Yogurt.

January 4, 2011

Yogurt.

It’s milk. But gone off.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. So is cheese and that’s very nice and useful. It melts nicely for one thing. Many things don’t. Those things that do melt often have a very high melting point. And so require furnaces and big factories to enable the melting. Cheese is easy to melt. You can do it at home. Sometimes you don’t even need heat. Just general daylight is enough to make it oozy. The only cheese that is impossible to melt is low fat cheese.

And therein lies the problem with many foods that are labelled as ‘low fat’. They may technically be low in fat, but they are high in sugar instead. Or chemicals. Or cost.

Seriously, if you want to have low fat food, just eat a bit less food. And don’t cover it in batter and deep fry it before you eat it. Unless you are drunk. In which case you definitely should. Because it helps.

Try moving some more. Go for a nice walk. Put some music on and do a dance. Get a big cushion and pretend it is someone like George Osborne and punch it hard. And repeatedly. Or jump up and down on it. Or make believe it’s someone you fancy and squeeze it hard. And repeatedly. Stop hating yourself. Have some fun!

And whatever you do, please don’t listen to the adverts. Yogurt is nice. It is pleasant and creamy and inoffensive. You can sling fruit in it or make tzatziki. Which is fun to eat and fun to say. But not to spell.

It’s just yogurt.

And while we’re on the subject, why is yogurt advertising aimed only at women? The only person I have ever known who was obsessed with the eating of yogurt on a daily basis was a man. Yes he was Greek, but it’s not as if he was paid by his government to do it. (He might have been, maybe that’s what they spent all the money on. I’m not an economist).

It’s as if advertisers assume that women have nothing better to do than to eat yogurt four times a day. This is of course provided that they have time to fit this in between reading about yogurt in magazines and watching minor celebrities constantly talking about yogurt on the television.

Ditto cereal. According to the adverts – which as we all know are fair and impartial – if you eat a certain low fat cereal twice a day instead of eating regular meals you will lose weight. This is not because said cereal has magical properties, it is because you are having a small bowl of cereal instead of your dinner. It’s not rocket science. (I’m not a scientist).

Note that this cereal advertising is aimed solely at women. This is because only women are fat. There are no fat men. Anywhere.

And now it’s January. Which means that 90% of adverts are for low calorie cereal. Or yogurt. Or for weight loss plans that involve you paying a small amount of money every month for miraculous results. Listen, if it worked, it would cost ten times as much. Because you would not have to come back.

Did you know that a study in 2010 showed that a million pots of unopened yogurt are thrown away every day in the UK. Next time you remove a yogurt from the fridge that’s gone past its sell by date remember this. It is gone off milk. It has already gone off. Relax.

I’m rarely this tetchy. I apologise. But stop it. And have something to eat. Maybe a yogurt.

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Controversial Columnists are ‘Begging for it’.

May 26, 2013

Former Crimewatch presenter Nick Ross faced a storm of protest yesterday after he appeared to suggest women could ‘aggravate’ their risk of being raped.

The broadcaster likened women who dressed and behaved provocatively to banks storing cash by the front door, or motorists leaving laptops on the back seat of their cars.  Daily Mail 26.5.13 

Are ex-television presenters who get attacked after using outrageous misogynistic newspaper columns to sell books ‘asking for it’?

Following a shocking attack earlier today, some commentators have caused outrage by claiming that the victim, a Mr N.Ross, was effectively ‘begging for it’ by publicly flaunting his views, which were clearly exposed in a national newspaper.

A spokesman said:

‘Dangerous misogynistic opinions are like expensive electrical equipment or large sacks of money. If people will insist on leaving them lying around in a public place, for instance in a Sunday newspaper, they are extremely likely to be taken away and used for unseemly purposes, like increasing the Daily Mail’s advertising revenue’.

A newspaper was quick to support him, saying that:

‘Finding celebrities to put their names to features designed to provoke maximum outrage is much harder than it looks and we find it very offensive to then hear the whole process described as being “easy”.’

Angry campaigners took to social media to make their views heard, with one commenting that:

‘Historically, well-known citizens have been attacked for having witless opinions since the Middle Ages, many years before they were able to expose themselves on television or in the newspapers. If Mr Ross wants to parade his shameless views in public he should be able to do so without fear of attack, regardless of whether he has a book to sell or not.’

Sally Bercow was unavailable for comment.


A Happy Medium.

January 14, 2013

The only things that should be supersized for a lady without her consent are diamonds.

What happened to medium? It’s all extra-large grande and tiny weenie miniature now.

For example, coffee only seems to come in extra, extra stupidly large or teeny tiny espresso. No self-respecting person will admit to ordering a medium-sized anything these days.

In fact I do blame coffee shops for a lot of it. Much as I rage against it internally, I am compelled by my British reserve to request either a ‘skinny’ or a ‘full fat’ milky beverage from them.

I don’t want either. I want semi-skimmed milk.

Enter coffee shop.

‘Milky coffee with semi skimmed milk please’.

‘Excuse me’?

‘Medium size latte. Low fat milk’. (points) ‘Green milk’.

‘Ah, Grande Skinny Latte. Sure. And your name?’

‘Spartacus. It’s not really and I don’t want any fuss please. I just want a cup without my name on it. I’m British and terribly embarrassed when you shout my name out. I just want a medium-sized cup that I can hold with one hand. I’m British and I’m already holding an umbrella and a large bag. I’m not Madonna. I don’t have the muscles. They both went under just the one name though didn’t they? Who? Spartacus and Madonna. Doesn’t grande mean large? Oh god please don’t write my name on the cup’.

Is it a British thing? Polite to the bitter end and … oh I’ll take the medium please.

Yes, I seek the compromise of the middle ground in politics, American coffee shops, T-shirts and kebabs.

What I don’t want though, is a choice between medium and large. Because that’s small and large. Not medium. There is no medium in a selection of two sizes.

See also junk food. It’s all miniature fish and chips and thumb sized pies or Supersize Me. Marks and Spencer’s is chock full of teeny tiny versions of fast food cunningly disguised as canapés.

But visit a fast food emporium for the real thing and they’re basically slapping you round the face to get you to upgrade to the giant size portion.

Fancy a ready meal? Choose from a Weight Watchers approved lasagne fit only for an Italian mouse, or go for the ‘Big Hungry Man’ version which is actually big enough for exactly 1.75 people. Not two people. That would be ridiculous.

Basically it’s all either starve yourself into a small skinny shadow or eat until you’re obese. What happened to the middle ground?

See also breasts. As in bosoms. Supermodels don’t have any. None whatsoever. Every other celebrity in the newspaper has a double portion. (As in twice the size, not four).

And cupcakes. They sound like a euphemism for lady bumps but they’re actually just giant fairy cakes. Sliders – ditto for gentlemen but just tiny hamburgers.

Marathon or sprint. Mini or Maxi. Austerity or Luxe. It’s all or nothing.

Where is my happy medium?


Chicken Soup Cupcakes. How to Write for Women.

July 1, 2012

Everyone’s talking about everyone reading Fifty Shades of Grey.

Not my cup of tea I’m afraid. I won’t be told what to do. And more importantly, I can’t stop thinking about what an awful film it’s going to be one day. I did read a smutty book for ladies once. It was free on the Kindle. It was about a woman who falls in love with a robot. I hoped that the robot would be like Bender from Futurama. Turned out to be just a bloke covered in silver paint. Disappointing.

But it did get me thinking. What do women want to read?

Or more importantly, what do publishers and Hollywood film producers with cash to spare think that women want to read? And how can I get them to pay me for it?

Well if we use TV advertising as a basis for our market research, we cannot help but deduce that the ultimate book for ladies must surely be about low-fat yogurt.

So I’ve written it, but gone straight to the screenplay because it’s obviously going to be a film too. And possibly a musical but I can’t do that bit. We’ll probably just use a Take That album or something. They won’t mind, it’s all tax deductible. Anyway, here it is, with some other ideas for books and films for girls that I’ve had.

Captain Corelli’s Mandarin.

George Clooney is a handsome, fifth generation yogurt maker on the beautiful Greek island of Likely. He loves a beautiful goatherd (Martine McCutcheon) but is too shy to approach her.

One day his handsome long-lost son, (Brad Pitt), arrives from America with a head full of crazy modern ideas about yogurt making. Like putting fruit in it. Pretty soon the women of the island are ecstatic about the new way of eating yogurt and Brad has many invitations to dinner, but chooses instead to spend his evenings with the beautiful goatherd, breaking Clooney’s heart.

Father and son are estranged and Clooney moves to the unfashionable South side of the island where his old-fashioned yogurt business struggles to survive. Desperate for a new way to increase sales, he invents a square yogurt pot. Brad sees it and hits on the outrageous notion of putting the fruit in the corners, rather than in the yogurt.

The women of the island go wild, and father and son are reunited at a romantic beach-side yogurt festival where Martine is unfortunately trampled to death by her own herd of goats in all the excitement.

Chicken Soup Cup Cakes.

You’re not allowed to eat fat but you can read about it and look at the pictures. If it is vintage fat like Mamma used to make then so much the better!

Don’t spend any more time denying yourself these comforting treats! Let yourself go! Find true happiness in a bun tin! But don’t even think about getting really fat, because that is disgusting and no-one will ever marry you and buy you a massive house in Shepherd’s Bush.

Make a load of fairy cakes and chuck glitter all over everything. Make sure you call them cupcakes otherwise Americans won’t buy your book. Have your photograph taken in the garden wearing a vintage pinny and a tiara if possible.

*Author’s note: My Mamma thought a fried egg sandwich was the pinnacle of comfort food. Even three different designs of artfully draped Cath Kidson tablecloth with a wide selection of deliberately mismatched floral teacups and a lot of John Lewis bunting isn’t going to help me to make a whimsical coffee-table gastroporn hardback out of that.

Eat Sleep Love Lemons in the City.

Woman in New York tires of spending all of her time talking about herself and her feelings to anyone who will listen. This includes:

Her slighter uglier ‘kooky’ best friend

Her handsome non-threatening male friend (George Clooney)

Her handsome gay friend (Rupert Everett or Colin Firth)

Her comical non-handsome gay friend (Alan Carr)

Her comical newspaper vendor (Danny DeVito)

And so she decides to swan off for a bit of travelling abroad in order to find herself.

This involves mainly talking about herself and her feelings to anyone on the Mediterranean or in Goa who will listen to her. We know that she has a lot of feelings because her hair is wavy.

In-between excruciating monologues she turns down a non-threatening exotic alpha male (Imran Khan) in favour of a handsome Italian or Spanish ex-tennis player with a passion for life and love (Antonio Banderas).

Using lemons as a metaphor for life and love he helps her to rediscover her ability to love someone who isn’t herself through a series of cookery lessons and a bit of swimming. One day she sees a dolphin, which is a metaphor.

The main thing is that everyone manages to look really cool in white linen without creasing, even his slighter uglier ‘kooky’ friend who owns the restaurant (Ron Perlman or Whoopie Goldberg).

The Devil Wears Really Expensive Shoes (and Bunny Slippers When No One is Looking).

She was a beautiful successful business executive. In Television or Magazines or Films. In an office. There’s probably a telephone in it. I haven’t done any research. It doesn’t matter.

She is very tough and hard because of work but meets a man who can change everything as follows:

He was an impoverished baker – could he soften this tough cookie?

He was an impoverished chocolate maker – could he melt her heart and find her soft centre?

He was an impoverished bus driver – would she get a ticket to ride?

He was an impoverished mechanic – could he restart her heart?

There are 255 of these books in the series. They all have very slightly different pastel coloured covers and I expect them to do very well at airports.


Breakfast Radio.

July 22, 2011

I don’t eat breakfast. But I do listen to breakfast radio.

I like a bit of background noise in the morning. Unfortunately the noise that comes out of the radio rarely stays in the background, and as soon as it comes to into the foreground it makes me quite angry. I’m quite angry in the mornings anyway, so scientifically we can’t really blame radio for any of this.

There is a law about breakfast radio these days that the show must be composed of a quite shouty and not very funny man and a comedy sidekick or three. The comedy sidekick isn’t usually allowed to be funny, I think it’s ironic. The other members of the teams are just sycophants and are contractually obliged to laugh at everything that the not very funny alpha male in charge says. It’s very annoying to listen to.

This is not what I want to hear in the morning. I do not want to have unfunny jokes shouted at me by an unlikely gang. I like my breakfast radio presenters like I like my coffee. Extra strong, but with a lot of milk. And maybe some brown sugar. In other words Huey Morgan. Or Peter Serafinowicz in that episode of Black Books where he reads the Shipping Forecast. In an ideal world they would team up.

Sometimes, very early in the morning, before the official breakfast show hour and while it is still dark, a woman is allowed on the radio. It used to be Sarah Kennedy. She talked about cats and read stories out of the Daily Telegraph. But she never, ever finished the stories. Ever. Just started them off and then got distracted. Maybe someone else wanted the newspaper, I don’t know. But it was very irritating.

So we are back to the unlikely gang. They are quite old for a gang. No one ever mentions that.

Sometimes a woman is allowed to be in the gang. But only in a minor role. Normally their job will be to do The Weather or The Travel. On the radio in the morning The Travel is very important. Which is fair enough. We all want to have fair warning of broken down trains and massive traffic jams. But on national radio this doesn’t really work. There are too many roads. It’s impossible to realistically cover them all. So what actually happens is that people who drive lorries and are quite bored and give themselves names like ‘Wayne’s Dad’ or ‘Crazy Ned’ or ‘The Big Burrito’ and think that they live in America even though they drive quite a small lorry which is absolutely not a truck and is probably full of cat food or something not that life-threateningly urgent – these people who are driving from Macclesfield to somewhere else like that and imagining that they are in the film Convoy or possibly The Dukes of Hazzard – these people who long for a CB radio just like in the films – these people phone up the radio station and tell the nice lady in great detail about a jack-knifed lorry on the M6 that they have seen.

While they are on the phone doing this and not looking where they are going there are probably other lorries jack-knifing all around them while they swerve all over the road. So it’s a self-perpetuating cycle. (I don’t actually know what jack-knifed means but I hear it on the radio a lot. So it must be bad).

One of my worst nightmares is that I may be involved in a very serious accident and while I am slumped across the central reservation of the A41 some bastard in a lorry will phone up Radio 2 and my death will be reduced to one of their traffic reports. If the person who phones up is a man from Surrey wearing a bandana who calls himself ‘Trailer Tex’ or similar I shall be very annoyed.

Women are also allowed on the radio in the morning to tell you about The Weather. The trouble with being told about the weather on the radio is that they get about 5 seconds to tell you about the entire country. This is really not enough time to impart any useful information. And if there’s one topic that you want the instructions to be specific about, it is the weather. Otherwise why bother?

The other important part of breakfast radio is The News. It is illegal not to tell you the news on the radio at least once an hour. I’m not sure why, it’s not like that on the television. It might be in the mornings, I wouldn’t know. I don’t watch breakfast TV. I’d probably explode. Women are allowed to read the news on the radio provided that they have a husky voice or a silly name. Like Fenella Fudge. Brilliant.

For reasons of intolerance I generally listen to Radio 2 in the morning. I’ve always assumed it would be the least offensive. It’s got Chris Evans on it. I don’t hate him. I’m not really a fan. I’ve always been fairly neutral. But lately I’ve started to get tetchy.

The first straw was a fairly sycophantic interview with the billionaire owner of Specsavers. I didn’t find it that annoying to be honest, but it made my sister so angry that she rang up the BBC to complain. And then she rang me up to complain. And then my mother rang me up to complain about my sister. And it all went on for some time. And eventually I became annoyed by proxy. But I let it go.

And then one morning we had to listen to him going on about how difficult it was to mow his many acres of lawns. Fair enough, he has a big garden. Most of us don’t. It was a bit irritating, but I let it go.

Then there was a charity thing. OK it’s for charity. We must be nice. But it was basically a lot of people who could afford to give quite a lot of money and some people who worked for the radio station driving around in sports cars all day. We had to listen to the noise of the cars on the radio. And presumably imagine the rest. Now if you are a car fan that’s all very well. But I’ll go out on a limb here and say that the best medium for car enthusiasts might be the television. Where you can see them moving and stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I have no objections to fast Italians. Or Ferraris. But listening to the sound of a car going vrmmm, vrmmm, vrmmm does not good breakfast radio make. But I understood that it was for charity. And I let it go.

Recently there was a feature about shepherd’s pie. I have no idea why. In this feature a chef from London’s exclusive Ivy restaurant prepared three shepherds’ pies which were then eaten and enjoyed by Chris and the team. Now that’s good breakfast radio. Right there.

‘Mmm, this one tastes of mince. Mmm, so does this one. Mmm, some gravy’.

Two small points here. One, it’s breakfast time. No one wants shepherds’ pie for breakfast. Two, why in God’s name did anyone imagine that I might want to hear someone eating a shepherd’s pie on the radio? It’s not even a shepherd’s pie that I can go and buy if I want to join in with them, it’s from a very exclusive restaurant and I can’t have one. And three, (yes I know I said two but I’m ranting now), if I wanted to listen to someone eating food on the radio, at least make it something I can hear, something with a bit of crunch. Something noisy. Not mince and mashed potatoes.

I couldn’t let it go.

While I am still seething about shepherd’s pies Mr Evans goes on his holidays. And what do we get as a replacement? Richard Madeley. Now I have nothing personal against Mr Madeley. I’m not trying to be horrible. But he should not be allowed on the radio. He sounds too much like Alan Partridge, It’s not his fault. But he keeps telling us all the instructions. It’s insane. In 3 minutes we’ve got a weather update. In 8 minutes Fiona’s here. In 45 seconds I’m putting this pen in my ear. Why are you telling us this Richard? This is what’s supposed to happen in the background. Your job is to read out other stuff over the top and make it all look seamless.

One day I heard him say the word vasectomy. I switched off.

The next day he discussed gravy tips. Yes, tips for gravy. At 7am on a weekday.

Now I have nothing against the sharing of gravy tips for the Sunday roast on the radio if there’s really absolutely nothing else to talk about, but maybe you could share them on Sunday morning? When people might care about gravy a bit more? But please not during the week. Not before breakfast. Not after the shepherd’s pie incident.

And the instructions for the gravy tips were so complex. No emails, not recipes, just tips, just one line. So many instructions. I didn’t want to hear about gravy. I heard about gravy the week before. What is it with Radio 2 and gravy?

Bacon. Talk about bacon if you must. And coffee. Or tea. And weather. That’s all I want.

Please don’t tell me to grow up and listen to Radio 4. It’s boring.


Alice’s Bucket List

June 8, 2011

Don’t read this.

Read this:

http://alicepyne.blogspot.com/2011/06/oh-dear.html


Spa.

June 3, 2011

Get an email inviting you to take a break at a lovely relaxing spa place. Remember that you’ve been burning your own and many other people’s candles at both ends and also in the middle for the last few months and are really quite tired and weary. Think that a lovely relaxing spa break would be very nice. 

Look at price list of lovely relaxing spa place. Find it strangely tensing.

Recall your last two visits to lovely relaxing spa places:  

The first one was a work ‘reward’ and you spent an afternoon sitting around in a variety of ill-fitting dressing gowns with all of the women from the office, and one of the men who you all loved at the time because he wasn’t afraid to get in touch with his feminine side while the rest of the boys played golf.

Later you realised that he was actually taking photographs of the women in dressing gowns to show to the rest of the boys after the golf.  

It was not relaxing.

The second one was a lovely expensive treat to a famous country spa that unfortunately appeared to be decorated in the shades of peach and coral favoured by mid price hotels on motorway junctions in 1980.

You were given an ill-fitting dressing gown and a pair of size 9 slippers. They had no other sizes of slippers but 9. You sat at a coffee bar staffed by fully dressed South African teenagers with 25 other women all wearing ill-fitting dressing gowns and size 9 slippers.

It was like a mental hospital for clowns.

They offered you the use of a bicycle. You had thoughts of The Great Escape.

It was not relaxing.

Banish terrifying spa memories. Decide to do lovely relaxing home spa experience instead. 

Put on fanciest dressing gown. Gather toiletries. Collect best fluffy towels that you are saving up for a reason that has never really been successfully explained. Light expensive scented candle. Hit ‘play’ on the music machine.

And relax.  

For the first time ever, scented candle sets off the fire alarm. Put nearest trousers on under fanciest dressing gown. They are half of a pinstriped suit. Go out into communal hallway to switch off fire alarm.

Oh that’s nice. The neighbours are having people to visit. Say ‘hello’ to neighbours’ visitors.

Return to lovely relaxing home spa.

And relax.

Light candle again. It smells of warm tropical evenings on sandy beaches.

Music machine plays The Sea by Morcheeba.

Apply face pack.

And relax.   

Fire alarm goes off again.

Apply trousers. Go out into hallway again. Say ‘goodbye’ to neighbours’ visitors on their way out. Explain to a pizza delivery man that he needs a different doorbell. Eventually show all of them how the fire alarm works. This is quite difficult as face pack means that you cannot move your face. Nevertheless, successfully communicate by pointing and waving your arms about vigorously.

Oops. Adjust dressing gown.  

Return to lovely relaxing home spa.

And relax.

Music machine plays Motorhead, Killed By Death. Get up again, switch off shuffle mode.

Pour a nice glass of wine. And relax.

Fall asleep.

After some confusion wake up properly and realise that 5 minute face pack has now been on for over an hour and a half. Waste quite a lot more time worrying about whether to remove it at all in case it has done a Benjamin Button on you.

Try to remove with cotton wool ball. Try to remove with flannel. Eventually remove with fingernails.

Fire alarm goes off again. Notice that best fluffy towel has fallen on candle and is on fire. Put out fire. Allow neighbours and pizza delivery man to switch fire alarm off.

Pour another glass of wine.

Think hard about money saved on lovely relaxing spa break.

Relax.


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