Tag Archives: culture

Fifty shades of Grey

Once upon a time, in a land of poor grammar and an oversexed imagination, there lived a self-obsessed plain girl who was prone to thinking evil thoughts about her best friend and wallowing in her insecurities. One day she met a boy, a beautiful rich boy – who, after lavishing her with expensive modern technology, bent down on one knee and asked her the question every girl dreams of…. “Would you be my submissive?” After a great deal of unnecessary legal negotiation she accepted, and entered a world where pleasure, pain and unbearable references to her inner goddess were one. ..

To be honest, I blame the crazy bookshop lady – she brow-beat me into getting it. It was the moment she turned to page 177 to show me the ‘contract’ that I knew it was too late – “anal fisting” she whispered gleefully, and right then I had to get it, I had to get this over-hyped, over-publicised book – purely so I could mock it. What I didn’t realise though was that my life was about change that day… and not for the better.

To which of the two persons that I am thinking about ought I to give the preference?

The choice is easy, one is no better than the other.

Before I explain how this book altered my life – and really it did, I’ll give you the breakdown (just in case you haven’t been unfortunate enough to read this literary gem):

To cut a long (and very boring) story short, the plot centres on a girl who meets an attractive, wealthy man who gives her an Audi and a mac and then she lets him beat her repeatedly because even though he’s a fruit-loop, he has a sweet sensitive side that appeals to her materialistic schizophrenic self. He wants her to be his submissive and when she doesn’t understand what he means, he recommends she look up S&M on Wikipedia. On discovering Ana’s a virgin, Christian proves he’s a real gentleman because he promptly gets that technicality out the way before he beats/strangles her. There are many sex scenes. Many. Each more excruciating than the last. Christian has a red leather “playroom”, which smells of citrus – (because obviously there is nothing sexier than the aroma of a glade candle). She never uses the word vagina. She calls it her ‘sex’. That still confuses me. She eventually gives in to the S&M, but because she’s so super independent she resists the hard-core stuff, this is S&M 101 for a modern day feminist… She runs away in the end because she realises she craves love, much the same way he has an unexplained need to give a good flogging (but mainly because E.L James realised she was onto a good thing and could squeeze at least another two books out of this non-story). Reliable sources inform me that Ana ends up pregnant and he reforms. Never saw that one coming… I wouldn’t really know though because I would sooner gouge my own eyes out than read another of these books.

My issue with this book is not that it glamourizes domestic abuse or even that is paints women in their twenties as morons, my issue is that it is written REALLY, really badly and it’s really, really boring.  Until now I rated the collaborative Kardashian novel ‘Dollhouse’ (a present, I did not buy this book nor do I condone doing so) as one of the worst things I had ever read. That was until I read 50 Shades, a book so much worse that each sentence acts as a blow to the head – you are left stupider, and that is a fact.

Here are my main reservations:

  1.  “My Inner Goddess was doing the merengue with some salsa moves” I was a happier person before being introduced to the concept of an inner goddess, I can’t get that back.
  2. The many references to Christian’s long elegant fingers: “He extends a long-fingered hand to me”, remind me of salad fingers. All that is conjured up is the sound of rusty spoons, it took three years to expunge that noise from my memory.
  3. “He really is beautiful; no one should be this good-looking” THIS IS NOT OK. Just because he is hot does not make it acceptable for him to beat you. Plus he clearly isn’t that good looking because he has tousled copper curls; you are attracted to side-show-Bob Anastasia, the scariest looking cartoon-man ever drawn.
  4. The playroom. It is red, leather and smells of citrus. The dude has a playroom, he calls it the playroom.
  5. There were two especially traumatising scenarios: one with a fur glove and the other with a tampon. No further comment necessary or physically possible.
  6. My insides practically contort with potent, needy, liquid desire”… food-poisoning imagery, is like, so hot.
  7.  “My inner goddess is beside herself, hopping from foot to foot. Anticipation hangs heavy over my head like a dark tropical storm cloud. Butterflies flood my belly – as well as a darker, carnal, captivating ache as I try to imagine what he will do to me” Never have  I read such poetic prose. Future generations may well be reading this in the classroom, this could be the future of literature.
  8. He has decadent hair. Decadent hair?

I realise that in condemning this book I may well sound like a crazy bra-burner – and all I can say to the people in love with Christian is that one day he will be old, a bad business decision will mean he is bankrupt and all you are left with is a wrinkly pauper who likes to tie you up when you buy the wrong flavoured pot-noodle. The oracle is right, as always, when assessing which character is the better it is patently clear that they are both as bad as each other. And this book is truly woeful. If you buy it, you will live with it in your mind forever… it’s really not worth it.

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The Tenth Prophecy

Have I any enemies?

Answer –

Where is the simpleton that would thus lose his time?

A few years ago I went to see Mama Mia with my enigmatic ex-boyfriend. Exactly 23 minutes into the film he leaned over and whispered to me….

“Babe – why are they singing?”

“Cos it’s a musical”

“Ah shit man”

Whether it was the fact that it took him 23 minutes to realise we were watching a musical or his sheer outrage when James Bond started to sing I don’t quite know, but at that moment his excellent cricketing skills and dazzling blue eyes seemed to fade away… and right then all I knew was that I hated him. However that was then, and this is now – and all feelings of hatred have since passed and I can simply reflect on our romantic monosyllabic-sweet-nothings (usually about the greatest ever batsmen) with warm fondness.

I write this on the eve of the 12th – tomorrow men in bowler hats and white gloves will march across the province in celebration of a battle fought in 1600andsomething when a Protestant King beat a Catholic King in battle… I’ve seen Sweet Home Alabama, I know that this is not unusual – there are many other places where grown men celebrate battles of ye olde-times. While some may choose to dress up as confederate soldiers and re-enact battles, others prefer a marching band and a shiny orange sash. And though I may mock, the past few days have seen much coverage on the topic of hatred in Northern Ireland.

I am particularly proud of my part-Irish heritage – over time mind-sets have altered and the persistent hatred that has plagued this small part of the world has finally begun to ease. Of course there are some who, largely out of sight, have views so deeply rooted you wonder if any amount of time will dilute them, but for the most part there is optimism about the future and the city I know is very different to the one I hear about in stories.

This morning on radio Ulster – a 55 year old woman (also called Kate) had phoned in to profess how much she detested Catholics, although she did say that she didn’t actually know any personally. When asked to explain why she hated them she had no explanation, just that it was her opinion. And though I thought she hadn’t much skill in debate, I did find myself feeling sorry for her; I pitied her for being ideologically left behind. The declaration prompted many other callers (some were Catholics: “Hi Kate, I’m a Catholic and I don’t hate you” and some were Protestants too, but none could budge Kate – not even the story of a catholic fireman who would put out fires in any house, regardless of religion) and for my part I couldn’t really understand either. To hate on the basis of race, religion or sexual orientation is something so completely irrational to me I find it almost impossible to comprehend.

The woman on the radio made me think of the musical-hating-ex-boyfriend, who famously once refused to take a photo of me and the Fame Academy choreographer on account of him being black. As a white Zimbabwean you could perhaps explain his racism – it was ingrained, but as a fellow human being I could find no excuse. Is the oracle right? Perhaps only simpletons have enemies, because surely those with an ounce of sense must see how futile hatred is.

They say that 1% of hate is love. I’d argue that hatred is less to do with disappointment or revenge or even love, but more associated with self-preservation and fear. The most racist white Zimbabweans were a minority who desperately clung to their positions of power, suspicious and afraid it would all come to an end. IronicallyI can’t help but feel that the narrow-mindedness of some facilitated their demise. Perhaps the same holds true for Northern Ireland; a fear of history repeating itself, a fear of what the ‘other’ side is capable of – essentially a fear of on-going change. And that I can understand. We live in such chaos that we so often cling to what we know when really letting go could be all we need to set us free from such detrimental feelings. The more I think and write about it the more I become convinced that the answer lies in thinking beyond yourself. If a change in perspective is what gives us wings then perhaps our focus should be more in achieving that, and less focused on what history has told us.

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p.s my ex-boyfriend wasn’t Desmond Tutu

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The Ninth Prophecy

Last week I realised I didn’t know what the Capital of Colombia was…but I did know that Reese Witherspoon has two pet Donkeys called Honky and Tonky. And that Hilary Duff’s husband is called Mike Comrie. I own Miley Cyrus’s autobiography. I ordered Horse Shampoo off amazon because that’s what Jennifer Aniston allegedly uses. Processing these truly disturbing facts about myself sent me into a whirling spiral of self loathing and despair – emotions I usually only experience after eating two cheese pastry twists in succession.

“If my fault is discovered, will it be pardoned?”

Answer –

They will forgive you, but you will soon begin again

With my grown-up political job starting soon I have become increasingly paranoid that I will be discovered for what I really am – something so shameful, so obscene… I have a borderline addiction to celebrity gossip and I live in fear that they will find out. When celebrity-gossip.net is your homepage you’re a loser, but it’s not the worst – not yet. In fact I only realised I had hit rock bottom a few weeks ago when someone in the restaurant was talking about Avril Lavigne, I interjected that my friend’s step-brother was going out with her. They all nodded in admiration ‘Oh Kate, you know so many famous people’, I smiled, because it was true. Or half-true. Or actually not true at all. What was true was that I had passed from the realms of loser to the land of delusion. For all the non-freaks out there – Avril Lavigne’s boyfriend is Brody Jenner; Brody Jenner is Kim Kardashian’s step-brother. In my paparazzi-addled brain I actually believed that Kim Kardashian was my friend. As I said, rock bottom.

This morning as I clicked through page after page of mindless poorly written blurbs (where words like ‘shutterbug’ and ‘fab bikini-figure’ feature heavily) I felt nauseated –  I found myself wondering how do you balance who you want to be and who you really are. I wanted to stop, but I couldn’t drag my eyes away from Ashley Tisdale’s (of High School Musical fame) birthday party and I found myself grappling with my different selves. The one I most want to be is a Rhodes Scholar; I want to win Nobel Peace prizes and listen to radio 4 willingly. The truth is in reality I’m like a reject-reality TV contestant – I read Heat magazine and listen to cool.fm – so far my less impressive self is winning.

And so something has to be done. In a months time I’ll be taking over a job from a legitimate Ronan-Farrow type who is not only incredibly politically savvy but horrendously likeable too, and I’ll be working for one of the most inspirational Politicians in our green and rainy land – if my lazy inner-self obsesses over celebrities, my ambitious and unsatisfied self wants to be better. So I’m giving up celebrity-gossip, I’m un-following all Victoria Secret models on twitter – I’m cleansing myself with Jim Naughtie and political philosophy. The Oracle is always right, so no doubt I’ll fall off the wagon soon – but for now my perusal of intelligence means I’ll learn something, I now know where Bogota is… and I know a little bit more about who I want to be, and who I don’t.

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