Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Paranoid Parent

With all the negative press stories recently concerning the use and abuse of technology - from the Twitter storm over that footballer, to the ongoing tabloid newspapers/phone hacking scandal - it is wise to be vigilant and dare I venture, a little more economic with the personal information we share with the rest of the world.

I say this only days after finally getting round to setting up a Twitter account, starting a blog and almost throwing my smart phone against the wall in frustration for repeatedly failing to upload to Facebook a photo the world really needs to see: my son with green beans hanging out of his nose!  I am clearly not practising what I preach.  After years of pouring scorn over the obsession with inflicting mundane daily life updates on our friends via the web, I could no more commit Facebook suicide now than give up chocolate.

That's not to say that I don't secretly harbour a fear that my information could fall into the hands of the insane and I could find myself landed with a stalker, who will somehow track me down to my home address and take up residence in an empty neighbouring house in order to track my movements with all the usual psycho equipment:  binoculars, heat seeking equipment etc.

Only this morning, I was idly leafing through the TV guide, when I spotted a review of Jo Frost's new show.  I have dipped in and out of her shows over the years, mostly deriving voyeuristic pleasure from some of the extreme cases she has handled and congratulating myself that however bad I sometimes think my parental control is, it is truly something to behold compared to the dramas played out on screen.

However, this morning, my blood froze as the review described the individual cases featured in tonight's episode.  It cannot be mere coincidence that the show includes a boy who fervently resists going to bed and another (I'm thinking it's the same child) who lives in a superhero fantasy world.  As I write, I am poised to hit "send" on an email I have drafted to the show's producers.  In summary, I think Jo Frost is spying on my family. 

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

What's your swimming style?

I am back on course with my exercise regime.  After a month of hedonistic indulgences, (there are only so many times you can say "yes" to double cream, before the thighs take on the appearance of jellyfish moving beneath the surface of the skin)  I am determined to maintain my weekly swim and regular walking.  I have also publicly pledged to join a Pilate's class in September, which means I now have to.  I've said it out loud.

However, this is by no means an attempt to attain "Yummy Mummy" status.  I am as guilty as anyone, for making fun of the "Yummy Mummy" phenomenon.  I just don't possess or understand their motivation in dressing up simply to drop their children off at school.  And before you ask, yes I have taken into account working mothers who have to look smart.  The Yummy Mummy is a different breed altogether.  We are talking stripper heels, faux fur, full make-up, coiffed hair.  There are also the "alternatives" who dress as though they are going to a rock concert, but in their own way have tried just as hard.  They have cascading, tousled curls, wear leather, ripped jeans, expensive, heavy duty leather boots, Kate Moss kohl lined eyes and armfuls of friendship bracelets.  I don't have the time, uninterrupted cash flow or inclination to compete in that arena for mundane activities.

If I'm presented with a choice between looking fabulous at dawn break, complete with glowing skin, silky hair (hair that moves in slow motion, without falling out of place) and toned glutes clad in leg-enhancing, stylist-selected trousers, as opposed to three presses of my "Snooze" button first thing in the morning, then I will opt for the latter every time.  My current short-cut secret weapons are sunglasses and maxi skirts.  They have served me well during what will no doubt turn out to be our last few days of summer, disguising the dark circles below my eyes and even darker eleven o'clock shadow enveloping my legs.

This does not mean that I do not secretly aspire to be considered "Yummy" (please someone, coin a different phrase!)  It's just that my primary focus is on achieving the perfect balance of curves and toning in order to look great in whatever I pick up off the floor and throw on in a morning (maybe the new phrase should be “Slutty Mummy”).  I would like to have that natural sense of style which sometimes evades me now I am thirty-something.  Whereas a few short years ago, I was wholly confident in my outfit choices, these days, I am plagued by doubt.  My husband's standard patter ("It's fine") doesn't really cut it any more and my worst fear is being perceived as "mutton dressed as lamb".  I have also recently put on a few pounds and whilst I am quite happy with this, as certain items from my wardrobe now fit rather than hang, nonetheless, I want to ensure that the extra pounds are sculpted to my body like perfect consistency clay, rather than resembling mashed potato in a stocking.

Today, the weather was perfectly conducive to a swim - the sort of sultry weather that makes you want to disrobe and plunge into the cold depths at the foot of a waterfall or take a moonlit skinny dip in the surf with a group of golden gods.  For the sake of convenience, I opted for the local public swimming pool's adults only session.  This is local council speak for pensioners combining their weekly gossip with exercise (if wading like baby elephants for half a length before returning to the comfort of the side counts for exercise).

Taking advantage of the weather and wearing my latest maxi dress; firmly rooted in the seventies with its halterneck top and yellow and brown abstract floral pattern, I quickly realised that my grasp of seventies Californian soft-rock chic did not apply to my swimming attire.  The material of my swimming costume is slowly perishing from the frequent chlorine onslaughts and has shiny, thread-thinning patches in several places (I pray to God these are confined to the front!)  I had thought that the one piece costume was a safer option after last week's Tankini outing, which nearly resulted in me swimming out of my swim shorts when attempting to elegantly propel myself through the water from the side.   How wrong I was!

The second failing in my swim style is my choice of goggles.  I have yet to find the perfect pair.  Admittedly it is near impossible to look stylish in a pair of goggles, but my growing collection fall into two categories; the ones that work but leave circular imprints around my eyes for the next twelve hours and today's selection; the ones that work for approximately thirty seconds before gradually filling up with water from the inside.

For once, my bikini line was firmly in check, although I can't vouch for the quality of my fake tan.  As for my colour enhanced locks, I can't bear to wear a swimming cap.  Contrary to all testamentary evidence in support of swimming caps, they do not work for me.  There is always a bulge at the back which allows for seepage.  Also they are bloody uncomfortable and promote a shrunken head appearance.  Therefore, I let my hair flow freely, which it does, usually obscuring my face when I come up for air.  This, combined with my water filled swimming goggles, today caused me to panic momentarily because I couldn't see where I was going and I took in water, which induced a coughing fit.

The final humiliation for me today, was again hair-related.  I had forgotten my comb in my haste to get to the pool on time.  I was also unable to find any cash for the hairdryer (which in any event would struggle to blow the head off a dandelion clock) and so I was forced to wear my hair in a towel turban.  Unfortunately for me, this was not a towel colour co-ordinated to compliment my outfit, secured with a brooch, but the only clean towel I could lay my hands on, namely my son's Micky Mouse towel.

So, that was my morning swim.  The exercise has released the happy hormones.  However, in terms of style, particularly swim style, I remain very much a work in progress.