Raspberry Ketone – why are people fighting over short supplies of these pills in shops?

Raspberry Ketone was a mystery to me until last week when I witnessed three women arguing over the one remaining bottle of the ‘wonder’ pills in a health food shop. Each was clearly desperate not to live another day without Raspberry Ketone.

Raspberry Ketone

Can these REALLY melt fat?

These three middle-aged, sensible looking, well-dressed women had flecks of foam round their mouths and were squaring up to each other when I left. I wondered what on earth was so important about a small pot of capsules that could make respectable women act like rival gang-members if they couldn’t get their fix of Raspberry Ketone.

The girl behind the counter said the pills were selling out as soon as they came in, so I rushed straight home to Google it. I found that Christina Aguilera and other such people who spend their lives trying to defy gravity, are shouting about a miracle weight loss product (yawn yawn) from the roof-tops. Or in Christina’s case from the Jay Leno show in the USA. The article then goes on to say she is referring to Raspberry Ketone.

On the website, we are shown how this ‘fat burning wonder’ transformed Christina Aguilera from a cuddly looking overweight Zsa Zsa Gabor into a stick-thin Barbie Doll without lifting a finger, apart from the ones, I assume, putting the Raspberry Ketone pills into her mouth. She claims, according to the website, to have lost 42lbs in six weeks with these pills. Oh, I nearly forgot, you also need to take another product with it called Aloe Cleanse.

Raspberry Ketone – can it reveal toned abs hiding under the fat once it has ‘melted’ away?

When I saw the ‘before’ image of Christina, (click here to see the webpage) I immediately had a flashback to an episode of Friends where they needed to make Monica look very fat. She was made ‘fat’ with the use of prosthetics. I am not saying that is what has been done here – it just reminded me of the pretend ‘fat’ Monica… that’s all.

You will see on the same page, there is an incredible array of stars such as Jennifer Anniston and Victoria Beckham alongside claims that they ‘confess’ to the use of Raspberry Ketone and Aloe Cleanse. Its use, apparently,  is the ‘secret to their incredible figures’. Oh – so it’s not all the exercise done under the tuition of an expert personal trainer then?

There are also before and after shots of more ordinary, podgy people who have shed loads of fat to reveal the beautifully toned tummies that were apparently hiding underneath. Hurrah!

So do we all have amazing abs hiding under layers of fat? Am I wasting my time working hard to keep my core muscles strong when all I need to do is take a pill?

Maybe Raspberry Ketone is a wonder pill for increasing metabolism, melting fat and increasing energy I can’t say one way or the other, but I don’t believe it will give you the body of a ‘star’ who spends several hours a day working out with or without a trainer, unless you work at it the way they do.

As far as I am aware, if you don’t work to tone and maintain muscle health, they will not become toned and strong on their own.

While there are no claims on the website that the pills will give you a toned body as well as melting fat, the images used on the page do make it look as if the podgy people in the pictures were delighted to magically find amazing, toned bodies under the fat.

But if you scroll to the bottom of the page, past all the glowing comments and claims of success from Joe public, you will see a disclaimer notice written in a dull colour on a black background. It is clearly not designed to stand out. Read it and then, go back to the top and read it all again with the disclaimer in mind.

It does make me wonder if you are more likely to lose £s rather than lbs – just saying…

Although I don’t want to lose weight, I would be quite happy to have my metabolism revved up a little more and I wouldn’t mind having my energy boosted to help me increase my running time on the treadmill. It isn’t a massive issue – I can manage 30 minutes at a good pace without a problem but it will be interesting to see if I can get into the next Olympics with these ‘wonder’ pills.

So I have obtained some Raspberry Ketone from Holland & Barratt and have taken the first two today. I will let you know if my metabolism goes into overdrive and whether or not I can run any harder or further than I could before.

However, if the amazing claims about weight loss really are true, I may just disappear.

I think it is only fair that I tell you though, I took my first pill after breakfast today and according to the thousands of ‘testimonials’ from people online, I should  be feeling full of energy by now. However, it is 4.15pm and I am flagging. This is because I need some water, an apple, some fresh air and a good long walk to pep me up just as I always do at this point in the day.

If you want a balanced view of Raspberry Ketone, click here to visit this site www.funintofit.com/raspberry-ketones-scam-miracle-weight-loss-supplement/.

And for information on more realistic ways to maintain a fit, healthy, slender body not to mention  a healthy mind, have a look at Leslie Kenton’s amazing book Age Power.

World War 1 – Thoughts on the 100 Year Anniversary

World War 1 – All those who fell during the unspeakable carnage of a war that was supposed to ‘end all wars’, are back in the public consciousness now that we have reached the 100 year milestone of Britain’s entry into the war.

It always moves me when I see the World War l graves both here and in France and am reminded of the tender ages many of the soldiers were.

Walking past each grave and seeing the ages of the men is always a sobering experience  but they would all, of course, be dead by now even if they had lived out their natural lives.

Forever 19

But many of the younger ones would have had children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren  if war had not robbed them of the chance. The older ones who already had children left behind them a generation deprived of fathers whose lives were wiped out in the relentless hell of barbed wire, bullets and bombs they had no hope of beating.

Many of those who did return were not the same men who left to go to war and found it hard to fit back into normal life again.

The grim reality of trench warfare is way beyond the comprehension of most of us but if you click here you can go to Part 1 of a four-part series on shell-shock which gives a very good insight into what the soldiers suffered both on and off the battlefield. It isn’t for the faint-hearted so please do not follow this link if you  are adversely affected by graphic images of  mental suffering.

Shell-shocked is a term we all use in everyday life to describe some ‘catastrophe’ we have encountered as in ‘I was totally shell-shocked when I saw the price of Nike trainers’ but after seeing this film, I will never use that term again unless I am unfortunate enough to find myself with a nervous system shot to bits by a war.

It’s never a good thing to dwell on misery but I do think it is important to remember, from time to time, that World War 1 was touted as being ‘the war to end all wars’ and millions of people believed what they were told as they went off to be killed, maimed or to develop a serious, much misunderstood mental illness because the horrific reality of the war was too much to bear.

Maybe it would all have been worthwhile if it really had been ‘the war to end all wars’. Maybe if  the senseless deaths of young men and women of all nationalities were not still happening, we could say that the misery of World War 1 was worth it.

Am I missing something? But doesn’t war make millions for all those who rely on lengthy conflicts to keep their armaments factories turning a healthy profit?

Isn’t that why innocent people continue to die and adventurous young men and women  all over the world continue to  be seduced by the glorified call to join their country’s army?

It does seem pretty crazy to me that we are sitting here 100 years away from World War 1 saying how terrible it was while people are engaged in vicious fighting at this very minute and wealthy factory owners are churning out the means to keep it going. Not to mention the share-holders who live quite nicely off the proceeds.

It is all very well for the Great and the Good to lead public displays of emotion about a War that happened 100 years ago but it all seems a little hollow when you consider the roles our leaders are still playing in wars all over the world today.

We really are a strange bunch.

St. Pancras station in rush hour was the last place I expected to have an uplifting cultural experience with a complete stranger and a massive sculpture.

St. Pancras

Wandering around St. Pancras beats doing housework!

After leaving my sleepy little coastal town at silly o’clock in the morning to catch a London bound train, I found myself at St. Pancras in rush hour with  an hour to kill before meeting someone off another train.

My visits to London are sporadic enough to make main line train stations such as St. Pancras interesting. They make a change from watching the tide go in and out at home.

For me, being in a bustling place full of people rushing here and there is like watching a live play with no obvious plot or ending. The curtain always goes up once I find a place to sit on the edge of it all and cease to be a part of the center-stage action.

As a former press and PR photographer, I never go anywhere, (even to the corner shop), without a camera.

So on this day, I wandered up to the concourse at St. Pancras to see what I could see. It looks more like a shopping centre now of course and as I sussed out the best place to sit and watch ‘the play’ I noticed a blue piano sitting under a flight of stairs.

St Pancras

A Far Cry From London’s Hustle and Bustle – My Usual Habitat

I briefly mulled over the idea of giving passers-by a rendition of my only piano party-piece which is roughly the same as all other non-piano players’ party pieces but with the musical flair of Les Dawson playing deliberately badly .  I quickly decided that Chopsticks played out of tune in public could bring me the kind of notoriety I don’t want.

Enter a member of the commuting public who left Chopsticks behind a very long time ago. As I watched, he sat himself down at the piano and began to play. That was the moment the curtain went up and St. Pancras truly became a theatre for me.

Naturally, I began filming, as I do in these off-the-wall situations. As I filmed this mystery piano man, his fingers danced  with the keys to produce a surreal and beautiful soundtrack to the story of a St. Pancras morning.

This was the theatre of life at its best for me. I interspersed my filming with stills and watched, transfixed as most people just hurried past, faces already set with the stresses of their days. A few people stopped to listen; some turned their heads and looked his way as they sped past being chased by the hands of time. Michael , as I later learned the pianist was called, was the calm in the eye of the St. Pancras early morning storm.

St. Pancras Piano Comes To Life

St. Pancras Piano Man

Does anyone have time to stop and listen?

His music flowed from the blue upright piano to compete bravely with the rattle of delivery trolleys, the hubbub of chatter, the clatter of footsteps, the screeching of children, the scraping of suitcase wheels on stone and the disembodied, echoing voice of the station announcer.

Notes seemed to chase each other from the piano in perfect order, sent out with feeling by a man who was just on his way to work but, who stopped for a moment to share his talent with whoever was there.

St. Pancras Piano Man

Time to stand still


There was a moment of panic for me as Michael stopped playing and began to gather his sheets of music together. I had seconds in which to fight with my fears and simply walk over and tell him how much I enjoyed the performance and hopefully, find out who he was.

So this is where being more mature comes in handy; my irrational fears lost their battle and I went over to introduce myself to Michael who, as it happened was just a nervous as me but for different reasons.

There was very little time to talk. He was on his way to work and I had someone to meet in another part of St. Pancras before attending a seminar. We exchanged cards and agreed to chat via e-mail. I explained that I have a blog and would like to use the pictures I took.

He asked me what my blog was about and I couldn’t easily tell him because it is about ‘anything except housework’ – so take your pick! It also wasn’t live then. When we went our separate ways, back in the grooves of our conventional days, I still had half an hour to kill.  My conventional groove was spending the day in a nearby hotel conference room at the seminar, but I was spiritually uplifted by several notches, elevated by Michael’s micro-concert at St. Pancras.

I wandered away from the piano and went to see what else I could find at St. Pancras that may push my spirits even higher before disappearing into a windowless room in the basement of the Holiday Inn for the rest of the day.

St. Pancras Meeting Place

And I was not disappointed. I climbed the stairs to the platforms of St. Pancras Station and went through the arch where I was completely blown away by the gigantic bronze sculpture that is Paul Day’s ‘The Meeting Place’.

For those who don’t know, ‘The Meeting Place’ is a 9 metre tall sculpture of a couple in a warm embrace. The story of this sculpture and the incredible frieze that encircles the base is a fascinating one which cannot be covered here. More on Paul Day and the origins of The Meeting Place sculpture at St. Pancras can be found on the BBC website by clicking here.


St Pancras

The Meeting Place by Paul Day

The sheer size of the statue, along with the emotion of what it portrays brought a lump to my throat and yes, I was lifted even higher in the groove of my day.

City dwellers may think I am easily pleased by such simple things – the things that every-day commuters and cultured Londoners take for granted. But actually, I am glad that I live in a small coastal village where my biggest concern is not falling off the promenade into the sea when I walk there planning my day. I prefer that kind of challenge as opposed to not falling off the platform at Moorgate tube station as I fight to get to work.

St Pancras

The Beautiful Canopy at St Pancras Station.

It means that I don’t take a random pianist or a beautiful sculpture at St Pancras for granted when I chance to see them. It means that such things still get me right in the heart and instantly lift me. It means I don’t rush past them with a frown on my face with no time to stop and really enjoy them.

Having said that, I did run out of time before I discovered the nearby John Betjeman statue. I spent so long looking at The Meeting Place statue and taking pictures that I was almost late getting to my meeting place.

By the time my pre-arranged day began in the basement conference room of the Holiday Inn, I hardly cared about it any more. The random happenings during the spare, unstructured hour I had at St. Pancras were the highlight of my day.

I couldn’t wait to get home to research the public pianos that Michael told me were placed at various locations in London for anyone to play. I also couldn’t wait to research Paul Day and find out the story of his beautiful sculpture and frieze.

St Pancras

Detail around the base of the Paul Day Sculpture

Most of all, I wanted to get back and fire off questions to the mystery piano man of St. Pancras to find out his story. As I got to know him over the coming days, via our emails, I realised that if I had known the background of the mystery pianist, I may not have had the confidence to approach him.

Old insecurities do die-hard and I have never thought people with doctorates would have any truck with someone who left school with a 15 yard swimming certificate (university study came later for me, in my 40s).

I now know from my research, Michael, or Dr. Bull as he known professionally, is a highly respected scientist in his field. He works with complicated environmental issues regarding air quality, the likes of which I could not even begin to understand.

Thankfully my curiosity about the piano at St Pancras, and the man who was playing it, was strong enough to push me to speak to him. Otherwise, I would never have known that seemingly confident men have their vulnerabilities and fears and more importantly, are completely approachable.

St Pancras

Michael Bull Playing to Commuters

At the piano, Michael appeared supremely confident and sure of his ability as a performer. However, nothing could have been further from the truth. As his fingers slipped so easily over the keys, expertly teasing out pieces by Bach, Mendelssohn, Gershwin, Nyman and other eminent composers, he was actually pushing his own self-confidence boundaries in readiness for a diploma exam he was due to undertake in front of an audience within weeks. (See more recent news about the outcome at the end of this post.)

When I later asked about confidence, he told me he has no problem presenting data to a conference full of people, without any hint of nerves. But when it comes to playing the piano in public it is quite a different thing and he admits he suffers the fear of public humiliation just like anyone else, despite the easy manner I believed I saw at St. Pancras.

However, he pushes himself to face those fears and grow in confidence. We are worlds apart in many ways but when it comes to self-confidence, perhaps men and women aren’t so different.

St Pancras

One Little Girl With Time to Stand and Stare

One thing is for sure, I am so glad that my more mature years have allowed me to push the boundaries of my self-confidence comfort zone a little further or else I would never have spoken to the ‘piano man of St. Pancras’ and gained such a rich insight into his world. Especially as I was never likely to encounter  him in my everyday world at home.

And further, I am really thankful to have been one of the few people at St. Pancras that day with enough spare time to stand still while a stranger courageously performed to a fast-moving, suitcase dragging, briefcase toting, coffee guzzling audience at St Pancras station during rush hour.

Long may it go on – I really love wandering around in the world doing anything except housework.

If you would like to see the film clips and pictures of the St. Pancras Brief Encounter click here.

(Since I first wrote this post, Michael passed his diploma exam with flying colours. His tremendous focus, along with hour upon hour of study, practice and performance earned him a pass-mark of 87% at upper level. It is true what they say, the harder you work, the ‘luckier’ you get. Well done Michael!)

Anyone with a passion for architecture may be interested to know – since my visit to St. Pancras, I have discovered and ordered a book called The Transformation of St. Pancras Station.  I have provided a link below. It does look like an excellent read from what I saw on the ‘Look Inside’ feature on Amazon.

Hair Dryer Break Down

Curly hair may not be high on the list of things to worry about in life – unless of course you are one of those women whose hair has a life of its own and the hair dryer has broken.

Hair Dryer Break Down

Bad Hair Day

When my hair dryer exploded yesterday, I had visions of having to go out in public with honest hair. Curly hair to be precise. That is not something I have done since I escaped the clutches of my mother. She always insisted that people only made fun of the gold frizz framing my tear-stained face because they were jealous.

I bought into that notion up until the age of seven when I became suspicious of this alleged jealousy. Why would anyone with beautiful sleek pigtail covet a head of hair that always appeared to be arguing with itself? Why would a little girl who could toss her hair around at will and casually flick it over her shoulder, want hair that just wobbled? Hair that grows outwards rather than downwards is never good news. Why would anyone want curly hair?

My life may have been easier if we’d had a hair dryer that went above 10 watts to actually dry hair rather than just  breathe on it gently.

Curly Hair Bites the Dust In Canada

Life change dramatically for me when I went to North America at 19 and discovered hair dryers that could blow your head off. Enter sleek, manageable hair for the first time in nearly 20 years. I loved it. Curly hair bit the dust. Once my hair looked like hair rather than a rusty pan scourer, I even started to like the color that had drawn incessant bullying in my younger years.

However, with relief comes paranoia. What if my hair dyer explodes half way through drying? What if I have to go out to buy a new one with half my hair looking socially acceptable and the other half as if it wants me to join a circus?


My honest hair – not seen very often since GHDs came along

To combat this ceaseless worry, I have always kept a second hairdryer as backup along with a selection of hats in case the backup lets me down as well. And this system has worked well for 38 years. My hair has not had its own way in all that time and has been forced, on a daily basis, to lie about its true nature.

It all worked well until yesterday when my current hair dryer exploded in my hand. When I say exploded, I mean it went phut and flashed orange before emitting a puff of smoke. Perhaps ‘exploded’ is a little dramatic. As the smoke dissipated, it dawned on my that for the first time in 38 years, I did not have a back up hair dryer in the house. I immediately went into OMG! mode. I did consider calling the emergency services but instead screamed for my husband to come upstairs and rescue me from the shame of honest hair.

Curly Hair

He didn’t get it; he just shrugged when I said the hair dryer had exploded. He commented that it couldn’t have exploded that much as it was still in one piece. I picked it up and frantically flicked the on/off switch to show him that it had indeed exploded somewhere inside because it wouldn’t work. Thankfully, the room still smelt of hair dryer smoke and he finally agreed that yes, it had exploded and could he please now get back to the World Cup news. I would like to point out here that my husband has no use for a hair dryer and does not understand their vital importance in life.

So I then hid indoors until my hair air-dried and I was able to use my GHDs to wrestle my hair into submission. We then went into town to wander the bookshops, as we do on a Saturday, and,  get a new hairdryer. Unfortunately, my attention got drawn away from the hair issue by the weather and the resulting empty beach. I could see the sea from the main street and the heavy skies above made me think camera rather than hair dryer. So that is where I went – down to the people-free, rain spattered beach where I lost track of time photographing waves (with my hoody over my precious smooth hair of course!). By the time I got tired of that, the shops were all closed.

Currly hair

I blame the photogenic seascape for sidetracking me that day.

Power Cord As Curly As My Hair!

The hair dryer situation didn’t enter my head again until this morning when I stepped out of the shower. I screamed. My husband shot up the stairs in response and I proceeded to explain why it was his fault that I forgot to buy a hairdryer yesterday. It wasn’t a very robust argument. We then sat down to study the exploded hair dryer. Since I first got it 18 months ago, the power cord has been a pain.

Curly hair

It has become more and more twisted despite frequently hanging it up all day to unwind. We decided that the constant twisting had broken the wires where they enter the handle and it was this that caused the ‘explosion’. So fix it then, I said, you know about wires. My husband pointed out that the hair dryer is a sealed unit with no screws anywhere.

So I shut him in the dining room with the hair dryer and his tool box and asked him not to come out until it was fixed. I hinted that I would probably have to report him to the local council for not being committed to keeping landfill to a minimum if he didn’t fix the hair dryer.

Meanwhile, I began to research the problem of twisted hair dryer leads on Google and found that I am not the only person frustrated by this problem.Hair Dryer lead

I studied the lead on my GHDs, which never twists, and found it rotates from the handle.

Hair Dryer

This swivel action stops the lead from twisting as you constantly turn it this way and that around your head day after day. So why don’t hair dryers have that feature? Particularly as twisted wires lead to broken wires and explosions that ultimately lead to curly hair.

During all my Googling, I discovered a hair dryer on Amazon called the Valera Professional Swiss Nano 6000. It has a cable called a Rotocord that is designed to combat the problem of twisted and tangled power cords.

Just as I was about to release my husband from the dining room, I heard the familiar sound of my hair dryer working once again. He wasn’t very impressed when I said I didn’t actually want the hair dryer anymore because it scared me and wouldn’t it be better if we just spent £36 on this lovely Swiss one that wouldn’t explode?

Anyway, once I had retrieved the hair dryer from the light fixture where it got caught as my husband threw it up in the air in frustration, I thought I would keep it until I save up for the more sensible one with a rotating cord.Then I went and thanked my husband for his endeavors and as a little show of appreciation, I promised to keep quiet during weekend sports on TV and not ask if I can watch mindless TV on catch-up instead.

The Valera Professional Swiss Nano 6000 (with the much safer power cord situation) has only one review on Amazon so far but, it is a glowing one.

There is another option that could work quite well since the cord is already curly and saves all the hassle of fighting with a straight one.

My plan is to give my husband a list of Health & Safety reasons as to why we should buy the Valera, without criticising the excellent job he did of fixing our unfixable exploding hair dryer and covering the join with a wodge of insulation tape. I will let you know what the new hair dryer is like because I am pretty sure I will have one sooner rather than later.

And yes, I do receive a teeny tiny commission if you click through and buy a hairdryer but that is not what my posts are about. My post is real – I really do have curly hair and my hairdryer really did explode – well sort of!

Just checked the hairdryer link and Amazon says it is out of stock now anyway – may never be back in either – damn!

#MidLifeLuv Linky


Why the smiling pig? Well, in recent times, I have discovered Anthony Robbins, the darling of the USA life coaching scene and in the small hours of the morning when sensible people are sleeping, I am usually under the covers with him. My husband hasn’t got a clue because he is one of the sensible sleepers.

So there’s me, under the covers with my iPad, being yelled at by Anthony Robbins (or Tony as his followers tend to call him), having my dangerously negative thinking remodelled quite expertly by this all-American jock with a chiselled jaw, husky voice, nice teeth and a heart-stopping smile.

I will get to the smiling pig shortly, I promise.

smiling pigs

Don’t Let Life Get You Down

Ok, so I have been getting ‘Anthonied’ as I call it for several weeks now via YouTube and I have to say, this larger than life, impossibly handsome, over-enthusiastic, loud-mouthed guru has actually kicked my ‘ass’ into gear.

So where does the smiling pig come in? Well Tony advocates having a role model and for days, I used Tony himself. He was there at the foot of my bed every morning at 5.30am bellowing at me to get up and seize the day while I still have a reasonable quota of them left. Then one morning, after thinking that I really should get myself a staunch British role model, I suddenly thought of Churchill – not as in Winston, I am talking about Churchill the pig.

I had met Churchill several years ago while out covering some farm related story. She, (yes Churchill was a girl) had just given birth to a litter of little Churchills and I went to take pictures. Now bear in mind, this was a farm that sold sausages and other pork related products, so the future did not bode well for Churchill and her adorable off-spring. But there she was, so utterly content with her lot in life, that when I pointed the camera at her she smiled the biggest, most stupid and lovable grin ever. Despite being next year’s sausages/bacon/pork pies, she smiled as if the abattoir was a health farm from which she would return, refreshed, to live another day instead of a place from which she would return, in pieces, to live temporarily in the freezers at the farm shop.

So that morning, when I was thinking of role models, I searched my picture archive and found Nellie Churchill, a beautiful smiling pig, now deceased and eaten. So I put her picture on my office wall to remind me to smile regardless of the fact that I am closer to being worm food than I would really like to be. It’s no disrespect to Anthony Robbins; I still turn to him for a kick up the bum when my spirit flags and I’m feeling like the world shuns anyone over 45. However, Nellie Churchill is now the wind beneath my wings every day. She must be the most loved, dearly departed, smiling pig in the world. Thanks Nellie, hope you gave a few people chronic heartburn.

My extreme musical taste was revealed to me recently when I decided I was fed up with the stacks of CDs on display on shelves in my living room. I had them double stacked and found it impossible to browse through them easily. I know the solution is to whack them all on iPod but it would have taken me about 10 years and I couldn’t be bothered, so I decided to ditch the plastic cases and transfer the CDs and inserts to folders.

It worked like a dream, I now have my extreme musical taste arranged in alphabetical order in 4 huge CD cases and I am discovering music I had forgotten about. It is like flipping through a magazine on your lap. For anyone who wants to do the same, I can recommend Argos’s 208 CD/DVD wallet. They cost me £9.99 each and are perfect. (Argos is not paying me to say that!) The first two I bought were double that price and although they are slightly better quality, the Argos cases do the job just as well.

It was while I was sorting through all my CDs that I realised what extreme musical taste I have. The range of music I have collected over the years is so wildly mixed that I dread to think how a psychologist looking at it would profile me. And just as I was having that thought, Dr. Daniel Mullensiefen, a Music Psychologist, appeared on Big Bother’s Bit On the Side to analyse some of the Big Brother contestant’s favourite music tracks and what their preferences say about them.

Ok, yes, I know, Big Brother tut tut. But before you judge, let me just say, Dr. Mullensiefen is from Goldsmiths College, University of London and he had probably never heard of BB or BBBOTS when he agreed to appear – he did seem bemused. Anyway, he claims our music and song choices are related to personality and can reveal how we want others to see us. Armed with this knowledge, I revisited my newly arranged CD collection and studied the four folders closely.

After I had gone through it all, I decided to choose the two CDs that I believe represent the extremes of my taste in music. So I chose Barbie Girl by Aqua as the shamefully awful end of the collection and Abbess Hildegard of Bingen, Gothic Voices, at the totally off the scale highbrow end. In-between are all the CDs I actually listen to regularly. I really couldn’t find anything quite as awful as Barbie Girl, although there were a few contenders. Likewise, I could not find anything quite as highbrow in my collection as Abbess Hildegard of Bingen. You would not expect to find these two CDs in the same collection and I really do think they demonstrate what an odd and extreme musical taste I have.

extreme musical taste

Extreme musical taste!

Remember the 1997 Barbie Girl track by a band called Aqua? If you like to laugh along with the rest of the diehard Eurovision Song Contest fans, you may remember hearing this song when it was played as the interval song (according to Wikipedia.org). It has also featured in many polls such as the best, worst, most cheesy, most annoying and most ridiculous songs ever.

One of the lists it featured on was Canadian based MuchMoreMusic’s 50 Guilty Pleasures where it was placed at No 27. That’s the only way I can describe it actually, a guilty pleasure because it isn’t a CD I would admit to most of my friends, that I have in my collection. With lyrics such as, ‘come on Barbie, let’s go party’ and ‘I’m a Barbie girl, in the Barbie world’, it isn’t exactly a song you could discuss in any great depth at a dinner party. One can have a good old dance to it though when the spirit grabs one.

And that is the attraction I suppose – it is frivolous, pointless and mindless as it requires no thought to understand. It is an annoying toe-tapper but, when I hear it (which isn’t very often I hasten to add), it makes me feel happy. On the rare occasions I do play it, I close all the windows and check to make sure the neighbour’s driveways are empty before I play it at full blast. My husband has no idea. He thinks I like Beethoven.

With regard to the other CD, Abbess Hildegard of Bingen was one of the most remarkable creative personalities of the Middle Ages. She was born in Germany in 1098 and at 8 years old, was put in the care of a small community of nuns. She became one of the most celebrated women of her time as a visionary, naturalist, playwright, poetess and composer.

Extreme Musical Taste Experiment

I played both CDs and let them wash over me to see how they affected me. I want to tell you that I preferred Gothic Voices but I would be lying. Gothic Voices is all in Latin and by track 4, I wanted to eat my own ears. So I am afraid to say, if I was forced to choose which one to keep, based on how the music makes me feel, it would have to be the frivolous, utterly awful Barbie Girl. However, if it was based on the lyrics, those of Abbess Hildegard of Bingen, written in the 1100s, would win hands down.

Here are some lyrics from both songs:-
Barbie Girl‘Life in plastic, it’s fantastic! You can brush my hair, undress me everywhere, imagination, life is your creation’.
O presul vere civitatis (written by Abbess Hildegard of Bingen and performed on Gothic Voices)‘O summit of the cloistered mind you tirelessly showed a beautiful face in the mirror of the dove’.

These two CDs definitely represent the extremes of what is in my music collection, but quite what Mr. Mullensiefen would make of them I do not know. I suspect he would conclude I may be slightly mad. But I do think most of what I have in the rest of my music collection would redeem me. If I ever have time, I may sort them all out on a continuum and see what comes up mid-way between the two extremes.

I would love to hear about other people’s extreme CDs, particularly from 50 plus women, so do let me know what you have lurking in your collection.

And on the subject of Big Brother, yes, I do watch it but that is another story!

World Cup, Kelly Brook & Big Brother

You could practically hear the collective sharp intake of breath back in June as 22 million people up and down the country were treated to a free copy of The Sun newspaper as it came, uninvited through their letter boxes, complete with a World Cup survival guide.

Great. Thanks. But why? I don’t mean to sound ungrateful but if I  want to read fairy stories, I will get out my battered copy of Grimm’s.

world cup

Free Sun on my mat.

Some while ago, I made a conscious decision to stop watching the news and reading newspapers. It has been the best thing I have ever done for my sanity. I have no idea what atrocities are going on across this beautiful planet and I have no idea why anyone would want to know.

If anything happens that is so major I need to hide in the cupboard under the stairs for any length of time, I am sure someone will be good enough to tell me. And if there is no time to get in the cupboard, well then it’s game over I guess. I don’t really want to be fighting with people looting the last of the Pot Noodles at the local Lidl anyway.

So, there I was yesterday, standing in my hallway, looking down at a copy of the Sun that the postman had just shoved through my door, wondering what wonderful propaganda could be so important that people who choose not to buy papers are now getting them for free. I wondered if brainwashing by newspaper will gradually become compulsory and we will be subjected to random testing to see if we can answer questions about what Kim Kardashian is doing/wearing /eating this week.

Once I had got over the shock of seeing a gatecrasher newspaper in my house, I opened it to find Kelly Brook smiling at me, reminding me what thighs look like before they get filled with nearly 60 years of the wrong food.

Then I noticed the reason that the beautiful Kelly is squatting daintily, atop shoes my mother would not consider ‘sensible’,  looking very pleased with herself (while caressing a lock of her own hair). It is because she has just ‘been voted’ Britain’s sexiest woman. Who by? Er, Sun readers I think.

Anyway, thankfully, anthropologist Desmond Morris kindly explains, on the same page, just what it is that makes Kelly Brook so appealing. That’s good because her flawless skin, pretty face and perfect body didn’t quite make that clear enough. Apparently it’s a combination of her ‘fresh faced innocence’ and a ‘chest-waist-hips ratio of perfect hourglass proportions’.

Thank you Desmond for clearing up the mystery. I honestly thought it was her extensive knowledge of the internal combustion engine that had men ogling at her. I am sure there are men up and down the country who will tear their eyes away from her picture to read Morris’s column to find out exactly why they find it so hard to tear their eyes away from her picture. Duh!

There are two more raven haired beauties on the page, Michelle Keegan who came second in the poll to find Britain’s sexiest woman, and Emily Ratajkowski who came third. And then oh, what’s this – let me get my magnifying glass – oh look, it’s three tiny little pictures of the men who came first, second and third in the poll to find the sexiest men! But wait, Desmond hasn’t explained what makes them sexy… Oh dear, no room left I suppose as the pictures of the three girlies take up lots and lots of space.

What a pity, I think an explanation of what makes David Beckham, Benedict Cumberpatch and David Gandy (that’s ok, I didn’t know either – he’s a model) sexy would have been really useful as I have been unable to figure it out by myself. Turn the page – quickly! And thank goodness I did because there are two things in this paper you may want to know. What the ‘offside rule’ in football is all about and how your love life can survive the World Cup.

Before you poo poo this news, just bear in mind that the dispenser of advice regarding your love life surviving the world cup is none other than Dr. Pam Spurr. What do you mean ‘who’s she’? She is one of the psychologist/body language expert experts off Big Brother. Big Brother? For heavens sake! Don’t you know anything about culcha? Big Brother is where a group of mentally challenged young people all scream OH MY GOD! a lot as they go into a house they can’t escape from to argue for three months. The viewers are then urged to spends lots of money each week ringing up to tell the producers who to throw out.

They have to share beds with each other, even though they have never met before and quite often there is quite a lot of discussion about whether any of them will have s-e-x. Yes really!They generally put in at least one very screechy flamboyant man with a distinctive regional accent, along with a selection of nubile, skinny young women who look gorgeous on the launch night as they teeter along the catwalk to deafening boos or cheers, depending on how humble or cocky they have been on the introductory video clip we are shown.

There is usually at least one mouthy blonde who has a stunning career in telesales but who really really wants to be a model. I like to see the ‘blondes’ kept in until the end so I can see what they look like with a 2 inch wide black centre parting. Sometimes they throw in a token ‘mum’ to be the voice of reason when it’s all kicking off 24 hours into the series but often the ‘mums’ turn out to be worse than the ‘children’.

There is usually a down to earth, fairly ordinary female housemate who is considered to be fat and ugly by the ‘pretty’ size minus-zero girls. There is also usually a handful of testosterone charged hunky boys, many of whom are models and who will sit and discuss which of the girls they would like to ‘get to know better’. It usually isn’t the fat ugly one.

Probably the most interesting thing about the show is seeing how the flawless beauties who enter the house on launch night become bleary eyed horrors with appalling skin in the space of 12 hours and several bottles of champagne.

Most of the ‘housemates’ have high flying careers in professions such as underwear modelling, modelling, acting, modelling, modelling and modelling. Occasionally they have someone on there who isn’t a model but wants to be one. It is a very aspirational show for young people to watch.

Anyway, Dr. Pam Spurr (a self-help expert according to the free Sun I received) appears on the show that comes on after Big Bother, called Big Brother’s Bit On the Side. Or BBOTS as it is affectionately known in academic circles. This show is where an audience of ordinary people (huh?), discuss all the arguing seen in the current episode and try to guess who will get voted out. Also on this show is a panel of celebrities who are famous for being models, actors, models, footballers wives, former Big Brother housemates, models, ex-models, wannabe models and so on. They get to sit on special chairs behind a special table during the show because they are superior human beings to the studio audience and they know a lot.

How do I know so much about this show? Fair question. Yes I do watch it but not for enjoyment. I watch it purely from an anthropological viewpoint to better understand  some of the other people in the UK who have the right to vote. Yes, scary isn’t it. I also like watching people make utter fools of themselves on national TV in order to be ‘famous’.

Back to Dr. Pam in my free Sun newspaper. As a self-help expert, she advises a number of things you can do to make sure your sex life, sorry, your love life survive the World Cup (which in case you didn’t know involves lots of football matches abroad somewhere).

My first thought about Dr. Pam’s 5 point plan for getting some ‘love’ during the world cup is that if you follow her advice, it isn’t exactly self-help really – well it isn’t is it? Just saying. One of her ‘self-help’ suggestions is that if you haven’t had any ‘attention’ for awhile, have a hot shower and then ‘parade‘ in front of your ‘transfixed‘ partner allowing your towel to ‘accidentally‘ drop. Apparently, the resulting ‘action‘ will move to the bedroom.

I don’t think Dr. Pam knows men very well. It is more likely he will ask you to get him a beer before having his way with you smack bang in front of the TV with the remote in one hand and his beer in the other. Welcome to man heaven you silly girls.

I tried it once draped in nothing but an England flag. He didn’t notice so I had to stand right in front of the TV. He missed a goal and we then had a row during which he missed another one. Still talks about it now and that was during the last World Cup.

Anyway, whoever decided to send out free copies of the Sun, thanks, I have had a laugh if nothing else. If anyone out there didn’t get it but wants one, do let me know, you can have mine. It might be worth something one day, there’s only 2 million of them.