Sunday, 25 March 2012

Your Own Skin

"Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick." ~Gwyneth Paltrow

I would like to consider myself a relatively intelligent person and not uncommonly gullible. However, I have a shameful habit which it pains me to admit. I am badly taken in by cosmetic products. I don't mean make-up really. I tend to not go in for make-up much as I dislike the slavish following it has and would hate to wear it just to conform, although I would defend my right to indulge in it if I choose as much as any woman. I resent the amount of time wasted in putting it on. There is nothing more annoying than putting on nail varnish and then wanting to do basically anything  with your hands for about half an hour after. By cosmetic products, I mean things like lotions and creams and butters and polishes and softeners and cleansers and scrubs and moisturisers and balms and bath bombs and bath salts and bath melts and bath oils and..

You get the picture.

This is depressingly stereotypical of me but I can't help this fact. I have a worrying penchant for body butter. At the moment I have a pot of apple body butter, vanilla body butter, honeysuckle body butter, lavender body butter and shea nut body butter. I'm not sure of the actual scientific merit of them but I love the way my skin feels after putting some on. My skin is all smooth, and happy, and smells good. Apart from once, when someone told me I smelt of cake after smearing on vanilla and coconut butter. But that is beside the point.

I'm also annoyingly attracted to pretty packaging. Although aware that I am most likely being targeted and conned into buying a product, I find it impossible to resist. A little while ago I went into Boots, with no intention of buying anything, but came across a particular brand of bath and beauty stuffs called Soap and Glory. Their products include: 'Sexy Mother Pucker' lip gloss, 'Scrub 'em and Leave 'em' body scrubber and 'Off your Face' face cleansing cloths. I basically brought something because the packaging was so impressive. Lush is the same. (If I'm going to advertise for cosmetic companies, I thought I should mention more than one so no one calls me biased.) Lush bath bombs are my absolute favourite and the Immaculate Eggception is the best name for an Easter themed product that I've come across. My third favourite is Bomb Cosmetics, who's Mint Chocolate Chip Shower Butter I am sadly about to run out of.

I used to think I was an intelligent, free-thinking woman but based on this obsession with bath stuffs and appealing packaging, I fear I am just one of the sheep. To be honest though, I don't regret it. There is nothing more pleasurable and calming than a long bath with lots of bubbles, followed by a little body scrub and maybe some body polish. So, if anyone ever wonders what to get me for my birthday, look no further than the pictures below.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

People Not So Much

"Technology changes, people not so much."

There is a common misconception that the modern world's idea of entertainment has become sick and wrong and has a negative effect on the modern mind. I'm not going to entirely disagree with this.  I mean, nobody who's seen a film like Saw or The Human Centipede can say that genre is exactly wholesome. What I want to point out is, this is nothing new. A good example being how in the middle ages public hanging was considered entertainment.

I'm studying Classical Civilisations and the literature we're looking at is pretty messed up. The most celebrated Greek play is Oedipus Rex, where the main character accidently kills his father and finds himself marrying and having children by his mother without realising it. When he does realise, he gouges out his own eyes. Another play, Hippolytus, has a heroine who kills herself and falsely accuses her own stepson of her rape. It's worse than a soap opera. My personal favourite is Medea, where the crazy woman murders her husband's new wife, the wife's father, and both of her own children to get back at her husband. She doesn't do it in a nice way either. She sends the wife a pretty garland that will actually kill her when she puts it on. The girl's "flesh melted from her bones." She becomes "so misshapen only a loving parent would find it easy to recognise her." Then, when her father comes along and touches her, he gets caught up with her and "if he pulled violently, he kept tearing his old flesh from his bones."


Then you have the epic poem 'The Iliad'. This is pretty famous and I assume you've heard of it. It is considered the greatest literary achievement of Greek civilisation and tells the story of the siege of Troy. It is basically pages and pages of who killed who and how. You read how Achilleus - considered a hero of the piece - avenges the killing of his friend by killing the murderer then dragging the fellow's body by its feet behind his chariot, round and round Troy, while the guy's family are watching from the battlements.   

And all these were written hundreds of years before the birth of Christ. My point is really that people haven't changed much. Our somewhat edgy taste in movies and that doesn't mean society is degrading. We've just had thousands of years to perfect the art and technological advances makes it easier to create. Our collective minds have always been that sordid.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

If Love is Blind

"If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?"

I would say the evolution of my knicker drawer is a perfect parallel for my emotional journey from child to teenager to (almost) adult. Throughout the majority of my life the style or colour of my underwear has had understandably little connection with my overall happiness. It was only with the trauma of my first 'proper' relationship that I realised my undies needed a serious overhaul. I imagine most of my female contemporaries know what I mean by that. Suddenly  your pink princess knickers seem a little silly and it can matter acutely at times that bra and undies don't match.

I found myself wearing dull underwear when I wasn't seeing my boyfriend and saving the few decent, matching sets for when I did. I do have a bad habit of worrying too much. Thankfully I have a disgustingly laid back boyfriend who I really am quite lucky to have all things considered. After a while I slowly began shopping with myself in mind rather than just the boyfriend and I realised something. So this is my feminist point for today. Don't wear nice undies because you feel a guy won't love you so much if you're not. He should love what's inside. (By that I mean inside you, not directly inside your underwear.) You should wear nice things for yourself, to make yourself feel beautiful - if you prefer comfortable and less frilly panties, you are in your rights to do so. Your happiness is important and if a fellow is really worth it, that will matter to him more than the colour of your underwear.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

King of the Zombies

"Who died and made you f***ing king of the zombies?"  (Shaun of the Dead)

My biggest fear is a zombie apocalypse. I'm not kidding, a sort of virus like that is almost plausible. I keep thinking that with other sorts of doomsday I'd have had a fighting chance but with the living dead I know I would be joining them in a matter of days. I'd either be hiding in my house until I starve or be making a suicidal dash to see my friends or boyfriend one last time and end up eaten.

I'm five foot three inches and weigh under eight stone. I can hardly lift an axe, let alone swing it. A child zombie could overpower me.  Realistically most of us around here would be dead; perhaps places like America with their surplus of guns would have more of a chance but if you were close enough to a zombie to stick a bread knife in it, it'd already have taken a bite out of you. Throwing a knife might work but that is only a skill you'd be proficient in with training. Chances are if I lobbed a knife at you, the handle would connect with your chest and it'd just bounce off. It's never as easy as it looks in the movies.

I also know with a depressing certainty that if a friend or family member got infected I'd not be able to do them in. I'd sit and cry until they succumbed to the disease and started chewing on me. Either that or I'd be the one who gets bitten, doesn't tell anyone and ends up turning on everyone five minutes before the end of the film. I obviously wouldn't be doing anything heroic, and I doubt you would be either. I might be being harsh - I know this sort of disaster would bring out the best, as well as the worst, in people. In all seriousness though, we'd all like to think we were that guy with the chainsaw, making a last stand against a sea of zombies, when actually we'd just be that random zombie in the horde.

My saving grace might be those friends of mine who have been killing zombies in assorted games for years and years. I feel I should point out however that in reality you wouldn't start an apocalypse with such an impressive arsenal of weapons as on a game. Also you only get one life.

I think in future I will start carrying around a nice heavy handled walking stick at all times and keep a constant store of tins of baked beans and tomato soup, just in case.

One last thing, if I have to be infected, I want to be a 'Left 4 Dead' Witch. Sitting around bawling, then going mental if you disturb me, suits me down to the ground. It's probably what I'd do during a zombie invasion as it is.  

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The Past is a Foreign Country

"The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there." (LP Hartley)

A lot of people wish they'd been born in another time. I don't think they've thought it through. Personally I think they'd miss their iPhones, instant coffee machines and central heating too much. I have an interest and an affection for the medieval period but I can't say I'd exactly like to live there. The lack of hygiene and radiators would put me off. It wasn't as bad as it's often made out to be but the average life expectancy was still less than 30. Margaret Beaufort, Henry VII's mother, was a noblewoman but widowed and pregnant at the age of thirteen. I imagine I'd be a peasant and dread to think about the list of possible things I could die of before I'd reach the age I am now.

I do have a deep affection of all things medieval. It probably tells you more than you need to know about me when I say I have a bit of a crush on William Marshall, a medieval knight and contemporary of Richard I - meaning he's been dead for several hundred years. He's described as the "greatest knight that ever lived" and is the first non-royal to have a biography written about him, showing how badass his life was. You couldn't make it up. He was a proper knight, who had no lands or titles to start with, but was so good at what he did that by the time he died he was virtual ruler of England while King John was being rubbish. There is a story that he bested Richard in a fight and could have killed him. The Marshall let the Lionheart live though, which is a shame. He could have spared history of one of its most overrated monarchs.  

If there is a part of history that I would like to at least take a holiday in, it's the High Middle Ages. I would love to meet Eleanor of Aquitaine, who was queen of England and France and is said to have presided over the (most likely fictional but totally cool) Courts of Love, and ask her how she managed to be so awesome. I would love to visit these fabled Courts. I am even more aware than most that chivalry is dead in most modern men. Anyone who thinks the middle ages is restrained and staid knows nothing. This counts as a proper sexual revolution and it was pretty erotic. There were also set rules which is good. I don't know about anyone else but I'm always worried I'm doing it wrong in relationships and it'd be nice to have it spelt out to me.

These 'Rules' of Love included:
  • Thought of the beloved never leaves the true lover.
  • The sight of one's beloved causes palpitations of the heart.
  • A new love brings an old one to a finish.
  • Love cannot exist in the individual who cannot be jealous.
  • Eating and sleeping diminish greatly when one is aggravated by love.
  • It is necessary for a male to reach the age of maturity in order to love.
  • A lover must observe a two-year widowhood after his beloved's death.
  • Only the most urgent circumstances should deprive one of love.

There are more and I'm sure you could find them with a quick Google search. I think the world would be a better place if we were all a little more medieval. They made sure they properly enjoyed their lives as they knew they were short. They worked harder but had a lot more holiday and feast days - a perk of being more religiously conscious than now. I think going to church on a Sunday was a small price to pay to get the chance to celebrate so many random saint's days. I think I'm going to start celebrating some of them anyways. So St. Swithin, St. Crispin and St. Michael's days will be making a comeback soon if I have anything to do with it!

This Life I Lead

"This life I lead it's a curious thing but I can't deny the happiness it brings. I don't know what I'm looking for." (Amy Macdonald) 

I've been meaning to write a blog for a while now but I haven't got around to it. Partly I think this is because I've been agonising over a dynamic and informative first post to convey all you need to know about me and the theme and direction of my writing. Then I realised this blog isn't going to have a set and controlled direction, rather like my life.

I'm just going to jump in and hope. Again, rather like you have to do in life.