw haw) flags and becoming interested in the innumerable ‘stats’ proffered...or at least succeed in pretending to do so in order to humour the rest of us enthusiasts.

With its countless benefits, I can never endorse the pursuit of watching sport enough.  Having said this, I in no way, however, suggest more people should pursue Rafael Nadal. Hands off.

In the Beginning...

When said aloud, the word ‘blog’ sounds to me like the bored exhalation of a weighty toad or similar such amphibian.  Yet ironically, I have decided to begin this one as a means of freeing myself of such weight and to hopefully escape beyond the pressures I felt upon my writing whilst pursuing my degree. With this in mind, perhaps I should change its name to something lighter, such as a ‘blig!!!’(exclamation marks included) or  dare I suggest a ‘blop?’ 
I realise, in hindsight, suggesting such things at all is probably not a good idea. Instead, therefore, I will get on with proffering my very first proper, er, ‘bl-   ’ entry...