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Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Peanuts and at last benefits to being a flaky earth mother...

It was great news to hear on the news today that they have found that children eating just a few peanuts now and then when they are little stops them getting peanut allergies, and it makes sense in a non-medical-knowledge way that people have been woofing peanuts for centuries and so it had to be something a bit different than our bodies not being able to tolerate them.                
                When I was pregnant with our first, I was asked to be in the study that these results were based on. I was told that my peanut intake would be controlled into either a No Peanut Group, A Lots of Peanuts Group or a Few Peanuts Group. When my child was born I would continue this practice with the child until it was three and then it would be gauged to see whether it had a peanut allergy or not.
                  Now, usually I’m a bit of a Helpful Harry and tend to think everything is lovely and if I can do something to help, then no problem. I’m sure it was only because I lived in the wilds of Dorset that I didn’t volunteer for Let’s Find Someone Stupid to Be Given Ebola to See What Happens trials. However, in these first months of pregnancy, I had turned Official Earth Mother and decided to consult my womb.
            Luckily my womb said, But Lorraine, if your body decides that it needs to chew on scouring pads, then you need to be able to chew on scouring pads because it means that your body needs something within those pads (the soap, my partner would probably say). Therefore, I turned down the offer and stood back, munching on peanuts only when I consulted my womb and it decided I needed a peanut or two.
            The sad thing is, or course, that 18% of those children in the No Peanut category now have a peanut allergy. It is really sad to think that there might be some children now who are in danger simply because their mother declined the few peanuts she or her small child might otherwise have had.

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Friday, 20 February 2015

Staring at Someone’s Willy Suspension in Disbelief: an East Enders Special.

Although for anyone of my era, the willing suspension of disbelief will bring up images of Rowan Atkinson saying, “I’m not having anyone stare at my willy-suspension in disbelief”, it actually has a very important meaning in writing and story-telling of any sort. It is basically saying OK, we know this is fiction, but we are prepared to suspend our disbelief willingly in order to enjoy a story. It allows us to believe that Harry Potter can fly, Shaun of the Dead is perfectly likely to happen and Shrek can write with his ear wax.

                However, once you break the pact, and remind the audience that it’s not real, you make them feel silly for allowing themselves to believe it, and you take away the magic.

                The way this can happen is when the plot becomes implausible – Dot Cotton marries a twenty-year-old model. Or we are reminded it’s only a film - we see the boom floating about in the air above the actor. Or the writer gets a fact wrong – people are sitting in the back seats of a two-seater car (my usual). It jolts us into disbelief and we feel conned and are no longer happy to suspend our disbelief.

          For this reason, I’m always amazed that The Archers website has photos of the cast in character: they all look COMPLETELY different to the people I have made in my mind by listening to the radio and therefore it reminds me I’m an idiot for caring that David’s having a hard time, and can’t someone PLEASE see that he’s suffering.

          However, tonight was the pinnacle of stupid (in my humble opinion). In the attempt to be up and with it for the kids, I pretended to give a chuff about who killed Lucy Beale. I ironed my way through the live version and even cried as Ian hugged his family close at the end. “Good on you, Ian Beale!” I wanted to cry. “You’ve taken one for the family, and we will excuse your sweat because of it!” But as I mopped up the tears and wiped my own sweat on my sleeve, along pops Zoe Ball with a microphone and interviews Adam Woodyatt and asks him about his performance!

          I threw down my iron in disgust, and then picked it up again pretty quickly. Suddenly Ian Beale wasn’t a social hero, he was a sweating actor and I was an idiot who had just wasted half an hour of my life. Bobby was no longer a murdering monster, he was a kid with pushy parents, and Jane, well Jane still had our sofa cover on for a dress.

          Come on BBC: this is basic…




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Thursday, 19 February 2015

Oy, Miley, put your beavor away!

Having just gone into the other room to find our music-loving seven-year-old watching a You-Tube video which involved a semi-clad woman lying on her back and crossing and uncrossing her legs (not particularly interesting until you realise she has tiny hot-pants on with not a great deal underneath them). “Er, I’m not sure that’s appropriate,” said I in the understatement of the year and she giggled and flicked over to the film I’d uploaded of myself wearing a polo-neck sweater and slacks. “That’s better,” I smiled, as I patted her on the head and walked out.

                It’s not that I’m a prude - although fawn is my favourite colour – it’s just that I want to say to these girls, “You don’t have to show everyone your fooftie as we quite like your music anyway!” I can see that in five years’ time, these women will grow up a little bit and will decide that they want to be taken seriously and they’ll be miffed that they are judged on their looks and seen as sex-symbols rather than artists.

                Now, because I’m over forty and have three kids, the cry will be, “She is only saying this as she’s a saggy old beast with hairy toes and problems with skin-thickening on her shins”, so I want to give out this test:

If you do something risqué, imagine that the person helping you choreograph it is not some arty boundary-pusher, but a bloke in a mac with his penis in his hand. Suddenly swinging about naked on a wrecking ball and licking a sledge-hammer seems a bit naff.

          Off to wax my toes.


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Monday, 5 January 2015

It's January: even the lab rats have worked out that I shoudn't be bothering...

It's January and therefore we are likely to be filled with great hope for the year ahead, as well as more sludge inside our colon and a further layer of cholesterol within our pipes. I am not immune from such feelings.
If anyone were to ask me, I would declare that I don't bother with New Year's Resolutions any more; they are somehow for lesser mortals. I not only know that they are mainly broken by the end of January, but setting oneself up for failure is not a thing to bring happiness or fulfilment. But in a secret place within me is a person quietly thinking This Year (Rodney) Everything Will Be Different.
I have a planner for my kitchen wall and on this not only am I going to put things happening this week, but plan meals ahead (ha, ha,ha!). I'm also going to slot in what work I'm going to do in order to save me slipping into sitting and chatting and then at 3.27 pm thinking, "Shit, I've got to go and get the girls from school - now, where on EARTH did that day go?"
Since the new year I've been doing some research on resolutions, goal planning and time management (note, instead of actually doing the feckin things I wanted to achieve) and I've found the ultimate method. Apparently you mustn't tell anyone your resolution.
The thing with this is that if you tell people your goals, they usually congratulate you and nod appreciatively as if you've already DONE the thing you're planning to do (although in my world people tend to raise an eyebrow and say, "Yeah, course you are, Lorraine" before returning to whatever they were doing before). This praise gives you a feeling of well-being that makes you feel as if you've pretty much done the thing already and therefore there's no real need to make any effort - you've already had the buzz, so you can return to your custard slice / sofa and feel good about your achievements.
This resonated with me. In my twenties when all around me were talking about diets, I used to occasionally think I should do one, and the seams in my jeans would back me up. I would decide that those difficult ones that involved giving things up were not for me, and nor were ones that were too strict - I liked my beer and it's hard to find any diet plan that allows for ten pints of lager and lime followed by eight slices of toast of an evening.
Instead I would decide to do it scientifically. I would haul the trusty calorie counter off the shelf and work out how many calories I would burn off in the days ahead. I would say to my friend that I was probably fitter than the average woman and therefore I could allow myself a little more (lager). I would assume that I would probably run up and downstairs two hundred times in the day, so that meant the toast was accounted for too. By the end of the chat, I would have a coloured chart in front of me that demonstrated I should actually be eating more than I was currently eating. The kettle would go back on and I'd finish the evening feeling very pleased with myself for having achieved my goal weight.
Although this is a shit way to go about anything, it was probably as successful as anyone else's diet and fitness regime and a lot more comfortable.
So what about this year? My plan is to quietly fill in my weekly planner, not gloating to anyone that I've worked out we're going to have sausages for tea a week Friday and that on Thursday morning, my coloured-in Prime-Minister-Diary detailed chart says that I shall mostly be filing whilst considering Chapter Four's dilemma.
Anyone up for taking bets on what will really be happening?

Check out TED Talks and then you won't have to actually DO anything as listening to these makes you a better person already!

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Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Egg McMuffins and the Guinness Shits

Imagine going to an international sporting tournament in which the competitors are only allowed to go through the back door, can’t get into the changing rooms and have only one toilet between forty-odd players. During the recent World Cup, did Rooney have to pay for his own Travel Lodge and arrive ready-dressed in his kit? When Saurez had the pre-match shits, did he have to wait in a queue of three blokes and a woman before relieving his nerves in the only toilet available to him? And when the Queen parachuted into the Olympics, did she have to do so on a stomach full of Sausage and Egg McMuffin because some tosser had parked in the disabled space outside her preferred café? Probably not: but then she’s not an international player in the Tri-Nations Tournament of wheelchair rugby…
                For the uninitiated, wheelchair rugby pretty much follows the structure of the more usual rugby union - except that the players are in wheelchairs. Scrummages happen by a line of three wheelchairs going head to head with the opposition’s line to push the advantage, kicks are done with the heel of the hand, mauls are called when the ball-carrier is hemmed in by at least two other players, and tackles are carried out by smashing your wheelchair into your opponent as hard as you fucking can. Be aware: wheelchair rugby is not for the faint-hearted.

                The point of having this version is not to have some fluffy physical lip-service for those poor chaps who can’t walk very well; it’s to have a bloody good game for anyone who wants to play. It’s a great leveller and the Tri-Nations was played by men and women ranging from their teens to their fifties. Able-bodied people played alongside those with disabilities and the difference between these last two groups was not always apparent on the pitch. It was a real-life version of the Guinness advert in which a group of friends have a great game of wheelchair basketball and at the end, all but one get out of their chairs, then they all go to the pub together. The reality of course would be that the poor sod in the wheelchair would have to sit outside in the rain as the pub wouldn’t be accessible, or he’d be on shorts as having the Guinness shits isn’t much fun when you’re sharing the disabled toilet with the pub mop and bucket, boxes of paper-towels and a couple shagging in the corner.
                So for two days at the Wheelchair Rugby Sevens Tri Nations, I shouted, screamed, clapped and cheered. I chucked dozens of pounds at the children to go and buy junk from the catering van so as not to disturb my enjoyment of the games (Beckham buying a sandwich from a guy with the same blue glove on for two days? Don’t think so…). I watched men and women slam into each other so hard that they were thrown from their chairs, snapping ratchet-straps as they went. I saw wick teenagers whip around three opponents, only to be sandwiched to a halt by two eighteen-stone props, and I breathed in relief as players gave-up their advantage in order to hang on to a member of the opposition so that they didn’t up-end and slam, teeth-first, into the floor.

                My point being, that all those magnificent people entertained me for a whole weekend with their fantastic sport. In that hall they were leaders of men. They were sportsmen and sportswomen, wheel-chair mechanics and captains of teams. In that hall they were fit, capable, feisty, stroppy, hilariously funny and they were the same as everyone else.  No-one looked, no-one stared (well, they did when the ref took his leg off and waved it at the kids). Amputees chatted with people with cerebral palsy and the conversations weren’t What’s wrong with you? Or Can your friend understand me? The conversations were What position are you? Is the crapper empty yet: I had two McMuffins For breakfast or Are you going to try and nick your Wales shirt?
                The sad thing for me was that the moment those magnificent sports-men and women left that hall either to the crapper they had to queue for, or the changing room they couldn’t get into, or the car that their partners had to help them load up, their disabilities became apparent once more. They would return (via the fire exit as the main door had a flight of steps) to offices that refuse to adapt to them, homes they can’t get around, jobs that are presumed to be beyond them and shops and restaurants that can’t be bothered to accommodate them. This is not a bitch about a tournament that didn’t manage everyone’s needs as well as it might - or as well as it would for those without disabilities - this is a bitch about a society that’s missing out on all that energy, all those skills, all that humour, all that resourcefulness, all that willingness to hit the crap out of someone else if that’s what they have to do in order to get the job done.

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