Anna’s War on Everything Part 2 – Irish Fashion

25 Apr

So Anna’s “War on Everything” didn’t evolve into a regular segment. So sue me. I’ve been busy.

Yesterday, for example, I was in Ireland. Now, the Emerald Isle has a great many things to be commended for. Rolling hills. Castles. Churches. Cows. Beef. Guinness. Celts. Kells. Cider. Catholics. Bombers. (Ooh, too soon?)

One of the things the Irish are NOT remembered for – in a post-modern sense of remembrance – is their sense of style. Now, let it be known, yours truly is a demanding audience.

HONESTLY though, even the most forgiving of sidewalk users must occasionally ogle at the fashion war crimes the Irish seem willing to commit on a daily basis.

[Disclaimer: Mrs Reilly, you're most definitely excluded from ensuing rampage.]

I present, your honours, Exhibit A:

The Scobe [var: scobe, pron: skowb.]

Urban Dictionary helpfully defines this particular breed of miscreant as “A variant of the commonly known Dublin skangerknacker and scumbag. Many specimens like to wear baseball caps with razor sharp creases in the peak, perched precariously as high as possible on their head, which is entirely shaven except for the fringe. Pathetic looking fluff above the upper lip is a sought after characteristic in a scobe. The latest in Reebok, Nike and Adidas apparel – often fake or stolen – can be usually seen hanging off a scobe.”

This is quite specific. More generally, this breed of Irish Manhood can be seen on the streets of Dublin, Cork and Limerick. I did see a couple in Galway, but concentration was reduced.

An aside. There is a school called ‘Scobe Academy’. See here: http://www.scobe.nl

It’s in Holland. Nuff said.

There is also this graveyard. I have no idea of its providence but it’s Irish.

Now the main staple and most instantly recognisable feature of scobe outwear is the tracksuit. I thought my dear friend Janetta was joking when she reported of her year spent at UCD – “You feel so attractive. They’re so ugly! Then again, they wear trackpants in clubs.”

She was not joking.

I photographed this [Exhibit B] ubiquitous pile in a store:

2013-04-22 11.23.09

I know there is a recession going on. But COME ON IRELAND. How is your country going to build investor confidence when a goodly proportion of your population deems THIS to be acceptable outerwear? I recommend making dole receipt contingent on mandatory clothing classes.

LEST YE THINK there are no females afflicted! Nay! The female is usually seen in pink sweat pants, hoodies, hoop earrings and hair extensions. Like this example [Exhibit C] I photographed in Galway city Penneys:

2013-04-22 11.33.45

According to Urban Dictionary (those kids have sociology degrees you know!), all scobes wear too much bling – all of it fake or stolen. Generally they drive (assuming said vehicle has not been re-possessed) souped-up Fiat Pundos, Honda Civics or Toyota Starlets.

I noticed above all things the peculiar penchant for fake tan. I don’t know which freak pulled a St Patrick and drove all the normal coloured people out of Ireland. But the remaining womanfolk seems to be orange. The range of fake-/self-tanners available is truly startling. If this is an ordinary supply-demand curve, you’d wonder where the recession has gone.

Consider Exhibit D (for D-Class celebrity, the Idols of this category. And yes, again, I took these photos):

2013-04-22 11.36.03

2013-04-22 11.36.06

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To match the heinousness of their skins, Irish women seem to favour THESE shoes. Often with insanely short dresses. We’re talking navel-grazing.

2013-04-22 11.31.34

PLEASE don’t mistake above rant for unmitigated snobbishness on my behalf. [Don't let me stop you either]. I’m writing this post out of a profound sense of civic concern. HOW, dear citizens of Hibernia, do you really feel about yourselves? Do you honestly look in the mirror and think the gentle chafe of polyester against your dimpled orange thighs a thing of beauty makes? Do you think the crotch of your velours trackies dragging around your knees, hiding your no doubt perilously small manhoods makes you appealing?

You are a proud nation of poets! Of resistance fighters! Of bards and lyricists! Of farmers and counts! But right now, your leprechauns are dressed the best, what with their waistcoats and buckled shoes. Very 2011.

I implore you, Hibernia, heed the words of your declaration.

We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God, Whose blessing we invoke upon our arms, and we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by cowardice, inhumanity, or rapine. In this supreme hour the Irish nation must, by its valour and discipline and by the readiness of its children to sacrifice themselves for the common good, prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called.

Start with your clothes.

Relationships are like Cereal

2 Feb

I had this brainwave at the pub yesterday. Actually, I had this idea in class, when I was supposed to be concentrating on UN peacekeeping missions but then I ruminated on it later, at the pub.

Basically, it is this. Relationships are like cereal. By that, I mean, different types of relationships (from mere casual interactions between nether regions to long marriages) can usefully be categorised and compared by using cereal. I could do this using gin, but that would get messy.

So, here it is, the sum result of my intellectual output yesterday. A Typology of Cere(a)lationships.

Fruit Loops: You’re more Jessica Day than Daniel Day Lewis. Not the brightest crayons in the box, but you make a pretty pair! You float through the world blissfully suspended in your own colourful, sugary beauty. Just mind you don’t go stale.

Cheerios: Nice, normal, safe. The accountants and florists of the world. 2.5 kids and a mortgage. The bedrock of society. But, maybe a little boring?

Honey Nut Cheerios: Nice, normal, safe. But with kinky sex thrown in on the odd weekend.

Pop tarts: Who are you kidding? This is ONS material. Nothing else.

Corn Flakes: You probably met in high school and haven’t been able to rely on anyone else quite so well ever since. There is absolutely no surprise and spontaneity in your lives. But that’s how you’ve liked it. Since 1955.

Cocoa Pops: You’re the hip, black version of Rice Krispies. Plenty of SNAP! CRACKLE! and POP! happening at your house. You’re even good when you’re soggy. Everyone is jealous of you. Seriously. All the other cereals on the shelf are like DAYUM!

Muesli: The 75-year long happy marriages. Enough fruity bits to keep things interesting, but a solid, oat-y core that gets you through the day, the month and the years.

Raisin Bran: You’re both old souls. You mix up the Raisin Bran with pancakes and the occasional Full English on weekends, but you know it’s the everyday regularity that matters.

Fruity Bix: What are you, five?  Grow up and get a real cere(a)lationship.

Kapai Puku: 

You are the lean protein, green leafy vegetables and antioxidants of relationships. You go for 15km runs at 6am on the beach together. You have dogs but no children. You both take “very good care of yourselves”. You’re just a touch self-congratulatory and a good proportion of your single friends find you difficult to be around. More power to you I say.

Cookie Crisp: You, on the other hand, have little to no will-power. You are the couple who spends Saturday nights on the couch wearing onesies, sipping cocoa and growing ever more complacent in the amorphous mass of your comfort. Don’t get me wrong, there is space for Cookie Crisp in this world. Love can be easy. But don’t let it become boring.

Generic Brand: You’re cheap. (Or frugal. However you want to spin it.) You’re not ostentatious in life, so you’re not about to be indulgent with your partner. Heavens, he wouldn’t know how to draw a scented bath if his life depended on it, and she wouldn’t know sexy lingerie if it hit her across the face. And you’ve never had sex with the lights on. I tell you this: you’re probably blasé enough to think that you’ve got years of this breakfasting left to do, so you’ll get round to buying the ‘nice’ stuff sometime next week, month year. But deep down you know that every bowl may be your last bowl. So why not make it a good one every time?

Oatmeal: Ahhh you are the Scots and Irish of relationships – as opposed to the Italians, the French and…good lord, yes, the Spaniards. While your southern cousins imbibe espressos, biscuits and grappa in some hedonistic early morning tailspin, you’re the cholesterol-reabsorption-lowering, heart-rate-stablising, low-GI and high-fibre bowl of cere(a)lationship goodness.  You might dress yourselves up with strawberries, honey, cinnamon and bananas from time to time. But basically, you have what every couple wants. (Especially in those little microwave sachets. Those are just freakin’ dinky!)

Time for lunch.

How To Live – A Letter

19 Jan
I received a letter today (ok no, it was an email, but that doesn’t have the same ring to it. And seeing as I’m the author of this blog, I have poetic licence).
Anyway, this letter contained some sage advice from a dear friend, advice timed to coincide with the beginning of a new year and a new term. It was so pithy and funny and honest that I decided to replicate it here (with some more poetic licence, to protect confidentiality [and my own reputation]).
Perhaps one or two of these pearls will serve you this year as well.
Here goes:

Dear Woman,

It is 45 bloody degrees in Sydney. I’m sweating sitting still. Not pleasant. On the bright side I don’t have to work tonight because of the heat wave (too hot for the pensioners apparently). I’m not staying in [my house] for the weekend. All friends are away, I work tomorrow and Sunday and the man isn’t home so I’ve opted for [my aunt's] house with free (and better) food and no flatmates whining about the heat.
I loved your last email. I’m so glad you have returned to such good news re: marks. However obviously your social life is of much more interest to us both. As I am younger and yet more experienced than you, I am going to give you advice (numbered advice, befitting my scientific mind).

Firstly: Listen to your friends. They are your voice of reason. And you should buy them drinks (I promise to repay you in gin come Easter). P.S. did you pay for this bottle of gin the other day? If you did the next one is on me anyway, though without you I must admit I haven’t had a drink since Sunday afternoon!

Second point: Date men who pay for drinks. NO MAN POINTS to cheapskate dirtbags. Please never communicate with such types again. At least not on a level that could imply anything sexual, and seeing as I suspect this is their only capacity for communication I feel that such penis is going to have to say sayonara to Anna K.

Thirdly, when you go out with your girlfriends, do NOT go to the bathrooms together and giggle and have private conversations in full view of the boys. What are you, a teenage virgin at your first disco?! Why can’t women of our generation be sexy, calm and in-control anymore? Men (assuming they are not socially- or otherwise retarded) pick up on it and chicks are scary in packs (kinda like rabid wolves). So without wanting to sound like a columnist for Dolly Doctor: chill the fuck out woman! And even I will drink to that…

Fourthly, drink less whiskey.

Fifth, remember that men do not infer anything. If it is not blatantly stated, then it doesn’t exist. It has been scientifically proven - bloody Y chromosome, it has a lot to answer for, as is displayed in this diagram:

 Y_chromosome
Six. Now, I will be the first to admit that I get very excited about stories of your conquests, but as you know I am also not the first to throw caution to the wind. Not because I don’t think it’s a good idea generally, but because I’m just a little protective of your emotions because despite your big ballsy tough exterior with all your drinking/talk about casual sex/debates about politics and other big girl topics, I know that you are also a little fragile. So this is all I’ll say:
  • Take it easy.
  • Don’t read into ANYTHING because men don’t.
  • This sounds sappy but: be honest. Relax. Because it takes a lot of energy to keep up a front.
  • And you know my stance on sex, but I know this point is contentious…          [Editor's note: her stance on sex is basically "Yes please."]
I hope all is well. Please keep me updated. You are dazzlingly intelligent, more desirable than ever and surrounded by good people, so in the words of any cliche American football coach: ‘Go get ‘em!’ (Eh, I hate myself slightly for that reference, but meh).
Love [Your Genius Friend]
PS:  Also find time for those essays, marks tend to slip when there are so many distractions around (myself being case in point) and for god’s sake please don’t stab out your eyes in an attempt to avoid work. I hope you will need both of those for gazing at all the marvels around you.

Anna’s War on Everything: Part 1 – Andre Rieu

12 Jan

A new year, another essay due, a new chance to fill these pages with meaningless tripe sensible and insightful commentary on the world we live in. Rejoice!

In an effort to polarize my own views more for your general enjoyment and entertainment, I’m inventing a new section. It is: My War on Everything (pace Chaser!) Basically I am going to declare war on a thing, behaviour, concept, or indeed person every week and then you can all vehemently and enthusiastically agree with me. Or disagree. (That, I’d like to see.)

[Those of you who know me as a pacifist, I remain committed to non-violence. My  invasions are those of ideas, my sword the mighty keystroke, my escalation strategies limited to CAPS and bold font. I will not deliberately, personally or publicly harass, vilify or embarrass you on the internet if you disagree with me.]

Moving swiftly along!

I have a real scorcher lined up for this inaugural week, someone who in fact deserves to be deliberately, personally and publicly harassed whenever the opportunity presents itself (peacefully of course…)

Presenting – Mr André Rieu. Full name: a tremendously pompous 5 words –

André Léon Marie Nicolas Rieu.

Rieu is a trillionaire Dutch violinist and conductor, who leads his Johann Strauss Orchestra around the world, bringing timeless arrangements like “Jingle Bells” to cashed-up over-50s.  I’m not only declaring war on Rieu because of his SERIOUSLY DISCONCERTING facial expressions. Or the fact that the women in his orchestra are dolled up in sparkly corsets and crinoline-skirts which undermines their ability to be taken seriously as musicians and people (IMHO) perhaps even more so than not including them in the orchestra at all! I’m not even going to trash him just because he has stolen top-trained musicians from some of the best classical companies in the world just by paying them far, FAR more than the cash-starved (thank you, austerity measures) orchestras of repute can pay.

Common defenders of Rieu tend to make statements like:

“Just because he can’t play violin perfectly enough to satisfy your fussy little ears, who the hell cares. He makes some people happy, makes them dance and the daft old bugger is trying to bring back some great songs, in an energetic and sugary way. Better than most of the shit they are playing on the radio these days.” (Thank you Paul, commenter on ‘Andre Rieu, And Why He Must be Stopped’ over on The Deadbeat).

That is why I declare war on him. I love classical music, in its multifarious forms. I would have been prepared to give Rieu the time of day if I felt he expressed even a modicum of respect for the intelligence of his audience. But no, instead he gives us Classical Music for Idiots. The Jell-O of classical music. Classic-lite, all dusted with sparkles and amplifiers and fairylights. The result is a hysterical, tasteless, amorphous mind-fuck of maniacally smiling ‘musicians’ crushing hour after hour of exquisite music into nothing more than sonic cornflakes. Topped with sugar.

Seriously:

Some people say Rieu should be supported because he is introducing classical music to people who otherwise wouldn’t listen to any. Well, I disagree. Because you see he isn’t introducing “classical music” at all! He’s offering bread and circuses while the genuine, talented and hard-working musicians around the world flail for the attention, respect and earnings they deserve. Rieu doesn’t want his audience to engage critically with a piece, a composer, a style or a rendering. He wants us high on life, comatose on his musical opium, ready to spend $65 on a commemorative t-shirt. I have nothing against POPULARITY. Popularity is a nicely democratic phenomenon. But I feel entitled to criticise this pastiche of an orchestra. There is more originality and genuine sentiment in Lady’s “Yankin” than in ninety minutes of Rieu.

I know this post makes me sound like a heinous snob. (I can deal with that, but it’s not an ideal outcome). What I’d like to suggest is that if you feel classical music is a bit intimidating, which it can be, then by all means buy a “100 Greatest Classical Hits” album. Nobody is asking you to listen to the Ring Cycle before you’re entitled to an opinion on classical music. Stick to Bach and Strauss if that’s your cuppa. But please, do not spend money on André Rieu. You wouldn’t pay Rolex prices for a Balinese fake, so why let yourself be conned when it comes to classical music?

Over and out.

 

I went to a Marvellous Party (Australian Edition)

3 Jan

Happy 2013 everybody, and happy Party Season to our dear long-suffering livers.

I myself have been to a couple of marvellous parties this past month so naturally, this being me, I have thought much about Noel Coward.

More specifically, I think of his magical song,  I Went to a Marvellous Party. For those not au fait with this ditty, the lyrics describe five parties attended by the singer on the French Riviera in the 1920s and 1930s. It has been suggested that the activities described in the lyrics were typical of the “frantic, addleheaded search for amusement” of the Train Bleu society, which flocked to the Riviera each summer in that most hedonistic of eras.

Alas, I am not on the Riviera. I am in Geelong. But there are good parties Down Under, parties of such a quintessentially Australian character that they merit an air of their own. That, this humble troubadour will attempt to give them…

You know, quite for no reason

I’m here for the Christmas season

And now that i’m Down

Living in splendour

With Mum at Newtown

(Which couldn’t be wrong)…

Everyone’s here, and totally hammered;

Nobody cares what people say,

Though Torquay

Seems really much nicer

Than Cairns at it’s height!

On Wednesday night

I went to a marvellous party

With Rozza, and Shazza, and Phil;

It was in the fresh air,

And we went as we were,

And we stayed as we were,

(in boardies and bikinis, what else does one wear?)

Dear Sheila started singing at midnight,

And she didn’t stop singing ’til four.

We knew the excitement was bound to begin

When Sally got blind on Bundy and then Gin,

And, wobbling around the pool, promptly fell in!

I couldn’t have liked it more!

I’ve been to a marvellous party

We played a wonderful game:

Jack brought a slab,

Sam thought he’d do the same,

Maureen just brought her gift of the gab.

Berryl arrived after a run on the beach,

She gets in a proper fight,

With Sheryl, that argumentative bitch,

And nobody gives a f… who is right.

Poor Millie arrived in a new look from Myer,

Made of, oh how luxurious!, 100% Polyester,

But she caught on fire,

Next to Gabba’s lighter,

So she had to go home!

And I couldn’t have liked it more!

I’ve been to a marvellous party

I must say the fun was intense;

We all had to do

What the people we knew

Might be doing a hundred years hence…

We talked about growing old disgracefully,

And Elsie, who’s seventy-four

Said, “A) It’s a question of being sincere,

And B) Do yogalates, then you’ve nothing to fear”

Then she stripped till she was bare!

And I couldn’t have liked it more!

It was the most fabulous excitement

I’ve never seen such a carry-on!

Obviously, it couldn’t happen

Anywhere but on the Surf Coast …

It was most peculiar

You know, people’s behaviour

Away from Belgravia the Shire

Would make you aghast!

So much variety,

Watching society

Staggering past…

You know, if you have any mind at all,

You’d bypass lunch at the relatives

And head straight to Jim’s for beverages;

Where you know you’ll have a blast,

Like on Wednesday last -

When I went to a marvellous party!

We started drinking at ten

You know, young Robbo Carr

Did a stunt at the bar

With a lot of extraordinary men!

And then Lucy arrived with her new fella,

(He’s gay, really, someone should tell her)

And then Marge passed out at a quarter to three

And her man Bob cried “I’m finally free!”,

Then ripped off his trousers

And jumped in the sea!

And I couldn’t have liked it more!

I’ve been to a marvellous party

Jake made an entrance with Yvonne,

And you would never guess

From her oversize dress

That she’s already three months gone…

Poor Lulu got fried on Chianti

And said she couldn’t stand her kids any more;

Louise made a couple of passes at Gus,

And Freddie, who hates any kind of a fuss

Drank all the Moet and ran off in a huff.

Ha ha!

And I couldn’t have liked it more!

draft_lens2278636module63524832photo_1255747258santa-hat-beach6001

2012 in review

31 Dec

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Heres to much more literary schennanigans in 2013! Happy New Year everybody!

A Cost-Benefit Analysis of Dating

30 Nov

I know I’m not doing an economics degree at the LSE. I know I can’t do more complex sums than the 10% discount on my Fleet River coffee or the 3-for-2 on my Waitrose Ravioli. However I’ve been doing some…ahem…alternative fieldwork and I feel sufficiently qualified to share my empiric observations with you.

Dating. Tis an expensive business. You’d think that with the LSE being a stomping ground for some of the city’s most eligible, we’d skip bases 1 and 2  and just be jumping each other in corridors. Alas, no children, we still go through the whole damned dating dance. And there’s no such thing as a free lunch so I’ve taken it upon myself to do a cost benefit-analysis of dating. As with much of this blog, you’ll get my uniquely gendered perspective on life, so this may be more one for the ladies. But perhaps, gentlemen, you’ll find it enlightening (even a relief, if you’re American and a stranger to Going Dutch).

Some primary definitions:

A Cost–benefit analysis (CBA) is a systematic process for calculating and comparing the benefits and costs of a project, decision or policy. CBA has two purposes:

  1. To determine if it is a sound investment/decision (justification/feasibility), and/or
  2. To provide a basis for comparing projects. It involves comparing the total expected cost of each option against the total expected benefits, to see whether the benefits outweigh the costs, and by how much.

For our purposes, we’re basically going to find out whether dating is a sound investment, with the justification for the capital outlay measured against the feasibility of getting laid.

We’ll then evolve to a comparative perspective, i.e. the cost/benefits of a One Night Stand (ONS) vs Friends With Benefits (FWB) vs A Relationship (PutARingOnIt). Also, I’ll introduce the control variable of Celibacy, just to check what this might all look like if we just stayed home with chardonnay and Strictly Come Dancing instead.

A word on accuracy: 

A bunch of studies indicate that cost and benefit estimates are often flawed, preventing improvements in Pareto and Kaldor-Hicks efficiency (no, I don’t know what those are either!).

Inaccuracies are commonly caused by:

  1. Over-reliance on data from past projects (often differing markedly in function or size and the skill levels of the team members)
  2. Use of subjective impressions by assessment team members (that would be yours truly)
  3. Confirmation bias among project supporters (looking for reasons to proceed)

Yeah, I know, you read between the lines there, didn’t you?

Look, just don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.

In my preliminary research, I found this funky little graphic from Deutsche Bank comparing a global average of prices for ‘date nights’ in 2012:

Interesting hey? Now I don’t know how accurate that guide is though, because the last time I saw someone getting a dozen red roses was in Pretty Woman. My cost estimates are also more multifactoral – we’re going from drunkenly dirty dancing on a Thursday to “I’m bored, come over” to convincing your man that His&Hers towels are in fact a necessity.

The Results

Click on the image for the full size!

Where to from here?

The above (highly scientific and thoroughly tested) calculations reveal one truly profound conclusion:

There is no one right answer.

Celibacy is definitely the cheapest option, but you get very little…uhm, bang for your buck. So will you too, in this time of economic recession, end up as this?

Or will you succumb to the siren call of slutiness and give it up in a vain search for free drinks? (On that note, I highly recommend you read this brilliant article from Jezebel: How to Look Dumb and Slutty Enough for a One Night Stand).

I have a third option, via the immortal genius of Souza and countless self-help books, just in case the above aren’t appealing to you.

Dance as though no one is watching you,

Love as though you have never been hurt before,

Sing as though no one can hear you,

Live as though heaven is on earth.

And for everything else, there’s Mastercard.

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